YVO’S SHORTIES #78 – The Last Time I Lied & The Painted Veil

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a 2018 release I wasn’t able to get to last year and a classic I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The first, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, went better than I hoped and I ended up really enjoying it. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham sadly wasn’t really my cup of tea though.


Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 3rd 2018
Publisher: Dutton
Finished reading: January 19th 2019
Pages: 384

“Above all, I’m scared that if I keep digging, I might not like what I’ll find.”


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There has been a lot of hype around The Last Time I Lied, but after my experience with Final Girls I decided to stay away for a while before finally picking it up. I’m not sure if this tactic helped or if I found his second book to be simply better than his debut, but the fact is: no unpopular opinion review this time around. Oh yes, you can say I really enjoyed my time with The Last Time I Lied. (What’s with all those books with ‘lie’ in the title though?) The writing is strong and draws you right in; the descriptions of the art and surroundings are done in such a way that really makes them come alive. This story has a dual timeline, where we slowly learn more about what happened fifteen years ago, what is happenening at the camp right now and how the two relate… Using the unreliable narrator technique and a whole bunch of twists, secrets and lies, Riley Sager will be able to keep you guessing about what really happened all those years ago. And not only that, because things are happening in the present as well that make you wondering what is really going on and who is behind it all. The final twists were definitely a surprise! I’m not sure if Emma and the other characters are exactly likeable, but they feel well developed and the Lake Midnight setting is both eerie and fits the story. This feeling that something is off sets the right atmosphere for a story that will keep you engaged until you find out every last detail about that night the girls disappeared and how everything affects Emma and the others in the present. I can understand the love for The Last Time I Lied now!


Title: The Painted Veil
Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 1925
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: January 20th 2019
Pages: 280

“You know, my dear child, that one cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one’s soul.”


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While I was browsing for something a little different to read, I stumbled upon my copy of The Painted Veil. I was looking forward to a historical fiction read and the promise of a foreign setting in the 1920s sounded great. Add the fact that reading it would mean crossing off my first classic of the year early, and I was fully convinced. What I didn’t expect is just how focused this story is on the romance, adultery and love triangle. This never goes well for me and I guess it’s part of the reason I’m guessing The Painted Veil simply wasn’t for me despite my love for historical fiction. I do have to say the setting was well developed and the many descriptions of especially the Meitan-Fu area were really detailed and made it come alive. The foreign culture is probably the most interesting aspect of this story, and it’s a shame there is not more focus on it. The Painted Veil is a character driven story with especially Kitty in the spotlight. You can guess that being unable to connect to her presented a big problem for me… Likewise, I can’t say I was charmed by the other characters either. I am very curious about the movie though, which I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about. But sadly the book didn’t manage to blow me away.


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WWW Wednesdays #206 – January 23rd

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 one of the last pending February NG ARCs: The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. I’ve heard lots of things about this story so fingers crossed this time travel experience will be a good one. I’m also finally starting Exquisite by Sarah Stovell. I can’t believe I’ve been posponing it for this long!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I had high hopes for We Told Six Lies, but sadly I can’t say this story lived up to expectations. Part of this feeling has to do with the fact I was expecting a mystery, not a romantic drama with two unlikeable main characters I couldn’t care less about. Sure, at least Molly wasn’t ment to be likeable in the first place, but it’s hard to stay invested in a story when you can’t stand the main characters. The amount of sexy scenes and (romantic) cliches were likewise a huge turn off. Sadly, the plot was quite predictable as well… The writing does flow well and the story reads superfast. The right person will probably enjoy We Told Six Lies better than I did.

2. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/01
Ghost Boys is such a powerful read! With race problematics and discrimination sadly being all too real even today, this is such an important book for middle graders and adults alike to read… The topic itself is brilliantly handled, well developed without things becoming too political or dull. The power behind Ghost Boys is the twelve-year-old Jerome, who gives the fatal consequence of racism a face and will make your heart break.

