YVO’S SHORTIES #141 – On The Bright Side & Blood For Blood

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time I’m catching up with series… I’ve been wanting to read On The Bright Side ever since my first meeting with Hendrik Groen, and while I do prefer the first book, it was an excellent second meeting. And I wanted to read the first two books of the Ziba MacKenzie series after loving the third book last month, and while I do prefer that one Blood For Blood was still a very entertaining read.


Title: On The Bright Side
(Hendrik Groen #2)
Author: Hendrik Groen

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: January 27th 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: December 27th 2019
Pages: 437
(Originally written in Dutch: ”Zolang er leven is)

“The most salient hallmark of life in an old-age home may well be the lack of duties or responsabilities. Everything is taen care of for you. There is no need for reflection. Life goes down as easily as custard without any lumps.”


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I loved my first meeting with Hendrik Groen, his character and personality reminding me of all time favorite Ove, and I have been waiting impatiently to meet up with him again in the sequel On The Bright Side. This series is written in diary form where we follow the daily life and adventures of an elderly Dutch man at his care home in Amsterdam. The Old-But-Not-Dead Club once again makes its appearance, along with the already known and treasured members of course. This is definitely a case where you should read the first book before starting the sequel, because you won’t understand or keep apart the characters otherwise! While it’s true that I thought that the sequel was a tiny bit slower and I enjoyed the first book a tiny bit better, I still loved spending time with Hendrik and the others. The diary entries are not only used to discuss daily life in a care home, but also talks about national and international happenings and politics. We also get to know the other main characters even better, albeit always through Hendrik’s eyes. On The Bright Side gives us humor and lighter moments as well as more heavy topics and there are definitely some sad moments before you reach the final page. If you loved A Man Called Ove you should definitely put meeting Hendrik on your list! His grumpy and slightly cheeky character is a true delight for anyone who can appreciate a truly unique character.


Title: Blood For Blood
(Ziba MacKenzie #1)
Author: Victoria Selman

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 30th 2019
Pages: 319

“I’ve been studying signature murderers for years. I know what drives them. I know what makes them tick. And I know that, like me, they’re also profilers.”


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I always try reading series in order, but sometimes mistakes are made and I didn’t realize Snakes And Ladders was the third book of a series when I got a copy on Netgalley. After loving that book and my first meeting with Ziba MacKenzie, I made a vow to myself to pick up the first two books ASAP while memories were still fresh… With the bonus that I would have one less series to catch up with in 2020 afterwards. Blood For Blood started with a bang and while this first book shows just how much this series has grown over time, I still had a great time reading it. It’s a quick, fast and entertaining read and I managed to read it in no time at all! While it’s true that I thought that Ziba was a bit too full-on, bitchy, arrogant and too eager to prove to everyone just how tough she is in Blood For Blood, I still liked her profiler angle and it was interesting to see where her character started and how she evolved over time. I also had some doubts about the credibility of certain aspects and plot twists, including the treasurehunt and certain actions of Ziba, but if you like your thrillers entertaining, fast and full of action you will find it quite easy to overlook those. I definitely didn’t realize hours had passed while I was flying through Blood For Blood!


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WWW Wednesdays #249 – January 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Happy new decade! A new year means new reads, and I’m still working through my mountain of ARCs… Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain is up first; a title I’ve been looking forward to. I’m also starting the sequel Nothing To Lose by Victoria Selman so I have one less series to catch up with in 2020. Especially since the sequels seem to be coming out in record speed!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Black Summer by M.W. Craven (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
While I do think I loved the first book a tiny bit more (please don’t hit me!), Black Summer was without doubt a brilliant sequel and as soon as Tilly made her entrance there was no way on earth I was putting down my copy. Thankfully I was able to spend most of Christmas Day in the company of my kindle, lots of tea, a sleeping cat closeby and a pile of leftover chocolate, so my wish came true and I was able to reach that final page almost in one sitting. And what a read!

2. The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell (5/5 stars) REVIEW 04/01
I’m a big fan of her books, and I always look forward to a new one… The Perfect Mother is without doubt a fantastic read that had me absorbed from the very first page and I literally finished it in less than a day. Definitely right at the top of favorite 2020 releases so far!

3. On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I loved my first meeting with main character Hendrik Groen a few months back, his character reminding me of all time favorite Ove. I’ve been looking forward to meet up with him again in the sequel, and while I thought On The Bright Side was a tiny bit slower and I think I liked the first book a tiny bit better, I still had a great time reading this book.

4. A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 09/01
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour…

5. Blood For Blood by Victoria Selman (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I loved the third book of the series when I read it recently, and I decided to read the first two books of the series ASAP so I have one less series to catch up with in 2020. The first book is without doubt an entertaining ride, and while I think the third book shows just how much this series has grown over time I did love learning more about Ziba. And what a way to start the story with a bang!

6. Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain (?/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 16/01
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading the rest of my pending January ARCs first, so I can focus on reading mostly my own books during the rest of the month… The last three pending ARCs are Dark Mother Earth by Kristian Novak, The Home by Sarah Stovell and The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan. I also plan to finally read my latest TBR jar pick Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton!


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WWW Wednesdays #248 – December 25th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I hope everyone who celebrates is having a wonderful Christmas so far! I gave myself an early Christmas gift and finally started reading Black Summer by M.W. Craven, a title I’ve been eagerly anticipating after being blown away by the first book earlier this year. I might just have finished it by the time this post goes live depending on how much free time I could sneak in to read in between Christmas preparations yesterday. I’m also reading On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen as a second Christmas gift. Who says I can’t spoil myself? 😉 I loved the first book and I’m enjoying the same snarky tone in the sequel as well. Hendrik reminds me so much of Ove!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton (5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/12
There are so many characters I loved in this story, and they all play their role in teaching us more about Cuba as well. The plot itself is complex, multilayered and shows a thorough research into Cuban history as well as a wonderful romance story to counter the darker elements in Next Year In Havana. This story is an absolute must-read for historical fiction fans!

2. The Rules Of Murder by Rob Sinclair (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/12
The Rules Of Murder is by no means a meek story and it will have plenty of action, suspense and properly twisted and graphic scenes for you in store. If you like your detective/serial killer thrillers fast and dangerous, you should definitely try this series!

3. Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR STOP 08/01/2020
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour… A little spoiler: it’s a true pageturner!

4. Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/12
I really enjoyed my first encounter with this Finnish mastermind of black humor and nordic noir, so I’ve been excited to pick up Palm Beach Finland. It’s without doubt another excellent read and the combination of the dark humor and the nordic noir elements is what makes this story so unique. It might not be for everyone, but I myself was very entertained by what was going on in the coldest beach resort on earth!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m hoping to get through a few more January ARCs and blog tours to take the pressure off next month… First up is A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone, which I’m really excited about as I loved his other title Breakers earlier this year. Then it’s pending blog tour number two (probably): Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain. I’m also planning on reading Caroline Mitchell‘s newest The Perfect Mother soon. My latest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I probably won’t be able to get to this year even though I’m looking forward to it.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #108 – Dear Evan Hansen & The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads… Sadly Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich failed to blow me away, but The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen completely won over my heart. It’s a must-read for fans of A Man Called Ove!!


Title: Dear Evan Hansen
Author: Val Emmich

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 9th 2018
Publisher: Poppy
Finished reading: June 17th 2019 
Pages: 352

“Fantasies always sound good, but they’re no help when reality comes and shoves you to the ground.”


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I’ve had Dear Evan Hansen on my radar for a while and decided to pick it up on a whim while browsing my kindle for contemporary titles. I initially thought it was going to be a great title for Pride month, but I guess I remembered the facts wrong as the LGBT element hardly plays a role in Dear Evan Hansen. Instead, the focus is on the main character and his mental health issues and anxiety. I’m always interested in stories with that angle, so I didn’t mind that much at first, but I’m not sure I actually like the execution here. Why? Well, I felt there was just too much focus on Evan’s mental problems as a personality trait and I didn’t feel his character was all that developed otherwise; making him essentionally one dimensional and not at all easy to connect to. I understand social awkwardness and anxiety on a personal level, and I don’t feel that Evan was necesarity a realistic and thorough representation of this. He almost felt like a cartoon of himself; his mental issues used as a way to ‘spice up’ the plot and create new plot angles. And to be honest I’m not sure what to think about that. I wasn’t a fan of the plot itself either; I found it rather tasteless to be honest and quite unrealistic as well. The writing wasn’t bad and the story reads fast generally, although I wasn’t happy with the tone sometimes. I do have to confess I have never seen the Broadway show, and this might have had an influence on my reading experience? I’m not sure, but what I do know that this story definitely wasn’t for me. I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely give it a shot if you think you would enjoy it!


Title: The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen
(Hendrik Groen #1)
Author: Hendrik Groen

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
First published: June 1st 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: June 18th 2019
Pages: 400
(Originally written in Dutch: ‘Pogingen Iets Van Het Leven Te Maken’)

“Loneliness can sometimes feel even worse when you’re with other people.”


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As soon as I read the blurb of The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen for the first time two years ago, I knew I HAD to read it. There was just something about the story that made me think of grumpy Ove in A Man Called Ove, one of my all time favorite characters and stories, so there was just no way I was going to pass up on this read. The book is actually a translation of an originally Dutch publication, and the funny part is that for a long time it wasn’t sure who exactly was behind this little masterpiece. Yes, The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen was written under a pseudonym and the author didn’t want his identity to be revealed… Which means that we sadly won’t be able to meet the infamous Hendrik Groen in person. And how would I have loved to do that! I have a feeling Ove and Hendrik would have been great friends and I fell in love with his character right away. The slight grumpiness, the sarcastic humor, his attitude towards the world, the Old But Not Dead club in general… Everything just clicked perfectly and I had a blast reading about their adventures. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen is exactly that: a diary. The story is told through (almost) daily entries in Hendrik Groen’s diary, and through his diary we get to learn more about both himself, the care home and its inhabitants, the care system and Dutch politics/key events in 2013 and last but not least the members of the Old But Not Dead club. I loved the idea behind this club and how Hendrik and his friends decided to keep enjoying life while they still can. The outings were fun to read about and I really loved seeing both their characters and their bond develop over time. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen isn’t all fun and there are a few sad moments included that will most likely make your eyes water. And the ending most definitely left me wanting more more… Hendrik Groen is without doubt a character that will stay with me for a long time! Funny, entertaining and heartfelt: fans of strong main characters, sarcastic humor and A Man Called Ove should consider The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen a must-read.


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WWW Wednesdays #227 – June 19th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I was going to take a break from ARCs, but the NG titles that are left are almost all highly anticipated titles so I don’t think I will resist them much longer. 😉 I’m currently reading one of them: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh. It’s still early days, but I’m excited to be finally reading one of his titles! I’m also starting The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, a book I’ve been meaning to read for years (and also the final backlist one I needed to read before her newest comes out). And I’m also finally picking up Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, one of my absolute favorite authors.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (3/5 stars) NO REVIEW
Overall it’s an interesting collection of stories. I liked some better than others and wasn’t impressed with the adult content in some of them. Some were creepy while others were mild, some long and some short and had a poetry feel. I really liked how Neil Gaiman included his inspiration for each story in the very beginning of the collection. It wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad to have finished my Dutch read of the year haha.

2. The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I’m happy I finally got the chance to read it, because I fell in love with both the writing and the story itself. It’s such a beautiful and well crafted story! It’s magical realism, but not too ‘heavy’ to distract or complicate you… Instead, you will find yourself mesmerized by the lives of the Corbeau and Paloma families and their performances. There is a hint of the magic, but mostly The Weight Of Feathers is a classic forbidden love story where two characters of rival families fall in love against all odds.

3. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
Sadly, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Two Boys Kissing… It had nothing to do with the actual content, and I’m sad this story was put on the banned books list, but there was something else I really struggled with. What? While I loved the idea behind this story and the symbolism in general, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all. The whole second/third person POV was both alienating and extremely annoying and made me enjoy the story a lot less than I thought I would. I can’t deny Two Boys Kissing has a strong LGBT message though, and I loved the idea of the record breaking and the background of each character.

4. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
I admit I went in blind, thinking I was going to find a nice and docil domestic thriller despite the knife on the cover… I couldn’t have been more wrong. What a delightfully twisted and properly disturbing read! If you are, like me, strangely into serial killer stories, imagine finding not one, but TWO in one story… And a couple at that! As soon as I was hit with that mindblowing information, I was hooked. And not just ‘normal’ hooked; I literally read the whole thing in one sitting by candle light (not by choice though as we had a country wide power failure that day), not caring if I was basically ruining my eyes or if had other things to do. I just HAD to know how things would develop and how twisted things were going to get.

5. Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/06
I’ve had Dear Evan Hansen on my radar for a while and decided to pick it up on a whim while browsing my kindle for contemporary titles. The focus is on the main character and his mental health issues and anxiety. I’m always interested in stories with that angle, so I didn’t mind that much at first, but I’m not sure I actually like the execution here. Why? Well, I felt there was just too much focus on Evan’s mental problems as a personality trait and I didn’t feel his character was all that developed otherwise; making him essentionally one dimensional and not at all easy to connect to.

6. The Lynmouth Stories by L.V. Hay (4/5 stars) NO REVIEW
It’s true that I don’t read a lot of short stories, but I’ve been meaning to try L.V. Hay‘s work for a while now… After reading Sarah’s review and learning it was currently available for free on Amazon (still is last time I checked!), I decided to jump in and give it a go. This bundle includes three short, but dark stories which all share a Lynmouth setting. This setting sets the right atmosphere for three eery and slightly disturbing reads, where the characters discover the unpleasant side of Lynmouth. A kidnapping/hostage situation, the busy summer months turning into a lonely winter and  an abuse story turning into a natural disaster… Three different stories, but they all have that daunting feel and are very well written and without doubt make me want to read more of her work. If you are looking for a quick dose of excellently written suspense, you should definitely try The Lynmouth Stories.

7. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/06
I already had a feeling I was going to enjoy this title, and my instincts turned out to be right. If you, like me, loved A Man Called Ove, you don’t want to miss this one! I bet Hendrik and Ove would be the best of friends… Funny, entertaining and heartfelt; I definitely can’t wait to get a copy of book two.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to work towards finishing some of my challenges early, and the next couple of titles will help with that. I’ve heard mixed things about Ivory And Bone by Julie Eshbaugh and I’m not sure if the writing will be for me, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway… And I’m excited to finally pick up Jar Of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier after reading so many raving reviews. I’m also picking up House Of Furies by Madeleine Roux soon. My TBR jar pick is still The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout… I definitely need to read that one soon.


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Friday Finds #143 – July 28th

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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