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: Saigon Dark – by Elka Ray @crimewavepress

Title: Saigon Dark
Author: Elka Ray
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 5th 2016
Publisher: Crime Wave Press
Finished reading: June 28th 2018
Pages: 231

“Closure? When I hear people use this word, I dismiss them as idiots, or worse. Just the idea is a travesty, like you could close a door on your love, lock it up tight, and paint over it. Real love is a part of you, like your heart or your liver. You might survive massive trauma but you won’t ever be the same.”

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

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I always enjoy reading books with a foreign setting, especially when I haven’t been there myself as it feels like a mini-vacation just being able to read about it. Between the promise of a setting in Vietnam and an intriguing premise, I knew I had to give this story a go. Saigon Dark is a mix of a domestic drama and a psychological thriller set in a timespan of roughly ten years. The story jumps forward a lot between chapters, but if you keep track of the dates mentioned the story isn’t that difficult to follow. I liked the writing style, which flowed naturally and easy on the eye. The plot is an interesting one with just the right amount of secrets and twists. Did I understand the reasoning behind the things the main characters? Not always. Do I think she should have said something when it happened all those years ago instead of doing what she did? Yes. But I guess there wouldn’t have been a story otherwise. I did feel there were some holes in the plot, or at least bits I would have liked to see more developed. And I kind of struggled with the ending, which felt rather abrupt. I was left wanting to know more and learn how things continued since a lot was left unsaid. Saigon Dark has a few pretty decent twists, although I did guess part of the final reveals early on. But in general I can’t deny Saign Dark was a very interesting read with a foreign setting I was able to explore thanks to the story. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse and violence though.

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Lily is a successful plastic surgeon and the single mom of two small kids. Then one day her life changes forever as she finds her little daughter has drowned in the backyard. She is unconsolable and stricken by grief, and that might explain the split-second decision to take in her neighbor’s neglected and abused daughter and whisk her away from her home. Lily spends the next decade living a lie, telling everyone the girl she practically kidnapped is her own dead daughter. Just as she remarries and starts to feel safe, she receives a threatening note… Will she able to keep her past a secret?

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Saigon Dark is without doubt an interesting read. The main character Lily’s situation is a very complicated one and while I don’t agree with her actions, I can see how grief can make people do things they normally wouldn’t. There is no doubt she saved the girl from more abuse and neglect in the years that followed, but denying her the truth about her past isn’t exactly ethical either. It was interesting to see how things slowly started to unfold though, although I still would have wished a less abrupt ending. I’m having a feeling especially fans of domestic thrillers will enjoy this one.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Sister – by Shalini Boland

Title: The Silent Sister
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 16th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 18th 2018
Pages: 144

“But I’m gradually realising that, given the right circumstances, anyone can have their self-esteem eroded.”

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

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I’m a huge fan of Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers, so of course I was superexcited when I first heard about The Silent Sister. It might just have been that I had sky high expectations, or it might have been it was the wrong story at the wrong time, but somehow I didn’t react in the way I thought I was going to when I started reading it. Oh yes, I’m really surprised by my initial reaction to The Silent Sister, because normally I find myself hooked from the very first page. Before I continue a little note: I seem to be in the minority so far, since most people seem to absolutely love this story, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Ok, with that out of the way, let me try explaining why I somehow didn’t love this story as much as her other psychological thrillers. Apart from the reasons I already mentioned above, I think the main problem I had was with the main characters. There was just something about them that irked me, and as a result it took me a long time to warm up to the story. Also, the beginning of the story wasn’t as suspenseful and absorbing as I’ve come to expect, but I do have to say things improved a lot as the story continued and the second half definitely has a lot more twists and turns. I’m happy to say that I despite some reservations I was still able to enjoy the story in general and the second half is without doubt very strong! Especially regarding the plot twists and the creation of suspense. I did have an idea of what was happening, but I wasn’t able to guess the full truth at all. And that is always a good sign in a psychological thriller. In short, while not my favorite, I can still recommend The Silent Sister to fans of the genre.

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Lizzy Beresford discovers what appears an old letter inside her own home, but the content makes her feel really uncomfortable. Who sent the message? How did they get into her home in the first place? Lizzy doesn’t seem to have any enemies in her life, so who would want to do such a thing to her? Especially since more letters and threatening messages start piling up… And things are starting to escalate. Will they be able to discover who is behind all this before things go too far?

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Like I said before, I’m still surprised by my reaction to this story, but The Silent Sister turned out to be a slowburner for me. It took me a long time to warm up to the story, both because of the slower pace in the beginning and my lack of connection to the characters. I enjoyed the second half of the story considerably better though, and The Silent Sister will have some surprises and unexpected twists for you in store.


