Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! The last two books of 2020… The Chestnut Man turned out to be an excellent read, but sadly I ended up having to make the decision to DNF Everything Is Illuminated quite early on.

Title: The Chestnut Man
Author: Soren Sveistrup
Translator: Caroline Waight

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 6th 2018
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: December 30th 2020 
Pages: 506
(Originally written in Danish: ‘Kastanjemanden’)

“Hess had long thought of death with indifference. Not because he hated life, but because existence was painful.”


I’ve been meaning to pick up this Danish crime thriller debut ever since it first came out, but somehow it slipped between the cracks of my enormous TBR pile… Until now that is. I’m so glad I finally read The Chestnut Man, as I ended up having an excellent time with this story and I can fully understand the love for this Nordic Noir debut now. Dark, gritty, atmospheric… The Danish setting is the perfect backdrop for this story, and I loved how the setting played a role in the plot instead of simply providing an atmospheric backdrop for the story. The Chestnut Man uses a multiple POV structure, and you will have quite a few different characters to juggle, but some only appear shortly and it is quite easy to place them within the plot. The characters themselves might not be exactly all that easy to like, but their realistic development and flaws manage to draw you in completely anyway. The building up of suspense and the twists is very well handled, and the story without doubt ends with a bang. Could it have been a bit shorter? Maybe. But personally I had a great time reading this debut and I do hope to see more of his work in the future.

Title: Everything Is Illuminated
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 16th 2002
Publisher: Mariner Books
Finished reading: December 31st 2020
Pages: 288
DNF at 10% (29 pages)

“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.”


WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead.

Nope. No way. There is just no way on earth I’m going to put myself through another 90% of this mess. DNF it is!! I definitely didn’t expect to end the year on such a low note as I’ve read and enjoyed his books in the past, but I see no other way out as I already started skimreading at about 7% since I couldn’t take it anymore… So I thought: what is the point of going on? Why DNF? I REALLY struggled with the writing style. The shouting, the religion, the supposed humor that only highly irritated me, the tone, the word choices… I also couldn’t stand Alex at all, absolutely HATED him after only a few pages and I was ready to throw in the towel there and then. The way he talks, the way he is so utterly full of himself, the way he disrespects everyone… UGH. It’s been a while since I hated a character this fiercely after only just meeting him, and I would have thrown my book at the wall if I wouldn’t have been reading it on my new kindle. I still like the premise of the story, but I won’t indulge in self torture just to find out how the author inserted himself into the story. No thank you; next please!

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