Book Review// Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

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Author: Sally Rooney
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Book Length: 356
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world? 

My Review:

I’m torn. On one hand, I thought this book was brilliant, but on the other, I so agree with all the 1 and 2 star reviews. I’ve never read a Sally Rooney before, but from what I gather, I think her work is something you either love, or do not resonate with at all. I find myself somewhere in the middle.

There is no real plot, no end game; it’s just ordinary people living their lives. At first, this confused me – I thought: What even is this book about? What is the point? I almost put it down because of those thoughts, but something else told me to keep going. Despite there never being a clear direction that this took, I found the writing too captivating to give up on. I felt like I didn’t like any of the characters, or really deeply care about them like I would have wanted to, yet I resonated with them. How Rooney managed to put their thoughts and feelings on paper to get me to care about otherwise bland, unlikeable, woe is me people, I do not know, but I was impressed. I like to read to escape reality, but these characters brought me back down to it as they were trying to find the meaning of existence in the 21st century.

I found the relationships in this book very fascinating. For example, Eileen and Simon were saying everything in code, speaking at length late-night about their fantasies involving each other. They could have easily made these things a reality, but they didn’t for the majority of the book – their actions were fleeting. I know it sounds incomprehensible, but sometimes the certainty of the fantasy is more enchanting than the potential finality of the reality. Even though I prefer to read as an escape, as a young person particularly, I found it amusing to see something so real like that play out in a book. Also, a lot of the lower star reviews mention that the sex scenes were awkward, which, funnily enough was the reason that I liked them. If you read the rest of it, you would realize that the sex scenes being awkward is more realistic for the tone of this book. Everything about these characters was flawed, so at least in my opinion, it would stand that intimate moments between the characters would be less than quintessential too.

Do I think this book is for everyone? Definitely not. I’m still not even convinced it was really and truly for me! But did I feel something undeniable about this writing? Absolutely. And that alone would get me to read another one of Rooney’s books.

Quotes I liked:

Every subsequent hour since I saw him has been worse than the last, or is it just that the pain I feel right now is so intense that it transcends my ability to reconstruct the pain I felt at the time? Presumably, remembered suffering never feels as bad as present suffering, even if it was a lot worse. We can’t remember how much worse it was, because remembering is weaker than experiencing.

It’s better to be deeply loved than widely liked.

What if it’s not only a small number of evil people who are out there, waiting for their bad deeds to be exposed – what if it’s all of us?

I feel so frightened of being hurt — not the suffering, which I know I can handle, but the indignity of suffering, the indignity of being open.

– Catherine

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Cover Crush – 2021/10/28

This week, I came across this cover that I am obsessed with. I’ve never heard of this book before or seen anyone on any of my social medias talk about it, but when I found it I was very intrigued!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Born just ten months apart, July and September are thick as thieves, never needing anyone but each other. Now, following a case of school bullying, the teens have moved away with their single mother to a long-abandoned family home near the shore. In their new, isolated life, July finds that the deep bond she has always shared with September is shifting in ways she cannot entirely understand. A creeping sense of dread and unease descends inside the house. Meanwhile, outside, the sisters push boundaries of behavior—until a series of shocking encounters tests the limits of their shared experience, and forces shocking revelations about the girls’ past and future.

Sisters is a one-two punch of wild fury and heartache—a taut, powerful, and deeply moving account of sibling love and what happens when two sisters must face each other’s darkest impulses.

I love a good romance as much as the next girl, but I really enjoy when books focus on something other than that. This cover drew me in because I love how you can’t really decipher what the face looks like, even though all the pieces are right there in front of you. Sometimes, you can be looking right at someone and not really see them, and that is what this cover conveys to me.

8 Top Book Cover Design Trends for 2021

If anyone has read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

– Catherine

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Review// Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

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Author: Lisa Unger
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Book Length: 368
Publisher: Park Row
Review: 2/5

My Review:

I realize this is a very niche preference, but something about a book with characters that meet on a train, or where is train is involved in some way instantly intrigues me, so of course I had to read this.

