Book Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over

Photo from Netgalley

Photo from Netgalley

Description from NetGalley: In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.

I’m new to Linda Holmes, but after this I’m all in.

This releases in June and I'm calling it now: it's the book of the summer! This is a story about the life choices we make and the ones we don't that change the course anyway. It deals with some tough issues in real-life, human ways. Funny, warm, charming, sad, unusual in how relatable it feels. And did I mention funny? I don't usually laugh out loud at books, but I did several times here. There is so much great dialogue and I couldn't get enough of the witty banter. The characters feel real—at time frustratingly so. One of those books you just want to live in and are sad when it ends. Made me a little homesick for New England, too. Evvie, as we'd say back home, you're a real charmah.

Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Ballantine for the ARC! I was delighted to receive it and I can’t wait until this comes out. There has been so much buzz and I’ve gotten so many replies on social media from friends that they can’t wait to read it.

Book Review: The Study of Animal Languages

Photo from Netgalley

Photo from Netgalley

Animals, languages, what’s not to like? Well.

First, shoutout to my home state of Rhode Island! Hardly any books are set in the smallest state in the union, and I love that The Study of Animal Languages was set so close to where I grew up. Even though it wasn’t all geographically accurate, it still brought me closer to the story. I l also oved the actual info on animal languages (however sparse), how animals communicate. I liked that the resolution felt realistic. 

But overall I struggled with this. It was uneven. There were times where something intense happened and I couldn’t read fast enough for about ten pages. But more often it was slow, dense, and/or wordy. I don’t usually have a problem with big words in a book (I usually learn something!) but the big words used here were...I don’t know if they were supposed to show how some of the characters struggled to relate to others? If it was a plot device it didn’t work for me. It made it harder to read and didn’t serve the story enough to outweigh the struggle in reading it. The book also sometimes got too deep into the weeds of science or academia or other complicated things, without serving the story or the reader’s experience.

Thank you, Netgalley and PENGUIN GROUP Viking for the ARC!

Also reviewed over at Goodreads and on Instagram.

Book Review: Daughter of Moloka'i

Photo from Netgalley

Photo from Netgalley

Daughter of Molka’i, by Alan Brennert

I was sent a copy of this book via Netgalley. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley, for the opportunity to review!

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know much about American internment of Japanese people and American people of Japanese descent during World War 2. It’s an utter atrocity and I wish I had known much more about it sooner. It makes me question why I didn’t. It should be taught in every American school. It feels especially poignant today and I’m grateful to this book for bringing this blight on our past to life for me. For that reason alone, I feel like everyone should read this book.

All of that said, as a straight-up novel I did find the dialogue at times stilted and felt that a lot of the story was being recited, vs. being shown to the reader so they could feel it—particularly in the second half. The characters felt like they were held at arm’s length and the story felt more informative than like a novel. I enjoyed it nonetheless and recommend it if you want to learn more about Japanese interment camps in America in the 40s. I don’t live too far from Manzanar and am now planning to visit. These stories need to be told.

PS—I didn’t read the first book, Moloka’i, that introduced some of these characters. You don’t need to, as this book stands alone, but now I want to.

Also reviewed on Goodreads and Instagram.