CURL UP WITH NEWS – WENDY WAX BRINGS BACK THE WOMEN!

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THE WOMEN OF TEN BEACH ROAD RETURN IN BESTSELLING NOVELIST WENDY WAX’S HIGHLY ANTICIPATED THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, A BERKLEY TRADE PAPERBACK ORIGINAL ON SALE JULY 1st

 

In Time for Summer Reading, WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY Author Returns to Florida with the “Wonderful Ensemble”* Readers Embraced in TEN BEACH ROAD and OCEAN BEACH

 

“Wax’s Florida titles . . . are terrific for lovers of women’s fiction and family

drama, especially if you enjoy a touch of suspense and romance.”

¾Library Journal Expresson Christmas at the Beach

 

Praise for TEN BEACH ROAD . . .

“If you loved Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home for its wise and witty look at the lives of people grappling with personal setbacks . . . then try Ten Beach Road . . . [a] warm, wry novel.”

Collette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times

 

“[This] dynamic, fast-paced story is a loving tribute to friendship and the power of the female spirit.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

 . . . and OCEAN BEACH

“A well-rounded supporting cast and just the right amount of suspense and drama.“–Publishers Weekly

 

 

“Just when you think you have found the perfect beach read, bestselling author Wendy Wax pens

another fabulous story and, if possible, it is even better.” ¾Single Titles

 

 

“Where shall I begin?  This is a wonderful “ensemble” grouping of characters . . . It’s a terrific book . . .

beautifully written . . . one fantastic read, and I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy it as I did.”

The Book Binge

 

 

“Fascinating DIY details and a delightful supporting cast . . . as the women hammer out their problems and shore up their friendship.”Nancy Pate, On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever

 

            Madeline, Avery and Nicole are back in bestselling author Wendy Wax’s THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT on sale July 1st. Readers first met them when the three were deeded ownership of a crumbling historic home on Florida’s Pass-a-Grille Beach in Wax’s Ten Beach Road. At that time, all they dared hope was that renovating and selling it would let them rebuild their lives and the bank accounts drained by a Ponzi scheme.  They had no idea they’d end up living together for the next two summers, hammers in hand, starring in their own reality television show, Do Over. Neither did Wendy until her own enthusiasm for these disparate characters was matched by that of readers and reviewers. When a new story emerged, she couldn’t resist spending more time with her intrepid DIYers. Putting aside her work-in-progress, she took them all to Miami’s South Beach in Ocean Beach to face new challenges.

Following Ocean Beach and Ten Beach Road, cited as “one of six books that belong in your beach bag” by USA Today, Wendy enjoyed the U.S. and U.K. success of her novel, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, and of her first ever e-book original, the holiday novella, Christmas at the Beach, before again strapping on her tool belt for THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT.

There have been some big life changes, but her much-loved characters are still friends, still taking life one renovation at a time and, as the book opens, still waiting to hear the details of their next project.  It turns out that they’re taking their hard earned skills and stamina to the Florida Keys where they’re expected to turn Mermaid Point, the private island of aging, down on his luck rock legend William Hightower, into a bed-and-breakfast. Against his wishes, of course.

Soon the island is host to the entire Do Over cast and crew, from Kyra, Dustin and Deirdre to Chase, Joe, Troy and everybody’s favorite, charming network executive Lisa Hogan, who once again claims the element of surprise as her ace in the hole.

There’s drama aplenty. Newly divorced Maddie is trying to figure out what’s next even as she simultaneously flirts with and denies her attraction to Hightower. Nicole is having trouble balancing on the fence she’s straddling in her relationship with Joe.  Avery continues to battle for control of the show she created and of the fledgling, still strained relationship with her formerly estranged mother, Deirdre.  Meanwhile, they have the renovation itself to worry about, fear that the newly debuted first season of Do Over will be a bust, and the ever present question of whether or not they’ll still have a job at the end of the summer, especially since William Hightower really, really doesn’t want to own or run a bed-and-breakfast.

As in all her novels, Wendy brings her distinctive voice, insight and humor to THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT as she explores the importance and joy of friendship, the strength of bonds forged in the face of adversity and the courage required to embrace change and confront the vagaries of life.

 

ABOUT WENDY WAX

            Bestselling author Wendy Wax’s books have been highly praised. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says she “writes with breezy wit and keen insight into family relations.” Her contemporary women’s fiction has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s World, and on prominent book sites. Ten Beach Road takes place in her hometown, St. Pete Beach, and was the first to be set in Florida. It has been joined by Ocean Beach, Christmas at the Beach and THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT. Her ten novels also include While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, Magnolia Wednesdays and The Accidental Bestseller. Her work has been sold internationally and her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.

