ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Two Ways – by Jodi Picoult

Title: The Book Of Two Ways
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 20th 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: October 15th 2020
Pages: 400

“We all have stories we tell ourselves, until we believe them to be true.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

Well, well, well, what do we have here? I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again… Sigh. I have loved Jodi Picoult‘s recent books without fail, so I was fully expecting a repeat experience with The Book Of Two Ways. The blurb sounded absolutely fantastic, and I had high hopes of adding another title to my list of 2020 favorites… But fate had different plans in store, and somehow I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure if this was just the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact is that I struggled considerably with The Book Of Two Ways. How much? Well, let’s just say that I started skimreading long before I reached the halfway mark just so I could be done with the story quicker… And that is never a good sign. I’ll try to explain shortly why this story didn’t work for me below.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of this story. Both the elements involving Egypt and its past and the death doula element are intriguing topics and definitely stand out in The Book Of Two Ways. BUT. I didn’t like how especially everything relating to Egyptian history was incorporated into the plot. There was a LOT of info-dumping going on, up to the point where I felt like I was reading a dense history book on the ancient burial sites and Egyptian history instead. I love learning new things in my books, but this was just way too much for me and really took the pleasure out of reading about Dawn’s time in Egypt. The focus on the death doula element was better incorporated, although once again there was some info-dumping going on and it sometimes it felt like the author was trying to explain what a death doula does in general instead of focusing on Dawn’s work in particular.

I also struggled with the flashbacks and switches between past and present as well as different locations. Instead of adding dept, it slowed down the pace even more for me as I tried to figure out which Dawn was in the spotlight. I would have preferred clearer boundaries between the different moments in time, as I felt that the different storylines were kind of bleeding into each other and less strong as a result. The writing itself is solid of course, but that is what I’ve come to expect of her work… But somehow the actual story just didn’t do it for me. The fact that I didn’t like the main characters, or that the story included one of my mayor pet peeves (cheating) didn’t really help either… I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely don’t give up on The Book Of Two Ways on my account.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #179 – Heart Bones & A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to read… The first, Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover, turned out to be a new favorite, but sadly A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C.A. Fletcher somehow just didn’t work for me.


Title: Heart Bones
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 19th 2020
Publisher: Hoover Ink
Finished reading: September 19th 2020
Pages: 338

“Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

Colleen Hoover titles can go both ways for me, but I’ve enjoyed her recent titles without fail so I have been highly anticipating her newest story Heart Bones. Both the blurb and the first reviews sounded fantastic, so I had high hopes it would be a good one for me as well… And the CoHo magic struck again, because I absolutely loved this story. Beyah’s character won me over from the very beginning, and I really liked Samson and the other main characters in play as well. They are realistic, flawed and so easy to warm up to that you cannot help but root for them almost immediately. I wasn’t even that bothered by the sexy scenes as I was too busy wondering how the plot and characters would evolve, and that is a true achievement as I normally hate any form of sexy time in my stories. The writing is engaging, flows easily and is packed with emotions. It’s a story about two broken individuals being drawn to each other and finding a connection that seems impossible to break… Both have their secrets and past, and there were definitely a few reveals I didn’t see coming. Heart Bones will mess with your heart and feelings, but the journey is oh so worth it. A new CoHo favorite to add to the list!


Title: A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World
Author: C.A. Fletcher

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: April 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: September 26th 2020
Pages: 384

“If we’re not loyal to the things we love, what’s the point? That’s like not havign a memory. That’s when we stop being human.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I have been looking forward to A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World ever since I read the first reviews last year. I love a good dystopian story every once in a while, and add an animal character in the spotlight and I’m immediately sold. I was fully expecting to find a new favorite, so that’s probably why I felt even more disappointed when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Don’t get me wrong: I still love the premise of this story and the idea behind this dystopian future as well as its development was interesting. I also like the idea behind Griz’ character and the dogs… But somehow, the actual story just didn’t work for me personally. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style somehow; I wasn’t able to warm up to the tone or the way the story was told in the form of Griz’ memoir written after the events. Somehow I wasn’t really a fan of how the plot developed either… I found the story to be considerably slow, and while I did enjoy the development of the dystopian world, I didn’t exactly have a good time following Griz’ story itself. I can’t put my finger on the why, but the story just wasn’t able to grab or hold my attention and I found myself skimreading more than often just to get to the end. I know I’m in the minority though as most people do seem to love A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this story somehow definitely wasn’t for me. I definitely need a different dystopian read now to properly satisfy my dystopian cravings…


