Review// Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

55404546
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: May 27, 2021
Book Length: 384
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind. 

My Review:

I have always had reliable experiences with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work, and this book solidified why. In pursuit of a perfect novel, the main thing I look for are quality characters, and TJR consistently delivers on that front.

That being said, it’s hard to rate this book when you compare it to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, or Daisy Jones and the Six, because while in my opinion it was amazing at face value, there was something missing here in comparison that I can’t quite put my finger on. With the other two, I felt like the barrier between fiction and reality blurred, and I almost found myself searching for the characters in real life because they felt so believable to me; I just needed more of them. In Malibu Rising, I still felt the barrier I usually feel when I’m reading a book but not quite a part of it. And while there is nothing wrong with that, and I think it’s quite normal, it’s just so hard to properly rate the book for what it is without unfairly comparing. Plainly speaking, is this my favourite book by this author? No. Is this an great book for what it is? Yes.

Nina was my favourite character by a landslide; she exudes first born daughter energy if I’ve ever seen it, and I can relate to that. Her character development by the end was something I didn’t really expect, but I enjoyed the direction it took. I really liked the other Riva siblings too, and I was so invested in each of their dramas and points of view. I also loved the back and forth timelines between their parents childhood’s to theirs, and each hour leading up to and during the party; it kind of gave me a sense of why each sibling turned out to be how they were in adulthood, and I liked how that built the characters from the ground up.

I really enjoyed this book; it made me feel like I was on the beach in 70s/80s Malibu. If you’re looking for the perfect summer beach read, add this to your list!

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


Review// A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

40916679. sy475
Author: Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: May 2, 2019
Book Length: 433
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Review: 5/5

My Review:

This book is the poster child for the phrase, “just one more chapter” – I could not put it down. It was like Pretty Little Liars, with all the drama and secrets, meets the narrative style of Sadie, with interviews woven in between chapters, and I loved its mixed-media style.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is about a high school student named Pippa who chooses for her senior Capstone project to be about the media’s influence on criminal investigations. Turns out, this topic is inspired by a murder investigation that happened in her small town 5 years prior of a girl named Andie Bell who attended the same high school. Andie’s case is closed, as the police believe they had enough evidence to convict Andie’s boyfriend, Sal, who had killed himself shortly after the investigation opened. But Pippa isn’t so sure that Sal killed Andie, and she’s going to use her project to prove it.

I can honestly say that this thriller was thrilling . Even though the answers were kind of right under my nose, I still was not 100% sure of anything until the end when things were revealed. I think what most impressed me is that even when the reader has the ‘aha moment’ of what happened, there is still a huge twist attached to it that makes you want to find out more!

Pippa as the main character was amazing; I absolutely adored her. I also loved Ravi, Sal’s brother, and them two as a duo, trying to solve the mystery together. From the beginning, I liked that they were always a bit flirty, but their attraction to each other never overpowered the story. I hate when books try to steer away from the main plot with a love story, and I’m so glad that didn’t happen here.

If I had one criticism of this story, it would be that as I was reading, I sometimes thought that a few things that led Pippa forward in her investigation were a bit coincidental, but when I really thought about it, if things were not a little bit coincidental sometimes, mystery books would simply not exist, and I’m so glad this one does.

Please pick this book up if you are into the mystery/thriller genre; it may just be the best one from it I’ve ever read. 

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


Shadow & Bone Trilogy | Character Mood Boards

I just recently finished the Shadow & Bone trilogy in anticipation for the upcoming Netflix series based on the books, so I thought it’d be fun commemorate that by creating some character mood boards from the books!

I did this before for Simon vs. The Homosapien’s Agenda as well, which you can find here if you’d like to check that out. 🙂

Alina Starkov:

Alina, otherwise known as Sankta (Saint) Alina, is the protagonist of this series. At the beginning, she is described as a quiet, odd, and pale girl – almost sickly. Once she realizes she has magical Grisha powers, the colour returns to her face as she’s no longer suppressing the power she was born to exhibit, and she really grows into a strong character who sees her worth.

The Darkling:

As the name suggests, The Darkling is the antagonist of the series. I thought he really had potential in the first book to be that evil character that I couldn’t get enough of, but as time went on, he got worse and worse, to the point where I didn’t really like him anymore. He and Alina had that like, one steamy scene in Shadow & Bone, but in the other two books that kind of faded. Part of me wishes that continued though because I found it so thrilling.

Mal Oretzev:

Mal is a childhood friend of Alina’s as they grew up in an orphanage together, and later, he is her love interest. He is also a tracker and Soldier of the First Army. Personally, I didn’t like Mal that much because I found him to be really boring, and at times, possessive. I feel like if they had better communication skills, so many problems in these books could have been avoided!

Overall, I enjoyed the series, though if I am being honest, I think book twitter really hyped it up a lot so I think my expectations were much higher. However, I’m excited for it to become a T.V. show – I’m curious as to what the similarities and differences will be!

Have you read the Shadow & Bone trilogy? Did you enjoy it? I’d love to know your thoughts!

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


Review// Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

37834723. sy475
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow & Bone Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Book Length: 358
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

My Review:

I LOVED this book; my only regret with it is that I slept on Leigh Bardugo for so long!

I’m not even gonna lie, a huge reason why I didn’t pick this up sooner is because I think the original cover is ugly (yes, I judge books by their cover; sue me) but wow, I’ve been missing out.

I know not all of the Russian aspects of this book are 100% accurate, but I actually loved doing supplementary research into some of the things I found interesting and getting to learn more about Russian culture that way. I would describe this as a Russian-inspired mythology, and I thought it was so cool.

While I like Alina, I hate that she feels like she needs Mal every second in order to be somebody. Usually it would bother me more that I didn’t love the main character that much, but in this case it didn’t for some reason. I think because I loved how she interacted with Genya and the Darkling – who are also big parts of the book – that it didn’t really matter.

Of course, I’m also that person who still ships Darklina even though he’s evil – sorry, Mal, you’re nice but you’re boring! I can’t wait to see how the trilogy plays out in the other 2 books, and what transpires between the Darkling and Alina; I really hope there’s something.

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


Review// Sadie by Courtney Summers

34810320. sy475
Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Length: 308
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

‘How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more; everything I’ve lost or everything I never had.’

Best audiobook I’ve ever read, and I think it would be best read in audio format because it is told like a podcast with a full cast of characters, as well as through Sadie’s perspective and it switches between the two. These characters tell the story of a missing girl, Sadie, set on a mission to bring justice for her little sister’s death by their mother’s ex-boyfriend. I also really love the cover a lot; I think it’s so beautiful.

It was such an emotional read with so many grief-stricken characters; it’s hard not to feel for them. I liked how it went back and forth between the podcast about finding out what happened to missing Sadie, and Sadie’s first hand account of events as they happened – I really liked the contrast and it was so suspenseful when the podcast host, West, found more leads that got him warmer and warmer to the truth.

However, with that said, the one thing I was a bit iffy about was West. He felt a little bit one dimensional, like there was something off about him but I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was. In addition, the open-ended conclusion felt a bit frustrating! Then again, a lot of real stories like this unfortunately don’t have clear, solved endings, so maybe the author was trying to pack a bigger punch by leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m not sure, but I still wish it had ended differently.

Overall, I’m really glad I finally got to read this, and I will be thinking about the story for a long time.

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter