YVO’S SHORTIES #189 – Dead Girls Don’t Lie & Beach Read

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a TBR jar pick and a new release belonging to different genres… Dead Girls Don’t Lie sadly ended up being a miss for me, but I’m happy to say that Beach Read most definitely lived up to the hype for me.


Title: Dead Girls Don’t Lie
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Finished reading: November 11th 2020 
Pages: 352

“Everyone is equal, right? Just some people are more equal than others.”


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It has been months since my TBR jar decided it was about time for me to finally read Dead Girls Don’t Lie, but somehow I never actually picked it up until now. The blurb sounded interesting enough, and I was curious about it, but I guess in the end my instincts did smell something funny and made me look in the other direction for months. Don’t get me wrong; it is not necessarily a bad read, but most of it turned out to be just so darn cliche! Sure, the ending came as a surprise, but overall there were so many cliches involved, both relating to high school, teenage relationships and immigrant talk (some even felt a bit racist?!)… Especially the way the Mexican community was described and Eduardo’s constant use of ‘boba‘ was a really turn off for me, but that might just be a personal thing. The characters themselves fell rather flat for me, or were at least partly described with cliches and weren’t exactly easy to connect to as a result. What I thought was going to be an investigation into Rachel’s death turned out to be a rather bland and slow journey packed with cliche references to Mexican gangs and high school jocks and students. Dead Girls Don’t Lie didn’t end up being my cup of tea at all, but if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind cliches/bland characters/a slower pace, this story might work better for you.


Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 19th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: November 12th 2020
Pages: 384

“Happy endings don’t matter if the getting there sucks.”


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I’ve honestly been a bit hesitant to pick up my copy of Beach Read. There has been a lot of hype around this title, and you all know how hyped books and me tend to get along… But my curiosity won in the end and I just couldn’t help myself reading it despite the sometimes mixed reviews. And guess what? Beach Read turned out to be an exception to the rule and I loved my time with this story! I’m glad of the warnings this wasn’t going to be a light read though, because I would definitely have expected a romcom judged by the cover… But I think I liked what I found even more. Both January and Gus managed to grow on me quite quickly and I loved the bookish element in Beach Read. Sure, there might be some cliches involved and I felt like the whole ‘enemy to lover‘ trope didn’t reach its full potential, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this was exactly the kind of story I was craving. Heavier topics and sad moments are mixed with lighter ones and I loved the banter between January and Gus. And to my surprise the sexy scenes didn’t even bother me that much, which once again proves I can tolerate them as long as they are written in a certain way… I also liked how everything wrapped up in the end, although I do admit the secondary characters lacked fleshing out a bit. Still, as a whole Beach Read is without a doubt one of my romance highlights of the year and I do hope she will write more similar stories in the future as I like the way she writes her romance.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #186 – We Were The Salt Of The Sea & Anxious People

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today is translated fiction day with two translations… The first, We Were The Salt Of The Sea, somehow sadly didn’t work for me at all, but I absolutely loved my time with Anxious People. No surprise here, as I adore everything Fredrik Backman writes in general…


Title: We Were The Salt Of The Sea
(Enquêteur Moralès #1)
Author: Roxanne Bouchard

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: 2014
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 25th 2020
Pages: 300
(Originally published in French: ‘Nouse étions le sel de la mer’)

“Sometimes all we want is for time to stop catching up with us.”


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Okay… I’m not sure what happened here, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again? I’m still surprised as I’ve never had an Orenda miss before and fellow bloggers seem to love We Were The Salt Of The Sea… But somehow this story just didn’t seem to work at all for me. It might just have been the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact this that I really struggled with both the writing style and plot in general. Somehow, I was never able to connect to the writing, and the catch phrases of some of the characters (‘Heee’ and ‘Christ in a chalice!’) REALLY got on my nerves after a while. Instead of making it easier to recognize the characters, it only made me like both the characters and the story considerably less… Always a complication but even worse in a mostly character-driven story. And as much as I loved the setting and the many descriptions of the sea, the plot was a bit all over the place for me as well. On top of this, We Were The Salt Of The Sea also included one of my mayor pet peeves: cheating. I never react well to this element and although this is a personal reaction, it made me dislike Morales considerably. It didn’t really help improving my reaction to the story in general either… All in all We Were The Salt Of The Sea definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, but most people do seem to enjoy it a lot better so don’t give up on my account.


Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 25th 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 3rd 2020
Pages: 336
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Folk med ångest’)

“Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”


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This was easily one of my most anticipated releases this year and I simply couldn’t wait to pick it up… I know that I am a bit biased when it comes to Fredrik Backman‘s books, but I absolutely adored every single minute I spent with Anxious People. There is just something about his writing and humor that is a match made in heaven for me and this newest story has once again shown me why he is one of my absolute favorite authors. He is an absolute master in creating flawed and strangely likeable characters, and we have another fantastic cast in Anxious People. True, there are a lot of different characters in play here, but each is so unique that it is really easy to keep them apart… And they all add there little something to the plot too. I liked the structure of the plot, with different POVS mixed with police interviews with the different witnesses. You are kept in the dark along with the police officers about what really went on inside that apartment, and I thought that the different twists and the hidden identity of the bank robber was cleverly done. Humor and heavier elements are blended perfectly, and I found myself snickering more than once along the way. Fredrik Backman‘s characters have once again won over my heart and this is hands down one of my favorite stories I have had the chance to read this year.


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ARC REVIEW: Across The Green Grass Fields – by Seanan McGuire

Title: Across The Green Grass Fields
(Wayward Children #6)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 12th 2021
Publisher: Tor.com
Finished reading: October 2nd 2020
Pages: 208

“Anything with enough brain to know itself as an individual will reach out to others, looking for other eyes with which to see the world.”

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

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I’ve been a fan of the Wayward Children series ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and each new installment has been a most-anticipated release without fail. I simply couldn’t resist reading Across The Green Grass Fields almost as soon as my request was approved… I was THAT excited to have this title hanging out on my kindle months early. I most definitely didn’t expect to have mixed feelings about this newest installment though… But it is what it is I guess.

Across The Green Grass Fields is already book number six of the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone perfectly as it only contains new characters. The whole magic behind the ‘door to a different world’ is quite easy to understand without the background knowledge of the previous books, so you wouldn’t have any difficulties understanding the idea behind this story. That said, I did prefer the previous books over this one, so maybe reading them in order is worth it anyway? Across The Green Grass Fields is by no means a bad read, but I just felt that spark of the previous installments was missing here.

I do have to say that I loved having an intersex main character; something I haven’t come across often during my years reading. Regan makes for an interesting character and I liked seeing the contrast between her situation in the ‘real’ world and the Hooflands. That said, I felt that the first part set in the real world dragged on for too long, and the pace was considerably slow there. Especially considering that this is a short story in the first place, and I would have loved to have more focus on the fantasy world. I understand that it was important to give Regan a background without just throwing in the intersex element and be done with it, but it took me a long time to properly warm up to the story with the way this first part was narrated.

I enjoyed the idea behind the Hooflands, with the centaurs, unicorns, kelpies and other creatures. As always, the worldbuilding of the fantasy world the main characters find themselves in is my favorite part of the story, and I would have loved to see even more background. It was interesting to see how the centaurs lived and took Regan in as one of their own, but again it felt a bit slow going and the final part considerably abrupt and quite an anti-climax. Was I surprised by the final twist? Yes. But I can’t say that the ending was exactly all that satisfying.

As a whole, Across The Green Grass Fields was sadly my least favorite Wayward Children story by far to this date… Between the slow parts, abrupt ending and too much focus on the ‘real’ world, the elements I did enjoy (including the worldbuilding of the Hooflands and Regan’s character) just didn’t make up for it. This might just have been me though, as most people did seem to love this story so far.


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ARC REVIEW: The Last Resort – by Susi Holliday

Title: The Last Resort
Author: Susi Holliday
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: December 1st 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: October 28th 2020
Pages: 300

“It’s easy to paint a picture of happiness on your social media channels, when in reality you’re dying inside.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Susi Holliday‘s books for ages now, so I jumped at the chance to read her newest story The Last Resort early. I always love a good locked-room mystery, so I fully thought I was going to find a new favorite with this story after reading the blurb. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ment to be… And sadly the actual story didn’t live up to the blurb at all for me. I’ll try to explain briefly why below; it’s hard to talk about this story without giving away any spoilers and I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who find this story to be a better fit.

