ARC REVIEW: Deadly Waters – by Dot Hutchison

Title: Deadly Waters
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 31st 2020
Pages: 302

“What a wasted life if your death is met largely with relief. Sad and, well… horrible.”

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

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Oh boy… I certainly didn’t expect to have this reaction to Dot Hutchison‘s newest story at all. I mean, I loved her The Collector series, and I fully expected to have a similar reaction to Deadly Waters too. I confess that I requested this title months ago without even reading the blurb (something I tend to do when I’ve loved multiple books by an author), and I started reading this story without reading the already available reviews first… I kind of wish I would have done that now, because I would have been warned at least that way. Warned, you say? Yes, sadly Deadly Waters wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way. I’ll try to explain why this book didn’t work for me below and I’ll try not to turn it into a rant along the way (no promises though).

So… Basically, Deadly Waters is all about an over the top, exaggerated man-hating world where all men are abusing, rapist bastards and the girls on the Florida campus are all in constant danger. You would think I must be exaggerating with that description, but sadly this is an all too accurate summary of what you will find in this first book of a new series… And this is where it all starts going downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I normally applaude authors for bringing attention to abuse/rape victims and the struggles they have to face while trying to find justice, but doing so with such a negative vibe simply has the opposite effect. And then we’re not even talking about the credibility of it all… Oh yes, this was definitely a miss for me.

It doesn’t stop with that constant negativity and hate oozing out of the pages though. Oh no, there were a lot of other elements that unfortunately didn’t work for me either. The plot itself feels extremely exaggerated and over the top, using excessive violence and attacks to create an atmosphere were all men are predators and every girl is in constant danger. With exaggeration I’m talking multiple attacks on just about every female character in play and just about every male character popping up acting like a bastard. How on earth is this credible? How on earth is this supposed to help abuse/rape victims finally find their voice? It only makes for uncomfortable and trigger warning worthy reading, all doused with so much hate and negativity that it was hard to swallow. This lack of credibility was omnipresent and continued until the very end… Another nail on the coffin.

To make things worse, even the characters didn’t make up for it. Instead of an interesting and well developed cast of characters, we are dealing with what is basically a group of college student cliches. The good girl, the bad girl, the silent girl, the crush on the older male, the drunk college boys, the bastards… And I can go on and on. Apart from the fact that it lacks originality and doesn’t add dept to the story, the characters themselves didn’t really experience any development either. Instead, they just kept behaving as cliches; the female characters raging at the world and how all men are bastards and they should get what they deserve. Ugh, I’m getting angry all over again just trying to type down my thoughts, and that’s not me angry at what happens in the book, but angry with the book itself. It’s normally a good sign when a book manages to provoke strong emotions, but somehow I don’t think this was the emotion they were looking for.

Let’s pause this negativity and try to add some positive thoughts instead. What I did think had potential was the whole murder part of the plot with the alligators. How ingenious is that?! Especially how it relates to the college itself with its Gator mascott and all… Those chapters set from the killer’s POV where a bit of a relief, even though even those chapters were doused with negativity and man-hate. Talking about the killer: I actually saw that twist coming early on and I basically only kept reading to hopefully discover I was wrong… But I guess I wasn’t that lucky. I can’t deny that the story made the most of its Florida setting though.

Wow, this has really turned into a rant after all… I guess I really did have strong feelings about this book that needed to come out. I’ll stop now as these rambles are becoming way too long already, and leave you with a short summary before I sign off. Basically, with all that anger and hate literally streaming out off the pages, Deadly Waters turns into a very VERY unappetizing read. Combine this with the undeveloped character cliches, the exaggerated plot with excessive violence and attacks and lack of credibility in general, I really wish I would have just opted to DNF Deadly Waters instead. Am I sad to feel this way about a story I had highly anticipated? Yes. But that doesn’t make my reaction any less real, and judging the other reviews I’ve seen so far I’m not the only one who feels this way either. You’ve been warned!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #176 – The Glass Hotel & Dark Pines #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to pick up for a while now. Sadly, The Glass Hotel somehow didn’t work for me at all, but I had a great time with the first Tuva Moodyson book.


Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: July 29th 2020 
Pages: 302

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.”


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So… I’m still not sure what happened here, but I guess it is unpopular opinion time again? I loved Station Eleven back when I read it in 2018, and I fully expected to have a repeat experience in The Glass Hotel. It was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I still can’t wrap my head around my negative reaction to the writing and story itself. It might just be that I’m not in the right mindset for this story right now, but the fact is… I REALLY didn’t enjoy my time with The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing at all, the plot and POV switches felt all over the place and I struggled to keep everyone apart as well as to try and keep track of what part of the plot puzzle fitted where. I loved her writing in Station Eleven, so I’m a bit shocked to be honest to feel this way about her newest story, but it is what it is I guess. The fact that I started skimreading about a third into the story and had almost no motivation whatsoever to continue is a huge warning sign on its own… I’m so sad and disappointed I feel this way about such a highly anticipated story; especially since I seem to be the only one with such a negative reaction so far. Definitely don’t give up on this story on my account, as you probably won’t have that pesky unpopular opinion curse sticking to your back like I do… I might give The Glass Hotel a second chance in the future though to see if it just wasn’t the right time for this story at the moment, or if the story simply isn’t for me.


Title: Dark Pines
(Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1)
Author: Will Dean 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Finished reading: August 2nd 2020
Pages: 323

“Details are important, they can have consequences.”


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I’ve rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre in recent years, and I’ve been meaning to meet up with Tuva Moodyson for quite some time now. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with this series, and my instincts hit the nail on the head. Dark Pines turned out to be an excellent start of a series I will be continuing very soon! I’ve followed the author on Twitter for a while now, and I love how he uses his experience living in Sweden to give us a thorough and realistic description of the Swedish setting. It really made the small town of Gavrik come alive for me, and set the right atmosphere for this Nordic noir gem. The writing drew me right in, and Tuva makes for a fascinating main character. The fact that she is deaf (although she can hear with hearing aids) is something you don’t see every day, and I really liked the journalism angle of the story. Dark Pines is part cold case and part active murder investigation set in the middle of the Swedish forrest. Through Tuva, we get to know the different characters and possible suspects in play, and it is without doubt an interesting cast. The plot has its twists and turns, and while there was some repetition and I saw some twists coming, overall Dark Pines was a solid start of a series I can’t wait to continue.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #175 – Fruit Of The Drunken Tree & The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books I’ve had really high expectations for… Sadly, Fruit Of The Drunken Tree didn’t live up to those expectations at all, but The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill turned out to be a delightful read.


Title: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: July 21st 2020
Pages: 304

“War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forest of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

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Okay… I’m still not sure what happened here, as I really expected to find a new favorite in this story instead. I’ve always had a special interest in stories set in Latin America, and even more so if they are related to the drugs world and/or war on drugs… I thought this story with its 1990s Colombian setting would be a perfect fit for me, and the blurb of Fruit Of The Drunken Tree sounded fantastic as well, but somehow in the end it wasn’t ment to be. Even though I still believe the premise is both powerful, shocking and heartbreaking, the story itself failed to blow me away. I think the main reason I had such a strong negative reaction to Fruit Of The Drunken Tree despite my fascination for the topic had probably to do with the fact that I felt a strong aversion towards the writing style. I didn’t feel it flowed properly and I never connected to the writing, making it very hard to convince myself to keep reading as a result. I have to confess that I skimread at least half of the story; wanting to DNF, but not being able to let the story go completely until I knew what happened. This mostly had to do with the plot and the historical details rather than the main characters themselves, who in turn I never managed to warm up to either. I think this might have been due to the way they were described as well as the way they acted, or maybe even due to the fact that the writing style itself rubbed me the wrong way to such extreme. Either way, sadly Fruit Of The Drunken Tree ended up mosty definitely not being my cup of tea.


