YVO’S SHORTIES #27: The Orphan’s Tale & Murder On The Orient Express

Another day and another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Bringing you more shortie reviews of books I read during my hiatus. The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff has been on my list for a long time, and turned out to be just as good as I thought it would be. And I have been meaning to read more of Agatha Christie‘s work for a long time, so accidently watching the Murder On The Orient Express movie turned out to be the perfect excuse to do so.


Title: The Orphan’s Tale
Author: Pam Jenoff

Genre: Historical Fiction, War
First published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Mira Books
Finished reading: May 18th 2018
Pages: 353

“Sometimes our forever life does not last as long as we think.”


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After a very difficult but extraordinary visit to the Auschwitz camps, I wanted to read another historical fiction story set during WWII to commemorate. I was browsing my kindle and my eyes fell on The Orphan’s Tale, a title I have been meaning to pick up for a long time, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do so. While not exactly the story set in one of the camps I was looking for, this story shows the struggle and fear of the Jews trying to hide their true identity. The Orphan’s Tale has a wide variety of different characters and this diversity was one of the reasons this story worked. The circus setting with all its descriptions and opportunities for plot twists and new angles definitely was another key element. The writing is solid and makes it really easy to fully emerge yourself and keep reading to find out what will happen to the main characters. There comes the only minor flaw I experienced myself though: I didn’t agree with every decision of the characters and somehow it wasn’t as easy to get a proper feeling of some of them. This feeling of slight uneasiness and frustration made me lower the rating slightly, but overall The Orphan’s Tale is without doubt among the better WWII historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date.


Title: Murder On The Orient Express
(Hercule Poirot #10)
Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Classics
First published: 1926
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: May 21st 2018
Pages: 256

“I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose their head and do the most absurd things.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up another Agatha Christie book ever since I finished And Then There Were None back in 2015, but somehow I never did. So I guess accidently watching the Murder On The Orient Express was a blessing in disguise, because since I normally never watch the movie before reading the book, of course I had to immediately remedy that. I had high hopes for the book, and even though I haven’t read the previous Hercule Poirot books yet, I was able to enjoy book number ten anyway. Because Agatha Christie writes in a way that will draw your attention from the start, and she gives just enough background of the main characters to be able to form an idea of their past without the previous books. I still want to read the other nine titles before this one as well of course, and the copies are on my list. But the fact is that Murder On The Orient Express can easily be read as a stand-alone as well and what a good story at that. From the main character to the development of the other characters, the mystery, the way Hercule Poirot conducts his investigation… There is just something about it that will fascinate you completely and any mystery/thriller fan will find themselves flying through it. I personally liked both movie and book equally, although I still wish I would have read the book first, because I had the actors stuck in my head and the descriptions of the characters in the book don’t really match. Thankfully the script itself follows the original plot closely; one of the reasons the adaptation was so successful to me. Murder On The Orient Express has shown me I really need to get copies of more of Agatha Christie‘s books soon, because I have truly been missing out by not reading them.


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ARC REVIEW: Bring Me Back – by B.A. Paris

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 1st 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: June 12th 2018
Pages: 336

“But there is only silence, and the dust of hopes never fulfilled, taunting me with what could have been, if only I’d acted differently.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

Bring Me Back has to be one of the most hyped psychological thriller releases this year. While I was stoked to be able to receive a copy early, I was also worried about the possible consequences of such a popular title. Because let’s face it: popular books and me don’t exactly have an optimal relationship. And as the mixed reviews for Bring Me Back started coming in, I was getting more worried about my own reaction. Hence the reason I’ve been posponing my own experience with this title until there was hardly time left before the publish date. It might have been that I went in with lower expectations, it might have been because of different reasons, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The first thing that stands out for me is the writing style, which shows a certain quality you only see in the better psychological thrillers and was just as good as my previous experience with her work in The Breakdown. B.A. Paris knows how to create suspense and how to start a story with a bang. There is no doubt that the first couple of chapters will have you completely hooked! And while the pace was a little slower than I would have liked, I found Bring Me Back a very entertaining read. BUT. And here come a few elements I wasn’t too sure about and I know others struggled with as well. First of all, I was able to guess quite a few plot twists long before they happened and the plot was quite predictable in general. Or at least the mayority of the story… The final part was actually the complete opposite, but sadly not in a completely positive way. Let’s just say, without giving away spoilers, that the ending is so absurd and over the top that there was no way I could think of it as a believable plot twist. It was surprising for sure and I don’t think anyone would have guessed it… But I personally would have preferred a more predictable but at least credible ending instead. The change of past and present and different POVs did add a little something extra to the story, and I liked learning more about how the main characters first met and finding out what happened (even though it was easy to guess quite a lot of that information early on). As for the characters: I can’t say I particularly liked them, and this made it a bit more difficult to connect to the story. But the main issue for me was both the predictability of the majority of the plot and the highly implausible and over the top ending. Going in with lower expectations probably saved Bring Me Back for me though, and I was able to enjoy it better than I thought I would.

