YVO’S SHORTIES #92 – Every Exquisite Thing & Tell The Wolves I’m Home

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two YA reads I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while… Neither managed to blow me away, but I did enjoy Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt better than Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick.


Title: Every Exquisite Thing
Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 10th 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 24th 2019
Pages: 272

“Reading that poem was like putting on the proper prescription glasses after bumping into walls for my entire life.”

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I actually picked up this title on a whim when I was browsing for a contemporary read and I realized it would fit my Author ABC challenge perfectly. I’ve read his work in the past and I especially enjoyed meeting Leonard Peacock, so I was hoping to have a similar experience with Every Exquisite Thing. Unfortunately it just wasn’t ment to be… I love my quirky, flawed and unique characters, and I can appreciate an original writing style. There was just something about both characters and writing that failed to convince me in this story though. I know I’m in the minority here since most people seem to love this story, but it is what it is I guess. While I can say this was a superfast read, the tone and writing style of Every Exquisite Thing really started to get on my nerves and made the reading experience less enjoyable than expected. I also had problems with the main characters… While I like that they are flawed and unique and especially Nanette evolves over time as the story progresses, there was also something about them that really annoyed me and I wasn’t able to connect to them in general. I did love the fact that this story is build around a book called The Bubblegum Reaper, where we see both the influence of the writing on its reader and learn more about the author himself. I also loved the poetry references and the incorporation of Alex’ poetry into the story. Then again, I always love bookish references! This was definitely one of the strongest aspects of the story and you will see influences of The Bubblegum Reaper throughout Every Exquisite Thing. I wasn’t sure about the ending and the characters and writing style weren’t for me, but there is no doubt that this is quite an original coming of age story. If you are able to connect to writing and characters, you will have a great time reading it.


Title: Tell The Wolves I’m Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: June 19th 2012
Publisher: The Dial Press
Finished reading: March 27th 2019
Pages: 367

“And until then I don’t think I really understood the meaning of gone.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up Tell The Wolves I’m Home for ages now, but there was always something that made me pospone it just a little while longer… I’m glad my TBR jar pick thought it was about time I did something about that. I somehow had it in my head that this was a magical realism read, but it turns out I totally misremembered that. Instead, Tell The Wolves I’m Home is a (recent) historical fiction slash contemporary story with a focus on family, AIDS and death. Tough themes that are very tricky to get right and sometimes not that easy to talk about, but the 1987 setting made for a very interesting backdrop for this story. We learn more about prejudices, just how little information about AIDS was available back then and the consequences… While also focusing on family, relationships and dealing with the death of someone close to you. I can’t put my finger on the why, but while I did find the Tell The Wolves I’m Home a very interesting read, there was also something about it that didn’t work for me. Part of this might have to do with the main characters; especially Greta is very frustrating and felt quite cliche. I liked Finn and Toby though, and June was interesting enough as well. I liked the art element in this story and the meaning of the painting of the two sisters. I also liked how we saw the wolves being incorporated into the plot. I could have done without the teenage/high school drama, jealousy and there were other elements that irked me as well. But overall I’m still glad I finally read it.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution – by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Title: Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution
(Fat Angie #2)
Author: E.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 5th 2019
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Finished reading: March 1st 2019
Pages: 352
DNF at 32% (113 pages)

“Angie did not like sequels. By their very nature, they rarely met the expectations of the consumer.”

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

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There was just something about Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution that immediately caught my eye and made me want to read it. As someone who has always struggled with her weight and had a pretty miserable time during high school, I thought I was going to be able to relate to this story… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. I’m aware of the fact that I didn’t realize beforehand that this was a sequel and this might have played a role in my reaction to this story. I will keep this in mind and any missing background information is of course my own fault. My reaction to Fat Angie and my decision to DNF it are based on my experience with the sequel alone. I feel sad I had to take the decision to DNF as I rarely do that, but I’ll try to explain below why I didn’t see other way out. First of all I like to state that this is probably another case of this story simply not being a right fit for me. I thought I was able to connect to the main character as I had some of the same struggles during my time in high school. Sadly, I wasn’t all that impressed by Angie. She seems over the top, almost like a cartoon and not at all the realistic representation of a teenager struggling with her weight and the other things going on in her life. I was seriously frustrated by the way she behaved and expressed herself and I felt she was being turned into a cliche with almost too many different elements that were supposed to marginalize here being jammed inside her character (weight struggles, panic disorder, suicide attempt, dead sister, being queer, having almost no real friends, bullying, best friend ignoring her etc etc.). It felt like an overload of different elements being dumped on you instead of creating a realistic situation and this made the story less credible. I also really struggled with the writing style. The story didn’t really flow for me, it was packed with cliches and between short sentences and interruptions with definitions I struggled to find the motivation to keep reading. The plot moves quite slow, or at least up until the point where I stopped reading (about a third in, and the roadtrip hadn’t made its appearance yet apart from a brief mention in a letter). Between the writing style, almost cartoonish extreme reactions and violence, overload of different elements stuffed in the same character and that same character being unlikeable I saw no other choice than to DNF Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution.


