YVO’S SHORTIES #8: The Secret Mother (ARC) & The Lost Child (ARC) @bookouture

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around it’s all about two Bookouture thrillers I basically read waaay too long ago and still had the review pending. Both were great reads and without doubt recommended… The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland and The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney.


Title: The Secret Mother
Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 9th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 4th 2017
Pages: 244

“Why is all this crap happening to me? I know why. This is trial by media: I’m guilty until proven innocent.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I’m a big fan of Shalini Boland’s psychological thrillers and I have literally devoured each and single one (The Girl From The SeaThe Best Friend and The Millionaire’s Wife) so far. It’s easy to say I had very high expectations for The Secret Mother, and those expectations were more than met. This newest psychological thriller is without doubt another winner. I was hooked from page one and the plot was intriguing. The suspense building and introduction of plot twists are both well handled and I found myself flying through the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, but I also have to say this didn’t affect my reading experience all that much as I was too busy wondering about the what, who and why. If you like well written and suspenseful psychological thrillers, definitely give The Secret Mother a go!


Title: The Lost Child
(DI Lottie Parker #3)
Author: Patricia Gibney

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 27th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 24th 2017
Pages: 483

“Sometimes knowing is worse than not knowing.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I have been enjoying my time with detective Lottie Parker so far, and this third book The Lost Child has been one of my most anticipated releases last year. Why? Lottie Parker somehow never fails to deliver another suspenseful and thrilling adventure, and both the writing and plot development have always been excellent. The Lost Child is no exception. Book number three is without doubt another great read and provides us with yet another exciting story and more mystery around what really happened to the main character’s father. And while I do think I enjoyed it a tiny bit less than the first two books for reasons I can’t exactly put my fingers on, I had a great time reading The Lost Child and any fan of the genre will probably feel the same. I’m looking forward to the fourth book, which is scheduled to be published in March!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #7: Captain Alatriste & Utopia


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing the last two books I read in 2017. Basically I picked up these two instead of other titles to try and finish at least two more challenges before the end of the year. I was supposed to read these long before, but with the slump and all things got a little last minute. Oops? The first is my first and only Spanish read last year called El Capitán Alatriste (Captain Alatriste) by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, which is set in 17th century Spain.The second is a long pending classic called Utopia by Thomas More, first published back in 1516.


Title: Captain Alatriste
(Adventures Of Captain Alatriste #1)
Author: Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure
First published: January 2nd 1996
Publisher: Alfaguara
Finished reading: December 30th 2017
Pages: 242
(Read in original language, Spanish: ‘El Capitán Alatriste’)

“No era el hombre más honesto ni el más piadoso, pero era un hombre valiente.”


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I had made a promise to myself last year to start reading more in Spanish again, but apparently that promise was soon forgotten… I only just managed to squeeze in this story before 2017 ended, which definitely wasn’t what I had originally planned for the year. I have read Arturo Pérez-Reverte‘s work in the past, so I thought the first book of the Adventures Of Captain Alatriste would be a safe bet. This first book is simply named after the main character of this series set in 17th century Spain: El Capitán Alatriste. I have a weak spot for both historical fiction and books set in one of my favorite countries, Spain, so I thought I would really enjoy this one. Unfortunately, things turned out to be different. I know Spanish isn’t my native language, but I both have a degree in Spanish Philology and have been using Spanish daily for years, so I can confirm the language itself wasn’t a barrier. What did slow me down considerably is the general tone and pace of the story, and the fact that nothing much happened during the story. Not only was the historical setting quite weak and could have been elaborated a lot more, but I also found the way the story was told through someone close to Alatriste not entertaining at all. This probably has a lot to do with the writing as well as the lack of a proper plot and more action… I did appreciate the incorporation of old Spanish literature in the text. But still, I definitely won’t be continuing this series any time soon.


Title: Utopia
Author: Thomas More

Genre: Classics, Philosophy, Politics
First published: 1516
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 31st 2017
Pages: 135

“Pride thinks it’s own happiness shines the brighter by comparing it with the misfortunes of others.”


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I’ve had this classic on my TBR pile for ages now, and to be honest I was a bit intimidated by the fact that Utopia was published that long ago. This kind of classics are not always easy to read, but thankfully the English translation I read was not difficult to read at all. Thomas More wrote Utopia originally in Latin back in 1516, and in it he reveals some both very interesting and puzzling ideas on what the ideal society would look like. I can’t say I agree with everything he said, but every aspect of the Utopian society is well elaborated and shows exactly how things would work for the inhabitants of Utopia. The beginning of Utopia reads a bit slow, but as soon as the story starts elaborating the different aspects of Utopian life the pace picks up considerably. All in all quite an interesting read for those who are interested in philosophy and politics.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #6: Still Alice & The Silent Children (ARC) @bookouture


It’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around I will be reviewing Still Alice by Lisa Genova and the ARC The Silent Children by Carol Wyer, both read last year and both great reads for different reasons. Let’s continue with the reviews, shall we?


Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: 2007
Publisher: Pocket Books
Finished reading: December 28th 2017
Pages: 353

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.”


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Basically I accidently saw the movie on Netflix and just HAD to pick up my copy of Still Alice straight away, because I normally never watch the movie first. I’ve been meaning to pick up this story for ages now, especially since I really enjoyed Lisa Genova‘s other  book Left Neglected, but I guess I needed this little push to finally do so. I’m glad I did, because there is no doubt that Still Alice is GOOD. The writing is very engaging and made me fly through this story… The plot and character development are both tragic, heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I’ve seen what Alzheimer can do up close, so I can relate somewhat to what the characters are going through… The descriptions of what Alice is going through are excellent, detailed and give insight of what it is like both having Alzheimer and what effects it has both on the person and those around them. All in all an excellent contemporary fiction read I can recommend to fans of the genre.


Title: The Silent Children
(DI Robyn Carter #4)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 19th 2017
Pages: 360

“Jealousy and love – two very powerful emotions that drove people to commit heinous acts.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I’ve been a fan of the DI Robyn Carter series ever since the first book, and this is already the fourth book of the series published. Things are moving fast! Fast-paced, engaging, suspenseful and always a new intriguing mystery and bad guy to hunt: DI Robyn Carter never lets us readers down. And The Silent Children is without doubt another winner. While I think I ended up enjoying it slightly less than book two or three (for reasons I can’t exactly put my finger on), there is no doubt this fourth book is still an excellent detective thriller that simply delivers. The case Robyn Carter and her team has to work on this time is another interesting one and wrapped in a big pile of secrets all there waiting for someone to uncover them. The mystery around the deaths and what is happening will keep you reading until you finally find out exactly what is going on… The Silent Children is without doubt a great addition to this series!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #4: Alex And Eliza & Herding Cats (ARC)


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two books I read a while ago… One historical fiction romance and a graphic novel which is actually an ARC and due to be published later this year; namely Alex And Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz and Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen.


Title: Alex And Eliza
(Alex & Eliza #1)
Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 19th 2017
Pages: 368

“Alexander Hamilton, widely reputed to be the most eloquent man in the United States Of America, had, for the first time in his life, been rendered speechless.”


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I know most people are probably aware of the fact that I’m not a romance fan, so it might seem like a strange choice to pick up a novel like Alex And Eliza. But while I’m not a fan of the romance genre, I do love my historical fiction and my interest was peaked when I read the blurb. No, I am not familiar with the details of Alex Hamilton’s life nor did I see the Hamilton musical. Call me ignorant, but that part of American history was never talked about in the country I grew up in. I was looking forward to find out more about Hamilton’s life and importance in history and historical timeframe in general, since it’s been a while since I’ve read a story set in the 18th century… And to be honest, I found myself being mostly disappointed with the historical aspect of Alex And Eliza. Instead of a detailed historical setting and information about Hamilton’s life, this is mainly a love story that could have been about any random high society girl and boy without important family name or money. I don’t have the feeling at all that I know more about Hamilton’s life after finishing it and I wasn’t a fan of the character development either. The romance… I know it isn’t my thing in general, but between the love triangle and the way the lovebirds acted, it was quite a turn off for me. I guess romance fans who don’t mind the lack of historical details will be able to enjoy the story a lot better than me though.


