Looking for something to read over the long weekend?
There are few things I love more than a long weekend, after all, the longer the weekend the more time I have for my weekend reading! If you’re looking to unwind this Labor Day weekend with a book or two, but you’re not sure what you’d like to read, check out some of our reviews from Novel Approach.
For those looking for a laugh
“Evvie Drake Starts Over”: Linda Holmes’ writes with a delightful and witty sense of humor as she brings two broken people — Evvie the widow, and Dean the headcase — together to create a literary romantic comedy without the sticky Hollywood polish or the over-the-top Hallmark gloss in “Evvie Drake Starts Over.”
Since her husband’s death Evvie rarely leaves her home, as her job allows her to work from the comforts of her too-big house. Dean is an infamous failure after his pitching arm’s sudden inability to throw leaves him the laughingstock of the sports world. When Dean escapes his troubles in New York, he moves into the apartment at Evvie’s home and from there these two broken people form a charming friendship, leaving audiences enthralled by the picnic basket of emotions their relationship puts bookworms through.
“Evvie Drake Starts Over” is a perfect summer read, it’s a quippy love story about authentic people trying to dig out of their struggles while talking about baseball.
“City of Girls”: In her latest novel, Elizabeth Gilbert thrusts readers into the world of 1940s theater. As an older woman, Vivian Morris reflects on her life in a letter, allowing her fashion-obsessed existence as a costume director at her aunt’s decadently crumbling theater to be unfurled with a rollicking commentary that adds a charming sparkle to the narrative. Readers will become so entranced by Vivian’s story they’ll completely forget why the narrator was writing it in the first place and tumble into her charming backstage stories. “City of Girls” is a crackling coming-of-age story rife with captivating characters, humor and an honest glimpse into womanhood and chosen families. As a young woman, Vivian hurls herself headfirst into the glittering world of her showgirl friends, unabashedly seeking trouble at every turn until she collides with a ruinous scandal.
Vivian’s brutally honest depiction of her life and her snappy asides will endear her to readers as she shares stories about the family she has stitched together, in a version of New York that has been lost to time.
Gilbert’s latest read is a page-turner of the highest order; for those planning to read it at the beach, consider packing a flashlight as you won’t want to put down “City of Girls” until you’ve finished the final page.
When science goes awry
“Wanderers”: A strange phenomenon strikes, causing a small population of Americans to become sleepwalkers, who gather together to wander across the country. Shana Stewart’s sister is the first walker, and she becomes the first shepherd, herding and protecting her sister across the country. Dr. Benji Ray, a disgraced former CDC doc, finds himself involved with studying the odd disease and he, too, joins the flock. A small town pastor claims the flock of sleepwalkers, with numbers growing each day, are the Devil’s pilgrims and an old rock star joins the shepherds to get his name back in the spotlight.
The confusion about the flock of sleepwalkers incites fear and confusion among Americans, inspiring violent militias to murder them. As the world devolves into chaos, people ask if the walkers are the cause or the salvation from all the insanity.
Wendig crafts a compelling thriller, expertly weaving elements of the current political climate into the narrative. This enthralling novel will hold you in its grip for all 800 pages of it as society devolves and shatters the world.
“Wilder Girls”: In her debut novel Rory Power transports the reader into an updated version of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” following the quarantine at the Raxter School for Girls. After a mysterious disease, known only as the Tox, killed off most of the teachers and transformed the girls into something else, the Navy provides food shipments to the island while the CDC works on a cure for the adaptive disease. After Byatt goes missing, Hetty makes it her personal mission to find out what happened to her friend and uncover the secrets poisoning Raxter like the Tox.
Power’s writes with a deep insight into the mind of teenage girls and thrills readers with the horrors taking place at the school. “Wilder Girls” packs a punch, emphasizing the resilience of women and female friendships while also appealing to a wider audience through Power’s well-woven, haunting and chilling narrative. For those looking to add a bit of horror to their summer, dive into the nightmarish scenario at Raxter.
For the hopeless romantics
“The Orphan’s Song”: Lauren Kate paints a vibrantly musical tale in her latest novel, “The Orphan’s Song.” The story is told from the perspectives of Violetta and Mino, two orphans living at the Hospital of the Incurables during the 1700s. Both orphans are deeply passionate about music and seek an escape from the hospital where they were raised. Mino wants to live happily ever after with Violetta, but she wants to join the Incurables’ exclusive chorus and spend her life singing. After life separates the two musicians, the winding canals of Venice pull the two back into each other’s orbit.
Violetta’s desire to sing and to live a life outside the constrictions of the Incurables leads her to perform at a club in disguise. Mino’s grief at losing Violetta leads him down a meandering path and to a new love.
Kate’s writing echoes with the musicality of Mino’s violin as she weaves her story around Venice’s masked grandeur. Readers will find themselves enchanted not only by Mino and Violetta’s tangled story, but by the beauty of another time.
“The Golden Hour”: In 1900 Elfriede, the wife of a German baron, meets a man during her stay in a hospital. In 1941, Lulu encounters a botanist while reporting on the society life surrounding the Duke of Windsor in the Bahamas. In “The Golden Hour,” Beatriz Williams weaves an intriguing love story spanning wars and generations. Elfriede and Lulu are strangers bound together through their love of the ever absent Thorpe men. Both Elfriede and Lulu find themselves striving to live on their own terms but find their bittersweet romances with the Thorpe men continue to dominate their lives.
Readers will be more than willing to lose themselves for a few hours in the idyllic hospital Elfriede lives in and the high class gossip that Lulu’s life revolves around.
For chills and thrills
“The Last Houseguest”: Miranda’s latest thriller arrives just in time for an exhilarating read to break up the sleepy monotony of the summer heat. Avery Greer is a local girl who counts her lucky stars that Sadie Loman, the daughter of one of the wealthy landowning summer residents, has chosen her to be her best friend. After a decade of unlikely friendship, Avery’s world is turned upside down when Sadie suddenly turns up dead on the beach, while the rest of her circle are partying on the other side of town.
A year later Avery begins to question the initial police investigation after stumbling across something of Sadie’s and given the mysterious power outages and strange break-ins at the rentals, Avery might not be the only person trying to find out what happened to her friend. Miranda’s latest read will leave readers breathless as they find themselves ensnared in her narrative maze. Every turn of the page leads to a new plot twist and thriller fans will be stunned by the plot’s revelations until the last page.
“The Nickel Boys”: A harrowing fictional account of two boys who meet at the Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school in Florida, during the civil rights movement. Elwood is a studious and hardworking young man who wants to live his life by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, but he finds that one misstep lands him in hell. Elwood befriends Turner, a cunning liar without a family who is skeptical about society’s potential for change.
Nickel is a gruesome nightmare of an institution that takes boys and young men and grinds them into dust through strenuous labor and vicious abuse. Whitehead’s latest novel is a gritty and harrowing tale of friendship forged between Elwood and Turner in a monsterous and corrupt institution. While the Nickel Academy is fictional, Whitehead’s novel is inspired by accounts of abuse from the very real Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, which also operated out of Florida.
Whitehead writes this haunting and devastating tale centered around a stunningly resilient protagonist with an urgent grace that makes the book difficult to put down even when his descriptions of the abuse causes the reader to squirm.