YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #170 – Nothing Important Happened Today & Let Me Go #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of thriller sequels… Surprisingly, Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver didn’t work for me as well as I thought it would, especially since I was completely blown away by the first book. My last meeting with Archie and Gretchen in Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain was more successful though, although it’s once again not my favorite of the series.


Title: Nothing Important Happened Today
(Detective Sergeant Pace #2)
Author: Will Carver
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 14th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 15th 2020
Pages: 300

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.”

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Right… I’m still not sure what happened here, but somehow I didn’t actually enjoy this one? Trust me, I’m still flabbergasted myself, because I recently read the first book and it blew me away completely… And I fully expected to have a repeat experience with the sequel. I still don’t understand how, but somehow the writing style this time around just didn’t do it for me. While I can’t deny Nothing Important Happened Today should be applauded for its sheer originality, and the plot itself is ingenious with its mix of third person, collective first person, the introduction manual and detective Pace’s POV, I sadly wasn’t able to connect to the writing style at all this time around. The short sentences, the constant switches in POV, the you, you, you, you… While I have to stress once again just how unique this book is, sadly unique this time around just wasn’t my cup of tea. Was it simply the wrong time for me to pick up this sequel? Maybe. But I’m having a feeling that at least part of the writing style wouldn’t have worked for me at any moment in time. And no, my less than positive reaction wasn’t due to the sheer twistedness of Nothing Important Happened Today, the mass suicide element nor the fact that this is basically partly a manual on how to start your own cult and kill as many people as possible. No, those elements my twisted mind actually did appreciate and a lot at that. It wasn’t the late and not as noticeable appearance of detective Pace either, as the main story itself will keep you more than busy and deserves the spotlight. I really do believe that the only reason this story didn’t work is simply that the writing style and me clashed horribly, which in a way I still don’t understand after my love for Good Samaritans. Fingers crossed this was a blip though and book three will manage to blow me away again!


Title: Let Me Go
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #6)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 13th 2020
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 17th 2020
Pages: 368

“This was one of the things that Gretchen had taught him – his instincts, always so reliable when it came to crime, could fail him when it came to people.”

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This is already my final journey with Archie and Sheridan… After neglecting the series for years, I’ve finally stepped up my game and read the final four books in record time. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. That said, while Let Me Go is not my favorite of the series and not as strong as the first books, it was without doubt still a thrilling read. I’ve grown close to the characters and it’s been great meeting up with them in what is without doubt another dangerous and shocking ride. What initially seems more like a mafia vibe kind of read, soon gives us another dose of that serial killer element and of course Gretchen will make her appearance once again. These books are engaging and if you don’t mind things getting dark, gory and sexual in points and love a good serial killer thriller with a twist, Let Me Go is without doubt another hit. I would definitely recommend reading these books in order though, because you will be missing out on the dynamics and history between the characters otherwise.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #167 – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time & Finding Dorothy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a modern classic and a more recent release I’ve been meaning to read ever since it was released… My time with The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time sadly didn’t up being successful, but Finding Dorothy did hit the mark for me.


Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 31st 2003
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: May 30th 2020 
Pages: 292

“I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them”


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I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be… First of all, I have to say that I do applaude the originality of the writing style as well as the author enabling us to get a glimpse inside the head of a fifteen-year-old teenager on the autism spectrum. It shows that the author really investigated the matter thoroughly and it’s without doubt the strongest point of this book. The thing is… I somehow got tired of that unique writing style real fast, and the tone sounded really young to be considered YA to be honest. I know Christopher is on the autism spectrum and not like other teenagers, but still… I also hated the fact that animal cruelty appeared in the story, and especially in this banal way. And I wasn’t a fan of the whole cheating/lying about Mother angle either to be honest. All in all I found myself to be unable to connect to this story and I confess that I skimread most of the second half. I still love the idea behind this story and the fact that is shines a spotlight on autism, but sadly the execution just didn’t work for me. Oh well, at least I know this one wasn’t for me now.


