Book Review · Books

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

I remember loving Elsewhere when I read it as a teenager. And now, reading it again, I know why I always loved it so much. It’s sad, happy, but most importantly, real. 

About the book:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Pages: 271

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts:

“I’m just a girl who forgot to look both ways before she crossed the street.”

Liz is almost 16 and she dies in a hit-and-run accident. And this is where her story begins. Instead of going wherever it is that people go when they’re dead, she wakes up on a big boat that’s heading to a place called Elsewhere. It turns out that people go to Elsewhere when they die, they live there (if you can call it that), age backwards and then return to Earth as babies to be (quite literally) reborn. 

As we follow Liz around on the ship, she is having a very hard time understanding she is dead. She thinks this is all a dream and expects to be woken up anytime. 

“It can be particularly difficult for young people to realise they have passed. Young people tend to think they’re immortal. Many of them can’t conceive of themselves as dead.”

As the story goes on, Liz meets her grandma, Betty, who passed away before Liz was born. Due to how time is measured in Elsewhere, Betty now looks quite young. Young enough to be in a relationship with Liz’s friend. We’ll get into that in a minute.

Liz is supposed to now live her life and find an avocation.

An avocation is like a job on Earth, except you have to really enjoy doing it and can only do it if it makes you happy. So Liz becomes a counsellor for the Division of Domestic Animals, and her task is to welcome dogs on Elsewhere and explain everything to them when they arrive. I loved the idea that the dogs could talk with some people that can speak the dog language. Some of my favourite scenes are when the dogs are talking – the humour in them is priceless!

At the beginning, Liz is having a very hard time accepting this reality. She dies before she could truly live her life and she will never grow up, have children, buy a house, or grow old. Not on Earth and not in Elsewhere either. She’ll just age backwards from 16 to 0. She is very depressed and spends a lot of time at the Observation Desks, where she can watch people on Earth through binoculars. She even tries an illegal way to make contact and it massively backfires. 

“Many people on Earth spend their whole lives dead.”

But in all this grief, she meets a friend and things slowly start to get better for her. She starts to find joy in the years she has left and enjoys herself. This book has a powerful message about living in the moment and making the most of life with the cards you’ve been dealt. It’s a sad, but true story about life and death, grieving, depression, but also about friendships and love.

“People, you’ll find, aren’t usually all good or all bad. Sometimes they’re a little bit good and a whole lot bad. And sometimes, they’re mostly good with a dash of bad. And most of us, well, we fall in the middle somewhere.”

The ending is a bit sad, but at the same time satisfying. And it will definitely make you want to read the book backwards as soon as you have finished it. 

About The Author:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Gabrielle Zevin is an internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed author, whose books have been translated into thirty-eight languages.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry spent several months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, was a USA Today Best Seller, and has been a best seller all around the world.

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Book Review · Books

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini [BOOK REVIEW]

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini [BOOK REVIEW]

I cannot believe it took me this long to finally mark Eragon as a read book. This book has been on my shelves for way too long and I am happy I finally got to it.

About The Book:

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini [BOOK REVIEW]

Pages: 517

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts:

Knowing how saturated the fantasy genre is today, I was apprehensive going into the book. The boy and the dragon story have been used very frequently. But as soon as I read the first few chapters, I was transported to Eragon’s farm in Carvahall, joined his adventure and never looked back. 

Eragon is just a boy on a farm, doing his bit to help his uncle. When one day he finds a shiny blue egg, he is sure he can sell it in town and buy food for the winter. But as soon as people find out he got it from the Spine, they want nothing to do with it. So Eragon decides to keep it for a bit, until he can find a buyer. When the egg cracks and a dragon is hatched, Eragon’s whole world is about to change. He knows a few things: he has a special connection with the dragon through his mind and he is in big danger. Along the way, an old man called Brom offers Eragon help and knowledge, and we find out so much more about dragons, Dragon Riders, magic and all the dangers Eragon Is about to face for being a Dragon Rider in his time, when the king is searching for him. 

From one adventure into another, the book is quite rich with action, stories, and interesting characters. I really liked Angela and the merecat, as well as the Twins. They seemed quite interesting, although I can’t say I trust them. I liked Brom and Murdoch too – their knowledge and experience in different topics intrigued me. 

The magic in Eragon was a cool concept.

I liked the Ancient language and the fact that you have to know certain words to cast a spell. I also liked that you cannot lie in the Ancient language, although I’ve seen that before in other lore that features elves. And I was also quite intrigued by the “true name” and the power it held, the possible duels and the rules on how magic works from a distance. The magic concept in Eragon intrigued me a lot and I loved that. 

Be prepared to watch Eragon learn about who he is now, his legacy and his powers. And watch him try to choose what allegiance he should aid, and how involved he wants to be. The Spiderman quote “with great power comes great responsibility” rings very true in this book. 

Eragon’s dragon, Saphira, is also a big character. She has great powers and ancient wisdom, and together with Eragon they make a great team. They share a unique bond and I’m excited to see how they’ll grow stronger together. 