3. The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/01
My instincts told me I was in for a treat with this one and it turns out they were right. The Winter Sister offers us a well balanced mix of a family drama, cold case murder and psychological thriller with a focus on the complicated relationships between mother and daughters alike. The writing is solid and the plot well crafted and interestingly developed. The switches between past and present added to the intrigue and suspense around Persephone’s death and the truth what really happened to her… There are a lot of secrets and twists to discover, and while I did see some of them coming, others managed to surprise me. All in all The Winter Sister was a very satisfying read fans of the genre will love.

4. End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/01
I love a good international setting where it seems like reading a story comes with free travel. Add the fact that this story visits two places I’ve recently been able to explore and love myself, and it’s easy to say that the international feel of End Of The Lie was a huge bonus for me. I still struggled with the main characters, the bitchiness and the romance (although I liked some of the romantic developments), but the writing reads like a train and once the pace picks up things get interesting. Fans of international YA spy thrillers will have a great time with this trilogy.

5. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (4/5 stars) REVIEW 04/02
I really enjoyed my time with The Last Time I Lied. The writing is strong and draws you right in; the descriptions of the art and surroundings are done in such a way that really makes them come alive. Using the unreliable narrator technique and a whole bunch of twists, secrets and lies, Riley Sager will be able to keep you guessing about what really happened all those years ago. And not only that, because things are happening in the present as well that make you wondering what is really going on and who is behind it all.

6. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (3/5 stars) REVIEW 04/02
I was looking forward to a historical fiction read and the promise of a foreign setting in the 1920s sounded great. Add the fact that reading it would mean crossing off my first classic of the year early, and I was fully convinced. What I didn’t expect is just how focused this story is on the romance, adultery and love triangle. This never goes well for me and I guess it’s part of the reason I’m guessing The Painted Veil simply wasn’t for me despite my love for historical fiction.

7. Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
I think Bright We Burn is my new favorite of the series. The historical setting, the references to Vlad The Impaler, the worldbuilding, the descriptions, the writing, the characters… There is so much to love here and I have enjoyed every single minute I spent emerged in this world. It’s hard to compare books since it’s been too long since I read the first two, but what I can definitely say is that The Conqueror’s Saga ends stronger than ever.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I still have a pile of ARCs I need to get to, but I’m liking this balance between ARCs and backlist titles I’ve been able to maintain so far. I’m probably reading the ARC How To Experience Death For Beginners by Jessica Branton next, and then I get to read two more backlist titles afterwards as a reward. I’m in the mood for something contemporary, so that will probably be When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon… There has been such a hype around this book that I’m afraid to pick it up, but fingers crossed it will be a good one for me. I’m also planning on making good to my promise to read more Agatha Christie and pick up the second Hercule Poirot book The Murder On The Links. (The fact that this means another classic I can cross off is a huge bonus.) My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey, which I’m hoping to read before the end of the month.


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WWW Wednesdays #144 – July 5th

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 actually almost done with Court Of Lions by Jane Johnson, which is probably a good thing since the publish date is tomorrow and I should have finished my review by then. Oops? It’s a historical fiction read partly set in the 15th century and partly in the present and takes place in Granada. I really like the historical chapters and the many descriptions of the Spanish city, but the contemporary storyline isn’t convincing me for various reasons. I’ve also finally picked up book 5 in the Jamie Quinn series: Jeopardy In July by Barbara Venkataraman. It’s a cozy mystery and has all the promise of being a fast and entertaining read!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Quirky Essays For Quirky People by Barbara Venkataraman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
Last year the author pointed out her collection of essays was available for free on Amazon I decided to add it to my collection, especially since I enjoyed her writing style in her cozy mystery series. The title and cover spoke to me and it sounded like a fun read, and Quirky Essays For Quirky People was just that. This bundle is packed with short humorous essays about quirky situations that will make you smile. They are very easy to read and perfect for whenever you feel like a light read

