YVO’S SHORTIES #11: Fragments Of The Lost (ARC) & Things I Should Have Known

Oh yes, it’s time for yet another round of 2017 backlog reviews and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time with one of my most-anticipated releases and ARC Fragments Of The Lost by Megan Miranda and a random YA contempory I picked up on a whim: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik.


Title: Fragments Of The Lost
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 14th 2017
Pages: 373

“Everyone had secrets. Trust is a luxury for fools. The more I discover, the less I trust my own memories, even.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Crown Books For Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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Megan Miranda’s psychological thrillers All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are on my list of all time favorites, so of course I added Fragments Of The Lost to my most-anticipated list as soon as I heard about it. And while I still prefer her thrillers, there is no doubt that Fragments Of The Lost is an excellent read. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is just as strong and beautiful as ever and makes it really easy to fully dive into this story. I really liked how the chapters and memories were related to the things the character finds during her quest. This is a perfect reference to the title and quite an original touch. Those memories also involve some suspense around what really happened and will help introducing plot twists to the story. There were a few I definitely didn’t see coming! That said, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle included in the story and I was never able to fully warm up to the characters. Those are only minor compared to the other elements I did enjoy though, and YA contemporary fans will very likely devour Fragments Of The Lost.


Title: Things I Should Have Known
Author: Claire LaZebnik

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: October 21st 2017
Pages: 320

“It’s like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can’t deal with something just a little bit different. And that makes them uncomfortable.”


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I admit I picked up this one on a whim, although I’m always interested in stories with an mental health/illness angle. In the case of Things I Should Have Known the focus is on autism, and thankfully this is not just an empty filler and there is quite some focus on both autism itself and what it is like for people having an autistic family member or friends. I wasn’t a fan of the sappy romance or love triangle, but I did appreciate the central role Ivy and Ethan played. Do I agree with Chloe’s actions and the whole ‘trying to hook up Ivy with Ethan’ thing? No. Did I connect with the main characters? I’m not so sure either. But Things I Should Have Known is without doubt still a fast-paced, engaging and easy to read YA contemporary that sheds at least some light on autism. By all means not perfect, but if you are looking for a contemporary read with a dose of romance and fluff, Things I Should Have Known is an interesting choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #6: Still Alice & The Silent Children (ARC) @bookouture


It’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around I will be reviewing Still Alice by Lisa Genova and the ARC The Silent Children by Carol Wyer, both read last year and both great reads for different reasons. Let’s continue with the reviews, shall we?


Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: 2007
Publisher: Pocket Books
Finished reading: December 28th 2017
Pages: 353

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.”


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Basically I accidently saw the movie on Netflix and just HAD to pick up my copy of Still Alice straight away, because I normally never watch the movie first. I’ve been meaning to pick up this story for ages now, especially since I really enjoyed Lisa Genova‘s other  book Left Neglected, but I guess I needed this little push to finally do so. I’m glad I did, because there is no doubt that Still Alice is GOOD. The writing is very engaging and made me fly through this story… The plot and character development are both tragic, heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I’ve seen what Alzheimer can do up close, so I can relate somewhat to what the characters are going through… The descriptions of what Alice is going through are excellent, detailed and give insight of what it is like both having Alzheimer and what effects it has both on the person and those around them. All in all an excellent contemporary fiction read I can recommend to fans of the genre.


Title: The Silent Children
(DI Robyn Carter #4)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 19th 2017
Pages: 360

“Jealousy and love – two very powerful emotions that drove people to commit heinous acts.”

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


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I’ve been a fan of the DI Robyn Carter series ever since the first book, and this is already the fourth book of the series published. Things are moving fast! Fast-paced, engaging, suspenseful and always a new intriguing mystery and bad guy to hunt: DI Robyn Carter never lets us readers down. And The Silent Children is without doubt another winner. While I think I ended up enjoying it slightly less than book two or three (for reasons I can’t exactly put my finger on), there is no doubt this fourth book is still an excellent detective thriller that simply delivers. The case Robyn Carter and her team has to work on this time is another interesting one and wrapped in a big pile of secrets all there waiting for someone to uncover them. The mystery around the deaths and what is happening will keep you reading until you finally find out exactly what is going on… The Silent Children is without doubt a great addition to this series!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #5: The Hate U Give & Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two of the last high ratings of 2017… The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was my last 5 star read last year and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which turned out to be another excellent read. Both have been recommended to me numerous times; thank you for convincing me to read both of these!


Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary 
First published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: December 20th 2017
Pages: 444

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”


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I know everybody and the neighbor’s cat have been recommending this book to me since even before The Hate U Give was published, but to be honest this only made me hesitant to pick it up myself. I have a love/hate relationship with hyped books, but after THUG came out as a Goodreads Choice Awards winner I thought it was about time for me to check it out. And WOW. I’m so glad I finally did so! This book is definitely an exception to the rule and absolutely worth the hype around it. Brilliant writing, plot, character development and such an important topic! I feel words cannot describe just how important this story is and everybody should just read it. Because The Hate U Give isn’t just another YA contemporary novel… With this book, Angie Thomas not only manages to portray the main characters brilliantly and create a realistic plot and scaringly accurate image of race problematics, but also address issues related to this topic. The Hate U Give serves as a general eyeopener as well as an insight of what it would be like living the lives of the main characters. The writing itself is brilliant, very easy to read and engaging, making it impossible to put down this story until you reach the final page. Because trust me, you will want to know what will happen to the main characters. The Hate U Give is highly praised with a reason, and I will be joining this wave of praise in the future.


Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: November 7th 2017
Pages: 332

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”


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This one was another recommendation I have been looking forward to read… Then again I love my quirky and unique characters. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine managed to completely blow me away, and not just because of the excellent writing and character development. Because Eleanor Oliphant is without doubt one of the most unique main characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet and she will stay with me for a long time. Basically her whole character is what makes this book into such a hit and fans of quirky characters will be able to fall head over heels in love with her. The writing and pace were a perfect match for this story and I managed to fly through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in no time at all. Gail Honeyman also has a few plot twist bomb surprises in store, so make sure to get yourself comfortable when you pick up your copy and get ready to be surprised. Because the whole mystery around Eleanor’s past definitely adds a little suspense to this quirky, endearing, sad and very well written story. More than recommended!


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #1: Still Life With Tornado & We Have Always Lived In The Castle


Say hello to a new feature on It’s All About Books! As you all probably already know, I’ve been fighting with a rather stubborn reading and blogging slump during the last few months and it’s been a real struggle… I managed to get more or less back to reading, but as the pending book reviews started piling up the whole ‘getting back to blogging’ was getting more and more difficult to achieve. Currently the list of pending reviews is about twenty books long and while I know I don’t HAVE to review every book, I feel bad if I not at least mention a few things about each one. Hence, Yvo’s Shorties was born. Similar to my normal reviews, but with a 2×1 book bonus in each post that includes my rambles about both.

Let’s get started with the first edition! *drumroll*

Featuring Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson


Title: Still Life With Tornado
Author: A.S. King

Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: December 14th 2017
Pages: 295

“I put out my umbrella and open it. There is a tornado of bullshit in our house. When it’s over, we will be okay.”

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This book has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but the blurb sounded fascinating and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. Fact: magical realism and me don’t always get along all that well. It’s a peculiar genre that either works for you or doesn’t, and for me it really depends on the execution if I’m able to enjoy the magical realism elements. Unfortunately in the case of Still Life Of Tornado I wasn’t convinced. First of all and more importantly, I really didn’t like the writing style, tone or main character (or other characters for that matter) and this hugely impacted my reading experience. I’m not saying the writing style is bad, but it’s definitely one that isn’t for everyone. The lack of connection to the characters and my struggles with the writing style made it hard for me to keep myself focused on the story, but that wasn’t all. Honestly, I felt that nothing really made sense to me at all and my eyebrows worked overtime while I was reading Still Life With Tornado. Magical realism or not, this book is definitely not my cup of tea. Still, I also feel the right person could really enjoy this quirky story.


Title: We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Gothic
First published: 1962
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 22nd 2017
Pages: 146

“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.”

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I have been wanting to read this modern classic for ages now, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up my copy of We Have Always Lived In The Castle. I truly had the feeling this was going to be another new favorite classic, so I was really surprised when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up We Have Always Lived In The Castle, but it definitely wasn’t what I found when I started reading. Because honestly, nothing much really happens during all those pages. The promise of suspense is there, and the mystery around what happened at the Blackwood estate, but those promises didn’t come true. Instead, I found it a rather dull story about two quirky sisters living isolated in a mansion, and I was almost bored while I was kept waiting with my fingers crossed and hoping to see something would actually happen. I’m not sure what to think of the ending either… The writing was interesting and I can see why it has turned into a modern classic, but personally I was quite disappointed with what I found. Fans of slowpaced, mostly character-driven stories will probably enjoy this story a lot more though.


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ARC REVIEW: Things I’m Seeing Without You – by Peter Bognanni

Title: Things I’m Seeing Without You
Author: Peter Bognanni

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: September 20th 2017
Pages: 336

“What I mean is that nothing ever happens the way itt’s supposed to. Everything is messed up. Everything is flawed. And if we didn’t have imperfection, I’m not sure what we would have left.”

