YVO’S SHORTIES #188 – He Started It & Only Mostly Devastated

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two Goodreads Choice Awards nominees belonging to different genress. He Started It sadly didn’t live up to expectations for me; something I’m still surprised about… Only Mostly Devastated turned out to be a great read though.


Title: He Started It
Author: Samantha Downing

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 30th 2020
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: November 10th 2020
Pages: 400

“I wonder how many bad things have been explained by such a simple phrase, a simple idea. Because I could. Because no one stopped me. Because it was easy.”


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Well, well, well, what do we have here? I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again… So many people have praised He Started It and after loving her previous book My Lovely Wife I was fully expecting to have a repeat experience with this one. Especially since I always enjoy road trip stories in the first place… I’m not sure if it’s because psychological thrillers don’t seem to work as well for me right now, but the fact is: I was bored. A LOT. Up to the point that I kept wondering when the cursed road trip was finally going to end so I could get this story over with. The pace was just way too slow for me, which is strange as the characters are basically in constant movement… But there was just something static about the whole story. Top this with highly unlikeable characters and I had a really hard time to stay invested. True, there were some surprises including the ending, but overall sadly I can’t say I enjoyed my time with this one.


Title: Only Mostly Devastated
Author: Sophie Gonzales

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: November 13th 2020
Pages: 272

“We had no way of knowing what the future held. People changed their minds, people passed away, people moved unexpectedly. The only thing we could ever really do was play it by ear.”


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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the Grease mention… I must have watched that movie a million times as a kid, so I simply HAD to read Only Mostly Devastated for nostalgic reasons alone. I must say that I was expecting more of a fluffy romcom after the cover and blurb, which I can confirm that this story is not. In fact, Only Mostly Devastated is quite heavy on the more serious topics and has a healthy dose of drama as well as heartbreaking moments. And no, they are not just relating to the relationship between the main characters as the blurb might make you think… There is a big focus on Ollie and his parents trying to help his aunt and her family as she is fighting cancer, which might be triggering for some readers. That said, I did think this topic was quite well handled. Thankfully we will see lighter moments too, and I especially loved seeing Ollie interact with his new friends as well as his niece and nephew. Both Will and Ollie could get a little frustrating at times, but overall I did have a great time reading this story. Would I have loved to see more Grease elements? Most definitely. But I liked this spin off very much and it has a great cast of characters that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy the genre. Just make sure to brace yourself for quite a few heartbreaking moments thrown in instead of just your regular dose of fluff… Chocolates and tissues are probably mandatory.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #187 – Get A Life, Chloe Brown (DNF) & Such A Fun Age

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA romance and a contemporary… The first, Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, I sadly ended up DNFing as the sexy scenes were just WAY too crude and explicit for me. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid turned out to be a great read though, and I understand why so many people seem to love it.


Title: Get A Life, Chloe Brown
(The Brown Sisters #1)
Author: Talia Hibbert

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 5th 2019 
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: November 5th 2020
Pages: 366
DNF at 45% (165 pages)

“When it comes down to it, everything we feel is in our head.”


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Okay… I’m not sure what happened here. Or actually I do. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I was in the mood for some romance, and Get A Life, Chloe Brown sounded like such a fun read, so I thought I had hit the jackpot when I started reading it. I connected to the writing and characters almost immediately. The snarkiness, the humor, the flawed and intriguing characters… I really enjoyed getting to know both Chloe and Red better, and I really thought I was well on my way to adding a new author to my romance list. But then… BOOM!! The first crude and WAY too explicit sexy scene showed up. I can normally tolerate them if they are not too explicit and I’m enjoying the rest of the story (which I was), but there was just something about the crude way of describing the scene that literally made me gag. Still, I decided to give the story another go, as I felt a connection to especially Chloe and wanted to know more about her. I tried to overcome that scene and it seemed to be working, up untill… BOOM!! Another even more crude and explicit sexy scene showed up that had all the signs of being even longer, and I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading or even skimming to the end of the scene. Why not even skimming? I figured it wouldn’t be the last scene as there was still more than half of the story left, and I seriously felt like vomiting already. Ugh, this was most definitley not the story for me. *shudders* It’s such a shame, because I was really looking forward to spend more time with Chloe and Red… But it is what it is I guess. If you can stomach some serious adult content and enjoy the genre, you will probably have a great time with Get A Life, Chloe Brown though. Personally, I’ve decided to stay away from Talia Hibbert‘s books for now even though I did love her writing, character development as well as her sense of humor.


