YVO’S SHORTIES #182 – Kiss My Cupcake & Tender Is The Flesh

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today two books that couldn’t have been more different… But both ended up being a success. Kiss My Cupcake was exactly the fun contemporary I was craving, while I still can’t wrap my head around just how twisted Tender Is The Flesh was. Definitely perfect for Halloween that one!


Title: Kiss My Cupcake
Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 11th 2020
Publisher: Forever
Finished reading: October 9th 2020
Pages: 368

“I’d rather struggle to make ends meet for a while than give up my own dreams.”


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I was in the mood for a good contemporary and I always love a food element in my stories, so I figured that Kiss My Cupcake would probably be a good choice. And it ended up exactly the type of story I was craving! Sure, there are quite a few cliches involved… For example: why does the male lead always have to be dropdead gorgeous?! Sure, there are quite a few sexy scenes involved and we all know how allergic I am to those. BUT. Somehow I didn’t really care too much as I was too busy having fun seeing Ronan and Blaire pitched against each other. The whole ‘enemy to lover’ vibe isn’t as strong as I thought it would be initially, but I loved how they are not two competing bakers, but instead competing business owners and neighbors. Both have their own background and dreams, and I had a great time getting to know them better and see their relationship evolve. It definitely made me want to bake my own batch of cupcakes though, as those descriptions of Blaire’s creations sounded heavenly. Another bonus: no love triangle to ruin the day, which I was particularly happy about myself. Fans of the romcom genre who like their stories sweet as well as sexy will have a great time with this one.


Title: Tender Is The Flesh
Author: Agustina Bazterrica

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Horror
First published: November 29th 2017
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Finished reading: October 13th 2020
Pages: 224
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Cadáver Exquisito’)

“Today I’m the butcher, tomorrow I might be the cattle.”

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Holy cow, this was one dark, brutal and twisted story! I’m kind of lost for words when it comes to Tender Is The Flesh… I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, and while I intended to read the original, I ended up picking up the translation instead (call me lazy). And boy, this is a story I won’t forget any time soon… Think dystopia. Think a world where cannibalism is legal and humans are breeded like cattle only to be slaughtered for their meat. This will give you some idea of where this story might go… A word of advice: definitely don’t read Tender Is The Flesh if you have a weak stomach, and definitely don’t read it just before dinner. It’s been a while since I read a story this brutal, this shocking, but somehow it is powerful as well and the writing is without doubt enchanting. Marcos makes for a very interesting main character and I liked seeing him evolve over time. If you are looking for a dark, gory and shocking horror read and aren’t put off by cannibalism being the star of the show, Tender Is The Flesh would without doubt make for the perfect Halloween read.


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ARC REVIEW: Can I Give My Husband Back? – by Kristen Bailey

Title: Can I Give My Husband Back?
Author: Kristen Bailey
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 19th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 15th 2020
Pages: 308

“A heart can beat millions and millions of times throughout your lifetime. Yet you can die from a broken heart.”

*** 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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Ok, that’s it, I’m going to take a break from romcoms for now. It might just be me, but somehow Can I Give My Husband Back? was not exactly a winner for me… I was desperate for a funny read, and the blurb of this story seemed to tick all the right boxes. I had high hopes, but somehow the author’s humor and me are definitely not on the same page. Because guess what? I didn’t laugh once. Nope, not even a snort, not even a giggle… And this was a major letdown for me. I know from the few first reviews popping up that I’m an exception though… But still, what I thought was going to be a funny ride, turned out to be as fun as a trip to the dentist. Ouch?

I have to be honest here and say that I wasn’t a big fan of the writing. It felt halted in points and sometimes was just bit too crude for me… Especially the constant sex talk and sexy scenes, although that wasn’t even my main issue with this book. The big focus on cheating and the love triangle did contribute though; both being major pet peeves for me and both elements always end up making me enjoy a story a lot less. Especially when Emma lets that bastard walk all over her and keeps doing the same even after their divorce. I know this is a personal aversion, but it was hugely frustrating for me. And this includes seeing how she lets him be around her children as he lies, cheats and seems to be a bad influence in general. And then I’m not even talking about the newer developments in his life…

There were things I really appreciated too, including the relationship between the five sisters, Emma’s new crush and the kids (including one of Emma’s patients). But overall this story just wasn’t for me; both because I wasn’t able to laugh even once and because I had to deal with that cheating and lying bastard the whole story. I guess the unpopular opinion curse has struck once again? I know humor is a personal thing though, so if you think this is your cup of tea, don’t miss out on my account.


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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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ARC REVIEW: Swipe Right – by Stephie Chapman

Title: Swipe Right 
Author: Stephie Chapman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 13th 2020
Publisher: Hera Books
Finished reading: May 4th 2020
Pages: ?

“I try and compartmentalise the way Ollie makes me feel but whichever way I look at it I end up confused because the lines are so blurred it makes it impossible to fit into tidy little boxes.”

