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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YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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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 #158 – VOX & One Summer In Paris

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres I ended up having a similar reaction to… But not in a good way. Both VOX by Christina Dalcher and One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan had elements that made me really angry, and sadly enough influenced my reading experiences negatively.


Title: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: April 13th 2020
Pages: 336

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

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I’ve been meaning to read VOX for a long time now, and I was honestly really curious to see how I would react to this story after seeing so many mixed reviews. I went in blind and as I started reading I thought I was going to love this story… The writing seemed spot on for and I actually studied Wernicke’s aphasia as part of my Spanish philology degree, which made the topic all the more intriguing for me. The dystopian alternate present is both utterly terrifying and fascinating; it’s the perfect foundation stone to build the rest of the story on. While VOX definitely has that feminism feel, it wasn’t too much for me and I liked how this aspect was incorporated into the story. BUT. Sadly there were also quite a few things that ended up infuriating me. I will keep things short to avoid a full rant, but let’s just say that I wasn’t happy at all with certain characters and how they behaved, the appearance of a love triangle, animal tests, the ending… The character behavior part can partly be explained as something belonging to this dystopian world, but that doesn’t mean my averse reaction was less real because of it. And the ending was kind of an anti-climax for me and didn’t really do the rest of the story justice. It wasn’t a bad read and I agree it would make for a very interesting blog club read and discussion, but I sadly didn’t enjoy VOX as much as I thought I would.


Title: One Summer In Paris
Author: Sarah Morgan
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: April 15th 2020
Pages: 464

“Being yourself is the one thing every person should excel at.”

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I know this is not my typical genre, but I’ve been craving a lot of contemporaries lately and I love a travel/foreign setting theme, so I thought this story set (mostly) in Paris would be a good fit. Things started out great (and also a lot darker than expected) and there were a lot of things I did love in One Summer In Paris, including the Paris setting and the dynamics and growing relationship between Grace and Audrey as well as the bookshop, French language learning, explaining of dyslexia and alcoholic parents past and even Audrey romance with Etienne. BUT. I absolutely hate it when the cheating/affair element plays a big role in a story. Especially the reaction of Grace and more importantly Mr. Bastard aka David himself were simply infuriating. Oh yes, this part of the story made me so SO angry!! And not only behavior of David and decisions of Grace, but also how lightly the topic is treated and how Grace and Sophie’s months of suffering and their lives being ripped apart were brushed away like that. Ugh. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for either and not even Audrey’s POV and bookshop related reveal (which was too predictable as I guessed it straight away) could save the story for me. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again?


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YVO’S SHORTIES #154 – Love And Other Words & The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads I’ve been meaning to read for a while… And both Love And Other Words and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry turned out to be excellent reads.


Title: Love And Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 10th 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: March 16th 2020
Pages: 433

“It never occurred to me that love could be anything other than all-consuming. Even as a child, I knew I never wanted anything less.”


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I think most of you will probably know by now that contemporary romance and me don’t really tend to get along, but there are a select few authors that can make me enjoy the genre. I guess I can now add the Christina Lauren duo to that list too! My first experience with their work back in January, The Unhoneymooners, was a success and I had the exact same result with Love And Other Words. Despite the sexy scenes definitely not being for me, I fell in love with the characters and their story… The writing style made it really easy to keep turning those pages, and I like how the story switches back and forward between then and now, slowly letting you get to know the current and past Macey and Elliot. The question of what happened between them to cause such a rupture all those years ago added a level of intrigue to the story, and while the final reveal was a bit of an anticlimax for me mostly, I think the development of the plot and characters in general was well handled. I loved both characters as well as the bookish elements in the story… Sexy scenes and love triangle aside, I think this might be a new favorite Christina Lauren, and that is 100% thanks to both the characters and the writing in general. Fans of the genre will without doubt adore this book!


Title: The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 1st 2014
Publisher:  Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Finished reading: March 23rd 2020
Pages: 320

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”


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I’ve had The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry on my radar for a long time now, and I even bought a physical copy last year in the hope I would actually pick it up sooner. I guess that didn’t happen, and I’m definitely kicking myself now because I have found myself a new favorite nowI love bookish books and this story is without doubt filled to the brim with most wonderful bookish references. And that is not the only bookish thing about this book: most of the story takes place in a bookstore and we have a bookstore owner and publisher sales rep in the spotlight as two of the important characters. Talk about heaven if you love bookish books! The writing is wonderful and I really liked the plot and plot development as well. The main focus is on bookstore owner A.J. Fikry of course, and it is his quirky and grumpy personality as well as his personal development that really make this story special for me. The characters in general are so easy to like and my heart ached for them as the story continued… Sad moments are combined with more happy ones, and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry will most definitely play with your emotions. It’s a story that will stay with me for quite some time, and I already know I will want to reread it in the future!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep – by H.G. Parry #blogtour @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrbitBooks @hg_parry

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I think any booklover would love to have the power to bring their favorite characters into the real world… I just couldn’t wait to read this debut, and it turned out be a serious contender for favorite book of 2020 even this early in the year. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep
Author: H.G. Parry
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Books About Books
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: January 26th 2020 
Pages: 496

“Nothing stays hidden. Secrets are always found out, and the world is unforgiving.”