Title: Such A Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 31st 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: November 8th 2020
Pages: 320

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”


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There has been so much hype around this title and to be honest I was a bit hesitant to pick it up myself as hyped books and me don’t tend to get along all that well… But I’m glad I did pick up Such A Fun Age in the end, as I understand why it has been receiving so much praise. I’m definitely in love with the writing style, which made the story so damn readable! I literally finished it in less than a day, unable to pace myself or to stop reading… Racism is such an important topic and this story shows us so well that it is so easy to seemingly do the right thing for all the wrong reasons. I never did warm up to Alix, but I LOVED Emira and Briar together. Both won over my heart immediately and made it really easy to care about what was happening in the story… Lighter moments are mixed with heavier topics, and I definitely enjoyed how the story ended. If you enjoy a well written contemporary with interesting characters and a powerful message, Such A Fun Age is without a doubt worth reading.


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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: Furia – by Yamile Saied Méndez

Title: Furia
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Workman Audio
Finished reading: October 30th 2020
Pages: 368

Duration audiobook 8 Hours, 51 Minutes, 38 Seconds
Narrated by Sol Madariaga

“I’d leave this house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my dreams, not someone else’s.”

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

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I confess that I have a weak spot for any story with a Latin American setting, and any story set in Argentina will instantly have a special place in my heart. As an immigrant who has had the opportunity to live in Argentina during (most of) the last decade, I love seeing the Argentinian culture and customs portrayed in my stories. As soon as I read the blurb of Furia, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The setting in Rosario (a city I’ve had the chance to visit a couple of times over the years) as well as the prejudice the main character has to face as a female soccer player had me fully intrigued… And it most definitely turned out to be a powerful listen.

I know that I’m still a newby when it comes to the whole audiobook experience, and I also confess that I still prefer reading the stories myself, but there is just something about listening to a book set in Argentina that is narrated by someone with an Argentinian accent. While I do understand that some might be put off by this as non-Spanish speakers might be having a more difficult time understanding the many Spanish phrases thrown in, I personally felt it gave the story a real sense of authenticity. Sol Madariaga‘s voice grew on me almost immediately and I applaude her fluidity switching between English and (Argentinian) Spanish flawlessly. The pace and flow of the audiobook were just right for me, and I had no problems at all keeping up with the story. And I think that this audiobook might just only have enhanced my experience with this story for me.

Like I mentioned before, Furia is set in Argentina and it shows. Not only do we have many thorough descriptions of Rosario and Argentinian customs in general, but this story also deals with social issues including domestic abuse and violence. The all-popular soccer is another very important element of course, and the power of this sport can be felt throughout the story. It doesn’t stop there though, as Furia is made even more authentic through the use of many many (Argentinian) Spanish words and phrases that are woven expertly into the plot and dialogue. While I do understand that non-Spanish speakers might seem them as a burden, I personally loved how it gave the story that true Argentinian flavor.

I personally more of a rugby fan, but I have seen with my own eyes just how important soccer is in Argentina and I really liked how the sport was incorporated into the plot. Furia is about soccer as well as the struggles of the main character as a female soccer player, and the writing really made the sport and its players come alive for me. As for the characters… Camila was quite easy to warm up to, although I did end up having mixed thoughts about her. Why? I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the constant lying and ‘hot and cold’ treatment of Diego did get on my nerves… And I particularly found the whole keeping her soccer playing a secret for over a year unbelievable. Again, why? Well, let’s just say that people love to talk and gossip down here, and the soccer passion is in the blood of most… So I just don’t believe nobody ever mentioned something to her parents before, especially with her brother being a well known player too.