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

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My reading mood has changed in these strange times and I’ve been craving more contemporaries than usual… I was in the mood for a proper romcom and I thought I had hit the jackpot as soon as I read the blurb of Swipe Right. It sounded like such a cute and fun read, and I have been looking forward to it ever since I first heard about it. I’m not sure why, but somehow I ended up having mixed feelings about this story instead despite the fact I was in the mood for the genre… First of all I have to stress that Swipe Right is by no means a bad read and I’m having a feeling romance fans will absolutely love this story. Especially since contemporary romance isn’t my favorite genre in the first place and despite being in the mood for this type of read, some elements just might have been too much for me… I’ll try to explain what worked and didn’t work for me below.

I have to say that I really liked the idea behind the blurb, the vibe of Viral Hive and all the characters involved. Fran, Ollie and their colleagues are easy to like and that makes it really easy to stay invested and fly through those pages. I also quite like the whole ‘friends to lovers’ trope, especially as the dynamics between Fran and Ollie work so well… BUT. Directly related to this are all those cliches that keep being thrown at you along the way. Romance cliches, the bad dates, more than one love triangle (and you all know how I detest those in the first place!), the cheating, sexy scenes… Each of these on its own would already bother me, but having all those elements thrown at me without space for a little breather started to irritate me more and more. I would have loved to see more focus on the growing relationship between Fran and Ollie instead of all the love triangle related mess and the whole cheating angle too… And while the bad dates can be seen as funny, they were just too cliche and basically cringeworthy for me.

That said, I know my reaction is a bit biased as I’m allergic to both love triangles and the cheating angle in my romcoms… And you all know it’s not exactly my favorite genre in the first place. Fran and Ollie are lovely though and there were a lot of things I did enjoy about Swipe Right, so I’m having a feeling anyone who enjoys a good romcom will probably have an excellent time with this story.


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ARC REVIEW: The Neighbours – by Nicola Gill

Title: The Neighbours
Author: Nicola Gill
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: October 21st 2019 
Pages: 400

“‘I was just trying to be the new Ginny.’ Cassie sighs. ‘Pity, because I think he really liked the old one.'”

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

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I know this isn’t my usual genre, but there was just something about this title that spoke to me and I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. My instincts turned out to be right, because I ended up really enjoying my time with this story. If you are looking for a poignant and entertaining romcom with that Bridget Jones vibe, The Neighbours should definitely be on your 2020 wishlist.

It’s a superfast read and has both funny and more serious moments incorporated into the plot. Oh yes, it’s not all roses and sunshine in The Neighbours as more heavy themes as depression, suicide and cheating are incorporated into the plot. It was interesting to see how the author used these elements in her story and then balanced them with lighter moments and a dose of humor here and there. The plot itself might involve some cliches, but there is no doubt that it makes for an engaging read and fans of the genre will be more than pleased. The writing definitely makes you turn those pages fast enough, and I literally finished The Neighbours in one sitting. Whether you are looking for your next beach read or something to make you forget about the cold winter weather, this story will do the trick.

That said, I did have mixed thoughts about the main characters. It’s true that Ginny and Cassie make a very unlikely pair, and I did have a great time following their story and see their relationship grow. Cassie’s character is fascinating, with her being an older actress who is no longer as famous as she used to be… I liked her sass and ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude and it was interesting to see other aspects of her personality developed as well. Ginny is an interesting character as well, although I did have issues with some of her character traits and decisions. Especially those relationship related and how she handles things in general… The whole love triangle vibe I could have done without as well, but those are only minor complaints for what is otherwise a very entertaining read.

In short, if you are looking for a fast, engaging, funny and sometimes poignant and heartbreaking romcom, this story is without doubt a great choice! I’m having the feeling fans of the genre will love this book.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #135 – The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler & The Turn Of The Key

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And another round of Goodreads Choice Awards finalists I wanted to read before my final vote last month… The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler sadly wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, but The Turn Of The Key without doubt blew me away.


Title: The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler
Author: Kelly Harms

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 1st 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: November 22nd 2019
Pages: 328

“Sometimes a book about other people’s problems is way better than your own.”


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I was in the mood for a romcom and I always love bookish elements in my stories, so I really thought I was going to love The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler… But although I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, somehow I didn’t end up enjoying myself as much as I thought I would. The premise of this story sounds like perfect (albeit cliche) romcom material. Amy’s adventure in New York should have been super fun to read about with that whole ‘spring break for moms’ vibe and lots of bookish references to keep any bookworm happy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the bookish elements in The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler and it’s probably the main reason I kept reading. Because somehow I felt that the spark of the main story was missing. It was all just a bit too cliche for me and I felt that the main characters lacked development or were at least too much built on stereotypes. I wasn’t happy with the whole cheating angle and Amy’s behavior in the present either… And I wasn’t able to connect to the main characters as I thought despite the bookish elements. Sadly this story just fell flat for me, but I know I’m in the minority so definitely give this book a chance if you think it’s your cup of tea. It looks like I’m in the unpopular opinion corner again!


