Ready, Set, Beach!!!!

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I’ve determined that I am a beach bum.  The beach is my happy place be it the height of summer or the dead of winter.  There is something calming about the sound of the waves and sand between my toes.  It is a place where I can “hear myself think”.  Given the Zombie Apocalypse of 2020, I’m finding it to be my remote work refuge.  A place to contemplate and work and, better yet, the view is amazing!

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With the upcoming holiday, I am setting the week aside as vacation.  It’s time for some pleasure reading, beach walking, and general out of office time.  I’m packing the beach bag with goldfish for a snack, my kindle loaded with beach reads, my iPod with audiobooks and a playlist and I’ve ordered a case of sunscreen from Amazon.

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2020 beach reading list (no reviews as I’m just set to start my reading binge)

  • Feels Like Falling, Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Hello Summer, Mary Kay Andrews
  • Chanel’s Rivera,Anne de Courcey
  • Sex and Vanity, Kevin Kwan
  • Drawing Home, Jamie Brenner

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2020 audiobook playlist (no reviews as I’ve just started listening and walking)

  • The Summer House, James Patterson
  • The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel
  • Firing Point, Tom Clancy
  • Resistance Women, Jennifer Chiaverini
  • All the Ways We Said Goodbye, Beatriz Williams
  • True Evil, Greg Iles

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Packing list for the beach bag

  • Sunscreen – 30 and 50.  My go to is Coola but I couldn’t find the unscented this year so I’m opting for Supergoop.
  • Beach towel – I’m still using monogrammed bath sheets I ordered from Neiman’s years ago but I keep eyeing the ones from Weezie.  I love their makeup towels.
  • Tech – iPod, kindle and AirPod Pro (the pro are amazing at noise reduction.  I highly recommend)
  • Cooler with drinks and a spray bottle of Evian to cool you down
  • Goldfish
  • Hat

Summer Reads Audible Style

Is listening to an audiobook “reading”?  While not “reading” in the traditional or neurological (due to different processing in the brain) sense; but an excellent alternative when you are driving, exercising, otherwise engaged in an activity where you are unable to “read.”

As an avid reader, I often have several books started at any given time and one of them is likely to be an audible book.  This summer I’ve listened while painting, weeding, exercising, and driving.  As confession is good for the sole, I confess I’ve listened to some excellent books and then there are the duds.  My summer thumbs up / thumbs down list follows.

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Those on the thumbs up list all share common features.  They had an engaging plot, likeable characters and were well written.  Park Avenue Summer and Down River are not to be missed.  They are excellent!  So, thumbs up for:

Park Avenue Summer

Down River

The Mulberry Tree

The Spitfire Girls

The Malta Exchange

The Girl From Berlin

Single Malt Murder

Honorable mentions to :  The Mother in Law and Berlin Calling

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Those earning a thumbs down also shared certain characteristics including a wandering plot, need for a good editor, and characters who were not rootable. Both The Golden Hour and Wunderland held so much potential.  Yet, they both fell flat.  I kept thinking get on with it!

 

Books, Books, and More Books!

I love curling up on the lounge on the patio or under a beach or pool umbrella with a good book.  This summer I’ve put a large dent in the books I downloaded to my Kindle and/or the audiobooks I downloaded to my iPod.  One of my first blog posts was on my beach reading list.  Now, several flights and weekends later, I’ve more to add to my summer reading recommendations.

On a side note, someone asked me about my reviews, each book I write about I’ve read (or, if it’s an audiobook, listened to) and enjoyed enough to share with you!

 

As a child I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Dana Girls, Vicki Barr, or Hardy Boys book.  There is just something about the next adventure, the next chapter in the life’s of a favorite character that I can’t wait to enjoy.  In library speak, these books are referred to as series books.  The modern equivalent is the Harry Potter series – yet another I devoured – this time as an adult!

Recently, I discovered two new series that I love.  Both are mystery series with an intrepid female lead playing the part of detective.  Shades of Nancy?  I’ll have to consider further the impact Carolyn Keene has had on my lifetime reading habits.  But I digress, the two new favorite series are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie  Dobbs and Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness.  Both also have a historical fiction element in common as both are set in the period between WWI and WWII.

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The Maisie Dobbs series is a bit bleaker in that it tackles the hard truths associated with WWI. The initial book in the series is the story of Marie’s childhood, including her time as a nurse in France and the horrors of the battlefield.  Later titles tackle the associated horrors of war in a post war environment.  The most recent title is set in the lead up to WWII.  They are delightful books that hold your attention and yet have an educational side.  Also deftly folded into the story is the story of the women’s movement in England and the corresponding societial changes prodded along by the First World War.

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Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series is simply a delight.  I love them.  They are like chocolate covered Oreos.  One is simply not sufficient.  Let’s be simple, this series is just FUN!  The lead character, Georgianna Rannoch, is Queen Victoria’s great granddaughter and thirty-fourth in line to the English throne.  Just to make things interesting, she is on the poor relations side of the royal family and is constantly seeking a solution to her money challenges.  While she is financially challenged, she has a warm relationship with Queen Mary and her children and grandchildren that include a very young Elizabeth.   Georgie is also charmed by a delicious and dashing noble, heir to an Irish title – Darcy O’Mara, also monetarily challenged, Catholic, and whose occupation is something of a secret agent man kind of thing.  But, oh my,  is he delish!

Georgie constantly finds herself on an adventure and in the middle of a murder investigation in varying parts of the British Empire (Scotland, Ireland, Balmoral), Europe (think Transylvania and the south of France), and even California.  Along the way she encounters historical figures like Wallace Simpson and Coco Chanel!   Light, and completely entertaining, the books also offer a commentary on the changes in society post WWI and the obstacles  for the modern woman in the 1930s.  The series is a must read!

Post script – both series are available as audiobooks from audible and are well done.