YVO’S SHORTIES #73 – The Kiss Quotient & The Crown Of Embers

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Time for my first 2019 reads and first two Beat The Backlist titles! The Kiss Quotient has been recommended to me various times and I should have investigated better before starting it, because there was an overload of sexy scenes involved and that made this story into something that is definitely not for me. The Crown Of Embers turned out to be an interesting sequel even though I wish there would have been less romance…


Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 30th 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: January 2nd 2019
Pages: 336

“At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”


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Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write. And not only the writing style is very engaging, but the character development is simply spot on. As much as I hated all those steamy scenes, it was due to main characters Stella and Michael I made it to the very end of this story. Stella is unique, quirky and simply brilliant as a main character. I love how realistic her Asperger’s is described and incorporated in the story (it shows that the author used personal experiences) and how it shines a light on autism as a whole. Michael has his own personality, history and problems and I really liked those family dynamics combined with Stella and their story. Were there a lot of cliches and typical romance tropes involved? Yes. Will your glasses (if you use them) get all steamed up while you read The Kiss Quotient? You bet. But if you love the genre, you will fall in love with this story as well.


Title: The Crown Of Embers
(Fire And Thorns #2)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: January 4th 2019
Pages: 416

“I lie awake for a long time, wondering which would be more foolish, to prepare for something that may never happen, or not to prepare for something that might.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns book back in 2015 and even though I enjoyed it, I somehow never picked up the sequel. I read the novellas last year, and thought it was about time to finally finish the last two books this year as well. First up is book number two The Crown Of Embers. I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. I loved the inclusion of many references to Spanish names and words and the way the world is constructed. It’s a very interesting high fantasy world and we get to see a lot of it in the sequel. This series has a religious angle, but handled in just the right way that it doesn’t become too present for those who are like me agnostic. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver. The quest the main characters go on in The Crown Of Embers is an intriguing one, and it definitely ends with a mayor cliffhanger. I’m looking forward how things will continue in the final book!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #68 – The Couple Next Door & Vengeful

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but two titles I ended up really enjoying. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab


Title: The Couple Next Door
Author: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 14th 2016
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: December 11th 2018
Pages: 352

“Everyone is faking it, all of them pretending to be something they’re not. The whole world is built on lies and deceit.”


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I have been meaning to read this domestic thriller debut for quite some time now. I know there have been a lot of mixed reviews about this one, and I definitely think I have benefitted from waiting until the hype died down. I ended up enjoying The Couple Next Door way better than I thought I would. There are some things to be said about the writing style, which I wasn’t always are sure about, but overall I managed to keep turning those pages fast enough. This has a lot to do with the pace and both the mystery around Anne’s past and other secrets in play… I do have to say that I’m not sure about the credibility of it all and some aspects and plot twists seemed a bit too absurd to be believable. But there is also no doubt that The Couple Next Door was still a very entertaining ride and I’m glad I finally took the time to read it. The ending was definitely unexpected! It kind of made me wish there were more pages to see how things would develop after that bombshell. I’ll be looking forward to read more of her work in the future…


Title: Vengeful
(Villains #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: September 25th 2018
Publisher: Titan Books
Finished reading: December 14th 2018
Pages: 592

“Some people were matches, a bit of light and no heat. And some were furnaces, all heat but little light. And then, once in a blue moon, there was a bonfire, something so hot and bright you couldn’t stand too near without burning.”


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I enjoyed reading Vicious, so of course I was excited about Vengeful ever since I first found out there was going to be a sequel. I was going to do a reread of the first book first, but with so many other titles pending I decided to dive straight in and see if I could pick up the thread. And as soon as I started, I just couldn’t make myself stop… V.E. Schwab is one of my absolute favorite authors, and Vengeful is without doubt a brilliant sequel. It’s been too long to properly compare it with the first book, but what I do know is that I loved every single minute of my time with book two. While the plot is actually quite simple, it is both the writing style and character development that blow you away. There is a reason she is one of my favorite authors, because her writing is of such a high quality that you just cannot help but fall in love with it. The same goes for the characters… We have a lot of old favorites, and a few new introductions as well that will leave a very strong mark. Marcella and June, I’m looking at you! The whole superpower/villain angle works fascinatingly well and while maybe not that original, the incorporation of those elements is done in such a way that you will have no choice but enjoy the ride. Vengeful will take a well-deserved place on my shelf of favorites, and I will already be looking forward to reread both Villains books together in the future.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Not A Clue – by Chloe Delaume

