Review// You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

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Author: Caroline Kepnes
Series: You #3
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book Length: 385
Publisher: Random House
Review: 1/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Joe is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle; he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way: by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is, Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

My Review:

If I could sum this book up in one word, it would be: disappointing, which actually shocks me because You is on my favourites shelf, and I enjoyed Hidden Bodies too. But oh boy, this was Not It™.

Joe was insufferable in this book. Between his “Meercats”, “Murakami’s”, “Mothballs” “RIPs”, and “Rats”, I wanted to pull my hair out. Just call people by their regular names, please. It felt like he was going around in circles bringing up the same made-up nicknames for people and things and its like we get it! The first few times it was okay, but it kept happening in literally every chapter and it really irked me; it did not seem authentic, it just seemed like he was trying way too hard.

In the other 2 books, but especially You, I loved being inside Joe’s mind. I thought his character was so well written that I actually wanted him to kill Beck, and Love, and Peach, and everybody else who crossed his path (I know, it sounds bad), but this time, I didn’t – I just wanted him to stop talking. What made him such a good character to me was that he had this affect on me before where I knew he was a bad guy, but I somehow still wanted him to succeed, and that was not the case here. I just felt annoyed the entire time and I’m honestly so sad about it!

Also, the way he and Mary Kay met and were instantly in love felt so random and forced upon the reader. I guess I’m just used to Joe kind of chasing the woman a bit, like a cat and mouse game, but there was none of that suspense involved in their meet. It was kind of just like, ‘well, she’s married so I guess I have to convince her to not have any morals about this affair I’m trying to get her into’. However, I hated how hot and cold she was too – honestly just make up your mind already! And do not get me started on Melanda. Not only did her dialogue annoy the heck out of me, but the way he was texting from her phone gave me second-hand embarrassment; it felt extremely animated, as if he were trying to type like a 16-year-old girl, even though she’s probably like a 30-something year old woman. Her dialogue made me think she was in her 50s, his texting pretending to be her made me think she was 16; it was so strange.

Anyway, as upset as I feel to have to say this, I think it might be time for me to retire Joe and his narrative from my rotation of insta-pickups; I just can’t take another one like this, and I would rather not continue to taint the image of one of my favourite books by reading something that I’m no longer enjoying the direction of.

– Catherine

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Top 5 Wednesday | Books Published in 2021

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly prompt originally created by Lainey @GingerReadsLainey on Youtube. Every Wednesday, you are presented with a new topic and list your top 5 books related to that topic. You can join the Goodreads group HERE!

Since we are now in the second half of 2021, this week’s prompt is to list your favourite books published in the first half of the year.

Admittedly, I haven’t read too many books published in 2021 so far, so I am going to list my top 3, and then the last 2 will be highly anticipated books that I am planning to read which came out in 2021 🙂

Books I’ve Read:

HOUSE OF HOLLOW | KRYSTAL SUTHERLAND

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MALIBU RISING | TAYLOR JENKINS REID

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ONE LAST STOP | CASEY MCQUISTON

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Books I’m Planning on Reading:

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION | EMILY HENRY

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THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR | ALKA JOSHI

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Have you read any of these so far this year? Are any of these on your list? I’d love to know!

– Catherine

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Review// Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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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

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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

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Light Academia Book Aesthetic | Classic Reads 🌸🏰💗

Light Academia is a term I hadn’t heard of until recently, which is quite shocking considering Dark Academia is a term that I’ve seen everywhere. In contrast, Light Academia is more emotionally positive, brighter, and focuses on self care and appreciating the little things in life. Some common aspects of this aesthetic include: nature, poetry, learning, architecture, and art.

If you are looking for books that exhibit this theme, here are some quintessential classics that just might capture your heart:

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Though I’ve not personally read Little Women, I just had to include it because the cover is so cute and screams Light Academia to me.

Loosely based on the life of the author and her three sisters, this book is about the March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they learn to navigate the world as young women, each with their own personal moral challenges during and after the Civil War.

Jo is a writer, and Amy studies painting, Beth is described as musical, and Meg is the governess for a wealthy royal family – need I say more?

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another on my list! This book is about an orphan girl, Mary Lennox, who goes to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire Moors (which, if you are like me and don’t know what that is, you can check it out here, it is absolutely stunning!).

There, she finds a magical boy who can talk to animals, and a secret garden that had been forgotten for years. Honestly, this book sounds really cute!

When I went to look it up, a lot of Goodreads reviews were raving about how beautiful the writing is, and how joyous it made them feel. What a perfect book to represent Light Academia! 🤗

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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – definitely a must-read classic!

The synopsis alone touched my heart: Anne Shirley, an orphan girl, goes to live with the Cuthburt’s – Marilla and her brother, Matthew – on the Green Gables Farm in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. The pair wanted a boy from the orphanage, but eventually, Anne’s charm wins them over. This book is about all the adventures Anne gets up to at Green Gables.

I might be biased, but I love that this book is set in Canada, and Prince Edward Island is such a beautiful province that so deserves the attention this book gives it!

If anyone has any more recommendations, or has read any of these, I’d love to know your thoughts! 🥰

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter