Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans

One of the perks of being a book blogger is getting to read brand new books, sometimes even before they're published. Such was the case with Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio, which was published just a couple of days ago.  Inspired by the pretty, painterly cover of this new novel, I brewed some coffee, kicked off my shoes, settled into a lounge chair, and began to read. I was eager to begin the second novel by Joanne DeMaio, as I'd savored her first one, Whole Latte Life.  Set at Stony Point beach in Connecticut, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans is the story of denim designer Maris Carrington, who has flown to her childhood home in Connecticut from Chicago to wrap up the loose ends of her father's estate. With the help of her friend, Eva, she decides to stay at a beach cottage for an indefinite period of time that summer, to reconnect with friends she hasn't seen in many years, and to think about her past and her future.

Once again, Joanne DeMaio's writing is quite lovely and artistic.  In this book, she paints a portrait of a group of friends who reconvene at the beach after being apart for over a decade.  The beach is an idyllic setting in which to spend the summer, and like in her previous book, Whole Latte Life, the book refers to the pleasures of coffee numerous times.  But the seemingly light, casual, breezy nature of this book is limited to the setting.

"To cure pain, one has to feel it first. That's what acclimating is to for him, dealing with some sort of pain.  And that's what eats at him right now.  Either pain has to be felt, or escaped from."
~Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans, Joanne DeMaio

Maris' group of friends faces some particularly weighty adult problems, pertaining to life and death, the loss of a limb, job and marital problems, and other family issues.  In keeping with the serious tone of the book, I'm not sure that the cute title really fits the book. Maybe this book deserves a more pensive title, such as At Stony Point (or something more creative), although I like how the title refers to Maris' career and coffee.

This could be due to my limitations as a reader, but it took me a while to "get into" this book.  I needed to reread the first few chapters in order to make sense of what was happening and who the characters were.  For me, things did not "click" as quickly as I'd hoped they would.  I was a trifle confused as I tried to figure out the connections between all of the characters, to discover who was who. Truth be told, I felt there were too many characters for this sort of novel.  I liked Maris well enough, but I was left wanting to get to know her better.  Instead, I met many of her friends, Eva, Matt, Scott, Jason, Neil, Kyle, Lauren, and Vinny.  I'd have preferred fewer characters who I could get to know more deeply.

Overall, however, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more work by Joanne DeMaio. Her writing is exquisite and evocative.

"Farther down the beach, a few boats are moored just beyond the swimming area, their cabins glowing with yellow light.  Beyond the boats, the lighthouse at Gull Island faintly beckons.  An occasional faraway call of a foghorn moves through the night."
~~Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans, Joanne DeMaio

She brought the setting to life, and I felt as if I, too, were at the shore, basking in the fresh beach air, taking a barefoot walk in the sand by the edge of the water.  More than just a beach read, though, this book is an interesting exploration of many things, including the importance of pursuing your chosen career and other dreams, and to connecting with friends and family.

Thanks to Mary for providing me with a complimentary copy of this novel.

Your comments are welcomed, as always.


  1. Artistic writing will get me every time. A nice review and presentation, Suko!

  2. I can just picture you with your coffee, shoe-less, in your lounge chair...ah, where I'd like to be right now. I, too, prefer one character in-depth (much like my social preference in real life!). Still, the cover is lovely, and I appreciate your thoughtful review.

  3. I like the sound of the writing Suko, that last quote especially. It's always great when the author can bring the setting to life like that. I like the cover and title, but on reading your review, I agree, the subject matter doesn't really match it. You've written a wonderfully honest review, thanks for sharing :)

  4. I would think this was a light, fluffy read based on the title and covers as well. I loved reading your thoughts.

  5. It is hard to get into a book when there are too many characters. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to go back and reread the chapters like you did.

  6. I've been seeing this book around the blogs in the past couple of weeks and it looks so good. I will add it to my wishlist. Thanks for the great review!

  7. Nice review. I also thought this was a light read from the title and cover art but it sounds like there is a lot more substance there.

  8. I find stories of old associates, be it friend and family getting together after long periods of time to be very interesting. Perhaps because I am getting to the age where I am experiencing it myself. I also think that such stories really tell us a lot about people.

  9. You're right the title is cute so it gives the impression of a light read, but it's also catchy. Too many characters right off the bat can make it difficult to know who's who sometimes.

  10. I like books with a large cast of characters, but when it feels overwhelming, and the characters I want to know more about aren't focused on as much, I get kind of cranky. I am also not sure that this is the right title for this book, and would have considered a more serious title and cover, for it seems to belie what is in the book.

  11. Such a great title. Hearing lots of good things about this one, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. I like a lot your review, Suko ! Sometimes we need a place to rest and think and choose what to do after. This one seems to be a good one and coffee is always welcome.

  13. I love the title to this book! It just makes you want to sit down and read it, doesn't it??? It sounds like a solid read and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much!

  14. I enjoyed reading your review and how you set up your reading environment to go along with the title of the book. This book interests me with the themes and friendship and coffee.

    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Bonnie! Both of this author's books are coffee-themed. :)

  15. I forgot to mention in my review, Suko, that there was some confusion for me in the first part of the book too, but with the back and forth shifts between the past and the present. I'll add your review to my post.


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