• Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Evvie Drake Starts Over: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over – a book by Linda Holmes in which a large quantity of tea is consumed and is paired well with witty and sharp writing.

    Evvie’s husband and high school sweetheart, Tim, is a successfull and well-liked doctor in their Maine community. The book opens with Evvie packing up her car to leave him for a fresh start when she gets the call.

    Her husband has been killed and while it isn’t the fresh start she planned, Evvie is forced to start over in the town she grew up, surrounded by memories of her husband who unbeknownst to most others, wasn’t so nice to her.

    Evvie’s best friend Andy and Saturday morning standing bruch date is a single father after his wife left him and his two young girls.

    Andy has arguably done a better job of moving on while Evvie is gripped with guilt over her secret almost-decision. She spends many nights on the floor of her guest apartment room overwhelmed by anxiety and confused grief.

    So when Andy’s friend Dean, a professional baseball player needs a fresh start after forgetting how to pitch, Andy suggests that Dean rent Evvie’s spare room.

    On the surface this book sounded fairly predictable and quite honestly, outside my typical read. But referring back to the quote at the beginning of this review, you will get a sense of the author’s quick wit and fresh approach to writing about starting over and the grief and anxiety that accompanies life changes.

    I saw myself in the characters. I know a lot about loss, failure, starting over, anxiety, grief, guilt, and shame that almost keeps you from second chances. And like Evvie, I was even married to someone named Tim who wasn’t nice to me and nearly destroyed me – a side effect of what goes on behind closed doors.

    This book made me laugh, tear up, and root hard for the characters find their ways. The writing was poingant and never overly saccharine – the biggest reason I usually avoid these books. And the added sports element, written accurately, rounded this book out and made it a 5 ✂️ book for me.

    The characters were well developed and the other element the author did particularly well was in capturing the Maine coast with more than just words. You could taste, smell, and hear the coastal town in her writing.

    If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Things You Save in a Fire, or How Not to Die Alone you should enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over.

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: The Cover Edition

    Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! It’s the day where I write about ten book-ish things that make me happy.

    Today’s prompt from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about book covers, specifically redesigns. I’ll admit, I don’t follow that part of a book’s life so my spin on this is my top ten books that I have judged and bought based on their covers.

    Because really, we’re all guilty of that. Right??

    Here goes, in no particular order…

    1. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
    2. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
    3. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
    4. Blindness by Jose Saramago
    5. The Nix by Nathan Hill
    6. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
    7. Lot by Bryan Washington
    8. All The Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth
    9. The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
    10. Recursion by Blake Crouch

    So while we are taught never to judge a book by its cover, I’m relatively successful doing so. Cover art is a huge part of the publishing process and for good reason.

    Because I can’t be the only creative-type falling in love with a book cover and then buying the book. 

    The funny thing – most of the time I really enjoy the book. And that makes me wonder about the science behind cover designs.

    What was the last book you judged and bought based on the cover? Did you enjoy the book?

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

     

     

  • Lists,  Recommendations,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Writing

    Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie so I’m going list my top ten books about writing, both fiction and nonfiction.

    In fictional books, I find that they make the plot and characters strong because the author is writing about a subject they know well. Many writers love to write about writing, and I enjoy those storylines.

    With nonfiction books, my favorites feel like I’m talking with a friend – or even better, being let in on someone’s best secrets.