2. Final Girls by Riley Sager (3/5 stars) REVIEW
I had high hopes for Final Girls, but I guess I should have known to stay away from hyped books. This story wasn’t bad and I was impressed when I found out it was a debut, but that doesn’t mean I was blown away with it either. There were parts I loved (the Pine Cottage flashbacks, how dark, intense and twisted the horror parts were, the surprises), but in general I had my doubts about the credibility and I couldn’t connect to the characters. I’ve seen others who loved Final Girls though, so this could be just another case of me being allergic to hyped books resulting in an ‘unpopular opinion’ review…

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I feel actually quite bad I wasn’t able to enjoy Little Women better. I had really high hopes for this classic, but I found myself struggling to continue instead. This is definitely me and not the story, because I could see Little Women was well written as well as its appeal to many readers. I guess I just wasn’t one of them in the end. I don’t think I will ever read the second part, but I’m glad I at least now know what everybody is talking about when they mention this classic.

4. Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt (2/5 stars) REVIEW
I really wanted to enjoy Devastation Road, especially since it is a combination of two topics that fascinate me: WWII and amnesia. Unfortunately I found it extremely hard to connect to the writing style, characters AND plot… And honestly I think I would probably have opted for a DNF if this weren’t an ARC. I seem to be in the minority though since most reviews have been really positive, so give this one a chance if this sounds like your cup of tea!

5. The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/07
There is no doubt that The Stolen Girls is just as strong as the first book and one hell of a ride. The books of this series are a bit longer than average, but besides the fact that the stories are very well written they have the added bonus of having a complex, rich and intriguing plot and different storylines without slowing down the pace. Some of the themes might be potentially shocking/intense, so a little warning if you aren’t up for that, but I personally had a great time reading The Stolen Girls. I just loved the complexity of the different storylines, how everything connected in the end and the Kosovo flashbacks in general!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m picking up Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz as soon as I finish my current reads; no more excuses! Right afterwards I’ll be reading Reported Missing by Sarah Wray since the publish date is coming up soon… And the same goes for The Breakdown by B.A. Paris. And after months of collecting dust (because it took me THAT long to read Little Women), my TBR jar is back in action! My newest TBR jar pick is Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, which I’m hoping to read before the end of this month. The cover sure is stunning!


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ARC REVIEW: Final Girls – by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 13th 2017
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Finished reading: June 29th 2017
Pages: 352

“Pine. Cottage. Nothing but harmless words. But when combined they obtain the sharpness of the knife He shoved into my shoulder and stomach.”

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

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Oh hype, oh hype, why do you have to do this to me once again?! I’ve been looking forward to Final Girls for months now and I think it’s easily one of the most hyped thrillers this year. I should have been warned by the mixed reviews… I’ve been in a bad relationship with hyped books for years and it looks like we just had yet another fight. Because while I really wanted to love Final Girls, I ended up having mixed feelings instead. I don’t think it actually lived up to the praise I’ve seen…  Don’t get me wrong, the story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as mindblowingly good as I thought it would be. First of all, there were quite a few things that I did like. Final Girls is partly a very intense, dark and twisted story and certain parts actually cross the line to horror. The situations the final girls were able to survive were simply brutal and definitely set the tone for this story. Likewise the flashbacks to the Pine Cottage were probably my favorite part of this novel and read almost like a horror movie. Very graphic and well described! And I also can’t deny there are a lot of plot twists and unexpected turns included in Final Girls. There were a lot of things I definitely didn’t see coming. But. And here starts the more negative part of my review… I’m not sure up to what point the plot, actions and characters are actually completely credible. I had a hard time accepting certain things as true and I don’t think some parts of the plot are very realistic. I can’t go into details due to spoilers, but this did put a mayor damper on things for me. The other thing I struggled with enormously were the main characters. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect to them and they really started to annoy me as the story unfolded. I felt repeatedly frustrated when they behaved or acted a certain way when it was SO clear something was off. Final Girls does read quite easily though and the horror parts are definitely dark and twisted. I just wish the rest of the story would have been just as strong… All in all I ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but it looks like Final Girls can go either way.