Title: Finding Dorothy
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 352

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about Finding Dorothy last year and glowing reviews started popping up. The idea of learning the story behind the famous The Wizard Of Oz book and movie based on real historical facts sounded absolutely fascinating, and I think it’s one of the reasons this book worked so well for me. Basically, Finding Dorothy gives us two for one: not only do we get to follow the making of the The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Garland in 1939, but we also go back in time as we get to know both the author Frank L. Baum and his wife Maud. The story switches back between past and present, using the main character Maud as a red thread to weave the two different storylines together… Both storylines complimented each other; the more glamorous 1939 setting giving contrast to the sometimes more harsh and even dire circumstances Maud and Frank found themselves in over the years. While I did find the pace to be a tad slow in parts, the story as a whole did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time learning more about Maud and her family as well as the making of the original movie. Especially little references to the future book that started popping up and being able to read more about Frank’s (probable) inspiration was a wonderful touch. This is fiction mixed with historical facts at its best, and both historical fiction and The Wizard Of Oz fans will be delighted.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #158 – VOX & One Summer In Paris

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres I ended up having a similar reaction to… But not in a good way. Both VOX by Christina Dalcher and One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan had elements that made me really angry, and sadly enough influenced my reading experiences negatively.


Title: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: April 13th 2020
Pages: 336

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

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I’ve been meaning to read VOX for a long time now, and I was honestly really curious to see how I would react to this story after seeing so many mixed reviews. I went in blind and as I started reading I thought I was going to love this story… The writing seemed spot on for and I actually studied Wernicke’s aphasia as part of my Spanish philology degree, which made the topic all the more intriguing for me. The dystopian alternate present is both utterly terrifying and fascinating; it’s the perfect foundation stone to build the rest of the story on. While VOX definitely has that feminism feel, it wasn’t too much for me and I liked how this aspect was incorporated into the story. BUT. Sadly there were also quite a few things that ended up infuriating me. I will keep things short to avoid a full rant, but let’s just say that I wasn’t happy at all with certain characters and how they behaved, the appearance of a love triangle, animal tests, the ending… The character behavior part can partly be explained as something belonging to this dystopian world, but that doesn’t mean my averse reaction was less real because of it. And the ending was kind of an anti-climax for me and didn’t really do the rest of the story justice. It wasn’t a bad read and I agree it would make for a very interesting blog club read and discussion, but I sadly didn’t enjoy VOX as much as I thought I would.


Title: One Summer In Paris
Author: Sarah Morgan
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: April 15th 2020
Pages: 464

“Being yourself is the one thing every person should excel at.”

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I know this is not my typical genre, but I’ve been craving a lot of contemporaries lately and I love a travel/foreign setting theme, so I thought this story set (mostly) in Paris would be a good fit. Things started out great (and also a lot darker than expected) and there were a lot of things I did love in One Summer In Paris, including the Paris setting and the dynamics and growing relationship between Grace and Audrey as well as the bookshop, French language learning, explaining of dyslexia and alcoholic parents past and even Audrey romance with Etienne. BUT. I absolutely hate it when the cheating/affair element plays a big role in a story. Especially the reaction of Grace and more importantly Mr. Bastard aka David himself were simply infuriating. Oh yes, this part of the story made me so SO angry!! And not only behavior of David and decisions of Grace, but also how lightly the topic is treated and how Grace and Sophie’s months of suffering and their lives being ripped apart were brushed away like that. Ugh. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for either and not even Audrey’s POV and bookshop related reveal (which was too predictable as I guessed it straight away) could save the story for me. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again?


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YVO’S SHORTIES #157 – The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper & Meet Cute

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of contemporary, although only one of them was successful… I’ve been meaning to read The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper for years now, and I’m definitely glad I finally did. On the other hand, I was looking forward to a cute contemporary romance read, but sadly the cover of Meet Cute was false advertisement and the sexy and considerably dark contemporary read wasn’t what I hoped for or enjoyed.


Title: The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper
Author: Phaedra Patrick

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: January 29th 2016
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: April 9th 2020 
Pages: 336

“Some people live for the day and don’t look back. Why look back at the past if you’re happy with the present?”


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I’ve been meaning to read The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper for years now, and I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so now… I loved my time with Arthur Pepper! I had my suspicions after rereading the blurb I would enjoy this book, and the story definitely has that A Man Called Ove vibe. Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper has led an ordinary life and is still grieving his wife who passed away almost a year ago. He loves to keep a schedule and prefers to avoid social obligations… Until he finds a charm bracelet belonging to his late wife that he has never seen before, and he decides to try and discover the stories behind the charms. The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper will bring both tears as well as a smile to your face as you follow Arthur on his journey. His character was easy to warm up to, and the other characters in play were likewise (mostly) easy to like. It’s a proper feel-good story and tearjerker in one, and without doubt the exact right read I needed in these strange times. The writing is wonderful and makes it really easy to keep turning those pages… I finished The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper in no time at all. I really liked the development of Arthur’s character too and the ending was satisfying enough too. If you enjoy the contemporary genre, this story is an excellent choice.