Title: The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: July 23rd 2020
Pages: 351

“She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

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I have been craving a good contemporary, and I admit that I have been eyeing The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill for a while now. I love bookish elements in my stories, and this book sounded like a perfect fit… And I definitely ended up having a brilliant time with this story. As I already expected, Nina was easy to like and relate to, and I loved getting to know her better. The characters in general are easy to connect to and I enjoyed spending time with them. Of course I love just how big of a role both books and pop culture play in Nina’s life and the story itself; with references to multiple books, the Harry Potter fandom, Game Of Thrones, The Simpsons, Friends… And we have the bookstore itself in the spotlight too of course. The plot might be a bit cheesy and predictable in points, but personally I was having too much fun to be bothered by it. The romance is quite cheesy as well, but as I liked both characters I really didn’t mind all that much either. I loved seeing Nina connect to the newly found family, and the trivia element was brilliant. The writing itself is super engaging and I literally flew through this story. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill as much as I did!


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ARC REVIEW: The Cry Of The Lake – by Charlie Tyler

Title: The Cry Of The Lake
Author: Charlie Tyler
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 21st 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Finished reading: July 7th 2020
Pages: 263

“Experience had taught me how to play this game. The rules were always changing, but the skill required to partake remained the same: buckets of patience.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first saw The Cry Of The Lake, but I was intrigued by the blurb as well and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. I was looking forward to this story, but somehow sadly I wasn’t all too impressed by what I found. I’m having a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong for me, but I’ll try to explain which elements didn’t work for me below.

The first thing that stands out is the structure of the plot. The Cry Of The Lake has a multiple POV structure and is divided into three different POVs following the three most present female characters: Grace, Lily and Flo. This kind of structure can really spice up a story, but sadly I didn’t think they actually complemented each other and ended up being distracting instead. The POV switches only further interrupted an already quite erratic pace and made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story itself… The fact that the characters themselves didn’t feel realistic and were hard to like didn’t really help either. I’m not sure if it was lack of development or simply the way they were represented and acted, but none of them actually convinced me and this always turns the story in that much more of a struggle.

As for the plot itself… I felt it was just too chaotic and over the top; both the plot development and plot twists seemed unrealistic and weren’t able to convince me. And as much as I love a puzzle and lots of question marks in my thrillers, I think in the case of The Cry Of The Lake there were just too many riddles and the lack of information was actually confusing and rather frustrating instead of it adding the intended dose of suspense. This might just have been a personal reaction, but it is what it is I guess… On top of this, I wasn’t able to warm up to the writing either; up to the point that I was starting to feel the urge to skimread… And this is of course never a good sign. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for, although I do seem to be in the minority so this might just not have been the right story for me at the moment.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #167 – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time & Finding Dorothy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a modern classic and a more recent release I’ve been meaning to read ever since it was released… My time with The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time sadly didn’t up being successful, but Finding Dorothy did hit the mark for me.


Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 31st 2003
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: May 30th 2020 
Pages: 292

“I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them”


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I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be… First of all, I have to say that I do applaude the originality of the writing style as well as the author enabling us to get a glimpse inside the head of a fifteen-year-old teenager on the autism spectrum. It shows that the author really investigated the matter thoroughly and it’s without doubt the strongest point of this book. The thing is… I somehow got tired of that unique writing style real fast, and the tone sounded really young to be considered YA to be honest. I know Christopher is on the autism spectrum and not like other teenagers, but still… I also hated the fact that animal cruelty appeared in the story, and especially in this banal way. And I wasn’t a fan of the whole cheating/lying about Mother angle either to be honest. All in all I found myself to be unable to connect to this story and I confess that I skimread most of the second half. I still love the idea behind this story and the fact that is shines a spotlight on autism, but sadly the execution just didn’t work for me. Oh well, at least I know this one wasn’t for me now.


