Muskoka Beach Reads 2021

Lakeside, dockside, poolside… whatever your perch, we have a Beach Read for you! Our summer book previews and reviews cover all kinds of genres, from Historical and YA, to Murder, Mystery, and Literary. So pull up a sun chair, it’s going to be a read-worthy summer.

A Quiet Dissonance: A RollerCoaster

“A Quiet Dissonance” is a debut novel by Poornima Manco about struggling to find acceptance and belonging within two very different cultures, within oneself, and among social groups. It’s a tough, sorrowful novel that universally speaks to people’s insecurities and their desire to find support and love from others. Expect to feel a rollercoaster of emotions because Manco doesn’t hold back on her emotional take on what it means to be an outsider looking for love, friendship, and self-acceptance.

A Quiet Dissonance

Anu and her family create a fresh start for themselves in a small village in the English countryside. While her husband quickly finds a place for himself among his work colleagues, Anu is struggling to find friends of her own. Worried she won’t fit in unless she learns to adapt, Anu embarks on a long journey on what it means to be accepted and whether the consequences of “fitting in” are worth it.

If there is one book that everyone must read this year, it’s “A Quiet Dissonance.” What outwardly appears to be a family’s struggle of trying to adapt to a new, foreign country is actually much, much more complex. In this wildly intense novel, Manco manages to touch on a series of topics and situations everyone can relate to regardless of race, history, or culture. This is one of those rare novels that is able to connect with a wide-range audience in a way that is guaranteed to make them feel as though part of their experience has been written into these pages.

Through Anu’s tale, there is a feeling of inspiration to be more open and understanding. Since this tale has multiple themes and topics from race and classism to finding outward and inner acceptance of oneself, one can learn a lot about how seemingly perfect people are going through their own hardships. There are many lessons to be gained from Anu’s story while still retaining the enjoyment of a leisurely read.

It is the evident passion behind each word that will no doubt cause Manco’s novel to be a must-read and inspiration within its own genre and spark a discussion among readers and the media.

For more on the author, see The book and where to buy it:

Review by Kaitlyn Sutey

The Girl on the Platform: Riveting!

“The Girl on the Platform” by Bryony Pearce is a riveting, must-read adult novel that combines crime and a psychological thriller together in an enthralling tale. Everything about this novel is deeply unsettling from the main character’s behavior, the dreary atmosphere, and the inexplicable disappearance of a young girl.

On a train ride home from work, a young girl on a platform is kidnapped. Bridget, a new mother, is the sole witness. Except, no one believes her. Diagnosed with prenatal depression, the police are convinced her medication has caused her to hallucinate the scene. With no other witnesses or children from the area reported missing, Bridget is the only one who believes there’s a little girl out there waiting to be found.

Against the wishes of her husband and mother, Bridget takes on the responsibility of doing everything in her power to find this missing child. Consumed by this girl’s case, Bridget risks losing her job, her family, and maybe even her own sanity. The deeper she digs into what happened to this missing girl and who might’ve taken her, the clearer it is that Bridget has landed on something big, big enough to put her own life and that of her family in danger. But if she doesn’t stop looking for the girl on the platform, who will?

Wild, intricate, thrilling, and highly emotional are only a few words to describe the heartbreaking tale audiences will easily be captivated by as they are drawn into Bridget’s complicated marriage and her grim determination to find a young girl despite the odds against her. There is no easing into this story as the action begins on page one and continues to excel with alarming break-neck speed as the tale progresses.

Bridget is a compelling, though oftentimes frustrating character. Some of the things she says and does are hard to understand, even shocking in some places. It creates a fascinating love-hate relationship with the reader in which her motherly affection produces warm and fuzzy feelings while her more extreme behavior leaves behind a deeply unsettling chill. What causes these changes in Bridget? Is she a reliable character or are the people around her onto something about her mental health?

One thing for sure is that “The Girl on the Platform” is an extremely unsettling and chilling novel that fans of crime and psychological thrillers will not want to miss.

For more on The Girl on the Platform, see AVON BOOKS. Read more about author Bryony Pearce HERE.

-Review by Kaitlyn Sutey

Fresh Brewed Murder: Perfect for Coffee Lovers

Photo by Kaitlyn Sutey

Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan is the perfect murder mystery for coffee lovers. The first novel to the Ground Rules mystery series is a tasty blend of caffeine, comedy, and a splash of “whodunit” murder. Nothing goes better with summer than a young barista hunting down a cold-blooded killer while whipping up new recipes for coffee fanatics to help them make it through the day. 

​Sage Caplin and her friend Harley are finally living their dream of running their own coffee stand—even if it is a small shop in a food truck lot. Their hopes of turning it into something bigger is thrown for a loop when a man is found murdered in front of their cart—and Sage is the prime suspect.

​Except, it could be anybody from the owners of the food trucks who aren’t happy about Ground Rules opening on a coveted spot to the people protesting a new high-rise. With her business, life, and reputation on the line, Sage makes it her responsibility to find the person trying to frame her for a crime she didn’t commit. Read more about Fresh Brewed Murder HERE.

-Review by Kaitlyn Sutey.

The Great Godden: About Summers by the Sea

We Were Liars meets Call Me By Your Name in this lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age YA tale about a summer when everything changes, from Meg Rosoff, bestselling author of the iconic novel How I Live Now.

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer. . . . In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers: irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise — and the consequences will be devastating. Published by Penguin Random House Canada.

When The Stars Go Dark: Beachy Murders & Dreams

From the New York Times bestselling author Paula McLain of The Paris Wife comes an atmospheric novel of intertwined fate and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When unspeakable tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino. She spent summers there as a child with her beloved grandparents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her to heal. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. Anna is in no condition to become involved with the search–until a childhood friend, now the village sheriff, pleads for her help.

Then, just days later, a twelve-year-old girl is abducted from her home. The crimes feel frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when a string of unsolved murders touched Mendocino. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with these missing girls, she must learn that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together true crime, trauma theory and a hint of the metaphysical, this tense, affecting story is about fate, unlikely redemption and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another. Published by Penguin Random House Canada.

Lucky: About Grifters & Road-Trips

For fans of The Flight Attendant​, a compelling and thrilling road-trip novel by Marissa Stapley about a talented grifter named Lucky whose past comes back to haunt her.

What if you had the winning ticket that would change your life forever, but you couldn’t cash it in?

Lucky Armstrong is a tough, talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity—when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam.

When she discovers that a lottery ticket she bought on a whim is worth millions, her elation is tempered by one big problem: cashing in the winning ticket means the police will arrest her for her crimes. She’ll go to prison, with no chance to redeem her fortune.

As Lucky tries to avoid arrest and make a future for herself, she must confront her past by reconciling with her father; finding her mother, who abandoned her when she just a baby; and coming to terms with the man she thought she loved—whose complicated past is catching up to her, too.

This is a novel about truth, personal redemption, and the complexity of being good. It introduces a singularly gifted, complicated character who must learn what it means to be independent and honest…before her luck runs out. Published by Simon & Schuster

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Sausalito Sojourn

A gripping new mystery by Laura Dave about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. Published by Simon & Schuster

About the Reviewer: Kaitlyn Sutey lives in Bracebridge, Ontario. She completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing in May 2019 from Dalhousie University. Back at home, she spends most of her time reading and writing novels. Kaitlyn aspires to edit manuscripts for a publishing company, and to one day release a novel of her own. See Kaitlyn here .

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