    In no particular order here’s my top ten:

    1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I have written here before about this book. Anne is a writer that reads like a friend – both in style and honesty about writing.
    2. A Ladder to The Sky by John Boyne – I finished reading this book earlier this month, and it quickly became one of my favorites of 2019. Thank goodness it’s fiction because it is a writer’s worse nightmare.
    3. The World According to Garp by John Irving – This novel is an old college favorite of mine that also happens to be one of the few books by John Irving that I liked – an unpopular opinion, probably so.
    4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Yes, this book is depressing that was written by and tragic author in a semi-autobiographical manner. It’s also worth reading at least once; when you are not yourself depressed.
    5. Misery by Stephen King – The book was better than the movie. If you haven’t read this book or much by Stephen King, this is one I would put towards the top of the list of his books to read.
    6. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron – Based on brain science, this book brings out the science geek in me. It’s fascinating and worth a look if you want to approach your writing from a scientific point of view.
    7. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose – This is another book written by a phenomenal writer that reads like a conversation with a friend. I recently reread this book and will return to it over and over.
    8. Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers by Joyce Carol Oates – This book is massive. It is a collection of short stories from a multitude of genres. It is well worth owning if short stories are your focus.
    9. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – This book is newer to me and another one that is brutally honest about the craft of writing.
    10. To Show and To Tell by Phillip Lopate – Literary nonfiction was a tough genre for me to get a pulse on. I’m still not quite there, but this book was a fantastic starting point for me.

    Do you have any favorite books about writing? Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I Would Like to See

    Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Today I am listing the top ten settings I would like to see more of in books.

    1. The historic home of a significant past historical figure. Set in the modern-day.
    2. Thailand – I have read a few books set there and would love see more book settings that feature the culture, the beautiful surroundings, and the history.
    3. The theatre – whether it be a company, a physical location, or a particular show, I’m in. I’ve read two books recently that were set in theatres and loved both of them.
    4. A library – The Library Book was primarily set in the LA Central Library but was non-fiction. I would love to see a fictional book set in an existing public library.
    5. A current event – Think ripped from the headlines. The border crisis is the first to come to mind. While fictional, the awareness brought could be important if done well.
    6. A retirement village/assisted living – In my former life I worked primarily with retired folks. Oh, the stories they could tell me about their retirement homes.
    7. The airport – I could people-watch in an airport all day long. I may or may not make up stories about them too…
    8. A waiting room – This could be any kind of place people wait. This is another favorite place of mine to watch and make up stories about people.
    9. A teacher’s lounge – Think the secret lives of teachers.
    10. Time travel – I am a huge fan of time traveling fiction. I am always excited to see books set across an expanse of time navigated by a group of characters.

    Have you read any books set in these locations? I’d love to hear about them and add them to my To Be Read list!

    Thanks to That Artsy Reader Girl for hosting Top Ten Tuesday and thanks for stopping by.

  • Bookish,  mental health,  Writing

    Reading & Mental Health

    This post was meant to be my June wrap-up. I wrote it, edited it, deleted it and finally started over.

    I love posting big stacks of books read just as much as the next bibliophile. But what happens when that stack represents far more than books completed?

    When that stack represents a month marked by struggles?

    You write about it.

    May was mental health awareness month and I felt great. I even wrote about it to increase awareness. But then June happened and how disingenuous would it have been to pretend that I felt good and June was just another month?

    I couldn’t do it.

    I’m a slow burner. Things happen and I go into crisis mode. I hold it together and make sure everyone around me is taken care of first. The crisis is endured and once everyone else is back to “normal”, I implode – long after most think to ask how I’m doing. And that’s my fault, not their fault.

    There are many studies out there on the benefits of reading and the correlation to mental health. I have found those studies to be true with one exception:

    What do you do when you feel so bad that you can’t concentrate enough to read a few pages?

    My answer is audiobooks. They engage a different part of the brain, are a great distraction, and dull the roar of anxiety in your mind. This has been my experience at least.

    So here’s my honest wrap-up for June:

    I struggled with depression and anxiety. I needed my medication adjusted. I saw my therapist more and I read when I could.

    I listened to three audiobooks this month and they made a difference in my days – and sometimes even nights when I couldn’t sleep.

    I still read four books this month. I finished The Recognitions at the very beginning of the month and the other three I finished towards the end.

    I’m feeling a lot better now and all in all, I’d say June was a good reading month.

    Here’s to July and a little extra vitamin D!

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