Title: Not A Clue 
Author: Chloe Delaume
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
First published: December 1st 2018
Publisher: University Of Nebraska Press
Finished reading: November 16th 2018
Pages: 276
DNF at 9% (25 pages)
Originally written in French: ‘Certainement Pas’

“I’m Dr. Black, I’m dead. There are six of you, and you killed me.”

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


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The truth is that I have been looking forward to read this one. I like reading international authors and I was completely fascinated by the blurb. A mystery, a crime and a mental health angle? Sounds like a pretty good recipe for a successful read to me. Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be. As soon as I started reading Not A Clue I knew we won’t be able to get along. Why? The writing style. Right from the very first sentence, I found myself scratching my head and wondering what the heck I just started reading. The writing style is just one big humble bumble of random words and nonsense being woven together, short ‘sentences’ mixed with randomness and endless weird descriptions and repetitions over and over again. I get that the patients have mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean I should feel so confused they could lock me up myself along with those patients, right? And I also get it, they killed him. But who on earth are they in the first place? And how am I supposed to make sense of this mess? I’ve decided to include a sample to give you a hint of what the writing looks like.

“There are six of you, you are alone, a stuffed mynah bird stands in for your memory, your tartarclot tears scratch your corneas plow your cheekbones into furrows more sterile than horror could ever be.”

Someone please make sense of that sentence for me? Or the rest of the sentences for that matter? I’m not sure if this is a case of ‘lost in translation’ or a writing style that is 200% not for me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep struggling through the pages. I almost never make the decision to DNF, especially this early in a story, but sadly Not A Clue and me just weren’t ment to be.


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ARC REVIEW: Hunting Annabelle – by Wendy Heard

Title: Hunting Annabelle
Author: Wendy Heard
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: December 18th 2018
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: November 24th 2018 
Pages: 336

“Every day I feel like I’ve lost another grain of myself, like I’m a mist settling over the ground and getting burned off by it.”

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

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Hunting Annabelle is one of those titles I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. The blurb sounded fantastic, with a mental health angle and a potentially dangerous and unreliable main character. And there is no doubt that Hunter Annabelle isn’t your ordinary thriller read. While I do think the story read more YA than adult despite the twenty-something characters, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it any less. And the fact that the story is set in 1986 instead of the present is an interesting touch, because although not as present in the plot as a whole, it does show in the little details (mostly referring to the developments in mental health and police investigation). All in all it definitely wasn’t the story I was expecting, but mostly in a good way. The writing on its own is engaging and the use of the unreliable narrator method well developed. The main character Sean is the perfect unreliable narrator candidate and him being both the good and bad guy at once is refreshing. While I did have some issues with the credibility and some of the plot twists, I do think that overall it was quite an interesting and original read. I wasn’t sure about the final twists and chapters though… It seemed a bit farfetched and too big of change for me. But all in all I can still recommend Hunting Annabelle to any mystery/thriller fan looking for something different and refreshing.

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Sean Suh had to spend three years in a psychiatric prison, and now he is released he is determined to never go back. He wants to stay away from temptation, still punishing himself for what happened in the past… But he can’t resist Annabelle, who is both beautiful and the only person who can see past the monster he feels he is. Then Annabelle is kidnapped, something that happened right before Sean’s own eyes. But is he a reliable witness? Why doesn’t anyone seem to believe him? Sean is determined to find Annabelle no matter what it costs…

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If you are looking for an interesting thriller read with an original touch, Hunting Annabelle is a good option. Set in 1986, this story doesn’t follow the typical thriller structure and plot and with the help of unreliable narrator Sean you will find yourself spinning in circles while you try to figure out what is happening. The final twists were a bit too farfetched and over the top to be credible for me, but it definitely isn’t something you will see coming… Dark, intriguing, a healthy dose of blood and serial killer and a very interesting mental health angle: Hunting Annabelle has it all.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #63 – Girl, Wash Your Face & All Your Perfects

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres and two completely opposite reactions… The part memoir, part self help book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis only managed to frustrate me, while contemporary romance All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover hits most of the marks.


