REVIEW: BEST BEACH EVER, BY WENDY WAX

 

Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are.

Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at forty-seven. Avery buries herself in a tiny home build in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks.

Luckily, when the going gets tough, the ladies of Ten Beach Road know that their friendship–tried and tested–can chase away the darkest clouds and let the sun shine in…

 

 

My Thoughts: I loved joining the gang on the beach and at Bella Flora for Best Beach Ever. I thought back at how it all began, the struggles along the way, and the wonderful friendships that developed.

By now, the characters feel like old friends, the kind who have suffered through hard times and come out the other side. The kind of friends you love to toast with at sunset when you share your thoughts about your “one good thing” of the day.

The story opens with Nikki, trying hard to lose the weight after giving birth to her twins. Her struggles feel so real, like the kind any new mother might experience, only double because they are twins.

Then there is Kyra, who is accompanying four-year-old Dustin to the movie set where she reluctantly will be allowing him to star with his actor father, directing his first movie. We know that there will be issues galore along the way. I applauded how Kyra finally could see beyond the surface that is Daniel Deranian.

So many other great moments kept me racing along, excited about each discovery on the way to the final page of this 5 star read.

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REVIEW: CASTAWAY COTTAGE, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

 

Every cottage tells a story. It’s a saying Jason Barlow returns to as an architect designing New England beach homes. The latest cottage story he hopes to tell rises from the Stony Point sand: the last-standing cottage on the beach. It’s the sole survivor–something Jason can relate to–as surrounding cottages washed out to sea in long-ago hurricanes.

The owners aren’t budging, though, keeping Jason’s proposed renovation at bay. But with some help from the beach friends, the tide turns for Jason’s new venture. Problem is, that weathered cottage on the beach? It holds secrets darker than its gray sea worn shingles. And secrets don’t stay buried in this little Connecticut beach town; they wash ashore or get dug up from the sand.

My Thoughts: Reuniting the characters of Stony Point seemed to promise great events. Answers that were left over from our last outing kept us turning pages, even as we enjoyed gathering in the gorgeous setting.

Would Jason Barlow persuade the owners of the last cottage on the beach to sign up for his first renovation show? How does Jason’s brother Neil and his journals help persuade Mitch Fenwick and his daughter Carol to sign on? Who is the mysterious boy called Sailor, and how does his story add to the poignant memories in Stony Point?

When Kyle Bradford discovers something strange about his and Lauren’s marriage certificate, how does he react? Will the two of them find a reason to celebrate their ten years together?

Throughout Castaway Cottage, snippets of the past are revealed in little stories, and as each one unfolds, we learn a little bit more about the town and its history.

But in the end, everything is up in the air as a misstep changes all of their plans. We are left hanging, wondering if they all went wrong when they turned their back on the sea. Another 5 star read that left numerous questions to ponder.

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REVIEW: LET’S JUST SAY IT WASN’T PRETTY, BY DIANE KEATON

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Diane Keaton is one of those stars we can relate to. She is funny, quirky (think Annie Hall), and down-to-earth with her stories of growing up in LA with down-to-earth parents. Her self-deprecatory conversational style kept me turning the pages. The writing style swept across time in a non-linear fashion.

Despite her somewhat ordinary beginnings, her life has been extraordinary, with her success in films, and her talent in photography. Interior design is another talent, and the homes she has bought, renovated, and sold are many.

In her older years, she adopted her daughter Dexter…and then her son Duke, so in her sixties, she has teenage children. I would call her brave.

Some of my favorite chapters in Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty were those dealing with aspirations for beauty, when everything she saw in the mirror felt flawed; and “bad hair days” when she bemoans the thinning hair that was always a challenge. I liked her attitude about being true to yourself, and not worrying about what others think. Her view on aging and reaching the end of our time felt practical, philosophical, and not morose.

I also loved how she is still great friends with many of her co-stars, like Jack Nicholson and Woody Allen. Al Pacino is one she describes as a love she aspired to marry, but didn’t.

Some of the scenes with her kids were also fun, showing the readers (and fans) that she, too, gets impatient and has to remind herself that she has many blessings.

A delightful read that covered a lot of territory in a few pages, I will save this one for a reread…of some of the sections, at least. 4.5 stars.

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