YVO’S SHORTIES #26: Black-Eyed Susans & My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time yet two more books I read during my hiatus… Two titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and both turned out to be excellent reads. The first, Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, I’ve been meaning to read ever since it came out, so it was about time I finally did. The second, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, was an easy choice as well. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories, so I have been wanting to explore more of his work… And this one came in close second.


Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: May 10th 2018
Pages: 369

“You’ll always get to the right answer if you slow down and think about it.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this thriller ever since I first heard about it back in 2015, and I’m not sure what happened that I managed to pospone it for almost three years. But better later than never right? It might have been that I had superhigh expectations for Black-Eyed Susans, but while I thought it was a very solid read, the story didn’t manage to blow me away completely. I can’t exactly put my finger on the why though. The writing is strong and definitely draws you right in, and the serial killer is definitely another creeper. You will have a healthy dose of suspense and twisted scenes in Black-Eyed Susans! The plot itself is strong as well, although a possible weak spot might be the dual storyline, where the story splits between past and present. It did distract a little from the things that were happening, although I do admit it was a good way to add more intrigue and tension to the story. And there is no doubt I’m very happy to have finally read Black-Eyed Susans, because it was without doubt an excellent, intriguing and slightly disturbing thriller.


Title: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
First published: 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: May 14th 2018
Pages: 372
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Min mormor hälsar och säger förlåt’)

“It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves.”


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I’m sure a few are already aware of the fact I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman’s work, or at least that A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories (and Ove one of my favorite characters). I’ve been meaning to slowly go through his other books ever since, and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is my third experience with his work. And I can tell you, this story has only reconfirmed my love for his stories! The writing in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is just so Backman, meaning I absolutely devoured its pages and loved it right from the very first chapter. Fredrik Backman has a talent for creating the most amazing, quirky and strong characters you will connect to straight away. In this story we meet a fair amount of new quirky characters that will win over your heart completely. I also loved the mix of reality and fantasy in the plot, and the humor mixed with more serious moments. Talk about a perfect balance! And while A Man Called Ove is still my absolute favorite, this one comes a really close second. I can’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here now, which follows the story of one of the characters mentioned in this one!


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ARC REVIEW: A Secondhand Life – by Pamela Crane

Title: A Secondhand Life
(Killer Thriller #1)
Author: Pamela Crane
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: April 11th 2018
Pages: 314

“How could anyone determine one person”s value over another based on where they lived and how much money they had?”

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

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I like the way Pamela Crane writes, and I admit I was sold as soon as I hit that blurb. A serial killer AND the promise of ‘organ memory’ as one of the key elements in solving the case? How can I say no to that?! I had high hopes for A Secondhand Life and I found myself hooked as soon as I started reading. Honestly, I would have finished this killer thriller in one sitting if I would have had more time… It is without doubt a suspenseful and intriguing pageturner. The plot itself is an interesting one and both past and present play a role in putting together the story. I’m not sure I actually liked the main character Mia, but her development is interestingly done. And then I’m not even talking about the ‘organ memory’… I loved how this element was incorporated into the story and it was also interesting to find out how the author first came across this topic. This phenomenon of changes in personality and having memories of the donors after an organ transplant is simply fascinating. These memories and dreams are key in the plot of A Secondhand Life and definitely give this thriller an unique touch. The crime/investigation part is mix of cold case with new murders and has some graphic details, but nothing too gory. There are quite a few twists and turns as well, although I did had a hunch quite early on that turned out to be right. I didn’t guess the full truth though and the final reveals were definitely a surprise. I had a great time reading this one and I will be looking forward to read the companion novella A Secondhand Lie soon.

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When she was twelve, Mia Germaine lost her father and almost her own life as well in a car accident. She survived, but only after a heart transplant from a young murder victim… Or so she found out after twenty years, when suddenly Mia started having horrifying nightmares about an unsolved murder, triggered by the recent death of a teenager. She discovers that the dreams she is having are actually memories… Due to a scientific phenomenon called ‘organ memory’, she somehow has the memories of the girl that was killed on the night of Mia’s accident, the girl that saved her life by donating her heart. Mia is determined to find out the identity of both the girl and her murderer… But by doing that she might be putting herself on the radar of the serial killer that is currently on the loose.

