Ahh, summertime books are the relaxing, predictable ones, aren’t they? Well, not always. I found three to share with you that kept me guessing and in some cases, made me sit up straight and gasp. So, let’s get going with the summer book reviews.
And, just for fun, all three books have ‘summer’ in the title.
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Despite being summer books these do not necessarily take place on a beach. They were all fun and surprising and enjoyable. Take a look at my summer book reviews!
Now, let’s talk about Hello Summer! Conley Hawkins moved years ago to write for a big-city newspaper. Her sister, Grayson, has continued publishing the hometown newspaper (the Beacon) in Silver Bay, Florida. The book opens with Conley leaving her great job for an even bigger job in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, the job falls through and she finds herself without work or a place to live. She decides to return, temporarily, to Silver Bay.
Conley returns to her G’mama’s house, a feisty 90-year-old, who is cared for by her housekeeper, Winnie. It doesn’t take much for Conley to agree to work at the Beacon and this quickly escalates into a major scoop for Conley and the small newspaper. Conley and a local man she knows from high school (Sean Kelly, called Skelly) happen upon a car accident in which a Senator has been killed. While investigating and reporting on this accident all kinds of gossipy stories emerge and Conley is smack in the middle of it.
The Senator’s family is part of some underhanded behavior and Conley is receiving extra attention for bigger newspapers to stay on the story and find out who will run to replace the Senator in Congress. The gossip includes a second family of the Senator’s that was not common knowledge.
Speaking of gossip! Where did the name of the book come from? One of the Beacon’s most-read columns is a local gossip write-up by a woman that begins every story with ‘Hello Summer’. Her stories of what everyone wore to local events are actually quite funny.
So, did the Senator die from natural causes? Will his two families (that had no prior knowledge of one another) work out their differences? Will Conley stay in Silver Bay and most importantly, will she stay with Skelly? I enjoyed this book! It was predictable- but that is why we love this genre! 4.5 stars!
It is August, 2018 as this book opens. Tropical Storm Noelle is brewing off the Atlantic Coast and appears headed to become a hurricane that will impact the coastal islands.
The hurricane is still far enough away that forecasters are not sure which direction it will take.
Cara Rutledge, living on Isle of Palms in South Carolina, is anxiously watching the weather reports. Living on a barrier island connected to the mainland by a bridge means she should evacuate as soon as the hurricane’s direction is known. Cara lives in her beloved cottage where her mother before her had lived and worked tirelessly on the Island Turtle Team. If you need more history of Cara, start with The Beach House by this same author. That book is where her story with returning to her childhood home begins. There are several sequels to that book- including this one.
Cara and her boyfriend, David, had already left the island before the hurricane appeared headed toward them. When the hurricane makes the northward turn they leave her young daughter with family to return to the beach house. Their plan is to board the house and evacuate quickly.
At the same time, Hannah McClain, in Palm Beach, Florida is watching the weather. She and her boyfriend, Angel, are preparing his horse to travel to a shelter in the mountains. Hannah and Angel are both equestrians that have participated in many events and his horse, “Butterhead” is one he hopes to continue to train for the Olympics. Hannah no longer rides, but owns her own business.
Meanwhile, in Kiawah, South Carolina, Moira Stevens is also preparing to evacuate. Her husband, Thom, is out of the country and she is traveling to her mother’s horse ranch to escape the storm. She is also making a stop on the way to rescue a group of abandoned dogs to take them out of harm’s way.
And, in Wellington, Florida Elise and are mother, Gerta, are readying their horse to travel to the same horse ranch. Their horse is “Whirlwind” and he is quite an amazing horse. He was very expensive and Elise is expected to ride him in the next Olympics. His trainer, Karl, will be traveling with them to the ranch.
This crew descends on the horse ranch and join Grace and her husband Charles at Freehold Farm in Tryon, North Carolina. The horses roll in and some training and riding take place before the storm hits.
And, such drama unfolds. Elise and her mother bicker constantly. Elise cannot stand Karl and doesn’t particularly like her expensive horse. Elise and Moira knew each other from school and they bunk together. Grace and Gerta were close friends at a boarding school when they were girls. Hannah also knew Grace previously. Angel is ready to sell his beloved horse and Charles wants it. However, Charles can no longer ride. Also, Charles really wants Whirlwind.
Speaking of a whirlwind- what happened to Cara and David back on her island? Did they get the house boarded up? Were they able to evacuate? Also, is Angel more interested in the other ladies than his partner Hannah? Which one of the younger women seems attracted to Karl? I told you there was drama!
This is a lengthy book and a lot of information about the horses and their specialized training is included. I learned so much about dressage and the mannerisms of the horses. The book moves slowly- it is not a thriller. I will give it 4 stars- because I did stick with it and worried about all the interconnected characters. If you have read any of the other Beach House books, you also need to know that Cara is barely in this one!
If you have read anything from this author you know her books can be surprising. The one just prior to this new one was Mrs. Everything– a story of the lives of two sisters over a period of many years. The author is not afraid to attack social issues but you just might also find a little bit of chick-lit.
So, let’s meet some characters from Big Summer. The book opens with Daphne meeting a salesperson that offers clothing for Daphne to wear in her social media posts. Daphne has become quite a popular plus-sized model with a fabulous social media presence. Her start in this influencer world happened when she visited a bar with friends and somehow ended up dancing with a man her friends pushed her toward. One of those friends was Drue and Daphne accidentally overhears her talking to the man. Drue had set up the whole scene. When the man insults Daphne about her size she has an amazing reaction that is filmed and, you guessed it, the video became a viral hit with support coming to Daphne from many people.
It was also the moment that Daphne decided she wanted to be a woman – not a woman on a diet. Having perpetually watched her weight Daphne decides to enjoy the body she inhabits.
Now, how about Drue? Drue is an old middle and high school “friend”. Drue is famous for betraying and using friends in very mean ways and Daphne has for some time avoided her – until Drue tracks her down and begs her to be a bridesmaid at her upcoming wedding. Despite her misgivings about what is really going on, Daphne agrees.
In the meantime, Daphne is roommates with Darshi, an old middle school friend. Darshi attempts to warn her about Drue’s intentions with the invite to the wedding. Darshi was also treated badly by Drue and is not about to forget it.
Daphne takes off for an island to attend the wedding and she and Drue appear to be the best of friends again. All is going great and Daphne even gets quite cozy with someone attending the wedding. And then…
BAM! Something happens that made me sit up straight. And I will not go any further. I will tell you that this thing that happened occurred at the 47% mark on my Kindle. So, don’t give up on this book thinking it might just be chick-lit, girl meets boy, and they all live happily ever after. 4.5 stars because of this delightful twist!
Another happy month with these summer book reviews! I had fun just reading summer and beach books for a while. And, I loved writing my book reviews for you!
Check back in August for some fabulous new reads. I am departing from long book review posts like this one and will start a weekly review of one fabulous book! I read 10-12 books each month so check each Tuesday for a review of one I can recommend.
And by the way, do you use a Kindle? I don’t think I have picked up a real paper book in months and months! I love my Kindle. I will link you to the kind I have below! (easy on the eyes, no glare, back-lit for nighttime reading, lightweight, and it fits in my purse!)
My rating system: 5 stars means 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.