Title: Finding Dorothy
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 352

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about Finding Dorothy last year and glowing reviews started popping up. The idea of learning the story behind the famous The Wizard Of Oz book and movie based on real historical facts sounded absolutely fascinating, and I think it’s one of the reasons this book worked so well for me. Basically, Finding Dorothy gives us two for one: not only do we get to follow the making of the The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Garland in 1939, but we also go back in time as we get to know both the author Frank L. Baum and his wife Maud. The story switches back between past and present, using the main character Maud as a red thread to weave the two different storylines together… Both storylines complimented each other; the more glamorous 1939 setting giving contrast to the sometimes more harsh and even dire circumstances Maud and Frank found themselves in over the years. While I did find the pace to be a tad slow in parts, the story as a whole did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time learning more about Maud and her family as well as the making of the original movie. Especially little references to the future book that started popping up and being able to read more about Frank’s (probable) inspiration was a wonderful touch. This is fiction mixed with historical facts at its best, and both historical fiction and The Wizard Of Oz fans will be delighted.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #161 – The Guest Cat & The One-In-A-Million Boy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of contemporary and two titles I’ve been looking forward to: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide and The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Sadly both ended up disappointing me…


Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 2001
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: April 26th 2020
Pages: 146
(Originally written in Japanese: ‘猫の客 [Neko no kyaku]’)

“There’s a photographer who says cat lovers always believe their own cat is better looking than anyone else’s. According to her, they’ve all got blinders on.”


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I’ve been curious about this title ever since I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles last year and saw it recommended under similar Japanese fiction titles… I think it’s no secret that I’m a huge catlover, so I was looking forward to dive into some cat infused fiction again. It’s easy to say that I ended up to be quite quite disappointed by The Guest Cat instead. In fact, I’m really not sure why this book even has this title, as the focus is mostly on the guest house and the couple which POV the story is narrated from… Sure, we have Chibi and later some other cats, but they didn’t really play as big of a role as I thought they would. Instead, The Guest Cat is a story where nothing much happens, and it’s mostly one elaborate description after the other. And while I can appreciate beautifully written descriptions, it was just too much to have to read a story build up out of 90% of those descriptions and only 10% what you can call a very meager plot. The writing didn’t fully convince me either (I think the phrase ‘lost in translation’ might apply here), and overall I had a really hard time keeping focused. In fact, I struggled reaching that final page, and the only reason I finished it is because it’s so short in the first place. The open ending was yet another disappointment, and I was honestly seriously underwhelmed by the whole experience.


Title: The One-In-A-Million Boy
Author: Monica Wood

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: April 29th 2020
Pages: 336

“How tranquilizing it was to arm yourself with information, how consoling to unpack the facts and then plan them like fence pickets, building a sturdy pen in which you stood alone, cosseted against human fallibility.”


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I’ve been curious about The One-In-A-Million Boy ever since I first heard about it a few years back, and both the cover and blurb had me convinced I was going to enjoy my time with this story. Sadly, I somehow ended up having mixed thoughts instead… I’m not sure if it’s just the wrong time for me to read this story, as my reading taste has been all over the place in these strange times, but the fact is that I somehow expected more of this story. There were things I loved in The One-In-A-Million Boy, while other elements of the story ended up letting me down a bit… The main star of the story is 104-year-old Ona of course, who I adored and she is basically one of the sole reasons I kept reading. The glimpses you get of the boy makes it really easy to like him too and it makes you wish you could have met him properly… I loved learning more about Ona’s past and she is such a fascinating character and oh so easy to connect to; the boy is quirky and very loveable too. As for the other characters: Quinn isn’t too bad and I liked the music elements he helped including in the plot. I wasn’t a fan of Belle at all though and her actions and the way she keeps treating Quinn were starting to get very very annoying. I felt like I would have loved a story solely based on Ona and the boy more, as they made up the best part of this story and I felt the other characters and subplot started to let the story down. I do get that one of the big elements, grief and moving on, wouldn’t be possible without things going the way they are, but still… Somehow I just expected more of The One-In-A-Million Boy, and the actual story, while by no means a bad read, just fell a little flat for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #160 – Woven In Moonlight & From Twinkle With Love

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez turned out to be just as wonderful as the cover, but sadly From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon failed to hit the mark for me.