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Finn and Layla travel to France during a holiday, only for Finn to return home alone. During a stop on the way back, Layla disappears from the car and nobody ever sees her again. Finn is initially accused of being involved, but later freed from blame although there is no trace of Layla anywhere. Years later, Finn has found happiness again and he’s engaged to be married… To Layla’s sister Ellen. Then one day a tiny Russian doll shows up on their doorstep, and their lives are about to change forever.

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I’m aware of the fact that Bring Me Back has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, and I can understand why. If you read a lot of psychological thrillers and go in with high expectations, you will probably be disappointed by the rather predictable plot and completely implausible ending and final twist. But if you instead take it slow and don’t focus too much on those points, you will be able to enjoy the solid writing and an otherwise slower paced but enjoyable story. And trust me, you won’t be looking at Russian dolls in the same way after finishing Bring Me Back.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #26: Black-Eyed Susans & My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time yet two more books I read during my hiatus… Two titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and both turned out to be excellent reads. The first, Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, I’ve been meaning to read ever since it came out, so it was about time I finally did. The second, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, was an easy choice as well. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories, so I have been wanting to explore more of his work… And this one came in close second.


Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: May 10th 2018
Pages: 369

“You’ll always get to the right answer if you slow down and think about it.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this thriller ever since I first heard about it back in 2015, and I’m not sure what happened that I managed to pospone it for almost three years. But better later than never right? It might have been that I had superhigh expectations for Black-Eyed Susans, but while I thought it was a very solid read, the story didn’t manage to blow me away completely. I can’t exactly put my finger on the why though. The writing is strong and definitely draws you right in, and the serial killer is definitely another creeper. You will have a healthy dose of suspense and twisted scenes in Black-Eyed Susans! The plot itself is strong as well, although a possible weak spot might be the dual storyline, where the story splits between past and present. It did distract a little from the things that were happening, although I do admit it was a good way to add more intrigue and tension to the story. And there is no doubt I’m very happy to have finally read Black-Eyed Susans, because it was without doubt an excellent, intriguing and slightly disturbing thriller.


Title: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
First published: 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: May 14th 2018
Pages: 372
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Min mormor hälsar och säger förlåt’)

“It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves.”


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I’m sure a few are already aware of the fact I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman’s work, or at least that A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories (and Ove one of my favorite characters). I’ve been meaning to slowly go through his other books ever since, and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is my third experience with his work. And I can tell you, this story has only reconfirmed my love for his stories! The writing in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is just so Backman, meaning I absolutely devoured its pages and loved it right from the very first chapter. Fredrik Backman has a talent for creating the most amazing, quirky and strong characters you will connect to straight away. In this story we meet a fair amount of new quirky characters that will win over your heart completely. I also loved the mix of reality and fantasy in the plot, and the humor mixed with more serious moments. Talk about a perfect balance! And while A Man Called Ove is still my absolute favorite, this one comes a really close second. I can’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here now, which follows the story of one of the characters mentioned in this one!


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ARC REVIEW: To Die In Vienna – by Kevin Wignall

Title: To Die In Vienna
Author: Kevin Wignall
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Spy
First published: June 14th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 31st 2018
Pages: 270

“One can learn more on the way to an inevitable defeat than from a fortuitous victory.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Fun fact: I was actually visiting the city of Vienna when I was browsing Netgalley and saw this title, and of course I had to request a copy and see if I would recognize any of the sights. It wasn’t until after our trip I was able to pick it up, but that made being able to revisit the city all the better. To Die In Vienna is, as the title already might suggest, a fast-paced and suspenseful story of an ex-spy trying to keep alive while others are closing in with the mission to kill him. Another fun fact: this book will soon be a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal! And I can see why this story would work very well on screen, because there is a lot of action involved and it includes a conspiracy, a damaged but apparently skillful hero and a lot of twists and different directions that will keep a viewer on edge. The book is highly entertaining to read as well, although I do have my doubts about the credibility of certain aspects. Especially regarding the main character and what happens to him, since it doesn’t seem to fit in with his background. I was still able to enjoy To Die In Vienna though and it was great to see a few of the popular sights in Vienna mentioned. The story reads superfast and I’m sure any fan of the spy thriller genre will have a great time reading this one. The ending was a bit too abrupt and felt a bit too ‘neat’, but I’m sure in the movie people will eat it up. All in all an entertaining and action-packed thriller with an international setting.

