YVO’S SHORTIES #73 – The Kiss Quotient & The Crown Of Embers

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Time for my first 2019 reads and first two Beat The Backlist titles! The Kiss Quotient has been recommended to me various times and I should have investigated better before starting it, because there was an overload of sexy scenes involved and that made this story into something that is definitely not for me. The Crown Of Embers turned out to be an interesting sequel even though I wish there would have been less romance…


Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 30th 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: January 2nd 2019
Pages: 336

“At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”


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Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write. And not only the writing style is very engaging, but the character development is simply spot on. As much as I hated all those steamy scenes, it was due to main characters Stella and Michael I made it to the very end of this story. Stella is unique, quirky and simply brilliant as a main character. I love how realistic her Asperger’s is described and incorporated in the story (it shows that the author used personal experiences) and how it shines a light on autism as a whole. Michael has his own personality, history and problems and I really liked those family dynamics combined with Stella and their story. Were there a lot of cliches and typical romance tropes involved? Yes. Will your glasses (if you use them) get all steamed up while you read The Kiss Quotient? You bet. But if you love the genre, you will fall in love with this story as well.


Title: The Crown Of Embers
(Fire And Thorns #2)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: January 4th 2019
Pages: 416

“I lie awake for a long time, wondering which would be more foolish, to prepare for something that may never happen, or not to prepare for something that might.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns book back in 2015 and even though I enjoyed it, I somehow never picked up the sequel. I read the novellas last year, and thought it was about time to finally finish the last two books this year as well. First up is book number two The Crown Of Embers. I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. I loved the inclusion of many references to Spanish names and words and the way the world is constructed. It’s a very interesting high fantasy world and we get to see a lot of it in the sequel. This series has a religious angle, but handled in just the right way that it doesn’t become too present for those who are like me agnostic. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver. The quest the main characters go on in The Crown Of Embers is an intriguing one, and it definitely ends with a mayor cliffhanger. I’m looking forward how things will continue in the final book!


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WWW Wednesdays #204 – January 9th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to start my year in a diverse way with lots of different genres, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot sounded like a perfect fit. This memoir has been recommended to me last year and I’ll be looking forward to dive in properly later today. I’m also FINALLY starting my latest TBR jar pick: The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble. I’m not sure what to make of the blurb, but we’ll see how things go I guess.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write.

2. The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver.

3. Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
If you like stories with an international setting that can offer a little something different and outside the box, you should definitely consider Mala Vida. Part legal thriller, part historical, part mystery and part crime fiction, this story is a mix of a lot of different elements and very well executed at that. I personally loved the Spanish setting, the diversity of the main characters and the story as a whole. The historical element is both well executed and shocking and will definitely leave a mark… A very interesting read and one I’m very glad I came across.

4. The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/01
If you enjoy detective thrillers and unreliable characters, you will definitely have a blast with this detective Dan Riley sequel The Couple On Cedar Close. There is a lot of mystery around both Robert and Laurie and their past, adding suspense to the plot and it will keep you entertained as you guess about the details. The flashbacks are interesting as well as you try to fit them into the rest of the story… I did have some issues regarding the credibility of some parts of the plot and wasn’t sure about some of the characters, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.

5. Artemis by Andy Weir (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Part of me already knew this was going to happen, because people did warn me about Artemis before I started reading it… But even lowering my expectations didn’t prevent me from feeling very much disappointed by Artemis, especially since The Martian has a special place on my list of all time favorites.

6. Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Beneath The Sugar Sky is already book number three and bumped straight to the top of this series favorites along with the first book. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we go back to the ‘real’ world temporarily and meet a lot of the characters mentioned in the first book again. This mixture of reality and a healthy dose of a glimpse of not one but multiple magical worlds made the story really stand out for me.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to read more backlist titles this year (so far it’s going great), but I also need to work on those upcoming ARCs… Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen and End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach are up next. I also want to read The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson soon so I can cross off my very first series of the year… And I have a new TBR jar pick: The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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WWW Wednesdays #203 – January 2nd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

