YVO’S SHORTIES #72 – A Spark Of Light & Doll Bones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around the final two books I managed to read in 2018. A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult turned out to be a powerful and thought provoking read that will stay with me for a long time… While Doll Bones by Holly Black mostly only managed to disappoint me.


Title: A Spark Of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: December 30th 2018
Pages: 352

“We are all drowning slowly in the tide of our opinions, oblivious that we are taking on water every time we open our mouths.”


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After my experiences with Jodi Picoult‘s recent novels, I couldn’t wait to read A Spark Of Light. There has been a lot of hype around this title, and I can understand why now. Abortion is actually quite a controversial and ‘hot’ topic right now in Argentina, so it definitely came at an interesting time for me… Disclaimer: I won’t be discussing pro-life or pro-choice politics here, just the story itself. I’ll start off with saying that abortion is a very tricky topic to write about, and I think Jodi Picoult did it splendidly. Her writing style is just as strong as ever and I also loved the reversed time chapter technique she used. I admit I was confused at first because I didn’t realize that straight away, but I think it adds a little something extra to the story. Why? It’s simply very intriguing to meet the characters at such a critical point in their lives and then slowly find out how they got there… I did see part of the final plot twist bombs coming, although not all. The ending was a bit abrupt for me, and I personally would have liked to see the main characters being followed up for a while longer. Still, I also understand why she decided to end it in that way, as the main event was over by then. A Spark Of Light brings a very controversial but important topic to light and while especially pro-life supporters might be offended by the story, I would still recommend reading it as it does show both sides (although not equally, which is a hard balance to obtain in the first place). For me it was one of the stronger books I read during 2018 and without doubt one that provoked strong emotions as well. A good way to finish the reading year!


Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black

Genre: MG, Fantasy, Horror
First published: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderrly Books
Finished reading: December 31st 2018
Pages: 256

“He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be lies.”


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I was looking for a little something different to read as my last read of 2018 and when I came across this title on my kindle I decided to pick it up on a whim. Sadly, I can’t say I actually enjoyed reading Doll Bones. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of it had to do that I didn’t like the characters and I had a hard time connecting to the story. The story wasn’t exactly credible and not as scary as I would have thought either. This is more a coming of age story with Zach in the spotlight as he struggles with the consequences of growing up… And then we have Poppy who is the person behind the quest and most of the action even though she is not the main character, which throws off the balance of the story considerably. I felt Doll Bones lacked cohesion and a proper plot, although I did like the idea behind the three creating their own magical world where their toys go on adventures. The paranormal aspect of the story could have been interesting, but it just didn’t manage to convince me… And I had a lot of doubts about the credibility of it all. All in all not the experience I was expecting, but twelve-year-olds might enjoy the story better.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #69 – A Boy Called Christmas & The Girl Who Saved Christmas

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And with Christmas Eve being tonight, what better stories to review than not one, but TWO Christmas themed stories! The first two books of the Christmas MG series by Matt Haig… Both absolutely adorable books that will get you in the right mood in record time.


Title: A Boy Called Christmas
(Christmas #1)
Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 12th 2015
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: December 20th 2018
Pages: 272

“An impossibility is just a possibility you don’t understand yet.”


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I have been wanting to read the first Christmas book ever since I received and read the third book as an ARC a while back, and I thought December would be the perfect month to do so. And it turned out to be another magical experience. A Boy Called Christmas is the perfect Holiday season read for children and adults alike, and also perfect for reading out loud to the younger ones. Matt Haig’s writing style is spot on. Funny, entertaining, engaging and easy to read; you will find yourself turning pages admiring both the story the author has been able to create and looking at those adorable illustrations which connect really well with the plot. There is sadness, there is even some violence, but overall it is mostly a happy story full of joy and goodwill… And a healthy dose of humor as well. Perfect for the season as well as a perfect gift!


Title: The Girl Who Saved Christmas
(Christmas #2)
Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: November 3rd 2016
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: December 22nd 2018
Pages: 337

“Life is like a chimney – you sometimes have to get through the dark before you see the light.”


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I couldn’t NOT read the second book after finishing the first, especially since it’s exactly that time of the year when these little stories are to be appreciated most. The Girl Who Saved Christmas is without doubt a worthy sequel. I admit it took me a little while to get into the story, but that was probably mostly me and not the book itself. The writing is just as spot on as in the first and third book, and I’m adding Matt Haig to my list of authors I need to read more of ASAP. His middle grade writing is absolutely adorable with just the right amount of humor and spark to give it that special feel. This story is another one that is perfect to read out loud to children; I’m positive it will be a big hit with all those funny moments and characters to follow! The illustrations fit the story perfectly, and add a nice little touch to what is already a wonderful story. I can completely recommend all three books of the series both as a Holiday read and the perfect gift for young and old!