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Three girls, three victims, three separate massacres. Somehow they are the lone survivors of those horrible events and now they are grouped together by the press and treated like characters right out of a slasher movie. Final Girls they call them, even though the girls themselves didn’t want that name and only want to try and deal with the horrors they have experienced. Lisa is the only one who doesn’t shy away completely from the publicity; Quincy only wants to try and move on and Sam disappears completely off the radar. But then something terrible happens to Lisa, and suddenly the Final Girls are everywhere again and old wounds are opened…

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I had high hopes for Final Girls, but I guess I should have known to stay away from hyped books. This story wasn’t bad and I was impressed when I found out it was a debut, but that doesn’t mean I was blown away with it either. There were parts I loved (the Pine Cottage flashbacks, how dark, intense and twisted the horror parts were, the surprises), but in general I had my doubts about the credibility and I couldn’t connect to the characters. I’ve seen others who loved Final Girls though, so this could be just another case of me being allergic to hyped books resulting in an ‘unpopular opinion’ review…


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WWW Wednesdays #143 – June 28th

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 actually almost done with Quirky Essays For Quirky People, an essay bundle written by Barbara Venkataraman I’ve had pending for a long time now. I’m glad I finally picked it up. I’m also still reading Final Girls by Riley Sager, an ARC I’ve been wanting to read for months now even though the hype around it did make me a bit afraid to actually start reading it. The third I haven’t actually started yet, but with a little luck I will be able to start Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt some time today. Fingers crossed, because the review is due next Monday! (And for those who wonder: I won’t mention Little Women again until I have actually started reading Part two.)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My favorite part of The Merchant’s Pearl is hands down the existence of many detailed descriptions of the inner workings of the Ottoman palace and empire of that time. It was really interesting to see how things worked back then and how life was for a concubine… The pace was a bit slow, but the writing style was beautiful. I liked most of the characters as well, although some of their actions started to annoy me during the second half of the story. But that might just have been me and my aversion to anything too overly romance/drama in the first place. If you like historical fiction and romance, you will enjoy reading this one!

2. Each Little Lie by Tom Bale (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/06
There is no doubt I really enjoyed reading Each Little Lie even though it wasn’t as dark and intense as I would have liked. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and manages to draw you in straight away; the plot and plot twists well executed to the point that you really have no idea who is behind it all for a very long time. And while I guessed some things right, there were also a lot of things I didn’t see coming at all.

3. What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
Forget the fact that the whole contemporary romance scene normally isn’t my thing, forget the fact that this story in a way could be described as cheesy: I absolutely loved this story! Julie Buxbaum has done it again and is proving to be an exception to the rule… Because David won over my heart right from the very first chapter and is without doubt a new addition to my list of all time favorite characters. He is just so unique, adorable and well developed!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a lot of ARC publish dates coming up, so unfortunately I still don’t have time for other reads… I still need to read The Lost Book Of The Grail by Charlie Lovett, an ARC that was approved a day before it was archived so naturally I didn’t get to it on time haha. I also need to read both Court Of Lions by Jane Johnson and The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney, although I’ll probably read the second first. What’s up with all those historical fiction ARCs publishing soon just when I’m in the mood for a good thriller?! I do want to finally read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz some time soon though. I still can’t believe I haven’t picked up that title yet!


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Teaser Tuesdays #146 – June 27th: Final Girls

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve literally had a copy of this one for MONTHS (read: since January) and I’ve been dying to pick it up ever since my request was approved, but somehow I had always other titles pending and had to read those instead. But no longer. I’ve finally started reading Final Girls by Riley Sager and wow what an intense beginning! I can’t wait to properly sit down and read more of this story today.

My teaser (1%):

“It was instinct that made her run. An unconscious knowledge that she needed to keep going, no matter what. Already she had forgotten why.”

What are you reading right now?


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