YVO’S SHORTIES #32 – Champion & The Year Of The Rat

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Another YA edition… The first a final book of a trilogy, Champion by Marie Lu, which I didn’t find to be as strong as the first two books. The other title is my first Dutch read of the year. A Dutch translation of The Year Of The Rat by Clare Furniss, which was quite good overall.


Title: Champion
(Legend #3)
Author: Marie Lu

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
First published: November 5th 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: July 8th 2018
Pages: 384

“Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”


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I decided to pick up Legend book number three shortly after finishing the second one as part of the promise to myself to start finishing more series. After enjoying the first two books, I was actually quite surprised I didn’t enjoy the final book of the trilogy as much as the previous two. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think it has to do with the fact that I just didn’t think the plot was as interesting as I would have hoped for a final book. Also, the love triangle really started to get on my nerves… But then again I’m never a fan of those in the first place. Champion wasn’t a bad read, but it lacked the little something extra from the previous books for me. Sure, the writing has the same quality and I guess fans of the genre and series will have a good time with it, but I hoped for something more. This also goes for the ending, which I didn’t like at all. It’s kind of an ending that can go either way for you though, because there are some twists that will definitely mess with your emotions and it depends on how you react to that. All in all not a bad read, but I had hoped for a stronger ending of the Legend trilogy.


Title: The Year Of The Rat
Author: Clare Furniss

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: April 24th 2014
Publisher: Querido
Finished reading: July 10th 2018
Pages: 272
(Read in Dutch: ‘Het Jaar Dat De Wereld Op Zijn Kop Stond’)

“You shouldn’t be wasting your time worrying about what’s going to happen after you die. It’s pointless. Think about what’s happening now. In your life. That’s what’s important. ”


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I still can’t believe I was able to finish my Dutch read of the year this quickly! The Dutch translation of The Year Of The Rat was quite a fast read and that definitely helped me reach the final page easily. I’m not a fan of reading in Dutch, but I liked this story well enough and it was interesting to see what loss and grief can do to a person. Although not perfect, the story itself was well developed and I definitely appreciated that there almost wasn’t any romance included in the plot. The Year Of The Rat is a mostly family focused and character driven story where we follow the main character Pearl as she tries to deal with the fact that her mother died giving birth to her little sister. While I can’t say I was able to connect to the main character, there is no doubt some very powerful emotions are described; it’s a story that will make you think. If you are looking for something easy and fluffy, you are definitely looking at the wrong story, because you will find some very difficult moments in this read.


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ARC REVIEW: Hell To Pay – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: Hell To Pay
(Detective Kay Hunter #4)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 16th 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: July 10th 2018
Pages: 324

“In all my years working on this team, I’ve never seen anything as bad as what’s down here.”

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

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The fact this that I’ve become a huge fan of Kay Hunter in the short time I’ve gotten to know her. I have absolutely loved my time with this detective so far and book number four is no exception. This might just be my new favorite! Although it’s hard to pick favorites when all the books are good… So what about Hell To Pay? As always, the writing is sublime, the plot well developed and the story definitely has some shocking surprises in store. Oh yes, if you thought the previous books were intense, you are in for one hell of a ride with Hell To Pay. As always, although the books could be read as a stand-alone, I advice reading them in order to fully understand the character background. Plus, they are all so good you won’t regret spending more time with them in the first place. Hell To Pay offers both a new crime investigation as well as new developments to an existing subplot that has been keeping readers intrigued since book one. There is a LOT of development on that part so if you were desperate to find out more, book number four will more than deliver. And make sure to prepare yourself for an explosive ending! Oh yes, I had a blast with Hell To Pay and I think the title is spot on. Now bring it on, book number five!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first three books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

What seems like a road traffic accident as first, turns out to be something a whole lot darker and disturbing as Detective Kay Hunter and her team start investigating and expose a serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women. The investigation doesn’t come without danger though, especially since there might be connections to those who wanted to silence her all those months ago… But Kay Hunter is determined to keep going until the full truth comes out.

