Are you ready for some middle-of-the-month book reviews. But, first, I have to be honest. I have said this many times and I will repeat- I am not usually a fan of chick lit! But…let me explain.
I definitely do not care for the meet-cute, hate-at-first-sight, then fall in love books. But, a more light-hearted book is sometimes the perfect book. If I find myself reading or listening to something substantial, like a Stephen King mega-book, then my second book might be a chick-lit title. I cannot keep track of the characters and events to read two of the same genre at the same time.
Yes, I always have two books going at the same time. 🙂
I have spent the last month with some heavier books and some fun beach books merging together. Book reviews of Beach books are first! In about two weeks I will share the Summer Books!
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Beach books, let’s see. Beach books take place at the beach, mostly the area around Nantucket. One of the main characters is either already living on an island or arrives at the island and decides to live there forever. Enter the male figure and bam. I have an added twist to this scenario. Beach books might have the word “Beach” in the title. Take a look at the reviews of three beachy books I found lately!
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Let’s start with their names. January and Augustus. No, seriously, the main characters are named January and Gus, but it works.
The two first met as college students and briefly shared a dance at a frat party, but never had anything in common.
Years later, they discover they are staying in neighboring beach houses for the summer.
January and Gus are both writers, but with very different genres. They are both staying at the beach houses due to writer’s block and impending deadlines for a new book. Of course, they meet and with some excellent and sarcastic banter they begin a relationship. By banter I mean laugh out loud funny asides and jokes. The relationship is purely literary- for about five minutes.
January and Gus are equally leery of the genre the other writes and they make a bet. Each will write in the genre of the other. They have meetings and “field trips” to see locations that would inspire their own style. January takes Gus to carnivals or beaches to inspire the type of chick-lit meetings that she would normally write about. Gus takes her to a graveyard and an interview site with a former cult member which would inspire his type of writing.
There are backstories- January’s feelings about her father are a key to the story and will be resolved near the end in a tender, moving way. Gus’s estrangement and divorce from his wife are central to his character. You will love their family members and the stories of these two characters getting to know one another. The dialogue between them is fabulous!
I am going with 5 stars on this one! I listened to this book and Julia Whelan is perfect as the narrator. The book was a perfect Beach/Summertime Book, but it was also well-done!
Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer
This one was more of a typical summertime/beach read. I was kept guessing about which male would be Darcy’s choice.
Darcy Cotterill is a full-time resident of Nantucket. She lives in a house she inherited from her grandmother and has her dream job.
Everything seems perfect until her ex-husband shows up in the next-door cottage.
Darcy was once married to Boyz (yes, you read that right). It’s a shortened form of his real name. He and his entire family are realtors and live and breathe the job. Darcy has only dreamed of being a librarian, a position about which Boyz and his siblings are disdainful. Nevertheless, here Darcy is, living in a home she loves and working at the town library.
Boyz is on Nantucket for the summer with his new wife and her 14-year old daughter. For reasons I won’t divulge, Darcy and the daughter, Willow, become acquainted. In the meantime, the cottage on the other side of Darcy has new tenants for the summer. Mimi, an elderly woman that reminds Darcy of her own grandmother, and her grandson, Clive. Clive and Darcy seem to have an instant connection.
Such drama, but there is more. Another family arrives with three rambunctious boys, and there is some hanky-panky that occurs with the adults. Now, let’s also throw in that Darcy has a boyfriend. His name (of course) is Nash. (I think it must be a chick-lit beach book rule that character names must be a little different.)
As much as this book is about which male Darcy will choose, it’s also about friendships. Darcy develops real connections with all the females and it’s really refreshing how they help one another. Even though these are summer people on the island, these could be lasting relationships.
So, which of the three men did Darcy end up with? I will never reveal that, but I will say I was happy with her choice. I will add that there are a couple of scenes with Willow that didn’t ring true for me. I still enjoyed the book and will give it 4 stars!
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
This is one of my favorite authors. Her beach books follow a fairly typical path, but she almost always adds so much more to the book. Her details and the relationships between her characters make it worth your time to delve into a summer read. Now, let’s talk about this book.
As the book opens Mallory Blessing is very ill, dying, in fact. She lets her teenage son, Link, know that a phone number is in her desk. He is asked to call the number and let the person know about her health. Link has no idea to whom the number belongs, but he calls and finds himself talking to Jake McCloud- Jake who is married to a woman that is about to be a candidate for president of the United States.
Why does Mallory know Jake and why does she want him called?
It seems that many years prior to this Mallory met Jake at her beachfront Nantucket cottage. She was very young and moved to the cottage after her aunt left it to her. Jake arrives with Mallory’s brother, Cooper, and friends for a bachelor party for Cooper. Several disasters occur that Labor Day weekend and Mallory is left with Jake when some of the men go home. They definitely have chemistry. But there is one problem.
Mallory has no plans to move back to the mainland and Jake has big plans for his future. Instead of deciding to stay together they make a pact- Jake will come back in a year and for every year after that. They will just have one weekend every year together. (The movie Same Time Next Year is referenced throughout this book.)
Sound romantic? It almost does, doesn’t it. Well, not so much for me. This is where I began to think I would not care for this book. Here’s the thing. Jake goes back to his girlfriend and they eventually marry. Yet, he still goes back to Nantucket every Labor Day weekend. And this is a secret from everyone they know.
This arrangement spans 28 summers. They both change in appearance, they have great jobs, and they have amazing connections- but only for Labor Day weekend. They do not keep in touch during the year. But….
Jake is married. And he stays married. His wife thinks he is meeting guy friends every year. They both lie and make sacrifices for this weekend.
Mallory has a fling with someone she has known for a long time and the son she raises is part of the story as is Cooper and his many wives.
The central story, though is one of deceit and I just cannot say this book was amazingly wonderful – for that reason. The story was well written. I liked the way each chapter opened with a list of what was going on in the news of each of the 28 years. I loved Mallory and Cooper, but ….
Should you read this one? I give it 4 stars because it was a page-turner. Yes, try it. This author is wonderful and her descriptions of Nantucket always make me want to live there. You will have read a good book and you will have to decide if the premise of this story is one you like– or not.
My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
Just an FYI: I will be honest and tell you that I do not pick up just any beach book. I read reviews and listen to a snippet on Audible and mull over the choices for a long time. If I finish one – it has a compelling story-line. Those are the ones I recommend! (Don’t forget- at the end of the month I will reveal my “Summer” book reviews (the word “summer” is in every title!)