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Love Among The Recipes – by Carol M. Cram

Title: Love Among The Recipes
Author: Carol M. Cram
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 20th 2020
Publisher: New Arcadia Publishing
Finished reading: September 15th 2020
Pages: 325

“I think that’s what we all want. To be left alone to make our own decisions, even if they’re the wrong ones.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I know that contemporary romance isn’t my typical genre, but I seem to be craving more contemporaries than usual lately and I do always love a food or travel element incorporated into the plot. Once I realized that Love Among The Recipes would have both, it sounded like a match made in heaven… Sadly, this blind date turned out to be mostly a disaster. I’ll try to explain briefly why below.

First of all,  I do have to say that I loved the travel element with its many sights of Paris. During this story, you will visit many many known and lesser known sights within the French capital and the descriptions really made the city come alive for me. It almost felt like I was walking through Paris exploring the city myself! The whole travel/cookbook combination is a brilliant idea and the way different recipes are combined with the different sights is probably the main reason I kept reading. It definitely does make you crave French food though!

That said, sadly the travel and food elements were the only parts of the story I did enjoy. The rest of the story somehow simply didn’t do it for me… Why? A lot of reasons, but my first main hurdle was with the main character Genna. While I loved the idea behind her character, her being a cookbook author moving to Paris to work on a new cookbook, her actual personality and character development were kind of off-putting. Her way of constantly mentioning ‘what Drew did to her’ without clarifying started to get old really fast, and instead of adding intrigue I just wanted to slap her and spit it out already. I didn’t like how she acted or interacted with most of the characters either, and actually felt bad for poor Pierre and Bill and how she treated them. As for the whole home situation… I didn’t like how it was developed at all, the ‘secret’ only revealed towards the ending while it was quite obvious for a long time what probably happened. Drew was despicable and somehow I didn’t really warm up to especially Becky either. This lack of connection to the characters in play made it really hard to stay invested to be honest.

On top of this, I felt that the pace was rickety and slowed down considerably in parts. The recipe and visiting the different sights in Paris part of the story was basically the only part that did keep my interest, but mostly I started skimreading whenever there wasn’t any food or travel talk going on, which is never a good sign. The romance itself was quite frustrating as well, and then I’m not even talking about the love triangle (or should I say square?). There were lots of events and elements in Love Among The Recipes that unfortunately ended up annoying me considerably, and I personally struggled to reach that final page. Like I said before, I basically only kept going for the food and travel parts… But otherwise this story sadly turned out to be a quite a disappointment. Fans of the genre might have a different reaction though depending on how they react to the main character and the romance.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Deadly Waters – by Dot Hutchison

Title: Deadly Waters
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 31st 2020
Pages: 302

“What a wasted life if your death is met largely with relief. Sad and, well… horrible.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

Oh boy… I certainly didn’t expect to have this reaction to Dot Hutchison‘s newest story at all. I mean, I loved her The Collector series, and I fully expected to have a similar reaction to Deadly Waters too. I confess that I requested this title months ago without even reading the blurb (something I tend to do when I’ve loved multiple books by an author), and I started reading this story without reading the already available reviews first… I kind of wish I would have done that now, because I would have been warned at least that way. Warned, you say? Yes, sadly Deadly Waters wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way. I’ll try to explain why this book didn’t work for me below and I’ll try not to turn it into a rant along the way (no promises though).

So… Basically, Deadly Waters is all about an over the top, exaggerated man-hating world where all men are abusing, rapist bastards and the girls on the Florida campus are all in constant danger. You would think I must be exaggerating with that description, but sadly this is an all too accurate summary of what you will find in this first book of a new series… And this is where it all starts going downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I normally applaude authors for bringing attention to abuse/rape victims and the struggles they have to face while trying to find justice, but doing so with such a negative vibe simply has the opposite effect. And then we’re not even talking about the credibility of it all… Oh yes, this was definitely a miss for me.