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The Detective Kay Hunter series is without doubt one of my favorite discoveries of 2018 and the books just keep delivering that same high quality of writing, plot and character development. I like my main characters strong and with their own personality, and Kay Hunter is one that will be able to win over your heart in record time. Hell To Pay might just be the best book yet, or at least the story with the most intensity of the bunch. Be ready for some very explosive plot twists and scenes! This one will leave you staring at the last page with your heart beating like a maniac. SO good!


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ARC REVIEW: Her Mother’s Grave – by Lisa Regan @bookouture @Lisalregan

Title: Her Mother’s Grave
(Detective Josie Quinn #3)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 25th 2018
Pages: ?

“She is spiteful, jealous, and vengeful, and most of all, she’s unpredictable. And very, very dangerous.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I can’t seem to resist a good detective thriller and this series is no exception. After the rollercoaster rides with book number one and two, deciding whether to read book number three was an easy one. And I have to say Her Mother’s Grave is the strongest book yet of this series, and it’s without doubt my new favorite. Lightning speed pace, excellent writing, dark, twisted, disturbing, suspenseful… Oh yes, this story will keep you in its claws and there is a lot to love here. Her Mother’s Grave reads like a train and will mess with your mind. The personal life of Josie Quinn plays a huge role in this book, the story showering us with shocking details about her past. You will need an extra hand to keep your jaw from dropping to the floor as you discover more and more facts about her life. Trigger warnings for abuse, violence, neglect and graphic scenes in general, but if you think you can stomach that, you are in for one hell of a ride. Josie Quinn will have to face the impossible and we are right beside her as she tries to keep her life together. Imagine a war zone with plot twists bombs dropping on you, danger around every corner and no clue how to reach the ending safely… Trust me, Her Mother’s Grave is a story you won’t soon forget.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Two young boys are playing in the woods behind a trailer park when they find human bones buried beneath a tree. Detective Josie Quinn and her team are called in to investigate, and Josie has a very uncomfortable feeling about the case. She knows the spot where they found the remains, since she used to play in those same woods as a child, trying to escape for a few hours from her abusive mother. When a rare dental condition confirms the bones belong to a teenager murdered thirty years ago, a girl with the same name as her mother, Josie realizes she has no other choice but to try and track down her mother… Even if she wants nothing more than just leave the past buried.

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If you like your thrillers fast, suspenseful and filled with plot twists and shocking surprises, you will be in for a treat with this one. The first two books of the series were already great reads, but Her Mother’s Grave is without doubt my new favorite. Things get close and personal and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time trying to figure out both what happened all those years ago and what was happening in the present. Oh yes, I had a blast reading this book and I’m already looking forward to the next one!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #31 – Prodigy & Turtles All The Way Down

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The first book is the sequel of a series I was supposed to continue ages ago: Prodigy by Marie Lu. It was just as entertaining as the first book! The other title is one I wasn’t sure I wanted to pick up, but after seeing Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm mention it as her biggest surprise of 2018 so far I decided to give it a go. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green… And maybe it was just that I wasn’t in the mood for it, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.


Title: Prodigy
(Legend #2)
Author: Marie Lu

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
First published: January 29th 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: July 3rd 2018
Pages: 372

“Maybe I’ve been trying to escape the wrong place and run away from the wrong things.”


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I read Legend back in 2015, and even though I quite enjoyed the first book and vowed to read the sequels soon, somehow that never happened. One of my goals this year is to finish those poor neglected started series, and when I came across my copy of Prodigy I decided to pick it up on a whim. It was surprisingly easy to pick up where the first book had left off without rereading Legend, and there is no doubt this sequel is a very entertaining read. I managed to finish it in no time at all! The dystopian world is quite interesting; not that original maybe but I liked the dynamics. Could I have done without the multiple love triangle trope? Hell yes. Did that made me lower the rating slightly? Positive. But otherwise I found Prodigy to be a fast-pace and engaging YA dystopian read with a lot of promise for book number three. A healthy dose of action and twists are in place, and while not the most original plot, it will manage to grab your attention anyway. I’m looking forward to find out what the final book will bring.