A new year and a new start! After one caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail) on NYE, I needed something easy on the brain so I decided to pick up Goodreads Choice Awards winner The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Sadly, it turns out to be another case of not-for-me. Sexy scenes and romance cliches? This isn’t going to end well… I’m also starting the sequel The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson as part of my vow to finish more series this year. And Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez is an upcoming ARC I need to read ASAP. The blurb sounds fascinating, so I’m looking forward to it now that I have recovered from my hangover.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/01
Once I finally started reading and finished the first few chapters, I knew Outlander and me were going to get along just fine. All in all it took me about a week to finish it, which is not bad at all for such a beast of a book… And I had a surprisingly good time with it as well. Why surprisingly, would you say? Well, there are a lot of sexy scenes involved in Outlander, something that normally makes me drop a book like hot coals and discard it right away. They still made me cringe at points (adult content just isn’t for me ladies!), but the rest of the story was intriguing enough for me to tolerate them. The writing is excellent and the worldbuilding is sublime.

2. The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peder Nordbo (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/01
I was without doubt more than pleasantly surprised by The Girl Without Skin. I like my crime thrillers dark and disturbing, and an interesting international setting is always a bonus for me. This story isn’t for those with a weak stomach, as there are a lot of graphic scenes involved including violence, bloodcurdling murder scenes and abuse. The Greenland setting is excellently executed and it felt like I were there myself along with the main characters… The story itself chilled me to the bone. If you like dark crime thrillers, you should definitely give this one a go!

3. A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I’ll start off with saying that abortion is a very tricky topic to write about, and I think Jodi Picoult did it splendidly. Her writing style is just as strong as ever and I also loved the reversed time chapter technique she used. I admit I was confused at first because I didn’t realize that straight away, but I think it adds a little something extra to the story. Why? It’s simply very intriguing to meet the characters at such a critical point in their lives and then slowly find out how they got there… I did see part of the final plot twist bombs coming, although not all. The ending was a bit abrupt for me, and I personally would have liked to see the main characters being followed up for a while longer.

4. Doll Bones by Holly Black (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I was looking for a little something different to read and when I came across this title on my kindle I decided to pick it up on a whim. Sadly, I can’t say I actually enjoyed reading the story. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of it had to do that I didn’t like the characters and I had a hard time connecting to the story. The story wasn’t exactly credible and not as scary as I would have thought either.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have two NG ARCs that are up next: Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen and The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley. I also want to read Artemis by Andy Weir, since I’ve been meaning to do so ever since it came out. The Martian is one of my all time favorites, but I’ve been told not to set my expectations too high to avoid disappointment… Well see how things go I guess. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #50 – The King’s Guard & Radiance Of Tomorrow

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today two completely different reads, but both worthwhile. The King’s Guard is the third and final Fire And Thorns novella and without doubt my favorite of the bunch. And I have been wanting to read Radiance Of Tomorrow forever, especially since Ishmael Beah‘s memoir made such an impact. This fictional story also set in his country Sierra Leone is another powerful and heartbreaking read.


Title: The King’s Guard
(Fire And Thorns #0.7)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: July 30th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 19th 2018
Pages: 111

“The less you say, the more your words will matter.”


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I have been reading the Fire And Thorns novellas before tackling the sequel, and I have to say this third and final one is probably my favorite of the bunch. The King’s Guard is partly set in the royal palace and is partly an adventure and rescue mission. Hector makes a great main character of this novella and his character is very easy to like. The writing is solid as always and I managed to read it in no time at all… The plot and setting are well fleshed out for a novella and I had a great time reading this one. These novellas are a great addition to the original series and especially the last two novellas are without doubt worth the read if you enjoy the series.


Title: Radiance Of Tomorrow
Author: Ishmael Beah

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
First published: January 7th 2014
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Finished reading: September 20th 2018
Pages: 256

“We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors have suggested in their tales. For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest glimpse of that possibility of goodness. That will be our strength. That has always been our strength.”