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #59 – The Giver & The Giving Tree

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two ‘giving’ stories and two modern classics… The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I probably would have enjoyed these better if I would have read them a long time ago, because at this point they didn’t make the impact I thought they would.


Title: The Giver
(The Giver #1)
Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: April 26th 1993
Publisher: Ember
Finished reading: October 28th 2018 
Pages: 208

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”


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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead… First of all, I have to say that I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot better if I would have read it 15-20 year ago. I have been meaning to read this so-called modern classic for years, and I think the story itself has a bigger impact on younger readers than adults. That said, the worldbuilding and story of The Giver reminded me a bit of Brave New World with a new twist. It was quite an interesting take on a dystopian world, where everything is controlled in such a way everything seems the same. This contrast with Jonas and his experiences once he starts training as a Receiver on its own is fascinating. Especially as he starts discovering more about his world and his eyes are truly opened… But somehow, I wasn’t able to enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would. This is probably just me and not the story, especially since this modern classic is so loved. I’m glad I did finally read The Giver though, as I finally know exactly what the story is all about.


Title: The Giving Tree
Author: Shel Silverstein

Genre: Children, Picture Book, Fiction
First published: October 7th 1964
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 30th 2018
Pages: 64

“… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.”


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I have been meaning to read this picture book classic for ages now… When I came across my copy the other day I picked it up on a whim. I can see the appeal of The Giving Tree, where the tree is like a mother to the little boy, and the writing style is spot on and really flows. BUT. I did have my doubts about the message behind this story. Why? Well, the tree isn’t exactly treated with respect and only gives and gives and gives without ever receiving much in return… Not exactly a healthy relationship I would want to show to my kids. Especially since this message is never questioned and even when the little boy grows up to be old the relationship still doesn’t feel equal. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but it still made me feel slightly uncomfortable as children tend to soak up everything like a sponge.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #43 – Claw The System (ARC) & The Lying King (ARC)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around shorties of two short reads and ARCs. The first, Claw The System, is a poetry bundle full of cat photos and funny cat poems and phrases. The Lying King is actually one of the first picture books I’ve read this year, but sadly didn’t reach its potential.


Title: Claw The System
Author: Francesco Marciuliano

Genre: Poetry, Humor
First published: October 16th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: August 31st 2018
Pages: 112

“People keep pointing at us

Whenever something has gone wrong

Saying, “He’s to blame!”

“She’s to blame!”

“They’re the ones who ruined our place!”

But really

Who keeps buying nothing but wicker furniture

And not a single scratching post?”

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


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As a so-called crazy catlady and the proud owner of two cats, I was immediately intrigued by this title. The blurb sounded like my kind of humor as well, so I was sold. Claw The System is a title that will speak to any cat lover in general and will show many situations cat owners can relate to. Poems From The Cat Uprising is divided in parts, each related to a different step of the ‘uprising’. There are many many cat photos to enjoy, most of them related to the text or poems, some funny and others simply beautiful. I would have liked to see more ‘cat’ perspective in the poems, but I still had a blast reading this title. There are definitely a few very funny moments included in Claw The System, a dry and sarcastic kind of humor I personally really appreciate. If you are looking for a book to make you feel better, a bunch of cat photos to look at or are simply curious about what might go on in your cat’s mind: Claw The System is without doubt a very entertaining choice.


Title: The Lying King
Author: Alex Beard

Genre: Children, Picture Books
First published: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Finished reading: August 31st 2018
Pages: 54

“And while such behavior was

thought of quite badly,

what could be done more

than think on it sadly?”

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


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One of my goals this year has been to try and read more children and MG reads, and this picture book somehow managed to grab my attention when I first saw it. Between the clever title and the blurb I was fully intrigued by The Lying King, and I have been looking forward to pick it up. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the reading experience I was expecting. While I like the simplicity of the cover, I don’t think the same style works as well for the picture book itself. I personally found the illustrations too simple and bare; there is a lot of white on some of the pages and I don’t think it will be all that attractive for children. As for the story: the idea behind The Lying King is clever and it has a strong moral message. As you might have guessed, the message is that lying is wrong and lies will only come back to haunt you… As shown in the case of the lying warthog king. Still, I don’t think that children will actually be able to pick up on that message from reading this story. I felt that it was told in a too ‘adult’ way to be able to actually work as a way to teach children not to lie. All in all sadly this picture book didn’t reach its potential for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #41 – Rivers Of London & Mortals And Immortals Of Greek Mythology (ARC)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around an urban fantasy slash murder mystery that was highly entertaining, Rivers Of London, and a very beautifully illustrated guide to Greek Mythology for both young and old: Mortals And Immortals Of Greek Mythology.