When not writing, she spends time visiting with readers at bookstores, book clubs, book and author luncheons and book festivals or enjoying time with her family. She has lived in Atlanta for seventeen years.

The Book Binge

 

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FEBRUARY READING WRAP-UP — FEB. 28

Reading Journey

It’s that time again…the monthly wrap-up!

For February, here are my stats:

Number of Books Read:            14

Total Pages Read:                 4,036

Genres Read:

Memoirs — 3

Mysteries — 2

Historical Fiction — 3

Contemporary Fiction — 3

Romantic Suspense — 1

Coming of Age — 1

Short Story Collections – 1

What a great month it was…short, sweet, and full of book love.  What was your month like?

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES….

In this past year, I have made considerable progress on my TBR stacks—despite the influx of new books.

In order to more accurately reflect the progress, I have marked books off of my list…and documented the changes with photos.

My old TBRs (as distinguished from new books received) have diminished from 166 books to 108.  During this same time period, I have acquired more books.  My total books read during 2010 is 113 books, so my reading progress is more significant than would appear by the numbers decreased on the old TBRs.  You can read the story of my journey HERE.

Now, if only I could stop buying and accepting books, I would probably eliminate the piles by the end of this upcoming year—judging from the rate I’m reading.  LOL

That’s probably not going to happen, though…but I’m just happy to be actually tracking my books and my reading.

What do you do to deal with your TBR stacks?

CREATING FAMILIES — FLAWS AND JOYS

In Portland, Oregon, the (fictional) Chosen Child adoption agency operates with a specific mission in mind: families can be created. To the social workers who work there, including Chloe Pinter who directs the domestic adoption program, the mission is one that almost supersedes everything else in their lives. Their hours are unpredictable, interrupting many moments of personal interaction. Chloe’s relationship with her fiancé Dan is precarious at times because of the demands of the job.

But Chloe forges ahead, connecting birth parents to adoptive ones with a zeal that seemingly consumes her.

In this tale about creating families, the alternating chapters focus on individual characters, from Chloe, to individual birth parents, and to a couple that once tried to adopt, but now has a birth child.

Each exploration reveals the emotional drains as well as the eager anticipation of each character, whether that character is one waiting for an adoptive child or is a birth parent struggling with the pain of giving up a child. We come to empathize with the pain, the struggles, and finally the joy that comes when everyone achieves his/her goal.

But the story does not end with the “chosen family” riding off into the sunset. We also see the regrets of the birth parents, the struggles of new parenthood for the adoptive ones, and even a case of postpartum depression that almost leads to disaster.

Hoffman’s portrayal of the birth/adoption process was realistic, delving into the flaws of all the characters with sensitivity. Social workers, as well as birth parents, are human and subject to errors in judgment. These insights added depth to Chosen: A Novel, which resulted in a five-star review from this reader.

A SINGLE MOM’S PLIGHT AND CHALLENGES

Single mom Marta Zinsser and her nine-year-old daughter Eva have moved from Manhattan to a Seattle suburb. Marta’s new advertising agency is one she can run out of her backyard guesthouse, and she hopes that she’ll be able to “have it all”—business, parenthood, and being a supportive daughter to her ailing mother who lives nearby.

What Marta didn’t count on in this new life is that daughter Eva wants to be popular, and she wants her mom to be “normal.” In some ways, Eva has taken on the role of “mother” and tries to prod Marta into belonging. But Marta prefers to wear combat boots, ride her motorcycle, and live by her own rules.

However, Marta finally agrees to sign up to volunteer for school room mother and other activities. But she has to confront, on a regular basis, what she considers the snotty attitude of the “perfect” moms whose role in life is to stay home and focus all of their energy on the parenting game.

When Eva becomes increasingly critical of everything Marta does and blames her for her own problems, Marta is reminded of how she felt when her own “perfect” mother tried to turn her into a debutante. Squeezed between the two generations, Marta is conflicted and stressed.

And then the unexpected happens—she meets a gorgeous hunk of a man named Luke who sweeps her off her feet. But can she give in and trust in what the two of them can build? Or should she run the other way? And should she reassess everything about the way she has perceived her world and her role in it?

Odd Mom Out was compelling on so many levels. The characters were so richly developed that I felt I knew them. When Marta struggled, I felt her pain. When the snooty people played their games, I wanted to smack them. And in the gorgeous Seattle settings, I felt as though I, too, was riding the ferry or gazing at the Space Needle.

I’ve been to Seattle several times and love it there; reading this book swept me back into that world and I was an armchair traveler enjoying the ride.

Five stars was the highest number I could award, but I would give more if I could. I really loved this book.

IT’S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Good morning, it’s time for one of our favorite Monday memes, hosted by Sheila, at Book Journey.