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A Long Way Gone is one of the most devastating and heartbreaking memoirs I’ve read to this date, and well written at that. I’ve been meaning to read Radiance Of Tomorrow for years now, and I’m glad I’ve finally had the opportunity to do so. While Radiance Of Tomorrow is a fictional story this time around, it has the same setting in Sierra Leone and the same emotional rollercoaster ride. Make sure to brace yourself before you start this one, because it won’t be a happy journey. Radiance Of Tomorrow tells the story of what happens in the ruined village Imperi after the war in Sierra Leone ended. The beginning sets the tone of what will become a heartbreaking, devastating and very emotional read, with little lights shining upon the hope the characters have things will become better in the future. Descriptions of both characters and setting are excellently done and I loved the ‘fusion’ of different languages as the author translated expressions from other languages literally to describe things. This book shows us what it was like for the locals after the war, the struggles still there as they try to survive with all odds against them. You will take the characters under your wing and suffer with them as setbacks occur… Radiance Of Tomorrow has a wonderful bigger message and is without doubt a very powerful and emotional read. I’m glad I decided to finally pick up!


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WWW Wednesdays #189 – September 26th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading two more titles for the N.E.W.T. Readathon… I think they will be my last two, but who knows, I might squeeze in one more after these. The first is In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, which I haven’t been able to continue since yesterdat but looks promising so far. I’m also starting All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo, a translation and a story set in Spain I’m quite excited about.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The King’s Guard by Rae Carson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
This third and final one is probably my favorite of the bunch. The King’s Guard is partly set in the royal palace and is partly an adventure and rescue mission. Hector makes a great main character of this novella and his character is very easy to like. The writing is solid as always and I managed to read it in no time at all… The plot and setting are well fleshed out for a novella and I had a great time reading this one.

2. Radiance Of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
While Radiance Of Tomorrow is a fictional story this time around, it has the same setting in Sierra Leone and the same emotional rollercoaster ride. Make sure to brace yourself before you start this one, because it won’t be a happy journey. Radiance Of Tomorrow tells the story of what happens in the ruined village Imperi after the war in Sierra Leone ended. The beginning sets the tone of what will become a heartbreaking, devastating and very emotional read, with little lights shining upon the hope the characters have things will become better in the future.

3. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/09
It was a fascinating and wonderful ride to learn more about all those characters and stories. Norse Mythology is a collection of short stories, but told in a way that really flows and makes it easy to connect the different characters, myths and happenings. The writing is of course rock solid and of a high quality I’ve come to expect of Neil Gaiman. If you are interested in Norse mythology in particular or simply are looking for a well written and interesting collection of short stories, I can highly recommend this one

4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/09
I guess I wish I would have listened to those instincts now, because hello unpopular opinion review once again! Oh yes, there is one thing that is for sure: Pretty Little Liars 200% isn’t for me. The only reason I didn’t DNF is that I needed it for a challenge, and didn’t have time to go looking for a different title that fitted the prompt… That bad? Oh yes. Highly annoying and frustratingly obnoxious characters… Check. One high school cliche stacked on top of another high school cliche… Check. Writing I couldn’t connect to and atrocious behavior of the main characters… Check. Plot that didn’t do anything for me at all… Check. Lack of connection to the characters and plot and overall lack of interest in how things would evolve… Check. I did warn you it was going to be another unpopular opinion review!

5. The Wife’s Secret by Kerry Wilkinson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
I always seem to enjoy Kerry Wilkinson’s books, and this one is no exception. The suspense is very well done and I think this is my favorite story yet. The writing is solid, engaging and makes you fly through the pages as you try to figure out what happened to his wife and what she is hiding. What a shocking history! There were a lot of things I definitely didn’t see coming and if you enjoy suspenseful psychological thrillers, I can definitely recommend this one.

6. A Thousand Devils by Frank Goldammer (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
This is actually the second book of a series, and one I really enjoy. It’s a mix of historical fiction and detective thriller, with a detective trying to solve cases just after WWII in the German city of Dresden. Learning more about the situation just after the war is fascinating, especially in the subtle way Frank Goldammer incorporates historical elements and develops his setting perfectly. I can highly recommend this series!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

If I’m able to squeeze in one more N.E.W.T. book, it will definitely be Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and I’m looking forward to it! I also need to read Tell Nobody by Patricia Gibney since the publish date is really close… The same goes for The Passion According To Carmela by Marcos Aguinis. I’m also curious about The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #49 – The Shattered Mountain & The Ballroom

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a novella and a historical fiction read. The Shattered Mountain was a short and interesting addition to the Fire And Thorns series. And I had great hopes for The Ballroom, especially since the setting is fascinating, but the story fell flat for me.


