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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BOOK REVIEW: A Different Blue – by Amy Harmon

Title: A Different Blue
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 29th 2013
Finished reading: September 17th 2017
Pages: 322

“I keep wishing you had had a better life…a different life. But a different life would have made you a different Blue.” He looked at me then. “And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.”

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I became an instant fan of Amy Harmon‘s work after my first experience with one of her stories. And it’s definitely one of the main reasons I still decided to give A Different Blue a go despite my doubts about the fact it’s classified as a contemporary romance and wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I guess those who follow my blog are already aware of the fact I’m not a big fan of the romance genre in general and to be honest I was quite worried this story wouldn’t be a right fit. But Amy Harmon managed to do the impossible and made me enjoy another contemporary romance read. It did help that A Different Blue didn’t have as much romance as I expected initially in the first place. And even though this wasn’t my favorite story of the bunch I’ve read so far, I still very much enjoyed it. And this has a lot to do with the writing, which was excellent as always and had me hooked right from the beginning. There is no doubt that A Different Blue is a beautiful, raw, strong and emotional story! The plot is interesting and will have quite a few surprises in store… Both the plot and character development were done very realistically and this made it really easy to fully emerge myself into the story. Blue was a great character and even though she isn’t exactly easy to like, there is just something about her that makes you want to keep on reading. And I just love her art and what it symbolizes! I wasn’t a big fan of Darcy though and I could have done without the love triangle… His actions started to frustate me at times and he didn’t manage to charm me. There is no doubt this is still a very good read though and one of the few contemporary romance stories I have actually enjoyed over the years. And A Different Blue has both the wonderful writing and its main character Blue to thank for that.

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Blue Echohawk was abandoned when she was little and raised by a man without a real home. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born; she simply feels she doesn’t know who she is. The fact that she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old slowed her down, with the consequence she is still just a high school senior at nineteen. Blue is what you call a troublemaker and uses her appearance and tough attitude as an armor. But the cracks are starting to show when a young British teacher decides he is up for the challenge and is determined to get through to her.

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Even though I didn’t LOVE love A Different Blue like the other Amy Harmon books I have picked up so far, there is no denying this is still a very good read. It might have just been the fact contemporary romance normally isn’t my thing in the first place, but the main reasons I couldn’t add the final star were my aversion to Darcy and some of the romance. The writing is flawless and the plot both intriguing, emotional, powerful and realistic. Blue is such a great character and even though she is hard to like, you grow attached to her anyway. Fans of the genre will enjoy this story!  Make sure to have some tissues ready, because you will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster with this one.


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BOOK REVIEW: Confess – by Colleen Hoover

Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
First published: March 10th 2015
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: July 16th 2017
Pages: 320

“Selflessness. It should be the basis of every relationship. If a person truly cares about you, they’ll get more pleasure from the way they make you feel, rather than the way you make them feel.”

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Spoiler alert: I seem to be having a love-hate relationship with Colleen Hoover‘s books. I know contemporary romance normally isn’t my thing at all and you might ask yourself: why on earth pick up a book belonging to a genre that’s not for you in the first place? Well, mostly because Colleen Hoover is one of the few authors that has been able to give solid proof (a.k.a. November 9 and It Ends With Us) that I can actually love a contemporary romance story. So when I was looking for something completely different to read, I turned to CoHo again and decided to pick up on of her novels still on my TBR. I mainly picked Confess because I was curious about the anonymous confessions incorporated into the story. And now I’ve finished reading it, I still think this is the strongest element of this novel. I just love the idea of the anonymous confessions made into art, the symbolisms and the fact that the actual paintings are shown in the novel. The confessions, both anonymous and those of the main characters, play a big role throughout the story and the title is definitely spot on. I initially received mainly positive vibes as I was reading Confess and I really thought it was going to be another winner for me, but unfortunately this feeling didn’t last. It wasn’t the writing style, which was just as good as ever and one of the reasons her books are just so damn readable. BUT. And here come two big issues… 1. The characters. 2. Instalove. I was able to tolerate the main characters initially, mostly because the writing style is very enjoyable and I was intrigued by the confessions and paintings. I even forgave the cliches initially… But this all went south when both Auburn and Owen started to annoy me. Even worse: other characters started popping up that provoked even worse feelings and that was not even the end of it. Because Confess suffers from a very heavy case of one of the most annoying romantic tropes: instalove. Auburn and Owen… Sorry, I just wasn’t able to believe it and it was really hard to keep taking the story seriously when I couldn’t take serious their (inter)actions. I was about halfway through when Confess had officially lost me to an instalove overdose. Which is a shame, because Confess does touch some very important topics and brings to light just how toxic and manipulative human beings can be. I can really see why people would love this story, but Confess was most definitely a solid case of ‘not-for-me’.