Title: Woven In Moonlight
(Woven In Moonlight #1)

Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Finished reading: April 20th 2020
Pages: 384

“Catalina says that people are like books. Some you want to read and enjoy; some you hate before you’ve even read a word.”


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I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to read Woven In Moonlight as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover, but the cover wasn’t the only thing that won me over. Oh no, it was also the blurb and the promise of a YA fantasy infused with Bolivian culture and folkore… I love books which incorporate foreign cultures and as someone who has had the pleasure to get a glimpse of Bolivia during one of my travels, I was looking forward to see its customs and culture incorporated into a story. And boy, did the author do a splendid job! I know the story might not be for everyone as it’s filled with Spanish words as well as Bolivian food and culture references that might become tedious if you don’t understand Spanish (there’s a glossary at the end though!). BUT. I personally loved this fusion of both languages and the simple Spanish phrases, references to Bolivian food and culture impregnated every single page and chapter of Woven In Moonlight; making the Bolivian vibe fully come alive and taking this fantasy story to the next level. Another bonus? There is hardly any romance involved (although we do have the ‘enemy to lover’ cliche), and the story itself focuses on the development of the fantasy world and characters instead while also incorporating references to real world conflicts including the coca industry. I really liked the magical elements in Woven In Moonlight too, and most characters were easy to like. I can definitely recommend this book if you enjoy YA high fantasy with a worldbuilding that mixes parts of the real world with fantastical elements, if don’t mind the use of a considerable amount of Spanish words and phrases in the writing and love a story that is fantasy first, and romance last.


Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: April 23rd 2020
Pages: 337

“Sometimes I worry I don’t know who I really am. Sometimes I’m afraid nothing I do will ever be enough to set me apart.”


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Well hello, unpopular opinion review, I guess we meet again… I probably should have known! I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi back when I read it, and I’ve been wanting to try more of Sandhya Menon‘s books ever since. I was craving a cute contemporary, so I decided to pick up From Twinkle, With Love on a whim as I thought it would be exactly the story I needed at the time. I guess I was wrong! Sure, there is no doubt that this story is the typical cutesy contemporary romance read I was looking for… There were a few elements I loved, including a little insight in Indian culture, diverse characters and the whole film industry elements. BUT. There were also quite a few things that not only turned me off, but started to infuriate me. First of all, the love triangle (square?). Seriously, why o why do we have to deal with that?! It’s like an overdose of cringeworthy romance cliches, and the whole secret admirer thing was so obvious that it made me feel even more annoyed that Twinkle never suspected anything. Talking about Twinkle, I absolutely hated her attitude and behavior towards others. The whole, ‘I like him, but he isn’t popular so I can’t be with him because I need to be with someone who is’ just disgusted me and I seriously feel bad for Sahil for having to put up with her at all. Talk about warped life priorities and not respecting others! And sure, the format was interesting with the diary entries and added texts, emails and such, but there were so many things that bothered me that I just couldn’t properly appreciate it. In short, between the high school cliches, love square, despicable behavior of Twinkle and the writing sounding too forced, I really struggled reaching that final page… Oh yes, From Twinkle, With Love definitely didn’t have that spark for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #157 – The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper & Meet Cute

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of contemporary, although only one of them was successful… I’ve been meaning to read The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper for years now, and I’m definitely glad I finally did. On the other hand, I was looking forward to a cute contemporary romance read, but sadly the cover of Meet Cute was false advertisement and the sexy and considerably dark contemporary read wasn’t what I hoped for or enjoyed.


Title: The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper
Author: Phaedra Patrick

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: January 29th 2016
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: April 9th 2020 
Pages: 336

“Some people live for the day and don’t look back. Why look back at the past if you’re happy with the present?”