It doesn’t stop with that constant negativity and hate oozing out of the pages though. Oh no, there were a lot of other elements that unfortunately didn’t work for me either. The plot itself feels extremely exaggerated and over the top, using excessive violence and attacks to create an atmosphere were all men are predators and every girl is in constant danger. With exaggeration I’m talking multiple attacks on just about every female character in play and just about every male character popping up acting like a bastard. How on earth is this credible? How on earth is this supposed to help abuse/rape victims finally find their voice? It only makes for uncomfortable and trigger warning worthy reading, all doused with so much hate and negativity that it was hard to swallow. This lack of credibility was omnipresent and continued until the very end… Another nail on the coffin.

To make things worse, even the characters didn’t make up for it. Instead of an interesting and well developed cast of characters, we are dealing with what is basically a group of college student cliches. The good girl, the bad girl, the silent girl, the crush on the older male, the drunk college boys, the bastards… And I can go on and on. Apart from the fact that it lacks originality and doesn’t add dept to the story, the characters themselves didn’t really experience any development either. Instead, they just kept behaving as cliches; the female characters raging at the world and how all men are bastards and they should get what they deserve. Ugh, I’m getting angry all over again just trying to type down my thoughts, and that’s not me angry at what happens in the book, but angry with the book itself. It’s normally a good sign when a book manages to provoke strong emotions, but somehow I don’t think this was the emotion they were looking for.

Let’s pause this negativity and try to add some positive thoughts instead. What I did think had potential was the whole murder part of the plot with the alligators. How ingenious is that?! Especially how it relates to the college itself with its Gator mascott and all… Those chapters set from the killer’s POV where a bit of a relief, even though even those chapters were doused with negativity and man-hate. Talking about the killer: I actually saw that twist coming early on and I basically only kept reading to hopefully discover I was wrong… But I guess I wasn’t that lucky. I can’t deny that the story made the most of its Florida setting though.

Wow, this has really turned into a rant after all… I guess I really did have strong feelings about this book that needed to come out. I’ll stop now as these rambles are becoming way too long already, and leave you with a short summary before I sign off. Basically, with all that anger and hate literally streaming out off the pages, Deadly Waters turns into a very VERY unappetizing read. Combine this with the undeveloped character cliches, the exaggerated plot with excessive violence and attacks and lack of credibility in general, I really wish I would have just opted to DNF Deadly Waters instead. Am I sad to feel this way about a story I had highly anticipated? Yes. But that doesn’t make my reaction any less real, and judging the other reviews I’ve seen so far I’m not the only one who feels this way either. You’ve been warned!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #176 – The Glass Hotel & Dark Pines #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to pick up for a while now. Sadly, The Glass Hotel somehow didn’t work for me at all, but I had a great time with the first Tuva Moodyson book.


Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: July 29th 2020 
Pages: 302

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

So… I’m still not sure what happened here, but I guess it is unpopular opinion time again? I loved Station Eleven back when I read it in 2018, and I fully expected to have a repeat experience in The Glass Hotel. It was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I still can’t wrap my head around my negative reaction to the writing and story itself. It might just be that I’m not in the right mindset for this story right now, but the fact is… I REALLY didn’t enjoy my time with The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing at all, the plot and POV switches felt all over the place and I struggled to keep everyone apart as well as to try and keep track of what part of the plot puzzle fitted where. I loved her writing in Station Eleven, so I’m a bit shocked to be honest to feel this way about her newest story, but it is what it is I guess. The fact that I started skimreading about a third into the story and had almost no motivation whatsoever to continue is a huge warning sign on its own… I’m so sad and disappointed I feel this way about such a highly anticipated story; especially since I seem to be the only one with such a negative reaction so far. Definitely don’t give up on this story on my account, as you probably won’t have that pesky unpopular opinion curse sticking to your back like I do… I might give The Glass Hotel a second chance in the future though to see if it just wasn’t the right time for this story at the moment, or if the story simply isn’t for me.


Title: Dark Pines
(Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1)
Author: Will Dean 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Finished reading: August 2nd 2020
Pages: 323

“Details are important, they can have consequences.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre in recent years, and I’ve been meaning to meet up with Tuva Moodyson for quite some time now. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with this series, and my instincts hit the nail on the head. Dark Pines turned out to be an excellent start of a series I will be continuing very soon! I’ve followed the author on Twitter for a while now, and I love how he uses his experience living in Sweden to give us a thorough and realistic description of the Swedish setting. It really made the small town of Gavrik come alive for me, and set the right atmosphere for this Nordic noir gem. The writing drew me right in, and Tuva makes for a fascinating main character. The fact that she is deaf (although she can hear with hearing aids) is something you don’t see every day, and I really liked the journalism angle of the story. Dark Pines is part cold case and part active murder investigation set in the middle of the Swedish forrest. Through Tuva, we get to know the different characters and possible suspects in play, and it is without doubt an interesting cast. The plot has its twists and turns, and while there was some repetition and I saw some twists coming, overall Dark Pines was a solid start of a series I can’t wait to continue.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #175 – Fruit Of The Drunken Tree & The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books I’ve had really high expectations for… Sadly, Fruit Of The Drunken Tree didn’t live up to those expectations at all, but The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill turned out to be a delightful read.


