YVO’S SHORTIES #147 – When We Left Cuba & Lock Every Door

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two 2019 titles I’ve been looking forward to… When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton turned out to be just as good as I hoped, but sadly Lock Every Door by Riley Sager took the wrong direction for me and the ending highly disappointed me.


Title: When We Left Cuba
Author: Chanel Cleeton

Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
First published: April 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: January 29th 2020
Pages: 366

“The only way to stop being afraid of something is to confront it. To take away its power over you.”


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My first experience with Chanel Cleeton‘s books, Next Year In Havana, completely blew me away last year and it ended up being one of my absolute favorites of 2019. I made a promise to myself to make time for When We Left Cuba in January, and it is easy to say that I had superhigh expectations for this story about Beatriz. And while I admit I did love Elisa and Marisol’s story a tiny bit more, there is also no doubt that I had a brilliant time with When We Left Cuba as well. First of all a little warning: while this is no official sequel, you will be able to appreciate the little references and the Perez family background so much better if you read Next Year In Havana first. It will make you able to get a proper feel for the story from the very first page, as you already know things about Beatriz and her secrets that have been hinted at. And with this background, I found myself completely addicted from the very first chapter. I have always found Beatriz an intriguing character and she is without doubt perfect to describe and show us what happens to Cuba and the Cubans in the years after Fidel Castro took over. The focus in When We Left Cuba is on 1960-1962, which includes the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Kennedy Assassination… And I love how this story incorporates historical facts into Beatriz’ fictional story. There are a lot of different elements in play, including high society, forbidden love, politics, revenge, espionage, crime, Cuba and the Cold War. More heavy topics are contrasted with lighter elements such as forbidden love; I’m surprised myself when I say I wasn’t bothered at all by the whole forbidden love trope. I think this has a lot to do with my feelings about Beatriz, as I really like her character despite her recklessness and stubbornness. It was easy to connect to and feel for most characters in general, including of course Nick and Eduardo. The writing is simply wonderful and the plot well constructed; while there are a few chapters set in 2016, the focus is mostly on the past this time and follows Beatriz in a linear way. As you might have guessed, I absolutely loved my time with When We Left Cuba and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.


Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 2nd 2019
Publisher: Dutton
Finished reading: February 1st 2020
Pages: 381

“This place isn’t kind to gentle souls. It chews them up and swallows them whole.


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Oh yes, hello unpopular opinion, we meet again! I know a lot of people love Riley Sager‘s books and I did enjoy The Last Time I Lied considerably when I read it last year, but mostly the hype around his work ends up bringing me down… Sadly, this was once again the case with Lock Every Door and I ended up being considerably underwhelmed by what I found. Don’t get me wrong, the story started out strong and I loved that ominous feeling, the hint at the supernatural and the dark secrets and history of the Bartholomew. The plot almost feels like a locked room mystery, something I always have a weak spot for and I really thought this was going to be my new favorite of his books. Unfortunately, the story lost me somewhere along the way… First of all, Jules was quite a frustrating character. Sure, she is in a hard place in life and basically desperate, but the offer to be an apartment sitter with such a generous pay just sounded too good to be true… Initial lack of suspicion I can understand, but after so many alarmbells ringing and having a friend to help out so she won’t end up on the street Jules still being stubborn and not wanting to see any danger? A bit too convenient for the plot and not credible to me. This is only minor compared to my reacting to the final reveals and the ending. Not only did I guess more than one mayor plot twists as well as villian VERY early on, the ending was completely unsatisfying and just too plain simple for me. It really let that ominous feeling of the beginning of the story as well as the Bartholomew itself completely down… Thankfully the writing was engaging enough to turn this into a fast read, but I really wished this story would have taken a different and more interesting direction here.