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Auburn Reed has been having a rough couple of years and has moved to Dallas to try and rebuild her shattered life. She has been fighting for a long time and her goals seem to be very close now… But it seems like life will be never easy for her. Auburn was just looking for a second job to get more money, but she ended up finding a whole lot more when she walks into a Dallas art studio and meets the artist and owner Owen Gentry. They share an instant attraction and Auburn decides to take a chance and put her heart first. But Owen has been keeping secrets from her… Secrets that might ruin the last thing in her life that is important to her.

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First of all I have to say that Confess by no means is a bad read, and I’m probably partly to blame for this story and me not being a right match. The writing style is just so readable and I do love the idea of the confessions turned into art and the way confessions are incorporated into the story itself. Confess isn’t just another sappy romance story and has a few very dark themes, but in the end it was the instalove overdose and inability to tolerate the main characters that ruined the reading experience for me. Oh well, I guess we can’t like them all… And what I said before is true: Colleen Hoover is always able to provoke very strong reactions with her stories whether they are positive or negative. And that is always a good sign.


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BOOK REVIEW: It Ends With Us – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 12th 2016
Pages: 367
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“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

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Colleen Hoover has done it again! Those who know me are already aware of my not-so-good relationship with the romance genre, but this author has convinced me yet again I can actually enjoy romance when it’s done right. I seem to be having a love-hate relationship with CoHo‘s work, but that doesn’t take away I did LOVE November 9 last year. I decided to give It Ends With Us a go after seeing nothing but raving reviews everywhere, and those reviews were absolutely right. This title just became the second 5 star CoHo book on my list, and that is no small achievement for a genre I normally tend to avoid. Why is It Ends With Us so brilliant that it deserves the highest rating? First of all, there is no denying the fact that Colleen Hoover is a master in creating realistic and believable characters that you can easily relate to. It Ends With Us is filled with strong characters, and on top of that it’s an exceptionally well written story with an intriguing plot. This novel isn’t just another fluffy contemporary romance story either. Instead it deals with a very important and probably very sensitive topic: (abuse). It’s not an easy topic to write about, but the author has done an excellent job of describing it realistically. Have I managed to convince you to read It Ends With Us yet? I certainly hope so, because it was hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year.

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Lily hasn’t always had an easy life, but that has never stopped her from trying to find a way to succeed in life. She managed to escape the small town in Main where she grew up in and after graduating from college she decided to move to Boston. She first started to work at a firm, but then someone inspired her to follow her dream to start her own business. And that is not the only positive thing that is happening in Lily’s life… When she feels a spark with the gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid, everything seems almost too good to be true. Sure, he doesn’t do relationships and might be stubborn and even a bit arrogant. But Ryle seems to have a soft spot for Lily and she is having a hard time to resist… But is he really who Lily thinks he is?

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I’m having a hard time writing a proper review for this one without it sounding like I’m just blabbering all over the place, but It Ends With Us is just THAT good. Forget the fact that I’m normally not a fan of romance. Forget the fact that I normally detest love triangles. This book is simply brilliant! Realistic and strong characters (Lily is such an awesome character), extremely well written prose and intriguing plot… It Ends With Us just has it all.

BOOK REVIEW: Maybe Not – by Colleen Hoover

brmaybenotTitle: Maybe Not
(Maybe #1.5)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 24th 2014
Finished reading: April 23rd 2016
Pages: 130
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“The only difference between falling in love and being in love is that your heart already knows how you feel, but your mind is too stubborn to admit it.”

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I thought Warren was hilariously awkward in Maybe Someday, so when I found out this novella was about him and Bridgette and their relationship I decided to read it straight away. And Maybe Not didn’t disappoint; I think I actually liked the novella better than the last part of the original story! Those who know me are already aware that I’m normally not a big fan of the romance genre, but Colleen Hoover has shown me I can actually enjoy a contemporary romance story when it is well written and has the right (lack of) elements. In the case of Maybe Not, the romance is done just right. Warren is hilarious even though his comments are a bit on the weird side and I think he has become my favorite character after Sydney and Ridge let me down in Maybe Someday. His love/hate relationship with Bridgette is really entertaining to read about; the way they behave in front of the rest, their ‘hateful’ comments and what happens behind closed doors… This novella is by no means a cheesy, sappy romantic love story and I enjoyed it all the better for it. If you liked Warren in Maybe Someday, you will love this novella; Colleen Hoover did a brilliant job giving Warren even more funny and awkward lines and I literally flew through the pages. Recommended!

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When Warren is presented with the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he agrees thinking it would sure be an exciting change, already imagining what could happen between them… Or maybe not. Their new roommate Bridgitte turns out to be a cold and seemingly calculating ‘bitch’, and tensions start to run high in the appartment. Warren first wants her gone, but his roommates explain that won’t be an option. And even though the two can’t stand to be in the same room together, Warren now has a theory about Bridgette. Anyone who can hate with that much passion should also be able to love with the same passion… And he is a willing volunteer to test this theory. But will he convince Bridgette to start listening to him in the first place?

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If you have read Maybe Someday and liked Warren’s character, definitely pick up his novella since it’s all about him and Bridgette. I actually liked this novella better than the original story it is based on! Maybe Not has no love triangle, no complicated plot twists, enjoyable prose, hilarious characters, just the right dose of romance and feelings… All in all everything I’m looking for in an entertaining contemporary romance novella.

BOOK REVIEW: Maybe Someday – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: Maybe Someday
(Maybe #1)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 18th 2014
Finished reading: April 22nd 2016
Pages: 385
Rating 3,5qqq

“Sometimes in life, we need a few bad days in order to keep the good ones in perspective.”

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I seem to be having a love/hate relationship with Colleen Hoover books. While I loved November 9 and enjoyed the first two Never Never novellas, I really disliked both the third Never Never part and Ugly Love. It doesn’t happen often that an author is able to cause such contradicting feelings with their work… And to be honest I was a bit afraid to pick up Maybe Someday. Luckily enough I ended up mostly enjoying this book. In fact, up until about 55-60% I would have given it the highest rating, because I really loved the first part. The lyrics that are incorporated in the text make the already entertaining and easy-to-read prose even more enjoyable and I LOVED Sydney and Ridge. The musical elements in general and their roommates Warren and Bridgette were definitely a huge bonus as well and even Ridge’s girlfriend Maggie seemed like a great character. Unfortunately, after the mark mentioned above things took a turn for the worse. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say Maggie has a ‘secret’ and when it was revealed and things escalated I wasn’t so sure I liked the story OR the two main characters anymore. And it wasn’t even because of the love triangle, because the first part of Maybe Someday was actually one of those few exceptions where the love triangle didn’t bother me. In short, for me the story started out with a blast and got weaker towards the ending… And I still kind of wish she wouldn’t have added the ‘Maggie plot twist’. Still, the first part is good enough to (mostly) make up for it. Recommended for fans of the genre!

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Sydney things she has a perfectly comfortable life as a student with a steady part-time job, living with her best friend and a great boyfriend she has been with for a long time. Even her afternoons studying in listening to the music coming from the balcony opposite hers seem to be perfect. But that all soon comes to an end when she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend. She storm out of their appartment and is suddenly homeless… But not for long, as the mysterious man behind the music, Ridge, decides to let her stay in his appartment he shares with two more roommates. Their initial connection is purely related to music, since Sydney seems to be able to put the lyrics to the songs he plays. But the heart can cheat on the mind, and things are starting to become more complicated…

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Like I said above, I LOVED the first 55-60% or so of Maybe Someday and literally flew through the pages. The prose, the musical elements, Sydney and Ridge, Warren and his hilarious comments… Everything was just perfect and I even managed to ignore the love triangle. But then… BAM! The plot twist happened that made me change my feelings for the two main characters and I kind of lost my respect for them. In the end it is still an interesting story, but not as good as I thought it would be when I was reading the first part.

BOOK REVIEW: Never Never Part Three – by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

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Title: Never Never Part Three
(Never Never #3)
Authors: Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
First published: January 19th 2016
Finished reading: February 6th 2016
Pages: 92
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“I’d rather trust the versions of ourselves we don’t remember than trust people who don’t know us at all.”

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I really enjoyed reading the first two parts of the Never Never series last year and I have been waiting anxiously for the third and final part ever since. It wasn’t a surprise whatsoever that I just HAD to get a copy as soon as it was published… And you can imagine this excitement made by final disappointment by this ending all the bigger. I have just one question for Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher: WHY???!!! After the first two parts there were so many possible endings for this story, and I still cannot believe the road they decided to take in Never Never Part Three. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet, but what I can say is that I almost vomited because of the cheesiness of this third part and I was really tempted to throw my kindle against the wall by the time I reached the ending. What used to be an intriguing mystery story about two teenagers with memory loss has been turned into a story you either love or hate… And unfortunately I don’t belong to the first group. If you don’t mind (cheesy) romance, you will probably enjoy this final part though.

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read the first two parts yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Silas and Charlie still don’t have their memories back and are not really closer to finding out the truth about why and how they lost it in the first place… Together they will have to look deeper into their past to see if they can dig up any new information. Meanwhile, the time is ticking and they only have limited time before their memories are reset again… Or so it seems. Could it be that Silas is keeping something secret from Charlie? Will they restore their memories and regain what they once had?

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The first half of Never Never Part Three was quite good and I was able to enjoy the prose as much in the first two parts. But as soon as I realized the path Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher had decided to take I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I don’t like cheesy romance and after the first two parts that was definitely NOT what I signed up for. Without going into further details, I can say I was more than disappointed with the ending and in a way I wish I hadn’t read the final part…Because the whole series is now kind of ruined for me. If you haven’t read the series or the final part yet and don’t like cheesy romance, hereby consider yourself warned.