YVO’S SHORTIES #138 – The Family & A Curse So Dark And Lonely

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 2019 releases belonging to two completely different genres… But both turned out to be winners. I already knew I was going to enjoy The Family, as I love everything Louise Jensen writes, and my instincts were absolutely right! And I had some doubts about A Curse So Dark And Lonely, but I ended up enjoying it a lot better than I hoped I would.


Title: The Family
Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 3rd 2019 
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: November 30th 2019
Pages: 383

“Family should stick together. Protect each other. Instead, I chose to come here.

This is all my fault.”


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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of anything Louise Jensen writes, so I guess you can imagine how sad I was when I discovered I couldn’t request an ARC this time around… I preordered a finished copy instead, and I’ve been waiting impatiently to read it ever since my copy arrived. I can now guarantee you: Louise Jensen has done it again. I started reading The Family late on a Friday night and after only a couple of pages I decided to stop before I couldn’t stop anymore… Because I already knew I was going to want to keep reading. And that is what I did the next day: I cleared my schedule, sat down and kept turning those pages until I reached the end. The Family is definitely one of those psychological thrillers you will want to read in one sitting! And between the plot, writing, character development, secrets and twists, you will find it a very easy job to do just so. The story is told using different POVs, sometimes staying with the same character during various chapters and sometimes switching rapidly between chapters and characters. These everchanging dynamics add to the overall suspense of the story and definitely gives The Family a little something extra. The plot itself is fascinating as well. The cult like feel of the Oak Leaf Farm and its inhabitants, the vulnerability of Laura and her daughter, the secrets and twists that keep you guessing… And on top of that, the plot development is simply spot on and truly enhanced the reading experience for me. The main characters themselves are without doubt interesting as well. Flawed, well developed and realistic, they form the bricks this story stands on and they help turning The Family into the psychological thriller masterpiece it is. Fans of the genre are missing out if they haven’t read The Family or her other titles yet!


Title: A Curse So Dark And Lonely
(Cursebreakers #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Finished reading: December 1st 2019
Pages: 496

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”


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There has been quite some hype around A Curse So Dark And Lonely this year, and you all know how hyped books and me tend to get along… I’ve been avoiding this first book of a new series by Brigid Kemmerer to be honest, but I just couldn’t resist any longer when I was in the mood for a little something different. I haven’t read nearly enough YA high fantasy this year, and it turns out I was long overdue for a dose of the genre. I ended up enjoying A Curse So Dark And Lonely so much more than I hoped I would! While it’s true that I’m not a big fan of Rhen, I LOVED Grey’s character and Harper was a solid lead as well. The details involving Emberfall and its curse are without doubt intriguing and well developed too. It was interesting to see fantasy and the real world collide and there was quite a some action involved as well. I also appreciated that the romance wasn’t omni-present in this first book. Instead, it’s mostly slowburn romance with only a hint at a possible love triangle… And I just loved the romance between Jack and Noah! A Curse So Dark And Lonely definitely ends with a cliffhanger though, so I’m happy the wait for the sequel won’t be too long. I do hope we’ll see more of Grey in the second book, or else I would probably end up quite disappointed…


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ARC REVIEW: The Letter For The King – by Tonke Dragt

Title: The Letter For The King
(The Letter For The King #1)
Author: Tonke Dragt
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical, Fantasy
First published: 1962
Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books
Finished reading: April 9th 2018
Pages: 508
(Originally written in Dutch: ‘De Brief Voor De Koning´)

“It’s only when something’s threatened that you realize just how much you love it.”

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

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The Letter For The King was my very first MG read of the year and a translation of an older (1962) Dutch publication that is scheduled to be published later this year. And just look at that gorgeous cover! I thought I had read it in Dutch before when I was a kid, but apparently I was wrong because I didn’t recognize the story. That said, I think I probably would have enjoyed it a lot better back then. It’s not the fact that this is a middle grade read and ment for a younger public, because I have enjoyed books belonging to the age group before… And I can’t really put my finger on the why, but the fact is that I just couldn’t get used to the writing style and tone. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, just that I was never able to get a proper feel for it. And unfortunately it took me ages to finally finish it. I felt the story itself was rather slow and dragged at points… The Letter For The King is over 500 pages long and I think it would have worked better with a faster pace and 200 pages less. The story itself is interesting as well as the quest the main character finds himself on; I liked the worldbuilding too. There was just something about the different kingdoms, the long ago setting with knights and quests that is truly enchanting. But overall it was just too slow for me. The right age-group will enjoy this story a lot better though, as long as they don’t have a short attention span.

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Sixteen-year-old Tiuri is about to become a knight when he is forced to abandon his vigil after a desperate call for help. He feels it is his duty to do as the old man says, but his task is becoming a lot more complicated than I initially thought. Suddenly, he finds himself on a mission both important and dangerous, where enemies will try to stop him from completing that mission. The future of an entire kingdom depends on him and his mission…

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There were things I really liked about The Letter For The King, including the long ago setting and worldbuilding full of knights, interesting kingdoms and quests. The rating above is my personal rating, but I do believe the right target group will enjoy this story a lot better. The main element I personally struggled with is a combination of a slow pace and a writing style I couldn’t become used to. I believe The Letter For The King would have worked better with a faster pace and less dialogue; with over 500 pages, I felt the story was a bit overlong. The adventure, intrigue and suspense are there, but it was kind of burried under a big pile of not that important dialogue… Still, especially younger boys will like following Tiuri on his mission.


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BOOK REVIEW: A Dance With Dragons – by George R.R. Martin

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Title: A Dance With Dragons
(A Song Of Ice And Fire #5)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
First published: July 12th 2011
Publisher: Bantam
Finished reading: August 30th 2016
Pages: 1.154
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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

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I can’t believe I have finally finished this monster! It has been over two years since I finished book number four and I had my doubts whether to continue the series especially since I found the fourth book so disappointing. I now know what was the problem: all my favorite characters were missing. Because I think I have never finished a A Song Of Ice And Fire book as fast as I managed to read A Dance With Dragons. Blame it on my love for Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Arya, Daenerys and her dragons, but I’m pretty sure this has to be my new favorite ASOIAF book. I admit I don’t exactly remember my feelings for the first few books, mostly because it’s been quite some time since I’ve finished them. But as always the book is so much more intriguing than the TV series, and I’m glad I decided to read it before watching the latest season. And that ending! Now the long wait for the sixth book begins….

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

After a huge battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as the queen of a city full of death and betrayal. She has thousands of enemies and many are determined to find and destroy her. And after what he did, Tyrion Lannister is also making his way east; fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head. He has new allies that might come in handy along the way… And in the frozen north, Jon Snow has to confront  both creatures from beyond the Wall and the powerful enemies within the Night’s Watch as well. Winter is coming, and people are getting more restless by the day. The dance for power begins…

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I have to be honest and say I didn’t even remember I disliked the fourth book that much, that’s how long it has been since I finished it. A Dance With Dragons has to be my new favorite of the series and I managed to finish it in record time. It definitely had all my favorite characters in them as well… The ending was shocking even though I kind of already knew what was going to happen. But then again George R.R. Martin does love to kill off his characters in general.