Like I said before, I still love the idea behind The Last Resort. I’m a sucker for a good locked-room mystery and this element is definitely present with the seven main characters being ‘trapped’ on a mysterious island. I don’t think the element itself reached its full potential though… Part of this probably had to do with the characters, which sadly were considerably unlikeable. I can live with unlikeable if they are at least interesting and well rounded, but most felt like stereotypes and there were a lot of cliches involved. I wasn’t able to connect to them at all, so I honestly didn’t care less about what happened to them… So the whole suspense around them possibly being in danger was lost to me.

As for the science fiction element… I love a good futuristic technology element when done right (I’m looking at you, John Marrs), but in this case I felt this element lost its mark. Sure, the whole memory-tracking device itself sounds intriguing and adds that technology and science fiction vibe to the typical locked-room thriller. But once again I hoped it to be a bit… I don’t know, more exciting? More thrilling? I can’t put my finger on what exactly would have worked better for me, but I do know that this element didn’t do the story any favors in its current state.

That said, I do have to say that if you look at the writing alone I can’t deny that it’s well written and easy to read. Despite the fact that I wasn’t actually enjoying the story and the pace was quite slow in points (for a story which such a fascinating blurb, nothing much happened most of the time and it was mainly focused on the cast of unlikeable characters), I did somehow finish this story rather quickly. This has a lot to do with the writing itself, so I will definitely try more of her work in the future to see if my reaction is different. The Last Resort, sadly didn’t work for me though, and not in the least because of that over-the-top and rather absurd ending… But I guess your reaction could be completely different depending on how you react to the main characters, pace and the science fiction element.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #156 – Where She Went & Living Dead In Dallas

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a romance binge, one contemporary and one a fantasy read. It turned out to be a hit and miss round: I really enjoyed my time with Where She Went, while I was completely put off by the series after reading Sookie Stackhouse sequel Living Dead In Dallas.


Title: Where She Went
(If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 5th 2011
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: April 2nd 2020
Pages: 297

“I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.”

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After taking years to finally pick up my copy of If I Stay, I decided to read the second book as soon as possible so I won’t forget about the details in the first. And as I was craving a contemporary, Where She Went seemed like the perfect fit for me… I’ve heard people saying that they enjoyed the sequel better than the first book, and I’m definitely joining that group now. While I liked the first book and was especially intrigued by the whole POV from an unconscious character, there was just something about Where She Went that made me enjoy Adam and Mia’s story even more. This time around we see things from Adam’s eyes, and the story takes place three years after the first book ends. Once again I loved just how big of a role music plays in the story. Not only are both main characters successful musicians, but we also get little quotes of Adam’s songs he wrote for Shooting Star’s first big album… Quotes that help show us the effects of what happened in the first book on his life, but also were a nice little touch to give the story that little something extra. I really liked the direction the story decided to take, and the ending was just right for me. If you enjoy a good contemporary romance with sad and happy moments alike, this duology is a great choice. You can technically read Where She Went as a stand-alone as well, although you will be missing out on character background and you might not fully understand their dynamics…


Title: Living Dead In Dallas
(Sookie Stackhouse #2)

Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 26th 2002
Publisher: Ace
Finished reading: April 4th 2020
Pages: 289


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Wait, a vampire book on It’s All About Books?!?! Don’t worry, I’m still very much allergic to vampires, and I won’t be reading another one any time soon… I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s just that somehow I actually really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen of True Blood years ago and I remembered enjoying the first book back when I read it, so I had high hopes for the sequel as well. I guess I should have known… Sadly, the TV series is in this case so much better than the book! Apart from the almost continuous sex scenes (yuk!), I really couldn’t stand Sookie or Bill. Sookie comes over as arrogant, self absorbed, sex addicted and just oh so full of herself… The constant references to her big boobs and curvy body being irresistible made me gag and the fact she was constantly thinking about sex did the same. What happened to the more innocent and tolerable Sookie in book one? TV Sookie definitely didn’t come over this way… And Bill: I like him in the TV series, but he is one arrogant and inconsiderate bastard in the book. The plot itself wasn’t too much to talk about either… I think I’m just going to leave this series be in the future.


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ARC REVIEW: Ruthless Gods – by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Ruthless Gods
(Something Dark And Holy #2)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Finished reading: April 7th 2020
Pages: 432

“It was the time when knives were unsheathed, when plans were created and seen into fruition. It was a time for monsters.”

