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

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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


Outstanding Blogger Award! 📚🎉

Today I will be posting about the Outstanding Blogger Award. Thank you so much to Maya @HerBookishDesires for the nomination! I’m really honored to have been thought of for this, it completely made my day. Please go check out Maya’s blog, it’s one of my favourites! 😊

Rules:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (very important: see why in step 5)
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

Maya’s Questions:

1. If you could live in one bookish setting, where would you live?

I would love to live in Frell where Ella from Ella Enchanted is from, mostly because I like the idea of there being fairies and other mythical creatures living amongst humans in the world.

2. Favorite book cover of 2020 (the book does not have to be published in 2020, you just had to read it!)

I love this cover, and I loved the book too!

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3. What have you learned (about yourself, blogging, reading) since you started blogging?

Blogging and reading has strengthened my value of friendships. There are so many kind, thoughtful people in this community, and it felt good to be so welcomed right off the bat. I feel like the older you get, the less faith you start to have in humanity, but being here makes me believe that there are lots of wonderful people out there. It is just a huge bonus that they happen to share in my hobby!

4. What gets you out of a reading and/or blogging slump?

Taking a break from reading/ blogging is really the only thing that works for me! Then eventually I get bored or curious as to what books are out there, or I get inspired after reading someone else’s blog posts to start back up again. I think the biggest challenge though is realizing that it’s okay to take a break if I need to. Reading and blogging are my hobbies, not part of a checklist of things I have to get done every week, so if I need to take a break, I need to remind myself that it’s totally okay!

5. Why did you start book blogging?

I had recently fallen back in love with reading and wanted an outlet to share all my bookish thoughts, since my friends IRL didn’t share in that passion as much as I did. Sometimes you just need to scream into the void about something you love, you know? 😇

6. What is your most hated book trope? Most loved?

I don’t really hate any book tropes enough to use the word hate, but I would say one of my least favourite is insta-love. One of my most favourite is lovers to sorta-enemies to lovers (as you might be able to tell from my love of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle above)! 🙌

7. If you could only pick 3 books to read for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Nominees:

  1. Kaya @AFictionalBookworm
  2. Kristin @KristinKravesBooks
  3. Aoife @PrettyPurplePolkadots
  4. Kira @KiraJeanette
  5. Mandy @DevouringBooks
  6. Sofia @BookishWanderess
  7. Mayeesha @HeadOverBooks
  8. Ashmita @TheFictionalJournal
  9. Leelynn @SometimesLeelynnReads
  10. Sofii @ABookAThought

My Questions:

  1. Describe yourself in a single word.
  2. What are three random facts about yourself?
  3. If you came back in your next life as an animal, which would you be?
  4. If you could turn any book into a movie, which would it be and why?
  5. What’s your favorite thing about your book blog?
  6. What do you like the most about the country you are living in now?
  7. Are you in any fandoms? If so, what are they?

Thank you again to Maya for the nomination, and as always do not feel pressured to do the tag! ❤️

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


Review// My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Book Length: 373 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

My Review:

Someday, when people ask me, “Who was your first lover?” the truth will set me apart. Not some ordinary boy, but an older man: my teacher. He loved me so desperately I had to leave him behind. It was tragic, but I didn’t have a choice. That’s just how the world works.

I’m like a kettle on a stove right now – bubbling, seething, on the brink of overflowing with emotion from all this book has made me feel. I wish I could reach inside myself and pour it all out, find the right words to say what this has done to me, but I’m afraid nothing I say could do it justice.

Vanessa Wye was only 15 when her teacher, Jacob Strane, patted her on the leg – that one act enough to spiral into 17 years worth of physical, mental, emotional turmoil. This book was very difficult to read at times; Vanessa was groomed by Strane from the very beginning, all the while making her believe that she was responsible for their relationship. After all, according to Strane, she’s the one who made him start wanting her; she’s the one who said yes when he asked if she was okay with him touching her; she’s the one who craved his validation – so then that automatically makes her the dark one, right?

It was incredibly mind boggling just how manipulative Strane was the entire time, shifting any culpability from himself over to her in order to be able to live with everything he’d done. It is so scary to think that these people really do exist in the world, and that they prey on young, naïve boys and girls just like Vanessa.

One thing I really liked about the book was how it shifted from the 2000s to 2017 every other chapter; the switch over from one to the other was done perfectly and it made me so interested to see where the events of the past led to in the present. Every relationship Vanessa had after and during Strane was interwoven with theirs, and I think it was really significant for the author to depict this because the affair with him shaped every other relationship after it – including the one she had with her parents. I can’t even describe how upsetting and heartbreaking it was to read about the parts with Vanessa’s mom, both past and present. To read about Vanessa defending Strane both to others and to herself was so hard; she wanted so badly to believe she was his exception, that she wanted everything he did to her because that meant that she wouldn’t have to face the truth.

I held off reading the last chapter because I honestly didn’t want this to end, and when it ended, I cried.

If you are in the right headspace for it, and the events of this book would not be triggering to you, I recommend My Dark Vanessa wholeheartedly. I can’t stop thinking about this book, and I will never stop thinking about this book. One of my favourites of 2020 and all time.

– Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter