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I Ranked All of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Historical Fictions (Evelyn Hugo-Carrie Soto)

1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Reporter Monique is interviewing famed movie star Evelyn Hugo who has agreed to tell her life story – including all about her seven marriages and who the true love of her life was.
MY REVIEW:
When I first I picked up this novel it was because one of my guilty pleasures growing up was reading celebrity gossip and this novel is like the fictional version of that. It even had fictitious tabloid articles interspersed throughout the novel. The titular Evelyn is a morally grey force to be reckoned with. She’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to climb her way to the top including manipulate and lie and use her body. For all of her fame and fortune, however, she ends up lonely at the end of her life finding her celebrity to be as fleeting as a falling star and her love to slip through her fingers like sand through a sieve - proving it truly is lonely at the top. At its heart this novel is a romantic tragedy. Evelyn and other characters in the novel are members of the LGBT+ community and lived during a time when the exposure of something as pure as their love could also be their ruin. Monique’s character isn’t as captivating as Evelyn but she, too, has her own challenges and choices to embrace and I liked how Evelyn’s influence on her was portrayed.
FINAL RATING: 5⭐️

2. Carrie Soto is Back
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Carrie Soto is a retired tennis star who’s returning to the game to defend her title of having the most Grand Slams against an up and coming player.
MY REVIEW:
Going into this novel I had misgivings because I’m not interested in sports and so much of this novel is about Carrie’s tennis career. I was happy to have been disproved with this book being my second favorite of the 102 books I read last year (2022). Carrie is an abrasive protagonist. She’s cold, cocky, and often cruel. Throughout the novel she never loses her edge and entitlement but she softens some and shows her vulnerable side. For all her negative traits she, like Evelyn, is an empowered and inspiring woman. She’s passionate and hard working. Really the heart of this novel, though, are her relationships with the other characters. Her father, Javier, wasn’t always good for her. While being her coach he sometimes forgot to be a father. At the same time his love for his daughter was undeniable. Nicki Chan, Carrie’s rival, is a younger, cheekier version of her and one of the few to earn Carrie’s respect. Bowe, Carrie’s love interest, is her perfect fit. He’s also a tennis player and he shares her drive. His love made her a better person. I listened to this book on audio and I highly recommend that way of consuming the book because there are sections of the novel which include fake sports channel reporting and the music and sound effects are very immersive.
FINAL RATING: 5⭐️

3. Daisy Jones & The Six
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
This novel is the story of the titular fictional 70's rock band (including lead singers Daisy and Billy). It follows their rise to stardom and how they crashed and burned.
MY REVIEW:
The novel is told through a series of fictitious interviews with the band members, their staff members, and others who knew them. As a writer myself, I know creative writing gimmicks like these can either be genius or go terribly wrong. Here, thankfully, it was the former. The style works because it’s fitting for the story Jenkins Reid is trying to tell and actually enhances the story. If you’re going to consume this story please do so via the audiobook. It has a whole cast of narrators for every character and it gives you the sensation of being the reporter/biographer listening back to recordings you took of the characters. The format could have easily stunted the characters’ development, but character work is Jenkins Reid’s strong suit. Each character is well rounded though the titular Daisy and Billy and their complicated feelings for each other are the true shining stars. The only thing that keeps this novel from being a full 5 star read is that the plot doesn’t feel super original. Rock stars doing drugs, partying, cheating, and fighting is compelling but not exactly revolutionary.
FINAL RATING: 4.25⭐️

4. Malibu Rising
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
The children of singer Mick Riva (Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit) are throwing a massive house party in which each will have to face a personal reckoning.
MY REVIEW:
The main symbolism of this novel is fire/burning and renewal/rising from the ashes and the Riva siblings are the phoenixes. The siblings are easy to become attached to. Anyone who grew up with brothers or sisters will relate to both their fierce love and protectiveness of one another as well as their spats and drama. Even though the ‘present day’ part of the novel takes place over a singular day the past chapters allow the reader to get a more complete understanding of what shaped the Riva children. All of them have a chance to share their individual stories but it’s Nina who feels like the main character. The story line about the Riva’s mother (June) and father (Mick) and their romance is predictable but still made me emotional while reading. My main complaint with this novel is how during the house party scenes the narrative often broke away to focus on minor characters outside of the Rivas. I cared nothing for these partygoers and the pages would have been better spend focusing on the main family.
FINAL RATING: 4.25⭐️
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