Title: Turtles All The Way Down
Author: John Green

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 6th 2018
Pages: 298

“True terror isn’t being scared, it’s not having a choice in the matter.”


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There is always such a hype around John Green‘s books and I’m sure you are already aware of just how well hyped books and me are getting along. I had made a promise to myself to leave his books be for now after a few ‘it’s not you, it’s probably me‘ experiences… But my curiosity was piqued by Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm when she mentioned Turtles All The Way Down was her biggest surprise of 2018 so far. Do I regret reading the story? No, because I would have always wondered otherwise. Is it a bad read? Not exactly. But it was definitely one of those cases where the story just didn’t work for me. Which is actually kind of strange, because I’m always intrigued by a story with a mental illness theme and I do love my quirky and unique characters. But there was just something about Aza that just didn’t do it for me. There is nothing wrong with the character development and I think John Green did a great job giving us a peek inside her head and how it would be like being her. It just didn’t work for me in particular. The same goes for Daisy, although I do love the fact she writes fan fiction. The plot is a bit farfetched, but it adds a certain air of mystery to the story, transforming it from just another contemporary romance with mental illness angle to something a little more complicated. I do have to admit the pace was pretty slow though, and I could have done without annoying YA tropes like instalove. And was the story exactly credible as a whole? I’m still on the fence about that. But I guess fans of the genre who like their characters unique, flawed and intriguing will probably like Aza and her story as well. Hello, new hyped title on my unpopular opinion review list… Do make yourself comfortable.


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ARC REVIEW: The Getaway Girls – by Dee MacDonald @bookouture

Title: The Getaway Girls
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 30th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 7th 2018
Pages: 

“Was the world her oyster? Silly cliché, that! The world was more like the carrot, dangling seductively in front of her nose.”

*** 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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Wait, what? It’s All About Books featuring a contemporary romance read, and with such a high rating at that? Don’t be too surprised, because I can enjoy the genre every once in a while if I’m in the mood for it. And this is exactly what happened when I saw The Getaway Girls. Suffering from the so-called travel bug myself, I love road trip stories. It doesn’t really matter to me if I have visited those places myself, as reading about them makes it feel as if I were on a mini vacation in the first place and I love discovering new places to visit… But when I found out part of the story was set in Italy, I was sold. I have such great memories of this country and I couldn’t wait to discover what the main characters would encounter! I picked up The Getaway Girls on a day I really needed something light, entertaining, fun and engaging to distract myself, and this story delivered exactly that. I LOVED that the three main characters are seventy-year-olds and that they going on a road trip together. The character development is spot on and I really liked just how different their personalities and backgrounds were. It was great to see how they reacted to each other and they journey, and I had a wonderful time following them on their journey. It’s not all fun as they are trying to run away from Maggie’s dodgy partner Ringer, and I really liked that aspect of the plot as it added a little suspense to the whole story as well. But my favorite part of The Getaway Girls has without doubt to do with the descriptions of the places they visited. It almost felt I was on vacation in France and Italy as well! A welcome distraction from the cold winter months down here in Argentina… I had a blast reading this story and I liked how each of the three main characters got her own ending. It’s definitely made me curious about The Runaway Wife as well as I really liked Connie’s character! If you are a fan of the genre, this one is a must-read.

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Connie is free to make her own decisions for the first time in decades, and she has been dreaming of an adventure. She doesn’t seem to be the only one though, as Gill and Maggie from her flower arranging class love the sound of her plans. And soon the two want to tag along with her idea of traveling to southern Italy in a campervan to find her roots. A journey that will take them through France first and will take them to places and new experiences they never thought they would be having… Will the three be able to reach their destination safely?

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If you love a good road trip story with well developed and interesting characters, lots of sightseeing, funny moments, a dash of suspense and a dose of romance that is just right, you will love The Getaway Girls as well. I had so much fun following Connie, Gill and Maggie around and I loved the fact that they were seventy-year-olds, as I don’t see older main characters around that often. Entertaining, uplifting, a pinch of suspense and a healthy dose of summer romance… This story will make you forget about your own problems for a while as you join the main characters on their journey.


