YVO’S SHORTIES #78 – The Last Time I Lied & The Painted Veil

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a 2018 release I wasn’t able to get to last year and a classic I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The first, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, went better than I hoped and I ended up really enjoying it. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham sadly wasn’t really my cup of tea though.


Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 3rd 2018
Publisher: Dutton
Finished reading: January 19th 2019
Pages: 384

“Above all, I’m scared that if I keep digging, I might not like what I’ll find.”


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There has been a lot of hype around The Last Time I Lied, but after my experience with Final Girls I decided to stay away for a while before finally picking it up. I’m not sure if this tactic helped or if I found his second book to be simply better than his debut, but the fact is: no unpopular opinion review this time around. Oh yes, you can say I really enjoyed my time with The Last Time I Lied. (What’s with all those books with ‘lie’ in the title though?) The writing is strong and draws you right in; the descriptions of the art and surroundings are done in such a way that really makes them come alive. This story has a dual timeline, where we slowly learn more about what happened fifteen years ago, what is happenening at the camp right now and how the two relate… Using the unreliable narrator technique and a whole bunch of twists, secrets and lies, Riley Sager will be able to keep you guessing about what really happened all those years ago. And not only that, because things are happening in the present as well that make you wondering what is really going on and who is behind it all. The final twists were definitely a surprise! I’m not sure if Emma and the other characters are exactly likeable, but they feel well developed and the Lake Midnight setting is both eerie and fits the story. This feeling that something is off sets the right atmosphere for a story that will keep you engaged until you find out every last detail about that night the girls disappeared and how everything affects Emma and the others in the present. I can understand the love for The Last Time I Lied now!


Title: The Painted Veil
Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 1925
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: January 20th 2019
Pages: 280

“You know, my dear child, that one cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one’s soul.”


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While I was browsing for something a little different to read, I stumbled upon my copy of The Painted Veil. I was looking forward to a historical fiction read and the promise of a foreign setting in the 1920s sounded great. Add the fact that reading it would mean crossing off my first classic of the year early, and I was fully convinced. What I didn’t expect is just how focused this story is on the romance, adultery and love triangle. This never goes well for me and I guess it’s part of the reason I’m guessing The Painted Veil simply wasn’t for me despite my love for historical fiction. I do have to say the setting was well developed and the many descriptions of especially the Meitan-Fu area were really detailed and made it come alive. The foreign culture is probably the most interesting aspect of this story, and it’s a shame there is not more focus on it. The Painted Veil is a character driven story with especially Kitty in the spotlight. You can guess that being unable to connect to her presented a big problem for me… Likewise, I can’t say I was charmed by the other characters either. I am very curious about the movie though, which I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about. But sadly the book didn’t manage to blow me away.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Great Gatsby – by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 10th 1925
Finished reading: March 7th 2014
Pages: 180
Rating 4

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

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In this case I saw the movie much before even considering reading this novel. The extravagant world of Jay Gatsby during the twenties really came alive on the screen, and it made me wonder how the paper version would be. So I decided to find a copy, and I must say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s not the typical novel and the exuberant world Gatsby moves around in might not be to your taste. But it is without doubt that the way F. Scott Fitzgerald is able to show us this world they live in is brilliant. The first part might not be that interesting for those who prefer action, but the second half makes up for it and The Great Gatsby has its share of drama and death.

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We get to know Jay Gatsby through Nick Carraway, his neighbor and narrator of this story. Gatsby finds out about the family ties between Nick and his long lost sweetheart Daisy, and asks his neighbor for help in reconquering his true love. Because, as in most drama storylines, Daisy had already married someone else. Jay Gatsby was poor back then and had gone to war… And she was tired of waiting for Gatsby to come back and afraid of losing the priviledged life she was enjoying until then.  Slowely and through Nick we come to know more about Daisy, Gatsby and their dreamlike world (and their secrets). Things become more intense when we find out that Tom, the husband of Daisy, has an affair, and then all the different parties meet. It is a big mix of three different love triangles, with Nick in the middle as the only spark of reason within all the chaos. Things escalate towards the end with terrible consequences… And two deaths as a result. It shows us that life is only temporary and that even the most extraordinary things come to an end.

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I must say I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby; it is almost a work of art and more similar to poetry than to normal prose. It might not be my normal taste of genre, but it is definitely worth reading.