Title: Meet Cute
Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 9th 2019
Publisher: Forever
Finished reading: April 11th 2020
Pages: 384

“I think you learn how to live with holes in your heart. You can’t patch them up, or plug them with other people, but you find ways to make it bearable, if that makes sense.”


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Aaaaaand I call this one: fooled by the cover! I was looking for a cute contemporary romance read to distract myself, and as soon as I saw Meet Cute I thought I had hit the jackpot. I was willing to forgive the sexy part as I really needed a romantic comedy in my life… But I guess the cover was completely false advertisement, as Meet Cute is mostly a considerably dark and depressing contemporary read which deals alternately with grief after the death of both parents in an accident and with a whole bunch of sexy scenes and cringeworthy ‘enemy to lover‘ trope cliches. I can overcome sexy scenes if the rest of the story is good enough to distract, but in this case it just wasn’t ment to be. The characters lacked a proper development beyond cliches for me; especially the character dynamics and the easy way Kailyn overcomes her issues and forgives Dax so easily. I think the only positive part was the interaction between Emme, Kailyn and Dax, but overall there was just something about the writing that didn’t do it for me. Too many cliches and I found the dialogues to be rather lacking too… Also, that ending was way too convenient and rushed. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time once again!


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ARC REVIEW: The Apartment – by K.L. Slater

Title: The Apartment
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: April 10th 2020
Pages: 269

“This is the power of our minds, our dreams. Defying logic and common sense. Our imagination has the power to control us and ultimately destroy us.”

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

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I’ve been a big fan of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers for a couple of years now, and discovering that a new title is coming out always makes me feel a little giddy inside. I saw The Apartment mentioned last year, but as it was released as an Audible Only title and I don’t do audiobooks, I sadly had to pass… Imagine how happy I was when I discovered that the publisher decided to release it in kindle/physical format after all! I’ve been looking forward to dive in ever since for not one, but two reasons: her psychological thrillers never disappoint and the blurb sounded more than intriguing. And there is no doubt whatsoever that The Apartment is another successful read.

Those who have read a K.L. Slater psychological thriller before will know that it is best to clear your schedule before you start reading one of her stories, because once you have read the first couple of chapters you won’t be able to stop. Her writing is engaging and highly addictive; one moment you sit down to start a new story, and the next suddenly hours have passed and you find yourself staring at that final page. The Apartment is no exception, and another excellently written, suspenseful and highly addicting read. The premise of this story is intriguing and both the 1920 flashbacks and the Adder House setting give the story an unique touch. The mysterious Adder House is brilliantly described and really gives the story an ominous feel… It is without doubt the perfect setting and backdrop for Freya’s story. The 1920 flashbacks added extra dept to the story and definitely gave you something to think about while trying to unravel the secrets of Adder House as well as discovering what is going on with Freya and Skye.

The building up of suspense is very well handled; more and more things are starting to happen in Freya’s life that will start to worry both reader and main character alike. The amount of suspense and plot twists is just right, and while I did guess part of the final reveals quite early on I still had a great time discovering the full truth behind Adder House and its inhabitants. As for the characters… I do confess that I didn’t actually find them all that likeable, but their development was solid and realistically done. Especially the psychological reaction to the events happening was intriguing to follow, and it is in fact the psychology element in The Apartment that makes this psychological thriller stand out from other stories. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys the genre and is looking for a couple of hours of guaranteed entertainment.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Beast – by Matt Wesolowski #RandomThingsTours #blogtour @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Beast Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first three Six Stories books simply blew me away last year and it’s easy to say Beast was right at the top of most-anticipated releases. And even with sky high expectations, book number four still turned out to be everything I could have hoped for and more! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Beast
(Six Stories #4)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 20th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 21st 2020
Pages: 320

“All anyone has to say is that they wonder why they did it, those three. That’s how it is these days. The killers become the story. The criminals are more exciting than the victims.”

