YVO’S SHORTIES #29: The Upside Of Unrequited & The Border

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I was sure I was going to love, but somehow ended up being another unpopular opinion review. The Border by Steve Schafer on the other hand was absolutely brilliant.


Title: The Upside Of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: June 21st 2018
Pages: 352

“We like who we like. Who cares if someone else doesn’t get it?”


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Oh hello unpopular opinion review! I guess we meet once again… I truly wish we wouldn’t have crossed paths this time around though. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has to be one of my all time favorite YA books, so of course I was fully expecting to love this story as well. I’m still kind of shocked I ended up having this reaction, but I guess it is what it is. Fact: the problem isn’t the writing, which is without doubt excellent and made The Upside Of Unrequited into a really fast and entertaining read. I like the idea of having twins as main characters and the lgbt elements made this story into the perfect read for Pride Month. The twins moms are the cutest! The artsy/pinterest vibe was also a great touch. But. And here comes the main problem: I really struggled with Molly’s character. Not only did her choices annoy me and she helped introduce a love triangle to the plot that really bothered me… But I also found her whole attitude and negativity towards her own body quite frustrating. Having struggled with my weight just about my whole life, I know how it feels having to deal with rejection and negativity of others, but I don’t think Molly’s character gives the right message to those who struggle with the same problem. And we don’t have a lot of ‘bigger’ main characters to look up to in stories in the first place… So Molly was quite a let down for me. I also felt like The Upside Of Unrequited was almost trying to be too diverse and squeeze in too many diverse characters into one story. But yeah, that is mostly just me since everybody including my neighbor’s cat seems to love this story, so do take my rambles with a grain of salt.


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 364

“We are right on the border. The border. Of story, of legend, of dreams. ut we might as well be on the moon. So famous, yet so desolate.”


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Weird fact: I have a strange fascination for any story related to the war on drugs, cartels and the consequences of both. After a course or two during Uni, a thesis and quite a few related books, TV shows and movies, my thirst for this theme still hasn’t lessened. So honestly I should have known this book would hit the right spot even before I started it. The Border is more about the cartels and the consequences of antagonizing them than the actual war on drugs, but the theme is without doubt fascinating. The narcos killing the families of the main characters is sadly enough not all that uncommon, and neither is the hunt that starts afterwards. I really liked how Steve Schafer isn’t afraid to state the hard, painful and shocking facts, describing to us in a realistic way how the teens have to run for their lives. The incorporation of Spanish into the writing was spot on and added more authenticity to the story; the descriptions of both characters and setting detailed and realistic. The writing style managed to put me under its spell and I couldn’t let this story go until the very end. Ever feel like putting everything on hold until you reach the final page? That is what happened while I was reading The Border. This is not a happy story and the characters truly struggle; some parts are truly heartbreaking and make sure you have some tissues at hand just in case. But this realistic rendering of the four Mexican teens trying to cross the desert to reach the safety of US territory is simply sublime. I can highly recommend reading this one if you are interested in the theme, or if you enjoy reading realistically described (YA) thrillers.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #28: Strange The Dreamer & The Fourth Monkey

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books from completely different genres I both ended up enjoying a LOT despite the hype around them. The first, Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor, is one of my new absolute favorites… And Lazlo one of my new favorite characters. The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker, was dark, twisted with one hell of a creeper of a serial killer; just how I like my thrillers.


Title: Strange The Dreamer
(Strange The Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: May 30th 2018
Pages: 528

“For what was a person but the sum of all the scraps of their memory and experience: a finite set of components with an infinite array of expressions.”


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I have been intrigued by Strange The Dreamer ever since I first heard about it, but there has been such a hype around it that I have been afraid to pick it up. Because let’s face it: hyped books and me generally don’t seem to get along and I normally end up having to write yet another unpopular opinion review. But somehow when I was browsing my kindle, this title spoke to me and I just had to pick it up. Did I remember as I was starting that people had recommended to me to wait until the sequel was out? Yes, but it was already too late, because as soon as I sampled the writing style, I was addicted. Boy, Laini Taylor can write herself some absolutely gorgeous prose! The writing had me mesmerized and even if there were tiny flaws in the story, or even a slower plot at some points, I didn’t care as long as I was able to keep devouring those beautiful words. And that was not the only thing I loved. Oh no, one of the main things Strange The Dreamer works so well is its main character Lazlo. He is hands down one of my new all time favorite characters and it was an absolute delight being able to follow his story. I liked the other characters in general as well (Sarai!) and being able to connect to them only made it easier to fully emerge myself in the story and worldbuilding. Although the worldbuilding and its descriptions alone already make you wish you could see it all with your own eyes. As you can already guess, I absolutely loved Strange The Dreamer and it turned out to be my second 5 star read of the year. I’m still kicking myself for not reading it sooner, although at least the wait for the sequel is considerably shorter now this way.


Title: The Fourth Monkey
(4MK Thriller #1)
Author: J.D. Barker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: June 10th 2018
Pages: 416

“Darkness. It swirled around her like the current of the deepest sea. Cold and silent, crawling across her body with the touch of a stranger.”


