ARC REVIEW: All This I Will Give To You – by Dolores Redondo

Title: All This I Will Give To You
Author: Dolores Redondo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 3rd 2016
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: September 30th 2018
Pages: 494
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Todo Esto Te Daré’)

“He’d lied to the only being in this world entitled to know the truth: himself.”

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

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This might just be one of those cases where the problem is me, and not the book… So take this review with a grain of salt. I was actually looking forward to read All This I Will Give To You, since I love stories set in Spain and the blurb sounded fantastic. It might have been the translation, since I prefer reading Spanish books in the original language as the exuberant prose doesn’t always translate well… But the fact is that it didn’t turn out to be the reading experience I was hoping for. Overlong, with difficult to read prose and a writing style that makes it really hard to stay focused as you have to read some lines over and over again… Oh yes, it’s easy to say I really struggled with this story. The pace was superslow and the story felt halted; ever had car engine problems and tried to move the car with your whole body? That’s how I felt while I was trying to make it to the end of this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love detailed descriptions and the area described in All This I Will Give To You is a perfect excuse to do just so. I just think this story took it one step too far. I truly think this story would have benefited from a brutal editor cut and at least 150 pages less. Because there is no doubt that the idea behind this story and plot is fascinating as well as the many secrets of Alvaro’s family and history. It is just buried under so many unnecessary descriptions and overly baroque prose that the intrigue ends up being completely lost. Which is such a shame, because the complexity of the plot itself, with many twists and secrets to discover about the family, is excellent.

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The life of novelist Manuel Ortigosa changes forever when he learns one morning that his husband Alvaro has been killed in a car crash. Because that is not the only shock for Manuel, as it turns out Alvaro has been keeping secrets from him. He wasn’t in Barcelona as he told he was, instead Manuel had to travel to Galicia to the place where Alvaro died. It turns out that the man he married fifteen years ago wasn’t the man Manuel thought he was… And Manuel soon finds himself to be deeper and deeper involved in the secrets around both Alvaro’s life and death.

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There were things I did enjoy in All This I Will Give To You. The fact that the main character is a novelist. The detailed descriptions of the setting in Galicia. The general plot, suspense, plot twists and secrets. The complexity of the story. But. Sadly overall I mostly ended up struggling with All This I Will Give To You. Between the very slow and halted pace, the overdose of descriptions and an overly barque prose I had a hard time to keep myself going. I felt like a potentially excellent story was buried under a pile unnecessary words and pages that prevented it from reaching its full potential.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #45 – The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo & Orange Is The New Black

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around not only two books belonging to a completely different genre, but also two completely different reactions to the story. Despite not being my typical genre, I absolutely loved The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo. I should have never doubted all those raving reviews! Orange Is The New Black on the other hand was a huge disappointment.


Title: The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: September 2nd 2018
Pages: 388

“No one is all good or all bad. I know this, of course, I had to learn it at a young age. But sometimes it’s easy to forget just how true it is.”


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Fact: I’ve been a tiny bit afraid to pick up this one. Partly because of all those raving reviews and you all know how I react to hyped books most of the time, and partly because it’s not my typical genre… But I should have never doubted those reviews. The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo had me hook, line and sinker. Not only was I impressed by the writing style right from the very first page, it was the story itself that fascinated me as well. The idea of the biography, the aged actress finally revealing all about her past… Everything just clicked for me. Even though Evelyn Hugo herself is not exactly likeable and has done some horrendous things in her life, somehow between the way she was portrayed in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo and the way she tells Monique all her secrets without hiding the ugly details she really grows on you. I was actually surprised by just how much I was able to connect to her character! I also loved how big of a role diversity played in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo. It was interesting to see how gay, lesbian and bisexual characters were treated in that particular era, and how the views on the lgbt community affected the Hollywood stars. The historical setting in general is very well done and I highly enjoyed fully diving into that era. I also enjoyed the way this story was told: partly set in the present as Evelyn finally tells her story to Monique, and mostly set in the past, where Evelyn gives us her life story through her seven husbands she has been with during her life. My favorite characters were without doubt Harry and Celia, and the character development in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is sublime. I never imagined enjoying this book so much, but this is one of those books that you just HAVE to try even if you aren’t sure the genre would be for you. Trust me, you will regret it if you don’t.


Title: Orange Is The New Black
Author: Piper Kerman

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: April 6th 2010
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Finished reading: September 3rd 2018
Pages: 298

“Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the world, a place where the U.S. government now puts not only the dangerous but also the inconvenient-people who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated and unskilled.”


