Good day to you all! I don’t have a preamble today, and I’m excited to talk about these books, so let’s just dive in.
The Broken Girls – Simone St. James
I really expected to like this one! I heard it recommended on a podcast by someone who’s tastes I usually line up with, and, granted, I did blast through it in one day, so it was super readable, but ultimately…it was frustrating.
The book follows two storylines: in 1950 four teenage girls at a boarding school bond over their troubled pasts and their FOR SURE FOR SURE haunted school while in 2014 journalist Fiona Sheridan is obsessed with finding out the truth about her sister’s murder 20 years ago. As sometimes becomes a problem, I found one storyline more interesting than the other, though I was surprised when my preference flipped halfway through the book. Eventually the two storylines do come together, but thematically it didn’t feel like they cohered. The 2014 plotline almost got into some really interesting rape culture critique, but then skewed a bit off the point.
This genre keeps disappointing me, or maybe I’m just picking books that aren’t for me. I keep looking for something to blow me away the way He Said/She Said did last summer, which maybe means I just need to return to the Erin Kelly well!
[cw: sexual assault]
Making Up – Lucy Parker
I’ve been hearing romance novel aficionados praise Lucy Parker for SOME TIME NOW and I was not disappointed when I picked this one up. It’s actually the third of Parker’s loosely connected “London Celebrities” books, but as with many romance series, serialization is optional. For those not familiar with the genre, authors writing a series will often build out a rich cast of secondary and even tertiary characters who get the spotlight later on in the series. So if in Book 1, we meet Love Interest A’s mysterious governess and also Love Interest B’s brooding older brother, you’re pretty certain to get a book later down the road in which those two also fall in love.
The love interests in this book are Trix, an aerial performer, and her nemesis Leo, a makeup artist. The two have loathed each other since high school, and now that Leo’s been hired onto the show that Trix performs in (and become her new roommate) their close quarters become *ahem* even closer. I was once again reminded and awed in this book how romance novels often contain the most emotionally mature and nuanced conversations about relationships that I’ve ever read. Trix and Leo grapple with anxiety, toxic jealousy, healing after past emotional abuse, and going after what (or who) you really want while respecting those around you.
I’m quite salty that this is the only Lucy Parker book that my library currently has in hard copy; all respect and good wishes to e-reader peeps, but it’s just not my reading preference. Until I get my hands on the others though, I’m eagerly waiting for my preorder of Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Party to get to me in about a week!!!
Evvie Drake Starts Over – Linda Holmes
I’m just going to start with what’s most important and say that I LOOOOVED this book. And so did a lot of other people, considering it SOLD OUT in its first week and has topped bestseller charts. You might know the author, Linda Holmes, from her podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, or her writing about TV and other entertainment. I always love her takes and perspectives and pre-ordered the heck out of this, her first novel. And despite my ever-climbing book stacks, I couldn’t keep myself from cracking it open “just to start!” over the long weekend, and of course once I’d started I could! not! stop!
The titular Evvie Drake is a young widow hiding the truth of her marriage from her small town and close friends and family. Dean Tenney is a former MLB player [yes! this miraculous book got me to care about BASEBALL!] hiding out from the press and angry former fans after a bad case of the “yips”…as a tenant in Evvie Drake’s home.
Evvie, Dean, and their assorted friends and family are endearing, charming characters that I would eagerly go to battle for, and their story is told with warmth, good humor, well-paced feels, and excellently-placed pop culture references. Like Making Up, this book also deals with emotional abuse, and contains such a fantastic metaphor for the importance of therapy that I underlined, put it in my journal, and took a picture to send to a friend.
I’m extra psyched because tonight I’m actually going to Holmes’ Minneapolis book tour event and I will try not to enthuse too embarrassingly.
Bye for now! Remember to hydrate and not to let derision about the romance genre stand uncontested!