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

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Holy bat in hell, what a read! I’ve been a Six Stories fan ever since I read the first book last year and all three books simply blew me away. In fact, both sequels ended up on my list of absolute top favorites of 2019! I’ve been waiting impatiently and eagerly for book four, and I literally dropped everything as soon as a copy of Beast arrived in my inbox. Such is the power of this series and Matt Wesolowski‘s writing! And of course once again I had a book hangover, and once again I found myself lost for words as I was trying to describe my experience with Beast afterwards. I don’t know how he keeps coming up with this stories and I honestly don’t care as long as they will keep appearing! Oh yes, this whole series has most definitely a worthy spot on my all time favorites list.

So, what makes Beast (and this series in general for that matter) so special? There are so many elements I loved in this story, but I think the first thing that stands out is the format. The whole series has an unique podcast format with a narrator, Scott King, who tries to be removed from the case he investigates. Scott King doesn’t judge, doesn’t solve the (cold) cases he talks about, but instead just puts six podcast episodes out there that might help those who follow his podcast uncover the truth. It is this unique and absolutely brilliant format that really takes the story to the next level, and it is also one of the few stories that actually makes me want to give audiobooks another chance, as I can imagine it would make for a fantastic listen.

Talking about Beast in particular, I thought the plot itself was spot on. It is a more recent case this time around, which means memories of those involved might be fresher and evidence might be easier to find. This is not just another murder case though and the small town of Ergarth has a lot to hide… Three men were convicted for the brutal murder of twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth, and while there was talk about cult related activities, a real motive for the crime has never been confirmed. Instead, there has been talk about a vampire legend which is part of Ergarth’s history. Is there really something supernatural going on? And what about the Dead In Six Days challenge? And the victim? Oh yes, there is definitely a lot more going on that you can see on the surface…

There are a lot of elements in play in Beast, all contributing to a plot that is both rich, complex and utterly fulfilling. We have the horror element with the vampire legend, which definitely adds the right dose of suspense and creepiness to the story. We have the social media angle, which is absolutely fascinating and definitely on point. In Elizabeth we see just how far the need for likes, comments and statistics can go and both her character and those surrounding her help show how social media really can take over and potentially destroy lives… We also have the bullying, abuse and manipulation, which is of course partially related to the whole social media element in the first place. And this story also talks about other elements including animal cruelty, mental illness and piromancy. This seems like a lot to juggle in just one story, but each element is incorporated flawlessly into what is an absolutely brilliant read.

What more to say about Beast? The writing is sublime of course. And both the plot development and building up of suspense and tension is simply spot on. Instead of a constant intensity, the suspense is build up slowly but surely, and this story will most definitely creep you out before you reach that final page. You will find yourself unable to stop reading as you start picking at those threads to find the truth… And as always, the sixth and final episode brings a plot twist bomb and it is without doubt a shocker. And that ending! Most definitely a perfect way to reenforce the point made with the whole social media angle.

I bow to the podcast thriller master and I will  be counting the days until we find out what case Scott King will decide to investigate next… In the mean time, I will just fill my time pestering everyone who hasn’t read this series yet. And yes, that includes YOU if you haven’t! Because the sheer brilliance of each experience with this series is something that nobody should miss out on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017 and ‘Changeling’ in 2018.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #149 – Things In Jars & The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I have been really excited about and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick them up… I won a gorgeous hardback copy of Things In Jars last year and I have been eyeing it ever since; I’m still kicking myself for not reading it sooner as I absolutely loved it. And I had high hopes for The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry as Harold sounded like my kind of character, and he is definitely the reason this story worked so well for me.


Title: Things In Jars
Author: Jess Kidd

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: February 8th 2020
Pages: 416

“Here is time held in suspension.

Yesterday pickled.

Eternity in a jar.”


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I actually won a gorgeous hardback copy of Things In Jars in a giveaway last year, but somehow it took me way longer than expected to actually read it… I’m kicking myself now, because it was an absolutely brilliant read. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb, with that Victorian London vibe as well as the supernatural feel and the detective angle. And the execution definitely lived up to expectations and more! The wonderful prose only enhances that Victorian London feel of the plot, I loved the hint of the surreal and the Irish folklore and this is definitely magical realism and Gothic mystery at its best. The characters are definitely part of this story works so well, and both Bridie and the other important character form a fascinating cast and take the story to the next level. Their descriptions and development really made them come alive for me and they are without doubt quirky and colorful! The supernatural aspect of the plot with the Irish folklore elements is simply spot on, and gave the story a vibe that is probably best described as a mix between Gothic and magical realism with a hint of (Victorian) urban fantasy. Quite an impressive cocktail, but one that works splendidly! The suspense and plot twists are also well handled, and I liked how the whole detective angle was incorporated into the plot. The different elements in Things In Jars are well balanced in general and together form an absolutely intriguing story that will stay with me for a long time.The unique and diverse cast of characters, the folklore, the plot, the writing, the suspense… There is just so much to love!


Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
(Harold Fry #1)
Author: Rachel Joyce

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 15th 2012
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Finished reading: February 13th 2020
Pages: 297

“But maybe it’s what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith.”


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The truth is that I have been wanting to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry for years now. There was just something about the blurb and main character Harold Fry that made me think it would be my kind of book, and I thought his character was giving off seriously A Man Called Ove vibes too… My instincts turned out to be right on both counts, and Harold Fry is without doubt the reason this story worked so well for me. While the pace might be a tad slow, this can be explained by the fact that despite the pilgrimage and constant moving on the main characer this book is mostly a character-driven story. Harold Fry takes the spotlight of course, but the diverse, unique and quirky collection of people he meets along the way really made the story come alive for me. Harold Fry decided to walk across the UK in order to save an old colleague, Queenie, who sent him a goodbye letter stating she has terminal cancer. Harold decided on the spur that a response letter wasn’t enough, and started walking all unprepared without proper shoes or equipment. It was fascinating to follow his journey, learn more about the people he meets along the way and seeing how his pilgrimage changes Harold as well… I did guess the truth about his son really early on, which was a shame, but I liked how the story ended overall. And I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel to read more about Queenie’s story now! The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking journey and a character-driven story with a wide cast of quirky characters… Recommended if you enjoy slower fiction reads!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #147 – When We Left Cuba & Lock Every Door

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two 2019 titles I’ve been looking forward to… When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton turned out to be just as good as I hoped, but sadly Lock Every Door by Riley Sager took the wrong direction for me and the ending highly disappointed me.


Title: When We Left Cuba
Author: Chanel Cleeton

Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
First published: April 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: January 29th 2020
Pages: 366

“The only way to stop being afraid of something is to confront it. To take away its power over you.”


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My first experience with Chanel Cleeton‘s books, Next Year In Havana, completely blew me away last year and it ended up being one of my absolute favorites of 2019. I made a promise to myself to make time for When We Left Cuba in January, and it is easy to say that I had superhigh expectations for this story about Beatriz. And while I admit I did love Elisa and Marisol’s story a tiny bit more, there is also no doubt that I had a brilliant time with When We Left Cuba as well. First of all a little warning: while this is no official sequel, you will be able to appreciate the little references and the Perez family background so much better if you read Next Year In Havana first. It will make you able to get a proper feel for the story from the very first page, as you already know things about Beatriz and her secrets that have been hinted at. And with this background, I found myself completely addicted from the very first chapter. I have always found Beatriz an intriguing character and she is without doubt perfect to describe and show us what happens to Cuba and the Cubans in the years after Fidel Castro took over. The focus in When We Left Cuba is on 1960-1962, which includes the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Kennedy Assassination… And I love how this story incorporates historical facts into Beatriz’ fictional story. There are a lot of different elements in play, including high society, forbidden love, politics, revenge, espionage, crime, Cuba and the Cold War. More heavy topics are contrasted with lighter elements such as forbidden love; I’m surprised myself when I say I wasn’t bothered at all by the whole forbidden love trope. I think this has a lot to do with my feelings about Beatriz, as I really like her character despite her recklessness and stubbornness. It was easy to connect to and feel for most characters in general, including of course Nick and Eduardo. The writing is simply wonderful and the plot well constructed; while there are a few chapters set in 2016, the focus is mostly on the past this time and follows Beatriz in a linear way. As you might have guessed, I absolutely loved my time with When We Left Cuba and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.


Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 2nd 2019
Publisher: Dutton
Finished reading: February 1st 2020
Pages: 381

“This place isn’t kind to gentle souls. It chews them up and swallows them whole.


