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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Book Review · Books

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon [BOOK REVIEW]

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon [BOOK REVIEW]

I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. When I picked the book up, I knew I was looking at an international bestseller, but I still had my doubts. Well, not anymore…

About The Book:

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon [BOOK REVIEW]


Pages: 452

Format I read it in: Paperback

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★

Synopsis:

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

My Thoughts:

The Bone Season gripped me from the start. Literally from the first chapter, I was alongside Paige, getting to know her clairvoyance as she’s discovering it herself. Paige is a character that you want to root for, but you also want to understand the other side, just to ensure she’s making the right decisions. Meeting the gang in the underworld of Scion London gave me an introduction of the dystopian world that Paige lives in. Clairvoyant people are being imprisoned left, right and centre, and when something goes horribly bad for Paige, she discovers that it could be much, much worse. And somehow she managed to end up there.

“I fitted with these people. They understood the strangeness of my world, a world I was only just beginning to discover.”

The world building in this book is on another level.

Samantha Shannon created a world with different orders of Clairvoyance. On top of that, she created dystopian cities and a different type of creatures that have a role to play as well. Through Paige, we meet so many vivid characters, all unique and lovable in their own way.

I loved the chapters when Paige would reminisce about her past. It helped me understand her so much better and it ties very well with the story in the present. I also loved how the parts with the past tie into the plot to create a plot twist in itself. I feel like every scene was created the way it was with a certain purpose. To serve a bigger role and to tie into the plot in one way or another. But it never felt as if a scene was written just for the sake of it.

One of my favourite parts in this book were the parts focusing on emotion.

There isn’t a romance in this book, so to speak. But there were moments of building connections. Of building trust. Times of sharing experiences, memories and big heartbreaks. But all these moments were an addition to a friendship that turned into a little bit more. It only complimented a personality, rather than become a main focus of the story, which made these moments even more special.

“I didn’t believe in hearts. I believed in dreamscapes and spirits. Those were what mattered. Those made money. But my heart had hurt that day. For the first time in my life, I’d been forced to acknowledge my heart, and acknowledge its fragility. It could be bruised. It could humiliate me.”

And that ending… When that ending happened, it shattered me in a very delicate way. I grieved for one reason, but felt joy for another. The bittersweet taste is still between my fingers, feeling it as I was closing the last pages. But there is one thing for sure – this story doesn’t end here and I’ll sure as hell read the next book in the series.

About The Author:

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon [BOOK REVIEW]

Samantha Shannon studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. The Bone Season, the first in a seven-book series, was a New York Times bestseller and the inaugural Today Book Club selection.

Her next novel, The Priory of the Orange Tree, was published in February 2019 and became a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in London.

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Book Review · Books

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid [BOOK REVIEW]

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid [BOOK REVIEW]

Going into “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I knew I should be expecting something spectacular. And still, it managed to surprise me and leave me amazed.

About The Book:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid [BOOK REVIEW]


Pages: 385

Format I read it in: Audiobook

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★

Synopsis:

Evelyn Hugo is one of the most renowned Hollywood actresses of her time. Over the years, she has made a true legacy with the many movies she has made and the Oscars she has won. And yet, what fans are always wondering about are her husbands. After all, Evelyn Hugo had seven husbands in her lifetime and managed to outlive them all. And now, in the 80’s, she’s ready to tell her story. But only if Monique is the one writing it.

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump-start her career.

During the next few weeks, Evelyn shares all the secrets she has with Monique. It’s finally time for the world to know who Evelyn Hugo really is.

My Thoughts:

I can’t help but wonder how I would have felt it I had read the paperback copy of the book, instead of listening to it. And the more I think, the more convinced I am that I would have enjoyed the same. Except maybe I would have made more notes and captures a few more quotes. Listening to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo took me on a journey, that I’m not sure I was expecting, but it was one I most certainly needed.

Evelyn’s strong character and personality shines from the very first chapter. Having met some very big celebrities in my life, I could exactly picture that aura that she carries, where people walk on their tip toes when she’s around. That moment when you know you’re surrounded by greatness. That is Evelyn. And with every new page, I was more and more invested in what she had to say. Her determination is contagious. And her upbringing sad. The way men treat her is outrageous, but the way she lets them is even more aggravating. But she knows what she wants and she’s aware what she needs to do to get there.

“Be wary of men who need something to prove.”

And then Evelyn meets Celia, and things start to change, but also stay the same at the very same time. The relationship Evelyn has with Celia is so beautiful and so devastating. The happiness and the sadness that comes with it, and the burden of such a big secret that they have to bear. All because people are not ready to hear. The determination, sacrifices, love and hurt – with Evelyn I felt it all. And more.

Reading books that feature Hollywood celebrities is not my first pick, but I loved this book. I was hooked and couldn’t stop listening, from one chapter to the next. From one movie to the next one. And from one husband to another. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is sad, but beautiful. It was shocking, but not surprising to read about a Hollywood that has a certain idea of beauty and fame and a guidance on what’s right and what’s not.

I am so glad I picked this book up – it was definitely worth it. Both Evelyn and Monique and their unique stories really stuck to my heart, and I will cherish them always. 100% recommend.

About The Author:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid [BOOK REVIEW]

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & The Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, as well as four other novels. Her newest novel, Malibu Rising, is out now. She lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Instagram @tjenkinsreid

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