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

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As soon as I first heard about this series last year I found myself to be in love with both cover and blurb. I was lucky to be able to join the blog tour for Wicked Saints and had a fantastic time reading what was a dark, gothic and simply glorious read. YA fantasy sadly tends to be on the sappy side, but Wicked Saints most definitely had none of that! I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since, and I was stoked to discover my Netgalley wish was actually granted a few months ago. I was fully expecting to fall in love with the sequel too, but somehow that didn’t happen… It might have been my own fault as I didn’t reread the first book to refresh memories or it might have been the fact that my mind simply wasn’t able to cope with high fantasy right now… But the sad fact is that I was seriously underwhelmed by this sequel. I’ll try explain briefly why. First of all I have to state that the beautiful writing is still there, and Ruthless Gods still has that dark and gothic feel. BUT. I felt the spark of the first book was missing, and I struggled to stay focused and interested in the story. There were a few elements that probably contributed…

We have the plot, or rather lack of a proper plot. I felt that there was no solid plot to follow in the sequel and the story felt more like a filler between book one and what is still to come. This made it harder to stay focused… The multiple POV structure and setting changes had the same effect, and distracted instead of enriching the plot and structure of the story. Not only do we have to juggle multiple POVs, but all those strange foreign names and chapter introductions with more foreign names and saints can become confusing and it’s a real chore trying to keep up with them all… On top of that, I wasn’t able to connect to the characters in the same way as I did in Wicked Saints. I struggled considerably with this sequel and even started skimreading at some point as the constant bickering, overdose of strange names and lack of plot really got to me. And no, even the beautiful writing couldn’t rescue that. This might have been the wrong story for me in these strange times, but the fact is that this series has lost its enchantment for me… Don’t give up on this series yet if you enjoyed the first book though, because I’m having a feeling that my reaction to this story resulted into one of those unpopular opinion reviews all over again.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #139 – The Shadow Cabinet & Next Year In Havana

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books I read for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge… The first, The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but the second, Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton, turned out to be absolutely fantastic.


Title: The Shadow Cabinet
(Shades Of London #3)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal 
First published: February 5th 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: December 15th 2019
Pages: 385

“We’re both broken right now. Something’s happened to us. But we can do this. We have to.”


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Say hello to another unpopular opinion ramble! I really enjoyed the first book of the Shades Of London series when I read it back in 2016… And even though I wasn’t as impressed by the sequel when I finally read it a few months back, when I discovered I had to read an urban fantasy for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge my thoughts went to this series almost immediately. I decided to give Rory another shot, and see if the third book would make me fall in love with the series again… Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be and The Shadow Cabinet turned out to be the weakest link of this series yet. I honestly start to believe Shades Of London would have worked better as a stand-alone, going out with a bang after the Jack The Ripper inspired case and just leave it at that… The plot in The Shadow Cabinet seems even more jumbled and farfetched than the sequel, and with many eyebrow raising moments and the characters being possibly even more annoying (Rory, I’m looking at you!) I’m still not sure why I even kept reading. I definitely didn’t enjoy reading about the direction this story seems to be taking, and to be honest I don’t really mind that there still isn’t any news about a possible book four? It’s truly a shame I ended up having this reaction after such a positive first experience with this series, but it is what it is I guess.


Title: Next Year In Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: December 18th 2019
Pages: 394

“You never know what’s to come. That’s the beauty of life. If everything happened the way we wished, the way we planned, we’d miss out on the best parts, the unexpected pleasures.”


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I have to say I’m still kicking myself for not picking up Next Year In Havana sooner… I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I first heard about it last year, and despite the glowing reviews it took me way longer than expected to actually do so. Say hello to another top read of 2019, just in time before the year is over! Oh yes, I loved every single minute of this story and it will without doubt stay with me for a long time… And I also can’t wait to read When We Left Cuba soon and learn more about Beatriz. First things first though, and let’s talk Next Year In Havana. I do love my historical fiction, and the 1958 Cuban setting was both absolutely fascinating, well researched and excellently described. Chanel Cleeton was able to truly make the setting come alive, using detailed descriptions to paint the perfect portrait of a complicated time in Cuban history. This is a story that will not only entertain, but also teaches you about both past and present. Facts are mixed with fiction in a seamless way, and the two complement each other flawlessly.

