Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On October 3, the movie “Gone Girl” is set to be released. Your mission: to buy, download or by any means necessary, procure a copy of the novel by Gillian Flynn. Published in 2012, the book became a #1 New York Times bestseller and an instant book club favorite. Once the movie version is released, your window of opportunity will be shut forever. Water coolers, playgrounds and cocktail hours alike will be buzzing with the details. The beauty of this novel lies in the stunning twists and plot turns you will never see coming. On the eve if her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne goes missing. The facade of her seemingly perfect life begins to unravel, and you are taken on the psychological ride of a lifetime. Run, don’t walk, to buy your copy. Hide the title with a slipcover, because anyone who has read this book will be dying to ask you, “Have you gotten to the part where...?”
Review by Ann Hayes
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
A 39 year old super mom knocks herself out at her Thursday spin class and wakes up thinking she is 29 and pregnant with her first child. Alice can’t remember the last 10 years of her life and learns she has 3 children and is in the middle of an awful divorce and custody battle with the man she remembers as the love of her life. What happened in the last 10 years? The man she is in love with is yelling at her, her sister doesn’t even like her, she goes to the gym and she hates the gym, she has a moms group and a best friend who no one will talk about. How can she remember and put her life back together? If our life is made up of memories what happens when they are gone? When you wake up to the life you never wanted how do you get the life you loved back?
Review By Katie Morrison
Heart of Palm by Laura Lee Smith
Local author, Laura Lee Smith’s Heart of Palm is a saga of a native North Florida Family, the Bravo Family, set in St. Augustine. “Some call them Florida crackers, some call them rednecks. They love to run their trucks in the dunes, their powerboats along the Intercostal or its tributaries; they support the UF Gators and the local Lil Champ. Sometimes they’re in the local jail or ER and sometimes passed out at the fish camp.” – Vermeer Fan. Through its unique characters like the matriarch Arla, the story allows readers an insightful glimpse into the complexity of life and culture here.
A Hundred Summers
by Beatriz Williams
Lily Dane’s family has summered in Seaview. Rhode Island for generations. Set in the 1930’s the story centers around Lily, her former best friend Budgie and Nick, the man they both want for their own. If you crave a tale about family secrets, love triangles and the tangled webs we weave – and let’s not forget seaside views, this one is for you!
By Jess Walter
Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins is set in coastal Italy in the 1950s and present day, beautifully weaving together a modern day search with an epic event in the life of Italian villager. When a young beautiful actress named Dee Moray arrives to stay at The Hotel Adequate View, everything changes. As the book progresses we find out what happened to these characters over time and how their lives and the lives of so many others were changed as well. Publisher describes it as “an irresistible romp through Italy in the Technicolor era, when a starlet hooked up with the dashingly drunken Richard Burton and charmed the townspeople in a tiny seaside village”.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
by Anton DiSclafani
This coming of age novel set in the 1930s, takes us from the North Florida to North Carolina, as a young girl names Thea Atwell is sent away from home to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in North Carolina. The setting is beautiful and conjure up images of what it was like to live in this time and place. But the story of why Thea has been exiled is what draws you in and keeps you hooked. Thea’s actions are sometimes disturbing as her shadow side comes through in this story about dark secrets and youth, and the consequences of our actions.
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Honestly, the book is great though sad. It conveys the hardship of two families, each with teenagers battling cancer. The romance between the two teenagers is the heart of the story and even through the most difficult of life’s challenges they have the greatest of times, reminding us that life is short and infinitely precious. Even if you have seen the movie - the book is worth reading!
Review by Josh Rosenbaum
by Debbie Gaylord
It is an age-old question - Who are we?_ Playwright and Creative Director, Ian Mairs and his band of storytellers, musicians, poets and performers has materialized the answer for our community with the live show SWAMP RADIO, a celebration of the culture, arts and history of northeast Florida. This July, Swamp Radio will perform its latest with “Summer in the Ancient City” in St. Augustine at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College July 18-19 at 7:30 pm.
Mairs, whose other works have been produced from New York City to Atlanta, is passionate about the project as it centers on his hometown and the people and places that make it one of the best kept secrets on the east coast. He says Swamp Radio was inspired by NPR shows like ‘The Prairie Home Companion’ and ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’. Ian enjoyed these shows and thought it would be amazing to develop something similar for Northeast Florida, the place where he grew up and which he loves dearly. “I hope Swamp Radio will chronicle the story of our community, and help people celebrate and mythologize where they live”.
Ian moved here as a child and noticed right away that Northeast Florida has what he calls a different flavor. “Overall”, he says, “Floridians are optimistic”. Mairs describes his experience best. “My father moved us to Jacksonville from Los Angeles in 1970. From the minute we crossed the state line, I felt I had set foot on a new planet. The air was hot and wet. The trees were lush and green. Everyone spoke with a funny accent. It didn’t take long for me to be hypnotized by the place. I came to understand folks in North Florida had a certain way of doing everything: cooking vegetables (frying them), making iced tea (with a ton of sugar) and answering your elders (with a “yes ma’am” on the end of every response.)”
