My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is probably one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. The book highlights a young, privileged, wealthy, and well-educated woman. She lives on the Upper East Side, with all her needs paid for through her inheritance. The novel also centers on her strange relationship with her best friend Reva, and her on-again off-again boyfriend, Trevor. But despite all of this, the narrator, who is never named, goes through life empty and unfulfilled. As a result, she gradually increases her intake of medications to attempt to rest for one year.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation‘s perspective and dark humor creates an entertaining and thought-provoking read. Moshfegh’s satirical writing of the narrator creates a psychological perspective into a woman who’s goal is to fade away into obscurity.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone, but especially those who enjoy psychological fiction. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is humorous and intriguing, a truly amazing read.

-Kelsie W.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You has quickly shot up to the top of my favorite novels list. Sally Rooney’s unique style of writing gives the novel an almost intensely somber aura. The book follows two young women: Alice, a novelist, and her best friend Eileen. Alice meets a man named Felix, and invites him to travel with her to Rome. Meanwhile, Eileen, recovering from a breakup, reawakens a flirtation with a childhood friend, Simon. 

Sally Rooney’s way of making her characters realistic and flawed is impressive. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they don’t say things they should, and they say things they shouldn’t. Beautiful World, Where Are You is almost plotless, a narration of daily life, relationships, falling in and out of love, and intimacy. Alice being a writer also holds a deeper meaning: while critics may believe that novels should have more profound ideology than relationships, Rooney shows the value of reading about relationships, but manages to also talk about class and modernism.

Alice and Eileen’s long correspondence to each other, with their perspectives on all aspects of life and notes on humanity, is a main highlight in the book. I strongly recommend Beautiful World, Where Are You for those who enjoy novels about navigating personal relationships while going through the hardships of life.

-Kelsie W.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The novel The Cousins is written by Karen M. McManus, whose prior works are One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep A Secret, to name a few.

It begins with the introductions of our main characters, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story, the grandchildren of the infamous Abraham and Mildred Story- despite the fact that they’ve never met them before, after their parents were disinherited. However, when they receive an invitation to work at her island resort over the summer, refusing is unfathomable, a chance to get back into her good graces. But when they arrive at the island, as stranger and stranger things happen, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah realize that all is not what it seems. The Story family has a dark past, and the cousins will need to uncover them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I expected, since I enjoyed McManus’ previous books. From the eerie mantra repeated throughout this novel, “Family first, always,” to the questions and plot twists, The Cousins continues to keep you wondering until the final reveal.

Kelsie W.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

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

Five years ago in the town of Fairview, Andie Bell, a popular senior, was killed by Sal Singh. Supposedly. Of course, Sal never admitted it, due to the fact that he had committed suicide a few days later. In A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Pip Fitz-Amobi is assigned a capstone final project, and she chooses to examine this supposedly closed case. At first, Pip’s goal is solely to find more information, but as she continues to learn more about what really happened five years ago, she begins to believe that Sal might actually be innocent- with facts to back it up, instead of just hopeful thinking. However, a certain someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip to find out any more, and will stop at nothing for her to stay quiet.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder has quickly shot up my list of my favorite books, and I highly recommend it to any enjoyers of murder mysteries. It’s nail-biting, exciting, and keeps you on your toes. And of course, if you have already read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, I also recommend its sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, which has the same characters, but a new gripping mystery.

-Kelsie W.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Movie Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is a Studio Ghibli classic, one based of a book of the same name. The gorgeous animations, lovable characters, and peaceful vibe of the movie make it one of my favorites. Howl’s Moving Castle follows a young woman, Sophie, who works as a hat-maker, content with a boring life. One day, a witch comes into her shop and curses her to look like an old lady. Sophie decides to seek out the feared witch Howl and his moving home, and gets caught up helping him resist fighting in the war sweeping the nation.

The movie’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, was influenced by his anger about the United State’s invasion of Iraq, and included many anti-war themes in the film. I also enjoyed the fact that the movie depicted old age in a positive light. Being seen as an old woman helped Sophie be stronger and bolder in standing up for herself. In many ways, Howl’s Moving Castle has many deeper meanings.

From the luscious green hills to the dark war scenes, Howl’s Moving Castle is truly a gorgeous animation. The characters are all very interesting as well, with Calcifer, the sarcastic fire demon, to Markl, the young apprentice with much to learn, and of course, Howl, who is much more than just a vain wizard.

-Kelsie W.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon tells the story of Eragon, a young man living in the quiet Palancar Valley, far from the eyes of the Empire. Eragon’s world is turned upside down when he finds a strange-looking rock in the dangerous Spine-which turns out to be a dragon egg. When the wicked King Galbatorix comes sends his monstrous servants called the Ra’zac to find him, Eragon must escape with his dragon, Saphira, and an old storyteller, Brom. While on their journey, Brom teaches Eragon and Saphira the ways of the Rider and how to use the ancient language to command magic. On the way, Eragon, Brom, and Saphira meet new friends and foes-and uncover new secrets.

Eragon is an incredible read that I would highly recommend. Paolini’s style of writing is extremely impressive, with his descriptions and imagery. The characters are very interesting as well, with Eragon thinking more on his feet, and Saphira being the voice of reason. The intricacy of Eragon and the different backstories, plot twists, and connections just add to the magic of Eragon.