The story is told using a dual timeline and two different POVs: Elisa in 1958 and her granddaughter Marisol in 2017. Dual timelines can go both ways for me, as it is extremely hard to balance the two correctly and one normally tends to fall short for me. But not in this case. I absolutely loved both present and past chapters and both Elisa and Marisol are the perfect characters to help us understand more about Cuban life and its history. The characters are another big reason I can call this story a new favorite, and I was able to warm up to them almost instantly. Elisa and her sisters, Ana, Pablo, Marisol, Luis… There are so many characters I loved in this story, and they all play their role in teaching us more about Cuba as well. The plot itself is complex, multilayered and shows a thorough research into Cuban history as well as a wonderful romance story to counter the darker elements in Next Year In Havana. This story is an absolute must-read for historical fiction fans!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #134 – The Deep & Red, White And Royal Blue

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around once again two Goodreads Choice Awards nominees… The Deep sadly wasn’t for me, but I definitely understand the love for Red, White & Royal Blue now and I really enjoyed it despite the overdose of steamy scenes.


Title: The Deep
Author: Rivers Solomon

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: November 5th 2019
Publisher: Gallery
Finished reading: November 15th 2019
Pages: 176

“When not properly fortified, a legacy is no more enduring than a wisp of plankton.”


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I know I don’t read a lot of science fiction to begin with, but I was really intrigued by the blurb of The Deep and the promise of a mermaid story with a twist. I confess I haven’t heard the song (then again I never listen to rap), but I like that this novella was inspired by a song. I also still like the premise of this story as well as the worldbuilding itself and the ‘memories’ of Yetu’s people. That said, I really struggled with the execution. I’m not sure if it was the writing style, the structure of the plot or the pace, but something definitely wasn’t working for me and it took me a lot longer than anticipated to finally reach the final page. There are a lot of different characters in play, both in past in present, and at times it was hard to figure out the who, what and when as memories are being dropped on you without a warning. Some chapters are suddenly entirely set in the past without apparent connection to the present storyline, leaving you untethered and wondering what on earth is going on. Between the slow pace and the confusing plot, the original charm of the premise was lost to me and I came really close to just DNFing this story… Even though I did really appreciate the symbolism in The Deep. I seem to be in the minority though, so my experience might just be due to the fact that this story simply isn’t for me.


Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 14th 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Finished reading: November 17th 2019
Pages: 425

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”


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When I recently asked which 2019 romance title I should read first, a lot of people voted for Red, White & Royal Blue. There has been so much hype around this book in general this year and to be honest I’ve been afraid to pick it up myself… But now I’ve read it, I can definitely understand the love for this title. While I do have to confess that the steamy sexy scenes most definitely weren’t for me, I did have a lot of fun reading this story despite them. I think a lot of this has to do with a sublime character development and a snarky humor that sets exactly the right tone. The writing itself is easy on the eye and really made me fly through those pages… And while I’m normally not a fan of politics in my books, somehow that didn’t bother me at all in Red, White & Royal Blue. Like I said before, the real power of this excellent debut is in its main characters. Not only Alex and Henry, but their siblings, friends and those close to them really help taking this story to the next level. Quirky, well developed, easy to like and to root for: it’s hard picking just one favorite as they all have that je ne sais quoi that makes you want to wrap them up and store them in your heart. I loved how things started to develop between Alex and Henry and those emails and messages incorporated into the text were a nice touch. If you are a romance fan and haven’t read Red, White & Royal Blue yet, you are most definitely missing out!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #119 – The Dream Thieves & Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The first a sequel that surprisingly enough ended up disappointing me: The Dream Thieves by  Maggie Stiefvater. Be warned for an upcoming unpopular opinion review! Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram turned out to be just as good as people kept promising though.


Title: The Dream Thieves
(The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Finished reading: August 7th 2019
Pages: 453

“All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers or keptfrom, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches – that’s what will be left at the end of it all.”


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WARNING: it’s unpopular opinion time again!!

I should have known that the unpopular opinion curse wouldn’t stay away… Because even though I did enjoy the first book The Raven Boys back when I read it in December 2015, I can’t say I felt the same about The Dream Thieves. It’s true that I’ve heard people having mixed reactions to this sequel in general, and I fully understand why now. Unlike the first book, The Dream Thieves almost fully focuses on Ronan, and reactions to the sequel will most likely depend on your reaction to Ronan’s character in general. My reaction on Ronan’s character is actually surprisingly neutral; there are some things I like (including heritage and ‘powers’) and other aspects I found rather annoying (including his attitude), but overall I don’t mind him as a character. Having the focus mainly on Ronan in this story means that the magic of the first book is almost completely lost though… Because it’s the dynamics between the four raven boys and Blue that made that story into a success for me. Apart from the shifted focus, I also found The Dream Thieves to be rather overlong and quite boring in points… I actually caught myself skimreading certain parts, and that is never a good sign. I do have hopes for the final two books, as more than one fellow blogger has called this sequel the weakest link of the series, but I think I’m going to take a little break before I actually continue with The Raven Cycle. Maybe the unpopular opinion curse will get bored and will go away that way!