*** 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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First of all I have to say that my mind is blown by the fact that this is in fact a debut, and that I will most definitely be eagerly anticipating anything that H.G. Parry writes in the future. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep literally had me as soon as I first read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I don’t think that there exists a booklover who wouldn’t want to have the power to bring their favorite literary characters into the world… Let alone reading a story about a main character who can do just that. My instincts told me I was going to enjoy this story, but what I didn’t expect was to find a story that blew me away so completely that it is already a serious contender for book of the year even this early into 2020. High praise, but 200% deserved!

So, what makes this book so special? Well, there are actually many aspects that contributed and together turned The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep into a true masterpiece. Let’s start with the beginning, and let’s talk about the worldbuilding behind this story. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep is set in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a setting in a real world with a twist. You can call it urban fantasy, you can call it magical realism, but the fact is that fiction and reality collide and this story has more than a magical touch. I personally adored this mix of fantasy and fiction and I thought the balance was just right. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has a firm foot in both ‘worlds’ and it shows in the fact that our main character Charley can in fact travel and exist in both.

This brings us immediately to the literary references and elements in this debut, which are irrevocably related to both the worldbuilding and the plot. Why? It is the many literary characters and the mysterious appearance of the Street invisible to the real world that really makes this story stand out and they are without doubt the keystones this story is built on. From classic characters like Sherlock Holmes, Uriah Heep, Dorian Gray and Mr. Darcy to more modern representations such as Matilda and The White WitchThe Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep provides us with a rich and diverse literary selection to treasure as the different characters appear and contribute to this new story. Anyone who loves bookish elements and literary references in their stories will be absolutely delighted by not only just how many you can discover while reading The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep, but also by how they are incorporated into the story itself. And I have to be honest here and say that these elements alone already turned this story into a new favorite for me.

There is more to love in The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep though. Next up is the plot itself and its many twists as things slowly evolve towards that inevitable final confrontation. Like I said before, I loved the mix of fiction and fantasy and that same balance is used to construct the plot. We have two brothers, Rob firmly planted in the real world and Charley always with his nose in books and with a very peculiar power. His ability to bring literary characters into the real world is fascinating and it was intriguing to learn more about his powers and everything it entails as the plot evolves. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has that hint of danger and adventure as the main characters discover a street that nobody can see… And soon their world as they know it is turned upside down forever. The plot is filled with twists and turns and you will find yourself cheering on the characters along the way… Worrying for them as they encounter danger, and keeping your fingers crossed everything will be alright in the end. Engaging, well constructed and highly highly entertaining too!

The characters themselves are absolutely fascinating as well. There are the many literary characters of course, which were a pleasure to meet and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. They each seem to maintain their original personality traits as well as adding something extra to the plot… And it definitely made me pick up a couple pending classics as well as reread old favorites! The real star of this book is Charley of course, as he is the one with the power to bring literary characters into the real world, or as they call him ‘the summoner’. He is simply an ode to bookish characters and extremely easy to connect to… Even though he doesn’t always make the best decisions. His brother is the completely opposite and in that way helps balance the story as well as keeping the story from straying into the fantasy genre completely. I also loved the mystery around the villian of this story and how this unknown identity is used to add suspense and a hint of urgency and danger to the plot.

The writing was also simply sublime, and those final plot twist reveals as well as the ending itself utterly satisfying. I loved my time with The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep from the very first page until the very last and I can already see myself rereading this story in the future. It’s an absolutely brilliant debut I cannot recommend enough if you enjoy masterly crafted bookish stories with a magical touch and a hint of fantasy. And like I said before, a serious and worthy contender for Best Book Of 2020!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.


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ARC REVIEW: The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright – by Beth Miller

Title: The Missing Letters Of Mrs Bright
Author: Beth Miller
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 4th 2019
Pages: 327

“I wanted to try whatever life I had left without that net. Close my eyes and take a leap of faith.”

*** 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 know I don’t read contemporary romance all that often, but I like mixing up my genres every once in a while and there was just something about The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright that made me want to read it instantly. I think it was a combination of the blurb itself and the comparison to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove; two of my favorite books with characters I absolutely adored. And the blurb definitely sounded like main character Kay was going to have the same vibe, so I was superexcited to finally meet her. I might have set my expectations a tad too high, because somehow I didn’t end up enjoying this story as much as I thought I would… I’ll try to explain why.