I would recommend Eragon to anyone who enjoys long books about fantasy, magic, and mythical creatures. Eragon is part of a series, with three other books-Eldest, Brisingir, and Inheritance.

-Kelsie W.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

American Royals by Katharine McGee

The book American Royals is about what would happen if America had a monarchy instead of a democracy. American Royals focuses on four girls- Beatrice, next in line for the throne, Sam, who only sees herself as the spare, Nina, a common girl thrown into the spotlight, and Daphne, who will do anything for the throne.

All four of them go through hardships during the book as well. Beatrice is forced to choose between her duty and her happiness, and Sam struggles with always being in second place. Daphne, on the other hand, spends the majority of the book plotting to take back what she sees as rightfully hers. Finally, Sam is thrown into the spotlight, after her relationship with Jefferson, the prince, is revealed. Beatrice, Sam, Daphne, and Nina must face problems and conflicts head-on all while keeping their perfect image and facing the general public’s fluctuating. opinion on them. 

I enjoyed the book very much, especially the four different perspectives for each of the girls. It definitely makes you wonder what would happen if America did have a monarchy, and whether it would be for the better or for worse.I would recommend American Royals to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction and romance novels. There is also a sequel to American Royals, which is called Majesty

-Kelsie W.

American Royals by Katherine McGee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Melora “Lore” Perseous is done with the Agon and it’s bloody aftermath. Years ago, after her family was killed, Lore refused to take part in the Agon, which instructs the gods to become mortals for a week, allowing any mortal hunter to kill a god and recieve their power, who then becomes the leader of their ancestral family. After years of this, the only original gods that remain are Athena, Artemis, Apollo, and Dionysus. During a street fight, which is how Lore makes her money, a familiar face from her childhood shows up, warning her of danger. Lore shrugs it off and returns home, only to find a deathly injured Athena at her doorstep. With no other choice, Melora is dragged back into the ruthless world of Gods and Goddesses, to stop a power hungry new god with ambitious plans for the world.

I loved ‘Lore’ and enjoyed reading it, although I admit that it can be a bit confusing if you’re not a bit familiar with Greek Mythology. Melora’s perseverance and bravery is definitely to be admired. With the different characters and personalities, the author makes it hard to find any boring part. Athena, who’s a frightening and self-assured goddess, Castor, Lore’s childhood friend who will do anything to keep her safe, Van, an uptight and serious young man, has one goal: keep Castor safe. Finally, Miles, Lore’s friend who knows nothing of the Agon but is determined to help. Alexandra Bracken’s ‘Lore’ seems almost reminiscent of ‘The Hunger Games’ with it’s bloody tournament, brave and loyal protagonist, and male counterpart, who’s kind and devoted. I highly recommend ‘Lore’, for those who enjoy Greek Mythology, ‘The Hunger Games’, fantasy, and action with a bit of slow-burn romance.

-Kelsie W.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Rich People Problems is the third and final book of the series Crazy Rich Asians, which looks at the powerful families of Singapore and their insane shenanigans. Rich People Problems takes place two years after the evens of ‘China Rich Girlfriend’, and Nick and Rachel are happily married and living in Manhattan, when Nick gets a call from his mother, Eleanor Young, that his grandmother, Su Yi is in the hospital from a heart attack and that Nick should come and make up with her before she dies. Nick, after being estranged from her for years after Su Yi refused to let him marry Rachel, feels guilty and decides to see after encouragement from Rachel. Meanwhile, the entire Shang-Young clan goes out to visit Su Yi to get in her good graces and hopefully be put in her will. Eddie Chang, who believes that he has a shot of inheriting Tyersall Park, Su Yi’s home, refuses to let Nick see their grandmother, in fear that Su Yi will change it again. Meanwhile, Astrid Leong, Nick’s beloved cousin, is re-engaged to Charlie Wu, while facing roadblocks such as her scorned ex-husband, Michael Teo, and Charlie’s ex-wife, Isabel.

Rich People Problems is hilarious, and probably my favorite out of the trilogy, seeing the entire clan pay attention to Su Yi only when they want her money. The ending is unpredictable, and the different characters and personalities make it an extremely interesting read. I highly recommend reading Rich People Problems for those who like realistic fiction and humor.

-Kelsie W

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

We All Looked Up is probably one of the books that I’ve read the most during quarantine. “we all looked up” tells the story of the entire world having two months- two months to live, two months until the asteroid would inevitably collide with Earth. We All Looked Up follows four main people, Peter, Eliza, Andy, and Anita. Peter, the stereotyped jock, wants to become a better person and make an impact. Eliza, the typical shunned rebel, finds companionship in others, one being Andy, a person who’s only passion seems to be music. Finally, Anita, who’s parents put immense pressure on her to be the best, finds peace in singing.

I enjoyed We All Looked Up because it felt real and not sugar coated. We All Looked Up covered many topics, such as suicide, but also didn’t have to have a miracle ending to be a good and entertaining read. We All Looked Up feels raw, capturing the emotions that are experienced during intermediate/high school, the fear of growing up, the drama that can happen, and the fear of the unknown. I highly recommend We All Looked Up to those who enjoy realistic fiction and young adult novels.

-Kelsie W.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.