YVO’S SHORTIES #17: Under Rose-Tainted Skies & Station Eleven


Another day and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around two Beat The Backlist titles I managed to read last month. The first, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, I mostly picked up on a whim because I was in the mood for a YA contemporary read. I didn’t remember it had a mental health angle, which was a nice surprise, but I did feel the story was way too similar to Everything, Everything. The second title, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, is one of those books I have been wanting to read for ages, but always felt slightly intimidated by. I’m glad I finally did pick it up, because the writing was wonderful!


Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
Finished reading: January 29th 2018
Pages: 330

“We can assume the best, but we can’t choose how people perceive us. We can, however, chooce how those views affect us.”


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I kind of picked up this title on a whim while I was browsing my kindle looking for a YA contemporary since I was in the mood for the genre. I didn’t look up the summary before I started reading, so it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered Under Rose-Tainted Skies has a very prominent mental health angle. I can always appreciate when a story focuses on this illness and helps spread the word… In this case, the main character suffers from agoraphobia and OCD, and her situation plays a very big role in the story. The main focus of Under Rose-Tainted Skies is on Norah, how she is trying to live with her illness and how it affects those close to her. I think the author did a good job portraying this element as well as addressing a few misunderstanding and cliche reactions along the way. The writing and pace made this story easy and fast to read and overall it is an engaging and entertaining read. BUT. I did feel it just all felt too similar to Everything, Everything. The girl ‘trapped’ inside her house due to her illness, the single mom, the cute neighbor… Even the unnatural ‘fast’ development of the relationship felt kind of the same. Also, I wasn’t too sure about the ending or credibility of certain parts of the plot. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Under Rose-Tainted Skies, but I do think contemporary romance fans will enjoy this one better than I did.


Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: January 31st 2018
Pages: 336

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

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Station Eleven is one of those books that has been on my shelf for years and somehow I just kept posponing it. One of the reasons is probably that this story by Emily St. John Mandel is such a popular one and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype… Even 3+ years after the publish date. You can also say I was a bit intimidated by it. I’m glad I did finally pick it up though, because I ended up enjoying it considerably. I went in with no idea what to expect whatsoever and the whole dystopian setting came as a huge (but pleasant) surprise. I don’t think I was expecting the story Station Eleven ended up delivering, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it less because of it. I always love my surprises! The first thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which had me under its spell immediately. Station Eleven starts out as a contemporary and then suddenly throws the bomb (or should I say, Georga Flu) on you and turns dystopian. This ‘after’ is in fact the most dominant storyline and I really liked reading about the different characters and how their stories connect or overlap. There will be a few plot twists in story for you as well! I do have to say that, while I really enjoyed this story, I do think the plot felt a bit disjointed with all those flashbacks and different storylines. Especially in the beginning it was hard to put each storyline and character in its correct place and this might slow down the pace a little. This is only minor compared to how I felt about Station Eleven overall though, and I can recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good dystopian story with a perfect character/plot/background/action balance.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #11: Fragments Of The Lost (ARC) & Things I Should Have Known

Oh yes, it’s time for yet another round of 2017 backlog reviews and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time with one of my most-anticipated releases and ARC Fragments Of The Lost by Megan Miranda and a random YA contempory I picked up on a whim: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik.


Title: Fragments Of The Lost
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 14th 2017
Pages: 373

“Everyone had secrets. Trust is a luxury for fools. The more I discover, the less I trust my own memories, even.”

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


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Megan Miranda’s psychological thrillers All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are on my list of all time favorites, so of course I added Fragments Of The Lost to my most-anticipated list as soon as I heard about it. And while I still prefer her thrillers, there is no doubt that Fragments Of The Lost is an excellent read. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is just as strong and beautiful as ever and makes it really easy to fully dive into this story. I really liked how the chapters and memories were related to the things the character finds during her quest. This is a perfect reference to the title and quite an original touch. Those memories also involve some suspense around what really happened and will help introducing plot twists to the story. There were a few I definitely didn’t see coming! That said, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle included in the story and I was never able to fully warm up to the characters. Those are only minor compared to the other elements I did enjoy though, and YA contemporary fans will very likely devour Fragments Of The Lost.


Title: Things I Should Have Known
Author: Claire LaZebnik

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: October 21st 2017
Pages: 320

“It’s like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can’t deal with something just a little bit different. And that makes them uncomfortable.”


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I admit I picked up this one on a whim, although I’m always interested in stories with an mental health/illness angle. In the case of Things I Should Have Known the focus is on autism, and thankfully this is not just an empty filler and there is quite some focus on both autism itself and what it is like for people having an autistic family member or friends. I wasn’t a fan of the sappy romance or love triangle, but I did appreciate the central role Ivy and Ethan played. Do I agree with Chloe’s actions and the whole ‘trying to hook up Ivy with Ethan’ thing? No. Did I connect with the main characters? I’m not so sure either. But Things I Should Have Known is without doubt still a fast-paced, engaging and easy to read YA contemporary that sheds at least some light on autism. By all means not perfect, but if you are looking for a contemporary read with a dose of romance and fluff, Things I Should Have Known is an interesting choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #10: The Temptation Of Adam (ARC) @SkyPonyPress & Bird Box

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two books I really enjoyed reading last year. The first is an ARC and a hidden gem I stumbled across thanks to a fellow blogger: The Temptation Of Adam by Dave Connis. The second is a book that had been on my TBR for ages and I’m glad I finally picked up: Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I read it back in October and it was the perfect Halloween read!


