Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for these copies!

Pub Date: 6-1-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

Malibu Rising- Taylor Jenkins Reid: The Riva siblings--Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit-- are known for many things (modeling, surfing, being the offspring of the famous singer, Mick Riva), but mostly for their annual end-of-summer party. This is the one night of the year where everyone can let loose and forget their inhibitions. It's usually a highlight for all the siblings, but each has a reason for dreading the night: Nina has just been left by her husband for another woman; Jay is holding out hope his dream woman will arrive; Hud is harboring a secret that will change his and Jay's relationship forever, and Kit has invited a very unwelcome guest. Over twelve hours, the alcohol will flow, secrets will come to light, and the bonds of the family will be stretched to their limit, and come morning, everything the Riva's thought they knew will go up in flames.

I'm always so impressed with Reid's ability to completely transport you into her stories. I was fully invested right from the jump and couldn't put it down. This follows the Rivas in two different periods: in 1983, you follow the siblings in the hours up to, during, and after the events of their massive party, and then you also get flashes of their family history starting in the 1950s with their parents, Mick and June's, whirlwind romance. Both parts were cohesive and Reid did a great job of meshing them together in a way that never made the story feel disjointed. Nina and her siblings went through so much, and I loved how they were able to get closure, or at least as close to it, by the end. For the most part, I thought this was flawless, except for two little things. One was that I wished we didn't get as many POVs from guests at the party because it took me a little out of the story, and the other was that as the party got more out of control and destructive, my stress levels were skyrocketing. The latter is a testament to Reid's writing, though, and just proves my point that she makes you feel as if you're there watching the events unfold. Other than that, I thought this was so addicting and told the story of a family in such a heartbreaking and powerful way.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
Adult - Fantasy

Wendy, Darling- A.C. Wise:
 When Wendy Darling was a child, she went on a journey to a magical place called Neverland. Along with her two younger brothers, they ran and jumped and played with an impish boy named Peter and his band of Lost Boys. There were no adults to enforce any rules, and Wendy felt free for the first time. But then Wendy did the unthinkable-- she grew up and everything turned upside down. After leaving Neverland, Wendy went from asylum patient to wife to mother, never once forgetting her time with Peter. A part of her always wished to return to that special place, but Neverland isn't as serene as she remembers. When Peter steals her daughter away, flashes of memories start to come back to Wendy of a darkness that lives at the center of the island. Now, Wendy must face the wickedness of Neverland and the sinister boy she'd once do anything for if she hopes to rescue her daughter from a dark fate.

I've always loved the story of Peter Pan, but this is not the idyllic Disney story we're all familiar with. Wise takes a story that most everyone knows and completely flips it on its head. It's a darker more malicious take on Neverland and it works so well. Peter is still this fun-loving boy, but there's an underlying predatory feeling to him that makes you feel very uneasy. The way he interacts with Wendy, her daughter, and especially the Lost Boys is almost unhinged in a way. I also thought the way Wise tied him to the darkness of the island was very clever. My favorite part of this though was Wendy. She went through so many hardships after coming back from Neverland, but she never let anyone break her spirit or make her second guess herself, it just made her resolve that much stronger. I liked seeing her come back to Neverland as an adult and confront her past while fighting for her daughter. There were bits of this that felt slow and dragged out, but overall, this was a fun one.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
YA - Fantasy

The Nature of Witches- Rachel Griffin: For centuries, any witch born in a specific season has had power over that particular climate. But now, with the climate changing at a rapid pace and the atmosphere becoming more erratic, the only hope lies with Clara. As an Everwitch, Clara has the rare ability to harness the power of every season at any time, but it comes at a dangerous price. Whenever Clara taps into her power to a large degree, someone she loves dies, so while other witches revel in their powers, Clara resents hers. With the increase in dangerous weather, Clara has no choice but to push herself to the limits and try and control the volatile charge within her. Clara starts to train with Sang, whose steady, quiet presence has a way of calming and centering Clara. As the pair spend more time together, Clara starts to understand and discover facets of her magic she never even thought possible, but after a close encounter with Sang, she retreats into her reclusive self worried about hurting yet another person she cares about. With the summer eclipse fast approaching, Clara must decide whether to keep her magic despite all the heartache it caused her, or make the ultimate sacrifice of letting the eclipse strip her of her magic forever.

This initially caught my eye since it was described as being a mix between Practical Magic and Twister, so that intrigued me right off the bat. Griffin's writing was lush and (pardon the pun) atmospheric, and the way she weaved together all these different magical elements was such a joy to read. She made you feel for Clara and all the hardships she faced and you just wanted her to be happy. I loved seeing her and Sang train together and how he opened her up and made her vulnerable yet stronger at the same time. There were times I found her a bit bratty and hard-headed, but she ultimately grew on me by the end. Aside from the characters, my favorite aspect of this was the magic system. It was unlike anything I've ever come across before, and I liked how it was different for every season. There were a few bits in here that I thought could've been paced better, but overall, this was enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5/5


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