Title: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: July 21st 2020
Pages: 304

“War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forest of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

Okay… I’m still not sure what happened here, as I really expected to find a new favorite in this story instead. I’ve always had a special interest in stories set in Latin America, and even more so if they are related to the drugs world and/or war on drugs… I thought this story with its 1990s Colombian setting would be a perfect fit for me, and the blurb of Fruit Of The Drunken Tree sounded fantastic as well, but somehow in the end it wasn’t ment to be. Even though I still believe the premise is both powerful, shocking and heartbreaking, the story itself failed to blow me away. I think the main reason I had such a strong negative reaction to Fruit Of The Drunken Tree despite my fascination for the topic had probably to do with the fact that I felt a strong aversion towards the writing style. I didn’t feel it flowed properly and I never connected to the writing, making it very hard to convince myself to keep reading as a result. I have to confess that I skimread at least half of the story; wanting to DNF, but not being able to let the story go completely until I knew what happened. This mostly had to do with the plot and the historical details rather than the main characters themselves, who in turn I never managed to warm up to either. I think this might have been due to the way they were described as well as the way they acted, or maybe even due to the fact that the writing style itself rubbed me the wrong way to such extreme. Either way, sadly Fruit Of The Drunken Tree ended up mosty definitely not being my cup of tea.


Title: The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: July 23rd 2020
Pages: 351

“She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

I have been craving a good contemporary, and I admit that I have been eyeing The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill for a while now. I love bookish elements in my stories, and this book sounded like a perfect fit… And I definitely ended up having a brilliant time with this story. As I already expected, Nina was easy to like and relate to, and I loved getting to know her better. The characters in general are easy to connect to and I enjoyed spending time with them. Of course I love just how big of a role both books and pop culture play in Nina’s life and the story itself; with references to multiple books, the Harry Potter fandom, Game Of Thrones, The Simpsons, Friends… And we have the bookstore itself in the spotlight too of course. The plot might be a bit cheesy and predictable in points, but personally I was having too much fun to be bothered by it. The romance is quite cheesy as well, but as I liked both characters I really didn’t mind all that much either. I loved seeing Nina connect to the newly found family, and the trivia element was brilliant. The writing itself is super engaging and I literally flew through this story. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill as much as I did!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: The Cry Of The Lake – by Charlie Tyler

Title: The Cry Of The Lake
Author: Charlie Tyler
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 21st 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Finished reading: July 7th 2020
Pages: 263

“Experience had taught me how to play this game. The rules were always changing, but the skill required to partake remained the same: buckets of patience.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first saw The Cry Of The Lake, but I was intrigued by the blurb as well and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. I was looking forward to this story, but somehow sadly I wasn’t all too impressed by what I found. I’m having a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong for me, but I’ll try to explain which elements didn’t work for me below.

The first thing that stands out is the structure of the plot. The Cry Of The Lake has a multiple POV structure and is divided into three different POVs following the three most present female characters: Grace, Lily and Flo. This kind of structure can really spice up a story, but sadly I didn’t think they actually complemented each other and ended up being distracting instead. The POV switches only further interrupted an already quite erratic pace and made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story itself… The fact that the characters themselves didn’t feel realistic and were hard to like didn’t really help either. I’m not sure if it was lack of development or simply the way they were represented and acted, but none of them actually convinced me and this always turns the story in that much more of a struggle.

