Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with author Joanne DeMaio, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Beach Blues!

Author Guest Post

This photo is a favorite of mine, capturing a summer day’s end on the boardwalk at Connecticut’s Point O’ Woods Beach. This gem of a beach inspires my fictional seaside setting of Stony Point, found in many of my novels. But even more than that, I based BEACH BLUES’ pivotal gathering place on this very stretch of boardwalk. It seemed the perfect spot for friends old and new to talk, reminisce … and uncover seaside secrets rolling in like a silver-tipped crest on a wave.

About The Author

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Beach Breeze is her eighth novel. Currently at work on her next book, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

Author Website

Book Review

Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Format: Paperback - 420 pages
               Kindle - 3621 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN: 978-1532874697
BNID: 2940158295058
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour hosted by author Joanne DeMaio.

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio invites you to spend the summer by the sea, in a quaint New England beach town where friends and love await just outside the cottage doors.

Celia Gray finds herself house-sitting a silver-shingled cottage at Stony Point. She arrives with her guitar, a few staging jobs ... and a bit of summertime sadness. That is, until an unforgettable group of beach friends draws her in like a breath of salt air.

Sal DeLuca heard the words in a dream: Take me to the sea. So after a decade of demanding work, he takes his first vacation in years. Trading in his suit and tie for blue jeans and boat shoes, Sal unexpectedly arrives at his mother's shabby inn on the Connecticut shore, winding his way into the lives and hearts of the close-knit beach community.

When Stony Point's two wash-ashores, Sal and Celia, meet, some say it's a match made in beach-heaven. And so begins a sweet seaside summer ... forging friendships, adventures and new love. But all is not at ease in the gentle sea breeze as a dark secret turns the tide for the Stony Point crew.

Beach Blues is a novel bringing you right to its secluded fishing shack and weathered boardwalk, to its wooden rowboat and lantern-lit porches. A novel that welcomes you, as much as it may break your heart.

Book Excerpt:


IF A LITTLE BEACH COTTAGE could look forlorn, this one does. Though she’s not sure why. It’s just a bungalow, really, in need of a fresh coat of white paint. Still, that’s not it. Celia considers the cottage before her. It sits on a small hill, so the sea breezes will reach into its windows. And those sheer curtain panels on the top of each paned window look like white sails, puffing in the wind. It all perfectly suits the cottage name: Summer Winds.
Yet there’s some wistfulness about the beach bungalow, or regret, because this cozy place must have long been someone’s dream. A family made a lifetime of memories right here.Evenings on the screened front porch, lanterns lit, cool drinks being sipped. Or sunny mornings, walking out the front door to the sandy roads, hauling tubes and towels and umbrellas, flip-flops flipping. Even that cottage name, Summer Winds, evokes the promise of easy, breezy days.
But now, the dream is over. Celia stands beside a for sale sign in the front yard. The family’s time together on the beach—in the salt air and sea breezes, amidst sunsets and sandcastles—has ended. The day has come when it’s all for sale: the home, the nostalgia, the anticipation of another summer. Someone is letting go of a dream and saying goodbye to their weathered cottage.
Before she opens the front door, Celia gives one more look, taking in the curls of peeling paint and dried-out wooden stairs leading to the screened porch. New folks will decide whether or not this is the place for their own summer dreams. They’ll walk through the rooms, picturing life close to the sea while contemplating buying this cottage—and Celia’s task is to convince them. She turns the key in the painted door and steps inside, breathing in the musty air that, as only in a cottage, has an endearing quality. Stopping in the living room and giving the stiff windows a shove to let in the salty air brings life right back to the stale space. She touches a conch shell on the mantel, then a clear lamp filled with sea glass, aware that she has staged plenty of homes. But staging a beach cottage is a first, and is not the same.
Because selling a cottage seems sad. She can feel it, the melancholy over a dream being sold.
Yet her one first gesture, throwing open the windows, already brings hope. A hitching breeze off Long Island Sound makes its way inside, carrying the cry of cawing seagulls. She pulls a notebook from her tote, takes a deep breath of the sweet salt air and starts jotting ideas.
*  *  *
Elsa can tell already. This is going to be one of those long, hot New England summers—starting early and holding on well into September. After cuffing her jeans and slipping on sandals for the walk, she steps outside into the mid-June sunshine. The brightness has her pull down big sunglasses from the top of her head. And since the empty cottage is only a block away, she decides to bring her own watering can. Even though one was left behind there, it leaks, dripping on her toes as she gives the flower boxes a drink.
Not that she always minds. There are times when she actually kicks off her sandals and wiggles her bare toes in the green grass, delighted to be living here at Stony Point after so many years overseas. Transforming her run-down beach house into a future inn, or tending this neighboring bungalow … it’s all become the simple pleasure of her days. So much so that she’s added trailing ferns to the peeling window boxes at the little cottage for sale, and finally the delicate green plants cascade over the box sides.She approaches them now, dipping her fingers into the soil to check for moisture before heading around back. A lone robin chirrups in a maple tree, accompanying Elsa’s humming at the spigot as she fills the watering can. Too bad there isn’t a sound of clinking dishes from the kitchen inside; instead the cottage is sadly empty these sunny days, its family long gone now.
At least she thought no one was here. While tipping her watering can at a side window box, a woman in the living room catches her eye. She’s pacing indecisively, with a large lamp in her hand. Elsa gives a friendly knock at the window frame.
“Oh!” the woman says, turning quickly with a hand to her heart.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Just saying hello!Are you buying this lovely cottage?” Elsa asks through the screen.
“Buying?” The woman looks around the room, sets down the lamp and approaches the window. “No. Not that I wouldn’t like to. But no.” A quick smile gives away her shyness as she pauses.“I’m staging the place, for the listing agent?”
“For Eva?”
“Yes. Do you know her?”
“Eva is my niece! She’s on vacation, so I’m doing her a favor watering the window boxes. Don’t mind me!” Elsa lifts her spouted can before pulling off her garden gloves. “I’d shake your hand, but …” She motions to the window.
“Come around, I’ll meet you on the porch.”
Elsa hurries along the side of the cottage, past a birdhouse hanging from the branch of a dogwood tree, and turns onto the stone path in the front yard. “Well, hello again,” she says as the porch door opens. “I’m Elsa.” She perches her sunglasses on her head. “Elsa DeLuca.”
“Celia,” the woman answers, tucking back a strand of auburn hair and extending a hand. “Celia Gray.”
“How nice to meet you.” Elsa shakes her hand and glances into the screened-in porch. Dusty conch shells and faded hurricane lanterns line a high shelf, and a collection of glass pitchers stands on a wicker table in the corner. “I’m always so intrigued by these storybook cottages, and how charming they can be.”
“I know. Every cottage can tell a story, right? Though this is the first I’ve ever staged. Your niece lined me up with a few jobs.”
Elsa nods. “So you live at Stony Point?”
“Temporarily, for a month or two. And I checked with the realtor to see if there was interest in my services while I’m here.You know, dressing up properties that have been sitting on the market.”
“And where are you staying?”
“At a friend’s place, on the side street along the marsh. It’s the silver-shingled cottage, last one in the turnaround. Maybe you’ve seen it? With the tall peak in front?”
“I’m not sure. I’m still getting acquainted with all the beach roads, myself. But I do know you’ll love it near the lagoon. It’s such a magical spot, with the swans paddling by. And those sweeping marsh grasses always swaying and whispering. Last summer, I stayed at a tiny place called Hydrangea House.Changed my entire life, those few months! You are so fortunate to be here.”
“Well thank you, Elsa. It’s nice to meet a friend and have someone to chat with.”
Elsa considers this Celia who seems to have uprooted some home life to come to the Connecticut shore. Okay, so it’s not only cottages that have a story; there must be one Celia’s not telling, too. “Beach chats are always fun.” Elsa looks past her then, into the living room. It’s small, but comfy. The one paneled wall is dark with age and sea dampness. “How sad it must be to sell a gem like this. What will you do to stage it?”
Celia joins her gaze around the room. “For starters, declutter.And look, they have a gorgeous vintage trunk all covered up.”She lifts a blanket from a distressed blue-painted trunk used as a coffee table. “It’s nautical and should be seen. So things like that.Rearranging, adding a few accessories, painting walls.” She quiets then, almost uncomfortably.
But one thing Elsa does see is that Celia has a keen design eye; even her slight touches make a difference. So she tries to set her at ease with more friendly talk. “I own that rambling cottage near the water. The one with all the construction scaffolding.Let’s see, it’s only Tuesday. Why don’t you stop by later for a lemonade on the deck? I’ll tell you the right spots to visit while you’re here.”
Celia tips her head. “You’d do that?”
“Well, you’re my new beach friend,” Elsa says with a wink.“Give me your phone number and I’ll call you with the time.”
Celia writes her cell phone number on a paper scrap and asks Elsa to jot down hers, as well.
“Is your family with you?” Elsa asks while doing so. She tears her number from the page and hands it to Celia.
And there it is again, that quick smile that’s uncertain, maybe?Regretful?
“No,” Celia continues. “I’m here alone. I’m actually recently divorced, and since my friend can’t make it to her cottage, she said I should use it. For a change of pace. So I’m keeping an eye on the place while I do some life regrouping.”
“That is exactly what I did last year,” Elsa tells her while tucking Celia’s number in her pocket. “I came to Connecticut for a wedding, from Italy—where I’d moved after college, gotten married and raised my son. Two weeks here and I ended up starting my whole life over. And in my late fifties, imagine? But you know how it goes … It was only going to be a brief stay, and now look at me. Sold the house in Milan, and that old property I’ve bought here? I’m turning it into a beach inn! Maybe you’re starting over, too?”
“Oh.” Celia walks to one of the paned windows, the little white topper puffing in the breeze like a sail on a boat. “I’m not sure about that yet.”
“Well, dear. What I am sure about is this: The best place to start over is somewhere by the sea.”