Title: Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: Rachel Hollis

Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help, Memoir
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: November 10th 2018
Pages: 241

“If you constantly make and break promises to yourself, you’re not making promises at all. You’re talking.”


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Fact: I hadn’t heard of the author before when I decided to add Girl, Wash Your Face to my TBR. Fact: I didn’t check out the existing reviews properly before getting a copy, or else I would probably have never considered reading it. This part memoir, part self help book seems to be having two extreme and opposite reactions depending on if you have a similar mindset and background to Rachel Hollis. If you loved it and her advice helped you in any way, that’s great. It shows that we are all different and work in different ways, which is the beauty of life. BUT. It also means I’m by no means entitled to ignore my feelings of pure frustration either. Oh yes, this is going to be rant, so don’t say I haven’t warned you. I was hoping to find something interesting and inspirational in Girl, Wash Your Face, especially after hearing others swear by it. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Let’s see why, shall we? First of all, the preaching. Yes, religion plays quite a big role here and both the Scripture and God are used numerous times to supposedly get you back on track. This whole preaching is a big no no for me and a huge turn off. I respect religions, but forcing your religion on others is infuriating. That said, the tone she uses in Girl, Wash Your Face is belittling and doesn’t respect others who don’t fit her idea of ‘successful in their lives’. It’s easy to talk about problems from the privileged background she has, saying it’s up to you to improve your future and achieve your goals, when there is more than enough money in the bank and health as well. Trust me, not everyone has it that easy and it just feels as if she is discriminating everyone who doesn’t have it as easy as her. ‘Get your act together!’ feels more like a mother scolding a child without respecting individual struggles and differences, and seriously left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And then there’s the whole chapter about weight. No no no NO! As someone who has struggled with her weight her whole life, this is just seriously offensive. I should just drink water and stop use food as comfort? Excuse me, because there are a zillion reasons for a person to struggle with their weight, and just exercise and other simplistic tips aren’t going to cut the deal. Who is she to give advice in the first place?! Also, her whole idea of being happy means you have to be thin, successful and other warped ideas is offensive. And I can’t get over the fact just how full of herself she is, talking about how successful she is all the time, all she has achieved and how wonderful her life is. Yuck. Ah, and don’t even make me start about the whole chapter about the first year she dated her now husband, how he treated her like dirt and then glossed over it saying: ‘but he’s wonderful now!’. Basically saying it’s ok for someone to psychologically abuse you and who knows, they might change later? Not cool. I could keep on rambling for a long time, but I hate being this negative so I’ll leave it here. As you might have guessed already, Girl, Wash Your Face wasn’t exactly a positive experience for me.


Title: All Your Perfects
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 17th 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 10th 2018
Pages: 320

“If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”


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I always seem to be having a love-hate relationship with CoHo’s books and it’s always a surprise how I will react to her books. I was hoping All Your Perfects was going to keep up my recent positive streak, and I guess I got lucky. There is a lot to love in this newest novel, and part of me wanted to give it an even higher rating. BUT. I just couldn’t ignore the frustration I felt with everything related to the cheating (SPOILER: especially since he gets to be painted as some sort of hero and apparently it was her own fault he did it in the first place.) Justifying cheating is NOT ok, and I was seriously disappointed to see the story go that way. That said, there is no doubt Colleen Hoover is a star in creating flawed and realistic characters that will have to go through a lot before they reach the final page. The story is divided in Then and Now chapters, and I have to say I enjoyed the chapters in the past considerably better. This has a lot to do with Quinn. I get that she goes through a lot and is suffering from depression, but her constant complaining did get a bit too much for me. The ending was a bit too abrupt for me as well, as the change was a bit too drastic for me to be completely believable. I still think All Your Perfects was mostly a great read though and once again she has managed to make me enjoy a genre I normally tend to stay away from. And that is something not to take lightly.