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

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I confess: this was 100% a cover-love decision since I just couldn’t say no to such a stunning cover. Things I’m Seeing Without You is a YA contemporary read that mixes romance with more serious themes as death and grief and even has a dose of humor as well. There is no doubt that the writing style is very engaging and I was able to connect instantly to the story. I liked Tess’ sassy tone and took an instant liking to the writing, making Things I’m Seeing Without You a very enjoyable read. I do have to say that the main character’s sarcasm and humor are probably not for everyone, explaining the mixed reviews out there… But if you are able to connect, you are in for a treat. The whole funeral business definitely gives this story a unique touch and adds a little something to the plot as well. I’m not sure if everything is all that credible and I had a few eyebrow-raising moments here and there, especially concerning the credibility of the final part of Things I’m Seeing Without You. Somehow I just don’t think they would ever been able to do what they did or even get there in the first place… And it’s one of the reasons I had to lower the rating. I’m still on the fence when it comes to the main characters; I liked Tess even though she is a handful, but I never really did warm up to Daniel completely. But like I said before, the whole special funeral business added a little spark to the story and definitely managed to introduce some ‘light’ moments in what is otherwise mainly a sad story about death, loss and how to deal with it all. It’s a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read I’m sure fans of the genre will be able to enjoy. The writing might not be everyone’s taste, but I personally felt an instant connection and Things I’m Seeing Without You is definitely worth the try.

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Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler hasn’t been the same after the death of Jonah. Even though they only met once in real life, they have been talking over texts and long e-mails for months and were in love… And she never saw his suicide coming. She continues to write to Jonah as a way of dealing with her grief, and also decides to drop out of high school because she couldn’t deal with it any longer. She returns to her father’s home, where she discovers his newest business: an alternative funeral business with very special clients…

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Things I’m Seeing Without You is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read despite the more serious themes. The fact that death, loss and grief is mixed with humor as well is refreshing and the funeral business added a really unique touch to the story. I’m not sure about the credibility of certain part of the plot and the actions of the characters, but there is one thing for sure: you will fly through this read. I personally liked Tess with all her flaws and complicated personality; the sassy tone of the story definitely complements her character. This story might not be for everyone, but I can definitely suggest giving it a try!


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BOOK REVIEW: A Different Blue – by Amy Harmon

Title: A Different Blue
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 29th 2013
Finished reading: September 17th 2017
Pages: 322

“I keep wishing you had had a better life…a different life. But a different life would have made you a different Blue.” He looked at me then. “And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.”

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I became an instant fan of Amy Harmon‘s work after my first experience with one of her stories. And it’s definitely one of the main reasons I still decided to give A Different Blue a go despite my doubts about the fact it’s classified as a contemporary romance and wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I guess those who follow my blog are already aware of the fact I’m not a big fan of the romance genre in general and to be honest I was quite worried this story wouldn’t be a right fit. But Amy Harmon managed to do the impossible and made me enjoy another contemporary romance read. It did help that A Different Blue didn’t have as much romance as I expected initially in the first place. And even though this wasn’t my favorite story of the bunch I’ve read so far, I still very much enjoyed it. And this has a lot to do with the writing, which was excellent as always and had me hooked right from the beginning. There is no doubt that A Different Blue is a beautiful, raw, strong and emotional story! The plot is interesting and will have quite a few surprises in store… Both the plot and character development were done very realistically and this made it really easy to fully emerge myself into the story. Blue was a great character and even though she isn’t exactly easy to like, there is just something about her that makes you want to keep on reading. And I just love her art and what it symbolizes! I wasn’t a big fan of Darcy though and I could have done without the love triangle… His actions started to frustate me at times and he didn’t manage to charm me. There is no doubt this is still a very good read though and one of the few contemporary romance stories I have actually enjoyed over the years. And A Different Blue has both the wonderful writing and its main character Blue to thank for that.

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Blue Echohawk was abandoned when she was little and raised by a man without a real home. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born; she simply feels she doesn’t know who she is. The fact that she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old slowed her down, with the consequence she is still just a high school senior at nineteen. Blue is what you call a troublemaker and uses her appearance and tough attitude as an armor. But the cracks are starting to show when a young British teacher decides he is up for the challenge and is determined to get through to her.

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Even though I didn’t LOVE love A Different Blue like the other Amy Harmon books I have picked up so far, there is no denying this is still a very good read. It might have just been the fact contemporary romance normally isn’t my thing in the first place, but the main reasons I couldn’t add the final star were my aversion to Darcy and some of the romance. The writing is flawless and the plot both intriguing, emotional, powerful and realistic. Blue is such a great character and even though she is hard to like, you grow attached to her anyway. Fans of the genre will enjoy this story!  Make sure to have some tissues ready, because you will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster with this one.


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