Title: The Temptation Of Adam
Author: Dave Connis

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: November 21st 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Finished reading: October 28th 2017
Pages: 224

“The experience of an addict has its differences, all humans are both broken and holy, and we all have the opportunity to waste our lives looking for wholeness.”

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


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Every once in a while you stumble across a hidden gem thanks to a fellow book blogger (thanks again Liz!), and this is definitely the case when it comes to The Temptation Of Adam. This YA contemporary read is not widely known and it might just be that it benefits from the lack of hype around it, because it was easy to say I was completely blown away by this story. The writing style and tone of The Temptation Of Adam had me charmed from the first page and I just LOVE the quirky, direct and blunt way the main character Adam Hawthorne bulldozers through his life. Sure, if you don’t get along with Adam, you might have a problem enjoying this story. But if you let him take over and tell his story, you will be in for a pleasant surprise. A story about addiction that had me seriously addicted until the very last page… Hilariously funny, serious, emotional, heartwarming and heartbreaking: The Temptation Of Adam will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave you both satisfied and drained by the last page. If you like quirky, blunt characters, give this story a chance!


Title: Bird Box
Author: Josh Malerman

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Dystopia
First published: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Ecco
Finished reading: October 20th 2017 
Pages: 262

“It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it take you in pieces.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up Bird Box for a long long time, and somehow I never did. Last October I finally gave in, and not just because it sounded like the perfect Halloween read. I can definitely understand the love for this dystopian horror read now. Both writing and descriptions are excellent and draw you right into the dystopian world the story is set it. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading and managed to finish it in no time at all. The whole mystery around what is really going on and the seemingly hopelessness of the situation and no knowledge how to fight it make it into a perfect horror read… There is a good mix of suspenseful moments with emotional ones and the character development is well done. Those who said it before are right: this is a perfect Halloween read. Fans of the genre will definitely appreciate Bird Box for what it is.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #5: The Hate U Give & Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two of the last high ratings of 2017… The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was my last 5 star read last year and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which turned out to be another excellent read. Both have been recommended to me numerous times; thank you for convincing me to read both of these!


Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary 
First published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: December 20th 2017
Pages: 444

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”


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I know everybody and the neighbor’s cat have been recommending this book to me since even before The Hate U Give was published, but to be honest this only made me hesitant to pick it up myself. I have a love/hate relationship with hyped books, but after THUG came out as a Goodreads Choice Awards winner I thought it was about time for me to check it out. And WOW. I’m so glad I finally did so! This book is definitely an exception to the rule and absolutely worth the hype around it. Brilliant writing, plot, character development and such an important topic! I feel words cannot describe just how important this story is and everybody should just read it. Because The Hate U Give isn’t just another YA contemporary novel… With this book, Angie Thomas not only manages to portray the main characters brilliantly and create a realistic plot and scaringly accurate image of race problematics, but also address issues related to this topic. The Hate U Give serves as a general eyeopener as well as an insight of what it would be like living the lives of the main characters. The writing itself is brilliant, very easy to read and engaging, making it impossible to put down this story until you reach the final page. Because trust me, you will want to know what will happen to the main characters. The Hate U Give is highly praised with a reason, and I will be joining this wave of praise in the future.


Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: November 7th 2017
Pages: 332

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”


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This one was another recommendation I have been looking forward to read… Then again I love my quirky and unique characters. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine managed to completely blow me away, and not just because of the excellent writing and character development. Because Eleanor Oliphant is without doubt one of the most unique main characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet and she will stay with me for a long time. Basically her whole character is what makes this book into such a hit and fans of quirky characters will be able to fall head over heels in love with her. The writing and pace were a perfect match for this story and I managed to fly through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in no time at all. Gail Honeyman also has a few plot twist bomb surprises in store, so make sure to get yourself comfortable when you pick up your copy and get ready to be surprised. Because the whole mystery around Eleanor’s past definitely adds a little suspense to this quirky, endearing, sad and very well written story. More than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Girl In Snow – by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl In Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: August 16th 2017
Pages: 368

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”

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

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I was actually invited to read this title a while back, and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb. I was really looking forward to Girl In Snow, but unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I initially thought I would. This was actually the second time I picked up my copy, because somehow the first time I never made it past the first few pages. Because there is just something about the writing style that makes it quite hard to connect to it if you aren’t in the right mood, making it hard to stay focused on the story itself. I do have to say things went a lot better the second time around and after getting used to the writing style Girl In Snow turned out to be quite a fast read. That said, I can’t deny there was something about the way the story was written that didn’t manage to convince me completely. Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly confused by the what, who and how in the beginning. Things did get better when more information is given, although I do wish Girl In Snow would have been more focused on the actual plot and less on the different characters. Unfortunately I was never able to connect to the three main characters or their POVs used to tell the story and the victim Lucinda for me lacks developments to properly care about her. That said, I did appreciate the descriptions of Jade and Cameron and their issues; they seem quite realistic. I wasn’t sure about the credibility in general though or the way everything was connected… But Girl In Snow is a fast read and has quite a few twists you probably won’t see coming. The memory loss of Cameron was an interesting touch as well.