The stories and music of Swamp Radio conjure up a lifestyle that weaves together the past and present that is mysteriously just beneath the surface. Our community is a transient one, and Swamp Radio is able to provide a deeply pleasing introduction to newcomers while at the same time providing an accurate reflection to natives with oddly familiar characters like Swamp Lady or the flowing sounds of the Willow Wacks.
The name Swamp Radio first came to Ian about two years ago. He wrote it down on a post it note and stuck it on his refrigerator where it stayed for a while until the ideas began to flow and it gained a momentum of its own. He says the response has been amazing. The idea attracted many unique contributors and Swamp Radio was awarded a Spark Grant from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, allowing them to produce two highly successful shows focusing on Jacksonville this past Spring. The podcast (available on at swampradiojax.com) has listeners from all over the world.
According to Mairs, Swamp Radio will evolve slowly to maintain its integrity. The team of creatives plans to do shows in Brunswick, Georgia and New Orleans after their show in St. Augustine this Summer but there is no clear path other than seeing where the road takes them.
This summer Swamp Radio will turn its attention on St. Augustine:
The best darn day trip you’ll ever take. Gas up the car, grab a Big Gulp, hop on Interstate 95 South and before you know it you’ll be parked in the oldest city in America. In this live episode, Swamp Radio will highlight the winning charms of St. Augustine — checking in with the groovy sounds of The WillowWacks (hometown duo), a quirky and not-so-serious side to the city’s rich history (provided by historian Wayne Wood) and the secret to making a Watermelon Mint popsicle from the folks at the Hyppo. Here’s the lineup:
For more information please visit: http://www.swampradiojax.com/
by Lisa Farese
School is out, and the temperature has heated up. Many of us are enjoying the long, sun-kissed days, which can only mean summer is back. Of course, between vacations and summer camps, this season can get expensive, so we’ve compiled a summer fun guide that will give you plenty of fun things to do as a family, or simply on date night, that won’t cost you a penny. So, grab your flip flops and head out on an adventure this summer!Enjoy Music Amid the Waves at the Music by the Sea Concert Series
Grab your beach chair or blanket and head down to the St. Johns County Pier Park on Wednesday nights. Here you can enjoy the breezy summer nights to the tune of local bands. You can also grab a bite to eat from the featured local restaurant each week or bring your own picnic lunch. Food service starts at 6 p.m., and the concert starts at 7 p.m. New to the series this year are theme nights. July 30th will be Parrot Head Night and Sept. 24th will be Tie Dye Hippie Night. The series will commence for the season after the Sept. 24th concert. For more information, visit http://thecivicassociation.org/music_by_the_sea_summer_concerts.
Find Yourself Saying, “Shhh, No Boat Horns Please” at Movies by the Bay Did we mention your beach chair will come in handy this summer? Ripley’s St. Augustine Attractions and the St. Augustine Municipal Marina are hosting free movie screenings at the downtown Marina each Wednesday and Friday night at 8:30 p.m. for which you will, once again, need your beach chair. Wednesday nights will feature family friendly movies such as The Sandlot and Tangled, and Friday nights will feature classic movies such as Sleepless in Seattle and Fried Green Tomatoes. Movies will run through the week of Aug. 16. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/saintaugustineripleys/posts/456714524406081.
Enjoy Music in the Air at Concerts in the Plaza
Head downtown on Thursday nights for a concert in the Plaza de la Constitución, which is the heart of downtown St. Augustine. These concerts start at 7 p.m., hosting a variety of music, and will take place each week until Labor Day. For more information, visit http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/the-city/featured-stories-archive/CitP14.cfm.
Have a Blast with 4th of July Celebrations
Join in the fun with the 4th of July celebration in downtown St. Augustine, which will begin at 6 p.m. with a performance by the All Star Orchestra. The fireworks display will follow and start at 9:30 p.m. and will be set off near Castillo de San Marcos in the Matanzas Bay. For more information, visit www.FireworksOverTheMatanzas.com.
Can’t get enough fireworks? The World Golf Hall of Fame will also be hosting a community fireworks display, and it will take place on July 3 from 5-10 p.m. at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Additional dinner and a movie packages are also available for a cost. For more information, visit http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/visit-the-museum/events/.
Get Upbeat at Uptown Saturday Night
On the last Saturday of each month, head to the San Marco District where you will find antique and art galleries open late amid a festive atmosphere. Here you can enjoy live music and refreshments as you bob in and out of these unique galleries. Sponsored by the San Marco Avenue Merchants Association, the event takes place from 5-9 p.m. each month and spans the stretch from Ripleys to Mission of Nombre de Dios. For more information, visit http://www.floridashistoriccoast.com/listings/view/4008.
Enjoy a Sunset at Vilano Beach Town Center
Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like a sunset. Take in the beautiful sites of the setting sun at the Vilano Pier and also enjoy venders, music, arts, crafts and more at the Sunset Celebration at Vilano Beach Town Center on July 5 from 3 p.m. until dusk. For more information, visit www.vilanobeachfl.com.
