YVO’S SHORTIES #83 – The Bitter Kingdom & Friend Request

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but two books I ended up enjoying. The series conclusion The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson and the psychological thriller Friend Request by Laura Marshall.


Title: The Bitter Kingdom
(Fire And Thorns #3)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: April 14th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: February 6th 2019
Pages: 490

“It’s the highest art form, deceiving without lying. A word is the only thing in the world made more powerful by absence than existence.”


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WARNING: possible spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books yet. You’ve been warned…

I first started this series back in 2015, and it took me a long time before I finally continued it… Not because I didn’t enjoy the first book, but simply because other books got in the way. I finally read the novellas last year, and after reading the second book last month I was determined to read the third and final book ASAP so I could finish the series while memories were still fresh. I’m without doubt glad I picked up the final book, because The Bitter Kingdom definitely made this series end on a high note! I’m not sure if it is my new favorite, but I’m happy to say that all three Fire And Thorns books stay consistently strong and the final book doesn’t disappoint at all. Why was The Bitter Kingdom such a success for me? First of all, I could really appreciate the chapters from Hector’s POV. They were both refreshing and definitely a welcome addition to the story! I also liked how we finally get to learn more about Inverno and see more of that part of the world… The high fantasy worldbuilding is one of the best features of this series and it’s always great to see it expand. The writing is engaging and it makes it really easy to just keep turning the pages. The plot itself isn’t all that complicated, but offers enough action and a romance that will warm your heart instead of annoy you. The end did feel a bit too easy, but overall it does provide closure for this series and its character. I really enjoyed my time with this trilogy and can highly recommend it to fans of the genre.


Title: Friend Request
Author: Laura Marshall

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 9th 2017
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: February 9th 2019
Pages: 384

“I’m in a hall of mirrors, full of distorted reflections and false endings. I’ve lost track of which way I came in and I have no idea how to get out.”


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I recently bought a copy of Friend Request on a whim after remembering it being mentioned various times back when it was first published, and I couldn’t resist picking it up when I was in the mood for the genre. There is no doubt that Friend Request was a very entertaining psychological thriller with a few twists and turns I definitely didn’t see coming. The story starts slow and it takes a while for the pace to pick up. Basically, the first half has more of a character driven slower psychological thriller, while the second half is more of a suspenseful crime thriller with a fast pace and quite a lot of action. This made the story feel a bit unbalanced, but the second half made the story that much more thrilling. I mentioned twists I didn’t see coming, and this was definitely true, but I cannot help but wonder if some weren’t a bit too farfetched and dark compared to how the story first started? I do love my surprises though, so I’m a bit on the fence about how to feel about all this. I personally preferred the chapters set in 2016 over those in 1989, mostly because I’m not a real fan of high school drama and bullying. That said, both timelines seem well developed and help creating the suspense and intrigue around Maria and what is happening to Louise in the present. As for Louise: she can be quite annoying and I don’t understand some of her decisions, but her character with all its flaws does feel convincingly realistic. The mystery around what happened to Maria in 1989 and who is behind the messages in 2016 will definitely keep you intrigued until you find out the truth… And it will be hard to see that final twist coming. All in all Friend Request was still a very entertaining read despite the flaws I mentioned.


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WWW Wednesdays #209 – February 13th

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 Colombiano by Rusty Young, an ARC that is also be my first 800+ pages read. This means I can cross of this goal very early in the year… It’s a fascinating read so far, so I don’t mind it being that many pages! I also started Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and I guess I should have listened to my instincts and stayed away from it… I REALLY can’t stand the writing style and I’ll most likely DNF.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 19/02
The Bitter Kingdom definitely made this series end on a high note! I’m not sure if it is my new favorite, but I’m happy to say that all three Fire And Thorns books stay consistently strong and the final book doesn’t disappoint at all. The high fantasy worldbuilding is one of the best features of this series and it’s always great to see it expand. The end did feel a bit too easy, but overall it does provide closure for this series and its character. I really enjoyed my time with this trilogy and can highly recommend it to fans of the genre.

2. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4/5 stars) REVIEW 15/02
I already had some ideas about An American Marriage when I first started reading it, but I didn’t realize the full extent of this powerful and emotionally draining story until I was already in way too deep. While it is true that I failed to connect to the characters completely, I wasn’t happy with the love triangle and the pace was a bit slow at points, it was the story itself that made me forget about those minor complaints. An innocent man behind bars just because someone pointed their finger (basically), the struggle to prove the truth, the strain the situation has on a relationship and those close to Roy in general, the racial discrimination, the failed justice system, the family history… Powerful elements that have been excellently developed and executed and which turn this story into one well worth your time.

3. Mona Lisas And Little White Lies by John Herrick (3/5 stars) REVIEW 21/02
If you enjoy cute ‘love at first sight’ stories with quirky and flawed characters that are easy to like, you will probably love Mona Lisas And Little White Lies. The general idea behind this story is interesting and I loved the many art, car and Thailand references. The plot did get a bit predictable and cliche at points, and the dose of drama was a bit high towards the ending, but overall this was still a satisfying contemporary romance read.

4. Friend Request by Laura Marshall (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/02
Friend Request was a very entertaining psychological thriller with a few twists and turns I definitely didn’t see coming. The story starts slow and it takes a while for the pace to pick up. Basically, the first half has more of a character driven slower psychological thriller, while the second half is more of a suspenseful crime thriller with a fast pace and quite a lot of action. This made the story feel a bit unbalanced, but the second half made the story that much more thrilling. The story had a few flaws, but overall it was still a very entertaining read.

5. Half Lies by Sally Green (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/02
Novellas are always short and not having a well developed plot and characters is not that much of a surprise. Still, I found myself craving to know more about their past in France and I would have liked to see more focus on magic as well. Instead, Half Lies was basically a sappy forbidden love story where two quite cliche characters fall in love a la Romeo and Juliet. My biggest struggle was with the writing style. There is just something about the way this story is written that is a huge turn off for me…

6. To Make Monsters Out Of Girls by Amanda Lovelace (4/5 stars) REVIEW 22/02
Her poems are easy to recognize and this was another excellent collection. It is true that the structure of the poems is simplistic and basically seems like hitting the space bar ever few words, but I personally think this simple style gives the words and message behind the poems even more power. Amanda Lovelace writes without fear and is fully open about her experience with abusive and toxic relationships in the past. It’s not the style, but the words and the emotions behind those words that make To Make Monsters Out Of Girls into such a success for me. Her poetry isn’t for everyone, but those who can connect to her words will be able to treasure it.

7. Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/02
This is without doubt a very unconventional read and I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I actually feel about this story. It’s a very original story for sure and really hard to place in just one genre… The second half was a lot faster than the first half, which tended to drag a bit in points. I liked Erin’s POV better than Shorie’s one mostly because I wasn’t expecting a YA feel POV in this story… There is no doubt it’s a fascinating story, but I wasn’t as blown away with it as I thought I would. Mixed feelings and a very difficult review to write.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to get my pile of NG ARCs below 10, so I have another one coming up soon… The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson, a story with a gorgeous cover and one I’ve been looking forward to for months.  I also want to read Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn as my next backlist titles. My new TBR jar pick is still Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.


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WWW Wednesdays #208 – February 6th

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 The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson so I can cross off another series while the things that happened in book are still sort of fresh in my mind. I’m also starting An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since it came out last year, so I was stoked when I was able to get an ARC of of this new version with a new cover coming out next month. I’m looking forward to finally read it!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Two Can Keep A Secret  by Karen M. McManus (4/5 stars) REVIEW 14/02
wo Can Keep A Secret was one of my most anticipated 2019 releases and this story definitely didn’t disappoint. While I think I found her debut to be slightly stronger, this doesn’t mean that I enjoyed this new story any less. I literally finished it in less than 24 hours and there is one thing for sure: she was able to surprise me completely with the ending. I had my suspicions, I had my doubts, but I’m so happy to admit I turned out to be wrong! I always love this feeling when it comes to murder mysteries, because it doesn’t happen all that often anymore. Another bonus: the romance only plays a minimal role in Two Can Keep A Secret!

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/02
Even though I’m a big crime and detective thriller fan, I do feel like I’m the wrong target group here. Why? I think Raymond Chandler‘s writing style and tone are mostly ment for the male audience and I wasn’t as charmed with it myself. The same goes for the sarcastic ‘humor’ used; I like my sarcasm, but in this case sadly it all fell flat for me.

3. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine D’Engle (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/02
I sure wish I would have been able to read it twenty years ago… Still, A Wrinkle In Time made a more than solid impression on me as an adult. I definitely understand the love for this story now! The writing style draws you right in and is very engaging and timeless. Even though the story was first published over 50 years ago, it will still be easy for children and adults alike to connect to this story. The plot itself is simple, but the setting in space and the time warps give the story a little something extra.

4. What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon (5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/02
I think everybody knows by now I’m a huge fan of Amy Harmon‘s books and her newest story has only reconfirmed these feelings. It’s impressive how different and unique each story is! What The Wind Knows is one of my new favorites with a fascinating historical setting in the 1920s Ireland, a time travel twist and a romance and family story you cannot help but fall in love with. The writing and plot development are sublime, the chapters alternating between the journal entries written by Thomas and Anne’s POV as things happen to her. Beautifully crafted and simply splendid!

5. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One by Amanda Lovelace (4/5 stars) REVIEW 12/02
Where Amanda Lovelace‘s poetry might lack in style, complexity and elaboration, it outshines other poetry with its overwhelming and powerful emotions and strong messages. It’s actually combination of the simplicity of the words and the overpowering message they are able to communicate that turns her work into something special for me. I admire her for being able to speak this openly about the past and what happened to her. What made The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One stand out from the others is that Amanda Lovelace mixes fantasy with reality this time, using not only poems but also short paragraphs with odes to famous stories by other authors. And that is not all: in the final part of this bundle you can find thirteen guest poems by other poetry writers with a similar topic mixed in between her work. An original touch and something I could really appreciate.

6. What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/02
This was such an adorable read! I knew I was probably going to like this one as I like both author’s books, but this was definitely a winner for me. The writing, the main characters, the geeky elements (go The Sims and Harry Potter references!)… It was just all so so cute and fluffy and I had a wonderful time reading it despite a few cliches and other minor complaints that fade away compared to the rest of the story.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably picking up my next NG ARC up after finishing my current reads. I can’t wait to read Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter, especially since I loved reading The Weight Of Lies last year. I also want to read Ivory And Bone by Julie Eshbaugh and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson as my next backlist titles. My new TBR jar pick is still Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.


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WWW Wednesdays #204 – January 9th

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 trying to start my year in a diverse way with lots of different genres, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot sounded like a perfect fit. This memoir has been recommended to me last year and I’ll be looking forward to dive in properly later today. I’m also FINALLY starting my latest TBR jar pick: The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble. I’m not sure what to make of the blurb, but we’ll see how things go I guess.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write.

2. The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver.

3. Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
If you like stories with an international setting that can offer a little something different and outside the box, you should definitely consider Mala Vida. Part legal thriller, part historical, part mystery and part crime fiction, this story is a mix of a lot of different elements and very well executed at that. I personally loved the Spanish setting, the diversity of the main characters and the story as a whole. The historical element is both well executed and shocking and will definitely leave a mark… A very interesting read and one I’m very glad I came across.

4. The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/01
If you enjoy detective thrillers and unreliable characters, you will definitely have a blast with this detective Dan Riley sequel The Couple On Cedar Close. There is a lot of mystery around both Robert and Laurie and their past, adding suspense to the plot and it will keep you entertained as you guess about the details. The flashbacks are interesting as well as you try to fit them into the rest of the story… I did have some issues regarding the credibility of some parts of the plot and wasn’t sure about some of the characters, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.

5. Artemis by Andy Weir (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Part of me already knew this was going to happen, because people did warn me about Artemis before I started reading it… But even lowering my expectations didn’t prevent me from feeling very much disappointed by Artemis, especially since The Martian has a special place on my list of all time favorites.

6. Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Beneath The Sugar Sky is already book number three and bumped straight to the top of this series favorites along with the first book. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we go back to the ‘real’ world temporarily and meet a lot of the characters mentioned in the first book again. This mixture of reality and a healthy dose of a glimpse of not one but multiple magical worlds made the story really stand out for me.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to read more backlist titles this year (so far it’s going great), but I also need to work on those upcoming ARCs… Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen and End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach are up next. I also want to read The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson soon so I can cross off my very first series of the year… And I have a new TBR jar pick: The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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