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WWW Wednesdays #254 – February 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 currently reading Things In Jars by Jess Kidd, which was way overdue as I won a gorgeous hardback copy in a giveaway last year and somehow never actually picked it up afterwards. The blurb sounds fantastic and I’ll be looking forward to continue it today! I’ll also be starting Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger as my blog tour stop is coming closer…

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
While I admit I did love Elisa and Marisol’s story a tiny bit more, there is also no doubt that I had a brilliant time with When We Left Cuba as well. have always found Beatriz an intriguing character and she is without doubt perfect to describe and show us what happens to Cuba and the Cubans in the years after Fidel Castro took over. There are a lot of different elements in play, including high society, forbidden love, politics, revenge, espionage, crime, Cuba and the Cold War, but everything was well balanced and I had a fantastic time reading this story.

2. A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/02
I’ve been meaning to meet up with the original Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson for ages now, and after watching the Netflix series and a recent mention in another book, I finally had the perfect excuse to do so. I must have read various retellings over the years as well as watch more than one screen adaptation, but it was without doubt fun to go back to the roots and see how the original Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle created was like

3. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/02
The movie adapation of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button recently popped up in my mind and I remembered I somehow never read the short story it was based on despite wanting to do so. Since it’s a supershort read with only 41 pages, I decided to squeeze it in between my other books I was planning to read… It is without doubt a quick and quite entertaining read, although it did leave me wanting for more.

4. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (3/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
Oh yes, hello unpopular opinion, we meet again! I know a lot of people love Riley Sager‘s books and I did enjoy The Last Time I Lied considerably when I read it last year, but mostly the hype around his work ends up bringing me down… Sadly, this was once again the case with Lock Every Door and I ended up being considerably underwhelmed by what I found. Not only did I guess more than one mayor plot twists as well as villian VERY early on, the ending was completely unsatisfying and just too plain simple for me. It really let that ominous feeling of the beginning of the story as well as the Bartholomew itself completely down…

5. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
I think it’s probably known by now that I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction and this story is able to give us an original angle. Set in Seattle during the war, the focus is on the Chinese and Japanese community and the threats the Japanese community receives as a direct consequence of Japan’s role in WWII. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is a beautifully written, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking read, but not without a note of hope… And it is able to describe the race problematics and injustice for all those innocent Japanese families perfectly.

6. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy read with that rape and victim blaming topic, and it is without doubt trigger warning worthy… That said, I thought the author did an excellent job portraying the whole situation as well as shining an all important light on the topic. Sadly the events as described What We Saw are all too real and sadly rape victims like Stacey become victims all over again when nobody believes their story and simply say ‘she had it coming’ or ‘she asked for it with the way she dressed and by being wasted’… It was also interesting to see the whole story from Kate’s POV as she wasn’t directly involved or too close to the victim.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harol Fry by Rachel Joyce next as I have been wanting to read it for ages now… For the same reason, I’ll likely read the modern classic Perfume by Patrick Suskind soon as I’ve been curious ever since I watched the movie adaptation years ago. Then it’s finally time for some series binging! First up is Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (and Beton Rouge afterwards) in preparation of the blog tour for the next book in March. And I have a new TBR jar pick too! The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott, which I’ll probably pick up soon as I love roadtrip stories and it would be a perfect break in between my thriller series binges. 😉


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WWW Wednesdays #253 – January 29th

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 finally reading When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton! I have superhigh expectations for this one as Next Year In Havana was one of my 2019 favorites. I’m also going to start A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle as part of a promise to myself to read more classics I’ve been meaning to read for ages this year. My meeting with the original Sherlock Holmes is definitely waaay overdue!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (3/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
I’m not sure why it took me this long to pick it up; it might have been the hype, it might have been the mixed reviews, but I’m actually kind of glad I waited until the hype died down a bit now. Why? Well, let’s just say that somehow I was quite underwhelmed by what I found in The Last House Guest. It’s not necessarily a bad read, but I don’t think it lives up to the quality of especially All The Missing Girls either… I found the plot to be rather dull, slow-paced and predictable most of the time, and the tension took a loooooong time building up. So long, that I found myself losing interest along the way, and this definitely wasn’t the unputdownable pageturner I thought it would be.

2. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry (5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 04/02
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour next month!!

3. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (4/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
This is a dark dark but also weirdly funny read. Sounds contradicting right? But My Sister, The Serial Killer almost reads like a satire and murder definitely isn’t taken too seriously in the story… Nor are the characters in general for that matter. It’s a superfast read and extremely entertaining, although I did struggle considerably with the characters.

4. Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland (2/5 stars) REVIEW 07/02
I have heard so many wonderful things about the author’s other book Need To Know and I liked the sound of the blurb of this one, so I couldn’t help getting a copy on Netgalley… I kind of wish I didn’t now. Honestly, I was seriously underwhelmed by this story. The plot and flashbacks are all over the place, I’m not a fan of the writing or characters and I had a hard time to stay invested… I just didn’t feel the suspense at all. Also, the plot wasn’t credible at all and way over the top; the ending open and not satisfying at all either. Oh yes, Keep You Close and me definitely didn’t get along.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading Lock Every Door by Riley Sager next as I’m curious to see how I’ll react to it now that the hype has died down a bit. I also want to read the modern classic Perfume by Patrick Suskind as part of my promise to read more (modern) classics. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages now; basically ever since I saw the movie and discovered it was based on a book. Afterwards I will most likely read Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger for my upcoming blog tour stop in February. My newest TBR jar pick is still What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler; I’m hoping to get to it next month as I haven’t really in the mood for YA lately.


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WWW Wednesdays #252 – January 22nd

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 Last House Guest by Megan Miranda; another 2019 most anticipated title I wasn’t able to get to last year. I’m also finally starting The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry as my blog tour stop is starting to get closer… The blurb of this one sounds absolutely fantastic so I’m excited to finally dive in.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (3/5 stars) REVIEW 30/01
I’ve been meaning to read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened for years now, and although I’m glad I finally did, a part of me was a bit disappointed by what I found. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad read, but somehow that spark of Furiously Happy wasn’t really there for me. The snarky, blunt and sometimes sarcastic humor is still there, and I can’t deny laughing out loud more than once. But other parts felt like the author was simply trying to hard to be funny and quirky.

2. How To Be Brave by Louise Beech (5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
It’s easy to say that Louise Beech was one of my absolute favorite new discoveries last year and I was blown away by both titles I was able to read in 2019. I had extremely high expectations for How To Be Brave, and those were more than met. What an absolutely fantastic as well as heartbreaking read! There are so many elements I loved that I honestly don’t even know where to begin… Other than saying: just read the damn book.

3. The Silent House by Nell Pattison (3/5 stars) REVIEW 06/02
The blurb of this one sounded absolutely fascinating, as I don’t think I’ve read about a deaf character in a thriller before. I was really looking forward to this one, but unfortunately the story fell mostly flat for me. The pace was quite slow, the characters unlikeable and I had issues with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot… Also, the ending was quite predictable. All in all not my favorite read, although I still think the premise itself is solid and it has been interesting to learn more about the deaf community and everything it entails.

4. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/01
I’ve been excited to read this one as, while I seem to have a love/hate relationship with her books, I did enjoy her most recent books without exception. While Regretting You isn’t my absolute favorite CoHo book and there were a few things that bothered me (including the whole cheating angle and certain behavior of certain characters), I can’t deny it was still an excellent read and I had a great time reading it overall.

5. Beast by Matt Wesolowski (5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 21/02
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour next month!!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m taking a little break from ARCs until the end of this month so I can focus on my backlist titles… Especially since I’ll be binge-reading some series in February and won’t have much time for them then. I’m probably picking up When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton next unless I’m in the mood for a thriller… Then it’s probably either My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite or Lock Every Door by Riley Sager next. My newest TBR jar pick is still What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler; it will probably take me some time before I actually read it though as there are a lot of other titles I want/need to read first.


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