Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Reading Map

It’s the beginning of the month and time to plan out my reading. I do this with a ‘Reading Map’. This is like a road map of my reading journey. Each month I do a ‘check-up’ to help me see what I’ve accomplished towards my reading goals and to help me see what needs to be done next.

I like to start with a look at what I’ve done since the last map.

What I’ve read in June.

What I’m Currently Reading

I didn’t do too badly this month. I at least started most of the books on my list, and I really didn’t expect to get to all of them. In addition, I didn’t realize until I picked it up that A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is nearly 500 pages long! (Good pages, though!)

Now it’s time to s take a look at my reading map for July.

July 2015 Reading Map

These are not in any particular order, and again, I may not read them all. 1984 is my book club selection for August, and if our meeting is during the second half of August, I will move this to my August reading map. Also, I leave myself open to picking up a different book, just because the mood strikes me. But this plan lets me pick up a book right away when I finish one, so I don’t lose valuable reading time deciding what to read next.

Do you have a ‘map’ to help guide your reading? If so, share it below in the comments. Maybe I’ll see something I want to add to my list! Happy reading!
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Whisper Beach

Whisper Beach
by Shelley Noble

Why did you choose this book? a ‘friends’ story set at the beach
When did you read this book? June 2015
Who should read this book? readers looking for a good summer beach read
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of Whisper Beach from TLC Book Tours

When a group of friends reunite in the idyllic beach town where they grew up, they must reevaluate their loyalty to one another or lose their friendship forever

Twelve years ago, Vanessa “Van” Moran fell in love and lost her virginity—but not to the same boy. She fled Whisper Beach desperate and pregnant, never telling a soul about her secret. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she must return home for the first time to attend the funeral of her best friend’s husband. Van intends to only stay for a weekend, but her plans fall by the wayside as the troubles of this coastal town draw her in.
Dorie, the owner of the pier’s infamous Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, enlists Van’s help to save the nearly bankrupt eatery. While Van throws herself into this new task, the man she once loved reenters her life, willing to pick up where they left off.

As the restaurant begins to thrive and Van reconnects with old friends, trouble comes from an unexpected source and she realizes she must face the decisions of her past or sacrifice this new life she has so carefully built.

For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.

My Review

Take a look at the beautiful cover on this book! Doesn’t it make you want to just pick it up and start reading? It did me. And when I saw the author is Shelley Noble, who also authored Stargazey Point, I knew I would read this one. It was just a bonus that I was invited to participate in the blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours!

I loved Stargazey Point (you can read my review here). Unfortunately, this one...not so much. Don’t get me wrong — it isn’t a bad read — I just didn’t love it as much as I did Stargazey Point.

Whisper Beach is a good summer read for those lazy days when you want to lay in the hammock and get lost in a good book. The story moves along quickly and I was finished in only 2-3 sessions (and could have finished in one if I could have just convinced the animals and family to let me alone to read!)

There were good characters and bad. I really enjoyed the character of Dorie; the motherly restaurant owner who took teens under her wing when they needed a little TLC. And I really did not like the character of Gigi, the whiny attention-seeking cousin of the main character, Van. That said, her behavior was enabled by those around her. I have mixed feelings about the main character, Van. She seemed to be a slow learner, not really learning that talking things out instead of running away can solve a lot of problems.

But what really made this a less than stellar read for me was that there were a lot of loose ends I would have like to have had tied up. I would like to know a little more about Van and her father, and how their relationship proceeds. I also would like to know a bit more about Bud, the cop. And I really, really would like to know why Harold was even in the story, as there didn’t seem to be much point to his character.

This could make an interesting pick for book clubs looking for a summer book that is a quick, relatively light read, but still has plenty of fodder for discussion. There are discussion questions available at Reading Group Guides, or you can just make up your own. Whether you are looking for a summer book club selection, or just looking for a good summer read for yourself, this one is worth taking a look at!

About Shelly Noble

Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer and has worked on a number of films. She lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to visit lighthouses and vintage carousels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.

Find out more about Shelley at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Rating:  ★★★1/2    3-1/2 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes and have written an honest review which appears above.

Shelley’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, June 16th: Book by Book
Wednesday, June 17th: BookNAround
Thursday, June 18th: Book Nerd
Friday, June 19th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, June 23rd: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, June 24th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, June 25th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Thursday, June 25th: Hot Guys in Books
Friday, June 26th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, June 29th: Under a Gray Sky
Tuesday, June 30th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, July 1st: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, July 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, July 9th: Kritters Ramblings

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Memes: Whisper Beach

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Colors and Breakwater Bay comes this unforgettable story—reminiscent of Kristin Hannah’s beloved novels—of friends, loyalty, and love as three women who are reunited in the idyllic beach town where they grew up are forced to re-evaluate their bonds

Fifteen years ago, seventeen-year-old Vanessa Moran fell in love and lost her virginity but not to the same boy. Pregnant, desperate, and humiliated, she fled friends and family and Whisper Beach, New Jersey, never breathing a word about her secret to anyone. She hasn’t been back since. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she returns to the funeral of her best friend’s husband. She intends on just paying her respects and leaving—though she can’t deny she also wants the town to see how far she’s come as a successful business woman. But her plans to make this a short visit fall by the wayside when her girlfriends have other ideas.

