Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Settling into summer with some relaxing reads

Although the calendar says that we're still a few days away from the official start of summer, for most of us, summer is already here and unpacking plenty of good books to read.

I've already made a good start on my summertime reading and would like to highlight three of those books, two of which I am still in the midst of. First up is Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax, in which a trio of gal pals are looking for the next redesign project to focus their energies on.

Avery,Maddie and Nikki all became friends due to being mutual victims of a Ponzi scheme that wiped out their life savings. Pooling their talents together, they were able to get a reality series about home makeovers called Do Over, that started out well but ended with a very catty portrayal of their efforts.

Burnt from that experience, the ladies want to try again but only with more control over the viewpoint of the show. When Maddie's daughter Kyra(along with her adorable young son Dustin) comes across an abandoned hotel on the beach, it feels like the ideal place to renew their creative spirits. However, the owners of the property are reluctant to allow them in, due to a past tragedy that haunts them still.

Sunshine Beach is the latest chapter in a series known as Ten Beach Road for Wendy Wax and while I haven't read any of those earlier books(I was first introduced to Wax via her lovely novel While We Were Watching Downton Abbey), there is more than enough back story catch-up to make this one easy to get into. The book before this was The House on Mermaid Point and I do intend to read that as soon as can be. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my time at Sunshine Beach(which will be on sale by June 21):

Thanks to winning an advance copy from Library Thing, I was able to complete the new Terry McMillan novel, I Almost Forgot About You. Our leading lady here is Dr. Georgia Young, who has a successful eye care practice and two adult daughters, not to mention a very feisty mother with her own love life.

Upon learning of the passing of a former love, Georgia decides to make a few changes in her own situation and part of that evolving plan includes looking up a few past lovers.  Georgia's ex-husbands are also added to that mix, which offers a few complications but not as many as the ones that both of her girls suddenly decide to drop at her door step.

It's been a long while since I read McMillan and this novel reminds you of the heartfelt warmth and emotional strengths of her characters that made her a popular writer in the first place. IAFAY was such a welcome delight that I got myself a copy of How Stella Got Her Groove Back to further enhance my summer reading time. Reading about women who call upon their inner resources when things get tough is a true tonic for my world weary soul these days:

While we sadly don't have a new Maeve Binchy novel to look forward, she did leave a good number of them to enjoy. One of those that I hadn't read yet was Whitethorn Woods, which is in a favorite format of hers, the interconnected set of short stories about an Irish small town.

The woods of the title are home to a local shrine known as St. Ann's Well that has become a bit of a sensation, due to claims that prayers are truly answered there. That shrine is in danger of destruction as plans for a new roadway threaten to cut into the woods, which wouldn't upset the parish priest Fr.Flynn too much as the citizens of Rossmore give it more credence than the church.

Others, however, feel a debt to St. Ann's Well in one way or another, such as Ned, a plain spoken fellow whose down to earth sense is not as foolish as many think, and Vera, whose singles cruise has an awkward start but soon turns into the best decision of the heart she's made in a long while. I think they are plenty of writers out there who could take a page or two out of Binchy's playbook about what makes a good simple story worth listening to and so far, this book is a good example of just that:

 I have much more to read this season, including my Year with Hemingway selections, but I would recommend these three as a fine start towards relaxing with a good book in the summer shade. At the very least, one or two of them should provide a nice respite from the cycle of manic Mondays that  most of us are trudging through and make every day a Sunday fun day:


Readsandeats said...

I have read the Maeve Binchy and really enjoyed it.
Sumer Beach sounds a really good book, think I will try and get it - do you know if it is available in the UK?
I Almost Forgot About You also sounds really interesting, will add it to my ever growing books I would like to get list!!

Have a good week.

lady t said...

Hi, Fiona-Amazon.uk does list Sunshine Beach and it has the same release date as the US edition(not that I'm promoting Amazon but that's where I saw the info). I also recommend While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax-it's not part of her Ten Beach Road series and it's all about a group of people bonding over the show. A really nice read as well:)