YVO’S SHORTIES #128 – Infinity + One & Thin Air

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles I’ve been looking forward to read, and both ended up being excellent reads. Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors and Infinity + One was without doubt another great read. And I’ve been looking forward to pick up my beautiful copy of Thin Air ever since I bought it, and it was just the right story for the time of the year.


Title: Infinity + One
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
First published: June 8th 2014
Finished reading: October 14th 2019
Pages: 350

“We weren’t so different, Finn and I. Cages come in lots of colors and shapes. Some are gilded, while others have a slamming door. But golden handcuffs are still handcuffs.”


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I think most will be aware of the fact that I adore Amy Harmon‘s books by now… I’ve decided to make the wait for her next story Where The Lost Wander a little less painful by tackling some of her backlist titles I still had pending. I was going to finally pick up The Bird And The Sword, but my heart screamed for a dose of contemporary romance and Infinity + One sounded perfect for the job. As soon as I realized this story was going to have references to the infamous Bonnie and Clyde couple, I was sold. I’m a huge sucker for historical crime references, and who hasn’t heard about the story of Bonnie and Clyde?! This element was definitely a huge bonus for me, and I loved how it played a role through the whole story in multiple ways. Bonnie and Finn are in many way opposites, but I loved how well their characters worked together in this story. The thorough development of both characters, giving them flaws and having them making mistakes, really makes them come alive for me and I was soon addicted to their story despite the fact it kind of has that insta-love vibe going on. But between the road trip feel of the plot, the dangerous angle, the Bonnie and Clyde references, the music and the spark between Bonnie and Finn among other things, there were many elements to make you forget about those few cliches. The writing is just as wonderful as I’ve come to expect of her work, and while Infinity + One isn’t my absolute favorite of her work, it’s undeniably an excellent read fans of the genre will love.


Title: Thin Air
Author: Michelle Paver

Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: October 6th 2016
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: October 16th 2019
Pages: 240

“Up and up my eye climbs, past sweeping, dark-red precipices and glaring white ice, to those immaculate peaks, the highest trailing a banner of wind-blown snow across a sky so intensely blue that it’s almost black.

Kangchenjunga.”


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I admit this was initially a cover love buy for me, although as soon as I read the blurb I was convinced I made the right choice. Partly a historical adventure story set in the 1935 Himalayas, partly a ghost story, Thin Air turned out to have a very interesting mix of different elements and it’s a story perfect for this Halloween month. First up we have the historical fiction aspect, as this story is set in 1935… I think the author did a great job describing the historical elements and it gives us a good idea what it would have been like joining such a expedition back then. That brings us to the next element: the international setting in the Himalayas (India, Nepal), with the mountain Kangchenjunga being almost like another character. The descriptions of the setting really made the mountains come alive for me, and it’s part of the reason I enjoyed the story. Another thing that stands out is the paranormal aspect of this story. We learn about a past failed expedition and its tragic end… And with strange things happening to the main character Stephen, you definitely get that spooky vibe. But this story also almost reads like an adventure journal where you learn more about mountain climbing, what happens during this expedition as well as the other characters as Stephen sees them. Some are definitely not that likeable, but it was very interesting what the extreme experience and weather conditions do to a person. I had a great time reading this story and definitely didn’t see that ending coming! Thin Air is without doubt a great Halloween as well as a proper Winter read. It definitely makes you want to bundle up in a pile of blankets with a steaming mug of your favorite beverage closeby!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #80 – When Dimple Met Rishi & The Shattering

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA read of two different genres… One that turned out to be a pleasant surprise and one that failed to blow me away. I’m so happy I ended up enjoying When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon! It was just the feel-good story I was craving. My TBR jar pick The Shattering by Karen Healey wasn’t as good as I hoped though despite the interesting premise.


Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: January 25th 2019
Pages: 384

“It was crazy how words – just black squiggles on a page – could bring memories rushing back.”


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I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t sure this book would be for me. Contemporary romance isn’t really my thing and you all know by now how I react to hyped books… But I’m really glad to say that When Dimple Met Rishi turned out to be an exception to that rule. It might have to do with the fact I was in the mood for a feel-good story, but I enjoyed my time with this story so much better than I thought I would. This story is cute, fluffy, quirky, geeky and has unique characters and that #ownvoices element that seems to be so popular right now. Yay for etnic diversity and interesting characters that represent a different culture in a realistic way! The characters are what made this story into a success for me and I loved reading about Dimple and Rishi’s story. The coding, the comic art, the geeky elements in general… This was just quirky heaven for me. The writing is engaging, flows easily and made me finish this story in one sitting on a rainy day. The plot itself might not be all that complex, but it’s the perfect feel-good contemporary romance story that will manage to warm your heart. I’m definitely looking forward to read more of her work now!


