Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
Other Books By Author: A Hundred Summers,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.  Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.  Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.  Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well."

Virginia Fortescue's life hasn't really been easy. Her mother was murdered when she was just a child and obviously this has impacted her tremendously. As an adult, she has spent a lot of time driving ambulances in the war.  While at the war, she met Dr. Simon Fitzwilliam and sparks flew.  They got married and had a child, but things got complicated and they became estranged.  Virginia gets news that Simon has died in a fire at his house in Florida.  Virginia hurries down there to see what exactly happened and the more she discovers about Simon, the worse it gets.  It doesn't help that Simon's twin, Samuel, is also down in Florida sending her mixed messages about Simon and Agent Marshall is constantly warning her to go back home as she and her daughter could be in danger.  The more Virginia uncovers about the truth surrounding her husband, the more she wants to find out despite the dangers involved.  Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams is a suspenseful thriller set in Prohibition age Florida that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Virginia is an interesting character in Cocoa Beach. She isn't one to be meek or sit on the sidelines. She wants answers for herself and heads to Florida with her daughter to get them.  I liked that she drove ambulances for the Red Cross in the war and that she is headstrong.  She did frustrate me a little from time to time, but overall, she was an enjoyable character that I was most definitely rooting for.

Williams had me on the edge of my seat when I was reading Cocoa Beach. At one time I thought Simon was despicable. The next moment I thought his brother was the bad guy. Then I changed my mind and was confused all over again. She had me changing my alliances and the truth was definitely revealed slowly.  The last quarter of the book kept me flipping the pages till late as there were many plot twists and a lot of action.  It left me a bit breathless as there was SO much going on at the end; nonetheless, it was entertaining.

The setting of Prohibition age Florida was very atmospheric in Cocoa Beach. I could practically feel the thick humidity, smell the tropical flowers, hear the crash of the waves and the strong Florida sunshine.  It was all very well done.

Although I enjoy Williams' Schuyler Sisters series a bit more, I still appreciated Cocoa Beach and enjoyed the suspense.  If you are looking for a historical beach read that will keep you guessing and flipping the pages, look no further. Do you want to win an ARC of Cocoa Beach? Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Turtles All the Way Down

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Pub. Date: October 10, 2017

Goodreads says, "It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward.  Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.  In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity."

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that John Green has a new novel coming out this fall.  I am very excited! What do you guys think?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

If You Love Suspenseful Beach Reads

So oftentimes beach reads are light, fun, and fluffy, but in a good way. Sometimes I just want to sit by the beach or outside and get lost in a lighthearted read....nothing too serious. But sometimes I get sick of all the overly saccharine reads and want something with a little more weight and a little more oomph.  Here are my favorite beach reads that still have many of the characteristics of lighthearted beach reads while featuring enough suspense to keep me on the edge of my beach chair.

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams - Williams always does a good job of weaving history, romance, and suspense into her historical beach reads. I found this one to be a bit more suspenseful than her others.

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White - There's a good combination of romance, summer fluff, historical fiction through flashbacks, and also a serious murder mystery.

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews - A summer murder mystery set on a gorgeous North Carolina island.

A Single Breath - There's a ton of family secrets in this one and it kept me on my toes. Plus, look at that gorgeous setting!

The Blue by Lucy Clarke - This book features major drama and thrills aboard a yacht.

On the Island by Tracey Jarvis-Graves - The ultimate stranded on a tropical island survival story!

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa LaFaye - A hurricane is en route to the Florida Keys and of course it brings many dangers. Plus, it's based on the real-life hurricane that pounded the Keys in 1935.

With Malice by Eileen Cook - This is one of the best YA thrillers I've read in quite awhile. It's about a deadly accident set abroad in Italy and it involves amnesia, which definitely kept me guessing. 

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - I read this one a few summers ago and it's great beach reading if you enjoy a lot of twists with despicable characters.

What are some of your favorite suspenseful beach reads? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments below. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams

Pages: 293
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: Crown
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?  On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?"

Going to a family summer camp isn't high up on Phoenix's wish list this summer, but nonetheless, that's where she'll be along with her parents who don't get along and her younger brother.  So, obviously, Phoenix is miserable.  To top it off, she will be working there as a counselor.  But once she gets there, she meets an experienced counselor, Callum, who is supposed to be mentoring her.  She isn't a fan of his attitude, but she can't deny the attraction she feels towards him and she is starting to wonder if maybe he feels it too.  But Phoenix has some major trust issues and Callum has put up some major walls, so can these two actually make a go for it? And what happens when the summer is over?  Trusting You and Other Lies is your average summertime read for young adults that fans of outdoorsy settings will enjoy the most.

Phoenix....ugh. I wanted to like her, but she drove me nuts from the start. She's whiny and has a bad attitude. I mean her parents aren't that great, but obviously her father is dealing with a lot of financial difficulties. She never cuts her parents a break and is pretty self-absorbed.  I did enjoy her relationship with her younger brother, but I had some issues with the plot surrounding her family. They were supposed to be repairing their relationship while at camp and family wasn't even a bit focus of this book until the end. So, there were some major plot holes in Trusting You and Other Lies.