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I actually saw the first episode of the TV series based on this memoir a while back, but I decided to not continue watching as I wasn’t impressed by what I had seen. I still wanted to give the memoir a go though, mostly because I normally never watch a series or movie before reading the book in the first place. So when Orange Is The New Black fitted one of the N.E.W.T. prompts, of course I saw it as a sign to pick it up. Sadly, it wasn’t the experience I was hoping for. It seems my feelings during my supershort experience watching the TV series pretty much summed up my feelings for this memoir as well. What went wrong for me? First of all, I never got used to the writing style or tone, which of course made it harder to connect to the story. Secondly, I had a huge problem with Piper Kerman herself. She comes over as someone mostly self-centered, who sees herself as someone above the rest and doesn’t seem to want to admit what she did back in 1993 was wrong. Reading about her views on the prison world made me cringe at points, and while it was interesting to learn more about some of the inmates, I felt it lacked coherence and the story just didn’t flow for me. More importantly, I felt she was trying to be too politically correct and by saying she wasn’t discriminating, it mostly came over as the other way around. The ending was also really abrupt, and didn’t give real closure after such a detailed description of her time in jail. The story dragged at points and it was hard to keep myself interested and make it to the end… The fact that I did was more due to the other characters involved than Piper Kerman herself. All in all unfortunately not exactly a winner for me.


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ARC REVIEW: Call To Arms – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: Call To Arms
(Detective Kay Hunter #5)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 11th 2018
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: August 24th 2018
Pages: 360

“A cold chill crawled over his shoulders as fear began to overcome his anger. It wasn’t meant to be like this. Everything was out of control.”

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

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First of all a shout out to the wonderful Meggy @ Chocolate’n’Waffles who made me finally get to know Kay Hunter after I won this book in her giveaway a few months back. Thanks again for introducing me to what has become one of my new favorite series this year! ❤ ❤ ❤

I became an instant fan of the main character of this series as soon as I got to know her in the first book back in April, and this feeling hasn’t changed since. If anything, my love for Kay Hunter has only increased and picking up another book of this series is like putting on your favorite sweater, snuggling up in a comfortable spot and spending the day forgetting about your own problems. I hadn’t expected any different by now, but book number five Call To Arms has exactly the same quality I have become used to. Strong, solid and engaging writing, excellent character development, an interesting plot… This detective thriller has it all. I really liked that we see a vulnerable side in various characters; this makes them only more human. The characters feel like old friends and you cannot help but feel and root for them as they try to figure out what really happened as they reopen a ten year old old case. It was interesting to see them all working together to rescue one of their own… The plot and plot twists are well executed as always, and I definitely didn’t guess the final revelations! Call To Arms is another excellent addition to this series and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book. I can highly recommend this series if you enjoy the genre!

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

Kay Hunter managed to survive a brutal attack some time ago, but not without consequences. It has taken time for her to recover, both mentally and physically, and she is not the only victim. DI Devon Sharp is still suspended from duties as they investigate allegations made by a now former colleague. Kay Hunter is slowly going crazy being put on desk work until she is fully recovered, and finds herself something to keep her mind occupied instead. She is determined to clear Sharp’s name and reopens a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser, hoping that solving the case will bring the truth to light.

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Basically, you can’t go wrong when you pick up one of the Detective Kay Hunter books. This series has been consistently strong so far and Call To Arms is no exception. Less fast-paced and violent than the previous book, Call To Arms instead focuses more on the main characters we have become to love, show a sensitive side and just how well they work together as a team. The cold case they investigate is another good one, with many twists, secrets and turns to keep things intriguing. Things are getting personal, and digging up the truth might hurt more than one person. Fascinated yet? You won’t regret reading Call To Arms or the other books in the series if you can appreciate a good detective thriller.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #34: Thin Wire & Attachments

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different stories… The first a non fiction memoir about a woman with a heroin addiction and her mother, Thin Wire by Christine Lewry. Without doubt not an easy read! The second title a book that has been on my TBR for way too long: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.


Title: Thin Wire
Author: Christine Lewry

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: 2012
Publisher: Matador
Finished reading: July 17th 2018
Pages: 345

“Addiction always begins with a desire to be better. Stronger. Smarter. Suaver. Richer. Braver. More. The promise is always of less pain and greater fulfilment, and the promise is always a lie.”


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This memoir was a TBR jar pick and I title I’ve had on my kindle for over two years now. Thin Wire is without doubt a difficult read with a difficult theme and in a way I’m struggling to review it. I feel I cannot judge such a personal struggle in any way, but what I can say is what I thought about the story itself. The first thing that stood out for me was that the pace is quite slow and the story dragged at points; it took me a lot longer than expected to reach the final page. This of course made it harder to get a proper feel for the story or get really invested. I did like the switches in POV, which made it a bit easier to see both sides of the addiction and its consequences. The heroin addiction was clearly a living hell for both daughter and mother to have to go through, and Thin Wire really opens your eyes on just how destructive the drug can be for anyone coming close to it. I did feel the memoir missed that little something to take it to the next level, which probably had to do with the writing and the slower pace. While not perfect, it’s not a bad read either and I admire both for being brave enough to get their story out there.


Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 14th 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Finished reading: July 22nd 2018
Pages: 323

“Love. Purpose. Those are the things that you can’t plan for. Those are the things that just happen.”


