Beach Reads 091616

Beach Reads for week of Sept. 16

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

By Louise Miller, Pamela Dorman Books

Olivia Rawlings is a pastry chef with purple hair and a penchant for one-night stands who works at an upper-crust Beantown bistro until her love life – and her Baked Alaska – go up in flames. She high-tails it out of town, and while visiting a friend in a small Vermont town signs on to help in the kitchen of an inn. Livvy soon finds herself attracted to a musician who is home from Seattle visiting his ailing father. But the town has secrets and scandals, including a rivalry between her boss and a wealthy widow who is trying to buy the inn. Author Miller, a chef herself, has created a charmingly quirky, all-too-flawed heroine in Livvy Rawlings. And her descriptions of pastries and other culinary confections will make your mouth water. (She adds a few recipes at the end.) This is a perfect end-of-summer beach read.

The Quality of Silence

By Rosamund Lupton, Crown Publishers

This icy thriller is one way to offset the summer heat. Astrophysicist Yasmin has traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska, to confront husband Matt about a suspected affair. But Matt, a filmmaker who specializes in wildlife documentaries, is a no-show at the airport, and authorities inform Yasmin that there was an explosion at his remote outpost that killed everyone on site. Yasmin refuses to believe it. She vows to find Matt, even if she has to hitch a ride with an ice-road trucker to do it. She is accompanied by their 10-year-old daughter, Ruby, who is profoundly deaf but signs, lip-reads and has her own blog in which she shares her silent world with the world at large. This complex, multilayered mystery suffers from inconsistent pacing, but it has a wonderful heroine in Ruby, who will stake a claim on your heart.

Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds

By Rachelle Bergstein, Harper

Bergstein has written a riveting history of the diamond trade and the generations of industrialists, entrepreneurs and common folk who made and lost fortunes digging for the precious gemstone. In the early years of mass cultivation, diamonds were not precious at all. Tycoons like Cecil Rhodes, who took over the prolific De Beers mine in South Africa and turned it into a one-man monopoly, got rich controlling access to the stones to keep prices high. As diamonds fell in and out of style, marketers worked to keep the myth of exclusivity alive – and added a new narrative by linking diamonds to love and marriage. “Brilliance and Fire” reads like a novel, with a colorful cast of characters – from kings and queens to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to modern-day rappers – as well as a shameless sham-diamond purveyor. Bergstein is an entertaining writer who is thoroughly knowledgeable about her glittering topic. This book is a gem.

Blue

By Danielle Steel, Delacorte Press

Ginny Carter once had it all: She was a TV newswoman married to a star anchorman with whom she shared a cherished toddler son. But her world came to an end one Christmas Eve with an accident that killed both of them. Unable to cope with her loss, Ginny joins a global human rights group, and regularly volunteers for duty in Africa, Afghanistan and other hotspots to help women, children and refugees in the most miserable situations. Her sister Becky fears she has a death wish – and Becky may be right. One December, on the third anniversary of the accident, Ginny is in New York between assignments. There, on a walk along the East River, she encounters a homeless boy named Blue. She takes him in and tries to make a difference in his life before she returns to work. Blue is not a willing recipient – due to past abuse, he refuses to consider school or a shelter. But eventually, the two begin to trust in each other, and in the possibility of happiness. While “Blue” sometimes smacks of a Lifetime TV movie, its characters who will touch you.

Strala Yoga

By Tara Stiles, Hay House Inc.

Do you want relief from chronic anxiety and stress? Would you like to shuck that low-grade uneasy feeling that comes with the modern pace of life and a 24/7 work cycle? How would it feel to enjoy your life for a change? In this refreshing book on a type of yoga created by the author herself, a onetime professional dancer, Stiles promises not just better fitness from yoga practice, but a way to be “ridiculously happy from the inside out.” I have a few gripes. It’s hard to learn yoga from a book, because you have to look at the pictures while trying out the poses. But it’s harder still to follow Stiles in YouTube videos, because in my view she goes too fast. Do yourself a favor. Really the text closely, absorb the philosophy, and take the time to do the workouts. I haven’t gotten to ridiculously happy yet, but anything that brings the promise of peace in the pressure-cooker of 21st century life is worth a sincere try.