Title: The Turn Of The Key
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 6th 2019
Publisher: Gallery
Finished reading: November 23rd 2019
Pages: 352

“I am telling you the truth. The unvarnished, ugly truth. And it is all that. It is unpolished and unpleasant, and I don’t pretend I acted like an angel. But I didn’t kill anyone. I just fucking didn’t.”


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The Death Of Mrs. Westaway blew me away when I read it six months ago… When I started hearing people mention her newest story The Turn Of The Key was even better, I knew I had to read it myself ASAP to see if I would have the same reaction. And blow me away it did! Holy guacamole, what an ending!! That ending definitely left me flabbergasted and staring at that final page, wondering if I should have seen it coming… But the fact is that I didn’t, so mission accomplished. The Turn Of The Key gave off serious Mama (the horror movie) vibes and the Heatherbrae House and its surroundings and history are the perfect creepy background for this psychological thriller. Like the house itself, this story is a mix of gothic and modern technology, combined harmoniously to create a perfectly balanced and oh so creepy plot. There was an omnious feel to everything that happens to Rowan and the family she starts working for… The hint at the paranormal is subtle but effective. I really liked the structure of the plot as well, with Rowan writing a letter from prison explaining exactly what happened. The pace might not be the fastest in the beginning, but I personally didn’t mind as it gave more time to fully absorb what was going on and soak up that omnious feeling that something was going to go wrong sooner than later… Towards the end, plot twist bombs are suddenly being thrown at you, giving you a string of shocking reveals to deal with as you finally start to discover the truth about Heatherbrae House, the main characters and their past and secrets. Oh yes, The Turn Of The Key is without doubt a brilliant psychological thriller read!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #132 – The Flatshare & Rayne And Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a dose of 2019 contemporary releases… The Flatshare was the winning title on Twitter last month as the first 2019 contemporary romance title I should pick up; it was an excellent choice and I really enjoyed it! And I’ve been meaning to pick up Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee ever since it was released, because I LOVED his previous books.


Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 10th 2019
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: November 3rd 2019
Pages: 336

“There is no saving of people–people can only save themselves. The best you can do is help when they’re ready.”


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I’ve been hearing great things about The Flatshare even before I was released back in April… While the contemporary romance genre and me don’t always get along, there are exceptions and sometimes I’m just in the mood for a good romcom. I asked romance readers to help me with my next read, and The Flatshare turned out to be a clear winner on Twitter (I’m reading the Goodreads winner soon as well). And I’m definitely happy with the choice of the Twitter voters, as I had an excellent time reading this story. If you are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining romcom that isn’t afraid to go heavy as well, The Flatshare is an excellent choice. Because this isn’t just a romance story. So many different elements are in play… We have the book editor angle, as one of the main characters Tiffy works editing crafts books and is currently working on a crochet book. I loved the little insights in the industry as well as the crochet mentions! We also have the pallative care angle, involving the other star character Leon. I really liked how this element was developed and how certain patients ended up playing quite an important role. We then have the psychological abuse and abusive ex-boyfriend element, which definitely gives the story a heavier note and is the cause of frustration when it comes to how Tiffy handles the whole Justin situation. BUT. As someone who has suffered from a toxic relationship herself in the past, I do think the author did a good job showing us just how difficult it is to escape and recover from such relationship. And this is not all that the story has in store for us. We also have Leon’s brother Ricky, who has been charged for a crime he didn’t commit, and is fighting to prove his innocence. On top of that, we have Leon’s hunt to find someone before it’s too late… It might seem like a lot going on, but all these different elements helped enrich the plot and make the whole ‘flat and bed sharing’ basics of the plot a whole lot more interesting. I really liked the characters too despite the fact that I was SO frustrated with some of Tiffy’s actions… But characters were portrayed realistically and the flaws only made them come alive. In short, if you are a fan of the genre and haven’t read The Flatshare yet, you should definitely add it to your wishlist straight away.


Title: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 26th 2019
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: November 6th 2019
Pages: 400

“For a long time I shined my light for someone other than me. But not anymore. Now I shine bright for me. You can create light even when everyone’s left you behind because that’s what you do. It’s what I do.”


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I absolutely adored Jeff Zentner’s previous books, so it’s easy to understand that Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee was on my list of most anticipated 2019 releases. I’m still not sure why it took me this long to actually pick it up, but I’m definitely glad I did. I do have to say that this book felt quite different from his other two books… Unique and quirky once again, but somehow a lot more upbeat and a different tone? Not necessarily a bad thing, but I did feel the spark of the previous books was missing somehow. I’m not say I didn’t enjoy reading Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee and I definitely loved the idea behind the old horror movies TV show and everything it entailed. The humor was right up my alley as well, and there were quite a few funny moments included to lighten up the story after more heavy moments. Still, somehow the story never managed to blow me away completely… And yes, that is even with easy to like main characters and prose that is extremely easy on the eye. Were my expectations too high? Maybe. Would I still recommend it to fans of the genre? Most definitely. Because while it’s not my favorite Jeff Zentner, it still makes for a very quirky, goofy and sometimes even heartbreaking read.


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