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Freddie Makin has been on a job watching Jiang Cheng during the last year, and honestly I doesn’t understand why he is even watching the academic with such an ordinary life. But a job is a job, and he has never asked or cared about the details before. That is, until the day someone is sent to kill him and Cheng disappears… Freddie is now on the run, and wondering what it is he saw that made his contractor want to kill him. Surely it was something incriminating, but what? And who is behind it? Freddie is forced to go into hiding as he tries to figure out the who, what and how before it’s too late and he has to pay with his life…

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining and engaging spy thriller that is easy to read and will give you a healthy dose of action, To Die In Vienna is an excellent choice. Some little credibility doubts and kind of abrupt ending aside, this spy thriller delivers a very entertaining story where you follow the main character as he tries to both escape the killers and figure out why they want him dead in the first place. Look out for the movie as well! I’m having a feeling both will appeal to spy thriller fans.


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ARC REVIEW: The Date – by Louise Jensen @bookouture @Fab_fiction

Title: The Date
Author: Louise Jensen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2018
Pages: 315

“It’s far easier to deal with the black and white rather than the shades of grey lurking in the darkest depths of our minds.”

*** 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 have been staring at this review for a week now and I still can’t get something proper on paper that isn’t the phrase: ‘just read the damn book‘. Because frankly, The Date left me speechless and blew me away and I’m still not sure how to properly turn this love into a coherent review. Time is ticking away though, so here is me giving a try anyway. First of all let me start with the basics. The fact is that Louise Jensen is one of my favorite thriller authors and of course I had very high expectations about her newest title The Date. I had no doubt this was going to be another excellent read, but what I didn’t expect was to get my socks knocked off and find a new absolute favorite. Holy cow, what a read! I literally dropped everything I was supposed to be doing after reading the first few pages and couldn’t put it down until I reached the very end. Not only is the writing sublime, but the suspense is spot on and I’m always a sucker for the amnesia element. Especially in this case, where the main character is unable to recognize faces (prosopagnosia) after trauma, which is something I had never came across before and is truly fascinating. This element plays a key role in the development of the plot and plot twists and without doubt adds a lot of suspense and intrigue to the story. But The Date doesn’t bet on one horse and an intricate web of twists, little hints and unlikeable discoveries is cast over the plot in a way that will have you fully absorbed. You can guess all you want about the ending and maybe even get one or two little facts right, but you will never be able to guess the full truth early on. The Date is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read this year and without doubt a new all time favorite!

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Alison Taylor’s Saturday night started out normal enough. She has recently separated from her husband, and her friends have convinced her to go on a date with a man she met online. While nervous, she is excited to be taking this step towards a possible new future… But what she doesn’t know, is that her life is about to change forever. Because when she wakes up the next day, she is home alone, hurt and has no memory of what happened to her. Even worse, when she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t recognize her own face… And as turns out, she doesn’t recognize the faces of her friends and family either, along with the face of the person who is trying to destroy her in the first place.

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Bring out the superlatives and invite them to this review party, because I’ll need a lot of them to describe my feelings about The Date. I read a lot of thrillers, but this story was simply something else. The Date ticked all the right boxes for me and more, and I literally dropped everything to read this psychological thriller. Fascinating, highly addictive and utterly absorbing! If you are a fan of the genre, you simply MUST try this one. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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ARC REVIEW: What Happened That Night – by Sandra Block @sourcebooks

Title: What Happened That Night
Author: Sandra Block
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Finished reading: June 5th 2018
Pages: 352

“I read until my eyes go blurry. Then I flick off the light and slide my hand under the pillow to cradle my Beretta. My own little teddy bear.”