First of all I have to stress that The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright is by no means a bad read, and the rating reflects my personal reaction to this story and its characters rather than the quality of the story. There is a lot to love in The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright, and depending on how you react to the main characters your reading experience might just be completely different from my own… First of all, we have the bookish elements. Not only does main character Kay’s husband own multiple bookshops, but we see other references as well throughout the story. I always love those little references in my books, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Another element I loved was travel related; not only that Kay wants to spread her wings and start seeing the world, but also those descriptions and chapters set in Australia and especially those in Venice. This Italian city really came alive for me in the descriptions and was one of the highlights of this book for me.

I also loved the idea behind the letters, and some actually being incorporated into the plot between chapters. This most definitely added an original touch! The plot itself is intriguing enough and uses multipe POVs to help us understand how different people react to Kay’s decision to leave her husband of twentynine years and start doing things she has always wanted to but never has. There is the underlying worry and mystery around Bear of course as well, and it was interesting to see things develop and secrets slowly coming to light. The writing was easy on the eye and superfast to read, and in many ways this is the perfect contemporary romance read.

What went wrong for me then? I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason is pretty clear: the main characters. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect to the characters as I thought I would. I had issues with various decisions and personality traits of more than one character, and this really put a damper on things… I won’t go too much into details to avoid spoilers, but I wasn’t a fan of Kay and her selfishness after her decision. I fully get she has the right to a life of her own, but she truly only thinks of herself and doesn’t seem to care too much of what her children and friends are going through… And that was not the only thing that annoyed me about her. I wasn’t able to warm up to Stella, Edward or Richard either, although I did like Newland, Rose and even Piet. What I absolutely detested was the whole cheating angle, but that is just a personal reaction as I never respond well to this element in a story…

I did love the food element in The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright though. The descriptions of the food really made me crave those dishes and I actually prepared my curry recipe as a result afterwards. There were a lot of other things I enjoyed as well, like mentioned above, but as a whole something just didn’t click for me and I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story. Fans of the contemporary romance genre might just have a fantastic time with The Missing Letters Of Mrs. Bright though! Definitely give this story a chance if you think it might be your cup of tea, because it seems like I’m in the minority with this one.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #132 – The Flatshare & Rayne And Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a dose of 2019 contemporary releases… The Flatshare was the winning title on Twitter last month as the first 2019 contemporary romance title I should pick up; it was an excellent choice and I really enjoyed it! And I’ve been meaning to pick up Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee ever since it was released, because I LOVED his previous books.


Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 10th 2019
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: November 3rd 2019
Pages: 336

“There is no saving of people–people can only save themselves. The best you can do is help when they’re ready.”


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I’ve been hearing great things about The Flatshare even before I was released back in April… While the contemporary romance genre and me don’t always get along, there are exceptions and sometimes I’m just in the mood for a good romcom. I asked romance readers to help me with my next read, and The Flatshare turned out to be a clear winner on Twitter (I’m reading the Goodreads winner soon as well). And I’m definitely happy with the choice of the Twitter voters, as I had an excellent time reading this story. If you are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining romcom that isn’t afraid to go heavy as well, The Flatshare is an excellent choice. Because this isn’t just a romance story. So many different elements are in play… We have the book editor angle, as one of the main characters Tiffy works editing crafts books and is currently working on a crochet book. I loved the little insights in the industry as well as the crochet mentions! We also have the pallative care angle, involving the other star character Leon. I really liked how this element was developed and how certain patients ended up playing quite an important role. We then have the psychological abuse and abusive ex-boyfriend element, which definitely gives the story a heavier note and is the cause of frustration when it comes to how Tiffy handles the whole Justin situation. BUT. As someone who has suffered from a toxic relationship herself in the past, I do think the author did a good job showing us just how difficult it is to escape and recover from such relationship. And this is not all that the story has in store for us. We also have Leon’s brother Ricky, who has been charged for a crime he didn’t commit, and is fighting to prove his innocence. On top of that, we have Leon’s hunt to find someone before it’s too late… It might seem like a lot going on, but all these different elements helped enrich the plot and make the whole ‘flat and bed sharing’ basics of the plot a whole lot more interesting. I really liked the characters too despite the fact that I was SO frustrated with some of Tiffy’s actions… But characters were portrayed realistically and the flaws only made them come alive. In short, if you are a fan of the genre and haven’t read The Flatshare yet, you should definitely add it to your wishlist straight away.


Title: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 26th 2019
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: November 6th 2019
Pages: 400

“For a long time I shined my light for someone other than me. But not anymore. Now I shine bright for me. You can create light even when everyone’s left you behind because that’s what you do. It’s what I do.”