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If you like your thrillers fast, well written, suspenseful and with an unique touch, A Secondhand Life is the one for you. I personally loved the incorporation of ‘organ memory’ in the plot and how this element played such an important role in the investigation. I admit I didn’t really warm up to the main character, but her development is well done and my feelings for her didn’t influence my general feelings for the story. I was just too intrigued by the plot and twists to pay attention to minor details and possible flaws. A highly entertaining and addictive serial killer thriller with a twist, and without doubt worth reading.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #3: IT & Armada


A new year and more Yvo’s Shorties! This time a true book monster and a popular science fiction read… I’ve been meaning to read both for ages and finally did so last year. I’m talking about IT by Stephen King and Armada by Ernest Cline


Title: IT
Author: Stephen King 

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: 1986
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: December 4th 2017
Pages: 1.478

“She wanted to scream and couldn’t. The screams were too big to come out.”


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IT is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never actually picked up, mostly due to the extremely intimidating size of this monster. I don’t mind reading big (read: 800+ pages) books, but IT is on a whole different level… But with the movie coming out last year, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to finally read it. I originally started reading IT in October for Halloween, but the slump got me and I wasn’t able to finish it until December. It wasn’t just the slump though that made me take ages to finish this monster. Because I truly feel it is waaaaaaaaay overlong and has way too many details, descriptions and subplots, making the story drag at points. I honestly think that cutting out at least half of the subplots and pages would have made this story that much more creepy and suspenseful… And without doubt also a real pageturner. As it is, I had a hard time making sense of all the different subplots and characters in the beginning, making it hard to actually enjoy reading it. Things did get better as I started to connect the different parts and things got more creepy, but that dragging feel took a lot of the suspense away for me. The writing was excellent and the idea behind the plot brilliant, but unfortunately the overdose of subplots and characters and dragging feel ended up decreasing the rating considerably and in the end IT was only a 3 star story for me.


Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: November 16th 2017
Pages: 384

“I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, comforted by my half-assed self-diagnosis. Nothing but a mild flare-up of inherited nuttiness, brought on by my lifelong dead-dad fixation and somewhat related self-instituted overexposure to science fiction.”


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Armada is another of those books that has been on my radar for a long time… I’ve actually been wanting to read both this one and Ready Player One ever since they first came out, but somehow I never did. Too many books, too little time sounds just about familiar right? Various fellow book lovers recommended reading Armada first, so when I was in the mood for science fiction I finally did so last November. When I first read the blurb I was 100% convinced I would absolutely love this book. I have a weak spot for geeky books and I’m a former gamer myself, so I thought Armada would be spot on for me. That’s why I was so surprised I ended up having a different reaction instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE the writing style and I can see why the right target group would absolutely love this story, but the whole war-alien gaming thing just wasn’t for me. Especially in the beginning I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story, which I found strange since I should have been able to relate at least to the gamer part of it all. Things did get better after the big plot twist bomb about halfway through, and I liked the second half considerably better. But still… I definitely feel this book has a specific target group and unfortunately I don’t belong to that group. Definitely give Armada a go though if you think this story sounds like your cup of tea! The writing will blow your socks off.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #2: The Marble Collector & Our Numbered Days


Today it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Featuring today are two books I’ve read recently: The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern and Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn.


Title: The Marble Collector
Author: Cecelia Ahern

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Chick Lit
First published: October 29th 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: December 25th 2017
Pages: 304

“Hurtful things are roots, they spread, branch out, creep under the surface touching other parts of the lives of those they hurt. It’s never one mistake, it’s never one moment, it becomes a series of moments, each moment growing roots and spurting in different directions.”