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

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As soon as I saw the cover, I just knew I had to read this thriller. And it turns out my coverlove instinct was absolutely right. Dark, gritty, painful and strong… What Happened That Night is without doubt a story that will crawl under your skin, unsettle you and leave you with an uncomfortable but satisfied feeling after you finish it. Why? Let’s just say that there are a lot of trigger warnings in place for the more sensitive readers, including for rape, violence, suicide and graphic scenes in general. If you can stomach those elements, you will find yourself a very interesting thriller in What Happened That Night. The writing style is engaging and I liked the diversity of the main characters and their development. Dahlia is a very strong character with a lot of problems, but I like her style. James is also a favorite, and I appreciate that his Asperger’s syndrome plays a role throughout the story. The dynamics between Dahlia and James are interesting as well and is part of the reason this book works. That said, I did have my doubts about the credibility of it all, especially involving the revenge plan  Dahlia and James have developed. I seriously doubt they would be able to get away with all that… And I saw credibility holes in the plot as well. More importantly, I was also able to guess one or two mayor plot twists early on even though I kept hoping I was wrong. That might just be me reading a lot of thrillers in the first place though. Because there is no doubt What Happened That Night is a superfast, dark and twisted thriller that will chill you to the bone.

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Dahlia used to be a successful Harvard student on her way to becoming a lawyer, but that all changed one horrible night. She wakes up after a party after having been brutally assaulted. The worst part: she doesn’t seem to remember anything from that night, just that her life will never be the same. Years later, she still suffers from PTSD and hasn’t properly been able to deal with that night… Until one day, a video turns up online and Dahlia sees for the first night what really happened during the attack. And now she knows who to blame, she is out for her revenge…

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What Happened That Night isn’t any easy read and trigger warnings are in place, but if you like your thrillers dark and gritty you will be in for a treat. This story has an original ring to it, both because of the selection of characters and the plot itself. True, I had my doubts about the credibility and I was able to guess one or two key plot twists, but that doesn’t take away this is still a pretty darn good and twisted thriller.


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ARC REVIEW: Find You In The Dark – by Nathan Ripley @text_publishing

Title: Find You In The Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: April 21st 2018
Pages: 336

“There’s always sense in it, somewhere, just as there is always sense in the patterns and impulses of the guys whose work I follow.”

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

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It was the blurb that made me add this one straight to my must-read list. Multiple serial killers? A main character digging up murder victims? A comparison to Dexter? Heck yes! I’ve been looking forward to pick up Find You In The Dark and find out just how twisted this story was going to be… And trust me, I wasn’t disappointed. This isn’t your typical serial killer thriller and the main character Martin Reese definitely isn’t a typical guy. I mean, buying stolen police files to find the bodies of missing serial killer victims, digging them up and bragging in anonymous phone calls to the police about his finds doesn’t actually sound squeaky clean or normal to me. Call it weird, call it disturbing, call it illegal, call it a crime, but there is one thing for sure: you will be absolutely and completely hooked by this this character and his actions. Martin Reese is one hell of personality to build your story around and he definitely has a lot to do with the success of this thriller. The writing supports this crazy and twisted ride and will have you on the edge of your seat while you try to figure out just how far things will go. Out of control, or calculated? Plot and plot twists are well developed and will keep you guessing…. And the graphic scenes will chill many seasoned thriller reader to the bone. This multiple serial killer thriller with a twist definitely isn’t for the weakhearted, but oh so good if you are able to stomach the heavy parts. While not perfect, this was an outstanding debut thriller and I can’t wait to find out what Nathan Ripley will have in store for us in the future!

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Rich and retired Martin Reese has a strange hobby: he digs up the missing bodies of serial killer victims. He gets the information he needs to discover the locations by buying stolen police files on serial killers… And he has been able to outsmart the cops for a long time by discovering the bodies and then taunting them in an anonymous call by claiming he is doing the job they failed to do. But his calls have left their mark, and there is one detective in particular who is not so sure the mysterious ‘Finder’ is only doing a good deed for the community. Who says he isn’t the one to leave the bodies in the first place? And who knows, he might escalate soon enough as well? But it seems like the detective isn’t the only one zooming in on Martin’s activities…

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Multiple twisted serial killers, a main character with a murky past and hobby, the whole digging up bodies angle in general… Oh yes, serial killer fans will have a lot to look forward to in this debut Find You In The Dark. From a well developed plot to interesting characters and a lot of disturbing and twisted facts: you will get a triple dose of suspense and terror with this one! The rather original ‘digging up bodies’ angle added a little something extra to the mix… And while not perfect, it is without doubt one of my favorite thrillers I’ve read so far this year for the original angle alone.


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