Why I did give this book a higher than average rating is the character of Callum.  I really enjoyed him; what can I say? I love a broody protagonist that is layered and mysterious. I liked his relationship with Phoenix as well as whole idea that he is mentoring her as a camp counselor.  That's a great way to get to know someone and their witty dialogue was a lot of fun. Their relationship and bantering is what pulled me into Trusting You and Other Lies.

The setting of camp was also a plus for me when I read Trusting You and Other Lies.  I really love summer camp stories and all the outdoorsy activities were also well done. I was a camp counselor for many years, so I could personally relate to this aspect of the novel.

Despite my issues with Trusting You and Other Lies, I thought it was a fun summer romance.  Was it my favorite? Not by any means, but an enjoyable way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Post and Giveaway Winners (35)

Waiting on Wednesday: All the Crooked Saints
Book Review: The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan 
Book Review: Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
Friday Five and Giveaway for Cocoa Beach

Next week I am sharing my thoughts on Trusting You and Other Lies, which is a fun YA beach read set at summer camp. I'll also be sharing my favorite suspenseful beach reads and my thoughts on Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams. Now that's a book that definitely kept me flipping the pages! Don't forget to enter my giveaway for an ARC.

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory - Thanks to NetGalley and Touchstone

ARC of How to Make a Wish goes to....

Crystal K.

Congrats! I hope you enjoy the book!

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Five and a Giveaway (41)

Happy Friday! Sometimes I like to talk about what I am currently into that is not necessarily book related. Here's what I have been up to/thinking about/enjoying lately. Can you believe I haven't posted a Friday Five since May? I guess it's about time!

1.  Little Women on PBS - Man, PBS has been killing it in the show department lately. Either that or I am secretly 75 years old. I am loving a lot of their new shows and I am thrilled to hear they are going to reboot Little Women. They recently announced their casting, which seems really spot-on.  Did I mention Angela Lansbury is Aunt March? Don't get too excited though, because it's not coming to PBS until 2018.

2.   YA Books - Guys, I love YA literature. Some of my favorite books are considered YA. But lately, I have been really disapponted by some of the new releases. In fact, only four YA books have made my best of 2017 list so far. Maybe I should be checking out some backlist YA novels that I've been dying to read. The new ones just aren't resonating with me as much as they used to and they seem to be filled with a lot of cliches and tropes. Anyone else experiencing this? I am definitely in a YA slump.


3.  Reese Witherspoon - I adore her, always have, always will. Not only do I love her clothing line, but she also has a book club.  I love this about her.  Anyone else check it out on Instagram? I am interested in her next selection, which is The Alice Network. Have any of you read it?

4.  Audible - My husband has the membership for the year, so he let me sign on to his account. I have dabbled in audio books in the past when taking long car rides, etc, but I have never really been a fan.  I got sick of listening to some of my political podcasts when I exercise, so for a break, I downloaded Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati.  A lot of historical fiction fans and Outlander fans recommended this behemoth book to me and I figured it would last awhile during my workouts. I am loving that I can download the Audible app to my phone and listen to it at anytime.  As a mom of two little kids, I can see the appeal of Audible, especially to break of the monotony of laundry, chores, etc.  Anyone else a fan?

5.  Giveaway: ARC of Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams - Although this one wasn't my favorite of her novels (I prefer the Schuyler Sisters series), I still really enjoyed it. The setting of Prohibition Florida was very atmospheric and the last 25% of the novel kept me on the edge of my seat. A lot more of a thriller than I was expecting! This book would be fantastic for vacation! I am giving away my ARC to one lucky US reader. Please refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is July 24th.   Good luck!

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Happy Friday,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

Pages: 256
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light. Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. And then she gets hacked. When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life. In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age."

Sunshine Mackenzie is a well-known chef with best selling cookbooks and millions of adoring fans.  This all changes when her social media accounts get hacked and some of her deepest, darkest secrets get exposed. Cue her world coming crumbling down and even her personal life is in pieces once her husband finds out some of her secrets that she has been keeping from him.  Her fans are upset as even who she claims to be isn't accurate at all; essentially, she is a fraud. Where do you go when you have lost everything? Well, Sunshine heads back home to Montauk and right back to her estranged sister. But Sunshine refuses to be down for too long and picks herself up by the bootstraps.  Laura Dave's Hello, Sunshine is a delightful beach read that has all the fluff you would want in a beach read, but it also examines bigger things like life in a digital age.

Sunshine is a character that although I disagreed with, I still cared about her in HelloSunshine. I mean she is a bit of a hot mess by the time her world comes crashing down and although she lied and took part in despicable things, I still was, somehow, rooting for her. I think that is a testament to Dave's writing. She made me care about Sunshine and I wanted to see her learn from her mistakes and rise from her ashes.

Sunshine is also a complex character in HelloSunshine.  When she returns to her childhood home, not only has she hit rock bottom, but she has to confront the shaky relationship she has with her sister and in turn spend time with her niece. I liked this aspect of HelloSunshine and the fact that Sunshine came home to sort of find herself again. And where better to do that than at the Hamptons? The setting of Montauk really added to beach-read appeal of this novel.

More importantly, I liked that Dave has readers examine what it means to live an authentic life, especially when it comes to social media. So often the way things appear on the Internet are contrary to real life and I think HelloSunshine is a nice reminder of this.

If you like a good beach read that has a nice setting along with the idea of finding yourself again and restarting your life, you'll appreciate HelloSunshine. It's definitely a fun book to throw in your beach bag this summer.

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