Friday Book Whimsy: Flying Solo

In 2019, I read and reviewed a book by author Linda Holmes called Evvie Drake Starts Over. I liked that book very much. I liked the story of a strong woman who isn’t kicked in the butt when she loses her man, but instead, pulls herself up and makes her life better.

Linda Holmes’ second novel, Flying Solo, has the same theme, and the same good writing.

Laurie Sassalyn, having recently called her marriage, is happy to leave her comfortable life in the northwest to travel to her small hometown in Maine to go through the effects of her favorite aunt who is recently deceased. Her Aunt Dot lived to her mid-90s, and was never married. She was Laurie’s hero because she lived her life to the fullest, traveling all over the world and making fun and interesting friends in the process.

As Laurie sifts through all of Dot’s things, she discovers at the bottom of an old chest a wooden duck. As if her aunt inexplicably owning a wooden duck isn’t odd enought, Laurie also discovers an unsigned love letter that ends with, “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie takes the duck to a person who values estates and is told that the duck has no financial value. Laurie doesn’t mind, but intends to keep it as a reminder of her eccentric aunt. But then the duck mysteriously disappears, leaving Laurie flummoxed as to why someone would want to steal a duck worth nothing.

Laurie takes it upon herself to begin looking at her aunt’s life more carefully. She connects with an old flame who was her first love, and he helps her research and talk to experts in the antique realm. The more Laurie discovers, the more she sees that her aunt was even more interesting than she had ever imagined.

While I didn’t like this book as much as the author’s debut novel, I enjoyed the learning the mystery of Aunt Dot’s past. I liked that the characters weren’t cookie-cutter stereotypes. Laurie is seemingly comfortable with her weight, which is a refreshing change. Her goals don’t have to include marriage. The ending, in fact, was quite unexpected.

Overall, I recommend this book.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Book Challenge

While aimlessly perusing Pinterest (which provides recipes that I pin but almost never make, but at least doesn’t get political), I came across something called The Book Challenge. Loving a good challenge almost much as I love a good book, I’m taking the challenge, and sharing it with you for the next few weeks…..

Best book you read last year: I reviewed my post of January 3, 2020, in which I shared my five favorite books of last year. After considerable thought, I decided that my favorite book was Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda HolmesI like how the author empowered the protagonist. I liked the baseball tie-in. I liked all of the characters. I liked the ending.

A book that you’ve read more than three times: I have read very many books more than three times. I read very quickly, which allows me to read many books, but also results in me not always remembering them very well. I can — and do — reread books very often. But there are those kind of books, and then there are the kind of books that I reread because I love them so much. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, is one such book. I guess I love the atmosphere created by the author. Who gets any creepier than Mrs. Danvers?

Your favorite series: Oh, I love so many series. I’m a big mystery reader, and once I read a book that I like that is part of a series, I must read them all, and in order. But if I have to choose, I pick the Inspector Gamache series written by Louise Penny. Gamache solves mysteries in the small town of Three Pines outside of Montreal. There are 15 books in the series, with another book being released in September. Inspector Gamache is kind, fair, loving, and smart as can be.

A book that made you happy: Britt-Marie Was Hereby Fredrik Backman, made me very happy, and gave me a character that I think of very often. Britt-Marie left her cheating husband, and handled it by being very OCD and critical. That is, until she ends up coaching a terrible kids soccer team. She is surrounded by odd characters and a life that is definitely not made for someone who likes things just so. How she lands on her feet was absolutely delightful.

A book that made you sad: I tend to not choose to read books that make me sad. I also avoid movies with sad endings. No thank you to Terms of Endearment or Steel Magnolias, thank you very much. The Light Between the Oceans, by M.L. Stedman, thankfully, didn’t involve death by cancer. But it was a very sad story about a woman who has been unable to carry a child to birth who finds a boat carrying a dead man and a living baby at the lighthouse where she and her husband live and work. They decide to keep the baby, telling no one of its existance. Things don’t work out well. Very sad.

