What I Read This Summer


I had to wait until I returned from vacation, but here is my list of the 16 books I managed to read since mid-June.

This story about a journey through the South involves Boop and her granddaughter, Eve. The middle part of this family is Eve’s mother, Justine, who is Boop’s daughter. Filled with Southern charm, author Mary Helen Sheriff writes with true emotion and tells a funny but poignant tale about relationships, misunderstandings, and, ultimately, redemption. The best kind of story!

This wonderful novel by the fabulous Jennifer Weiner is about girlfriends, past and present, all wrapped up in the complexities of living in these trying times. It’s witty and moving. Weiner has the Midas touch when it comes to beach reads!

I am grateful to Lisa at Ink Fish Books for gifting me with a copy of this book. I spent many mornings at Colt State Park reading, and losing myself in the rich, gorgeous writing of author Maggie O’Farrell. If you don’t know, Hamnet is a novel inspired by the real-life son of William Shakespeare, who died in 1596. It’s absolutely brilliant and, in my opinion, a must-read for anyone who loves literature.

I was on a Jennifer Weiner roll this summer, as Good in Bed was the second of three Weiner novels I devoured. This was her debut novel, and it tells the story of an overweight Jewish female journalist, her love and work life, and her emotional abuse issues with her father. Apparently much of the novel reflects Weiner’s own life, and I know she has struggled with weight issues for much of her life. It became a NYT bestseller, and I can see why. Five big stars.

I can’t imagine a summer full of reading without at least one of Roisin Meaney’s books on my table. In this one, three couples are set to spend a weekend at a house by the sea. Lily and Charlie, who had been married for over twenty-five years, but are now nearly divorced, show up, each with their own partner – Lily brings Joe, her new fiancé. Charlie brings his way-too-young girlfriend Chloe. And Lily and Charlie’s grown children, daughter Poll and son Thomas. With her trademark charm and genius for telling a story, Roisin Meaney weaves a seamless tale about family, love, loss, and forgiveness. If you’re a fan of Maeve Binchy books, you’ll love everything Roisin Meaney writes.

I only recently become a Daniel Silva fan. This one did not disappoint! Fast-paced, well written, Silva takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through Venice, Vatican City, even my beloved Switzerland! Silva’s intrepid character Gabriel Allon always is central to his stories, and this one brings up an important question about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Marisa de los Santos! Definitely one of my favorite authors. She writes with beautiful prose and explores the emotions that we sometimes hide deep within our hearts. There are characters here that are in her earlier novels, but not to worry, you don’t have to read her books in any order. This one shifts between the present day and the 1950s, and the author handles the changes effortlessly.

I love this cover, too. Yes, I went on a little Marisa de los Santos binge, reading three of her books in a row. Well worth your time. The way she uses words is genius, and she really does paint a picture with words. In I’d Give Anything, de los Santos brings the reader the most genuine of flawed human beings, and I hated to see this one end.

Then I read this one. So, I think this was Book 2 of her series, Blue Sky was Book 3, and I’d Give Anything was Book 4. I still have to read Book1! But it really doesn’t matter. The characters in this book were so real, so well-drawn – Piper and Cornelia and Dev – Dev! – and Teo. You’ll love them, too.

This was a really good book. The main character, Daisy, receives emails that are meant for someone else (email address off by a letter – that can happen!). Daisy is somewhat unsatisfied with her life and is intrigued by this other woman, based on the emails, thinking her life is more glamorous and exciting. When Daisy finally lets the other woman know about the mix-up, they meet and become friends. But perhaps the mix-up wasn’t entirely accidental.

Here’s an anthology for every James Taylor fan – and yes, that includes me! In fact, I was asked to contribute to this compendium, and my little story about one of JT’s songs in included. Taylor’s fans have recounted their lifelong long of his music and lyrics, and every one of the stories is impactful. Compiled by Rebecca Gold, a mega-fan, this one is a true pleasure to read.

Sometimes I ask myself why I’d ever want to revisit the awful trump years – I mean, they were horrible. This book focuses on the final year of his failed presidency, during the Coronavirus pandemic that engulfed the country. From his refusal to take the pandemic seriously to his denial of the election loss and his lies about election fraud, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker offer stunning detail about the final year of this dysfunctional presidency.

Elin Hilderbrand’s novels are made for summer reading, and I’ve checked a few of them out of the library, to catch up. Vicki, Brenda, and Melanie head to Nantucket (of course!) to escape their own travails and forget about aspects of their troubled lives. A young man named Josh enters their worlds and everything is turned upside down. A great read!