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Rainbow Rowell is on my list of favorite authors and I have loved her YA books so far. But somehow, after a negative experience with her other adult title Landline, I never actually picked up Attachments until now. As I was browsing for light and fluffy titles the other day, I stumbled upon my copy of Attachments, and I thought: why not? And it looks like I was in dire need of some Rowell medicine to cheer me up. While this story has a lot of tropes that might make me potentially hate a story (insta-love, love triangle, geek cliche, musician cliche etc etc), I somehow ended up having a blast reading Attachments. Sure, there were a lot of cliches to deal with. Sure, things did get cheesy at points. Sure, there was a love triangle vibe going on. But somehow, if you are just looking for a light, fluffy and entertaining read, this story really works. Analyzing things further, Lincoln should come over as a real creep, reading emails, living with his mom and all, but somehow I didn’t mind. Trust me, I was surprised to feel this way myself. I’m not sure the whole geek vibe is credible or connects to his physical appearance (come on, we would never expect Lincoln to look as described), but like I said, if you are looking for the perfect beach read or simply want to forget about your own problems for a while, reading Attachments is the perfect option to do so.


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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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ARC REVIEW: Barbed Wire Heart – by Tess Sharpe @GrandCentralPub

Title: Barbed Wire Heart
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Finished reading: February 26th 2018
Pages: 416

“Sometimes you’ve got to save people from themselves. Even if they don’t want it or know it.”

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

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As much as I love the mystery/thriller genre, plots can start sounding similar after reading one too many of them. This is probably part of the reason why I ended up enjoying Barbed Wire Heart that much; this thriller is like a fresh breath of air or an oasis in the middle of a desert. And by this I don’t mean this story is a softie and has a low adrenaline level. On the contrary: Barbed Wire Heart is a mean trigger-happy powerhouse that isn’t for the weakhearted. Why mention an oasis then? Because this story is pretty darn original and simply different from most popular thrillers out there today. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t about the good against the bad; the lines are more blurry than that. The main character Harley McKenna is the daughter of what is basically a druglord and she is one heck of a badass female lead. Her daddy has been teaching her the tricks of the trade ever since she was little, which was necessary because of their rivalry with the Springfields. This book doesn’t dance around the dirty details of their war and problems and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape, guns and drugs among other things. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t afraid to go ugly and for me it was one of the stronger assets of this story. Because it makes Harley and her history feel real; the messiness and sometimes shocking details making you root for her and hope she will be able to achieve her goals… Both her character and the other important ones are very well developed and fleshed out, and it was great seeing the dynamics between them. The story itself switches between present and seemingly random bits of her past, always told from her POV, and this mix help show how she became the woman she is today and why she is doing what she does. The writing style is excellent and the direct and bold way of describing the situations added to the authentic feel of it all. Another element I could really appreciate was just how much it showed the power of women and especially the Rubies (abused women Harley helps protect) having enough and not taking abuse any longer. There are some heavy scenes included in the plot, but the overall (feminist) message is clear: stop underestimating women, because they will fight back. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t just a drug inspired criminal story where two different families are taking it up against each other. It’s so much more. And it’s without doubt one hell of a ride.

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Harley McKenna is the only child of North County’s biggest criminal. Everyone fears Duke McKenna, and with a reason since he has killed more men and cooked more meth than anyone around. But The Springfields are always right around the corner, waiting for their chance to strike and take over… Years ago, they killed Harley’s mother, and Duke wasn’t able to get his revenge because the cops got the one responsible first. Now he’s out of jail and coming for Duke’s one weak spot: his daughter. But they don’t realize that Duke has been training Harley for years, showing her how a true McKenna has to act. But Harley realizes something will have to change if she wants to survive and protect the people she loves… And she has a plan.

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Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Kings Of Cool – by Don Winslow

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Title: The Kings Of Cool
(Savages #1)
Author: Don Winslow
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: June 19th 2012
Finished reading: August 15th 2015
Pages: 320
Rating 4

“Smart people sometimes get stupid, but stupid people never get smart. Never. Ever. ‘You can come down the evolutionary ladder,’ Chon has observed to Ben and O; ‘you can’t climb up.”

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The Kings Of Cool was my TBR jar pick back in June, but I’ve only just came around actually reading it. Which is basically almost two months of neglecting this read, shame on me! I still don’t know why it took me so long to pick up this prequel novel by Don Winslow, because I ended up really enjoying this read. I’ve done some War On Drugs courses back in Uni, so the drugs theme was a bonus. The character development is really well done and I like the fact that the story takes you on a journey through various decades to explain how Ben, Chon and O became the people they are. The Kings Of Cool has a fast pace and is very well written: humor is mixed with action and I was able to finish this book in no time at all. Not every character is exactly likeable, but they feel authentic so I wasn’t really bothered by it. Definitely recommended if you are looking for a witty and fast-paced mystery/thriller read!

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This prequel tells the story of how Ben, Chon and O became the people they are. The chapters switch between the past and present where we learn more about their parents and their own lives. In the present, the three friends battle with drug dealers and crooked cops. They soon find out their current situation is related to their parent’s history… As they say: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. A series of unfortunate events will lead to a collision where the past meets the present in a showdown… And they will be forced to choose where their loyalty really lies.

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The Kings Of Cool is fast-paced, full of action and plenty of funny moments and well written dialogue. The past and the present are slowly mixed together and the character development is brilliantly done. This novel will not only entertain you, but also makes you think about the current War On Drugs situation and the society in general. A very interesting read and recommended! I will definitely try to read more of his work in the future.