Continued next Friday….


Friday Book Whimsey: Top Five for 2019

In 2019, I read 84 books out of my 100-book yearly goal. I feel like I read a LOT, so perhaps my goal is too high. Nevertheless, I’m going to keep challenging myself.

Out of the 84 books I read, I would like to present my five favorite books. They weren’t all necessarily published in 2019, but I read them all this past year.

So, in no particular order….

1. Watching You, by Lisa Jewell
Tom Fitzwilliams is hired by schools in trouble. He is handsome and charismatic. There is a murder, and there are many folks who could be the killer, including Fitzwilliams. The author provides readers clues a little at a time, keeping us all guessing. Jewell is one of my favorite authors.

2. November Road, by Lou Berney
Maybe I liked this book so much because I am so familiar with the time period that this took place, right around the time of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Mobster Frank Guidry realizes that he inadvertently played a part in the assassination, and knows the mob will be coming to get him to keep him quiet. At the same time, housewife Charlotte leaves her husband taking her children, heading for L.A. The two meet, and despite the fact that Guidry initially only is interested in them as a cover, he finds real happiness, at least for a time.

3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Kya is abandoned by her family when she is 6 years old, and is left to take care for herself in the marshes of the southern Carolinas. As she faces the obstacles of life, she learns what is important and what isn’t. The story involves a delicious mystery as well.

4. The Chelsea Girls, by Fiona Davis
All of the author’s books to date have involved well-known places in New York City that add to her stories. The Chelsea girls takes place in the 1950s during the McCarthy period. The characters, who live in the historic Chelsea Hoel, represent several sides of the issue, and I not only found the book highly entertaining, but I learned a lot from reading it. Win-win.

5. Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes
I loved this book. It might have been my favorite of 2019. Evvie is literally packing up her car to leave her abusive husband when she learns that he has had a massive heart attack which eventually kills him. Evvie feels so guilty and distraught that she can scarcely get on with her life. She meets a professional baseball pitcher who has suddenly and inexplicably tanked. The two fall in love, and save one another.

Happy reading in 2020.

Friday Book Whimsy: Evvie Drake Starts Over

Sometimes it feels good to read a book that makes you smile, not only as you’re reading it, but after you put the book down. Evvie Drake Starts Over was a book that left me smiling long after I closed the book. Well, shut off my Kindle. Author Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for National Public Radio, and has a good handle on everyday normal people. People like Evvie Drake.

Eveleth Drake gets the call from the hospital that everyone dreads: her husband has been killed in a car accident. The thing is, Evvie had been busy loading up her car with her personal items intending to leave her husband before he arrived home that evening. Her husband Tim is the highly respected doctor in the small Maine coastal town in which they both have lived their entire lives.

But Evvie’s secret — the thing no one else knows — is that Tim was not a good husband. He belittled Evvie at every opportunity. He blamed her for any thing that goes wrong. He was emotionally abusive at every turn and it was getting worse. And she had had enough. But her inability to reconcile the fact that he died at the same time that she was getting ready to escape leaves her ashamed and unable to move ahead with her life, even as the months go by.

At the same time, far away in New York City, Yankees star pitcher Dean Tenney has what professional athletes call the yips. He can no longer throw a straight pitch. He has tried everything to no avail.

The two have little in common except for a mutual friend Andy. Andy has been Evvie’s confidant about everything since Tim’s death except the truth about her husband. And Andy has been Dean’s best friend since childhood. He recognizes that Dean needs to get away from New York City, and suggests that he rent a home in Evvie’s oversized house.

The two agree to sharing a home, provided neither asks questions of the other. That works until they become friends, and then their friendship begins to blossom into something more.

Evvie Drake Starts Over is a story of friendship, love, and the importance of learning who you really are and how much you are able to withstand and still survive. Blossom, in fact.

I loved the dialogue in this book, and I was left wishing that I could be best friends with all of the characters. I really enjoyed the story of Evvie Drake.

Here is a link to the book.