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I know I’m normally not a fan of the contemporary romance/chick lit genre and I tend to stay away from it, but I wanted something different and a lighter read for the Holiday season and The Marble Collector caught my eye. This is my first time reading one of Cecelia Ahern‘s books and I can definitely see why she is such a popular author. Not my thing maybe, but without doubt well developed and well written stories based on what I found in The Marble Collector. It took a little while figuring out the different POVs in the story, but in the end I could really appreciate the complexity and the timeline of the plot. The Irish setting and the whole marble theme were a nice touch and while I wasn’t a big fan of the characters, it was quite easy to become invested in the story anyway. The mystery around the marble collection and the amnesia added some suspense to the plot, and overall this was quite an enjoyable read. Quite low on the romance and mostly focused on family drama and the secrets of a man who can no longer remember… I can see why people would love The Marble Collector and Cecelia Ahern‘s books in general.


Title: Our Numbere Days
Author: Neil Hilborn

Genre: Poetry, Mental Health
First published: May 14th 2015
Publisher: Button Poetry
Finished reading: December 25th 2015
Pages: 72

“Depression wasn’t an endless grey sky, it was no sky at all. I’ve got to go somewhere. I’ve got to go.”


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I don’t read or review a lot of poetry on my blog, but I have a weak spot for strong, emotional poetry, especially related to depression or mental health. I’ve written my share of (bad) poetry in the past when I was in a bad place, and it has helped me feel better… And I’m always interested to see how others express their emotions and pain. Our Numbered Days has been on my radar for a long time, so when I was in the mood for some poetry it was the perfect excuse to finally pick up my copy. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading the poems in Our Numbered Days other than that they were mental health related and there has been a lot of praise for one of the poems included in the bundle called OCD. What I have discovered is that Neil Hilborn’s style of poetry simply isn’t for me, and I wasn’t able to connect the way I thought I would be able to because of the topic. This reaction is highly personal and mostly related to the style of the poems, so definitely don’t let this stop you from picking the bundle up yourself if you want to. I do see why OCD is so popular and it was one of my favorites of the bunch, along with probably Still Life With Pills and Skyline With Cranes And Stormcloud. I did have a hard time making sense of some of the poems though… Some seemed almost surreal, while others were direct and to the point. All in all not my favorite poetry bundle, but if you like slam poetry you will probably have a different experience with it.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Kind Worth Killing – by Peter Swanson

Title: The Kind Worth Killing
Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: August 20th 2017
Pages: 312

“Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”

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The Kind Worth Killing is one of those books that has been on my TBR for ages and somehow never picked up despite the fact I was really looking forward it. Apparently my TBR jar thought it was about time to change that… I admit I was very happy when I learned what my latest TBR jar pick was going to be. And all those raving reviews were absolutely right. The Kind Worth Killing is one heck of a thrilling rollercoaster ride! From the brilliant writing style to the suspense, plot twists, character development and the plot itself… This story will have you in its claws as soon as you start reading it and trust me, you will find yourself unable to stop until you figure out how things end. I really liked the idea behind this story and it was both disturbing, twisted and refreshing at the same time. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but the quote above gives you an idea of how the mind of one of the main characters works… The characters and their development are very well done and it was interesting to see how things played out as the plot twist bombs were dropped on you. Some are pretty shocking! The Kind Worth Killing is suspense at its best and I can definitely highly recommend this title to any fan of the genre. You won’t regret reading this one!

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Ted Severson and Lily Kintner meet waiting for a flight from London and Boston, and after a few martinis they seem to start a very revealing game of truth. Ted talks about his marriage and how he is sure that his wife Miranda his cheating on him. They weren’t exactly a perfect match to begin with, but still… Then the game takes a different turn when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda and Lily takes him seriously. After all, as Lily believes some people are just worth killing… Back in Boston the two keep in touch and their bond grows stronger as they start talking about the how and when. But can they really get away with it? And why does Lily, a total stranger, want to help Ted in the first place?

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If you like fast-paced and twisty thrillers that read like a train, you will love The Kind Worth Killing. This story is packed with plot twists that will both surprise you and keep you guessing about what will happen next until the very end. The writing is excellent and only helps enjoying the story even more. The flashbacks to the past of Lily don’t distract from the main plot at all and only help to develop her character further. In short, definitely read this title if you haven’t already and like the genre. It’s just as good as everybody keeps promising in their raving reviews!


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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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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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