Okay, maybe it’s not correct to include this one, but I did read it! I had to, I was the editor! Actually, for the third year, I chaired the committee that solicited and accepted submissions of prose and poetry from members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors for its annual anthology. In this volume, with its theme of GREEN, the writers interpreted that theme in their own way and have provided a varied take on the theme, with compelling poems and short stories.

Oh, this book! My husband read it last year and kept telling me I needed to read it. Meanwhile, I had all these other books to read first, but finally, we had vacation and I made sure to bring The Great Alone with me. And I devoured it. Set in remote Alaska in the mid-1970s. it tells the story of teenager Leni and her dysfunctional parents, stuck in the wilds of Alaska when it was still remote and mostly off the grid. Leni’s father, a Vietnam veteran plagued by PTSD and violent outbursts, dreads the onset of winter and darkness. And her mother has every reason to be concerned, as those violent outbursts are generally directed at her. You should read this one.

This one finished off the summer for me. Seemed like a good end-of-summer read, and The Beach Club was Hilderbrand’s debut novel. Here we have Mack Petersen, who manages a hotel on Nantucket – he’s been there for 12 years, since he was 18 and left the family farm in Iowa after the tragic death of his parents. Mack’s girlfriend Maribel wants to get married, after being with Mack for six years, and she’s growing impatient. Meanwhile, a mistimed encounter with one of the hotel guests leads the hotel’s bellman, Vance (who’s hated Mack for the past 12 years), to threaten him with violence. Mack’s feeling the pressure! There are plenty of other characters in this story, and what I love about Hilderbrand is that even the most minor character can be memorable. A great summer read.

Okay, that’s it! Summer’s just about over, time to get back to work. What did you read this summer? What’s in your To-Be-Read pile?

Coming Soon – A Green Anthology


After the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge, which ended on April 30, I generally take a break from blogging. Can you blame me? Although most of the work is done during the months of February and March (so that I don’t have to blog each weekday – believe me, I learned the hard way!), still, I keep up with the April posts, catching little errors here and there. Also, I like to visit as many blogs as I can during the month of April, so little else gets done.

However, again this year I was chair of an annual project involving my fellow Rhode Island authors. For the sixth consecutive year, the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) will publish an anthology of stories, essays, and poetry by Rhode Island authors. This is my third year chairing and editing the project. It’s always exciting!

For 2021, I chose the theme of GREEN. I do believe an anthology should have a theme, something to tie together the submissions, and GREEN can be interpreted in many ways. There were stories and poems about GREEN in its many forms – envy, money, grassy areas, green eyes, ecology. The was memory and fantasy and baseball! We have a multitude of talent within our group.

So, look for our anthology, coming soon. It’s presently with the publishing company we use (https://www.stillwaterpress.com/). Copies will be available both online and through Stillwater.

And if you’re looking for past anthologies, check them out here:

https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/shoreline-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-and-prose-aria
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/under-13th-star-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-and-prose-aria
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/selections-aria-anthology
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/past-present-and-future-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-prose-association-rhode-island-aut
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/hope-aria-anthology

RI Authors Showcase and Giveaway! Meet Lynda Nagle


Each day this month, meet a Rhode Island author! Comment on the blog post for a chance to win our Grand Prize (a $200 Amazon gift card) or our Bonus Prize (a $100 Amazon gift card). Some authors are giving away books, too – your comment enters you into their drawing as well. (See details at bottom of this page)

The title might seem a bit odd for a memoir, but not if that is how one came to the United States.  At 93 years of age, Theresa Landry, a local Rhode Island dance teacher, decided to lace her dance shoes and retire.  I had known Theresa since the age of 5 when her daughter, Susan, and I entered the first grade together and remained lifelong friends.

Theresa had been saying for years that she wanted her life’s story written in a book.  Being an English teacher and one of the many people who never said “no” to our beloved Theresa, she and I began my first published memoir.

I would go to Theresa’s house two or three times a week, where she would talk about her past experiences, and we would look at, literally, hundreds of pictures that proved each of her stories.  She even had two small journals, one brown and one black, which she had written in over the years.  The brown one contained dates, times, places, and the amounts of money she was paid for her performances.  She included how her “agent” got her to “gigs” in Boston and other parts of Massachusetts, usually by bus.  Also in this book were the names of dance teachers from whom she had taken lessons.  She traveled by train as far as New York because a teacher was so well known for what she wanted to learn.  The slightly bigger black book contained the names and addresses of businesses where Theresa rented space for her studios, until she finally got to the last one, from which she retired after being in the building for 60 years.

