YVO’S SHORTIES #70 – The Deal Of A Lifetime & Down Among The Sticks And Bones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a Christmas themed novella by one of my favorite authors and a sequel I have been meaning to read for a while. The first, The Deal Of A Lifetime, surprisingly turned out to be kind of a disappointment, while the second, Down Among The Sticks And Bones, definitely did deliver.


Title: The Deal Of A Lifetime
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Novella, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 31st 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: December 17th 2018
Pages: 96

“A second is always a second; that’s the one definitive value we have on earth.”


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I’m a big fan of Fredrik Backman’s books and I really needed to start reading more Christmas themed stories, so I thought this would be a perfect fit… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. Why? I have to say I was very surprised to have a less than positive reaction to the novella, especially since I seem to love his stories in general. I admit the story is clever in a way, but somehow I wasn’t able to connect to the characters or writing and the plot was all over the place. The Deal Of A Lifetime has an interesting premise, but this time around the author failed to hit the mark for me. Such a shame, because I really thought I would be adding another favorite!


Title: Down Among The Sticks And Bones
(Wayward Children #2)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: December 21st 2018
Pages: 190

“Children have preferences. The danger comes when they, as with any human, are denied those preferences for too long.”


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I fell in love with Every Heart A Doorway earlier this year and I have been meaning to read the sequels ever since. I have been looking forward to learn more about the background of some of the characters, and Jack and Jill were definitely among those I was most curious about. And there is no doubt that Down Among The Sticks And Bones without doubt delivers that. I gives you both their background story and a very detailed description of both their world and what happened during their stay. The whole idea of them being twins and roles being forced on them is disturbing, but fascinating. And it’s probably one of the few times vampires are involved in a story and I don’t really mind. This is quite a dark read, fit with the image we received in the first book of the characters. I really enjoyed reading it, although I did prefer book number one… But that doesn’t take away I’m looking forward to continue the series soon.


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ARC REVIEW: Sorry Not Sorry – by Sophie Ranald

Title: Sorry Not Sorry
Author: Sophie Ranald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Humor
First published: February 13th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 19th 2018
Pages: 329

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere – including heaven.”

*** 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 know, I know, contemporary romance isn’t really my thing, but I like to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while and there was just something about this title that made me want to read it. It sounds like the perfect and fun summer or beach read… And I still believe it fits that title perfectly. You see, I think the problem here was mostly me, and not Sorry Not Sorry. There were things I liked about the story, and the humor is definitely more than present. I was able to click with the funny moments, and I like the sharp, quirky and entertaining writing style in general. It sure is a superfast read as well! But I wasn’t prepared for the many so-called ‘sexy’ scenes, which are quite a turn off for me. I also don’t like seeing tropes as cheating and a love triangle in a story… (There are others as well, but I can’t mention those due to possible spoilers.) This overdose of romance cliches in general was just way too much for me. I also didn’t really like at all the bitchiness of some of the characters or the way some of them behaved in general… Also, Charlotte herself could get quite annoying at points. I do believe that contemporary romance fans who love a good dose of humor in their stories will have a blast with Sorry Not Sorry though.

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Charlotte has always made the sensible decisions, being the essentially good girl. But she is tired of her in her eyes boring life, looking for a way to spice up her life and find a new man in her life. A popular podcast, Sorry Not Sorry, seems to be the solution. A popcast challenging its listeners to embrace their inner bad girl by proposing a series of challenges. The New Charlotte is ready to wave goodbye to her comfort zone and embrace her inner bad girl; but will these challenges actually help her change around her life?

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As the cover already suggests, Sorry Not Sorry is a fun, quirky and entertaining read and perfect for those hot summer days while sipping on a cocktail (or juice if you don’t drink alcohol). The writing style is engaging and the humor was actually one of the things I really liked in Sorry Not Sorry. Then again, I like my humor a bit sarcastic and spicy. There were other things I didn’t like in Sorry Not Sorry, but I have the feeling that is mostly my own fault and not the story itself. Fans of the genre will have a great time with this one!