Here’s our chance to get together, from all over the blogosphere, to celebrate the past week’s reading, to talk about what’s up this week, and to network with other bloggers.

My past week was not exactly stellar, in terms of reading accomplishments, but I did enjoy what I read.

I did a little bloggy stuff, like combining my now defunct Snow Impressions with Connections to make Snow Connections and Impressions.

 

As for the reading, here’s what I accomplished:

Reviewed Last Week:

1)  Guest House, by Barbara K. Richardson (Click title for Review)

2)  The Position, by Meg Wolitzer

Ongoing:

1)  Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner

2)  Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates

What’s Planned for This Week:

1)  Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, by Josie Brown (an Amazon Vine read).

Here’s a tidbit from Amazon:

Just in time for summer, Brown’s novel offers an enjoyable, if predictable, take on suburban California family life, complete with mommy cliques, rebel teenagers, and, of course, lots of adultery. Lyssa is a pushover mom striving for approval from her judgmental peers as well as her three active kids and overworked husband. She befriends Harry, a recently divorced half of the untouchable “perfect couple” of Paradise Heights, and in the process makes trouble for her family, but also finds some freedom from the pressures of wealthy suburbia. This is a town where kids have names like Tanner, McGuyver, and Temple; women meet daily at Starbucks to measure themselves against each other; and facials and pedicures are scheduled around school pickups. It’s unfortunate that the narrator, Lyssa, is no more accessible or intelligent than any of her peers, and it’s sometimes hard to root for her. However, these women inside their fishbowl are fun to peer in on despite being caricaturish, and the momentum of Brown’s writing and plot keeps the pages turning. –Annie Tully

2)  As Husbands Go, by Susan Isaacs.

On Amazon, this blurb enticed me:

She may not be as brainy as her famous Manhattan plastic-surgeon husband, Jonah, nor as proper as his snooty rich parents. And she may be clueless about mothering, thanks to her wildly deficient Brooklynite parents (picture schlumpy, depressed Roz Chast characters), but nonetheless Susie loves her triplets, three rambunctious four-year-old boys. She also takes unabashed pleasure in her happy marriage, her floral design company, her humongous Long Island home, and her designer wardrobe. She may be shallow, as she’s the first to admit, but she does have heart. And ethics, even though she’s not sure what that means. And so when her husband is found stabbed to death in a prostitute’s apartment, Susie is devastated, skeptical about the open-and-shut case touted by the district attorney and her impossible in-laws, and determined to unearth the truth about Jonah’s killer. Her best ally turns out to be her glamorous renegade grandmother Ethel, a woman so cold she abandoned her daughter. But maybe Ethel is due for a thaw as these two queens of chutzpah and couture conduct a brazen investigation. Isaacs’ latest Jewish-gal-in-distress adventure purrs along perfectly––sharply funny, all-knowing, and marvelously diverting. –Donna Seaman

When I combine these new reads with those ongoing, I should be very busy this week.  What do you have planned?  And what did you finish?  I hope you’ll come on over and share.

ALWAYS AUDITIONING

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Barbara Walters’ memoir encompasses her more than forty years of television journalism interviewing heads of state, world leaders, movie stars, criminals, murderers, inspirational figures, and celebrities of all kinds. Finally she turns her gift for examination onto herself to reveal the forces that shaped her extraordinary life.

We learn about her childhood with a father whose love of show business first brought the glamour and risk-taking of that life into her world and a mother, supportive, but often frustrated by the numerous times the family had to uproot in order to follow his dreams. We share her pain as she describes what it was like growing up with a mentally disabled sister whom she loved, but with whom she could share very little as they grew older. Despite her own ambitions, Ms. Walters made sure that her family was cared for during the lean times.

Her love affairs, her marriages, her child—we find out about each event in her life as she tells us in an anecdotal way, almost as if we’re having a conversation.

That is what I most enjoyed about this book…the feeling that I, as the reader, had somehow been granted admission into her living room or dining room while she described in detail the numerous aspects of her life. Her efforts to achieve recognition in a journalistic world that often overlooked women; the competitive moments; her occasional mistakes along the way—all shared with candor, humor, and insight. Her awesome and inspiring climb to a success that has included not only the famous interviews, but the numerous shows she has hosted, from the Today show, 20/20, the Specials…and now The View.

I must admit that the political aspects of the memoir were less-fascinating to me than the celebrity features, but it was clear that she is knowledgeable and that she very diligently did her homework for each and every assignment. And obviously she has kept impeccable records over the years to be able to recount all these moments with such detail.

A most admirable and extraordinary tome, Audition (Vintage), by its very name, sums up an aspect of the author that, perhaps, can shed light on this unique individual. In her own words, she talks about having to “audition” constantly, in the sense that she had to stand out and shine in order to achieve her goals. She had to be better than the best in a highly competitive world, and she excelled.

