My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

Fredrik Backman’s amazing comedic novel will touch your heart – all of your heart – with its honesty, warmth and pure, innocent love.

Seven year old Elsa has always felt peculiar, never fitting in with her peers yet preferring the company of her best (and only) friend in her grandmother; a seventy seven year old crazy woman with a wild and free spirit, refusing to sugar coat her opinions or justify her actions.

As far back as she can remember, Elsa’s grandmother has been telling her stories every day about the “Land of Almost Awake” with unforgettable, vibrant characters that are brave, strong and more than often also a bit scary. When she passes away one evening, she leaves Elsa with a box full of numbered letters to be delivered, thus sending the young girl on an adventure. Each letter sends her in the path of seemingly odd and brilliant drunks, protective monsters, loyal attack dogs and the like. Brave Elsa slowly learns that the fairy tales her grandmother told her were more than just that, they were true stories of lonely misfits who are also viewed as “different”. She also learns about her grandmother’s live before she was born, her loves and adventures better than any fairy tale ever told.

Along this adventure, Elsa accepts herself and looks at those around her with new eyes. The maternal bond extends to her mother who has the last touching letter. The love between these women extends through to death and back again.

This story will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Life and death has never been celebrated more beautifully.  The tears spilled into the last pages of my copy and I actually held the book to my heart when I finished, yet it was happy tears with a smile which I believe are the best kind.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild is a fantastically written and moving memoir by Cheryl Strayed who shares her experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT stretches from Mexico to Canada on the United States’ West Coast. After losing her mother to cancer, Cheryl’s life fell apart over the next four years; she divorced, lost jobs, got involved with heroin, etc. Knowing her mother would be unhappy with who she had become, Cheryl decided to make a drastic life change and mapped out a plan to spend the next three months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, picking up at the Mojave Desert and ending at the Bridge of the Gods in Portland, Oregon. With no experience and no training, Cheryl strapped on her huge pack (lovingly nicknamed “Monster”) and hiked alone battling both the physical elements and her emotions.

The terrain was more than a challenge; the weather went from oppressive heat to snow drifts. Whether climbing mountainous trails or sandy paths, Cheryl always searched for the PCT signs to keep on track. When I visited Portland in 2017 I found a PCT sign at Mt. Hood and felt a kinship with Cheryl, knowing that maybe this same sign helped her know she was still moving in the right direction.

Cheryl meets a few other hikers along the way, learning about the kindness of strangers and how PCT hikers created a “family” among themselves. By the time Cheryl reaches the end of her journey her outlook has renewed and for the first time in years she feels strong, strong enough to battle whatever lies ahead.

This book stayed with me long after I finished as one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. It was if Cheryl’s struggles were my own and as she gained strength I did too. I strongly suggest this book for a book club, beach book or anytime you are in the mood for a great read. It’s in my Top 5 of all time.

Anna Maria Island Beach Reads – Booking it to the Beach


Three great books to read by the beach

Anna Maria Island -If you’re a bookworm like me, reading at the beach is one of the most relaxing activities to do. However, it can be hard to find a good book that will captivate your interest.

Here are three of my favorite Anna Maria Island beach reads.

1.The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

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The Maze Runner is one of my favorite books to read. In it, Thomas wakes up in a glade in the middle of a labyrinth. As he meets the other gladers he finds out that they are stranded in the middle of a labyrinth with no memory of their past. With the help of his friends, Thomas begins his quest to find a way out of the maze and to freedom.

The Maze Runner is the first of the trilogy and is one of those books that once you’ve started reading it’s impossible to stop. Even ‘The Telegraph’ author Rebecca Hawkes stated, “It’s punchy, tense and, crucially, original.”

2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

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If you’re looking for a laugh An Abundance of Katherines is the perfect book for you. Colin Singleton is a child prodigy who has a love for the name Katherine. In fact, he’s dated-and been dumped by-19 of them. Because of his recent dumping, Colin and his food-loving friend Hassan set out on a road trip with 10,000 dollars and a mission: create a theorem that will predict the future of every relationship.

3. Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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One of my favorite books, Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda is young adult novel that focuses on the struggles of figuring out who you are throughout high school. Simon had been thinking about coming out to his parents for a while, and has even been talking to a guy who goes by ‘Blue’ on the internet. But when Martin Addison begins threatening to snitch unless Simon puts a good word in with his friend Abby, things take an unexpected turn. If you like a mix of mystery and romance, this book is definitely for you.

I hope you enjoy these great Anna Maria Island Beach Reads!