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ARC REVIEW: Closer – by K.L. Slater

Title: Closer
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 24th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 8th 2018
Pages: 331

“Little did I know it was a portent of far worse to come.”

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

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I’m a big fan of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers and I’ve read every single one published so far. Of course I’m always stoked when I find out a new book is about to come out, and my reaction to Closer was no different… I’ve been excited to start reading this one ever since I was granted a copy. Closer once again shows us just now good of a psychological thriller writer she is. The writing style is spot on and makes you fly through it! I literally finished it in less than a day… It was just THAT good. While I do think it wasn’t my favorite and there were a few things that didn’t completely convince me, overall this was yet another solid, well written and thrilling read. Why not five stars? I think it has a lot to do with the predictability of the plot; sadly I was able to see the final twist coming from a mile away, or at least a big part of it. I guess I wished I would have been wrong about it all, but in the end my instincts were right. The ending was also quite abrupt to me, and I would have liked to see a more elaborated one. I’m still on the fence about the characters as well. BUT. The writing is excellent, the suspense well crafted and it brings attention to two very important topics (eating disorder and bullying). I enjoyed my time with Closer, was invested enough to really experience some of the nail biting and frustrating moments and it’s always a great sign if you are emotionally invested in a story right? If you enjoy reading well written psychological thrillers, I can definitely suggest adding Closer to your wishlist.

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Emma and Shaun realized their marriage no longer worked, but decided to keep living in the same house to give their daughter Maisie a stable homefront. They have worked out a routine that worked for both of them… Until Shaun falls in love again and wants to move on with his life. Emma is desperate to protect her little girl, and doesn’t trust his new girlfriend or the daughter… But Shaun just sees it as jealousy. Does Emma just see things or is there really something shady going on?

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Closer is yet another solid psychological thriller I’ve read by K.L. Slater, and has only reconfirmed to me I will always have my eyes out for any of her feature reads. While not perfect, since I guessed part of the final reveals early on and found the ending a bit abrupt, the plot is still well crafted and the creation of the suspense is spot on. I always have a great time with her books, and Closer is no different. I really appreciated the discussion of eating disorder and bullying as well, since it’s something that cannot get enough attention. If you are a fan of the genre, I can highly recommend all of her books.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Last Secret – by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture

Title: Her Last Secret
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 13th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 24th 2017
Pages: ?

“Life was sweet. Until it turned sour.”

*** 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 really enjoyed reading The Darkest Lies earlier this year, so I was really looking forward to Barbara Copperthwaite‘s newest psychological thriller. And as the title might already suggest, this one is yet another story packed until its limits with lies and secrets. Her Last Secret is mostly a character-driven psychological thriller and focuses on the many different characters that play a role in the event of that damned Christmas day. I do have to admit the pace was initially a lot slower than expected and I found myself struggling a little in the beginning. This was due both to the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters. Somehow was never able to warm up to any of the main characters (except mayby for Mouse) and some of their actions and opinions actually started to frustrate me (the father is despicable!). I can’t deny their development feels realistic and rounded though; each of them having a different web of lies and secrets and adding a different level to the story. This complexity of characters and different subplots is what saved this story for me. Once you get used to the different characters, start learning about the events leading up to Christmas day and start guessing what really happened, you will find yourself hooked. The second half of the story definitely made up for the slow start for me. I loved the whole countdown idea and how slowly more of the present day event is revealed… Leaving you in the dark and guessing what could have happened and who is to blame as you learn more about the characters. And the final part is more than shocking! Basically, Her Last Secret will make you think a lot of things and suspect a lot of people, but I can garantuee you won’t guess the final truth about what really happened. I could also really appreciate the role (cyber)bullying played in this story. All in all, if you enjoy reading character-driven psychological thrillers, you will have a great time with this one.

