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Following is a booklist of ten fantastic books set on the beach. So even if you don't have a chance for a vacation yet, grab your flip-flops and transport yourself to one of these beachy locales.
1. On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves
2. Summer of Firefly Memories by Joan Gable
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.
T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments - instead of his friends.
Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.
3. Beach Trip by Cathy Holton
While the memory might fade, the fact is that some things never change. Truly haunting and powerfully crafted, Summer of Firefly Memories by newcomer Joan Gable rekindles the soul and ignites the passion of hope and longing. Fiercely independent, eco-journalist Samantha McGreggor has exposed some of the twenty-first century’s most alarming environmental enemies and calamities, but lately she has felt uninspired, disillusioned, and nearly apathetic. In hopes of getting her life back on track and awakening her old enthusiasm, she sets off for a summer retreat at the rustic lake resort she hasn’t visited since her parents’ deaths over twenty years ago. In a formidable, thoughtful, lively prose, the author examines the strength of a family’s love and the power of their memory.
4. Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever by Judith Marshall
Mel, Sara, Annie, and Lola have traveled diverse paths since their years together at a small Southern liberal arts college during the early 1980s. Mel, a mystery writer living in New York, is grappling with the aftermath of two failed marriages and a stalled writing career. Sara, an Atlanta attorney, struggles with her own slowly unraveling marriage. Annie, a successful Nashville businesswoman married to her childhood sweetheart, can’t seem to leave behind the regrets of her youth. And sweet-tempered Lola whiles away her hours—and her husband’s money—on little pills that keep her happy.
Now the friends, all in their forties, converge on Lola’s lavish North Carolina beach house in an attempt to relive the carefree days of their college years. But as the week wears on and each woman’s hidden story is gradually revealed, these four friends learn that they must inevitably confront their shared past, and a secret that threatens to change their bond, and their lives, forever.
5. On the Line by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper
The story takes place in Northern California, in the spring of 2000, when the dot-com boom was at its peak. Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden is a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job, and her trusted friends-five feisty women whose high school friendship has carried them through multiple marriages, dramatic divorces, and maddening menopause. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Elizabeth learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.
6. Shattered Shell by Brendan DuBois
Sixteen-year-old Piper Wesley has always been better at hooking fish than guys. But with her best friend Benny by her side, she’s never minded. And besides, her fishing skills have made her a celebrity in her hometown of Islamorada, an island paradise in the Florida Keys. So when a slump in tourism threatens to sink her family’s fishing charter business, Piper recruits Benny to help her win a major fishing tournament and the $25,000 grand prize. It seems like a perfect plan. Put her skills to use, win some money and help her parents weather the storm. Except that now Benny cares more about hanging out with his girlfriend Marina than helping Piper. And he keeps disappearing, usually after something suspicious happens on the island. Add in Logan, a Michigan transplant with a growing interest in something other than Piper’s fishing, and it looks like practicing for the tournament will be anything but easy. Leaving Piper to wonder how she'll win. And who will be there when it’s over.
This is the third book in the Lewis Cole Mystery series by DuBois. They are all set on the beach.
7. Fairy Tale Blues by Tina Welling
Ex-Department of Defense research analyst Lewis Cole is a man with a dangerous past. But in the small New England town of Tyler Beach, New Hampshire, he lives a quiet, unassuming life as a columnist for a Boston-based newspaper. In his third adventure, what promises to be another beautiful and peaceful New England winter for Lewis quickly turns into a nightmare from which he cannot escape. An arsonist is at work in the resort town, methodically burning down its unoccupied hotels and motels--and the police are baffled.
At the same time, another monstrous act of violence shocks the tiny town. When a close friend of Lewis's is severely beaten and then raped, barely escaping with her life, Lewis's unquenchable thirst for justice is re-ignited. Using all of his old connections, including Boston mob-connected "security consultant" and friend Felix Tinios, Lewis begins his own frantic search to find the identity of both the arsonist and the rapist.