Anna Maria Island gets its first Little Free Library

Anna Maria Islands first Little Free Library located in the city of Anna MariaAnna Maria – Two locals, Pat and Doug Copeland, are the first two people on Anna Maria Island to set up a Little Free Library, a book sharing initiative pushed by the international organization Little Free Library.

What is it you ask? From the Little Free Library website “It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.” 

A few years ago Pat Copeland was watching the nightly news when she saw a segment on Little Free Libraries. The idea was so intriguing to her that she asked her husband Doug, an Anna Maria Commissioner, to build her one for Christmas. After addressing objections from the city on the logistics of setting up a permanent outdoor library, a special ordinance was created that allowed 5 to be built in the city. They populated it with their own books and those of friends and it’s been a popular edition to the northern part of Anna Maria Island.

Pat and Doug encourage everybody to take a minute, head over to their Little Free Library located at 708 North Bay Boulevard and read a book.

Wally Lambs – Beach Reads Anna Maria Island

“We Are Water” by author Wally Lambs is a heart warming novel about family, marriage, and how strong a human can be in a time of a tragedy.

Wally Lambs We Are Water

This alternating character perspective book will have you glued to your chair in your own world. You’ll forget you’re even on vacation at all! This story truly grabs the readers attention and will have you hooked on the first page.

Told from many character’s perspectives, this book is thrilling to read. Dealing with family, divorce, marriage and understanding you won’t want to put this down.

To read a full description check out the Amazon page, I don’t want to give any of this novel away! Wally Lambs We are Water

With toes in the sand, there is nothing better than a good beach read. Just make sure you put on plenty of sunblock too!

For more great beach reads check out the local scene page. From time to time we update our blog with great things locals are reading.

The Blue Bistro Elin Hilderbrand leaves you hungry for more!

The Blue Bistro Elin Hilderbrand is a great beach read. Don’t you just love books that deliciously describe food?

Blue Bistro Elin Hildebrand

I love reading about what people are wearing and what they are eating, which is why I loved the easy breezy Blue Bistro novel. Even though it is set on another beach and in another bistro, I couldn’t help but visualize our own white sandy beaches of Anna Maria Island and the delicious kitchen of our local Beach Bistro for the backdrop as I read.

The story begins during the last summer of the hottest restaurant in town – The Blue Bistro. Questions immediately begin – if the restaurant is so successful then why are they closing? Does Fiona, the elusive head chef, have a terminal illness? Is the attractive owner, Thatcher, really as yummy as he seems?

The narrator, Adrienne, has worked in top hotels in exotic locations and vacation towns all over the world so getting a job as hostess seemed like easy work. However, once she gets past the fancy customers, the fantastic and fun drinks from the beach bar and the famous menu she immediately senses secrets deep within the building itself. In fact, the actual Bistro itself is probably the main character. Everything happens inside it’s cool walls, an oasis from the beating summer sun.

The Blue Bistro is a fantastic, light beach read perfect for the summer season. It has everything; mystery, romance, friendship, beautiful descriptions of gorgeous locations and delicious food. Honestly, I constantly craved some of the fictitious menu items! Grab this fun book for your bag and head to the beach!Blue Bistro Elin Hildebrand

Beach Reads – Beautiful Ruins is a Beautiful Beach Read!

Anna Maria Island Beach Reads you’ll love! Pop this paperback in your beach bag and get lost in a fantastic story that begins on a different island.

Beach Reads Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beach Reads – Beautiful Ruins

This “almost love story” begins in 1962 when a local hotelier on a sleepy Italian island coastline is surprised. An American actress arrives by boat, and thus turns the entire village upside down. Pasquale runs the hotel with his sickly mother, Dee Moray (aka “The American woman”). Then is sent to the island by her Hollywood boyfriend under false and suspicious pretenses. Neither Pasquale nor Dee speak the other’s language yet somehow they become friends. A comedy of errors, misunderstandings and events occur. The two go down different paths. Then are reunited 50 years later in Hollywood.

This book has everything! The action is thrilling. Also includes big name historical movie stars (Dee’s boyfriend is Richard Burton!). You’ll love the old time Hollywood gossip (in Italy filming Cleopatra!), Intrigue, is the mob involved? War (WWII soldiers still in Italy!). Most of all, friendship and love. The type of friendship and love that lasts beyond country. Also, beyond full lives with different families and back to each other. While there is no obvious romance between Pasquale and Dee, the reader definitely feels the emotion past a simple friendship.

You must read Beautiful Ruins. It’s a great escape from a serious title too. Perfect for sitting on Anna Maria Island’s pristine beaches too. I found myself smiling as I read and actually hugged the book when I finished. You won’t be sorry you gave this adorable little story a try.