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On the outside, they seemed like a perfect family. Ben Thomas is a successful business and lives with his wife Dominique in a beautiful house along with their two daughters Ruby and Mouse. But this perfect image is just a mirage, as they seem to be hiding a lot of secrets… And then on Christmas day the police is called to their home, only to find a horrific scene. What happened in their home? What secrets were they hiding? And did those secrets have anything to do with what happened on Christmas day?

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Her Last Secret turned out to be a slowburner for me. While I initially struggled with the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters, I was seriously hooked by the time I reached the second half. This character-driven psychological thriller has more layers than an onion and a huge dose of secrets to go with it. The complexity of the plot and how the different storylines slowly merge is what makes this story so intriguing; the countdown chapters mixed with the slow Christmas day revelations only add to the suspense.


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BOOK REVIEW: All The Rage – by Courtney Summers

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Title: All The Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: April 14th 2015
Finished reading: May 9th 2016
Pages: 321
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“But just because something starts out sweet doesn’t mean it won’t push itself so far past anything you could call sweet anymore. And if it all starts like this, how do you see what’s coming?”

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I have had this book on my radar even before it was first published last year, but somehow it took me a long time to actually pick it up. All The Rage is a story with a complicated topic and definitely shouldn’t be considered as a light or easy read. Why? In this novel by Courtney Summers you will find numerous mentions of sexual violence, abuse and bullying and the way the victim in the story is treated after the facts is quite horrible. I normally don’t mind stories with shocking elements, but in this case it was hard to focus on the actual facts and feel sorry for the main character. I’m not saying what happened to Romy wasn’t horrible and she must feel terrible that nobody seems to believe her, but still… Why has she have to be so unlikeable?! Most of the other characters weren’t exactly likeable either, and that made it really hard to connect to the story itself or have proper feelings while reading it. It’s not that All The Rage is badly written and it actually reads pretty fast, but I’m not sure what happened to Romy and the fact that (almost) nobody seems to help this poor girl is actually credible. What I do appreciate is that this story brings attention to sexual violence and how it can affect its victims. Maybe one day warning signs will actually always be investigated no matter how crazy they might sound. (Unlike in the case of All The Rage, where the suspect is the sheriff’s son and protected by his father and the community.)

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Romy Grey has a horrible secret, and nobody seems to believe her. Kellan Turner is the sheriff’s son and seems to be the perfect golden boy, but Romy knows for a fact that is not true. But no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town and from a family with a bad reputation in the community… In fact, telling the truth about what happened took away everything good in her life. Romy is called a liar by the whole community and bullied by the same people she used to hang out with. The only way she can escape reality is during her shifts at a diner where she works outside of tome, where nobody knows her name or past. Things change forever when both Romy and a girl she used to be friends with go missing after a party… Romy shows up alive the next day, but the other girl isn’t so lucky. Now the whole community seems to wish it was Romy still missing… And Romy doesn’t know whether she should fight to get the truth out or ignore the fact that more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t.

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The message behind All The Rage is an important one and I appreciate the fact that it brings attention to (the consequences of) sexual abuse and bullying. I wasn’t completely convinced by the prose though. I understand the chapters are the way they are to build up tension and keep you guessing about what really happened, but it did make it less enjoyable to read. Still, the main problem probably is the fact that most of the characters are completely unlikeable and almost nobody seems to even consider helping Romy in the first place. It made it a lot harder to connect to the story and feel sympathy for the main character. Would I recommend reading this story? Probably, if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind unlikeable characters.

BOOK REVIEW: Random – by Tom Leveen

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Title: Random
Author: Tom Leveen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: August 12th 2014
Finished reading: March 30th 2016
Pages: 224
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“’Because that’s what being dead means,’ Andy says. ‘It’s the zenit of ‘never’. Never again, never this, never that. You don’t come back from never. You can’t enjoy never. You just sit there, not existing, not listening to your favorite songs or eating you favorite foods. Never.’”

