Great Escapes! Mary Alice Monroe’s The Beach House Has All the Feels of Summer

I came to know the work of Mary Alice Monroe fairly recently and read the last two books in this series first. This summer I decided to start at the beginning and picked up The Beach House, which was republished with a new (gorgeous!) cover. I was immediately whisked away to a Lowcountry summer with characters I quickly fell in love with, and started putting together the backstory of this family saga. And the turtles! Musn’t forget the turtles. What a writer!

Description

Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother—coming just as her own life is spinning out of control—has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons—true love involves sacrifice, family is forever, and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven.

My Take

When I fall in love with a book I’m delighted to find that it’s one of a series. The more books in the series the better. I can read them one after another until sated, and wait impatiently for the next. I approached this series backwards, reading the last two first before starting on Book One. I absoultely loved The Lowcountry Summer series and whipped through that before finding Ocean Boulevard, and this summer’s Summer of Lost and Found. When I saw the new cover for the first in The Beach House series I knew I had to go back to the beginning of the Rutledge family’s story and picked up The Beach House. This is the kind of summer book that grips you and puts you right into the heart of a family and their different dramas, easily choosing sides and rooting for your favorite characters. The story of Lovie is heartbreaking. Cara’s transformation is inspiring. The beautiful beach scenes put you right on the Carolina coast. The romances between Cara and Brett and Lovie and Russell are swoon worthy. This is a book you can visit again and again. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Recommended for readers of gripping women’s fiction and books about environmental issues, and beach lovers.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her novels.

Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels, published worldwide, and the author of two children’s picture books. She writes richly textured stories that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. 

Monroe has achieved many lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and SIBA and starred reviews. She has received numerous awards, including several Readers’ Choice Awards, RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the Girls Scouts of America Woman of Distinction Award, the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing and was featured at the National Festival of the Book, the 2008 International Book Award for Green Fiction for The Butterfly’s Daughter, the 2015 Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, and the ASPCA Henry Bergh award for Children’s Fiction. Monroe’s A Lowcountry Christmas won the 2017 Southern Prize for Fiction. Her novel, The Beach House, was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. In 2018 Mary Alice Monroe was inducted into the South Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. 

Mary Alice is an active conservationist and serves on the Board of the South Carolina Aquarium and The Leatherback Trust. She is a frequent speaker at book festivals, conferences, and private events. Monroe is also a frequent contributor to magazines and online blogs.

Mary Alice Monroe is published by Gallery Books and Aladdin Books, Simon & Schuster. Her agent is Faye Bender of The Book Group. 

Monroe lives with her family on Isle of Palms, a barrier island off Charleston, South Carolina. For additional information, go to http://www.maryalicemonroe.com.

Books I Love! Murder on Principle – Drop Everything and Read Eleanor Kuhns Latest Will Reed Mystery

This is the tenth in Eleanor Kuhn’s Will Rees mystery series. I love these books! They’re original and unexpected. This one’s got an interesting plot twist: smallpox. How timely. Read it when you’ve got nothing else to do after you pick it up.

About the Book

Will Rees faces a moral dilemma when a slaveholder is murdered while attempting to recapture a former slave: should he pursue lawful justice or should he let the killer go free?

November 1800, Maine. After helping their long-time friend Tobias escort his wife, along with a liberated slave and her child, from the Great Dismal back to Durham, Will and Lydia Rees’s lives are interrupted when a dead body is found near their home.

The body is that of Mr Gilbert, a slaveholder from the Great Dismal. Was he murdered in pursuit of the former slaves?

When it’s discovered Gilbert was infected with smallpox, and Gilbert’s sister arrives demanding justice and the return of her absconded slaves, Will is torn. Finding the killer could lead to the recapture of the former slaves. Letting them go free could result in a false arrest and endanger the Durham community. Will must make a choice . . .