I will be continuing the series and pick up the second book in the series, Eldest. I am curious to know more about their adventures. If you haven’t read Eragon yet and love fantasy, I warmly recommend it. It made me forget I was a book reviewer for a long time. I was so captivated by the story I forgot to take notes and had to re-read some parts of the book later. Could not recommend it more!

About The Author:

Christopher Paolini was born in Southern California and has lived most of his life in Paradise Valley, Montana. He published his first novel, Eragon, in 2003 at the age of nineteen, and quickly became a publishing phenomenon. His Inheritance Cycle—Eragon and its three sequels—have sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is his first adult novel.

Visit Paolini.net for the latest news about this project and connect with other fans at Shurtugal.com, his Facebook page and Twitter profile

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Book Review · Books

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire [BOOK REVIEW]

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire [BOOK REVIEW]

Middlegame has easily become, and will stay for a long time, one of my ultimate favourite books of all time. I am so glad I won it as a giveaway, as otherwise this book may never have found me. 

About The Book:

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire [BOOK REVIEW]


Pages: 528

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Tor

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

About Middlegame:

I went in unprepared, and loved the experience I was introduced to. I read the synopsis, but the book didn’t do it justice. There is so much going on that one blurb could never be able to explain. You will get to meet twins Roger and Dodger. Roger is very good with languages and stories. Dodger is amazing with maths. Numbers come so easy for her, and they are her world. Roger and Dodger are not actually human, although they don’t know it. The bond they have between them is special, and it serves a special purpose in the world. They are two pieces in a puzzle, and need each other’s abilities to unlock their full potential. 

“The unspoken pieces of language are sometimes the most painful.”

And even though they’re twins, they live in separate states and can communicate in a unique way. This was actually one of the most intriguing parts for me – I loved how they get to know each other and start communicating, and also how throughout the years, despite all the challenges, they keep finding their way to each other. 

“Heredity is not only in blood. It is in the sympathetic vibration of the universe, in the places where atom becomes alchemy.”

Roger and Dodger were created by Reed, an alchemist, who has goals of his own. His plan is to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own. I particularly liked Reed’s chapters. I enjoyed these, as they show a much larger picture of the motives behind what he is doing and to learn more about what the Doctrine is.

“Ignorance is bliss, or at least ignorance leads to better choices: ignorance doesn’t try to account for the costs and consequences of a hundred doomed timelines every time it takes a step.”

My Thoughts:

As I said, the blurb doesn’t do this book justice, in fact, it will probably confuse you rather than offer an explanation. But Middlegame is so much more than that! If I could recommend one thing, it would be to dive into the story without knowing too much. Everything will be explained properly as you start reading, and it will all make sense, unlike my notes of the blurb.

“But what is perfection, really, if not the act of winning?”

For me, diving into Middlegame transported me into another reality, where alchemy resembles magic. It has been a while since a book did that to me from the first chapter and that is one of the reasons I will remember this book. Middlegame starts with an “end of the world” type of way, and then we go back in time to find out what led to this moment

“Time is like skin: it can scar if you cut it enough times.”

The other fascinating thing for me were the excerpts from “Over the Woodward Wall” by A. Deborah Baker. Deborah Baker was an alchemist and she created Reed. After finishing the book and doing some research, it turns out that this is a real book. And the author, A. Deborah Baker, is a pen name for Seanan McGuire. What an incredible thing to do – I am still in awe of this fact.

As for Seanan McGuire, I have nothing but praise! For all the feelings Middlegame evoked from me. For the incredible writing and for hiding a book within a book. And an author within an author, within a character. I will be definitely continuing “Alchemical Journeys” and reading “Seasonal Fears”, the second book in the series, as well as “Over the Woodward Wall”. 

“In the same ordinary town, on the same ordinary street, lived two ordinary children who had never quite managed to cross paths.”

From “Over the Woodward Wall” by A. Deborah Baker

About The Author:

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire [BOOK REVIEW]

Seanan McGuire is an American author and filker. McGuire is known for her urban fantasy novels. She uses the pseudonym Mira Grant to write science fiction/horror and the pseudonym A. Deborah Baker to write the “Up-and-Under” children’s portal fantasy series.

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

The Game by Scott Kershaw [BLOG TOUR]

The Game by Scott Kershaw [BLOG TOUR]. The Game is definitely one of those books that instantly grabs your attention.

A very big thank you to the team at HQ Stories, for sending me a copy of The Game by Scott Kershaw. Make sure you follow the other mentioned bloggers above for their reviews of this book. The Game is definitely one of those books that instantly grabs your attention.

The Game by Scott Kershaw [BLOG TOUR]. The Game is definitely one of those books that instantly grabs your attention.

About The Book:

The Game by Scott Kershaw [BLOG TOUR]. The Game is definitely one of those books that instantly grabs your attention.


Pages: 429

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: HQ Stories

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Rating: ★★★★/★

Synopsis:

As soon as I read the synopsis, I wanted to know what this game is all about. We are introduced to five people, and someone they love goes missing and they receive a message to start playing the game. There can only be one winner and they cannot share this message or seek help from anyone. If they lose this game, their loved one will die.

My Thoughts:

The first half of the book feels like a prolonged introduction. There is a slight issue with pacing, due to us reading five chapters for five different characters, all having to do the same few tasks. For example – they need to buy a prepaid phone and come to a certain location.

Whilst this is great in terms of character building, and us understanding each character’s back story, at times it felt like a recycled content. Once the game officially starts, my reading experience improved significantly. There is a lot of tension and uneasy atmosphere that I quite enjoyed. We discover a lot of secrets about the players and see how each of them deals with the situation they are into.

Writing this review now, it’s extremely hard to not reveal anything. The big reveal was very unexpected, that’s all I will say! It took me by surprise still, even though I had my suspicions and picked up on a few clues along the way. The ending was dark and twisty and it was interesting to see the aftermath of everything. A lot of questions were raised regarding morality and taking responsibility of small decisions that may have a huge impact in the long run. There are definitely a lot of topics for discussion, and I can see this book being a great pick for a book club. It kept me glued from start to finish. The game aspect of the book satisfied me and the gripping ending was a masterpiece. Don’t miss this one out, despite its difficult beginning.

The Game is Scott Kershaw’s debut novel, although his writing doesn’t feel like a debut author’s writing. I will definitely keep Scott on my radar and look out for his next books.

About The Author:

The Game by Scott Kershaw [BLOG TOUR]. The Game is definitely one of those books that instantly grabs your attention.

Scott Kershaw lives in Lincolnshire, in a Victorian cottage that was formerly ruled by mice. He likes the crackle of vinyl, the smell of paperbacks, the taste of a stiff drink and the view from a front row barrier. He’s getting too old and heavy for crowd-surfing, but that rarely stops him from trying. His first real love was cinema. His beagle, Darwin, is the one true king of dogs. As a child, Scott believed in monsters. Sometimes he still does. The Game is his debut thriller.

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Book Review · Books

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun [BOOK REVIEW]

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun [BOOK REVIEW]

First of all, I want to say thank you to the team at Head of Zeus for sending me a copy of Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun for me to read and review. This book was truly a unique reading experience.

About The Book:

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun [BOOK REVIEW]


Pages: 176

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Rating: ★★/★★

Synopsis:

There were a few reasons why I was interested in this book. The vivid colours on the cover shouted radiance and mystery. The title is intriguing and I was wondering how it connected to the story. The synopsis starts off as a thriller, but dives into the unknown. And finally, I love exploring translated works because I always learn something new.

Lemon is a story that features the murder of a 19-year-old Kim Hae-on. Known as the High School Beauty Murder, there are instantly two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, a rich kid in whose car Hae-on was last seen, and Han Manu, a delivery boy who witnessed Hae-on in Shin Jeongjun’s passenger seat. When no evidence can be pinned on both boys, the case goes cold.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a mystery thriller, I’m afraid this book is not it. We may or may not find out the truth behind the murder. It doesn’t even matter. What we will definitely see though, is the aftermath. The lives this murder impacted and how they are getting on seventeen years after the murder.

Although this murder is the big event that drives everything, Lemon actually focuses on the people that survived. 17 years after the murder, the grief takes a big toll on Hae-on’s little sister, Da-on. Da-on is struggling to move on with her life. She lives more in the past than she does in the present. She even does some very dramatic things, all in the hope to be able to find out what happened to her older sister and move on.

“Death carves a clear line between the dead and the living,’ she said in a solemn tone. ‘The dead are over there and the rest of us are over here. When someone dies, no matter how great they were, it’s like drawing a permanent line between that person and the rest of humanity. If birth means begging to join the side of the living, then death has the power to kick everyone out. That’s why I think death, with its power to sever things forever, is far more objective, more dignified, than birth, which is the starting point of everything.”

I felt for Da-on. She felt she had a responsibility all her life. And she feels like she failed to protect her sister. I also felt for their mum. It was interesting to find out about her believing in bad omens. When Hae-on was a baby, she was supposed to be called Hye-eun. But the dad called her Hae-on due to his accent and this name stayed. Because of this, the mother thinks her daughter’s destiny has also changed. After Hae-on dies, the mum tries to change her name, but they won’t allow it. That scene was very heartbreaking. But it also made me wonder. I’ve never thought to ask that question before. Can you actually change a deceased person’s name? I tried to find information on this (specifically for the UK), but I wasn’t able to find anything, so I am assuming it’s not possible.

Aside from Hae-on’s family, we get to know more about the lives of the two suspects at that time. And also some of Hae-on’s classmates. It is very notable that this murder has a huge impact on a lot of people, and they all deal with it very differently. In some of the scenes where Da-on meets with these people, you can notice the awkwardness and rawness is still present, even after years have passed.

Even though it’s not the most suspenseful fiction novel, I still recommend it. I read it in a day and it did keep me intrigued. It was a different take on an aftermath of a murder, and I enjoyed it. I also learned a few new things, which I always cherish in my reading adventures!

About The Author:

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun [BOOK REVIEW]

Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.

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