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ARC REVIEW: The Cottingley Fairies – by Ana Sender

Title: The Cottingley Fairies
Author: Ana Sender
Genre: Picture Books, Fairy Tale
First published: March 5th 2019
Publisher: North South Books
Finished reading: November 15th 2018
Pages: 48
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Las Hadas De Cottingley’)

“Adults lived in a very different world… It was hard and sharp, and they weren’t able to see ours.”

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


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I first fell in love with the cover of The Cottingley Fairies, and after I read in the blurb it was based on true events I was fully intrigued. Proof that fairies really exist, and a reference to the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It cannot get more intriguing than that. I was looking forward to find out more about Elsie and Frances’ story, since this was the first time I had heard about it. In the end I was unfortunately quite underwhelmed by The Cottingley Fairies. The first thing that stood out for me had to do with the illustrations. While I loved the cover illustration, I wasn’t so sure about the rest of the picture book in general. They felt a bit simple and almost unfinished to me, and lacked that ‘magical’ feel that would have worked better with this story. I don’t think children are as attracted to the illustrations as it is. That said, I wasn’t really convinced by the text either. The story paints the fairies as something that really exists and the ‘proof’ are photos the girls actually confess to have fabricated themselves. Fairies made out of paper are shown instead of ‘real’ fairies, and even though in the back the story is explained and it’s said that Frances until the day she died stood by her words that fairies are real, it’s really hard to believe. Also, I think the story kind of shone a negative light on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m sure little children will still find this story entertaining enough, but it’s best to treat The Cottingley Fairies as a little fairy tale and not really look for a deeper meaning behind it.


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ARC REVIEW: Heresy – by Melissa Lenhardt

Title: Heresy
Author: Melissa Lenhardt
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: November 26th 2018
Pages: 384

“But you’ve always got choices, Grace. And every single choice you make ripples out through your life and every other person you meet.”

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

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I can’t even remember the last time I read a Western inspired historical fiction story, so I was really excited when I first saw Heresy. And it’s not just another historical setting with a Western vibe, because it follows a gange of female outlaws and that’s something you don’t exactly hear about every day. Unfortunately, somehow Heresy failed to grab me completely. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but the fact is that it took me a lot longer than expected to reach the final page, and I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I thought I would. This slower pace made the story drag in parts, and this has a lot to do with the format of the story. Instead of a ‘simple’ storyline or even ‘simple’ POV switches, we have to learn the story about Margaret Parker through for example diaries, case notes and an interview with one of the gang members sixty years after the fact. In a way very interesting, but for me it didn’t really work in the end and it mostly made me feel that the story lacked proper cohesion. There were also facts being repeated and not everything was linear; again not a bad thing on its own, but it ended up bothering me. Don’t get me wrong, the story behind Heresy is fascinating and learning about a gang of female outlaws in the 1870s was a true pleasure. I just wasn’t completely convinced by the writing style or format, and with the story dragging in parts it wasn’t the easiest read. If you like slower paced stories and Western inspired historical fiction stories, you would probably enjoy Heresy though.

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Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to be outlaws, but after they lose everything to a greedy neighbor their family is left without a penny. As women alone they only have a few choices, and they don’t see marriage or lying on their backs for money as an option. They opt for holding a gun. Together with a few others, they form the first and only all-female gang in the American West… And though the newspapers refuse to give them credit, their actions don’t go unnoticed. Will they finally have to face the consequences?

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The idea of a historical fiction read with a Western vibe about a gang of female outlaws sounded absolutely fascinating, so I’ve been looking forward to Heresy. While I still think the idea behind this story is fascinating, somehow I wasn’t able to enjoy the execution as much as I thought I would. Between the slower pace, lack of cohesion and parts that dragged, it took me a relatively long time to reach the final page. And while I rooted for Margaret and her gang, I also somehow just wanted to get it over with… And that’s never a good feeling. I do think this was mostly me though, so if you don’t mind a slower pace and an unusual format, you will probably enjoy this one.