This book follows Selena, a working mother of 2 young boys, who misses her usual train one day after spying her nanny, Geneva, and husband, Graham, cheating on their nanny cam. On the 7:45 train home, she has an eerie encounter with a stranger whom she confides in about what she just witnessed. A few days later, their nanny mysteriously vanishes without a trace. The book goes back and forth between a few POV’s as the reader tries to piece together what has happened.

I have a love/hate relationship with books that have multiple POVs. On one hand, I think this style works so well with mystery/ thrillers because it keeps you guessing for longer and allows for so much anticipation from all the cliffhangers each person’s unique POV leaves you on. On the other hand, when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, the recipe can get messy, fast. Some of the POVs confused me to the point where I had to back track to make sure I was understanding correctly, and while it’s not a huge deal, it can be annoying to continuously feel like you’re not quite caught up on who is who and what is going on. I think half of the POVs weren’t even necessary, which made me so bored when those ones came along.

This book gave off a major ‘man hating’ vibe as well, which was quite strange. How it is that not one man in that town was faithful or trustworthy!?

*MINOR SPOILER AHEAD

Not to mention, how far fetched is it that on the night of the nanny’s disappearance, Selena’s young son who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old had recorded her unbeknownst to her on his iPad? Aside from the fact that it’s highly coincidental and pretty creepy, are iPad-quality videos even that good? * Spoiler ended.

I get that coincidences happen in life, and they have to happen in books to move the plot along, but it was a bit much.

Anyway, this book was okay – it had some interesting moments, but the switching between characters and one character having multiple aliases and names in the midst of all of that really did me in. This could have been better if at least one character was likable, but I was not rooting for anybody in the book. The only person I was rooting for was myself to finish this as soon as possible to get on with something better.

– Catherine

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Review// The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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Author: Lucy Foley
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Book Length: 330
Publisher: William Morrow
Review: 5/5

My Review:

On an eerie, seemingly haunted island off the coast of Ireland, a beautiful, successful couple – he a television star, she a magazine publisher – celebrates their wedding. The happiest day of their lives, right? Wrong. As the events of the weekend start to unfold, secrets are spilled that link the guests, who otherwise have never met, in ways you wouldn’t imagine. At the end of the wedding day, someone ends up dead, but who is it, and why?

Picked this one up on a whim and my mind is blown; I was not expecting to love it as much as I did! The ambiance of the book was amazing. It felt like I was there on that spooky island, a fly on the wall listening in on all the private conversations that held tantalizing secrets – one more shocking than the last. There were quite a few different points of view in this book, and while that can sometimes be confusing, it was done so well! Although some of the characters annoyed me, I enjoyed all viewpoints, and after every chapter, there was a cliff hanger that made me want to read “just one more”. This book kept me guessing who the killer was, right up until it was revealed.

I flew through this book in 48 hours, and if I hadn’t stopped myself multiple times, I would have easily finished it much quicker. Gripping, scandalous, and cryptic: all words I would use to describe The Guest List. It’s no wonder it won Goodreads Choice as best mystery/thriller of 2020. 

– Catherine

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Top 5 Wednesday | Books Published in 2021

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly prompt originally created by Lainey @GingerReadsLainey on Youtube. Every Wednesday, you are presented with a new topic and list your top 5 books related to that topic. You can join the Goodreads group HERE!

Since we are now in the second half of 2021, this week’s prompt is to list your favourite books published in the first half of the year.

Admittedly, I haven’t read too many books published in 2021 so far, so I am going to list my top 3, and then the last 2 will be highly anticipated books that I am planning to read which came out in 2021 🙂

Books I’ve Read:

HOUSE OF HOLLOW | KRYSTAL SUTHERLAND

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MALIBU RISING | TAYLOR JENKINS REID

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ONE LAST STOP | CASEY MCQUISTON

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Books I’m Planning on Reading:

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION | EMILY HENRY

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THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR | ALKA JOSHI

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Have you read any of these so far this year? Are any of these on your list? I’d love to know!

– Catherine

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