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I’ve read a few good books about teen suicide and (cyber)bullying in the past (including Tease, Thirteen Reasons Why and Nothing Everything Nothing), so when I first read the blurb of this novel I was immediately interested. Unfortunately cyberbullying is becoming a more urgent problem every day with the internet-focused society we are living in today. Tom Leveen did an excellent job in showing us how something seemingly ‘innocent’ as a few harsh Facebook comments can make someone vulnerable make the decision to end it all. The main character Tori is the perfect example of someone who didn’t see the consequences of her comments, and still thinks she didn’t do anything wrong. The random call and the way she is forced to think about suicide and how she might have played a role in the death of the very person that used to be her friend make this read into something truly intriguing. Random has a fast pace, is easy to read and has just enough plot twists to keep you surprised until the end. The characters might not be completely likeable, but they do feel real and show us what can happen if cyberbullying isn’t taken seriously. Recommended!

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Tori hasn’t been herself lately ever since one of her former friends decided to end his life. Kevin and Tori used to be closer, but when Tori became friends with a bunch of popular people she started to act differently. Her new friends don’t exactly treat Kevin the right way and slowly Tori starts to join them… And when her new friends start leaving harsh comments about everything Kevin writes on her Facebook page, she doesn’t defend him. Feeling desperate to stay popular, she even writes a few nasty comments of her own. Now Tori’s Facebook page is evidence in an upcoming trail with national coverage that wants to convict her group for cyberbullying and being the direct cause of Kevin’s suicide… Tori doesn’t believe she is guilty, but is forced to rethink what happened to him when she receives a random phone call. What seems to be a wrong number turns to be a guy her age that asks her for only one thing: a reason not to kill himself. Tori first thinks he is a fraud, but can she really take the risk and have another possible suicide on her conscience?

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Random is a well written and fast-paced read about a subject that is becoming more and more important as the influence of the internet grows. Cyberbullying is probably more common than the ‘old-fashioned’ bullying known ten years ago, and it is important that the consequences are revealed to the bigger public. Tom Leveen did an excellent job by doing just that in his novel and make us think about how something simple as a few Facebook comments can have a huge impact on someone. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you are interested in the subject.

BOOK REVIEW: The Truth About Alice – by Jennifer Mathieu

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Title: The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: June 3rd 2014
Finished reading: July 23rd 2015
Pages: 209
Rating 2

“There is one thing I’ve learned about people: they don’t get that mean and nasty overnight. It’s not human nature. But if you give people enough time, eventually they’ll do the most heartbreaking stuff in the world.”

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I’ve had The Truth About Alice on my TBR ever since it came out last year, but somehow I was hesitant to pick it up. I’ve heard mixed things about it and to be honest I wasn’t sure I was going to like this read… Turns out I was right. The Truth About Alice is basically about a bunch of teenage drama queens who spread rumors about Alice, and then you slowly find out what really happened and why they invented the rumors. The characters weren’t exactly likeable and you don’t hear from Alice until the very last chapter. (I guess that chapter is what saved this book a bit for me.) Jennifer Mathieu writes in a way that is easy to read and the pace is fast, but I felt myself not really caring about what was happening to the characters. You read the story from the point of view of different characters and learn what really happened through their eyes. The problem is that three of them are mostly annoying teenage wannabes (Elaine, Kelsie and Josh) and their ‘secrets’ are not interesting at all. The chapters with Kurt are refreshing; at least he has an interesting personality. But overall this was mostly a boring read with flat characters that could have been summarized by only reading the last chapter.

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According to the rumors, Alice Franklin is what you call a true slut. Everybody knows that she slept with two guys at one and the same party. And everybody knows she was writing dirty texts to Brandon at the moment he crashed his car and died. Everybody knows, so the rumors must be true right? The bathroom stall at their high school is full of messages that show what the students really think of Alice and things are getting out of control… Four Healy High students will tell what they know, but what is the truth about Alice? What really happened?

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I should have known The Truth About Alice wouldn’t be for me. I’m not a fan of high school drama and that is what this novel is all about. At least it’s a quick read, but I honestly didn’t care about the characters or about the truth about Alice… Which is kind of the whole point of this book. Well, at least now I know, right? Fans of YA contemporary and those who don’t mind annoying ‘popular’ high school students as main characters might still enjoy this read, but I wouldn’t recommend it myself.