My Book Review:

In Beach Blues, author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader back to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where the reader is introduced to the story of Celia Gray, a house stager, and Salvatore DeLuca, a Wall Street analyst, while also allowing the reader to catch up with the lives of friends: Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle, Lauren and Elsa.

Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, life brings issues and changes to one's life, but the bonds of friendship, sea air and salt water are cleansing, they cure what ails you. For this group of old friends, the summer arrival of Celia Gray and Elsa's son Sal DeLuca to Stony Point will bring them together, but the bonds of friendship and personal relationships will be tested with personal secrets and life issues that surface and swirl around in the shimmering denim blue sea, yet its calming effect will offer them another chance of hope, love, family, friendship, forgiveness, and redemption.

So drive under the railroad trestle and enter the enchanting beach town of Stony Point ... pull up a beach chair ... and visit with the close-knit longtime friends in author Joanne DeMaio's delightful novel, Beach Blues.

Beach Blues is a poignant story of friendship and family, dealing with life's issues, and long held secrets that will tug at your heartstrings. Author Joanne DeMaio weaves an emotional tale written in the third person narrative, that is set in the present with flashbacks to the past. The reader is transported to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where they follow along with Celia, Sal, Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle, Lauren, and Elsa as they each deal with challenges of real life, loss, love, heartbreak, secrets, and personal demons.

Author Joanne DeMaio easily captivates her readers' attention with this beautifully written and emotional tale through a seamless and flowing storyline, and with a wonderful description of a tranquil beach setting that wraps itself around the reader like a sun-warmed beach towel. The characters draw you into their lives with a strong emotional pull, their complexities and flaws are true-to-life, it is easy to relate to them with compassion, empathy and hope. With a mixture of intrigue, suspense, drama, humor, heartache, hidden secrets, romance, and a strong bond of friendship, this story takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride that will keep you turning the pages until the satisfying conclusion.

Beach Blues is an intricate story of interweaving friendships and real life challenges that is both heart wrenching and inspirational. It is a powerful and compelling story that will have you feeling the full gamut of emotions while soothing your soul. It is a wonderful story that demonstrates the power of the magical sweet salt air that will cure what ails you, and it will resonate with you long after the last word has been read.


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