Title: Herding Cats
(Sarah’s Scribbles #3)
Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor
First published: March 27th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: December 3rd 2017 
Pages: 112


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I enjoyed reading Big Mushy Happy Lump last year, so I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Herding Cats when I saw it. I don’t really read a lot of graphic novels, but I like both the style of the illustrations and the topics the author talks about. Daily life mixed with anxiety topics and all in all things that I personally can easily relate to. And while I had fun reading Herding Cats, I felt some of the spark of her previous graphic novel was missing… I especially loved the cat and reading related graphics, which I obviously could really relate to, but other pages didn’t manage to speak to me in a way I was expecting when I started reading it. Herding Cats is still a fun read though and perfect to take a little break, get yourself a cuppa and just absorb those pages. Coming out in March!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #3: IT & Armada


A new year and more Yvo’s Shorties! This time a true book monster and a popular science fiction read… I’ve been meaning to read both for ages and finally did so last year. I’m talking about IT by Stephen King and Armada by Ernest Cline


Title: IT
Author: Stephen King 

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: 1986
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: December 4th 2017
Pages: 1.478

“She wanted to scream and couldn’t. The screams were too big to come out.”


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IT is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never actually picked up, mostly due to the extremely intimidating size of this monster. I don’t mind reading big (read: 800+ pages) books, but IT is on a whole different level… But with the movie coming out last year, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to finally read it. I originally started reading IT in October for Halloween, but the slump got me and I wasn’t able to finish it until December. It wasn’t just the slump though that made me take ages to finish this monster. Because I truly feel it is waaaaaaaaay overlong and has way too many details, descriptions and subplots, making the story drag at points. I honestly think that cutting out at least half of the subplots and pages would have made this story that much more creepy and suspenseful… And without doubt also a real pageturner. As it is, I had a hard time making sense of all the different subplots and characters in the beginning, making it hard to actually enjoy reading it. Things did get better as I started to connect the different parts and things got more creepy, but that dragging feel took a lot of the suspense away for me. The writing was excellent and the idea behind the plot brilliant, but unfortunately the overdose of subplots and characters and dragging feel ended up decreasing the rating considerably and in the end IT was only a 3 star story for me.


Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: November 16th 2017
Pages: 384

“I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, comforted by my half-assed self-diagnosis. Nothing but a mild flare-up of inherited nuttiness, brought on by my lifelong dead-dad fixation and somewhat related self-instituted overexposure to science fiction.”


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Armada is another of those books that has been on my radar for a long time… I’ve actually been wanting to read both this one and Ready Player One ever since they first came out, but somehow I never did. Too many books, too little time sounds just about familiar right? Various fellow book lovers recommended reading Armada first, so when I was in the mood for science fiction I finally did so last November. When I first read the blurb I was 100% convinced I would absolutely love this book. I have a weak spot for geeky books and I’m a former gamer myself, so I thought Armada would be spot on for me. That’s why I was so surprised I ended up having a different reaction instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE the writing style and I can see why the right target group would absolutely love this story, but the whole war-alien gaming thing just wasn’t for me. Especially in the beginning I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story, which I found strange since I should have been able to relate at least to the gamer part of it all. Things did get better after the big plot twist bomb about halfway through, and I liked the second half considerably better. But still… I definitely feel this book has a specific target group and unfortunately I don’t belong to that group. Definitely give Armada a go though if you think this story sounds like your cup of tea! The writing will blow your socks off.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #2: The Marble Collector & Our Numbered Days


Today it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Featuring today are two books I’ve read recently: The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern and Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn.


Title: The Marble Collector
Author: Cecelia Ahern

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Chick Lit
First published: October 29th 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: December 25th 2017
Pages: 304

“Hurtful things are roots, they spread, branch out, creep under the surface touching other parts of the lives of those they hurt. It’s never one mistake, it’s never one moment, it becomes a series of moments, each moment growing roots and spurting in different directions.”


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I know I’m normally not a fan of the contemporary romance/chick lit genre and I tend to stay away from it, but I wanted something different and a lighter read for the Holiday season and The Marble Collector caught my eye. This is my first time reading one of Cecelia Ahern‘s books and I can definitely see why she is such a popular author. Not my thing maybe, but without doubt well developed and well written stories based on what I found in The Marble Collector. It took a little while figuring out the different POVs in the story, but in the end I could really appreciate the complexity and the timeline of the plot. The Irish setting and the whole marble theme were a nice touch and while I wasn’t a big fan of the characters, it was quite easy to become invested in the story anyway. The mystery around the marble collection and the amnesia added some suspense to the plot, and overall this was quite an enjoyable read. Quite low on the romance and mostly focused on family drama and the secrets of a man who can no longer remember… I can see why people would love The Marble Collector and Cecelia Ahern‘s books in general.


