Sunday, June 22, 2014

Two Excellent Beach Reads for Summer

.Woman reading at the beach

I always feel a little sad when we reach June 21st. True it’s the official beginning of summer here in the northern hemisphere, but it also is the period when the sun stars it’s journey back south and the days begin to shorten. I try not to think about that, as I love these long summer evenings while the weather is still warm enough to sit comfortably outside long into twilight and nightfall.

Since this also is the time of year, lots of us head to the seaside; I am reviewing a couple of pleasant beach reads this week.

First, if you are a fan of Debbie Macomber’s inspirational women’s fiction, Blossom Street Brides is one that won’t disappoint.

In the downtown Seattle area of Blossom Street, four young women are drawn together over a mysterious knitting project. Some unknown person is leaving baskets of wool all over town, suggesting that people knit scarves for the poor while they wait. The baskets are discovered at bus stops, in doctor’s offices, and anywhere people have to remain for a while. Each basket has a card with The Yarn Barn logo written on it, but the shop owner, Lydia Hoffman knows nothing about them.

As well, each of the four ladies is dealing with her own personal problem. Lauren’s boyfriend of three years is stalling regarding a marriage proposal. Bethany’s new husband’s business is located in California, which keeps them apart for weeks at a time. Eliza is concerned that the man her pregnant daughter wants to marry isn’t right for her. And Lydia, herself, has an adopted teenage daughter whose terrible nightmares keep the whole family awake.

At the wool shop, as the women become entwined in one another’s stories, they draw together to become close-knit friends. An easy read with a sweet ending.

Seattle Skyline tiny

Now, to introduce a new writer, Nicole Dweck with her debut novel that was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel quarter finalist this year.

The Debt of Tamar is a lovely romance with hints of fantasy. A Jewish family headed by a wealthy Spanish widow escapes Portugal and settles in Turkey during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. Over time, the sultan's grandson falls in love with Dona Antonia's granddaughter but because of their different faiths, her father spirits her away to a far off land.

Jump ahead four centuries to the time when a playboy prince meets the daughter of a French holocaust survivor. Could the love of this couple set them free from an evil that has followed these two families through the ages? 

The author has come up with a unique plot that takes us into far off, exotic settings and eras with descriptions that excite the senses. Early in the book, I felt some of the narration was slightly  overwritten, but as the story continues, the writing definitely strengthens. 

Her research is superb and I learned several historical facts that I had never heard before. For example, that the Sultan Suleiman practiced religion tolerance and allowed the persecuted Jews to live unharmed under his rule.

In the end, I enjoyed the novel immensely and look forward to more of this author's work.

By Constantin Barbu _Blue_Mosque_at_sunset.The Blue Mosque at sunset

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