YVO’S SHORTIES #26: Black-Eyed Susans & My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time yet two more books I read during my hiatus… Two titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and both turned out to be excellent reads. The first, Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, I’ve been meaning to read ever since it came out, so it was about time I finally did. The second, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, was an easy choice as well. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories, so I have been wanting to explore more of his work… And this one came in close second.


Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: May 10th 2018
Pages: 369

“You’ll always get to the right answer if you slow down and think about it.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this thriller ever since I first heard about it back in 2015, and I’m not sure what happened that I managed to pospone it for almost three years. But better later than never right? It might have been that I had superhigh expectations for Black-Eyed Susans, but while I thought it was a very solid read, the story didn’t manage to blow me away completely. I can’t exactly put my finger on the why though. The writing is strong and definitely draws you right in, and the serial killer is definitely another creeper. You will have a healthy dose of suspense and twisted scenes in Black-Eyed Susans! The plot itself is strong as well, although a possible weak spot might be the dual storyline, where the story splits between past and present. It did distract a little from the things that were happening, although I do admit it was a good way to add more intrigue and tension to the story. And there is no doubt I’m very happy to have finally read Black-Eyed Susans, because it was without doubt an excellent, intriguing and slightly disturbing thriller.


Title: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
First published: 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: May 14th 2018
Pages: 372
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Min mormor hälsar och säger förlåt’)

“It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves.”


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I’m sure a few are already aware of the fact I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman’s work, or at least that A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories (and Ove one of my favorite characters). I’ve been meaning to slowly go through his other books ever since, and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is my third experience with his work. And I can tell you, this story has only reconfirmed my love for his stories! The writing in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is just so Backman, meaning I absolutely devoured its pages and loved it right from the very first chapter. Fredrik Backman has a talent for creating the most amazing, quirky and strong characters you will connect to straight away. In this story we meet a fair amount of new quirky characters that will win over your heart completely. I also loved the mix of reality and fantasy in the plot, and the humor mixed with more serious moments. Talk about a perfect balance! And while A Man Called Ove is still my absolute favorite, this one comes a really close second. I can’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here now, which follows the story of one of the characters mentioned in this one!


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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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WWW Wednesdays #174 – June 13th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m still reading Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris… Although I might have finished it by the time this post goes live (the power of scheduling posts 😉 ). I’m continuing with the 4MK sequel The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker straight afterwards, because I’m dying to find out what happens next.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland (3/5 stars) REVIEW 18/06
On its own, The Lost For Words Bookshop seems to be having all the right elements. It has a lot of bookish references to fall in love with, complicated and well developed characters, suspense and a mysterious past, drama, a healthy dose of romance for the romance fans… I was expecting to love this one, but somehow I wasn’t completely convinced. Between the lack of connection to the characters, love triangle and past-present storyline switches that didn’t feel natural to me, I ended up taking a lot longer than I thought I would to finish this one. There were elements I loved of course, including the bookish elements and Archie’s character. And I’m positive most of you will enjoy this story a lot more than I did.

2. The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/06
What a read! I like my thrillers dark and twisted, and J.D. Barker has definitely created a very disturbing serial killer to follow in this story. We get a glimpse of his childhood through a diary, and hints at his previous ‘work’ as the plot develops. And you will encounter a few plot twist bombs along the way, surprises that will catch you unaware as you are too stunned by just how twisted things were back at the killer’s home or how the case develops in the present. Oh yes, The Fourth Monkey isn’t for those with a weak stomach and if you can’t handle graphic scenes and violence, I advice staying clear. Otherwise, if you have a twisted mind like me, you will have a great time meeting the 4MK Killer and his work.

