Book review: Looking Glass Friends by E L Neve

Looking Glass Friends: A Novel Inspired by Real Love Letters by E.L. Neve is much more than just a novel. It’s a dreamy weave of romance, poetry and philosophy, all at once.

It’s 1997. It is the era of missives, emails and printed books, where mobile phones are still a thing for rich people.

Neil is married to Fay but unhappy with his life choices to the point of considering suicide. Ellie is married to Jake, mother to a five year old and lives the high life.

On a day like any other, Ellie walks into the local bakery to buy cream puffs for her son. On a day like any other, Neil decides that the client on the other side of the counter is worth giving up the secret stash of cream puffs he had set aside for himself. As a way to say thank you, Ellie gifts the kind baker with a copy of her favorite book, “Atlas Shrugged”.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: The Korean Word For Butterfly by Jamie Zerndt

The Korean Word For Butterfly by Jamie Zerndt is a thoughtful and emotional novel about fabricated opportunities and the desire for redemption, about making choices and dealing with their consequences. It is set in South Korea during the 2002 World Cup and under the shadow of escalating anti-American sentiments cast by the deaths of two Korean girls hit by a U.S. tank, a tragic accident that really happened.

The story unfolds through the alternating perspectives of the three protagonists, as their lives cross and weave together in the aisles of an English school at the gates of Seoul.

First, we meet Billie and her boyfriend Joe as they set foot on Korean soil. They are two high school graduates who filed bogus paperwork (literally) to embark on a year long challenge as teachers in Korea, driven by a need for adventure and by the wish of a life-changing experience. They land, full of dreams and hopes, and with a vision of the country that might or might not be idealized. Upon their arrival, they are welcomed by Moon.

Moon is a former music producer, currently working at the English school, and ex alcoholic who is trying to piece his life back together. His wife Min Jee left him, taking their three-year-old son Hyo from him, after he hurt the child’s arm in a moment of drunken numbness. Shaken by the accident, Moon has since then stopped drinking, while trying to rebuild the relationship with both his son and his wife. He is the one in charge of vetting new teachers for the school and the one to discover that Billie and Joe are frauds.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: The Alcohol Memoirs by Misty J Moreton

The Alcohol Memoirs: A Fun Place for Drunks, Drug Users, and Voyeurs by Misty J. Moreton is a collection of 165 writings and a bunch of so-called “quickies”, gathered from all over the U.S.A., that gives a funny, erotic, sometimes grotesque picture of all the stupid things that people do while drunk.

The tipsy gestures range, from having wild sex and not remembering anything the morning after, to sniffing panties, to getting lost literally one block away from home, to passing out on sideways, on top of speaker boxes, on trucks, on couches in random apartments. This is just to mention a few.

Every recollection is characterised by a closing witticism from the author, in a sort of advice column style.

Most of the stories are nothing more than shenanigans; some of them innocent, some others gone terribly wrong. For the readers who have gone through this kind of young-and-stupid phase and have their own memories they could share, there is a good chance you might identify with some of the stories told. I personally did, but will plead the fifth if confronted about it.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: Superhighway by Alex Fayman

What would you do if you could travel through the pathways of the Internet? Collect and manipulate data online and store the information in your brain? Teleport yourself through optic cables to the place you love most just by displaying it on a computer screen? Ah, raise your hand (or share this review, it’s your choice!) if you would electroport yourself with me to Iceland or to the Scandinavian peninsula to admire the midnight sun.

Anyway, the list of options would be endless. You could use your superpowers to help people or to right the wrongs life gave you. You could steal money from every illegitimate organization on the planet and divert it to the poor and needy. You could buy a luxurious home, a shiny sports car and, why not, an entire Caribbean island. Or you could spend a fortune to impress a young woman just to have her killed that same night because you were an idiot and let the bad guys catch you red-handed.

Alex Fine, the eighteen-year-old protagonist of the sci-fi novel Superhighway by Alex Fayman, manages to accomplish all of the above and much more. Raised in an orphanage in the poorest part of Los Angeles, after getting adopted and returned to sender twice, he decides that life as an adopted child is not for him and chooses to remain with Ms. Jenkins, the head administrator of the orphanage who loves him as if he were her own son. Brilliant and extremely talented, he is headed for a bright future despite his background. Except, one night, while trying to reconnect the computer after a blackout, he finds himself centrifuged into the psychedelic superhighway of pathways, cables and digital cabinets called the internet. He quickly realizes that he can travel through the net and reach any place simply by displaying it on the screen.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: Final Notice by Van Fleisher

“If you knew, for sure, that you were going to die in 10, 20 or 30 days, what would you do?” This is the unsettling question posed by Van Fleisher, author of the political (and mildly sci-fi) thriller Final Notice

Under the lead of Vijay Patel, a brilliant doctor with a passion for technology, the company VitalTech develops a smartwatch that can predict the exact day you are going to die. There is just a tiny glitch: as smart as that watch can be, it cannot predict the possible effects of such a peremptory deadline on the human psyche.

The main story follows the testing stages of the VT2, that’s the name of the avant-garde device, carried out on a sample of a hundred of seniors. The VT2’s technology monitors and analyzes in real time every change in the body of its wearer to such an infinitesimally small point that it can tell how many days they have left to live, issuing a “final notice” that warns them to contact their doctor immediately. Needless to say, not everyone does it. The book shows us some of the final notice recipients as they struggle with the harsh reality that their time on earth is ticking. Some get their affairs in order, some say their goodbyes to the loved ones. Some take the occasion to settle old scores. They premeditate murders, or simply flip, kill people, aware they will never pay for their crime.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon

Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is definitely one of the most unique novels I’ve happened to read recently.

Set in the suggestive wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula, said to be “a land of magic, history and legend,” it develops in two separate periods of time, offering two entwined stories full of adventure, mystery and intrigue.

Thirteen-year-old problematic Sarah gets dropped on the doorstep of Tom, her grandfather who did not even know she existed, on the eve of an epic hike to visit his own grandfather’s grave. Together with Tom’s Native friend William and his daughter Myra, Sarah is dragged along on a journey that, in spite of herself, will change her life forever.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.

Book review: My Trip to Adele by R I Alyaseer and A I Alyaseer

My Trip to Adele is an enjoyable and intriguing novel, written by siblings A.I. and R.I. Alyaseer, that tells about love and life, all of this with the music of Adele in the background.

I was drawn to it by my own love for Adele’s music and by its settings, so different from each other and culminating in the suggestive Arena di Verona in Italy, a real gem of my country.

Throughout the chapters we follow the story of three dissimilar people whose lives have been deeply impacted by Adele’s songs.

The first protagonist we meet is Elias, a Moroccan man living in Rome, Italy. Eight years before, he met a very young Malika on a trip to Marrakesh, whom he left with the promise to meet again one day. The wish to find again his long lost love will lead him back to the suggestive scenarios of Morocco and to the memories of the brief moments they spent together.

The rest of the review can be found here on OBC.