Between the Lines: Beach books that are light as a beach ball, with a dash of romance

One literary force on the summertime front is the classic beach read, written mostly by female authors for female readers. The novels are fast-paced but not frantic, light but not frothy, fun but not dumbed-down. They’re an amuse-bouche to entertain while relaxing by the ocean or the lake. This sampling is indicative:

“Night Diver” by Elizabeth Lowell (William Morrow, $27, 368 pages): Kate returns to the Caribbean to help salvage her family’s marine recovery business, only to become mired in a mystery and an undersea treasure hunt gone sideways.

“Nantucket Sisters” by Nancy Thayer (Ballantine, $26, 352 pages): Friends-from-childhood Maggie and Emma are enjoying a summer at the beach when complications appear in the form of a smooth-talking stranger. Long-held secrets emerge to test the natures of trust and loyalty.

“Love Letters” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantilne, $26, 320 pages): The queen of romance continues her Rose Harbor Inn series, with what could be a budding romance between inn proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor. Enter three inn guests looking for second chances.

“Up at Butternut Lake” by Mary McNear (William Morrow, $15, 384 pages): The recently widowed Allie Beckett returns to the family lakeside cabin after a decade, hoping to start a new life for herself and her child. Surprises await.

The House on Mermaid Point” by Wendy Wax (Berkley, $15, 416 pages): After Maddie and her work crew are hired to restore an aged house on the Florida Keys, she discovers the owner’s identity – a rock ’n’ roll legend with an interest in more than the business at hand.

“A Hundred Summers” by Beatriz Williams (Berkley, $16, 432 pages): It’s 1938, and New York socialite Lily Dane is expecting another summer of social swirl when she and her family return to a seaside town in Rhode Island. But a surprise is waiting: Seems her former fiancé has married her ex-best friend, and they’re going to be neighbors.

Golden State authors

For the 18th year running, the Authors Booth at the California State Fair will invite readers to stop by and chat with 32 California writers, whose books cover multiple genres –fiction, history, memoir and children’s.

“This year, our area is designed to look like a sweet, old-fashioned bookstore, with bookcases around the walls and pendant lamps hanging over the tables,” said Naida West, booth manager and award-winning author of the “California Gold” trilogy.

The authors will staff the tables in overlapping shifts, with up to seven of them present on any given day. The Authors Booth will be in the California Building from July 11-27, operating 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

For information about individual authors and their schedules, go to and click on the “California State Fair” button at the top of the page. Or phone West at (916) 985-7411.

On the local scene

• When Isabel Corr-Rizzo of Roseville was widowed after 49 years of marriage, she sought out other widows and asked them to share their feelings about their tragedies and explain how they had pieced their lives back together. “Widows’ Shoes” tells their inspiring stories (Next Century, $12.95, 104 pages). “We wanted other widows to understand they are not alone; we are a sisterhood,” Corr-Rizzo said. For a schedule of her upcoming appearances, go to



• Ernest Y. Cox of Roseville spent time in the Delta to research “Bullet in the Wall,” a thriller about a small-town newspaperman who asks too many questions about a proposed marina-retirement village on the island of Hermano (CreateSpace, $11, 256 pages). Trouble follows.

• “Sunshine With Some Drizzle” by Charleszetta Stalling of Elk Grove is a collection of poetry and reflections from her childhood to adulthood (iStreet Press, $15, 77 pages). She is a former school administrator and educator.

• Jerry Lashley of Fair Oaks is a former private investigaor who put parts of his past into a novel, “Crosseyed Monkey,” about a Sacramento P.I. who gets involved with corrupt politicians and other crooks (CreateSpace, $8, 164 pages).

Random pages

•  The novelist-essayist Joan Didion (“The Year of Magical Thinking”) will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Oct. 1, along with six other prominent Californians who “represent the very best of California,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. An exhibit of the inductees’ “personal artifacts highlighting their lives and achievements” will be displayed at the California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento, beginning Oct. 2. More at


• The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library regularly hosts book sales at the Book Den, 8250 Belvedere Ave., Sacramento; (916) 731-8493. For a calendar of upcoming sales, go to


• In case you missed it: Writing again under the “Robert Galbraith” pseudonym, J.K. Rowling (“Harry Potter”) recently published her second contemporary mystery, “The Silkworm,” following last year’s “The Cuckoo’s Calling.”

• No matter what your take on Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, he’s had success as an author with his best-selling “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Jesus” mini-biographies, recounting a trio of historic homicides. The fourth in the series will be released in September. “Killing Patton” is described by the publisher: “For decades, there has been suspicion that Patton’s death may very well have been an assassination. The book takes readers inside the final year of the war and recounts the events surrounding Patton’s demise in a car collision in 1945, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced.”

Author appearances

Face in a Book has an extensive program of book- and author-related events at It’s at 4359 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-9401. Upcoming:

• Patrick Baird for “Ghost in the Armor,” 1 p.m. July 12

• Susan Spann for “Blade of the Samurai,” 6:30 p.m. July 25

Avid Reader at the Tower also has regularly scheduled events; It’s at 1600 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 441-4400. Upcoming:

• Patrick Guderski for “Honoria: A Novel in Sonata Form,” 2 p.m. Saturday

• Gordon Westover, “Coasting on Wheels” 2 p.m. July 12

• Bill George for “Rail Tales and Trails,” 2 p.m. July 26

Avid Reader in Davis also hosts events;, 617 Second St., Davis (530-758-4040). Upcoming:

• Erin McCabe for “I Shall Be Near to You,” and Elizabeth Silver for “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday

• Patrick Baird for “Ghost in the Armor,” 7:30 p.m. July 12

Time Tested Books is hosting special events. (1114 21st St., Sacramento; 916-447-5696,

•  It will host a launch party for three titles from Ad Lumen Press of American River College: Lois Ann Abraham for “Circus Girl & Other Stories,” Jason Sinclair Long for “Tiny Giants: 101 Stories Under 101 Words,” and Daniel Rounds for “Some Distant Lateral Present.” 7 p.m. July 10

• Annette Kassis for “Prohibition in Sacramento: Moralizers & Bootleggers in the Wettest City in the Nation,” 7 p.m. July 24.

Finally, the Carmichael Public Library presents Ruben Llamas for “Eye From the Edge: A Memoir of West Oakland,” 6 p.m. July 15, 5605 Marconi Ave, Carmichael; (916) 264-2920.

Editor’s note: This copy was changed on July 1.