Jun 21, 2016

Book Spotlight and Q&A: Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax

Beach reads and women's fiction are popular right now as summer has started officially!
 Sunshine Beach (Ten Beach Road #4) by Wendy Wax, published June 21, 2016 by Berkley
Publisher description: There’s nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few glasses of wine can’t fix…  
After losing their life savings in a Ponzi scheme, Maddie, Avery, and Nikki banded together to make the most of what they’ve got left. It’s Maddie’s daughter Kyra who stumbles across a once glorious oceanfront hotel that has fallen into disrepair. The opportunity to renovate this seaside jewel is too good to pass up. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. 
Maddie’s second-chance romance with her all-too-famous new boyfriend gets complicated, Avery struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and Nikki’s reluctance to commit to the man who loves her could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life. And their hotel renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved murder which just might bring their lives tumbling down all over again…
Just love that cover, perfect summer scene and read. I want to be in a hotel like this right now!

Welcome, Wendy!
It’s been two years since we last heard from Ten Beach Road’s Maddie, Avery and Nikki, and I know readers have been looking forward to their return. I think it’s great that they’re back at Bella Flora in Sunshine Beach.

Yes, they’re back in Pass-a-Grille along with Kyra, Dustin, and most of the friends, family and crew of Do Over. They’re determined to figure out how to regain control of the show. Even Nigel, everybody’s favorite Paparazzi is there.  

What’s going on with the show?
The episodes filmed in The House on Mermaid Point haven’t aired yet, but it’s already clear to the Do Over cast that the footage is far too personal and will and show them at their worst whenever possible. Plus the treatmentminiscule budgets and no approval of editing along with contrived hardships and unnecessary intrusions by the network all make it impossible for them to produce the sort of program they first imagined and, in Ocean Beach, thought they’d be creating. So this a major turning point. They’re looking for a way to reclaim Do Over and that’s what leads to the discovery of the seemingly abandoned mid-century modern Sunshine Hotel, next door to the Don CeSar and just two miles from Bella Flora.

Is this as complete a renovation as they’ve tackled in earlier books?
Absolutely.  However, they’re getting resistance to even starting the project. The owners, two sisters, who inherited the hotel from their grandparents, have left it moldering for decades, unable to agree what to do with it.  One sister wants to see it renovated and sold. The other believes that the key to a long ago family tragedy lies in the hotel and doesn’t want it touched.

So they really have their hands full.
With that and more, actually.  Even when the cameras begin rolling, complications arise. Maddie’s romance with rock legend William the Wild gets complicated.  The paparazzi remain on call 24/7 hoping to catch sight of mega movie star Danielle Deranian or Kyra and his son, Dustin. Nikki’s reluctance to commit to Joe could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life alone.  Even the Sunshine Hotel seems to be against them when the renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved death and disappearance. Among the many emotional and physical ramifications of hosting a crime scene is that, quite simply, production grinds to a halt.  Not a matter of life or death, of course, but it could be the death knell for the women of Ten Beach Road financially.

What else can you tell us about Sunshine Beach?
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the Sunshine Hotel itself and that’s because the inspiration for it came from my own childhood.  You may know I’m a native of St. Pete Beach. When I was growing up, my family belonged to The Rellim Hotel and Beach Club on Pass-a-Grille Beach.   I spent summer days at The Rellim pursuing my childhood job—fun—back and forth between the pool, in particular the diving board, and the Gulf, stopping occasionally for ice cream and “sun tan lotion.” I loved The Rellim.  It opened in 1949 and closed in 1981. Needless to say, it was part of the inspiration for my Sunshine Hotel, giving me a chance to reminisce and to share a bit of what made it so special to me.  

Are any other locations inspired by real places in St. Pete Beach?
No and that’s because actually I just highjack most of them whole and put them in the book. Many of the places I send my Ten Beach Road characters are real, though not all were around when I was still living there. Most of those I include are places I enjoy going to and it’s fun to share them with readers.  The Paradise Grille, which used to be a concession stand, the historic Don CeSar and The Wharf Restaurant are among those mentioned in Sunset Beach.  In fact, I’ll be doing a Sunset Book Signing at the Paradise Grille in June.  It and my other southeast book tour dates and stops are on the Events & Appearances page at authorwendywax.com.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Yes! There a fabulous downloadable Sunshine Beach Book Club Kit available and I just love it. Everyone’s invited to check it out.  It includes the “Wax Family Never Fail (cross my heart!) Egg Souffle” recipe that Maddie makes.  It’s as close to a Cheez Doodle as anyone’s willing to give Avery first thing in the morning. It also includes my memories of “The Beach I Grew Up On” and pics of the real mid-century hotel that inspired Sunshine Beach, along with discussion questions.
Oh, and just to remind everyone that book news, updates and giveaways can also be found on Facebook and Twitter and there’s a newsletter sign up on my site, as well.  And that my USA Today bestseller, A Week at the Lake, will be published in mass market for the first time on Tuesday, June 28th.  
Thanks for giving me a chance to share Sunshine Beach with you and your readers!

First Chapter: A Golden Cage by Shelley Fredont

Nineteenth century novels of manners and mystery have been my reading choices the past few weeks or so. Here is another on my list.
A Golden Cage: A Newport Gilded Age Mystery #2 by Shelley Fredont, published June 7, 2016
Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.

First paragraph, first chapter:
Deanna Randolph tried not to stare, but it was the most remarkable thing she had ever seen. When she'd first learned that Maude Grantham was transporting an entire theater company to perform for her husband's birthday fete, Deanna hadn't known what to imagine. 
The Granthams' "cottage" on Bellevue Avenue  stood out like a sentinel of good taste, against the more imaginative facades of the other "cottages" that were being built in Newport. But even its stalwart presence was a study in excess, if you asked Deanna. 
Based on the first paragraphs, would you read on?

Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.  

Jun 18, 2016

Sunday Salon: Reading to Keep Cool

Trying to stay cool in this heat, and reading.

Just finished:
I liked A Useful Woman:  A Rosalind Thorne Mystery #1 by Darcie Wilde, published May 3, 2016 because of the more complex plot, set as it is in the early 19th century in England.
Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery set in London introduces Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society who finds herself solving a murder. 

Currently reading, another nineteenth century mystery set in England and Ireland:
As Death Draws Near: A Lady Darby Mystery #5 by Anna Lee Huber, to be released July 5, 2016 by Berkley
I am reading another 19th century mystery set just after the Regency era, my first Lady Darby mystery. The book fills in the past nicely so that you don't have to read the first four books to enjoy it. Lady Darby, now Mrs. Gage, and her new husband are called from their honeymoon in England's Lake District to investigate the death of a young nun in Ireland. Good so far...

A Window Opens, contemporary fiction by Elizabeth Egan, published August 25, 2015; Simon and Schuster
Featuring Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. I tried to get into the book but am having a bit of trouble with the slow-moving plot.  May try another time. 

I started what started out as a promising cozy but the plot was so thin it began to drag in the middle of the book, and I abandoned it! Magical cats can take one only so far unless you are in the mood.

My niece read What She Knew by Gillie Macmillan, a book I sent her, and thought it not too bad for a thriller.  

No new new books in the mail last week. I got one that is a double of one I already have, and I will probably send to my niece.

Keep cool wherever you are.....temps are crazy this week and will be into the next.

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

Jun 16, 2016

Book Review: Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde

A Young Adult novel and coming-of-age story that adults and the young will enjoy.
Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde, published May 24, 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Genre: YA, adventure, coming of age
Objective rating: 5/5

Ethan Underwood is only seventeen-years-old, scrawny and looking young for his age. He is determined to find his missing father whom he was visiting at Blythe River, when his father didn't return from his daily run in the woods.

Ethan tries going alone with his dog to find his dad in the wilderness, but defeated, is finally helped by three local people who accompany him into the deep woods. Ethan does not want to give up, although the others later think their continued search will be fruitless. How he handles this challenge and becomes confident enough to push ahead is the subject of this book. This is basically a coming-of-age novel, set in a natural wilderness, lovely but treacherous in areas. We follow Ethan as he makes decisions, becomes determined and more confident along the way.

The novel is well-written with characters we come to care about and a suspenseful search we take along with Ethan and his older, more seasoned pals.  I wished for a different ending in terms of how the father and son defined their relationship, but I guess it was more realistic.

Definitely a five star read that YA readers and older adults will enjoy.

Click here for the tour stops and more reviews of Leaving Blythe River at TLC Book Tours

Book beginning: 
Three months before his father disappeared 
Ethan remembers the shaking most clearly. Probably because it was the first moment of the shaking. The most familiar of things making an initial appearance. 
When he thinks back on that night, it's that bone-deep trembling - the out-of-control shivering, the chattering teeth - that still feels vivid. He tried to stop it, to calm it. But he was powerless, in more ways than one. 

About the author:
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Connect with the author at her Website | Blog |Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

Meme: Visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Jun 14, 2016

Book Review: The Question by R. Breuer Stearns

The Question by R. Breuer Stearns, published August 15, 2013
Genre: thriller, fantasy
Book description: THE QUESTION invites readers to consider this premise: If you could have the answer to one question, and only one question, what would you ask . . . and who would try to stop you from asking it? To what extremes would they go? 

My comments: This book is a mixture of sci-fi, fantasy, and a thriller, posing a universal and meaningful question. The Unity theory, where minds combine at the same time to form the same ideas and/or solutions, is being researched by the government although the President is pressured by a Mideastern power to stop the research.

The novel tends to be technical and therefore will appeal the most to a specific audience, one involved in underwater/submarine and other research in a military setting. Because of this, it was difficult for me to understand parts of the novel, though those involved in military research would find it very thought-provoking.

Recommended primarily for those interested in military training, naval research, and those who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy.

About the author: 
R. Breuer Stearns is an investor and author.

Mr. Stearns graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover (1970), Harvard University (AB, 1974), University of Chicago (MBA, 1977), and DePaul University College of Law (JD, 1979). He rapidly ascended on Wall Street in the 1980’s, serving as Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at Lehman Brothers and Head of Investment Banking (North America) at UBS Securities.  While living in New York, he founded “Terrific Teachers, Inc.,” a foundation dedicated to identifying and rewarding the best of the best of the city’s public high school teachers.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Stearns launched a private investment bank in the former Soviet Union.  He spent the early 1990’s seeking to marry emerging science, primarily emanating from Russia’s Defense sector, with Western capital.  During this period, Mr. Stearns made a small fortune, albeit from a larger one.  The venture provided a remarkable lesson in hubris, a tremendous reservoir of internal strength, and first-hand source material for Mr. Stearns’ first book, Winning Smart After Losing Big (Encounter Books, Beijing University Press).

Subsequently, Mr. Stearns served as Chief Financial Officer of The Dial Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of Columbia/HCA Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of PacifiCare, Inc., President and Chief Operating Officer of Vascular Genetics, Inc., and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quepasa Corporation (QPSA:Amex).

Mr. Stearns is a Founder of VestaPoint Capital LLC, a family of investment funds focused on real estate development.  He lives in Arizona with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a horse.  He travels extensively and is intensely curious.

Thanks to Laura at iREad Book Tours for a review copy of this book for the book tour. 

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