Dorie, the owner of the pier’s Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, needs help. Dorie’s roving husband spends every penny they make and now their restaurant is failing.

Joe, the boy Van left behind without an explanation, has never stopped loving her. While he’s wary of getting hurt again, he also can’t help wondering what would happen if they took up where they left off.

As the summer progresses and the restaurant takes on a new look, trouble comes from unexpected sources. For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.

Opening Paragraph

Chapter 1

    Vanessa Moran was wearing black. Of course she always wore black; she was a New Yorker . . . and it was a funeral. She’s dressed meticulously (she always did), fashionable but respectful, chic but not different enough to call attention to herself.
    Still, for a betraying instant, standing beneath the sweltering August sun, the gulls wheeling overhead and promising cool salt water nearly within reach, she longed for a pair of faded cutoffs and a T-shirt with some tacky slogan printed across the front.
    She shifted her weight, and her heels sank a little lower in the soil. The sweat began to trickle down her back. She could feel her hair beginning to curl. She should have left after Mass, sneaked out of the church before anyone recognized her.

My Teaser

    As they walked toward the front door, it opened and Suze stepped out. She zeroed in on Gigi and then her hand. “Is that the mail?”
page 113

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!

(These quotes are from uncorrected advance proofs. Please refer to the final printed book for corrected quotes!)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: All The Single Ladies

All The Single Ladies
by Dorothea Benton Frank

Why did you choose this book? it sounded like a good ‘friends’ story
When did you read this book? June 2015
Who should read this book? fans of Dorothea Benton Frank or ‘Southern’ lit
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of All The Single Ladies from TLC Book Tours

The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.

My Review

If you have read other books by Dorothea Benton Frank, you already know a little about what you can expect; her wonderful descriptions of life in the Lowcountry and her sense of humor! And if that is what you expect, you won’t be disappointed.

This story is a little bit romance, a little bit mystery, and a whole lot friendship. Lisa is a middle-aged mother of an adult daughter whom she raised as a single mom when her husband abandoned the family — a daughter she is currently estranged from. Lisa works at a local assisted living facility where she has a patient, Kathy, who is dying of cancer. Kathy has two friends, Suzanne and Carrie, who bond with Lisa when they visit. They, too, are single ladies as the result of failed relationships, concerned about what the future holds for them. Suzanne and Carrie live in a beach house owned by Suzanne’s nearly 100-year-old grandma, Miss Trudie. (Miss Trudie, by the way, is the highlight of the book! Everyone needs a Miss Trudie in her life!) Pretty soon, Lisa is in the midst of a housing crisis, and is invited to join the crew at the beach house! And before you know it, they all meet single men, and romance ensues.

Meanwhile, there is a bit of a mystery on their hands. When Kathy succumbs to her cancer, Lisa, Suzanne, and Carrie are approached by Kathy’s landlady to clean out her things from the apartment so that the landlady can quickly re-rent the apartment. Though it seems like she is rushing things, they agree to take care of it. But when the landlady comes in while they are cleaning the apartment and begins placing stickers on antiques, claiming ‘Mine!’ and that she was just loaning these things to Kathy, red flags go up. How are they to know what was Kathy’s and what was not?  As they clean and look for clues, they stumble upon a side of Kathy that they never knew existed.

While I don’t think the resolution of the problem was realistic — I don’t think things would have played out quite they way they did,  but I don’t want to spoil things and tell you why I feel that way — the situation was resolved, the mystery solved,  and we are left to assume everyone lived happily ever after.

Even though things are predictable at times, and even a bit unrealistic, this was a fun story and a quick read. If you are a Dorothea Benton Frank fan, you will definitely want to pick this one up for your summer reading pile!

About Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She divides her time between the New York area and the Lowcountry.

Find her on the web at where you can read and excerpt of All The Single Ladies, or like her on Facebook or Twitter.

My Rating:  ★★★1/2    3-1/2 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes and have written an honest review which appears above.

Dorothea’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, June 9th: Many Hats
Wednesday, June 10th: A Chick Who Reads (spotlight)
Thursday, June 11th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Friday, June 12th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, June 15th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, June 16th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, June 17th: Always With a Book
Thursday, June 18th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, June 22nd: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, June 23rd: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, June 24th: Novel Escapes
Thursday, June 25th: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, July 2nd: A Chick Who Reads (review)

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