Theresa’s studio was wallpapered with life-sized pictures of her posing with famous people – actors, dancers, and politicians.  She had met so many, but it is how she met them that was the “hook.”  The stories became an obsession for me.  HEARING, LISTENING, WRITING – the whole process was a labor of love.  This woman was not just a dance teacher.  She was a businesswoman, a people person, a lover of children, a wife, a mother, a lover, a humanitarian, a world traveler – an institution!

The three parts of this book begin with the tale of Theresa’s parents’ trek moving with their children from Canada to the United States.  The second part is broken into vignettes: Theresa’s stories, happy and sad, but always ending with her own positive spin.  And, finally, a gallery of pictures, allowing the reader to view her embellished life. 

The conclusion shows how one person can be so many things to so many people.  Mostly, it shows how many people Theresa Landry loved and how many people loved her.  Sadly, Theresa passed at the young age of 96.

Lynda has generously offered to gift a copy of Truck of Potatoes to one lucky winner! By commenting on this post, you’re entered to win Lynda’s book, and you have an entry to win either our Grand Prize or our Bonus Prize!

Lynda Nagle

Lynda (Simoneau) Nagle was born and lived in Central Falls, Rhode Island, until the age of 19, when she married and moved to Pawtucket.  She is a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – English, as well as Master’s degrees in English, Educational Administration, and Psychology.  Currently, Lynda is a retired high school and college English teacher.

Lynda’s first book, Truck of Potatoes, is a memoir which became a labor of love while she listened to stories and wrote from another person’s perspective.  This led to her thinking of writing children’s stories and two books entitled Albert in the Middle and Albert’s Dog Daze.  Each is based on Lynda’s father as a young boy.  Her hope is that, after reading these books, children will learn how to live, love, and enjoy the good in life, even if, at any time, life is not perfect.

At this time, Lynda is involved in writing more memoirs.  She also writes poetry and songs, a favorite pastime as she sings and plays the guitar.

Lynda’s books can be found at:

Trafford Publishing https://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001089200

Stillwater Books, Pawtucket, RI https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079658LQM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

You can leave a comment on each day’s blog post during November, for up to 30 chances to win. Daily giveaways by authors will be drawn one week after publication. The author will contact the winner to coordinate delivery of the book(s). Grand Prize and Bonus Prize winners will be drawn and announced on December 8.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Sand Dollar by Sebastian Cole


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A Story of Undying Love

“SAND DOLLAR is one of those rare books that makes you feel, laugh and cry all at the same time. This smashing debut by Sebastian Cole reads like the best of Nicholas Sparks.”

– Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of The Tenth Circle

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Noah Hartman has it all, or so it seems. Groomed since childhood to inherit the family fortune and business empire, the effect of living the life set down for him by controlling parents has left Noah out of touch with his inner self. Enter Robin, who — in direct contrast to Noah — is a vivacious, free spirit with no material possessions to speak of. Robin’s love saves Noah by inspiring him to stand up to his parents and reclaim his true identity at all costs. But Robin harbors a secret that could devastate their lives forever. Is it enough for two soul mates to find each other, or are the forces that would tear them apart too great to overcome?

Many years later, Noah lies in a hospital bed recounting his life of love and loss, only to discover a far greater truth about the past, present, and future. And the one certainty that remains unchanged in Noah’s heart — true love never dies.

Looking for the next great love story? Look no further: read Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love.

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Sebastian Cole never intended to be a writer. He graduated from Brown University in the 80s, then worked briefly in New York before returning to Rhode Island to work in his family’s business. Nineteen years later, he took a leap of faith and left the company to pursue his dream, writing a debut novel emotionally inspired by his own personal life experiences. Sebastian Cole writes from the heart, believing in true love, love at first sight, and finding that one person in life you’re meant to be with. Many have compared him to one of his favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks, whom Cole cites as an inspiration. Whether or not he ever achieves that kind of success, touching the lives of others through his writing has been the single most gratifying thing he has ever done.

Visit Sebastian’s website for more information about where to purchase his book and where you can follow him on social media.

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

November is RI Author Month!


Instead of torturing myself with NaNoWriMo (who am I kidding? I can’t write 50K words in 30 days, I have a novel to publish!), I’m devoting the month of November to showcasing a different Rhode Island author each day. 30 days, 30 authors – from all genres.

Nov 2015

So, if you’re local (southeastern New England), please mark your calendars and come to the Third Annual Rhode Island Author Book Expo on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at the Lincoln Mall in Lincoln, RI. And if you’re not local, you may discover a new author through these profiles.

So stay tuned for an author a day in November!