3. The Unreading Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (2/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
I still love the idea behind this story and I truly wish I could have enjoyed The Unbinding Of Mary Reade better. Unfortunately, I found the execution lacking in various ways, and I had a hard time finishing this one. Between the chaotic writing style that didn’t flow, a rather dull plot, bland characters, lack of action and a not so credible display of emotions, I can’t say I was impressed. Where were the pirates, were was the action? Why did we have to read so much about Mary’s past in London, if her life on the Caribbean Sea is what really counts for this story? Why wasn’t there more focus on Mary and Anne? Why the excessive amount of sexism, homophobia, transphobia and sexual assault? The tone for this supposedly YA rated story was completely off, especially since Mary felt younger than the age group during most of the story. All in all not the story I was hoping for.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably picking up The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli next, both because I have been wanting to for ages and because I’ll need a little break from the thriller genre. Afterwards I’m finally picking up the Kay Hunter sequel Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett in the hope to get through all five remaining books in the next month or so. I’m SO excited to be finally doing so! I also have a copy of the new Barbara Copperthwaite ARC waiting for me on my kindle: The Perfect Friend. My newest TBR jar pick is still When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore.


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Teaser Tuesdays #175 – June 12th: Bring Me Back

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

There has been a lot of hype around this one, so I’ve been hesitant to pick it up myself… But with the publish date around the corner, it was time for me to see how I will react to this story. There is no doubt I’m curious about Bring Me Back, and I’ve been trying to go in with low expectations, so we’ll see how things go I guess. Fingers crossed!

My teaser (2%):

“My heart misses a beat. I lean my free hand on the cold metal back of the bench, trying to process what he’s just told me.”

What are you reading right now?


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ARC REVIEW: The Date – by Louise Jensen @bookouture @Fab_fiction

Title: The Date
Author: Louise Jensen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2018
Pages: 315

“It’s far easier to deal with the black and white rather than the shades of grey lurking in the darkest depths of our minds.”

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

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I have been staring at this review for a week now and I still can’t get something proper on paper that isn’t the phrase: ‘just read the damn book‘. Because frankly, The Date left me speechless and blew me away and I’m still not sure how to properly turn this love into a coherent review. Time is ticking away though, so here is me giving a try anyway. First of all let me start with the basics. The fact is that Louise Jensen is one of my favorite thriller authors and of course I had very high expectations about her newest title The Date. I had no doubt this was going to be another excellent read, but what I didn’t expect was to get my socks knocked off and find a new absolute favorite. Holy cow, what a read! I literally dropped everything I was supposed to be doing after reading the first few pages and couldn’t put it down until I reached the very end. Not only is the writing sublime, but the suspense is spot on and I’m always a sucker for the amnesia element. Especially in this case, where the main character is unable to recognize faces (prosopagnosia) after trauma, which is something I had never came across before and is truly fascinating. This element plays a key role in the development of the plot and plot twists and without doubt adds a lot of suspense and intrigue to the story. But The Date doesn’t bet on one horse and an intricate web of twists, little hints and unlikeable discoveries is cast over the plot in a way that will have you fully absorbed. You can guess all you want about the ending and maybe even get one or two little facts right, but you will never be able to guess the full truth early on. The Date is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read this year and without doubt a new all time favorite!

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Alison Taylor’s Saturday night started out normal enough. She has recently separated from her husband, and her friends have convinced her to go on a date with a man she met online. While nervous, she is excited to be taking this step towards a possible new future… But what she doesn’t know, is that her life is about to change forever. Because when she wakes up the next day, she is home alone, hurt and has no memory of what happened to her. Even worse, when she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t recognize her own face… And as turns out, she doesn’t recognize the faces of her friends and family either, along with the face of the person who is trying to destroy her in the first place.

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Bring out the superlatives and invite them to this review party, because I’ll need a lot of them to describe my feelings about The Date. I read a lot of thrillers, but this story was simply something else. The Date ticked all the right boxes for me and more, and I literally dropped everything to read this psychological thriller. Fascinating, highly addictive and utterly absorbing! If you are a fan of the genre, you simply MUST try this one. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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Kay Hunter Number 6: Cover Reveal!! @RachelAmphlett

I admit I’m a bit late to the detective Kay Hunter party, but as soon as I started the first book I found myself completely hooked. I’ve joined the Kay Hunter fan club straight away and I’m planning on treating myself with a Kay Hunter marathon soon to bring myself up to date. Why soon? Well, book number six is already coming out next month! Oh yes, detective thriller fans will be in for a treat in July as Gone To Ground will be hitting the stores on July 8th.

