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Reviews: MALIBU RISING & THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND

 

Sorry I disappeared off the blogosphere for a few days but man, it has been a week.  We are short-staffed at work, as usual, so the universe decided this would be a great week for a trip to the ER with my son, followed by a fender bender this weekend when a teen driver decided to plow into the back of my car while we were stopped at a traffic light.  We’re all fine thankfully, but if the universe could cut me a break for a bit, that would be fantastic.  Anyway, my life drama aside, I do have two reviews to share today, one for Malibu Rising, one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and one for The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, which I was drawn to because of the island setting. When I read the synopsis, it reminded me of a little island off the coast of Virginia called Tangier Island and being from Virginia, I was intrigued.

 

Reviews:  MALIBU RISING & THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLANDMalibu Rising Goodreads

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Taylor Jenkins Reid became one of my favorite authors after I fell in love with her most recent novels, Daisy Jones & the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.  Her masterful storytelling and her ability to bring unforgettable characters to life just really won me over, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her new novel, Malibu Rising.

Malibu Rising is a story of love and loss, secrets and betrayals, and at the heart of it all is the Riva family, the parents Mick and June, and the four Riva children, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit.  Those familiar with TJR’s books will probably recognize Mick Riva, who appears in the Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo novels.  Mick is an iconic musician who can’t seem to break the cycle of infidelity that he falls into the moment he becomes successful as a musician.  He waltzes in and out of June and their kids’ lives, leaving wreckage in his wake each time he decides family life isn’t for him.  To say the Rivas are a dysfunctional family is probably putting it mildly.

Malibu Rising is told using a dual timeline, which I’m always a fan of if it’s done well, and TJR uses it effectively here to peel back the layers on the Riva family.  One timeline is set in the past which explores Mick and June Riva’s life together, showing how they met and the dramatic ups and downs of their relationship and how it impacted their young children.  The second timeline is set in the 1980s and focuses on the Riva children, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit, who are all adults now and are experiencing their own ups and downs.

This family’s journey is a wild and often heartbreaking one and because of that, I loved the modern timeline that shows the kids all grown up and trying to make their way in the world.  I loved how tight their sibling bond has grown over the years, probably because they could only rely on each other.  Nina, the eldest, was a particular favorite of mine in that she sacrificed everything to basically become a mother to her younger siblings.  Their lives are full of ups and downs as well, but they are all there for each other in ways their parents weren’t there for them.

The only part of the novel I didn’t enjoy was actually the big end-of-summer party that is the focal point of the story.  Yes, it’s most definitely a life-changing event as it brings many issues to a head and turns quite a few lives upside down.  At the same time, however, I found it to be somewhat tedious at times.  I guess the Hollywood life doesn’t appeal to me and I just got bored reading page after page of celebrity after celebrity showing up and behaving in utterly predictable ways.  The drama surrounding the Riva siblings at that party is riveting and everything else just felt like it was in the way.

Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the party itself, everything else about the novel made for a very compelling read.  If you enjoy family dramas and sibling stories, you’ll enjoy Malibu Rising. 4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  MALIBU RISING & THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLANDThe Invisible Husband of Frick Island Goodreads

Author: Colleen Oakley

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Colleen Oakley’s new novel The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is an emotional story about love, loss, and grief and the lengths people will go to in order to help those they love.  The story centers on Piper Parrish, a young woman who lives on Frick Island, a tiny island located in the Chesapeake Bay and only accessible by ferry.  The Frick Island community, cut off as they are from the mainland, are a tightknit group who look out for each other.  When Piper’s husband Tom is lost at sea when his boat capsizes during a terrible storm, the community rallies together to help Piper cope with the loss.  It’s the method in which they choose to rally that brings a bit of a whimsical element to the story.  When they realize that Piper is hallucinating that Tom is still alive and by her side, the community decides to play along with it and pretend he’s still alive as well. When Anders Caldwell, an aspiring journalist, is sent to the island on assignment, he witnesses Piper and her hallucinations as well as the community going along with it, he can’t believe what he is seeing and decides he needs to investigate it further. He thinks this is a story that could make his career but has no idea how truly life changing it will end up being.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story.  I especially loved the small town island setting and how they’re all practically one big family.  I also loved all the quirky characters who live on the island.  They were fun and I immediately liked them all just by virtue of what they were willing to do to keep from breaking Piper’s heart.  Piper herself is of course an incredibly sympathetic character because of the loss she has suffered and it’s easy to see why her community loves her so much.  I very much enjoyed watching her interact with Anders as he tried to piece together what was motivating the community to go along with Piper’s hallucinations rather than set her straight about Tom’s death. There were times when I wanted to shake him for using Piper’s tragedy to further his career, but he shows tremendous growth in this area as he and Piper grew closer and he starts to realize his own mistakes.

My only real issue with The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is that it felt a little slow at times.  As much as I enjoyed it, I felt like the story got a little bogged down by Anders’ repetitive ferry rides back and forth to the island.  I think I would have preferred either fewer trips or maybe less description of them each time.

If you enjoy small town settings, quirky characters, and reading about the things we do for love, you’ll want to check out The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.  3.5 STARS.

Mini Reviews for Scavenge the Stars, You Were There Too, & Echoes Between Us

 

It’s time for a new batch of mini reviews and this time it’s January ARCs!  There are a ton of great new books coming out in early January so if you have Christmas money to spend, here are some titles you should consider.

 

Mini Reviews for Scavenge the Stars, You Were There Too, & Echoes Between UsScavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1) Goodreads

Author: Tara Sim

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

If you’re in the mood for a good revenge story, then Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim is the book you’re looking for.  It’s a gender-bent retelling of the classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo,, which is also a tale of revenge.  Scavenge the Stars follows a young woman named Amaya, who has spent much of her life imprisoned aboard a debtor’s ship, forced to work off her parents’ debt.  For seven years, Amaya has known nothing but shame, cruelty, and unfair treatment, and thus has vowed that as soon as she is finally free from her parents’ debt, her first act will be to seek revenge against the man who ruined her family. When the opportunity presents itself, Amaya secures her freedom and sets out to implement her plan of revenge.  Amaya unexpectedly finds herself entangled with Cayo, the son of the man she seeks revenge against, and the more she gets to know Cayo, the more she realizes nothing is as it seems and that she has been living a lie for most of her life.

Amaya and Cayo really made the story for me.  I loved everything about both characters.  Amaya is absolutely fierce. She’s smart, scrappy, and sassy, and she’s ultra-protective of those she cares about.  I admired her determination to bring down those who destroyed her life as well as those who are cruel enough to imprison children as payment for debts.  Cayo, while the son of a rich man, has spent much of his time in the proverbial dog house, due to an over fondness for gambling.  He’s trying to live down past mistakes and prove to his father that he can live a respectable life.  Like Amaya, he learns something about his family that turns his world up on its end and makes him question who he really is and what kind of person he is. I really loved the complexity of each of these characters.  The story is told from each of their perspectives and there’s just so much inner turmoil for both Amaya and Cayo as they struggle to find their way through the secrets and lies of the past.  That struggle makes it easy to feel sympathy for them both.

Scavenge the Stars is an engaging fantasy filled with secrets, lies and betrayals, family drama, political intrigue, and even a hint of potential romance.  It’s also a story about not letting mistakes from the past define or control you.  Filled with complex, three-dimensional characters, and plenty of action-packed scenes, Scavenge the Stars is sure to please.  I highly recommend it to fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas.  4 STARS

 

 

Mini Reviews for Scavenge the Stars, You Were There Too, & Echoes Between UsEchoes Between Us Goodreads

Author: Katie McGarry

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Publisher:  Tor Teen

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry is a heart-wrenching story about love and loss, family and friends, and about facing your fears.  It follows Veronica, who is a senior in high school and who suffers from debilitating migraines that are caused by a brain tumor. And not just a brain tumor, but the same kind of brain tumor that killed her mother.  So while all of her friends are preparing for life after high school, Veronica lives knowing there’s a possibility that there may be no life after high school for her.  Veronica is also a girl who marches to the beat of her own drum. She does what she wants to do, dresses however wild she wants to dress, and celebrates holidays on random days of the year and only a core group of friends appreciates Veronica and her originality.  Most of her classmates, including golden boy Sawyer and his friends, think Veronica is a weirdo and have nothing to do with her.  That is, until Sawyer and his family move into the apartment that Veronica’s dad rents out.  Once he starts spending time with Veronica, Sawyer realizes how truly special she is and his whole outlook on life changes.