Lewis knows that he and the other residents of Tyler Beach face extreme danger. What he doesn't know is that in his small hometown an indescribable evil lurks and even flourishes, destined to leave its shattering mark on anyone who gets in its way. Brendan DuBois scripts a thriller so finely written and woven with mesmerizing details that its chills ultimately rival those of the coldest and most desolate of New England winters.
8. The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
On the night of her twenty-sixth wedding anniversary, AnnieLaurie McFall does the unthinkable. Without a word to her husband Jess, she walks out on their celebration dinner and catches a flight to Florida. It’s time for a sabbatical from marriage—and some serious soul-searching. So she sets herself up in the small coastal town of Hibiscus and creates the perfect six-month retreat to reimagine a storybook ending that could actually come true with Jess still her prince. What she discovers along the way is far more surprising, outrageous, and just plain fun than she ever expects.
It's an unsettled summer for Sirena. Back in Texas, her family's splitting apart, but here in Rhode Island, at the cottage of her free-spirited aunt, it's a different world. There are long days at the beach and intriguing encounters with him. Pilot. He's the lifeguard with shamanic skills. He both saves her and makes her feel lost at sea. Sirena explores her obsession with Pilot and discovers his mysterious--almost magical--gifts.
9. Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
I've written of my adoration of John Shors' writing before, and certainly could not omit Beside a Burning Sea on this list. Check out his Cross Currents for another captivating beach setting.
10. Beach House Memories by Mary Alice Monroe
One moment, the World War II hospital ship Benevolence is patrolling the South Pacific on a mission of mercy—to save wounded American soldiers. The next, Benevolence is split in two by a torpedo, killing almost everyone on board. A small band of survivors, including an injured Japanese soldier and a young American nurse whom he saves from drowning, makes it to the deserted shore of a nearby island.
Akira has suffered five years of bloodshed and horror fighting for the Japanese empire. Now, surrounded by enemies he is supposed to hate, he instead finds solace in their company—and rediscovers his love of poetry. While sharing the mystery and beauty of this passion with Annie, the captivating but tormented woman he rescued, Akira grapples with the pain of his past while helping Annie uncover the promise of her future. Meanwhile, the remaining castaways endure a world not of their making—a world as barbaric as it is beautiful, as hateful as it is loving.
With the blend of epic storytelling and emotional intensity that distinguishes him as a unique talent, John Shors reveals a powerful story of redemption focusing on unlikely lovers, heroes and villains, and war-torn countries—all, in their own ways, fighting to survive.
Autumn brings its own haunting beauty to the sun-soaked beaches and dunes on Isle of Palms, where Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge lives in her beloved Primrose Cottage with her daughter, Cara. Looking back as summer fades, Lovie can remember many island summers, but especially one. . . .
In 1974, America was changing, but Charleston remained eternally the same. Lovie had always done what was expected—marrying the son of a historic Charleston family, Stratton Rutledge, and turning over her fortune and fate to his control. But one thing she steadfastly refuses to relinquish: her family’s old seaside cottage. The precious summers spent on the barrier island are Lovie’s refuge. Here, she can escape with her children from the social expectations of her traditional Southern mother, and her overbearing husband’s ambition and philandering. Here, she indulges her lifelong vocation as a “Turtle Lady,” tending the loggerhead sea turtles that lay their eggs in the warm night sand and then slip back into the sea.
This summer, however, is different. Visiting biologist Russell Bennett arrives on the island to research the loggerheads. What begins as a shared passion for the turtles changes to a love far more passionate and profound than Lovie has ever known—but one that forces her to face the most agonizing decision of her life.
For Charleston’s elite, divorce is an unforgivable scandal, and Stratton’s influence is far-reaching. If Lovie dares to dream beyond a summer affair, she risks losing everything: her reputation, her wealth, even her precious children.
Beach House Memories—a poignant and emotional tale of a strong, passionate woman torn between duty and desire, between the traditions of the old South and the social changes sweeping America—will capture your heart. For Lovie, it is an empowering journey of seasons of self-discovery.
Well, that's all I have for now. What beachy reads do you suggest? I'm all ears.
Have a terrific Tuesday,