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I’ve been meaning to read The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper for years now, and I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so now… I loved my time with Arthur Pepper! I had my suspicions after rereading the blurb I would enjoy this book, and the story definitely has that A Man Called Ove vibe. Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper has led an ordinary life and is still grieving his wife who passed away almost a year ago. He loves to keep a schedule and prefers to avoid social obligations… Until he finds a charm bracelet belonging to his late wife that he has never seen before, and he decides to try and discover the stories behind the charms. The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper will bring both tears as well as a smile to your face as you follow Arthur on his journey. His character was easy to warm up to, and the other characters in play were likewise (mostly) easy to like. It’s a proper feel-good story and tearjerker in one, and without doubt the exact right read I needed in these strange times. The writing is wonderful and makes it really easy to keep turning those pages… I finished The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper in no time at all. I really liked the development of Arthur’s character too and the ending was satisfying enough too. If you enjoy the contemporary genre, this story is an excellent choice.


Title: Meet Cute
Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 9th 2019
Publisher: Forever
Finished reading: April 11th 2020
Pages: 384

“I think you learn how to live with holes in your heart. You can’t patch them up, or plug them with other people, but you find ways to make it bearable, if that makes sense.”


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Aaaaaand I call this one: fooled by the cover! I was looking for a cute contemporary romance read to distract myself, and as soon as I saw Meet Cute I thought I had hit the jackpot. I was willing to forgive the sexy part as I really needed a romantic comedy in my life… But I guess the cover was completely false advertisement, as Meet Cute is mostly a considerably dark and depressing contemporary read which deals alternately with grief after the death of both parents in an accident and with a whole bunch of sexy scenes and cringeworthy ‘enemy to lover‘ trope cliches. I can overcome sexy scenes if the rest of the story is good enough to distract, but in this case it just wasn’t ment to be. The characters lacked a proper development beyond cliches for me; especially the character dynamics and the easy way Kailyn overcomes her issues and forgives Dax so easily. I think the only positive part was the interaction between Emme, Kailyn and Dax, but overall there was just something about the writing that didn’t do it for me. Too many cliches and I found the dialogues to be rather lacking too… Also, that ending was way too convenient and rushed. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time once again!


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ARC REVIEW: Keep You Close – by Karen Cleveland

Title: Keep You Close
Author: Karen Cleveland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 28th 2019
Publisher: Random House UK
Finished reading: January 28th 2020
Pages: 352

“It was the idea of the law that I loved. Rules that everyone followed. Consequences for breaking them. The law was black-and-white. It was fair.”

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

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I have heard so many wonderful things about Karen Cleveland‘s debut Need To Know and I have been curious to try out her books. As soon as I read the blurb of Keep You Close, I was immediately intrigued and just couldn’t resist trying this story first. I thought I was going to be in for an intense and action-packed ride, and I have been looking forward to read a proper action thriller with possible espionage/conspiracy plot elements again as it has been a while. I kind of wish I sticked with just trying her debut now instead, because I have to be honest here and say that I was seriously underwhelmed by Keep You Close. I’ll try to explain below why…

I’m still not sure if it was just me, or actually the book, but the fact is that Keep You Close and me definitely didn’t get along. I normally like action-packed stories and I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy plot, so this story should have been right up my alley… Instead, I was left with feelings of frustration and lack of interest for the duration of this book. It’s hard putting my finger exactly on why I had such an averse reaction to this story, but there were definitely a few elements I had issues with. Because it wasn’t just a lack of connection to and interest for the story… There were quite a few elements that just didn’t work for me.

The first thing I can mention is the plot and general structure of the plot. I felt that both the plot, structure and also the flashbacks were simply all over the place. POV switches and flashbacks are kind of dropped on you as you are trying to follow what FBI agent Stephanie Maddox is up to; this is highly distracting, makes the plot feel chaotic and slowed down the pace. Instead of adding the tension and suspense I guess was the intention of using those techniques, especially those POV switches only distracted from the plot itself. Talking about the plot, I also didn’t think both the plot and the plot twists were credible at all and mostly way over the top. I get the whole conspiracy plot and the complicated situation Steph finds herself in, but this mostly seemed like a cliche and caricature way of describing it all, with over the top Hollywood spy movie scenes and twists. The ending left way too many questions unanswered and wasn’t satisfying at all either… I’m not sure if this book just wasn’t for me despite my love for conspiracy plots, but either way Keep You Close was definitely a miss for me.

