Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

cocoa beach

“Across the road, at the edge of the yellow beach, an especially large wave rises to the sky, gathering strength and power, until it can’t bear the strain any longer and dives for shore in a long, elegant undulation, from north to south. An instant later, the boom reaches us, like the firing of a seventy-five-millimeter artillery shell — a sound I know all too well. My nerves flinch obediently.”
― Beatriz WilliamsCocoa Beach

World War I, family secrets, Prohibition Florida, and house fires.


Virginia Fortescue flees her family in New York City to become an ambulance driver for British forces in France during World War I. OF COURSE, she meets the handsome and charming Captain Simon Fitzwilliam and falls madly in love (so obviously they get hitched).

Fast forward to five years later – widowed Virginia brings her daughter to Florida to settle Simon’s estate. Simon’s brother and sister welcome them both with open arms, but then strange things start happening. Who can Virginia trust? Was Simon’s death truly accidental?

What a sizzling page-turned this one was! I love historical fiction that goes through two timelines. Williams does a top-notch job of alternating between Virginia’s two narratives while keeping all of the characters and events straight. And I love that Virginia isn’t a woman who isn’t just written as a product of her time. She has real emotions, real struggles, and deals with situations in a way that we can understand her reasoning.

The suspense mixed with the Florida scenery will have you reaching for your flip flops and pool bag so you can enjoy this novel in the appropriate climate. As I’m writing this post, all I can think of is putting the rest of Williams’ books on my TBR pile. Get thee to a bookstore!

Adventures · Life, The Universe, and Everything

New York City Adventures

This past Memorial Day Weekend I visited my sister who lives in New York City. I hadn’t been back to NYC in probably six years or so, and it was great to be able to explore and visit some of my favorite places again.

Day 1:

On Friday we had breakfast at a cute little restaurant with Moroccan fair. The orange juice was so fresh it was light biting into an orange just picked from the tree. As we were eating, we noticed that actor Jon Voight just happened to be reading at the bar behind us. Not a fan of his politics, but it was cool to spot a celebrity.

We then went to one of the greatest bookstores on the planet – The Strand. I had been there before, but it’s always so fun to stop in an indie bookshop with such character (and a great selection). We walked around Union Square before ending up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.


Dinner was on a rooftop garden – French/American cuisine so delicious I didn’t want the meal to end. I’d never had French-style grits before (more like a polenta?), but every bite was scrumptious.

Day 2:

Breakfast at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment was as delicious as the restaurant was beautiful. Fresh strawberry and blueberry pancakes were to die for. The restaurant was inspired by British actress Lillie Langtry – their website has her entire story, but let’s just say she was a BAMF.

We then trekked to Liberty and Ellis Islands. My sister and I recently tracked our great-great grandfather’s passage through Ellis Island, so it was wonderful to see the place where he would have seen his first glimpse of the United States. The security and ferry lines there definitely recreate the feeling of being herded through immigration services in the 1880s… but at least we had some great views to keep us occupied.

Day 3:

Brunch and boogie woogie blues at a British speakeasy? Yes, please. Have you ever had fresh French toast with lemon curd? WHY NOT??? It is one of the greatest innovations of our time. The sugar-induced coma afterwards was totally worth it.

We played Broadway Roulette and got to see School of Rock. I was a little skeptical at first, but as soon as you hear those kids sing and play their own instruments you will be blown away by their talent. I had no idea that Andrew Lloyd Weber was behind the music, but you can tell by the tad of opera in the show 🙂 STICK IT TO THE MAN!

Our day ended with a thing that actually exists: a Mac N’ Cheese burger. I felt like Leslie Knope:



It was a thing of beauty. And cholesterol.




The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

high tide

Grab your beach bag, a cool drink, and some sunscreen – you’re going to want to sit outside and enjoy this read for as long as possible.

Jacqueline, an heiress in her nineties, has some unfinished business she wants to take care of before she passes. Brooke is a single mom and struggling to make it as an independent lawyer in the South. When Jacqueline hires Brooke to try to save her private island, the complicated history of a group of friends called The High Tide Club starts to unfold.

Mary Kay Andrews is the epitome of summer/vacation authors for me. While her books have gotten a bit more serious over the years, she makes the South and its quirks come alive with the stories of realistic and powerful women. Her books always contain a tad of romance, a dollop of mystery, and a large helping of strong women getting stronger. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the song Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves!

While Brooke’s character takes the spotlight, I found the stories of the minor characters to be more compelling. Varina, Millie, and Ruth all led such fascinating lives that I couldn’t help but want to know more about their stories. We spent a lot of time getting to know Brooke in Andrews’ previous novel, Save the Date, and I felt as if I already knew her and didn’t need as much time with her as I did with the other characters.

I definitely recommend this book – especially if you are looking for a great summer read. What summer reads are you looking forward to?


Well, hello there

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged at all, let alone post book reviews. I’ve been missing it lately, so I decided to start over and blog about the books I’m reading, the teas I’m drinking, and just other fun stuff in general.

Since I’ve switched jobs, I actually have time to read for pleasure and not just for the book clubs I was leading – there’s such a feeling of freedom and lack of pressure with finally reading all of those books I put off trying to catch up with reading for work.

Feel free to comment with what you are reading – I love to hear what people are actually reading as opposed to the books being promoted by the publisher.

Books · Life, The Universe, and Everything

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

behind closed doors

I have so many feelings about this book! Grace is a food buyer for Harrod’s in England and has never found Mr. Right. She is the guardian of her sister with Down’s Syndrome, Millie, and she travels a lot for her job, so she has a lot on her plate when she meets and marries the Perfect Guy. Or is he? DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN….

After Grace marries Jack, there is an abrupt change in his demeanor and we slowly figure out what is really going on. Not to give to many spoilers, but we quickly find out that Jack isn’t exactly the guy we think he is. The book is told from Grace’s perspective alternating between the present and the past.

Paris is great at creating suspense in the first portion of the book, but I think once we find out what is going on, it’s more of a “oh crap how are we getting out of this situation” kind of vibe which goes on a bit long. Some of the plot points are a bit week, but what really bugged me was abuse of an animal – I honestly just couldn’t handle reading those parts and so I kept skipping over them.

I also am troubled by how many thrillers I’ve read where a woman lacks power in a relationship and this leads to *bad things*. I feel that women are portrayed too often as weak or doe-eyed in thrillers and can only become powerful through ridiculous struggles. Why can’t a woman start out as powerful and savvy and still overcome the adversity she faces?  Why does a woman have to be clueless to start with?

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel – the narrator was perfect for this book and did a great job at leading the suspense with her voice. Overall, I think Paris has a knack for suspense writing, and this being her debut novel, I think I will definitely check out her other books.