Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet Salt Air - a book review

I’ve never done a true book review before, but when I received Sweet Salt Air (by Barbara Delinsky) from Chatterbox, it was one of the requirements of being a part of Chatterbox. Chatterbox which is linked to House Party, is pretty much a way for people to learn about new items. They send out items (in this case a book) based on applications (surveys) and if you receive the item they would like for you to review it on their site and/or on your blog and to share it on Social Media. #DelinskyChat

I’m always looking for new books, and hate paying full price for them, so I was very excited to get selected to receive the book (which sells for $18.98 on Amazon). Although, since I usually read books electronically on my Kindle or iPad it almost felt weird to be holding a hard cover book. I had to actually use a book mark to hold my place, so used to the Kindle just keeping track for me!

The summary from the author’s website says:

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in the Maine island house owned by Nicole’s family, but they have since grown apart. A successful travel writer, Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, lives in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian.

When Nicole returns to the island house to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte for both sentimental and practical reasons. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole would like her help interviewing locals for her book. Missing genuine connections in her life, Charlotte agrees.

Reuniting that June on Quinnipeague, they feel the same excitement they always did.  But ten years have changed them.  There are secrets, born of betrayal and fear, that could destroy their friendship for good.  And they aren’t alone on the island.  There are locals wary of betraying confidences, ill-timed visits from Nicole’s mother and step-daughter, and more food than any woman who loves island food could ever ask for.  Through it all, Nicole struggles to save her marriage, while Charlotte is drawn, night after night, to the far end of the island, where the herbs for which island food is renowned scent the ocean air.  Equal parts gourmet, homeopathic, and mystical, these herbs, so crucial to Nicole’s cookbook, are being safeguarded by a dangerous man and his dog.
As the days pass and secrets fall, the two women survive test after test.  But with the last one, a health crisis for Nicole’s husband, Charlotte has to decide whether to reveal a final secret that could either save his life – or destroy him.

It really took me a while to get into the book. Chatterbox asked for us to try to finish by June 4th and I thought there was no way this was going to happen. It took me at least getting one third into the book before I felt it really “got good”. However once I passed  what I thought was the “slow” beginning, I thought it got really good and even though it wasn’t at the “can’t put it down” level I love, I was definitely easily able to finish through it. It was a great ending (somewhat predictable, to an extent).

I don’t want to do a synopsis and spoil it for anyone who wants to read it but I think the part of the book that dragged was the beginning when there was  much detail about the island itself (in regards to the herbs and plants and how it would relate to the book that the ladies were writing). If I was into cooking and/or vegetation, I maybe would have enjoyed the beginning more, but it was completely outside of my interest.

In regards to the characters, I think the author did a great job of developing them and having them interact. I have some friends that I don’t talk to or see as often as I’d like, but when we do see each other, it’s like no time has passed. I feel like that is exactly how it was for Nicole and Charlotte. Granted, I’ve never gone 10 years with mostly only e-mail communications or what was described as a one-sided friendship, but for the reasons in the book, it made sense that their friendship drifted to those extremes. Nicole and Julian’s marriage and relationship was a huge part of the book. I didn’t like that Julian asked Nicole to hold on to such a secret for so many years. It’s one thing to ask your spouse to keep something a secret, but something as big as the secret as this was, in my opinion is was WRONG for him to not expect or want her to be able to talk about it with someone else (not necessarily the world, but maybe one trusted friend, although something like this, I would fight for my husband to tell his family). It was way too big of a burden to put on anyone, especially someone you love. Was I vague enough there to intrigue you to read what the secret was all about?

I really liked the character of Leo. I felt he was true to himself in so many ways and only when HE was ready, did he make the change needed for love. Although because I was expecting a happy ending, it was predictable that he’d eventually make the change and go after love, I just really liked how he didn’t jeopardize his character to do so.

I felt some of the other characters (Nicole’s Mom, Nicole’s Stepdaughter, some of the people interviewed for recipes that were mentioned frequently) weren’t really all that necessary to keep me engaged with the story line but they did fit in well I just didn’t draw enough interest in them to really “care”.  

Overall, I really enjoyed the book once I got into it. I would definitely recommend it to those who like plot twists and love stories. I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything else by Barbara Delinsky, so I don’t know how this compares to her other stories but I’d definitely be interested in trying some out.

Disclosure: As stated above, I received this book complimentary in exchange for my review, no other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

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