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The teenage Lucinda Hayes is found murdered one winter morning in 2005 and it seems the whole town is affected by her death. Cameron, Jade and Russ are each somehow connected to her life or the aftermath of Lucinda’s death and will have to confront their secrets to find out the truth about what happened to Lucinda… Because things are not what they seem and if they don’t try to face their problems, the truth may never come out.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.


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BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things – by Sara Barnard

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2017
Pages: 322

“Everyone says apologizing works, but it never really does. Not quickly enough anyway.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up Beautiful Broken Things for quite some time now, so I was quite happy when my TBR jar decided for me it was time to read my copy. I always have mixed experiences with YA contemporaries, but I was drawn to this cover and blurb like a bee to honey. And to be honest, I initially really enjoyed reading it. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and makes it very easy to read this story. I found myself literally flying through the pages at first. Even though the plot itself isn’t all that special and nothing I haven’t seen before in the genre, I had a great time reading it. There are quite a few high school cliches involved though which I could have done without as well as the jealousy and the whole new friend/third wheel theme. I had mixed feelings about the characters and as the story continued especially Caddy really started to bother me. Both her attitude and her idea that having bad things happen to you make you more interesting is not only frustrating but almost offensive. It’s one of the reasons I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less and less and ended up having to give a lot lower rating than I initially suspected. Sure, Suzanne’s character is quite interesting and opens the way to talk about important themes as abuse and its consequences and mental health, but her reactions are also almost cliche at points and I’m not sure I’m happy with the final developments and the ending. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for… Beautiful Broken Things had a quite strong start because of the enjoyable writing style, but didn’t manage to convince me in the end. Part of the problem might have been me, so if you love the genre and don’t mind cliches it’s still worth giving a go.

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Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for years and even though they go to different high schools, they are inseparable. Caddy has always been the quiet one though and when she turns sixteen she wants to make some changes in her life. And then Rosie meets Suzanne, a new girl at her school and they become friends. Suzanne is everything Caddy wants to be and she is jealous of their friendship. Things are becoming a whole lot more complicated… Especially when Caddy starts to get knowing Suzanne better. What will happen to the three girls?

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Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.


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BOOK REVIEW: Love May Fail – by Matthew Quick

Title: Love May Fail
Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
First published: June 4th 2015
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: July 31st 2017
Pages: 419

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

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I liked Matthew Quick‘s unconventional writing style and characters in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, so when I was desperately looking for something different I turned to his work again. I found a copy of Love May Fail on my shelves and decided to pick it up; and I definitely got what I was looking for. This book is by no means conventional! I’m still not sure what to make of this book even days after finishing it. There were things/elements I liked or appreciated and there were others I wasn’t so sure about, but what is true that Love May Fail is different. Both the writing style and tone are very unconventional, blunt, brutally honest but also refreshing. That said, there was also a lot of swearing and negativity involved… So this unique feel can go both ways. The same thing goes for the characters. Most of them earn points for brutal honesty, uniqueness and having that ‘spark’, but I don’t think I actually liked them. Portia had all those elements (she definitely has balls), but somehow I never actually warmed up to her. It is true though that at least she was able to provoke strong emotions, even if those were mostly negative. I couldn’t stand Mr. Vernon though. What is true though is that important themes as mental illness, depression, suicide, midlife crisis and hoarding play an important role in the story and seems to be portrayed quite realistically. Matthew Quick isn’t afraid to step on a few toes and says things as they are in a blunt and brutally honest way. And I don’t think I have ever read about a hoarder before! In short I can applaude the diversity. I also liked the novel writing bits and insight in the publishing world. Still, I can’t say I actually loved reading Love May Fail. It won’t make it to my favorites list, but there is no doubt there is something about this story.

A little warning: don’t read Love May Fail if you are sensitive to darker themes, adult content and swearing.

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After Portia Kane finds her pornographer husband cheating on her with a girl half her age, she decides she has had enough. She is having a meltdown; escapes her fabulous life in Florida and then returns to her mother’s house in South Jersey. There she realizes things in her hometown haven’t changed all that much and she will have to face the memories of her unhappy childhood. Her mother is still a hoarder and Portia doesn’t know how to help her get better… So when she finds out what happened to her favorite English teacher, she decides to do something to help him instead. But how to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped in the first place?

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If you are looking for something different, there is no doubt that Love May Fail will deliver. There is nothing conventional about this story and I guess it is kind of refreshing. Love May Fail won’t be for everyone since it has a lot of trigger warnings for darker themes, adult content and swearing, but I’m sure the right person will appreciate the brutal honesty and blunt, raw and ‘out there’ feel of it all. I personally ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but I do believe this book can go either way.


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