As for the plot itself… I felt it was just too chaotic and over the top; both the plot development and plot twists seemed unrealistic and weren’t able to convince me. And as much as I love a puzzle and lots of question marks in my thrillers, I think in the case of The Cry Of The Lake there were just too many riddles and the lack of information was actually confusing and rather frustrating instead of it adding the intended dose of suspense. This might just have been a personal reaction, but it is what it is I guess… On top of this, I wasn’t able to warm up to the writing either; up to the point that I was starting to feel the urge to skimread… And this is of course never a good sign. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for, although I do seem to be in the minority so this might just not have been the right story for me at the moment.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #167 – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time & Finding Dorothy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a modern classic and a more recent release I’ve been meaning to read ever since it was released… My time with The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time sadly didn’t up being successful, but Finding Dorothy did hit the mark for me.


Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 31st 2003
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: May 30th 2020 
Pages: 292

“I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be… First of all, I have to say that I do applaude the originality of the writing style as well as the author enabling us to get a glimpse inside the head of a fifteen-year-old teenager on the autism spectrum. It shows that the author really investigated the matter thoroughly and it’s without doubt the strongest point of this book. The thing is… I somehow got tired of that unique writing style real fast, and the tone sounded really young to be considered YA to be honest. I know Christopher is on the autism spectrum and not like other teenagers, but still… I also hated the fact that animal cruelty appeared in the story, and especially in this banal way. And I wasn’t a fan of the whole cheating/lying about Mother angle either to be honest. All in all I found myself to be unable to connect to this story and I confess that I skimread most of the second half. I still love the idea behind this story and the fact that is shines a spotlight on autism, but sadly the execution just didn’t work for me. Oh well, at least I know this one wasn’t for me now.


Title: Finding Dorothy
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 352

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about Finding Dorothy last year and glowing reviews started popping up. The idea of learning the story behind the famous The Wizard Of Oz book and movie based on real historical facts sounded absolutely fascinating, and I think it’s one of the reasons this book worked so well for me. Basically, Finding Dorothy gives us two for one: not only do we get to follow the making of the The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Garland in 1939, but we also go back in time as we get to know both the author Frank L. Baum and his wife Maud. The story switches back between past and present, using the main character Maud as a red thread to weave the two different storylines together… Both storylines complimented each other; the more glamorous 1939 setting giving contrast to the sometimes more harsh and even dire circumstances Maud and Frank found themselves in over the years. While I did find the pace to be a tad slow in parts, the story as a whole did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time learning more about Maud and her family as well as the making of the original movie. Especially little references to the future book that started popping up and being able to read more about Frank’s (probable) inspiration was a wonderful touch. This is fiction mixed with historical facts at its best, and both historical fiction and The Wizard Of Oz fans will be delighted.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #161 – The Guest Cat & The One-In-A-Million Boy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of contemporary and two titles I’ve been looking forward to: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide and The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Sadly both ended up disappointing me…


Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 2001
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: April 26th 2020
Pages: 146
(Originally written in Japanese: ‘猫の客 [Neko no kyaku]’)

“There’s a photographer who says cat lovers always believe their own cat is better looking than anyone else’s. According to her, they’ve all got blinders on.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve been curious about this title ever since I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles last year and saw it recommended under similar Japanese fiction titles… I think it’s no secret that I’m a huge catlover, so I was looking forward to dive into some cat infused fiction again. It’s easy to say that I ended up to be quite quite disappointed by The Guest Cat instead. In fact, I’m really not sure why this book even has this title, as the focus is mostly on the guest house and the couple which POV the story is narrated from… Sure, we have Chibi and later some other cats, but they didn’t really play as big of a role as I thought they would. Instead, The Guest Cat is a story where nothing much happens, and it’s mostly one elaborate description after the other. And while I can appreciate beautifully written descriptions, it was just too much to have to read a story build up out of 90% of those descriptions and only 10% what you can call a very meager plot. The writing didn’t fully convince me either (I think the phrase ‘lost in translation’ might apply here), and overall I had a really hard time keeping focused. In fact, I struggled reaching that final page, and the only reason I finished it is because it’s so short in the first place. The open ending was yet another disappointment, and I was honestly seriously underwhelmed by the whole experience.