As for the writing: I can’t say that I was a fan. While I can’t deny that it was a fast read despite the pace slowing down in places (especially during those flashbacks and sudden POV switches), I can’t say I was enjoying myself while reading it. This is probably a personal reaction to her writing style though, as most people seem to love her writing (or at least those reviews I read about her debut). I guess it’s unpopular opinion review time again? Anyway, that was not all. The characters likewise ended up letting me down. I felt that they were underdeveloped and described mostly using cliches; flat and one-dimentional characters I had a hard time connecting to. Steph is the typical ‘strong female main character’ with a messed up past but fierce at her work. She really isn’t being developed all that beyond that, and that is truly a shame. Likewise, the other characters in play are not really developed beyond basic information and cliches either, which makes it hard to connect to them. The focus is instead on the over the top and not credible at all plot, which I clearly wasn’t a fan of either.

I guess my instincts are not always right… I really thought I was going to love this story, especially since I love my conspiracy plots and action-packed thrillers, but Keep You Close was most definitely not my cup of tea. Unpopular opinion or not, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?


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YVO’S SHORTIES #137: Mary Poppins & How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a children’s classics edition with two classics I somehow never actually read despite having watched the movie adaptations multiple times. Mary Poppins was a childhood favorite movie of mine, so I fully expected to love the book as well… But things weren’t ment to be. I did love the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas! story though. I so wish I had discovered Dr. Seuss when I was still a kid!


Title: Mary Poppins
(Mary Poppins #1)
Author: P.L. Travers

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: 1934
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: November 26th 2019
Pages: 232

“Mary Poppins was very vain and liked to look her best. Indeed, she was quite sure that she never looked anything else.”


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It’s easy to say that the Mary Poppins movie is one of my childhood favorites, and I have seen it countless times over the years. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke really made their characters come alive for me, and I’ve been wanting to read the original story for quite some time now… What I didn’t expect is just how disappointed I was going to be by the book. Oh yes, Mary Poppins turned out to be one of the exceptions where I most definitely 200% preferred the book. Why? One big reason stands out: Mary Poppins. And more especifically, just how vain, arrogant and plain nasty she is in the book. It seems like she only cares about her looks, she treats the children like dirt and I seriously don’t understand why Michael, Jane and the twins even warm up to her at all. Imagine the Julie Andrews version of Mary Poppins and invert her personality completely (except for the fact she likes everything spick and span), and you have some idea of what the original version of Mary Poppins is like… I really don’t get why this would be something children would enjoy, even back then. The writing itself is solid and the little adventures in each chapter intriguing, but I was so put off by Mary Poppins’ character that I just couldn’t enjoy it. I was going to read the rest of the series afterwards, but as you might imagine I’m just going to pass and rewatch the original movie once again to get rid of that bad taste in my mouth.


Title: How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Author: Dr. Seuss

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: October 12th 1957
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Book
Finished reading: December 4th 2019
Pages: 64

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”


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I’m probably the last person on earth to pick up How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but somehow Dr. Seuss just wasn’t all that known in the Netherlands back when I was little… Or at least I never came in contact with his books (and trust me, I basically raided the library on a weekly basis back then). I’ve seen the movie adaptation multiple times, so I was very familiar with the story already, but finally being able to read the original book was an absolute delight. I sure wish I could have read this book when I was little, and if we decide to have kids one day, I’m definitely going to get all of his books and introduce them to the world of Dr. Seuss. The rhyme, the wording, the illustrations, the deeper message that Christmas isn’t just about presents and food… There is a lot to love and it’s really made me want to watch the movie again too. The perfect read to get into that Christmas spirit and also perfect to read to children!


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