But first it’s time to reveal the cover of the newest Kay Hunter installment. And it’s another winner… Want to see? Keep scrolling down!

Curious yet? Almost there!

What an absolute gorgeous cover! I just love the combination of the grey tones and the teal splashes of color. ❤ Simple, but absolutely effective… What do the crows have to do with the story? And the digging machine? I tell you, I can’t wait to find out.

Remember to keep an eye out for the new Kay Hunter Gone To Ground next month! And look out for more of my Kay Hunter reviews coming up soon as well. Trust me, if you are a detective thriller fan, you don’t want to miss this series.


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Stacking The Shelves #44 – Europe Trip Book Haul

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Like promised, this Stacking The Shelves will be all about my Europe trip physical book haul. Getting English (or Dutch) books in Argentina can be expensive or time consuming business; it is one of the reasons I read mostly on my kindle. It also means  that whenever we do travel back to Europe, I tend to go a little crazy getting new books. Oops? Believe me or not, I managed to stuff all of these beauties in the photo below in my backpack (along with a LOT of other stuff) and somehow not go over the weight limit. xD Say hello to a total of 14 new books for my shelves! Ok, there was actually one more, but it was a gift for a friend, so I didn’t count that one.

A little note: I tried taking decent photos, but Instagram decided to bail on me so the photos below are unfortunately unedited… I just didn’t want to pospone posting my book haul any longer either. 😉

Curious about the details? Want to see the covers up close? Just keep scrolling! More information about each book below the photos.

These two titles are actually two ‘abandoned’ books I found while exploring the city of Brussels. I had heard about this phenomenon before, but I couldn’t believe I would actually find one myself one day! Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin (somehow not on Goodreads, at least not on its own) sounds like an interesting thriller and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler was actually first published back 1939, and I hadn’t heard of the title before. These four titles are hostel book exchange finds. I had some old books I wanted to get rid of, so I brought them on our trip to exchange for new titles. I was intrigued by Nomads by James Swallow, a spy thriller that sounds really interesting. And I’ve had the Peter Grant series waiting for me on my kindle, so I was stoked to find a paperback copy of the second book Moon Over Soho. I liked the sound of The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall as well, even though it has mixed reviews. And even though I already have a copy waiting for me on my kindle, I just couldn’t resist snatching a copy of Shari Lapena‘s The Couple Next Door.
The five titles above I found on sale in an English bookstore in Amsterdam. They had SO many good titles and it was really hard to control myself and not buy more! But I seriously had no extra space in my big backpack left for more. xD

The first, Blue Blood by Sara Blaedel, was one of the many many interesting sounding thrillers they had. We’ll see if I made the right choice later on, but it looks promising! I actually already read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton back in 2016, but I really enjoyed the story and love the cover, so I had to have a paperback copy. And after finding the sequel in the hostel book exchange, of course I had to get a copy of the first book Rivers Of London as well. Such a beautiful cover! My grabby hands snatched a copy of Britt-Marie Was Here as soon as I saw it; I already wanted to get a copy for my kindle to read next, but having my own paperback of one of my favorite authors is so much better! The last is Fallen by Karin Slaughter, as part of a promise to myself to read more of her work. And yes, I didn’t realize until later this is actually book five of her Will Trent series. xD
On our last day, I suddenly realized I hadn’t bought any book in Dutch yet. While I don’t particularly enjoy reading in Dutch, I need them to keep up my knowledge of the language. (Because trust me, It’s preeeeetty rusty haha.) The first two are very pretty versions of the first two Half Bad Trilogy books. I still have to read the series in English as well, but luckily I have copies on my kindle so I can compare the two in case I get stuck in Dutch. The last is a Dutch translation of The Year Of The Rat and I actually like the Dutch cover so much better than the original… So pretty!

 

Do you recognize any of the titles above? Any you recommend I should read first? I hope everyone is having a great weekend! ❤


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