Title: The One-In-A-Million Boy
Author: Monica Wood

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: April 29th 2020
Pages: 336

“How tranquilizing it was to arm yourself with information, how consoling to unpack the facts and then plan them like fence pickets, building a sturdy pen in which you stood alone, cosseted against human fallibility.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve been curious about The One-In-A-Million Boy ever since I first heard about it a few years back, and both the cover and blurb had me convinced I was going to enjoy my time with this story. Sadly, I somehow ended up having mixed thoughts instead… I’m not sure if it’s just the wrong time for me to read this story, as my reading taste has been all over the place in these strange times, but the fact is that I somehow expected more of this story. There were things I loved in The One-In-A-Million Boy, while other elements of the story ended up letting me down a bit… The main star of the story is 104-year-old Ona of course, who I adored and she is basically one of the sole reasons I kept reading. The glimpses you get of the boy makes it really easy to like him too and it makes you wish you could have met him properly… I loved learning more about Ona’s past and she is such a fascinating character and oh so easy to connect to; the boy is quirky and very loveable too. As for the other characters: Quinn isn’t too bad and I liked the music elements he helped including in the plot. I wasn’t a fan of Belle at all though and her actions and the way she keeps treating Quinn were starting to get very very annoying. I felt like I would have loved a story solely based on Ona and the boy more, as they made up the best part of this story and I felt the other characters and subplot started to let the story down. I do get that one of the big elements, grief and moving on, wouldn’t be possible without things going the way they are, but still… Somehow I just expected more of The One-In-A-Million Boy, and the actual story, while by no means a bad read, just fell a little flat for me.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #160 – Woven In Moonlight & From Twinkle With Love

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez turned out to be just as wonderful as the cover, but sadly From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon failed to hit the mark for me.


Title: Woven In Moonlight
(Woven In Moonlight #1)

Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Finished reading: April 20th 2020
Pages: 384

“Catalina says that people are like books. Some you want to read and enjoy; some you hate before you’ve even read a word.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to read Woven In Moonlight as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover, but the cover wasn’t the only thing that won me over. Oh no, it was also the blurb and the promise of a YA fantasy infused with Bolivian culture and folkore… I love books which incorporate foreign cultures and as someone who has had the pleasure to get a glimpse of Bolivia during one of my travels, I was looking forward to see its customs and culture incorporated into a story. And boy, did the author do a splendid job! I know the story might not be for everyone as it’s filled with Spanish words as well as Bolivian food and culture references that might become tedious if you don’t understand Spanish (there’s a glossary at the end though!). BUT. I personally loved this fusion of both languages and the simple Spanish phrases, references to Bolivian food and culture impregnated every single page and chapter of Woven In Moonlight; making the Bolivian vibe fully come alive and taking this fantasy story to the next level. Another bonus? There is hardly any romance involved (although we do have the ‘enemy to lover’ cliche), and the story itself focuses on the development of the fantasy world and characters instead while also incorporating references to real world conflicts including the coca industry. I really liked the magical elements in Woven In Moonlight too, and most characters were easy to like. I can definitely recommend this book if you enjoy YA high fantasy with a worldbuilding that mixes parts of the real world with fantastical elements, if don’t mind the use of a considerable amount of Spanish words and phrases in the writing and love a story that is fantasy first, and romance last.


Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: April 23rd 2020
Pages: 337

“Sometimes I worry I don’t know who I really am. Sometimes I’m afraid nothing I do will ever be enough to set me apart.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

Well hello, unpopular opinion review, I guess we meet again… I probably should have known! I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi back when I read it, and I’ve been wanting to try more of Sandhya Menon‘s books ever since. I was craving a cute contemporary, so I decided to pick up From Twinkle, With Love on a whim as I thought it would be exactly the story I needed at the time. I guess I was wrong! Sure, there is no doubt that this story is the typical cutesy contemporary romance read I was looking for… There were a few elements I loved, including a little insight in Indian culture, diverse characters and the whole film industry elements. BUT. There were also quite a few things that not only turned me off, but started to infuriate me. First of all, the love triangle (square?). Seriously, why o why do we have to deal with that?! It’s like an overdose of cringeworthy romance cliches, and the whole secret admirer thing was so obvious that it made me feel even more annoyed that Twinkle never suspected anything. Talking about Twinkle, I absolutely hated her attitude and behavior towards others. The whole, ‘I like him, but he isn’t popular so I can’t be with him because I need to be with someone who is’ just disgusted me and I seriously feel bad for Sahil for having to put up with her at all. Talk about warped life priorities and not respecting others! And sure, the format was interesting with the diary entries and added texts, emails and such, but there were so many things that bothered me that I just couldn’t properly appreciate it. In short, between the high school cliches, love square, despicable behavior of Twinkle and the writing sounding too forced, I really struggled reaching that final page… Oh yes, From Twinkle, With Love definitely didn’t have that spark for me.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.