That said, I did enjoy most of this story and it felt like a true ode to Argentinian soccer and culture. Lighter moments and romance are mixed with heavier topics, and all in all Furia turned out to be a satisfying story to listen to. I can definitely recommend the audio version, but I would advice non-Spanish speakers to approach with caution as you might struggle understanding the Spanish words and phrases in the audio even though they do make the story feel more authentic.


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ARC REVIEW: Saving Ruby King – by Catherine Adel West

Title: Saving Ruby King
Author: Catherine Adel West
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
First published: June 16th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: June 8th 2020
Pages: 352

“The world takes so much, sometimes words are all one can possess.”

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

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I was invited to read Saving Ruby King last month, and I found myself to be immediately intrigued by the blurb of this title. Especially considering recent events in the world… Because we can’t have enough own voices stories out there to help educate us more. That said, I have to say that I’m having a really hard time rating this book, and I ended up having mixed thoughts about the story as a whole. I’ll try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

On one hand, Saving Ruby King is undeniably a very important and powerful read: an own voices debut set in both present and past Chicago that helps give us some insight in the race problematics and issues black people have to face even to this day. This element was the driving force behind this story and the main reason I kept reading. BUT. On the other hand, a big part of the story also focuses on religion. There is nothing wrong with that, but I personally have a huge aversion to stories that focus on religion, and even more if they start sounding preachy. This has nothing to do with the quality of this story, but instead is rather a personal reaction to an element I wasn’t expecting to be so present… But the fact remains that I struggled to keep reading every time religion came in focus, which was a lot.

Apart from my obvious issues with the focus on religion, Saving Ruby King is a fantastic debut. The writing, the complexity of the plot, the multiple POV structure, the character development, the mystery around and secrets of multiple characters, the race problematics, the story of abuse, the violence and also a note of hope… This story has so many elements and it makes for a multi-faceted and rich story. The plot follows multiple characters both in past and present, and it can be a bit of a juggle in the beginning to keep track of how they all fit together, but Saving Ruby King provides us with helpful family trees to make things easier. I also particularly liked the perspective of the church, which was both unique and gave us a more neutral insight in past events.

This is not an easy story to read, and will most likely make you feel uncomfortable. I applaude Catherine Adel West for the realistic development of the plot and characters, and for not being afraid to show the ugly truth and for the characters and elements to go dark and unsettling. This is a story about race problematics as well as a story of domestic violence, child abuse, self harm, murder as well as a spark of hope… Beautifully rendered, and if you are not bothered by the strong presence of religion in the story, you will be blown away by this story. Trust me, this book is worth reading for the black voices and focus on race problematics alone. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that stood out to me…

“We’re a minute blip on someone’s television. Sixty seconds and my friend is ruined, or ruined even more than she already was.”

“They know they won’t be held accountable for their actions. America doesn’t need ropes and trees anymore to kill us. They have cops.”

“It’s a melting pot jigsaw puzzle with very distinctive boundaries. And those invisible lines still carve up the city, separating black, brown and yellow from white, opportunity and a void of such things.”

“I’m black. That’s what matters. Cops cover for cops. Blue covers blue. Blue doesn’t cover black.”


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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 #164 – Tweet Cute & The Bird And The Sword

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a YA version, although two different genres… But both turned out to be excellent reads. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord turned out to be the dose of contemporary cuteness I was craving, and The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon was a wonderful mix of high fantasy and romance.


Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 21st 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: May 9th 2020
Pages: 362

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

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After a few misses with recent romcoms, I was really putting all my hopes on Tweet Cute for one last try… And it looks like I finally hit the jackpot: what an absolutely adorable adorable read this was! Trust me, this book is gold if you are looking for a supercute YA contemporary romance read, and it’s without doubt a debut to keep your eyes on. While not without cliches and even a dose of teen angst, those were mostly forgiven thanks to the sheer cute factor of Tweet Cute as a whole. Both Pepper and Jack are extremely easy to connect to and I loved both the Twitter and the food elements in the story. Warning: this story will make you crave grilled cheese and all kinds of delicious sounding desserts though… Although for me that wasn’t a bad thing. The friends to lovers trope is a bit cliche, but Pepper and Jack make it worth it and I can even forgive the hint at a possible love triangle. There is some teen angst and drama going on at points, but overall I had an excellent time with this supercute read and any fan of fluffy and adorable romcoms should give Tweet Cute a try.


Title: The Bird And The Sword
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #1)

Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 6th 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Finished reading: May 19th 2020
Pages: 352

“You are what you are. I am what I am. It matters little what we want.”

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I think that it’s no secret that Amy Harmon is one of my absolute favorite authors and I basically adore anything she writes. One of the things that stands out in her work is just how diverse and unique each story is, spanning different genres and even age groups. The Bird And The Sword is the first book of a YA high fantasy duology which has both a high dose of romance and magic. And while I’m normally not a big fan of too much romance in my fantasy reads, Amy Harmon is one of the few authors who can make it work for me. Of course it’s always a blessing not having to deal with a love triangle… I loved the worldbuilding and the descriptions of Jeru; the main focus is mostly on the magical aspects of the high fantasy world, but this was more than enough for me. The writing is simply wonderful and managed to enchant me from the very first chapter. The main stars of this story are Lark and Tiras though, who basically run the whole show. They are both extremely easy to like, excellently developed and make it almost impossible not to fall in love with this story. I loved every single minute of my time with The Bird And The Sword, and while the ending is close and the book can be considered as a stand-alone, I’m already excited to return to Jeru and meet up with the characters again in the sequel. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a well balanced YA high fantasy with thoroughly developed characters, magic and a dose of romance as well as danger.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #153 – I’ll Be Gone In The Dark & If I Stay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles with a completely different target group and genre, but both I’ve been meaning to read for a while and both were stories I ended up enjoying. The true crime title I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara and If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara

Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: February 27th 2018
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: February 25th 2020
Pages: 340

“If you commit murder and then vanish, what you leave behind isn’t just pain but absence, a supreme blankness that triumphs over everything else.”


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True crime has always intrigued me, so I’m not sure why I don’t pick it up more often… I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara ever since it was first published two years ago, but somehow I just never got to it. I’m happy I finally did pick it up though. I confess I hadn’t heard of the Golden State Killer before, so this book was a true goldmine filled to the brim with information about his crimes and the investigation as it evolved both back in the 1970s and 1980s when they were first investigated as well as the cold case investigation in the 21st century with the help of DNA tests. True crime journalist Michelle McNamara played a big role in the investigation around the identity behind the Golden State Killer and it is sad that her untimely death ment she wasn’t able to see the guy finally get caught in 2018… Still, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark shows just how talented and determined the author was in her investigation and I can imagine just how big of a help she was in uncovering the truth after all that time. The details of the Golden State Killer crimes, both the rapes, home invasions and the murders, are pretty brutal and it’s hard to believe that with so many victims and attacks he was still able to escape justice for this long… I’ll Be Gone In The Dark doesn’t sugarcoat the graphic and gruesome facts, and definitely makes you glad you weren’t living in the areas mentioned back then… Or at least rethink about how terrifying the knowledge that someone dangerous is prowling close to where you live is, and how difficult it would be to defend yourself if he suddenly shows up in your bedroom that way. Definitely not a read for those with a weak stomach, but more than recommended if you are a true crime fan!