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Basically, I have been meaning to pick up this thriller ever since it came out last year. I think it has become pretty obvious by now I can’t resist a good serial killer thriller, and this one has been on my radar especially after reading so many promising reviews. So when I saw the sequel on Netgalley, I decided to request a copy as a way to force myself to read both books. And guess what? My request was approved, and I’m so glad that happened… Because I have been missing out by not reading The Fourth Monkey sooner. Dark, gritty, twisted, disturbing, intense… Just keep similar adjectives going, and they will apply to this first encounter with the 4MK killer. 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.  And I’m looking forward to discover what happens next.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #19: The Good Daughter & Wires And Nerve Vol. 1

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I have been meaning to pick up for a while now… I’m almost ashamed to admit I had never read a Karin Slaughter thriller before even though she’s one of the most popular authors of one of my favorite genres. I’m so glad I finally got to remedy that! The Good Daughter made me an instant fan of her work. Wires And Nerve on the other hand didn’t manage to convince me… I loved Marissa Meyer‘s original series The Lunar Chronicles, but this graphic novel mostly fell flat for me.


Title: The Good Daughter
Author: Karin Slaughter

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 8th 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: February 19th 2018
Pages: 528

“The truth can rot you from the inside. It doesn’t leave room for anything else.”


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Like I said before, I am almost ashamed of the fact I had never read a Karin Slaughter book before. And that is with her books being wildly popular and belonging to one of my favorite genres… So I really had no proper excuse not to do so. But no longer, because now I’ve tried her work I have become an instant fan. WOW! That woman can write… It was without doubt a highly intense read with a lot of complicated, disturbing scenes and elements. The plot is well developed, intense, rich and will take you on a very emotional ride. Karin Slaughter isn’t afraid to put down the ugly facts and details right there on the table for everyone to see, and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse and rape among other things. The school shooting scenes are also a painful reminder of what happened in Florida recently… There is no denying the story and it’s many subplots, twists and turns are brilliantly executed and I take my hat off for it. Say hello to my very first 5 star read of 2018! It’s been a while since I read such a rich, complex, shocking and well developed psychological thriller. Highly recommended!


Title: Wires And Nerve Vol. 1
(Wires And Nerve #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: February 17th 2018
Pages: 238

“I don’t think humans realize how fragil their bodies are. So many injuries that are minor annoyances to be would be fatal to my friends.”


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I’m a big fan of the original series The Lunar Chronicles, so this new graphic novel series has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. So when I was in the mood for a graphic novel the other day, I remembered I had this one waiting to be read and finally picked it up. Wires And Nerve Vol. 1 takes place after the original series has ended, which is great for fans of the series as we can see how things will continue. BUT. It can also be seen as a huge spoiler for those who haven’t read or finished the original series yet. So I highly suggest not starting Wires And Nerve until you have finished reading Winter! As for the graphic novel… While it was great to visit the original characters again, I do think a lot of them felt really different from the way they behaved in the original books. Take Thorne: he was one of my favorite characters, but I seriously couldn’t stand him in the graphic novel. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the graphics in general. The lack of detail, overly simply graphics and overall blue tone just didn’t manage to convince me. Which is strange, because I normally love anything blue… The plot itself is quite interesting, as it gives us a healthy dose of action as well as some insight as to how things continue. I also loved that Iko is the main star in Wires And Nerve, since she is one of my favorites, and she seriously kicks ass in this first volume. BUT. As a whole, I do feel this graphic novel was quite a disappointment and doesn’t live up to The Lunar Chronicles.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #5: The Hate U Give & Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two of the last high ratings of 2017… The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was my last 5 star read last year and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which turned out to be another excellent read. Both have been recommended to me numerous times; thank you for convincing me to read both of these!


Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary 
First published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: December 20th 2017
Pages: 444

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”


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I know everybody and the neighbor’s cat have been recommending this book to me since even before The Hate U Give was published, but to be honest this only made me hesitant to pick it up myself. I have a love/hate relationship with hyped books, but after THUG came out as a Goodreads Choice Awards winner I thought it was about time for me to check it out. And WOW. I’m so glad I finally did so! This book is definitely an exception to the rule and absolutely worth the hype around it. Brilliant writing, plot, character development and such an important topic! I feel words cannot describe just how important this story is and everybody should just read it. Because The Hate U Give isn’t just another YA contemporary novel… With this book, Angie Thomas not only manages to portray the main characters brilliantly and create a realistic plot and scaringly accurate image of race problematics, but also address issues related to this topic. The Hate U Give serves as a general eyeopener as well as an insight of what it would be like living the lives of the main characters. The writing itself is brilliant, very easy to read and engaging, making it impossible to put down this story until you reach the final page. Because trust me, you will want to know what will happen to the main characters. The Hate U Give is highly praised with a reason, and I will be joining this wave of praise in the future.


Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: November 7th 2017
Pages: 332

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”


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This one was another recommendation I have been looking forward to read… Then again I love my quirky and unique characters. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine managed to completely blow me away, and not just because of the excellent writing and character development. Because Eleanor Oliphant is without doubt one of the most unique main characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet and she will stay with me for a long time. Basically her whole character is what makes this book into such a hit and fans of quirky characters will be able to fall head over heels in love with her. The writing and pace were a perfect match for this story and I managed to fly through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in no time at all. Gail Honeyman also has a few plot twist bomb surprises in store, so make sure to get yourself comfortable when you pick up your copy and get ready to be surprised. Because the whole mystery around Eleanor’s past definitely adds a little suspense to this quirky, endearing, sad and very well written story. More than recommended!


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ALL THE STARS: My 2017 Favorites @MeganLMiranda @roofbeam @emily_barr @aharmon_author @jeffzentner @veschwab @Huckelbridge @jodipicoult @rahdieh @EDonoghueWriter @chicnerdreads @juliebux @rachelcaine @angiecthomas

Confession: I have been dreading writing this post for weeks now. I’m sure I’m not the only one with the feeling of hopelessless when it comes to compiling a list of 2017 favorites… I mean, there are so many books worth mentioning I really didn’t know where to start. Out of the 189 books I managed to read last year, no less than 17! books received a full 5 star rating, 38 books a superhigh 4,5 star rating and a further 43 books a 4 star rating, which still means I pretty much loved reading it anyway. How to decide which of these 98 books should appear on this list? Where should I even start?

So I decided to cheat. Yes, you heard me, cheat. Below I will feature a list of the seventeen books I decided to give a full 5 star rating last year. Not that the other books that received a 4,5 or 4 star rating don’t deserve to be on here, but the list would be neverending otherwise right? 😉

First a little note to say that two authors seem to stand out and managed to have not one but TWO of their books on this list! Who? Victoria Schwab and Rachel Caine, without doubt two of my favorite authors I can highly recommend to everyone. Although all authors mentioned on this list are also on my list of favorites. ❤

And now on to the complete list in the order I read them during 2017. Because there is no way you can make me pick my absolute favorites among these. 😉 Basically, this list will be a copy of the series of IN THE SPOTLIGHT posts I wrote back in September (#1, #2, #3) with two extra titles I added to my list of 5 star books afterwards. Check out these posts or my review for my full rambles about each of these books!

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ARC REVIEW: Killman Creek – by Rachel Caine @amazonpub @rachelcaine

Title: Killman Creek
(Stillhouse Lake #2)
Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 12th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 10th 2017
Pages: 348

“You never understand how vulnerable you are in this age of social media until something breaks against you, and then… then it’s too late.”

*** 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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I first discovered this series earlier this year when I had the chance to read an ARC copy of Stillhouse Lake. I found myself being completely blown away by it and the story went straight to my list of all time favorites. The writing! The plot! The suspense! A psycho serial killer! Badass main characters! Every single element of Stillhouse Lake was perfectly executed and together they formed one hell of a thriller. I guess you can imagine the sequel Killman Creek was one of my most anticipated releases and I squeeled like a little girl when I opened the email with the invitation to read an ARC.  And not just because of the gorgeous cover; I was dying to find out what both Gwen and Melvin were up to next. I didn’t think it would be possible to reach the same level of brilliancy of the first book… But I was wrong. I was hooked from the very first page and the story didn’t let me go until the very end. Or more especifically: I was left with a huge book hangover… Because Killman Creek definitely ends with a BANG.

The sequel has a slightly different focus in general and has a lot more action and gruesomeness than Stillhouse Lake. I personally could really appreciate this escalation in violence and action and it suits the situation the characters find themselves in and their development in general. I don’t mind a little action in my thrillers either, but I can see why some would be put off by this change. Trigger warnings for those who are sensitive to gruesome and torture scenes! But trust me, this series is absolutely worth your time if you enjoy a good serial killer thriller. Not only is the story both engaging and brilliantly written, the plot is also well developed and the character development excellent. I won’t give away too much to avoid spoilers, but it was intriguing to see them react to the different (dangerous) situations. The ending was explosive and left me wanting for more… Book number three will definitely be right on the top of my 2018 most anticipated releases! And I can highly HIGHLY recommend this series to fans of the genre. Be ready to get your socks blown off.

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

Gwen Proctor might have won a battle against her ex-husband and serial killer Melvin Royal, but the war is not over. Especially since he somehow broke out of prison and is now able to hunt them down actively. And after she received a text saying she won’t be safe anywhere now, she knew she had to do something to protect the lives of her children. And Gwen will do whatever it takes… Even if this means using unorthodox methods or putting her own life in danger.

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Earlier this year, Stillhouse Lake had earned an immediate place among my all time favorite books, and the sequel Killman Creek has only reconfirmed my love for this series. A mindblowingly good serial killer thriller packed with plot twists, action and a healthy dose of suspense and creepiness… Both the writing and character development are excellent and I personally liked the increased intensity and action in Killman Creek; I feel it helped demostrate the escalation of the whole situation and all its consequences. And that ending! I will be waiting impatiently for book number three to find out what will happen next. Serial killer thriller fans, read this series!


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