YVO’S SHORTIES #29: The Upside Of Unrequited & The Border

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I was sure I was going to love, but somehow ended up being another unpopular opinion review. The Border by Steve Schafer on the other hand was absolutely brilliant.


Title: The Upside Of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: June 21st 2018
Pages: 352

“We like who we like. Who cares if someone else doesn’t get it?”


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Oh hello unpopular opinion review! I guess we meet once again… I truly wish we wouldn’t have crossed paths this time around though. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has to be one of my all time favorite YA books, so of course I was fully expecting to love this story as well. I’m still kind of shocked I ended up having this reaction, but I guess it is what it is. Fact: the problem isn’t the writing, which is without doubt excellent and made The Upside Of Unrequited into a really fast and entertaining read. I like the idea of having twins as main characters and the lgbt elements made this story into the perfect read for Pride Month. The twins moms are the cutest! The artsy/pinterest vibe was also a great touch. But. And here comes the main problem: I really struggled with Molly’s character. Not only did her choices annoy me and she helped introduce a love triangle to the plot that really bothered me… But I also found her whole attitude and negativity towards her own body quite frustrating. Having struggled with my weight just about my whole life, I know how it feels having to deal with rejection and negativity of others, but I don’t think Molly’s character gives the right message to those who struggle with the same problem. And we don’t have a lot of ‘bigger’ main characters to look up to in stories in the first place… So Molly was quite a let down for me. I also felt like The Upside Of Unrequited was almost trying to be too diverse and squeeze in too many diverse characters into one story. But yeah, that is mostly just me since everybody including my neighbor’s cat seems to love this story, so do take my rambles with a grain of salt.


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 364

“We are right on the border. The border. Of story, of legend, of dreams. ut we might as well be on the moon. So famous, yet so desolate.”


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Weird fact: I have a strange fascination for any story related to the war on drugs, cartels and the consequences of both. After a course or two during Uni, a thesis and quite a few related books, TV shows and movies, my thirst for this theme still hasn’t lessened. So honestly I should have known this book would hit the right spot even before I started it. The Border is more about the cartels and the consequences of antagonizing them than the actual war on drugs, but the theme is without doubt fascinating. The narcos killing the families of the main characters is sadly enough not all that uncommon, and neither is the hunt that starts afterwards. I really liked how Steve Schafer isn’t afraid to state the hard, painful and shocking facts, describing to us in a realistic way how the teens have to run for their lives. The incorporation of Spanish into the writing was spot on and added more authenticity to the story; the descriptions of both characters and setting detailed and realistic. The writing style managed to put me under its spell and I couldn’t let this story go until the very end. Ever feel like putting everything on hold until you reach the final page? That is what happened while I was reading The Border. This is not a happy story and the characters truly struggle; some parts are truly heartbreaking and make sure you have some tissues at hand just in case. But this realistic rendering of the four Mexican teens trying to cross the desert to reach the safety of US territory is simply sublime. I can highly recommend reading this one if you are interested in the theme, or if you enjoy reading realistically described (YA) thrillers.


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ARC REVIEW: Ochoco Reach – by Jim Stewart

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Title: Ochoco Reach
Author: Jim Stewart
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
First published: September 1st 2015
Finished reading: October 26th 2015
Pages: 296
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“We are all the composite of our stories. It is who we are. Our stories carry the tracks we leave during our lifetimes. The most important of those tracks are in the hearts of our friends and our enemies.”

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

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When I was approached earlier this month to read and review Ochoco Reach, the cover and blurb immediately appealed to me. The mystery/thriller genre is one of my favorites and both war on drugs and USA/Mexican border stories have always interested me. With its fast pace, interesting plot and well written prose, it is easy to say I really enjoyed this novel by Jim Stewart. The main characters are well developed and I especially liked the Native American elements and the dynamics between Mike, his brother Daniel, his dog Bucket and Willy. Mike can come over as a bit of a Rambo-clone at some points, but his character has a lot more depth than Sylvester Stallone. Ochoco Reach is what you call an action-packed pageturner where the main character has to rescue his client from a cartel boss: a guarantee for some very interesting action and shooting scenes. There are some unexpected plot twists as well, making this a very entertaining read and perfect for those who enjoy the genre.

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Mike Ironwood is a freelance investigator and has just agreed to investigate some suspicious movements at a beautiful stranger’s family cattle ranch. Both the case and the woman named Willy are intriguing, and Mike soon finds himself more than involved in the case. When things turn more and more ugly and federal investigators seem to be involved, Mike smells trouble… And his fears come true when Willy is kidnapped and taken to Mexico. Mike is determined to rescue Willy, a woman that is no longer just his client but also the woman he is falling in love with… And he asks his brother Daniel for help. Will they be able to find Willy on time and rescue her from the cartel jefe?

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Ochoco Reach is a well written and very entertaining read filled with action, (gun)fights and the right dose of emotions. The plot and Native American/spiritual elements made this story into something quite original and the many plot twists kept me interested until the very end. If you are looking for a good mystery/thriller read, I would definitely recommend this novel!