YVO’S SHORTIES #120 – Twisted & I Am Malala

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a new 5 star favorite and another good read as well. I loved Thirteen when I read it a while back, and I think I might just love Twisted a tiny bit more. Steve Cavanagh is definitely one of my favorite new discoveries this year! And it took me years, but I finally managed to read I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, and it was without doubt a very powerful memoir even though I failed to connect with it completely.

Title: Twisted
Author: Steve Cavanagh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 24th 2019
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: August 16th 2019 
Pages: 320

“This was what Paul lived for.

He just liked writing twists good enough to make the reader drop the goddamn book.

And there was one of the way.”


I’ve had a copy of Twisted on my shelves for a few months, and after being blown away by Thirteen a little while back I was even more excited to finally read it. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I loved Twisted even a tiny bit more than my first meeting with Eddie Flynn. This book knocked me out with a hammer and left me staring at the last page, trying to process what I had just read… Oh yes, this will definitely be on my list of favorites of 2019. And I can also say that Steve Cavanagh is one of my favorite newly discovered authors this year.

I don’t know how I should even start discussing my feelings, because it’s hard to explain the plot and story in general without giving away spoilers that could potentially ruin the fun. But let’s just say that both writing, pace, plot, characters and twists are top notch and definitely take Twisted to the next level. What I love about this book is that nothing is as it seems. You are told something and believe it is true, only for the next chapter to bulldozer over your newly discovered ‘facts’ and feeding you yet another lie instead. Which you will proceed lapping up greedily, desperately trying to get the full picture of it all as you are on a quest to discover the elusive truth. Lie after lie and twist after twist will mislead you up until the point that you even start doubting your own name and your sanity… Oh yes, Twisted will mess with your mind and it’s definitely the right title for this story. Clever, original, complex, brilliantly executed and hands down one of my favorite reads of the year.

Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: November 1st 2012
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Finished reading: August 17th 2019
Pages: 352

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”


I’ve been meaning to pick up this memoir for a long long time now. I’m sure most have heard about Malala’s story in some way or the other, and this memoir makes for a very inspiring, powerful and heartbreaking story. I think I might have picked it up at the wrong time, because I somehow against expectations I failed to connect to the story… Especially the first half was a struggle for me; I think it has something to do with the sheer amount of different names, places and politics being involved. While it gives an excellent background and is a goldmine for information about Pakistan, I struggled to keep my attention to the story. But like I said, that might just have been that it wasn’t the right book at the right time for me. When you get to the second half and learn more about Malala’s personal story, both the events of her being shot for her beliefs and the aftermath, it was a lot easier to keep your attention with the story. Malala is without doubt both inspiring and extraordinary… And it is easy to understand why she is considered a symbol of peaceful protest in the world. I might end up rereading this one when I’m in the right mood to see if I react differently to it.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Wandering Falcon – by Jamil Ahmad


Title: The Wandering Falcon
Author: Jamil Ahmad
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Middle-East
First published: 2011
Finished reading: December 30th 2013
Pages: 243

Rating 3,5

“…One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things. We, you and I, and our people shall live because there are only a few among us who do not love raw onions.”


In his book, Jamil Ahmad was able to write down various stories and traditions of the different tribes living in the area close to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The chapters are just loosely connected, but with this variety in personalities and locations he is able to give us a more complete view of the different tribes and its customs, laws and lifestyles. The daily life of the nomads and communities are in general completely foreign for those who life in the Western world but reading this book we are able to understand the life in this area better. Which is a relief, since normally the border area is known better for the terrorists who are supposedly hiding there than for their original inhabitants.


The wandering falcon is the character who holds the book together. The falcon, also known as Tor Baz, appears and disappears in most parts of the book. And although it’s not the main character, it’s the one that keeps with you… Tor Baz is the son of a young couple who fled their tribe to escape punishments for breaking the tribal law. They managed to survive a few years with the help of some soldiers, but the tribe found them in the end and sentenced them to death. Tor Baz survives though. He becomes a character who wanders around in the border area with different tribes, travels over mountains and the plains, and lives both in towns and tents of the tribal people. He appears to belong nowhere and everywhere, and with his help we get a broader perspective of the situation on different levels of the society. The Afghanistan/Pakistan border: a place where traditions have lasted for centuries; a world full of extremes (both in culture and geography).


Although the writing style is simple and the chapters don’t really connect, I believe that Ahmad was able to let us into a world foreign to most of us in the Western world. He was able to give us a beautiful portrait of the life as it was in those remote lands. Must read if you are interested in the area and want an idea of who are the tribes and how they really live.

BOOK REVIEW: Moth Smoke – by Mohsin Hamid


Title: Moth Smoke
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: 2000
Finished reading: August 5th 2013
Pages: 245
Rating 3,5qqq

“Many boys, probably most boys, have a first love before they fall in love with a woman. It begins the moment two boys realize they’d die for one another, that each cares more for the other than he does for himself, and it lasts usually until a second love comes on the scene, because most hearts aren’t big enough to love more than one person like that.”


I always like books with a foreign setting, so Moth Smoke was an easy choice. The story of a lost soul in the middle of Lahore, one of the mayor cities in Pakistan, sounded really intriguing and it’s always a bonus when that author actually knows what he is talking about when he describes contemporary Pakistan. The Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid is able to show glimpses of the current situation in his country and its extreme differences between rich and poor through his characters. It’s hard to have sympathy for Daru, but that doesn’t take away that the story shows the weakness of human nature perfectly. Drugs, corruption and lack of will power can truly change lives… And the fall and downhill spiral towards destruction even bigger when you start out with such a comfortable life as Daru’s.  In short, Moth Smoke is a good choice if you want to know more about life in Pakistan especially since it’s written by a local. Fast-paced and very intriguing!


Daru Shezad is part of the middle class Pakistani, but managed to make a quite comfortable life for himself and is used to moving around in the higher classes of Lahora thanks to friends in the right places. When his drug use and arrogant attitude make him lose his banking job, he soon falls into a downward spiral towards destruction. Before long, he can’t even pay his bills and loses his connections with the Lahore elite…His drug use becomes more frequent, and to make things worse he falls in love with the wife of his childhood friend and rival. Daru is desperate to find a way out and starts his career in crime, but with the drugs clouding his mind he ends up doing something truly unforgivable…


Moth Smoke is a very interesting read where a colorful description of contemporary Pakistan is mixed with a fast-paced, disturbing and raw story. The main character Daru is not exactly likeable, but he fits right into the story and through him Moshin Hamid is able to show the darker side of life in Lahore. If you like reading a good book set in a culture you might not know that much about, Moth Smoke is a great choice.