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ARC REVIEW: Babel – by Gaston Dorren

Title: Babel
Author: Gaston Dorren
Genre: Non Fiction, Linguistics
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Finished reading: November 25th 2018
Pages: 320

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


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Happy publication day!!

Some of you might already know I’m actually a philologist and linguistics has always been one of my favorite areas of study. Therefore I thought Babel would be perfect for me… I mean, traveling the world through twenty languages that together can make you communicate with at least half of the world population? Sounds like pretty much a dream topic for philologists to me. Sadly, this book failed to hit the mark completely for me. There were a lot of editing errors in my ARC copy, with not only spelling errors and words stuck together without hitting the space bar, but also more critical ones like all the missing numbers and facts that haven’t been incorporated yet (hopefully they will in the future). This made it a lot harder to read and slowed down the pace considerably. Also, I felt I was missing out by not having all the fun facts, numbers and comparisons. Editing issues aside, I had also problems with the writing style in general. Both the tone and style of each chapter seemed to vary considerably and simply didn’t feel consistent to me. From a memoir style approach to an informal interview style and a history lesson; I just didn’t feel I was getting to know each language equally. Not every chapter was as pleasant to read either as some didn’t flow that well and had quite a slow pace. There were some interesting facts as well of course and I think philologists and language fans in general will still be interested in the title. I just hope at least the editing issues will be dealt with so we get the full package of information and little fun facts.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #65 – The Cruel Prince & The Wife Between Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two very hyped books that (I should have known) didn’t live up to the hype for me even though they weren’t bad reads. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks &Sarah Pekkanen


Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk Of The Air #1)
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 17th 2018
Pages: 384

“Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way to far.”


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I have been hesitant, almost afraid to pick up The Cruel Prince for a long time. There has been such a hype around this book, and you all know how hyped books and me get along… But I figured I had waited enough to give it a try myself and see how I will react to the story. I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Things were going really well even though I’m not sure the plot itself is all that original. I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a little more developed and I think not enough attention was given to the description of the different characters. I mean, they are magical creatures and we only get so and so has a tail, that one has horns, that one has hooves etc? Without a more detailed description or more attention paid to the fact they are in fact not humans, I tended to forget about their special features completely after a few pages. The lack of sappy romance scenes in the beginning was a true relief though, although of course I should have had my hopes up. Of course the cliche romance scenes would come, and of course there would be another love triangle to deal with. Not talking about Locke, who I initially liked and came to despise. Jude is an interesting enough character though. While she in a way is just another typical strong female lead, I did enjoy reading about her development and how she would get themselves out of that mess. Did she lose points for the romance related actions in the second half? Most definitely yes. But I’m still intrigued enough to be looking forward to the second book. In short, while The Cruel Prince failed to blow me away completely, overall it was still a very entertaining read.


Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 19th 2018
Pages: 346

“We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


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In a way I’ve been hesitant to pick up The Wife Between Us due to the enormous hype around it earlier this year. I almost never react well to hyped books, but I was also curious about this title so I decided to give it a go. Now I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one… I’m not denying some of the twists were very clever, but they just didn’t do it for me (mostly related to the feeling this story was trying too hard). The writing style itself was pleasant to read and the unreliable narrator technique well used. It’s by no means a bad read and I can understand the love for it, but sadly The Wife Between Us just didn’t hit the mark for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #64: An Officer And A Spy (DNF) & Educated

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books that didn’t manage to convince me. The first, An Officer And A Spy by Robbert Harris, sadly a DNF, something that rarely happens. And I had high hopes for Educated by Tara Westover after so many glowing reviews, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again.


Title: An Officer And A Spy
Author: Robert Harris

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 26th 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: November 12th 2018 
Pages: 429
DNF at 30% (129 pages)

“It seems to be a necessary part of the criminal mentality: to survive captivity, one must somehow convince oneself one is not guilty.”