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ARC REVIEW: Bring Me Back – by B.A. Paris

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 1st 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: June 12th 2018
Pages: 336

“But there is only silence, and the dust of hopes never fulfilled, taunting me with what could have been, if only I’d acted differently.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

Bring Me Back has to be one of the most hyped psychological thriller releases this year. While I was stoked to be able to receive a copy early, I was also worried about the possible consequences of such a popular title. Because let’s face it: popular books and me don’t exactly have an optimal relationship. And as the mixed reviews for Bring Me Back started coming in, I was getting more worried about my own reaction. Hence the reason I’ve been posponing my own experience with this title until there was hardly time left before the publish date. It might have been that I went in with lower expectations, it might have been because of different reasons, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The first thing that stands out for me is the writing style, which shows a certain quality you only see in the better psychological thrillers and was just as good as my previous experience with her work in The Breakdown. B.A. Paris knows how to create suspense and how to start a story with a bang. There is no doubt that the first couple of chapters will have you completely hooked! And while the pace was a little slower than I would have liked, I found Bring Me Back a very entertaining read. BUT. And here come a few elements I wasn’t too sure about and I know others struggled with as well. First of all, I was able to guess quite a few plot twists long before they happened and the plot was quite predictable in general. Or at least the mayority of the story… The final part was actually the complete opposite, but sadly not in a completely positive way. Let’s just say, without giving away spoilers, that the ending is so absurd and over the top that there was no way I could think of it as a believable plot twist. It was surprising for sure and I don’t think anyone would have guessed it… But I personally would have preferred a more predictable but at least credible ending instead. The change of past and present and different POVs did add a little something extra to the story, and I liked learning more about how the main characters first met and finding out what happened (even though it was easy to guess quite a lot of that information early on). As for the characters: I can’t say I particularly liked them, and this made it a bit more difficult to connect to the story. But the main issue for me was both the predictability of the majority of the plot and the highly implausible and over the top ending. Going in with lower expectations probably saved Bring Me Back for me though, and I was able to enjoy it better than I thought I would.

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Finn and Layla travel to France during a holiday, only for Finn to return home alone. During a stop on the way back, Layla disappears from the car and nobody ever sees her again. Finn is initially accused of being involved, but later freed from blame although there is no trace of Layla anywhere. Years later, Finn has found happiness again and he’s engaged to be married… To Layla’s sister Ellen. Then one day a tiny Russian doll shows up on their doorstep, and their lives are about to change forever.

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I’m aware of the fact that Bring Me Back has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, and I can understand why. If you read a lot of psychological thrillers and go in with high expectations, you will probably be disappointed by the rather predictable plot and completely implausible ending and final twist. But if you instead take it slow and don’t focus too much on those points, you will be able to enjoy the solid writing and an otherwise slower paced but enjoyable story. And trust me, you won’t be looking at Russian dolls in the same way after finishing Bring Me Back.


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ARC REVIEW: The Namarielle – by Julien Jamar

Title: The Namarielle
(Chronicles Of Lashai #1)
Author: Julien Jamar
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 19th 2018
Publisher: BooksGoSocial
Finished reading: May 23rd 2018
Pages: 349

“There is power in love that cannot be attained any other way.”

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

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I admit I kind of requesting this first book of a YA fantasy series on a whim after falling in love with the cover. There is just something about The Namarielle that instantly made me want to read it, and it turns out that my coverlove instinct was solid. Because there is no doubt I very much enjoyed this story! I’ve become a bit wary of YA fantasy series due to the amount of romance and repetitive plots, but I was pleasantly surprised by The Namarielle. The writing is engaging and made it really easy to emerge yourself into this new fantasy world. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the promise of an interesting past, complicated and dangerous present and the promise of a better future. Would I have liked to see the worldbuilding even more detailed? Maybe. But I’m guessing that we will see even more of Lashai in the sequel. The characters are interesting, although a bit cliche with Cassai with her mysterious past and Elian with his secrets. The connection between them is a nice touch, although a bit cheesy as well… And some of the reactions and actions of the main characters could get annoying. I did like the inclusion of different fantasy characters like werewolves and fae. They add a little extra to the plot and I’m hoping to see more of at least the fae in the sequel. I did have some problems with the frequent POV switches though, because that made it a lot more difficult to connect to the different characters. But in general this was a highly entertaining and enjoyable first book of what looks to be a promising series.

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Cassai grew up on a small farm hidden away from the rest of the world… Until one day she is no longer safe there. It looks like the people closest to her have been hiding things from Cassai, secrets that will change her life forever… If she can make it out alive. Because Lashai isn’t as it used to be under the Namarielle, and not following every order is very dangerous indeed. Especially with a history like she has, even if Cassai can’t really remember who she really is…

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The Namarielle is a very entertaining and interesting first book of a new YA fantasy series. I really liked the worldbuilding and potential of Lashai, although I would have liked to learn even more about the world… But I’m hoping the sequel will give us more details. The characters are interesting enough, even though there are quite a few cliches, and I liked the special connection of Cassai. The constant POV switches did make it harder to connect to the main characters though. But all in all it was still a solid read.


