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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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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Review// Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: May 27, 2021
Book Length: 384
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind. 

My Review:

I have always had reliable experiences with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work, and this book solidified why. In pursuit of a perfect novel, the main thing I look for are quality characters, and TJR consistently delivers on that front.

That being said, it’s hard to rate this book when you compare it to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, or Daisy Jones and the Six, because while in my opinion it was amazing at face value, there was something missing here in comparison that I can’t quite put my finger on. With the other two, I felt like the barrier between fiction and reality blurred, and I almost found myself searching for the characters in real life because they felt so believable to me; I just needed more of them. In Malibu Rising, I still felt the barrier I usually feel when I’m reading a book but not quite a part of it. And while there is nothing wrong with that, and I think it’s quite normal, it’s just so hard to properly rate the book for what it is without unfairly comparing. Plainly speaking, is this my favourite book by this author? No. Is this an great book for what it is? Yes.

Nina was my favourite character by a landslide; she exudes first born daughter energy if I’ve ever seen it, and I can relate to that. Her character development by the end was something I didn’t really expect, but I enjoyed the direction it took. I really liked the other Riva siblings too, and I was so invested in each of their dramas and points of view. I also loved the back and forth timelines between their parents childhood’s to theirs, and each hour leading up to and during the party; it kind of gave me a sense of why each sibling turned out to be how they were in adulthood, and I liked how that built the characters from the ground up.

I really enjoyed this book; it made me feel like I was on the beach in 70s/80s Malibu. If you’re looking for the perfect summer beach read, add this to your list!

– Catherine

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Review// A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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Author: Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: May 2, 2019
Book Length: 433
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Review: 5/5

My Review:

This book is the poster child for the phrase, “just one more chapter” – I could not put it down. It was like Pretty Little Liars, with all the drama and secrets, meets the narrative style of Sadie, with interviews woven in between chapters, and I loved its mixed-media style.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is about a high school student named Pippa who chooses for her senior Capstone project to be about the media’s influence on criminal investigations. Turns out, this topic is inspired by a murder investigation that happened in her small town 5 years prior of a girl named Andie Bell who attended the same high school. Andie’s case is closed, as the police believe they had enough evidence to convict Andie’s boyfriend, Sal, who had killed himself shortly after the investigation opened. But Pippa isn’t so sure that Sal killed Andie, and she’s going to use her project to prove it.

I can honestly say that this thriller was thrilling . Even though the answers were kind of right under my nose, I still was not 100% sure of anything until the end when things were revealed. I think what most impressed me is that even when the reader has the ‘aha moment’ of what happened, there is still a huge twist attached to it that makes you want to find out more!

Pippa as the main character was amazing; I absolutely adored her. I also loved Ravi, Sal’s brother, and them two as a duo, trying to solve the mystery together. From the beginning, I liked that they were always a bit flirty, but their attraction to each other never overpowered the story. I hate when books try to steer away from the main plot with a love story, and I’m so glad that didn’t happen here.

If I had one criticism of this story, it would be that as I was reading, I sometimes thought that a few things that led Pippa forward in her investigation were a bit coincidental, but when I really thought about it, if things were not a little bit coincidental sometimes, mystery books would simply not exist, and I’m so glad this one does.

Please pick this book up if you are into the mystery/thriller genre; it may just be the best one from it I’ve ever read. 

– Catherine

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Outstanding Blogger Award! 📚🎉

Today I will be posting about the Outstanding Blogger Award. Thank you so much to Maya @HerBookishDesires for the nomination! I’m really honored to have been thought of for this, it completely made my day. Please go check out Maya’s blog, it’s one of my favourites! 😊

Rules:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (very important: see why in step 5)
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

Maya’s Questions:

1. If you could live in one bookish setting, where would you live?

I would love to live in Frell where Ella from Ella Enchanted is from, mostly because I like the idea of there being fairies and other mythical creatures living amongst humans in the world.

2. Favorite book cover of 2020 (the book does not have to be published in 2020, you just had to read it!)

I love this cover, and I loved the book too!

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3. What have you learned (about yourself, blogging, reading) since you started blogging?

Blogging and reading has strengthened my value of friendships. There are so many kind, thoughtful people in this community, and it felt good to be so welcomed right off the bat. I feel like the older you get, the less faith you start to have in humanity, but being here makes me believe that there are lots of wonderful people out there. It is just a huge bonus that they happen to share in my hobby!

4. What gets you out of a reading and/or blogging slump?

Taking a break from reading/ blogging is really the only thing that works for me! Then eventually I get bored or curious as to what books are out there, or I get inspired after reading someone else’s blog posts to start back up again. I think the biggest challenge though is realizing that it’s okay to take a break if I need to. Reading and blogging are my hobbies, not part of a checklist of things I have to get done every week, so if I need to take a break, I need to remind myself that it’s totally okay!

5. Why did you start book blogging?

I had recently fallen back in love with reading and wanted an outlet to share all my bookish thoughts, since my friends IRL didn’t share in that passion as much as I did. Sometimes you just need to scream into the void about something you love, you know? 😇

6. What is your most hated book trope? Most loved?

I don’t really hate any book tropes enough to use the word hate, but I would say one of my least favourite is insta-love. One of my most favourite is lovers to sorta-enemies to lovers (as you might be able to tell from my love of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle above)! 🙌

7. If you could only pick 3 books to read for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Nominees:

  1. Kaya @AFictionalBookworm
  2. Kristin @KristinKravesBooks
  3. Aoife @PrettyPurplePolkadots
  4. Kira @KiraJeanette
  5. Mandy @DevouringBooks
  6. Sofia @BookishWanderess
  7. Mayeesha @HeadOverBooks
  8. Ashmita @TheFictionalJournal
  9. Leelynn @SometimesLeelynnReads
  10. Sofii @ABookAThought

My Questions:

  1. Describe yourself in a single word.
  2. What are three random facts about yourself?
  3. If you came back in your next life as an animal, which would you be?
  4. If you could turn any book into a movie, which would it be and why?
  5. What’s your favorite thing about your book blog?
  6. What do you like the most about the country you are living in now?
  7. Are you in any fandoms? If so, what are they?

Thank you again to Maya for the nomination, and as always do not feel pressured to do the tag! ❤️

– Catherine

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