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ARC REVIEW: The Secret – by K.L. Slater @bookouture

Title: The Secret
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 27th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 4th 2018 
Pages: 

“Sometimes you know what’s good for you but you go and do just the opposite anyway.”

*** 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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The fact is that I’m a huge fan of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers, so any time I see a new title popping up, my heart skips a beat. The Secret is without doubt another great title to welcome to the family. While not my absolute favorite of the bunch, there is no doubt that this newest psychological thriller is a very strong read with an ending that will leave you gaping at the last page and unable to utter something coherently. Oh yes, you might think you have this story all figured out early on (I’m including myself here), but this is all a smokescreen. The Secret has a couple of masterly incorporated plot twist bombs included that will shake you to the core and will dishevel you. Did I have a very STRONG dislike for Louise? Yes. Did I think Alice was a mayor pushover? Yes. Did those things sometimes frustrate me? Most definitely. But despite the unlikeable characters that made you want to hit something or someone and talk sense into them, you will find yourself completely hooked as you try to figure out what is really going on. And if you like surprises, you will be in for a real treat with the final reveals. Make sure to add The Secret to your wishlist if you are a psychological thriller fan, because this story is one of those rollercoaster rides that starts out slow but will have you breathless by the final page!

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The sisters Alice and Louise used to be close, but their different personalities made them drift apart. But as Louise is struggling to juggle her new promotion at work with her eight-year-old son Archie, she has been starting to drop him off at her sister Alice’s flat. As Alice starts spending more time with Archie, she is starting to suspect something is off… And she has the feeling Archie might be hiding a secret or two. He isn’t the only one hiding something though…

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Let me tell you a secret: the secrets and twists in The Secret will have you flabbergasted by the time you reach the last page. Oh yes, you will be in for one hell of a surprise and shocking ending with this one… Make sure to brace yourself. It is true that the strong dislike for one of the main characters did get a little frustrating, but the story would not have been the same otherwise and the suspense and general plot made up for it. What a read!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #32: Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator & Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties: Children edition! I realized I have barely read any MG or Children books in the first half (only the one), so I decided to remedy that by reading not one but two what you call classic children stories. I must have read Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl at least a dozen times as a kid… I was a huge fan of his work and it’s always been great to revisit the stories. This one is not my favorite, but still entertaining enough. And I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t had contact with Dr. Seuss‘ work as a child, but it’s good to finally discover it now. Better late than never right?


Title: Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
(Charlie Bucket #2)
Author: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1972
Publisher: Puffin Books
Finished reading: July 5th 2018
Pages: 190

“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”


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Roald Dahl was one of my childhood favorite authors, and I must have read his books hundreds of times over the years. I have read Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator multiple times as well, although not as many as some other titles. I didn’t remember why, but now I’ve had the chance to reread this story as an adult, I do understand. While without doubt still an entertaining story with the wonderful illustrations of Quentin Blake and the same writing that is able to enchant child and adult, I don’t think it’s as strong as his other books. Or in fact the first book and highly popular Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. After such a strong first book, the sequel falls kind of flat for me and doesn’t have the same magical feel despite the space adventure. It’s not a bad read and children will still enjoy it, but they probably won’t ask you to read it over and over again unless they are obsessed by anything space related.


Title: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Author: Dr. Seuss

Genre: Children, Fiction
First published: January 22nd 1990
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Finished reading: July 6th 2018
Pages: 48

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”


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I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t had contact with Dr. Seuss‘ work as a child other than a movie/cartoon or two… It might be too late to remedy that, but better late than never right? I was lent a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and I’ve been looking forward to pick it up. As someone who has had the travel bug for a long time now, I thought it would be an appropriate read, but what I didn’t know is just how much I would be able to connect to this picture book. For a story that is ment for such a young audience, it is surprising just how much you will be able to relate to the underlying message as an adult. The illustrations and easy and well written prose are to help kids understand and enjoy, but I truly think this is a story for all ages. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! has a strong moral message and shows us that there is a whole world out there… Waiting for us to just step outside and discover it. Ups and downs are normal, but the thing is to just keep going. This one will go straight to my must-read list for any future kids we’ll be having one day.


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