Walk Among Art at the First Friday Art Walk
True to its name, St. Augustine’s First Friday Art Walk takes place the first Friday of each month. This is a great opportunity to take a gander at all of the unique artwork St. Augustine has to offer. Complete with refreshments, entertainment and even free rides on the St. Augustine Sightseeing Trains and Old Town Trolley Tours, it’s a fun summer night that won’t break your budget. So what are you waiting for, stroll downtown from 5-9 p.m. the first Friday of the month. For more information, visit www.artgalleriesofstaugustine.org.
Head Out on a Journey with this 450th Commemoration Exhibit
As our nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, so too does our city with the display of the Journey Exhibit. Come see artifacts and documents, AP photos, a video, and even an actual Woolworth’s counter as you step back in time. The exhibit is located downtown at the Visitors Information Center and will be open until July 15. For more information, visit www.journey2014.com.
Go Beyond Books with the St. Johns County
Library Summer Programs
With multiple branches to choose from, there are many summer programs both for adults and children alike this summer. Some of the children’s programs this summer include book clubs, kids Lego brick clubs, summer film festivals, bedtime stories, magic shows, summer gaming programs, yoga classes, art labs, puppet theaters and even sign language classes. So whether you need a day to cool off or simply a rainy day plan, check out what your local library has to offer. For more information; http://www.sjcpls.org/
Find Summer Serenity with a City Wellness Yoga Class
Find your inner peace after a busy day with a yoga class this summer. Bring a friend or go alone for a calming yoga workout on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. for the donation-only class at City Wellness. Located off A1A and 16th Street, you can enjoy a walk on the beach after class. For more information, visit http://citywellnessfl.com/
Go Back to School with Flagler College Tours
Flagler College calls the former Hotel Ponce de Leon home and provides tours of the stunning display of Spanish Renaissance architecture built in 1888. Tours are given at the start of each hour between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 74 King Street. If you want to pay a small fee, you can also take a tour of the newly renovated solarium, which offers amazing views of the city. For more information, visit www.flagler.edu.
Step Back in Time and Discover Downtown Historical Sites
With history practically everywhere we turn, there’s no better place to take in Florida’s history than right here at home. As St. Johns county residents, we get free admission to boot at many of these sites. Here are a few downtown sites that only require proof of residency: The Oldest House, the Ximenez-Fatio House, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, the Peña-Peck House, the Father Miguel O’Reilly House Museum and the Mission of Nombre de Dios Museum. Become a tourist without leaving home this summer.
Make a Splash at the St. Johns County Pier
Complete with a beautiful view and a constant ocean breeze, the splash park at the St. Johns County Pier is a great place to take your family for a relaxing and refreshing day. Complete with covered benches and pavilions, you can enjoy a picnic lunch splash side. There’s also an adjacent playground and, of course, the beach just steps away. For more information, visit http://www.co.st-johns.fl.us/Recreation/FishingPier.aspx#.U5pPij9OXug.
Take in a View from Under the Tall Sky
The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach is hosting the Under the Tall Sky Exhibition featuring work from artists Barbara Holmes-Fryefield and Fay Samimi. Stop in weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The exhibit will run until early July. For more information, visit www.ccpvb.org.
Sip Away a Summer Day at the San Sebastian Winery
If you need a break from the beach, head to the edge of downtown for a complimentary tour and tasting at the San Sebastian Winery. These tours and tastings are offered daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday. Here you can discover winemaking, tour the facility and taste test this St. Augustine wine. For more information, visit http://www.sansebastianwinery.com/information.php.
Cool Down at the St. Augustine Distillery
If you seriously need to cool off this summer, the St. Augustine Distillery is the perfect retreat. Formerly a historic power and ice plant in the early 1900’s, the newly opened distillery offers tours and tastings. Located at 112 Riberia Street, tours and tastings take place between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit www.staugustinedistillery.com.
Reserve Your Day Outdoors at the GTM Reserve
The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Ponte Vedra is a great place to take in the outdoors this summer. With 74,000 acres of conservation land and a mission of educating, the staff at this reserve offer various guided tours. The cost of many of these tours are free once you pay the park admission fee. For more information, visit http://www.gtmnerr.org/.
Get a Bazaar Take on History at the Colonial Quarter
The Colonial Quarter opens its doors on the last Saturday of the month from 6-10 p.m. to passersby who want to peruse arts, crafts, music and even magic in this historic quarter. And don’t forget to climb the tower for a breezy view of downtown. For more information, visit www.thedowntownbazaar.com.
Cruise Back in Time at the Fort Matanzas National Monument
What better way to enjoy a summer day than to head out on a boat ride? Well, you can do just that at the Fort Matanzas National Monument. Catch the ferry across the Matanzas Inlet to the fort, which was built between 1740 and 1742 to protect against enemies heading north from the Matanzas Inlet. Here you can tour the fort and hear about its history, after which the ferry will take you back to shore. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/foma/index.htm.
St. Johns Magazine blog features articles written by & about the people, places and events of St. Johns and the surrounding communities.