With everything I had going on this past week, I was actually shocked when I saw how many books I actually finished! It was a great reading week and I hope I can repeat it in the upcoming weeks. I’ve been flirting with a reading slump for m o n t h s now, and I’d kind of forgotten how fun reading is when you’re enjoying the story (maybe a reminder to DNF books that just aren’t working)!
What did you read this week and love?
*** Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Even though this book doesn’t release until June 1, I couldn’t wait to read it any longer. As a huge fan of TJR (who isn’t), I was so happy to be pulled into another one of her worlds. This time she writes about Malibu, California in the 1980s. I could easily envision this world – the golden sunshine; surfboards everywhere you look, on top of cars and leaning on the sides of restruants; California girls with their golden legs and Daisy Duke shorts; the warm ocean breeze along the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a world I’m familiar with and a world I love.
There are two parts to the story. The first one is about Mick and June’s tumultuous love story. It gives the reader background into the lives of their children – Nina, Jay, HUD, and Kit. This was by far my favorite part of the story and I could have explored this family dynamic for the whole book. It was layered and revelatory, making each of the Riva kids such a human touch and I was smitten with their loyalty and devotion to one another.
The second part of the book is the 12-hour lead up to the Riva’s annual Malibu party. The night promises juicy gossip, obscene behavior and epic tales to talk about for years to come. I really, really liked the set up of this part of the book, but as the night and the party wore on, it started to go off the rails for me. TJR chose to introduce and focus on a lot of random characters here and I was a bit confused by that choice. I hated the way these minor characters acted and it really detracted from the overall brilliance of the rest of the book. It’s a small complaint, but it was enough to knock it out of a 5-star rating for me.
Overall, I see this being a smash hit this summer – everyone is going to be talking about it and it’s sure to make all the Summer Reading Guides!
*** Widowish: A Memoir by Melissa Gould
I avoided this book for awhile now, despite the many recommendations and positive reviews I saw. Listen, I love a grief book almost more than anything else, but I have to be in the right headspace. And for whatever reason, most of my nonfiction reads so far this year are heavy and I just couldn’t time my mood.
But last night I picked it up on a whim, and I devoured it! I read it in less than 24 hours. And while I know nothing about husband loss, I do know about the gut-wrenching, soul-crushing ache of losing a loved one. Gould nails that grief so well and her writing about that experience was very affirming to me and my personal experience of loss.
I think I used about 100 tissues and I’ve walked around all day with burning, red eyes, but it was worth it. This is a fantastic memoir that you should definitely add to your TBR if you’re interested.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
I personally think it’s best to go into this one as blind as possible. The unfolding of this atmosphere and characters is part of the thrill and mystery and totally compelled me to turn page after page as I tried to figure out what the heck was going on! Piranesi, the main character, lives in this labrinynth of staircases and statues. Even though the book is short (~240 pages), the story was complex and intricate and masterful. I couldn’t help but to think of other magical-ish stories (The Starless Sea and The Night Circus) though those comparisons are in atmospheric and world-building only.
I truly don’t know how to describe this book except that I’m glad I read it. It was immersive and it has really made me think. I know it will stick with me and I myself will return to this place (whatever it is) over and over again. On advice from previous readers, you really have to stick with this one until at least the 60-page mark and it suddenly opens up into a beautiful exploration of….🤷🏼♀️🤷🏼♀️🤷🏼♀️. I can’t think of a better book club selection because I could sit and unpack this one forever!!! I’d love to discuss if you’ve read it…catch me in my Instagram DM’s here.
(Also, check out Kristen’s story highlights for her hilarious review!)
*** This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods That Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More by Uma Naidoo
This book was so incredibly fascinating! I came for the insight on depression and anxiety and stayed for the rest! Honestly, so much interesting information about the effects of food on our bodies and brains and it only helped solidify the very real struggle I’ve been dealing with trying to make some big dietary changes. This book isn’t about weight maintenance at all – it talks about our brain/gut connection and how to maintain that important connection in order to live our best lives! It was so good and I will be referring to it for a long time!
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
Unpopular opinion: This book was just fine to me. It didn’t blow my socks off, and while I will probably find myself reflecting back on some of the characters, it just didn’t dig in and attach to my heart in any way. The best part of the story was definitely the characters, but unfortunately, I got too distracted with all the moving pieces to really care. I can’t really say one of the things that made me dislike the book the most without giving some spoilers, but suffice it to say that I liked this book, I liked the writing, and I liked the potential, but it doesn’t have enough “oomph” to be memorable for me.
(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)