Title: Our Numbere Days
Author: Neil Hilborn

Genre: Poetry, Mental Health
First published: May 14th 2015
Publisher: Button Poetry
Finished reading: December 25th 2015
Pages: 72

“Depression wasn’t an endless grey sky, it was no sky at all. I’ve got to go somewhere. I’ve got to go.”


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I don’t read or review a lot of poetry on my blog, but I have a weak spot for strong, emotional poetry, especially related to depression or mental health. I’ve written my share of (bad) poetry in the past when I was in a bad place, and it has helped me feel better… And I’m always interested to see how others express their emotions and pain. Our Numbered Days has been on my radar for a long time, so when I was in the mood for some poetry it was the perfect excuse to finally pick up my copy. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading the poems in Our Numbered Days other than that they were mental health related and there has been a lot of praise for one of the poems included in the bundle called OCD. What I have discovered is that Neil Hilborn’s style of poetry simply isn’t for me, and I wasn’t able to connect the way I thought I would be able to because of the topic. This reaction is highly personal and mostly related to the style of the poems, so definitely don’t let this stop you from picking the bundle up yourself if you want to. I do see why OCD is so popular and it was one of my favorites of the bunch, along with probably Still Life With Pills and Skyline With Cranes And Stormcloud. I did have a hard time making sense of some of the poems though… Some seemed almost surreal, while others were direct and to the point. All in all not my favorite poetry bundle, but if you like slam poetry you will probably have a different experience with it.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #1: Still Life With Tornado & We Have Always Lived In The Castle


Say hello to a new feature on It’s All About Books! As you all probably already know, I’ve been fighting with a rather stubborn reading and blogging slump during the last few months and it’s been a real struggle… I managed to get more or less back to reading, but as the pending book reviews started piling up the whole ‘getting back to blogging’ was getting more and more difficult to achieve. Currently the list of pending reviews is about twenty books long and while I know I don’t HAVE to review every book, I feel bad if I not at least mention a few things about each one. Hence, Yvo’s Shorties was born. Similar to my normal reviews, but with a 2×1 book bonus in each post that includes my rambles about both.

Let’s get started with the first edition! *drumroll*

Featuring Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson


Title: Still Life With Tornado
Author: A.S. King

Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: December 14th 2017
Pages: 295

“I put out my umbrella and open it. There is a tornado of bullshit in our house. When it’s over, we will be okay.”

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This book has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but the blurb sounded fascinating and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. Fact: magical realism and me don’t always get along all that well. It’s a peculiar genre that either works for you or doesn’t, and for me it really depends on the execution if I’m able to enjoy the magical realism elements. Unfortunately in the case of Still Life Of Tornado I wasn’t convinced. First of all and more importantly, I really didn’t like the writing style, tone or main character (or other characters for that matter) and this hugely impacted my reading experience. I’m not saying the writing style is bad, but it’s definitely one that isn’t for everyone. The lack of connection to the characters and my struggles with the writing style made it hard for me to keep myself focused on the story, but that wasn’t all. Honestly, I felt that nothing really made sense to me at all and my eyebrows worked overtime while I was reading Still Life With Tornado. Magical realism or not, this book is definitely not my cup of tea. Still, I also feel the right person could really enjoy this quirky story.


Title: We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Gothic
First published: 1962
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 22nd 2017
Pages: 146

“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.”

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I have been wanting to read this modern classic for ages now, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up my copy of We Have Always Lived In The Castle. I truly had the feeling this was going to be another new favorite classic, so I was really surprised when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up We Have Always Lived In The Castle, but it definitely wasn’t what I found when I started reading. Because honestly, nothing much really happens during all those pages. The promise of suspense is there, and the mystery around what happened at the Blackwood estate, but those promises didn’t come true. Instead, I found it a rather dull story about two quirky sisters living isolated in a mansion, and I was almost bored while I was kept waiting with my fingers crossed and hoping to see something would actually happen. I’m not sure what to think of the ending either… The writing was interesting and I can see why it has turned into a modern classic, but personally I was quite disappointed with what I found. Fans of slowpaced, mostly character-driven stories will probably enjoy this story a lot more though.


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