Title: Rivers Of London
(Peter Grant #1)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller
First published: January 10th 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
Finished reading: August 22nd 2018
Pages: 392

“Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the “London once-over” – a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport – like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling.”


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I’ve been meaning to start this series for a long time and already had a copy on my kindle, but during our Europe trip I was able to get a physical copy of the first two books. And I love LOVE the details on the cover! I couldn’t resist picking up my copy of Rivers Of London and as I started reading the story made an excellent first impression. Why? First of all, the writing style is engaging, strangely funny at points and solid in general. This made it easy to connect to the story and fully emerge myself in this urban fantasy slash detective story. The second thing that stands out is exactly this mix of genres. Paranormal elements, Gods, ghosts and other monsters are mixed with a good old murder mystery in such a way that just hit the mark for me. Part of this success is the main character Peter Grant, since he is discovering this strange new angle of the city of London along with us. Did the story drag at points and became a tad too slow? Probably. Did my initial enthusiasm fade away a little towards the end? Maybe. But while not perfect, I still had a great time with Rivers Of London despite a few minor flaws and problems. Between the main character and the mix of genres, I was pleasantly surprised by this first book of a series I will definitely be continuing some time soon.


Title: Mortals And Immortals Of Greek Mythology
Author: Francoise Rachmuhl

Genre: Children, Fiction, Mythology
First published: September 18th 2018
Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors
Finished reading: August 23rd 2018
Pages: 129

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


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I’ve had my share of Greek mythology during high school in my ancient Greek and also Latin classes. Knowledge has slipped a little since, so when I saw this title on Netgalley, I couldn’t resist. Mortals And Immortals Of Greek Mythology is ment to give children a little insight in who is who in Greek mythology with the help of both lovely illustrations and easy to follow short descriptions and stories around the characters. The cover gives you a perfect example of what the illustrations are like, and this beautiful style is used throughout to show us both the characteristics of each mortal and immortal described as well as illustrating the stories themselves. Wonderful to look at and educative at once: this handy and interesting guide will be an entertaining journey for both young and old. Confuse the different Gods and how they relate? Heard about some story or character before, but not sure about the details? Mortals And Immortals Of Greek Mythology will take away those doubts while also giving you a wonderful reading experience.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #36: Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops & Click’d

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around again two different genres… A non fiction book about books I’ve been wanting to pick up for a while and a MG read I decided to pick up on a whim.


Title: Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops
(Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops #1)
Author: Jen Campbell

Genre: Non Fiction, Humor, Books About Books
First published: March 27th 2012
Publisher: Constable
Finished reading: July 30th 2018
Pages: 128

“CUSTOMER: I read a book in the sixties. I don’t remember the author, or the title. But it was green, and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean?”


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I love books about books and after reading The Bookshop Book by the same author back in 2016, I added Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops to my wishlist. It took me longer than expected to actually get, but this was just the right book at the right time for me. This is the perfect book to use as a gift for anyone working in a bookshop or library, or any booklover in general for that matter! Fun, entertaining and full of weird situations that will make both your eyebrows raise and wonder what those customers were thinking when they opened the door to the bookshop that day… But at least it has given us this book to brighten up our day. I like how Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops is divided into three different parts, with the last part being little anecdotes from bookshops around the world. It’s good to know there are weird customers out there in every little corner of the world… Although I’m not sure I would still want to work in a bookshop now. (Just kidding; I would still love to!) Remember this title if you are looking for something fun to gift to a bookish friend.


Title: Click’d
(Codegirls #1)
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: July 30th 2018
Pages: 304

“Because I have three best friends.” She pointed to each in turn. “And I don’t need to click with anyone else but you guys.”


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I absolutely loved Every Last Word when I read it back in 2016, so when I was browsing my books the other day and Click’d popped up, I decided to pick it up on a whim hoping to add another favorite to the list. I didn’t realize it was a Middle Grade read before I started it, but I don’t think this has influenced my opinion in a significant way since it’s not the first time I’ve read and loved a MG read. Somehow, Click’d didn’t stand out in the way Every Last Word did, and I ended up feeling slightly disappointed. Click’d wasn’t a bad read and I really liked the idea behind this story, but overall I found the story to be rather bland. The plot has that geeky feel with two of the main characters creating an app/game and the whole progress of coding and dealing with bugs in the code plays a big role throughout the story. The other main theme is friendship, which could work really well, but there were just too many cliches for me involved. I don’t mind a cliche or two, but if there are just too many piling up it starts to get annoying and less interesting. Overall, I think Click’d lacks the little something extra that could have made this story into something wonderful. It’s not bad and without doubt a superfast read, but not the new favorite I was hoping for. The younger half of the MG age group might enjoy the story better though.


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