BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP – VOLUME 3 ISSUE 6

Malibu Rising
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: fiction, historical fiction
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

I’ll be honest, I went into this not expecting to love it but was quickly hooked. And spoiler alert, I have a new favorite TJR. Daisy Jones you have been dethroned!

The story opens with four, picture perfect siblings, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit, living an idyllic life in beautiful Malibu, California. As the story unfolds, we learn about the relationship between their parents, June Costas and Mick Riva, and the secrets and traumas that surrounded the family since its origin. As a familial drama, this story had some of my favorite components: the origin story of the focal parents, a blended/unique family set-up, sibling rivalries, broken marriages, familial obligations, and sibling swaps (IYKYK). When one of the Riva kids questions, “Do you even know how many children you have?” that hit way too close to home.

My only compliant, like a lot of other readers, lies in the second half of the story. Once the party is in full swing, we are introduced to dozens of new characters that don’t feel relevant to the story and detract from the storylines of the four Riva kids. I saw a reviewer refer to the second half of the novel as “disjointed” and I completely agree. Despite this critique, what can I say, it’s a 4.5 stars rounded to 5!
Buzzword Readathon: March selection

Ghosts of Harvard
Author: Francesca Serritella
Publication Date: May 2020
Genre: mystery, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

This is a safe space, so I can admit that I picked this up solely based on cover and title. Happy to report, better than expected! I was pleasantly surprised how easily I was transported right back to college, the struggles of navigating forced friendships with roommates, the desire to impress your professors, and the daunting task of keeping up with the workload. Man, I’m glad to be past that season of life.

There’s something about a brother-sister relationship that I really enjoy reading about, especially when the age difference and birth orders matches that of my relationship with my brother, and this just about spot on. My brother is the old of use two and we went to the same university, but there’s a bigger gap between us than Eric and Cady in this story. The dynamics between siblings and parents gave me major Everything I Never Told You vibes, which is much appreciated.

Overall, I enjoyed the mystery Cady sets off to solve in this story. Detailed and intricate with a well constructed plot and interesting twists. I liked the ghosty elements and the historical context woven throughout. Didn’t know I’d be learning about the atomic bomb but hey, I’m not mad about it. Wasn’t ground breaking, but it was good – 3.75 stars rounded up to 4!
Buzzword Readathon: March selection

Black Cake
Author: Charmaine Wilkerson
Publication Date: February 2022
Genre: historical fiction
Method: BOTM hardcover

If you love a multigenerational, expansive drama, look no further. Black Cake is the story of one woman’s devastating past and heart breaking secrets which she reveals to her estranged children only after her death. Black Cake explores themes of sacrifice, loss, grief, lies, resentment, deep unbreakable love between friends (and lovers), racism, identity, climate change, and sibling conflict.

I loved nearly all the characters (Etta + Patsy 4 eva), the details about Caribbean culture and history, the discussions on sexuality and ocean conservation. For me, one thing that is so fun about reading is when similar themes unexpectedly appear in multiple books. Earlier this month I read Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkin’s Reid, a book heavily focused on surf culture in the 1980s. I was so pleasantly surprised on the emphasis on the history of Caribbean surfing in this novel – I just loved the overlap!

“Question yourself, yes, but don’t doubt yourself. There’s a difference.” Eleanor Bennett

Girls Solve Everything: Stories of Women Entrepreneurs Building a Better World
Author: Catherine Thimmesh, Melissa Sweet (Illustrations)
Publication Date: March 2022
Genre: nonfiction, biography
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

A fun and inspiring book! Glad to have stumbled come across it and learn about women entrepreneurs during Women’s History Month!

The Book of Cold Cases
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: March 2022
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: BOTM hardcover

In short, I loved this. Lord knows I love an old, historic, Victorian house with a mysterious past, supernatural and ghosty elements, a female villain, a dual timeline, I mean I’m in, sign me up. It was nearly perfect. Nearly. See rant below for the mandatory 1 star subtraction. Simone, you almost had me, almost.

Mandatory rant, because I HAVE TO:
Simone St. James did me dirty, AGAIN. She just had to go and tease me and actually use the term “physical therapy” correctly on page 321, a redeemable moment given The Sun Down Motel fiasco last time, to then incorrectly use the term “physio” on page 329. Simone YOU’RE KILLING ME. Who is your editor? Who is letting you get away with using a Australian and/or Canadian term for a story set in Oregon, USA?! I swear to God if I read The Broken Girls and I see the words physio or physiotherapist, I’m sending a hand written letter asking for an explanation and an apology.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


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