Title: The Shattering
Author: Karen Healey

Genre: YA, Mystery, Paranormal
First published: July 1st 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: January 29th 2019
Pages: 336

“The world shouldn’t work like this; that was why I made plans, to be ready for every eventuality. Adding the impossible to the things I had t obe prepared for was really unfair.”


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This one had been on my TBR for quite some time and it probably would have been even longer if it wouldn’t have been for my TBR jar. It’s not that I didn’t like the sound of the story, especially with a New Zealand setting and the promise of a paranormal mystery, but older titles tend to get pushed into the background as other titles demand attention… Even though The Shattering didn’t turn out to be a big hit for me, I’m still glad I finally picked it up. This probably has a lot to do with the setting, since I hardly ever seem to read books set in New Zealand. It also doubles as a negative though, because I would have loved to see more local culture and descriptions included. As it is, The Shattering feels more like a melting pot filled to the brim with different story elements and bits and pieces, making each feel superficial and underdeveloped. The story itself has a lot of potential, with the paranormal aspect, the secrets of Summerton and three different POVs to follow. But with so many different elements distracting you, the story didn’t come out as strong as I thought it would be. The characters, while interesting and in general not that difficult to like, felt a bit underdeveloped and cliche at points. The plot, while entertaining and engaging, didn’t feel all that original to me and I think this has a lot to do with those cliches popping up everywhere. It’s an interesting mystery with a paranormal touch, the three different POVs bringing some dept to the story, but I wish the story would have focused on only a select few important topics instead of trying to squeeze in as many as possible… This way, for example the focus on teenage suicide is kind of lost and that is really a shame. All in all The Shattering isn’t a bad read and quite entertaining, but sadly it failed to blow me away.


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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!

Life Of Pi – by Yann Martel

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Title: Life Of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
First published: September 11th 2001
Finished reading: June 18th 2013
Pages: 319

The book is divided into two parts: before and after the sinking of the Japonese cargo ship. We follow Piscine, or Pi, through his childhood where his dad’s zoo and the exploring of three important religions play a key part. This first part is a bit slow, but essential in understanding the spirituality of Pi. After the cargo ship sinks, only one lifeboat remains with the only survivors being Pi, a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, an orangutan and a bengal tiger called Richard Parker. Soon enough only Richard Parker and Pi remain, and the boy survives against all odds his many days on the lifeboat. He survives many challenges and manages to train Richard Parker, all with the help of his own spirituality. A story you want to be true, but deep inside you know it isn’t. The end shows it all; suddenly you can see the symbolism used by Yann Martel throughout the book. And it’s up to you what to believe… Imagine a tiger on a lifeboat, or see the ugly truth? I think I prefer to keep on dreaming.

BOOK REVIEW: The White Tiger – by Aravind Adiga

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Title: The White Tiger
Author: Aravind Adiga
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: 2008
Finished reading: June 11th 2013
Pages: 321

Rating 2,5

“See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of?? Losing weight and looking like the poor.”

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In general I enjoy reading books set in a different culture. I see it as a different way of travelling, exploring the unknown. Unfortunately the catch is that I won’t be knowing if the author is describing the unknown world correctly, and that was also my doubt with The White Tiger. I just couldn’t keep wondering if the life in India really is as Aravind Adiga describes it in his novel. I know The White Tiger is ment as a fiction novel, but still… I felt that the author mostly used Balram Halwai, the main character, to express his own social criticism. I just couldn’t get a feel for the character and I had to struggle to actually finish The White Tiger. A shame, because the story could have been that much more interesting… If only the author would have downsized on the social criticism and invested more words into character building.

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Balram Halwai is a man of many faces and he has a dark side: he murdered his former employer Mr. Ashok. The story is told through a letter Balram is writing to the Chinese president who is about to visit India. He wants to show him the ‘real’ India, en tells his own life story and journey out of poverty without looking for forgiveness. Balram was born in a small village in the middle of rural India. Life was hard, but he gets to escape the village when he is hired as a driver for the wealthiest man of the village (Mr. Ashok). He gets to know the city, and sees the not-so-legal things his employer is up to. Slowly he comes to the understanding how the city works and he starts to do some little side jobs (like refilling and reselling expensive whiskey bottles). He is the rare white tiger trying to survive in the caste jungle… And he has some very non-orthodox ways of reaching that goal.

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I was really excited when I was gifted this book, but unfortunately that enthusiasm faded away once I started reading The White Tiger. The main character Balram is bland, boring and doesn’t make you connect with the story at all. The social criticism is just too much and even though part of the book is ment as a satire, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have thought before reading it. I like books set in foreign cultures, but The White Tiger just didn’t do it for me. There are definitely way better books about the Indian culture out there and therefore I wouldn’t recommend reading this novel by Aravind Adiga.