YVO’S SHORTIES #100 – The Death Of Mrs. Westaway & Circe

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Already shorties post number one hundred! and what better way to celebrate than with two fantastic backlist titles I both loved. The Death Of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is probably my new favorite by the author and I absolutely loved my time with Circe by Madeline Miller. I love mythology stories in general and this one was brilliant.


Title: The Death Of Mrs Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 29th 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: May 7th 2019
Pages: 384

“You can’t influence fate, or change what’s out of your control. But you can choose what you yourself do with the cards you’re dealt.”


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I’ve been meaning to read another Ruth Ware book for a while now… While I was tempted to finally pick up The Woman In Cabin 10, I decided to stick to my 2019 priority title list and read The Death Of Mrs. Westaway instead. I can’t say I’m complaining, because after a few disappointing reads I finally found something that managed to blow me away again. This might just be my new favorite Ruth Ware title… What a creepy and suspenseful read! The house in Cornwall is such an excellent setting for this story filled with secrets and lies, and gives The Death Of Mrs. Westaway that gothic atmosphere. It definitely sets the right tone for this story! The story starts out in Brighton where we get to know the main character of this story and her desperate situation. I was intrigued by Hal’s situation from the start and while she is without doubt a flawed character and sometimes difficult to like, you will find yourself rooting for her soon enough. The writing is engaging and beautifully crafted and the descriptions gave off that creepy and eerie vibe. There are a lot of secrets and lies involved in the Westaway family and its past, and while I admit I saw part of them coming, I never guessed the full truth. In short, The Death Of Mrs. Westaway was a delightfully twisty and eerie psychological thriller packed with secrets and a dangerous side. If you are a fan of the genre, you will most likely have a great time with this one.


Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology
First published: April 10th 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Finished reading: May 9th 2019
Pages: 336

“I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”


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I admit it was a pretty safe bet I was going to enjoy reading Circe, considering my love for Greek mythology stories in general and the fact that I loved her previous book The Song Of Achilles. My instincts turned out to be right, because I loved this story just as much as the gorgeous and shiny cover! If you enjoy (Greek) mythology retellings, Circe definitely is a must-read. Madeline Miller uses Circe’s immortal character to weave in a variety of different myths and stories about Gods and famous mortals alike. This is done exceptionally well and in a way that makes the story flow naturally. It’s true that time passes slower or more quickly at times and sometimes decades or centuries pass in a blink of the eye. But for me it only demonstrated the immortality of Circe and the way passes differently for her. The pace is slower at times, but I personally didn’t mind as it gave me more time to truly savour this little gem. I loved reading about Circe’s time living in the house of her father Helios and all the events that followed. You will find references to for example Daedalus, the Minotaur and the famous labyrinth, Icarus and his wings, Achilles and the Troyan war… The main secondary role is left for Odysseus though, as both him and his sons play a role during a big part of the story. We learn more about his adventures, his past and the influence he has had on Circe’s life. Witchcraft also plays a big role throughout the story, and I really enjoyed learning more about Circe’s gift. I can see why Circe wouldn’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy Greek mythology retellings and don’t mind a slower pace at times, you will most likely enjoy it as much as I did.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane – by Dee MacDonald

Title: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 24th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 2nd 2019
Pages: 275

“These things usually happen when you aren’t looking for them.”

*** 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 was really looking forward to spend time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, especially since I loved the writing style and humor in The Getaway Girls last year. I was fully expecting to be having a blast while reading Dee MacDonald‘s newest title, but I guess it just wasn’t ment to be… And I turned out having a completely different reaction instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Because I ended up having quite a few issues with this story and surprisingly none had to do with the fact that the contemporary romance genre normally isn’t really for me. I’ll try to explain why The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane didn’t work for me below.

The first and most important issue I had with this story had to do with one of Tess’ dates… More especifically the one in the hotel. I don’t want to give away too many details to avoid spoilers, but basically what is described can be considered rape. Disgusting enough on its own and trigger warning worthy, but to make things even worse Tess tries to justify it and blames herself? No, no, NO!! I nearly stopped reading there and then because of this scene. Another thing that bothered me considerably is that way this story completely destroys body positivity. I mean, Tess believing she has to lose weight in order for her to look good, be successful and find a man? Not only shallow but completely contradicts the image their own shop tries to portray. Characters in general are discriminated and talked about negatively because of their weight and appearance and this really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The story itself is filled with cliches and not in a good way… I personally couldn’t even find the humor in them this time around. I also failed to connect to the main characters, mostly due to how they behaved and the negativity towards others. The dates themselves were so cliche that they are almost offensive and most characters really lacked fleshing out for me. A shame, because I was really looking forward to see more mature main characters for a change. What I did like? The writing does read quite fast and I loved the descriptions of the different places of their Greek cruise. This travel element was probably my favorite part of the story. Otherwise, unfortunately this turned out to be a rather disappointing journey for me. I do hope others will react differently to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane!

Tess and Orla have been best friend for a long time and have worked together in a dressmakers shop on the corner of Penny Lane for quite some time. Then one day, sixty-two-year-old Tess decides she wants something more out of the rest of her days and wants to rediscover herself… Hoping to find someone special to spend those days with sooner than later. Orla convinces her to join a dating agency, resulting in some very interesting meetings… And a cruise visiting the Greek islands on the menu as well.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to be having this reaction to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, but it is what it is I guess… I turned out having various serious issues with this story, a lot relating to how characters behaved and were portrayed. I apologize if this review turned into a rant, but I really couldn’t help but getting my feelings out there since it doesn’t happen often I have this strong of a reaction to a story. I do hope others will have a better time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane though.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Song Of Achilles – by Madeline Miller

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Title: The Song Of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction
First published: September 20th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Finished reading: February 28th 2017
Pages: 352
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“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

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To take a little break from my ARC mountain, I decided to pick up one of my Beat The Backlist titles. Basically, I have been wanting to read The Song Of Achilles for YEARS. I still don’t know why I haven’t picked up this modern mythology adaptation of the Achilles and Troyan War story written by Madeline Miller before… Especially since so many fellow booklovers seemed to have enjoyed it and I also I read (part of) Homer‘s Iliad during my Ancient Greek classes back in high school and wanted to revisit the story. The Song Of Achilles surely didn’t disappoint; I can understand the love for this book now! Not only is this a very well written story and a lot more pleasant to read than the Iliad translations I’ve seen around, but the character development is very well done as well and I especially loved Patroclus’ character. The pace is quite slow at points, but I personally didn’t mind and I practically devoured this book. If you like mythology, good stories and want to refresh your memory on the Achilles and Troyan War facts, The Song Of Achilles is an excellent choice!

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Patroclus isn’t exactly the perfect young prince and his awkwardness makes his father very frustrated with him. When he accidently kills another boy, his father exiles him to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Against odds the two princes become friends and as they grow up together their bond grows stronger and stronger, despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother and sea goddess Thetis. One day word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, and Achilles must go to war and fulfull his destiny. Patroclus isn’t exactly a skilled fighter, but he would follow Achilles everywhere including to the distant Troy. What will happen to the two during their journey?

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I think most people are at least vaguely familiar with the details around the Troyan War and Achilles. It’s quite a popular Greek mythology story and popular movies have helped to promote it, but it is important to realize those movies have been (heavily) adapted to please the masses. If you want to have a better idea of the ‘real’ story, this mythology adaptation by Madeline Miller is an excellent choice. It reads a lot easier than the Homer translations without changing too much of the plot, and while the pace is a bit slow I had a great time reading this story.


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BOOK REVIEW: Map Of Fates – by Maggie Hall

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Title: Map Of Fates
(The Conspiracy Of Us #2)
Author: Maggie Hall
Genre: YA, Mystery, Romance
First published: March 8th 2016
Finished reading: April 9th 2016
Pages: 311
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“Do you think all those people believe in fate? Or do you think they’re just living their lives the best they can with whatever’s thrown at them?”

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I think this is one of the first series in a long time where I actually needed to pick up the sequel straight after finishing the first book. The Conspiracy Of Us is seriously addicting! This series by Maggie Hall is basically almost everything I want in a good story, with only the romance scenes putting a slight damper on the otherwise perfection. And while Map Of Fates isn’t as good as the first book and the romance scenes are becoming more annoying (read: love triangle related), the sequel is still very much a solid read. London, India, Venice, Greece, Paris, Cannes… I simply love the internationality of this series. The pace is incredibly fast and the story so engaging that it is definitely hard to put this story down. The main characters are still likeable in general, although what was just a hint of a love triangle in The Conspiracy Of Us has grown into some quite annoying and cheesy romance scenes in the sequel. Luckily enough the rest of the story is good enough to make up for it, and I will be waiting anciously for the third book to find out what happens next. The wait sure will be a long one, since there isn’t even an official title or publish date yet. Sigh…

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

Two weeks ago, Avery West thought her life was pretty much ordinary besides the fact she had to move all the time. Now she has discovered she is actually the heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, her mother was taken hostage and her future will most likely involve marrying the One. She is determined to change destiny, free her mother and solve the clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle… But she only has two more weeks before it’s too late and both her mother will be killed and her freedom taken away from her. Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues with the help of some of her new allies. Will they find out the truth on time?

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I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to avoid any spoilers, but what I can say that this series is definitely worth reading. The Conspiracy Of Us series mixes old conspiracy theories with action, international locations, romance and a healthy dose of mystery and plot twists. The result? A VERY engaging story that is without doubt worth your time if you enjoy the genre. One of my new favorites!

BOOK REVIEW: The King Must Die – by Mary Renault

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Title: The King Must Die
(Theseus Series #1)
Author: Mary Renault
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Fantasy
First published: 1958
Finished reading: September 19th 2013
Pages: 356

Rating 3

“A man is at his youngest when he thinks he is a man, not yet realizing that his actions must show it.”

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Mary Renault tells the story of a boy-king, Theseus, whose adventures are roughly based on the Greek Theseus legend. Various changes are made to make the story more plausible, and for me it ruins a bit the fantasy of the original myths round Theseus. The beginning of The King Must Die is a tad slow and confusing, which doesn’t encourage readers to continue… But luckily I managed to continue reading and the story did become more interesting after the initial chapters.

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The story begins in Theseus’ homeland, where he grows up to be a short but very agil young man, trying to get to know who is his real father besides Poseidon. When he discovers he is the heir of king Aigeus in Athens, he decides to travel to meet his destiny (moira). He is stopped on the way by the queen of Eleusis and becomes the year-king of this woman-dominated land. Fate decides this isn’t his final stop and he manages to make it to Athene, where he finally meets his father. This isn’t the last stop either though; for it is the island of Krete, the home of the famous Minotaur.Theseus is send with other unfortunate youngsters to Krete to participate in the famous bullfights in the Labyrinth. In groups, they ‘dance’ with the bulls and as they do, trying to survive and not end up as a sacrifice for the great Bull of the Sea, Poseidon…

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It’s an alteration of the most famous episode in the Theseus myth where he confronts the fantastical half-man half bull commonly known as the Minotaur. Mary Renault altered the story to make it more plausible, and the mythical part sadly was lost in this adaptation. But still it makes an interesting and moving story about the adventures and struggles of young Theseus to survive in the ancient Greek world.. If you can make it through the first chapters, it’s definitely worth it to try and finish the book.