Title: Darius The Great Is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: August 13th 2019
Pages: 320

“The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart.”


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This one has been recommended to me multiple times and I love foreign settings featuring places I’ve never been before, so it’s easy to see why I was really excited to finally pick up Darius The Great Is Not Okay. I have to say it didn’t disappoint at all. While it’s true that it took me a couple of pages before I fully connected to the characters and writing, once I did I was hooked. The power of this story is both in its characters and the descriptions of the setting in Iran and the local culture. Especially the second was thorough, detailed and well developed, making Iran and daily life in Yazd come fully alive for me and it really enhanced my reading experience. Adib Khorram is able to make you feel as if you are right beside Darius in Yazd, discovering more about his family and his roots. Darius made for a very interesting flawed character, his depression and issues with not feeling that he belongs making you think about what it is like to stand in his place and how difficult it can be to overcome a clash of cultures within your own family or even within yourself. Darius doesn’t feel American enough, but doesn’t think he belongs in Iran either, with him not speaking farsi and not knowing a lot about their culture… I really liked how the author developed this theme in what I think is a realistic way; as a Dutch person living in a quite different culture and country (Argentina), I found it really easy to relate to Darius and his struggles. I loved learning more about Iran and seeing the characters grow and develop over time in general…The ending made me kind of sad though. If you enjoy YA fiction with a foreign setting and both interesting and flawed characters, you should definitely read Darius The Great Is Not Okay.


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ARC REVIEW: Along The Broken Bay – by Flora J. Solomon

Title: Along The Broken Bay
Author: Flora J. Solomon
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 1st 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 19th 2019
Pages: 389

“Manila’s magic was gone, replaced by an undercurrent of fear potent enough to be sensed by an observer.”

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

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I have always had a weak spot for historical fiction, and especially if the story is set during WWI or WWII. I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Along The Broken Bay, as you don’t often see a WWII fiction setting in the Philippines and Gina’s story of working in the resistance sounded absolutely fascinating. I was looking forward to fully emerge myself in what I thought would be a new favorite story, but sadly fate had a different reaction for me in store. Because while I still think that the premise of this story is fascinating, unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed the execution all that much. I’ll try to explain below why.

First of all I have to state that the description of the Manila and Zambales mountains settings is thorough and gives us insight in the local flora and fauna. It made the Philippines come alive and gives this WWII fiction read an exotic vibe. I can’t say I was too happy with how the local population was described though, nor how the main characters interacted with them. The demeaning way the locals, their culture and how they interacted was described left me with a very bad taste in my mouth and for me it crossed the line of racial discrimination. I think that the fact that (rich) Americans and Europeans living in Manila might have seen the locals in that way back in the 1940s is no excuse to degrade certain characters in such way. Likewise, I found Gina to be too much of a typical ‘rich white woman with prejudices’ cliche; her constant whining and complaining about the precarious situations she suddenly finds herself in not only distracting but also highly highly annoying. I really couldn’t stand her character, and as the story was basically build around Gina, it was really hard to convince myself to stay invested in the story. In fact, I had such a strong averse reaction to her that I confess that I probably wouldn’t have made it to the final page if this wouldn’t have been an ARC.

The pace in Along The Broken Bay is quite slow as well, and combined with my repulsion for the main character and the way the story treated the local population I ended up struggling considerably to reach the final page. I still think the premise on its own is intriguing, and it was interesting to learn more about how the resistance operated and their network in general. The nightclub was also an interesting twist; the dangers of the operation adding a hint of suspense to the story. The little chapter introductions featuring the thoughts of Gina’s husband Ray while he is separated from his family were likewise a nice touch. And while Along The Broken Bay clearly wasn’t my cup of tea despite my love for the genre, I’ve also seen that most people seem to have a very positive reaction to this story, so definitely don’t give up yet if you are intrigued by the premise.


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