If I could, I would give this book ten stars, but I will settle for five.

THE RIPPLING EFFECT OF FAMILY SECRETS — “The Genius”

When Ethan Muller, a struggling art dealer, stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a slum building vacated abruptly by an elderly tenant, he almost cannot believe his good luck. The treasure trove of stunning art work is sure to put Ethan in the forefront of the art scene.

But what does anyone know about Victor Cracke, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged.

Soon Ethan is caught up in the middle of a mystery, aided by a retired police detective, yet before he can make any significant progress at all, the ailing man who was helping him dies. His daughter picks up the search, with Ethan, but their quest for the whereabouts and history of Cracke and the mysterious life he led, take them into some very strange places.

Meanwhile, the author presents an “interlude” of stories set from the eighteen-hundreds onward, as he weaves in a mysterious subplot about the Muller family that gradually becomes more and more relevant as the secrets are unveiled.

Throughout this tale, too, we are gifted with glimpses of the cutthroat art scene and how the players twist and turn, from clamoring for the work of the hungry artists to lambasting them when the tides turn.

The Genius kept me guessing all the way through until, finally, we have that “a-ha!” moment when everything starts to make sense.

I am giving this book five stars for the clever plot, the intriguing presentation, and this author’s unique voice.

EXPLORING THE BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP VS. FAMILY — “Surrender, Dorothy”

In a mustard-colored house in the Hamptons, four friends gather every August. They are thirty-something these days, and sometimes, they can scarcely bear to revisit the dilapidated and somewhat trashy house. But sentiment and habit draw them back every year.

But this year will be a very different one for Peter, Maddy, Adam and Sara. In the first week of this, their summer retreat, Sara will die in a car accident.

It happens when Sara and Adam are returning from buying ice cream at the Fro-Z-Cone shop. As the effects of this tragedy ripple through all their lives, the after shock also envelopes Sara’s mother Natalie more than any of them. Natalie and Sara have been like a “twosome” of us against the world, ever since Natalie split from her husband many years before. They share many intimate deals of each other’s lives in a way that suggests some boundary issues. They talk by phone almost every day, with a unique greeting—”Surrender, Dorothy.” Like a code, formed years before when they watched The Wizard of Oz over and over.

So now in her grief, Natalie impulsively goes out to the little house on the beach, just to see where Sara was in her last moments. And the friends invite her to stay on.

What unfolds in the weeks that follow will remind everyone of the fragility of life, the bonds that connect friends and family, and the boundaries that need to be rebuilt.

Will Natalie learn how to live without Sara? What will Peter, Maddy, and Adam discover about themselves without their friend? And finally, will they all grow up at last and put an end to what now feels like an extended adolescence?

Surrender, Dorothy: A Novel was a very quick and poignant read. I had already seen a movie based on this book a few times, and couldn’t read the book without envisioning Diane Keaton as Natalie (the mother). What I liked about the book that wasn’t part of the movie was how the author shared bits and pieces of back story for the characters as we met them, or in moments when they were pondering their lives.

Pleasant and enjoyable, and I would give it four stars…or 4.5.

WHEN FRIENDS BECOME FAMILY — A Review of “The Friday Night Knitting Club”

“The Friday Night Knitting Club,” by Kate Jacobs, is a book that invites you in, like a friend. You curl up right next to the others who are shopping and attending this club event at a yarn store.

Georgia Walker is a single mom to a biracial child named Dakota. She was abandoned before the baby was even born, twelve years before. When she had to support herself and her daughter, she worked odd jobs, but did knitting for people. Through some strokes of luck and financing, she managed to open her shop, which she calls Walker and Daughter, on New York’s Upper West Side. Her shop—and her apartment—are in a building whose bottom floor is occupied by Marty Popper and his delicatessen. He, too, is like family.

Anita Lowenstein happens to have been her benefactor who lent her money to start the business, and has become like her right hand/mother figure, etc. Anita found her crying on a bench all those years ago after her boyfriend James Foster left her.

Nowadays, the shop is a bustling business, but what sets it apart from other shops is the cozy atmosphere, which morphs into this gathering place for knitters (incidentally, on Friday nights). More than a club, the knitting group is a place where the women share their lives.

Then when Georgia’s ex and a friend from the past—someone who betrayed her!—show up out of the blue, she begins to think that her world as she knows it is coming undone.

What will Georgia do, and what surprises are in store for her? How will a trip to Scotland to visit her granny offer a unique perspective on her life and her choices?

When you reach the final pages of this cozy book, you won’t want it to end. Which is why I gave it five stars.