My Take

It’s easy to get lost in Eleanor Kuhn’s world of 1800’s Maine. The series is painstakingly researched and the characters are written so well. You’ll think you’re in the mystery alongside Will and Lydia, feel the fear of the escaped slaves, and despise the elegant southern plantation mistress who comes to take them back to Virginia. The issue of race is deep in this story as abolitionists and sympathizers with the slave owners do battle. The smallpox outbreak – and the doctor’s ingenious way to offer a vaccination – is taken right out of today’s headlines. I couldn’t stop reading and spent a delightful Saturday afternoon trying to figure out the killer. Kuhns gave us several good options, but the ending came as a surprise. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

About the Author

ELEANOR KUHNS is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She lives in New York, received her master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

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New Release Spotlight! If The Shoe Fits is a Fairy Tale Fantasy for Grownups

If the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

Cindy loves shoes. A well-placed bow or a chic stacked heel is her form of self-expression. As a fashion-obsessed plus-size woman, she can never find designer clothes that work on her body, but a special pair of shoes always fits just right.

With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. Showcasing her killer shoe collection on network TV seems like a great way to jump-start her career. And, while she’s at it, why not go on a few lavish dates with an eligible suitor?

But being the first and only fat contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation—and a body-positivity icon—overnight. Even harder to believe? She can actually see herself falling for this Prince Charming. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she’s not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels— and her heart—don’t break in the process.

Best-selling author Julie Murphy’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and believing in the happy ending each and every one of us deserves.

About the Author

Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time. When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure. She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Dumplin’ (now a film on Netflix), Puddin’, Ramona Blue,
and Side Effects May Vary. Dear Sweet Pea is her debut middle grade novel. If the Shoe Fits is her adult debut.

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New Release Spotlight! Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts Offers a Sad Glimpse Into Online Dating

About the Book

Nina Dean is not especially bothered that she’s single. She owns her own apartment, she’s about to publish her second book, she has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and enough friends to keep her social calendar full and her hangovers plentiful. And when she downloads a dating app, she does the seemingly impossible: She meets a great guy on her first date. Max is handsome and built like a lumberjack; he has floppy blond hair and a stable job. But more surprising than anything else, Nina and Max have chemistry. Their conversations are witty and ironic, they both hate sports, they dance together like fools, they happily dig deep into the nuances of crappy music, and they create an entire universe of private jokes and chemical bliss.

But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she’s been trying so hard to ignore: her father’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and so is her mother’s denial of it; her editor hates her new book idea; and her best friend from childhood is icing her out. Funny, tender, and eminently, movingly relatable, Ghosts is a whip-smart tale of relationships and modern life.

My Take

Entirely enjoyable. I loved the characters, the scenes, the banter, just about everything. This is a sad story about dating in the 2020’s. Nina’s relationship with Max seemed so real, a happily ever after, and I felt her angst when he “ghosted” her.

A huge negative for me was the theme surrounding Nina’s father. He obviously has dementia, but that word is never mentioned in the story (although it is mentioned in the book description.) I get why Nina and her mom might not want to speak of it – like many grappling with this diagnosis, they are deep in denial – but it leaves the reader in limbo, especially the reader who is not familiar with the disease and doesn’t understand why Dad is the way he is. The writing surrounding this is exquisite and spot on. The author did a terrific job. But as an advocate for those living with dementia I felt she missed an opportunity here to do some real education on a poorly understood illness.

I also did not like the cover (upside down bouquet). That needs an improvement.

Still, a good read recommended for those who like women’s fiction with strong heroines, lots of drama, and well-placed laughs.

About the Author

Dolly Alderton is an award-winning author and journalist. She is a columnist for The Sunday Times Style and has also written for GQ, Red, Marie Claire and Grazia. From 2017 to 2020, she co-hosted the weekly pop-culture and current affairs podcast The High Low alongside journalist Pandora Sykes.

Her first book Everything I Know About Love became a top five Sunday Times bestseller in its first week of publication and won a National Book Award for Autobiography of the Year. Her first novel Ghosts was published in October 2020 and was also a top five Sunday Times Bestseller.l

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