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Dark Places – by Kylie Brant @amazonpub

Title: Cold Dark Places
(Cady Maddix Mystery #1)
Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 18th 2018
Pages: 350

“People didn’t always act the way they should. Not even grown-ups. Sometimes the people who were supposed to protect you from monsters were monsters themselves.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. A stunning cover AND the promise of meeting a new twisted serial killer? Yes please! I have been looking forward to start Cold Dark Places and there is no doubt that the story delivered. This complex, action-packed and heart stoppingly good thriller was everything I hoped for and more… The perfect start of a new series. What I liked is that Cold Dark Places isn’t just another detective thriller and instead treats us to a multiple POV story where we get to follow four different characters including the killer, two different law inforcement angles and a young woman with mental health issues. And that is not all: we also get a dose of flashbacks helping to reveal more about the past. This seems like a lot to stuff into just one thriller, but somehow Kylie Brant makes it work. A lot of this has to do with the excellent writing and a fast pace that will sweep you away until you have somehow reached the final page. The plot development and use of suspense and plot twists is also spot on: being able to create a constant atmosphere of urgency, danger and suspense. There is a lot of action involved as the hunt for the escaped killer is on, but this is not the only angle of the story. It is also about Eryn, her past and her mental issues, and we get indirect hints about Cady’s past as well. It was interesting to see how the different storylines slowly connected, and Cold Dark Places definitely has some shocking surprises in store for you. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed, disturbing and suspenseful, this new series definitely is for you. Trigger warnings are in place for sexual and child abuse, violence and graphic scenes in general.

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When child killer Samuel Aldeen breaks out of a well guarded facility for the criminally insane, it is all hands on deck and everyone is called in to aid during the hunt. The authorities believe he had accomplices both on the inside and out, and it’s a race against the clock to find out their identities. Cady Maddix is one of the persons called in to track all of them down. When an unexpected lead brings her to Eryn Pullman, a young woman recently released from a closeby psychiatric facility, it not only brings back flashbacks of her own past but also more questions about the killer’s true motive behind his escape…

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I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #60 – Baby Teeth & The Chalk Man

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two creepy 2018 reads that were right up my alley: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage and The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor.


Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 17th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 30th 2018
Pages: 304

“It was hard to pour endless love into someone who wouldn’t love you back. No one could do it forever.”


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There has been a lot of talk about Baby Teeth ever since it was published, and I have been looking forward to read it myself. Even though I remember comments about Hanna, I didn’t realize fully just how creepy this read was going to be. I understand all those comments now, because she truly is something that comes right out of your worst nightmare! She most definitely gave me the creeps and more; the next time they ask when we are finally having kids, I’ll refer them to Baby Teeth instead. I like the writing style and was soon fully absorbed in the story. I literally finished it in less than a day! Because as soon as Hanna had me in her claws (or do I have to say teeth), I wasn’t able to let go until I found out just how far things would go. The suspense and plot building is very well done, and I really liked how the story also shined a light on the autoimmune disease Crohn. I also loved the fact that we have a Swedish main character and both culture and language are referenced to in the story. There was a lot to love in Baby Teeth, and the only thing I questioned was the ending. Not only was it sort of an anti-climax, but the ending was also quite open and made me wonder if there will be a sequel one day? Otherwise, the ending is actually quite disappointing.


Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: November 2nd 2018
Pages: 288

“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”

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I’m sure I’m about the last person on the planet to read The Chalk Man, but you know how things go with other titles getting in the way… The good thing about it is that with a good couple of months going by before picking it up is that I have since forgotten exactly what the story was about. I like going into stories blind, and this definitely enhanced the reading experience for me here. The Chalk Man has been said to having that Stranger Things feel and isn’t just another crime thriller. There is something more going on that is hard to put your finger on, something that will both keep you on edge and brings a whole lot of suspense on board. This is one of those stories where the dual timeline actually worked for me. Even though I liked the chapters set in 1986 slightly better, I had a great time reading the story as a whole. The plot and character development, plot twists and suspense building are all excellently done. Your mind is thrown back and forward as you try to figure out what happened all those years ago and what is happening right now. This dual tension in both past and present makes The Chalk Man even more intense, and you will have a hard time letting this one go before you have all the answers. An excellent debut and I’ll be looking forward to what the author will come up with next!


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