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An Officer And A Spy is one of my TBR jar picks and a title I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I had been looking forward to it despite the mixed reviews, mostly because the setting sounded fascinating. I still think the setting on its own is very interesting and the general plot has a lot of potential. A possibly wrongly convicted officer, espionage, the threat of a war and other struggles definitely sound like a good recipe for a successful historical fiction read. Sadly, the execution of those elements in An Officer And A Spy just didn’t work for me. I have picked it up only to put it down again after only a few pages multiple times over the last few weeks. I’ve tried and tried to at least make it to the end to see if things improved later on, but in the end I decided to make the difficult decision to just DNF it. I hardly ever give up on a book, so it definitely makes me sad to do so… But between the superslow pace, writing style, too many descriptions and a lack of interest in both the plot and the characters, I think this was the right choice for me. An Officer And A Spy just never grabbed me and I was never able to stay interested in the story… It’s very possible this story simply wasn’t for me even though historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. A lot of readers did love it, so definitely don’t give up on it if you are thinking about reading it.


Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: February 20th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: November 14th 2018
Pages: 352

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occured to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”


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It’s unpopular opinion time again… You’ve been warned. 

I have been looking forward to finally read Educated for months now, especially after reading so many glowing reviews. This is probably one of the reasons my expectations might have been too high, that and the fact that this memoir has been compared to The Glass Castle. The fact is: I was quite underwhelmed by all of it. This was not what I was expecting, and I feel sad for feeling this way, but it is what it is… I’m going to try and explain the reasons why. First of all, I know that I’m a skeptical person, and I don’t tend to believe things easily just because they are written down on paper. I also had a hard time believing Tara Westover‘s story as it was written down. Please don’t tell me I’m implying she is a liar, which I’m not. I do believe that she wrote Educated based on her memories, memories that can have gotten distorted over time especially if her early life has been such a struggle. And I really had to take her story with a whole lot of grains of salt to be able to continue reading. Like I said, I’m not saying she hasn’t had a tough life, or that her family didn’t do what they did, just that I didn’t find her story as told credible. I mean, for a survivalist family living in the mountains they sure have a lot of luxuries including at some point even a phone, TV and internet (not talking about the enormous mansion they seem to be having in the end). Her family life definitely wasn’t standard, with them not even having a birth certificate for a long time, not going to school and working in the junkyard etc etc. But I would rather call it eccentric for the most part instead. Also, at one point she describes her father as bipolar, something that is never confirmed as the same disease prevents him getting a medical diagnose. Still, I would have liked to have seen this angle developed further rather than just throwing the ‘bipolar’ word out and leave it at that. Another thing that bothered me were the many many serious accidents, a few life threatening, and somehow they are all healed with essential oils and other herbal cures? I do believe in holistic treatments along with medical care, but this is just getting too hard to believe. (I’m not saying they weren’t injured, just that the injuries maybe weren’t as bad as they remembered?) Anyhow, this reckless behavior and indifference towards general safety of others and the ‘miracle’ recoveries were just too much for the skeptical person in me to handle. Another thing I found hard to believe? Where all the money came from. First we are told they are poor, then money starts popping up everywhere somehow. I can get why her childhood chapters are a bit vague about money, but how on earth did she get the money together to get into a prestigious college and university? I know there are grants, but they don’t cover it all and it is a LOT of money we are talking about and very prestigious and expensive education. I mean, she goes to the UK and studies abroad for a long time? And then travels back and forth between the US and the UK multiple times? The flights alone cost a fortune, and surely aren’t covered by grants. A real mystery to me. There is also the question how she got into college in the first place, especially since she was never really educated at home in the first place. Somehow being able to get a superhigh score just by teaching herself advanced math and everything else in the test just doesn’t come over as credible to the skeptical me. Maybe she had a higher level of education than stated in the memoir before she started preparing herself for the test? I don’t know, but as it is Educated wasn’t at all credible to me. I’m not saying her being able to get her degrees isn’t admirable, and I’m sure she’s had a hard life especially with her despicable brother Shawn (I’m not even going into the abuse and her brother here, or we could still be talking tomorrow), but sadly her memoir wasn’t able to convince me.


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