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ARC REVIEW: To Die In Vienna – by Kevin Wignall

Title: To Die In Vienna
Author: Kevin Wignall
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Spy
First published: June 14th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 31st 2018
Pages: 270

“One can learn more on the way to an inevitable defeat than from a fortuitous victory.”

*** 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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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Fun fact: I was actually visiting the city of Vienna when I was browsing Netgalley and saw this title, and of course I had to request a copy and see if I would recognize any of the sights. It wasn’t until after our trip I was able to pick it up, but that made being able to revisit the city all the better. To Die In Vienna is, as the title already might suggest, a fast-paced and suspenseful story of an ex-spy trying to keep alive while others are closing in with the mission to kill him. Another fun fact: this book will soon be a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal! And I can see why this story would work very well on screen, because there is a lot of action involved and it includes a conspiracy, a damaged but apparently skillful hero and a lot of twists and different directions that will keep a viewer on edge. The book is highly entertaining to read as well, although I do have my doubts about the credibility of certain aspects. Especially regarding the main character and what happens to him, since it doesn’t seem to fit in with his background. I was still able to enjoy To Die In Vienna though and it was great to see a few of the popular sights in Vienna mentioned. The story reads superfast and I’m sure any fan of the spy thriller genre will have a great time reading this one. The ending was a bit too abrupt and felt a bit too ‘neat’, but I’m sure in the movie people will eat it up. All in all an entertaining and action-packed thriller with an international setting.

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Freddie Makin has been on a job watching Jiang Cheng during the last year, and honestly I doesn’t understand why he is even watching the academic with such an ordinary life. But a job is a job, and he has never asked or cared about the details before. That is, until the day someone is sent to kill him and Cheng disappears… Freddie is now on the run, and wondering what it is he saw that made his contractor want to kill him. Surely it was something incriminating, but what? And who is behind it? Freddie is forced to go into hiding as he tries to figure out the who, what and how before it’s too late and he has to pay with his life…

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining and engaging spy thriller that is easy to read and will give you a healthy dose of action, To Die In Vienna is an excellent choice. Some little credibility doubts and kind of abrupt ending aside, this spy thriller delivers a very entertaining story where you follow the main character as he tries to both escape the killers and figure out why they want him dead in the first place. Look out for the movie as well! I’m having a feeling both will appeal to spy thriller fans.


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ARC REVIEW: The Girl With No Name – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: The Girl With No Name
(Detective Josie Quinn #2)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 19th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 17th 2018
Pages: 337

“Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

*** 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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After enjoying the first Josie Quinn book back in January, I have been looking out for a new installment. Lisa Regan writes her thrillers just as I like them: fast, action-packed and intense until the very last page. The Girl With No Name definitely fits all those criteria and more, and has proven to be another thrilling ride. There is just something about the writing style that keeps you hooked and wanting for more… The plot is quite complex and one plot twist bomb after the other is being dropped on you; it almost seems like a war zone. I do have to say I started to doubt the credibility of it all. There are so many things going on and some of it seems a bit too farfetched or convenient to be completely credible. Also, I was able to guess a few of the plot twists before they were revealed, which was a bit of a disappointed. That said, there is no doubt about the intensity of the story and the author was able to create another nail bitingly suspenseful hunt for the truth and not one but two missing persons. I like Josie Quinn even though she is the typical damaged past detective and I do think she has a lot of bad luck on the man department; almost too much to be credible. Her way of investigating mostly makes up for it though. The Girl With No Name is not as dark and disturbing as the first book, but that doesn’t mean it’s an quiet ride. Secrets, missing persons, serial killers, dodgy characters… This Detective Josie Quinn sequel has it all. And while not perfect, The Girl With No Name is without doubt still a highly entertaining thriller to read for those who like them intense and action-packed.

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

Detective Josie Quinn and her team are called in after a newborn baby was snatched from his mother’s arms and the mother left for dead in her house. Their only lead seems to be a woman they caught fleeing the scene, but the girl appears to have amnesia and doesn’t remember who she is nor why she was at the house. Is she a witness, a suspect, or a victim? As Josie Quinn and her team dig deeper, they discover the case is a lot more complicated than it appeared… And more than one life might be at stake.

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If you like your thrillers fast, intense and full of action, you will most likely enjoy The Girl With No Name. You won’t find a boring minute as you are reading this detective thriller, and even though I had my doubts about the credibility of it all, I still very much enjoyed reading it. Entertaining and fast-paced, this thriller will bring you along a very intense hunt as they are trying to discover the truth and find the missing persons in time. The ending felt a bit too neat, but it does show promising signs for the next book. I’m definitely curious about both what will happen next and about Josie Quinn’s past!


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