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Oh yes, hello unpopular opinion, we meet again! I know a lot of people love Riley Sager‘s books and I did enjoy The Last Time I Lied considerably when I read it last year, but mostly the hype around his work ends up bringing me down… Sadly, this was once again the case with Lock Every Door and I ended up being considerably underwhelmed by what I found. Don’t get me wrong, the story started out strong and I loved that ominous feeling, the hint at the supernatural and the dark secrets and history of the Bartholomew. The plot almost feels like a locked room mystery, something I always have a weak spot for and I really thought this was going to be my new favorite of his books. Unfortunately, the story lost me somewhere along the way… First of all, Jules was quite a frustrating character. Sure, she is in a hard place in life and basically desperate, but the offer to be an apartment sitter with such a generous pay just sounded too good to be true… Initial lack of suspicion I can understand, but after so many alarmbells ringing and having a friend to help out so she won’t end up on the street Jules still being stubborn and not wanting to see any danger? A bit too convenient for the plot and not credible to me. This is only minor compared to my reacting to the final reveals and the ending. Not only did I guess more than one major plot twist as well as villian VERY early on, the ending was completely unsatisfying and just too plain simple for me. It really let that ominous feeling of the beginning of the story as well as the Bartholomew itself completely down… Thankfully the writing was engaging enough to turn this into a fast read, but I really wished this story would have taken a different and more interesting direction here.


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ARC REVIEW: Keep You Close – by Karen Cleveland

Title: Keep You Close
Author: Karen Cleveland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 28th 2019
Publisher: Random House UK
Finished reading: January 28th 2020
Pages: 352

“It was the idea of the law that I loved. Rules that everyone followed. Consequences for breaking them. The law was black-and-white. It was fair.”

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

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I have heard so many wonderful things about Karen Cleveland‘s debut Need To Know and I have been curious to try out her books. As soon as I read the blurb of Keep You Close, I was immediately intrigued and just couldn’t resist trying this story first. I thought I was going to be in for an intense and action-packed ride, and I have been looking forward to read a proper action thriller with possible espionage/conspiracy plot elements again as it has been a while. I kind of wish I sticked with just trying her debut now instead, because I have to be honest here and say that I was seriously underwhelmed by Keep You Close. I’ll try to explain below why…

I’m still not sure if it was just me, or actually the book, but the fact is that Keep You Close and me definitely didn’t get along. I normally like action-packed stories and I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy plot, so this story should have been right up my alley… Instead, I was left with feelings of frustration and lack of interest for the duration of this book. It’s hard putting my finger exactly on why I had such an averse reaction to this story, but there were definitely a few elements I had issues with. Because it wasn’t just a lack of connection to and interest for the story… There were quite a few elements that just didn’t work for me.

The first thing I can mention is the plot and general structure of the plot. I felt that both the plot, structure and also the flashbacks were simply all over the place. POV switches and flashbacks are kind of dropped on you as you are trying to follow what FBI agent Stephanie Maddox is up to; this is highly distracting, makes the plot feel chaotic and slowed down the pace. Instead of adding the tension and suspense I guess was the intention of using those techniques, especially those POV switches only distracted from the plot itself. Talking about the plot, I also didn’t think both the plot and the plot twists were credible at all and mostly way over the top. I get the whole conspiracy plot and the complicated situation Steph finds herself in, but this mostly seemed like a cliche and caricature way of describing it all, with over the top Hollywood spy movie scenes and twists. The ending left way too many questions unanswered and wasn’t satisfying at all either… I’m not sure if this book just wasn’t for me despite my love for conspiracy plots, but either way Keep You Close was definitely a miss for me.

As for the writing: I can’t say that I was a fan. While I can’t deny that it was a fast read despite the pace slowing down in places (especially during those flashbacks and sudden POV switches), I can’t say I was enjoying myself while reading it. This is probably a personal reaction to her writing style though, as most people seem to love her writing (or at least those reviews I read about her debut). I guess it’s unpopular opinion review time again? Anyway, that was not all. The characters likewise ended up letting me down. I felt that they were underdeveloped and described mostly using cliches; flat and one-dimentional characters I had a hard time connecting to. Steph is the typical ‘strong female main character’ with a messed up past but fierce at her work. She really isn’t being developed all that beyond that, and that is truly a shame. Likewise, the other characters in play are not really developed beyond basic information and cliches either, which makes it hard to connect to them. The focus is instead on the over the top and not credible at all plot, which I clearly wasn’t a fan of either.

I guess my instincts are not always right… I really thought I was going to love this story, especially since I love my conspiracy plots and action-packed thrillers, but Keep You Close was most definitely not my cup of tea. Unpopular opinion or not, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?


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