Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (ARC Review)

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: June 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: alcoholism, parental abandonment, loss of a loved one, adultification, mention of drug use, cheating

Many of my friends would probably gasp at the statement, but Malibu Rising was my first full length novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I had always meant to check out her books, had made plans so many times before, especially because I had enjoyed her novella Evidence of the Affair a whole lot, but apparently never followed through. I’m so very glad I remedied that now.

As we follow the Riva family through the decades, it is somehow easy to fall in love with all these characters. They felt real and flawed and relatable. With so many mentions of people that actually exist(ed), you were almost tempted to look up if their story was based on someone’s actual life.

As you alternate between the siblings Nina, Jay, Hub and Kit as grown-ups in the 80s and their parents June and Mick falling in love in the 50s, it becomes clear early on how these people shaped each other. While I first worried that some of the characters would get lost, there was a great balance between all of them and it felt astonishingly easy to follow their tale. Character traits as well as relationships to others but also money make a lot of sense when you consider the decisions made by those who came before you. It is all interwoven and shows how you can become the person you want to be because of or despite of your upbringing. My heart broke for these characters over and over and over again. I really just wanted to hold them and was proud of how they continued to trust in people and gave their love so freely even after the hardships they endured.

I have to say, as much as the book had me in the first half, it kind of lost me at times in the second one. I was so invested in the fate of the siblings, in their life story, I didn’t even really care if there was a bigger plot to it all. Just following their struggles and growth, seeing them get through it together, was enough for me. However, as much as I had forgotten the big life-changing party was going to take place later on in the book, it still came barreling in in the second half.
While I thought it was already bordering on too many POVs when we just had the siblings as well as their parents, Taylor Jenkins Reid doubled down and introduced many one-off POVs to show just how crowded and wild the party was getting. I understood that some of the fleeting perspectives added to the atmosphere, but overall, they weren’t necessary to further the story in my opinion. It all just became a bit too much and too disjointed for me.

Still, I cannot help but feel touched by all of it! Family and all its intricacies is one of my favorite topics to read about and Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to really bring that home. Each of the siblings was unique in their own way, but it was easy to find part of myself in each of them. The style of writing is engaging and manages to capture the flair of the setting and time period perfectly. I could picture everything in my mind as if I was watching a movie from back in the day. It’s rare that I read about a bunch of siblings who all love to surf with all their heart (something I know nothing about) and still feel so very connected to them. Definitely a read I will continue to cherish!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Very strong start with a bit of a jumbled second half, but still SO MUCH heart!


Do you plan on reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel? What is your favorite one by her you’ve read so far? Let’s talk!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson (Book Review)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children Books
Page Count
: 417

I can’t believe this is the first book review this month, but at least it is a good one! I read Save the Date as part of a buddy read with Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books. We always have a great time reading books together and it was no different time time around. Keep an eye out for a review on her blog as well!

There is something about Morgan Matson books that just always works for me. She somehow manages to give her books a similar, summery vibe with adorable and relatable characters, while also giving each story its own spin and different focus. This time she added little comic strips between the main parts of the book and they didn’t just add a really fun element, but also are way more crucial to the plot than you might think. Despite the setting of a wedding, I was very happy to see that Save the Date was barely about romance but far more about family. I will never get tired of reading about messy sibling-dynamics, inside jokes and complicated family relationships. Add a dog to that (and Morgan Matson did) and you’ve captured my heart as a reader.

Charlie is the youngest of the bunch and I feel it shows in some of her reactions, while she was simultaneously mature and great at helping out whenever things went south during the wedding. I am not sure I would have stayed as cool as her or found a solution as quickly. Hands down, that family would have been screwed without her and Bill intervening at every bad turn. While I didn’t always agree with her behaviour, I could relate to her a lot. She adores her family and thinks that they have something special, which I think is great. Nobody is perfect and maybe she had a bit of a hard time seeing that when it came to her family, but she still loves them and cherishes their bond. I know that families can be complicated and tricky, but I really loved reading about a family that makes it work despite the struggles.

The only reason I am not giving this a full 5 stars is that I felt like a couple conflicts were resolved too easily. The fighting parties made good points, at least some of them, and it was barely addressed afterwards. I know that sibling fights can be blown out of proportion when they happen and then everyone just acts like nothing happened afterwards, but this was something that had gone on for longer and I felt like it deserved more time.

Overall Save the Date was a really fun read! It never had a dull moment, even if I could predict a lot of the developments. I liked this family and wouldn’t mind hearing more about them in future books, just like there were a couple references to The Unexpected Everything here. There are few things I love more than seemingly unconnected books being connected.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Morgan Matson just proved once more that she doesn’t disappoint.

What did you think of my review? Have you read the book? Do you want to? Also, I haven’t read much this month, but I did read a couple comics, how would you feel about a mini-review post for them? Any interest in that?