Title: The Shattered Mountain
(Fire And Thorns #0.6)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 26th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 15th 2018
Pages: 106

“Maybe a large, single dose of pain now is better than the slow, burning pain of withering hope.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns novella earlier this month, and then decided to try and read the other two as well before continuing with the sequel. There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story. The writing is solid and makes it easy to fly through the pages… This novella is definitely worth your time if you enjoy the series.


Title: The Ballroom
Author: Anna Hope

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Finished reading: September 17th 2018
Pages: 320

“Free. This small hard word that felt so cold. Could you live inside a word like that?”


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I first added The Ballroom to my TBR because of the cover as well as the promise of a fascinating historical setting and a mental health angle. It took me longer than planned to get to it, but the readathon was an excellent excuse to finally do so. There is no doubt that this historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the story sort of fell flat for me… Part of this feeling has to do with the fact that the pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story. The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more. The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Because as always with character-driven stories, being able to connect to the main characters is key. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much. Fans of slower paced and character-driven historical fiction reads with an interesting setting and a Shakespearean love story will have a great time reading The Ballroom.


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WWW Wednesdays #188 – September 19th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three more titles for the N.E.W.T. readathon… The first is Radiance Of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah, a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I read his memoir which made a huge impact on me. I’m finishing the last Fire And Thorns novella The King’s Guard by Rae Carson first though… And I’m also starting with Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Girl Made Of Clay by Nicole Meier (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/09
If you enjoy reading character-driven stories with flawed characters that are described in a realistic way, The Girl Made Of Clay is without doubt an interesting read. The pace is not the fastest, but the story captures quite well how the characters evolve over time. Did I think every aspect of the plot and behavior was credible? Not exactly. Did most of the characters annoy me and made me enjoy the story a lot less? Most definitely. But as one of the cliches goes: ‘it’s not you, it’s me…‘. And I really think that is what happened here.

2. City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
City Of Ghosts delivers right from the cover until the very last page. I knew I could trust my instincts when I picked up this title, but this first book of a new MG paranormal series has proven once again you cannot go wrong with anything Schwab writes. It was hook, line and sinker when I started reading City Of Ghosts and I had to put all other tasks on hold until I finished reading it. The writing, the characters and their development, the Scottish setting, the ghosts, the plot… There is a lot to love in this story, and Cassidy and Jacob have already found a place in my heart.

3. Half Bad by Sally Green (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/09
I initially started reading Half Bad in Dutch, wanting to savour seeing that cover waiting for me near my reading chair. I have to say, I struggled a lot. First I thought it was the language, but I decided to switch to my English kindle version halfway through and I can confirm it wasn’t. There is just something about the writing style in Half Bad that really got on my nerves. There are a lot of short and halted sentences I just couldn’t grow used to, although I admit the writing style as a whole sadly just didn’t work for me. I struggled to keep reading as some parts of the story dragged, and I have to say that for a story this promising the plot kind of lacked action and more filling out in general.

4. The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story.

5. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (2/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
I really do think this story has a lot of potential, but instead of focusing on the more interesting aspects of the plot, All These Things I’ve Done is mostly just another teenage romantic drama with a few twists. Instead of focusing on the dystopian setting, when chocolate! and coffee! are illegal and resources seem to be limited, or the whole mafia background of Anya’s family, we mostly see the typical high school scenes with star-crossed lovers, food fights and other cliche elements. Definitely not what I thought I had signed up for. To make things worse, the main character Anya is absolutely despicable.

6. The Ballroom by Anna Hope (3/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
This historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential, but the story sort of fell flat for me. The pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story… The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more.The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much.

7. Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/09
I am so excited to have finally read this title by a fellow book blogger! I admit it took me some time to get used to the multiple POVs and I was confused at times how everything fit together, but there is no doubt this is a complex and very cleverly executed psychological thriller debut. I did guess some of the twists, some of the names are misleading and I was left with some questions after the final page… But overall it was still a very satisfying read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up two pending ARCs next: All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo and The Wife’s Secret by Kerry Wilkinson. I’m also dying for a change of genre, so I’m hoping Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard will be the fun read I’m looking for. I also want to read In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware soon.


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