I can’t even express how much I loved both Veronica and Sawyer.  Veronica captured my heart right away. I loved the way she lived her life to the fullest, even with a tumor and these horrible migraines hanging over her head at all times.  She’s just this fearless dynamo who always speaks her mind and it was so admirable to watch.  I also adored her close relationship with her dad.  It broke my heart that she would hide that her condition was worsening from him, but I could completely understand why. It would clearly crush him to lose both his wife and his daughter this way and Veronica wanted to protect her dad from that pain for as long as she could.  Sawyer was a character it took me a few pages to warm up to, but once I did, I fell hard.  He may seem like the golden boy on the outside, but he is fighting demons of his own in the form of an adrenaline addiction, as well as having to deal with a less than ideal home life.  As much as my heart hurt for Veronica and what she was going through, my heart hurt just as much for Sawyer. They are both in impossible situations and need each other more than either one of them ever could have thought possible.  I loved watching their friendship blossom and my heart just ached for them, knowing how fragile Veronica’s health was.

I don’t want to give away anything about how Echoes Between Us ends so I’m just going to say it was one of the most moving and emotional reads I experienced in 2019. Many tears were shed, both happy and sad.  If you like a story that will constantly tug at your heartstrings, pick up a copy of Katie McGarry’s Echoes Between Us4.5 STARS

 

Mini Reviews for Scavenge the Stars, You Were There Too, & Echoes Between UsYou Were There Too Goodreads

Author: Colleen Oakley

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley is a story about love and fate.  The novel follows Mia Graydon, an artist who dreams of starting a family with her husband Harrison.  Luck has not been on their side, however, and they have suffered several miscarriages. Frustration has set in and has started to put a strain on their relationship, especially as Harrison is also battling some internal demons of his own.  Even though Mia and Harrison really are happily married, Mia has been having recurring dreams about another man for several years.  The dreams themselves are odd enough, but what’s most odd about them is that Mia has no idea who the man is. She has never met him before.  When Mia and Harrison decide to relocate to a small town in Pennsylvania, Mia unexpectedly meets Oliver, the mystery man from her dreams. Not only that but he tells her that he has been having dreams about her too.  Determined to make sense of it all, Mia and Oliver dive deep into their pasts, looking for any possible connection between them.  As Mia and Oliver grow closer, Mia starts to think about fate and what her life would be like if she was with Oliver instead of Harrison.

I loved this story, mainly because I was just so immediately invested in the relationship between Mia and Harrison.  The two of them were so sweet together and so clearly in love and it just hurt to see them struggle so much to start their family.  Then when I learned more about the demons that Harrison was battling and saw how it was tearing him apart inside, it just hurt all the more, especially when Oliver appears on the scene and unintentionally threatens all that they have built together.  I think the ‘What Ifs’ that Mia starts experiencing are what really made this story so engrossing for me.  I could understand where she was coming from in wondering what life might have been like if she had met Oliver sooner and even though I wanted to be angry with Mia for even thinking about it, I could especially understand it as Harrison’s demons start to consume him more and more and because Oliver was such a likable guy.

You Were There Too kept me reading late into the night because I just had to know what Mia was going to do.  Does she embrace the idea of fate and go after the man who has haunted her dreams for all these years or does she stay faithful to the man she vowed to be there for in good times and in bad? If a heart-wrenching story about love, fate, and making hard choices appeals to you, Colleen Oakley’s You Were There Too is the book for you.  4 STARS