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  • Cristina Merrill 4:00 pm on 2018/06/13 Permalink
    Tags: , by invitation only, calypso, , , , , dorothea benton frank, , , , , love and ruin, , , , rainy day friends, , , the cast, , the perfect couple   

    10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind 

    Summer is nearly here! That means plenty of time for lounging about in the great outdoors. Here are 10 page-turning stories to enjoy as you soak up the sun. Some are light and breezy, and others are a bit darker—covering everything from murders to social media scandals. There are fresh starts and betrayals and secrets. They all have one thing in common, though: They’re each filled with beautiful, colorful characters who will make you want to keep turning the pages, even when the going gets rough. (Especially when the going gets rough, actually.)

    So put on your biggest shades, slather on the SPF-whatever-you-need, and enjoy! Just don’t forget to turn over once in a while.

    The Cast, by Danielle Steel
    Hoping to dip your toes into a glamorous, Hollywood-esque story? Seek no further! Steel’s yarn is about a woman, Kait Whittier, who has a respectable magazine writing career. After meeting Zack Winter, a television producer, Kait becomes inspired to write a TV series based on her grandmother’s life. She soon finds herself in the middle of a major production filled with all kinds of people. All is going quite well, until she is confronted with a major maternal-related issue. Will she be able to get through it? And will her new inner circle help her?

    The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
    Fans of The Castaways and A Summer Affair will have a chance to revisit some of their favorite characters in this novel! It’s wedding season on Nantucket, which doesn’t exactly thrill the locals. (So. Many. Tourists.) Then a bride-to-be is found dead just a few hours before the ceremony was supposed to begin, and many of those who were close to her are prime suspects. Chief of Police Ed Kapenash is on the case, and he soon realizes that no lovey-dovey couple—or family, for that matter—is perfect. He’s going to have to ask some difficult questions in order to solve this case and bring the bride’s loved ones closure.

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin’s latest tale is about a major incident that goes viral on social media. Nina Browning is living the good life in Nashville. Her wealthy husband just sold his tech company for a major profit, and their son got accepted to Princeton. Living a very different life is Tom Volpe, a single dad working multiple jobs to raise his daughter, Lyla, while making sure she doesn’t screw things up at her new prep school. One night, at a wild party, a scandalous photo is taken that can shake up everything these two families have worked for. Can they manage to survive the scandal and pick up the pieces of their lives?

    Calypso, by David Sedaris
    Humor book alert! Funnyman David Sedaris’s latest book is about his purchase of a beach house. This may seem like The Dream for just about anyone, but, as Sedaris learns, it’s not all fun and games. He thought it would be a relaxing retreat, but he still can’t escape the facts of life, such as middle age and mortality. There are plenty of his patented and hilarious ruminations on both in this volume, so be prepared for lots of belly laughs in spite of yourself—and maybe some stares from the people sitting nearby.

    Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts
    Roberts’ latest book deals with a mass shooting at a mall, and how it affects the lives of the survivors for years to come. One man decides to go into law enforcement, while one woman finds a much-needed outlet in her art. Years have passed since that horrible night, but the pain still lingers, and it may not even be over yet. Let’s just say that someone bad is waiting to cause more chaos. Fans know that Roberts (and her alter writing ego, J.D. Robb) consistently delivers thrillers filled with the most wonderful human characters.   

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Attorney Brooke Trappnell has been summoned by 99-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick to the old lady’s beach home. Josephine wants to make things right with the descendants of her old girl gang. They called themselves The High Tide Club back in the day, and let’s just say they used to have oodles of fun together. (Case in point: They went skinny dipping. A lot.) Of course, many things have happened since those days. Oh, and Josephine also wants Brooke to help her protect her land from greedy hands. Brooke soon finds herself in the middle of decades-old drama as she reunites everyone at Josephine’s home.

    Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain
    McLain is at it again! After the success of The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first of multiple marriages, this new tome delves into Hemingway’s marriage with journalist Martha Gellhorn. Martha travels to Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War and ends up crossing paths with the soon-to-be-super-famous writer. Throughout their relationship, one of her main struggles is to make sure she remains her own person, which many a modern reader can appreciate. Hemingway scholars know how this particular love story ends, but it’s still fun to read about a romance between two interesting and intelligent people with lots of inner turmoil.

    By Invitation Only, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    A wedding is about to take place, and let’s just say the bride and groom come from very different backgrounds. Fred’s family are Southern peach farmers, while Shelby comes from a wealthy Chicago family. One side is very hardworking, while the other side—or certain folks on it—have a bit of a sense of entitlement. Everyone is feeling a little bit out of their element, especially the two mothers. Will Fred and Shelby’s relationship survive class differences? And will everyone be feeling the love when Fred and Shelby say “I do?” (That is, IF they do?)

    Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber
    Annie Marlow has been through some pretty painful experiences, so she decides to hightail it to the Pacific Northwest. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Keaton, who helps her fix up her seaside rental cottage. He’s a very nice, zen kind of guy, which Annie really needs right now. Life is going smoothly, and then Annie gets a major opportunity thrown her way. Add to that a landlady with some major emotional walls around her and a teenager who might be in desperate need of Annie’s help, and you’ve got a page turner you won’t be able to put down.

    Rainy Day Friends, by Jill Shalvis
    Lanie Jacobs’ husband recently passed away, and she’s still getting over her grief when she discovers that she wasn’t his only wife. She’s devastated, to say the least, and she decides to make a fresh start for herself by working at the Capriotti Winery. It’s a family-run venture, and Lanie gets plenty of distraction from the noisy Capriotti family. There’s also the matter of Mark Capriotti, an Air Force veteran who is now the deputy sheriff. He and Lanie soon realize that they really like each other. Then a 21-year-old newcomer with some dark secrets shows up, which just might ruin everything that Lanie has worked for.

    The post 10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:30 pm on 2014/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , dorothea benton frank, , , ,   

    It’s a Family Affair: Dorothea Benton Frank’s The Hurricane Sisters 

    The Hurricane Sisters

    Whether you read it on the beach, in a crowded subway car, or at a chilly coffee shop, Dorothea Benton Frank’s The Hurricane Sisters will transport you instantly to South Carolina’s stunning, leisurely Lowcountry, where you can almost smell the brisk salt air, taste the sweet tea, and feel the sand sticking to your legs.

    Here on beautiful Sullivan’s Island we meet dreamy twentysomething artist Ashley Anne Waters, who’s barely making ends meet as a gallery assistant while living in her family’s dilapidated beach cottage for free with her best friend, aspiring teacher and current caterer’s assistant Mary Beth.

    Ashley’s artistic aspirations are frowned upon by her father, successful investment banker Clayton, and her mother, Liz, a passionate fundraiser for a domestic violence shelter. Liz and Clayton likewise disapprove of the lifestyle of their stylish gay son, Clayton IV (who, thanks to the Roman Numerals in his name, goes by the nickname “Ivy”), who lives in San Francisco with his tech-geek business (and life) partner, James.

    Liz suspects the remote, absentee Clayton of having an affair, but despite this hardship still comes across as rather unsympathetic, at least initially. She is a harsh judge of her children and the paths they have chosen, acts defensively toward her 80-year-old mother, Maisie, and is generally prickly with the ones she loves.

    However, one of the most satisfying aspects of Frank’s absorbing, highly readable, and beautifully layered novel is the fact that each chapter is narrated by a different member of the very diverse (and complicated) Waters family. As we share the perspective of each character, slowly their ties to one another, as well as the deep-seated origins of their many feuds, hostilities, and disagreements, become increasingly clearer. The more we learn about Liz, the more likeable she becomes, and the more we sympathize with the choices she has made. Her life has not been an easy one, and she holds herself to an impossibly high standard as both a wife and a mother. Liz carries the burden of a beautiful, perfect older sister, Juliet, who died tragically at an early age, and of a mother who unceasingly compares her to Juliet and finds her lacking.

    As Liz steels herself to confront Clayton over their disintegrating marriage, and Maisie faces a crisis when her much younger partner has a stroke, Ashley endures her own relationship challenges.  She’s begun dating a handsome, polished politician named Porter, who has begun to act less than gentlemanly towards her. Despite the fact that her mother is a passionate advocate for victims of domestic violence (and Frank makes a point of mentioning that South Carolina has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country), both Ashley and her mother refuse to see Porter for the man he really is.

    In the immortal words of Tolstoy, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The Waters family is certainly unhappy in a unique way; the hopes, fears, and expectations that these three generations of women have for each other are all tangled together, and even those with the best intentions often end up being unintentionally hurtful. In this way, Frank manages to capture in almost excruciating detail the ways in which family members who love each other dearly are still able to misunderstand and alienate each other. But the enduring love and compassion that they also have for each other, above it all, is that much more inspiring and truthful.

    If you’re looking for a heartwarming read with cleverly drawn characters and a plot that draws you in and won’t let go, The Hurricane Sisters is the perfect summer beach book.

    Have you read The Hurricane Sisters?

  • Joel Cunningham 4:50 pm on 2014/07/03 Permalink
    Tags: , dorothea benton frank, helena rappaport, housekeeping, , , joel dicker, lisa lutz, , markus zusak, , , the book thief, , , the last days of the romanovs, the romanov sisters, the shadow of the wind, the silkwrorm, the spellman files, the truth about the harry quebert affair, , ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked Top Secret Twenty-One, The Book Thief, The Hurricane Sisters, The Romanov Sisters, or The Silkworm 

    photoAs someone who started reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels when the series was still in the single digits, I can honestly say that it isn’t the mysteries that keep fans coming back, it’s the characters: perpetually frazzled bounty hunter Stephanie, her push-pull love interests Ranger and Morelli, and especially her pistol-packing, porn-watching Grandma Mazur. If you’ve read the latest, Top Secret Twenty-One, try The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz, the first in a series about a colorful family of private investigators who spend as much time investigating one another as they do solving cases.

    The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is, in one sense, a harrowing story of the Holocaust, one of the most hopeless periods in human history. And yet, it is also a story about the power of books to provide not just an escape from darkness, but also to spark a fire that can hold it at bay. If you were inspired by Leisel’s determination to rescue books before they could be destroyed by Nazi storm troopers, you’ll likely entranced by the literary mystery that drives The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, about a boy’s lifelong quest to safeguard a crucially important tome from The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

    In The Hurricane Sisters, by Dorothea Benton Frank, two best friends take a gamble on turning a peeling family-owned mansion into a lavish Lowcountry resort, setting the stage for the perfect beach read, an engrossing, multigenerational family saga filled with lovingly crafted Southern locales and endearing, enduring characters. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, a 1980 Pulitzer nominee, is a clear spiritual forebear chronicling the lives of two orphaned sisters who are passed around by a series of relatives before winding up with their eccentric aunt in small-town Idaho. Over the years, as the trio grows apart then comes together again, the novel demonstrates that housekeeping, in the metaphorical sense, means creating a home and finding a family.

    The Romanov Sisters, by Helena Rappaport, is an impeccably researched, revelatory portrait of the daughters of the last Tsar of Russia, girls who were as famous in their day as any heiress whose photos are getting drawn on by Perez Hilton, and whose fame could not save them from a violent end amid revolution. For a complete picture of the tumultuous end of a centuries-old dynasty, pick up Rappaport’s exhaustive earlier work, The Last Days of the Romanovs.

    After venturing into the sordid world of high fashion in The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (née J.K. Rowling) sends private investigator Cormoran Strike into the underbelly of the publishing world in The Silkworm, investigating the gruesome murder of a two-bit writer murdered before he could publish a scandalous roman à clef that promised to expose a lot of dirty secrets. For another mystery featuring an author behaving badly, check out The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joel Dicker, a blockbuster in Europe, in which a struggling young novelist is drawn into a scandal involving his literary mentor, a famed writer accused of murdering his underage girlfriend.

    Have you read any of these books?

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