Marjorie Preston reads as much as she writes, which is a lot. Reach her at mprestonwriting@gmail.com.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

By Louise Miller, Pamela Dorman Books

Olivia Rawlings is a pastry chef with purple hair and a penchant for one-night stands who works at an upper-crust Beantown bistro until her love life – and her Baked Alaska – go up in flames. She high-tails it out of town, and while visiting a friend in a small Vermont town signs on to help in the kitchen of an inn. Livvy soon finds herself attracted to a musician who is home from Seattle visiting his ailing father. But the town has secrets and scandals, including a rivalry between her boss and a wealthy widow who is trying to buy the inn. Author Miller, a chef herself, has created a charmingly quirky, all-too-flawed heroine in Livvy Rawlings. And her descriptions of pastries and other culinary confections will make your mouth water. (She adds a few recipes at the end.) This is a perfect end-of-summer beach read.

 

The Quality of Silence

By Rosamund Lupton, Crown Publishers

This icy thriller is one way to offset the summer heat. Astrophysicist Yasmin has traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska, to confront husband Matt about a suspected affair. But Matt, a filmmaker who specializes in wildlife documentaries, is a no-show at the airport, and authorities inform Yasmin that there was an explosion at his remote outpost that killed everyone on site. Yasmin refuses to believe it. She vows to find Matt, even if she has to hitch a ride with an ice-road trucker to do it. She is accompanied by their 10-year-old daughter, Ruby, who is profoundly deaf but signs, lip-reads and has her own blog in which she shares her silent world with the world at large. This complex, multilayered mystery suffers from inconsistent pacing, but it has a wonderful heroine in Ruby, who will stake a claim on your heart.

 

Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds

By Rachelle Bergstein, Harper

Bergstein has written a riveting history of the diamond trade and the generations of industrialists, entrepreneurs and common folk who made and lost fortunes digging for the precious gemstone. In the early years of mass cultivation, diamonds were not precious at all. Tycoons like Cecil Rhodes, who took over the prolific De Beers mine in South Africa and turned it into a one-man monopoly, got rich controlling access to the stones to keep prices high. As diamonds fell in and out of style, marketers worked to keep the myth of exclusivity alive – and added a new narrative by linking diamonds to love and marriage. “Brilliance and Fire” reads like a novel, with a colorful cast of characters – from kings and queens to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to modern-day rappers – as well as a shameless sham-diamond purveyor. Bergstein is an entertaining writer who is thoroughly knowledgeable about her glittering topic. This book is a gem.  

 

Blue

By Danielle Steel, Delacorte Press

Ginny Carter once had it all: She was a TV newswoman married to a star anchorman with whom she shared a cherished toddler son. But her world came to an end one Christmas Eve with an accident that killed both of them. Unable to cope with her loss, Ginny joins a global human rights group, and regularly volunteers for duty in Africa, Afghanistan and other hotspots to help women, children and refugees in the most miserable situations. Her sister Becky fears she has a death wish – and Becky may be right. One December, on the third anniversary of the accident, Ginny is in New York between assignments. There, on a walk along the East River, she encounters a homeless boy named Blue. She takes him in and tries to make a difference in his life before she returns to work. Blue is not a willing recipient – due to past abuse, he refuses to consider school or a shelter. But eventually, the two begin to trust in each other, and in the possibility of happiness. While “Blue” sometimes smacks of a Lifetime TV movie, its characters who will touch you.

 

Strala Yoga

By Tara Stiles, Hay House Inc.

Do you want relief from chronic anxiety and stress? Would you like to shuck that low-grade uneasy feeling that comes with the modern pace of life and a 24/7 work cycle? How would it feel to enjoy your life for a change? In this refreshing book on a type of yoga created by the author herself, a onetime professional dancer, Stiles promises not just better fitness from yoga practice, but a way to be “ridiculously happy from the inside out.” I have a few gripes. It’s hard to learn yoga from a book, because you have to look at the pictures while trying out the poses. But it’s harder still to follow Stiles in YouTube videos, because in my view she goes too fast. Do yourself a favor. Really the text closely, absorb the philosophy, and take the time to do the workouts. I haven’t gotten to ridiculously happy yet, but anything that brings the promise of peace in the pressure-cooker of 21st century life is worth a sincere try.

 

Marjorie Preston reads as much as she writes, which is a lot. Reach her at mprestonwriting@gmail.com.