Thursday, July 4, 2019

Book Reviews - Ghosts, Thrills, Hackers and Baseball-y RomComs

Hi y'all. This round of reads were quite eclectic - There was a ghost story, a domestic thriller, some YA hacker romance, and a romcom in a book. Each had something I dug, and I would guess you might be able to find something that you'll dig, too. Read on, friends.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein was a different kind of read for me - in a good way. It's the story of Tyler who is a teen in 1990. His parents' marriage is struggling, and he and his dad head to Riddell House where his dad's family is. The Riddell House is full of secrets and spirits - literally. Tyler serves as the narrator and tries to navigate the history of his family that he's never been told. This means navigating generations of secrets, conflict and some ulterior motives. In particular, Tyler's dad and his sister are trying to get their father who suffers from dementia to sign some paperwork to sell off and take the profits from the sale of the estate. In all of this, Tyler begins receiving "messages" and tips as to what really happened in dreams, within the house, and seemingly from a ghost. Ghost stories aren't really my jam, but this was masterfully told. There was such mystery around the family, and I loved how suspense was built and secrets were revealed. It was also just really well-written from a storytelling end which kept me engaged. It isn't without tragedy, so going in, be ready for that, but this is such a strong story of a broken family and a teenager trying to find his way.

Read this book if - You want a coming of age story with some mystery. You want a ghost story grounded in family secrets.

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle is the story of a wife who is looking for a fresh start. Told through alternating perspectives of a wife and husband with additional narration/context from an investigator on the case, it's figuring out where the wife went and who was involved in the disappearance. "Beth" is looking for a fresh start as she flees from her violent husband. She needs to escape, and this chronicles what she left behind and where she's gone since. In the other part of the story, Sabine has left behind a husband, Jeffrey. He doesn't know where his wife is, and the investigation hones in on him. There's some additional layers to the story involving Jeffrey, Sabine's sister Ingrid, and Sabine's lover Trevor. Marcus is a detective who is committed to doing whatever it takes to find Beth. I went in thinking this one might be like other thrillers in this lane, and y'all, this one was so much different than I anticipated. It was twisty with a really jawdropping reveal towards the end. I saw it coming a bit, but in a "WHOA!" kind of way. I loved the trio of narrators in this one, as they each helped you piece the story together, but also, it made you question who to trust, and what the real story might be. Thanks to NetGalley who allowed me to get an early look (that is now real-time for y'all) at this recent release.

Read this book if - You want a domestic thriller with some great twists. You like thrillers that build suspense with multiple narrators.

Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee is YA romance with a bit of a spin. It's the story of two high schoolers into hacking/coding - Amber and Dean, and their story is built through alternating chapters. As a punishment, Dean has to start a coding club, and Amber is the only attendee. Their relationship builds there and through online chats. Amber is also frustrated with her school's approach to sexual health education. She decides to start an anonymous blog where students can submit questions and get real answers. It quickly gains a following from her classmates. The principal who doesn't support the blog's approach to the topic blackmails Dean into finding out the identity of the anonymous source of the blogger. He quickly realizes the principal is not a great dude, and blackmail is something he leans on often, so Dean must figure out what to do with this. This is one that took me a bit to get into, but I liked the different spin on a story. I liked that it was real dilemmas and told through different activities/interests than what you can often see. Thanks to NetGalley for a look at this recent release!

Read this book if - You want a different kind of YA romance. You want a "Damn the man!" type YA story.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes was just a delightful read. I mean, y'all, it involved baseball with a romcom vibe. Was there ever a doubt I was going to dig it?!? This is the story (obvs) of Evvie Drake. It begins with the truth of Evvie's story which then becomes a secret she harbors throughout the story. Evvie's story is also about her being a widow. She is navigating life after in her home in small town Maine, and she does this partly with the support of her best friend Andy. Andy's childhood friend Dean is needing a place to get away. He's a former major league baseball player forced out of the game after he got a case of the "yips" (Here's Rick Ankiel's experience with them as a reference point). His downfall has been extensively covered, and he's looking to get away from it all. Renting the apartment in Evvie's home allows him to do that. What follows is an unexpected friendship and connection between Evvie and Drew. As they go along, they're both still navigating their own "stuff" and also have to do that together.  What I loved is that it had romance, but it was told in a emotionally real way. Evvie and Drew both have their baggage, and that wasn't ignored, but it was really explored. Y'all, this was one I just loved. I found myself rooting for Evvie and Drew throughout as both individuals and a pair. Sometimes you just need a fun, good book, and that is just what this was for me.

Read this book if - You're looking for a fun, but emotional read. You want a good story of redemption in a variety of ways. You just need a good book.

See y'all next time!