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I absolutely adored Jeff Zentner’s previous books, so it’s easy to understand that Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee was on my list of most anticipated 2019 releases. I’m still not sure why it took me this long to actually pick it up, but I’m definitely glad I did. I do have to say that this book felt quite different from his other two books… Unique and quirky once again, but somehow a lot more upbeat and a different tone? Not necessarily a bad thing, but I did feel the spark of the previous books was missing somehow. I’m not say I didn’t enjoy reading Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee and I definitely loved the idea behind the old horror movies TV show and everything it entailed. The humor was right up my alley as well, and there were quite a few funny moments included to lighten up the story after more heavy moments. Still, somehow the story never managed to blow me away completely… And yes, that is even with easy to like main characters and prose that is extremely easy on the eye. Were my expectations too high? Maybe. Would I still recommend it to fans of the genre? Most definitely. Because while it’s not my favorite Jeff Zentner, it still makes for a very quirky, goofy and sometimes even heartbreaking read.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Lion Tamer Who Lost – by Louise Beech #Orentober @Orendabooks

Title: The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Romance
First published: July 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 19th 2019
Pages: 350

“He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.

But nothing is so much harder after you’ve briefly had something.”


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After reading Call Me Star Girl earlier this year, I had no other option but to add Louise Beech to my list of favorite authors immediately. I’ve been looking forward to read more of her work ever since, although I was also a tad worried as I wasn’t sure how anything could live up to expectations after such a brilliant first impression. I shouldn’t have doubted the power of the words of Louise Beech, because The Lion Tamer Who Lost once again blew me away. It’s been over a week since I finished this heartrending story, and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together into a somewhat coherent review. I guess it seems to start becoming the standard when it comes to Orenda titles! That said, after many days of procrastinating, it’s time to finally force myself to sit down and get those words on paper.

So, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I’ve thought long and hard about what my next Louise Beech read was going to be and even asked the opinion of fellow Orenda readers… This seemed to be the title that was mentioned most, and while contemporary romance isn’t exactly my favorite genre, I love stepping out of my comfort zone every once in a while and let a story surprise me. And surprise me it did! I can now add Louise Beech to the short list of authors who can actually make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre… Trust me, not a small feat. This is also a thing I love of her books: just how different and unique each story is! There are not many authors out there who can successfully tackle more than one genre; Louise Beech not only succeeds in that but takes your breath away in the process.

There are so many different elements to love in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start. But I guess that with such a title, an easy option is the fact that part of the story is set in a lion reserve in Zimbabwe. Talk about an original setting! The many detailed descriptions truly made the lion reserve come alive for me and I loved the fact that the lions play such a big role in the story. I have a special love for any member in the cat family, so seeing Lucy and the others being treated almost like extra characters was a wonderful bonus for me. Likewise, I really enjoyed reading about the lion reserve in general and the different volunteers being there at the same time as main character Ben. While the main focus of the story is of course on Ben and Andrew, I loved just how detailed the character development of the other characters involved was. It added even more dept to what was already a fantastic story!

I just mentioned Ben and Andrew, and they are definitely part of the reason this story works so well. I’m not a big romance fan in general, but I can make a wholehearted exception for my boys Ben and Andrew. I was drawn towards both characters from the very beginning, and I loved seeing both their characters and relationship evolve over time. They won over my heart, made me root for them and then pulled out that very same heart and made it shatter into a million little pieces… I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but while I didn’t actually cry (I almost never do, so that’s no surprise) I ended up with a huge lump in my throat and in need of an emergency baking session to soothe myself. Any story that is able to provoke such strong emotions is without doubt a little masterpiece to me! Especially one that is so beautifully written and simply both heartwarming and heartbreaking at that.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost also includes other intriguing and sometimes difficult elements such as the LGBT element and the struggle to come out and be accepted as you are, family issues and the battle against cancer. All elements are respectfully and realistically developed and successfully incorporated into what is a rich and intricate plot. Different point of views are used to let us learn more about both Andrew, Ben and even his father… Instead of confusing you, these switches only help enriching this story. I also loved that Andrew writes and hopes to become a successful writer, and that we get a glimpse of what this journey is like through his character. I also loved that little snippets of his story are shared at the beginning of the chapters. It really gave The Lion Tamer Who Lost another unique touch while also given the title an extra meaning. And I loved the idea behind Andrew’s wish box as well!

I can keep rambling about the things I loved in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, but I think it’s pretty obvious by now just how much I enjoyed this story. Whether contemporary romance and drama is your thing or not, you should simply give this story a chance as the words of Louise Beech are like magic and will fully mesmerize you before you finish the first chapter. Alluring, heartrending and simply irresistible… This story will give you all the feels as well as break your heart into a million pieces before you reach that final page!


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