Title: If I Stay
(If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 2nd 2009
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: March 3rd 2020
Pages: 196

“He got it before I did. If I stay. If I live. It’s up to me.”


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I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this one! I’ve been meaning to try If I Stay for years now, but to be honest I wasn’t so sure if this story would be for me… I was afraid it was going to be too sappy and cliche for me, and that the hype around it simply wasn’t worth it. I confess I kept my expectations low, and the unexpected happened: I ended up being so much more invested in this story about Mia and Adam than I thought I would be! While I do feel part of the plot is a bit cliche, and especially the flashbacks can be a bit slow, there were also other elements I really loved. The most important of them being just how important music is throughout the story. Both the classical cello and the rock guitar come together beautifully and also represent the different characters in play in If I Stay… Somehow I ended up rooting for Mia and Adam despite the cliches, and I loved the fact that we saw the present story progress from the point of view of Mia’s unconscious self. Definitely an unique angle! The story introduces questions about life and death and it was intriguing to see Mia struggle to decide whether to stay or let go after this tragedy… Cliches and sometimes slow pace aside, I had a great time reading If I Stay and I might even have almost shed a tear or two at some point.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #148 – Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet & What We Saw

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two backlist titles I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and both turned out to be excellent reads. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford was both hardbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, and while What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler is without doubt a darker read, the heavy elements including rape and victim shaming are excellently and realistically portrayed.


Title: Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: January 27th 2009
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Finished reading: February 3rd 2020
Pages: 396

“The hardest choices in life aren’t between what’s right and what’s wrong but between what’s right and what’s best.”


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I confess I have been meaning to read Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet for years now, and last year I thought getting a physical copy would help making me finally read it. It still took me way longer than expected, but I finally did! I think it’s probably known by now that I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction and this story is able to give us an original angle. Set in Seattle during the war, the focus is on the Chinese and Japanese community and the threats the Japanese community receives as a direct consequence of Japan’s role in WWII. Main characters Henry and Keiko are able to describe this inner conflict, the racism and the consequences for the Japanese community perfectly. Switching between 1942-1945 and 1986 and between young and old Henry, we slowly learn more about the events that started and blossomed the friendship between Henry and Keiko as well as the more serious events involving the Japanese community as a whole. On top of that we have a wonderful extra element in the form of jazz music and Sheldon, who was such a lovely character and he definitely added a little something extra to the story as well as both him and his music providing a red thread to weave the past and present together. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is a beautifully written, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking read, but not without a note of hope… And it is able to describe the race problematics and injustice for all those innocent Japanese families perfectly. I’m positive any historical fiction fan will have an excellent time reading this wonderful story about Henry and Keiko!


Title: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Finished reading: February 4th 2020
Pages: 336

“I wonder which is worse: the fear of the unknown? Or knowing for sure that something terrible is true?”


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I’ve been wanting to read What We Saw for a while now, and I’m definitely glad my TBR jar thought it was time to finally pick it up. I already knew this wasn’t going to be an easy read with the rape and victim blaming topic, and it is without doubt trigger warning worthy… That said, I thought the author did an excellent job portraying the whole situation as well as shining an all important light on the topic. Sadly the events as described What We Saw are all too real and sadly rape victims like Stacey become victims all over again when nobody believes their story and people simply say ‘she had it coming’ or ‘she asked for it with the way she dressed and by being wasted’ without knowing the facts… It was interesting to see the whole story from Kate’s POV as she wasn’t directly involved or too close to the victim. Instead, we see the whole situation as an ‘outsider’ wanting to uncover the truth and not accept what everybody wants or finds it easy to believe as the truth… And showing in the process how hard it can be to go against the popular kids and just how far victim blaming can go. What We Saw is definitely a darker read, but the heavy elements including rape and victime blaming/shaming are excellently and realistically portrayed. If you can stomach it, it makes for a very interesting read!


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