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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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: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel – by Karen King

Title: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Author: Karen King
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 9th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 16th 2018
Pages: 284

“Sometimes I think that people who have tough lives turn out better than those that are given everything on a plate.”

*** 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 this title might come as a surprise as it’s not my typical genre, but every once and I while I like stepping out of my comfort zone. There was just something about Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel that caught my eye, and I’m definitely glad I decided to read this title. If you are looking for the perfect story to get you in the Christmas mood, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel without doubt fits the bill. The setting in Cornwall sounds magical, and I really liked the idea behind the Christmas party for single parents. While the characters were quite easy to like, I also felt their personalities were a bit over the top for me and their emotions a bit extreme. Not every interaction or reaction to the situations felt all that natural to me and there were a lot of cliches involved as well. This feeling probably has to do with the fact that sappy and too cliche romance isn’t for me, and I think contemporary romance fans won’t be bothered all that much by it. I loved the lgbt angle and Robbie and Duncan were a great addition to the story. Entertaining, easy to read, Christmassy and I’m sure it will appeal to those who enjoy reading the genre.

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When her sister ends up being stuck abroad with two sick children unable to fly, it is up to Saffy to rescue the Christmas party her sister hosts every year for the single parents of her village. Saffy has to give up her own plans to do so, but reluctantly agrees as she knows a lot of people will be let down otherwise. Her sister has left detailed instructions, and she won’t be alone as neighbor Logan will help with some of the details. When she meets Logan and his daughter Chloe, it shows that Logan doesn’t seem to think Saffy could manage organizing a successful party… And Saffy is determined to prove him wrong.

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If you enjoy reading Christmas themed stories and contemporary romance in general, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel will be a great addition to your wishlist. Sure, there are a lot of cliches involved and not every interaction and reaction to certain situations seemed natural. But the writing draws you right in, the characters are easy to like and overall it was absolutely an entertaining and feel good story. And the Cornwall setting sounds just magical!


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ARC REVIEW: Father Christmas & Me – by Matt Haig

Title: Father Christmas And Me
(Christmas #3)
Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: October 12th 2018
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: September 4th 2018
Pages: 304

“You see, Elfhelm is a magical place, and to see magical places you have to believe in magic. And the type of humans who draw all the maps are the people least likely to believe in magic.”

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

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I know Christmas is still far away, but I just HAD to request a copy of this title when I saw it on NG a while back. There was something about the illustrations that caught my attention, and I’m definitely glad I was granted a copy. What a delightful Christmas-themed story! Father Christmas And Me is perfect for the middle grade target group, and I can see this story both being the perfect gift to put under the tree for the younger readers and a wonderful read to bring out that Christmas spirit closer towards the Holidays. I didn’t realize beforehand that this is actually the third book of a series, but thankfully I was still able to enjoy this story as a stand-alone as the characters have a completely new adventure in Father Christmas And Me. That said, judging this third book and how wonderful it is, I’m sure the other books are worth your time as well. With an interesting plot, a relatable main character they can see themselves in and just enough action to keep them invested in the story, I’m positive this will be a hit for any middle grade reader looking for that Christmas spirit. It has elves, it has rabbits, it has a magical setting and a bad guy to be defeated. The illustrations brought a smile to my face and I had a wonderful time reading following Amelia and her cat Captain Soot around. All in all a perfect Christmas family read.

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Amelia has recently moved to Elfhelm, with her now adoptive parents and the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas. She has been hard time fitting in as one of the only humans among the elves… Especially since she doesn’t have any magic and seems to fail just about every class in Elf School. But there are more important struggles around the corner, as someone might be trying to sabotage Christmas again… Using Amelia to turn the elves against Father Christmas. Will she be able to unravel the truth in time?

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Christmas time or not, I still had an excellent time reading this one. Father Christmas And Me would be such a wonderful read together with the younger ones to pump up that Christmas spirit close to the Holidays! The illustrations fit the text wonderfully and definitely add a little something. The plot itself is interesting without being too complicated to follow and I think the target group will be able to relate to Amelia very easily. Entertaining, endearing and without doubt worth the read.


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BOOK REVIEW: What Light – by Jay Asher

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Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Finished reading: December 23rd 2016
Pages: 272
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“People think what they want. That’s what I’ve had to accept,” he says. “I can fight it, but that’s exhausting. I can feel hurt about it, but that’s torture. Or I can decide it’s their loss.”

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I realized the other week I had been completely neglecting my Holiday themed reads this year, so this is me making up for that. I didn’t have too many Christmas themed stories on my TBR pile, but I’ve seen What Light around and I decided to give it a go. I read Thirteen Reasons Why last year and I was thoroughly impressed by it, so I had high hopes for this story as well. Unfortunately, I ended up being quite disappointed by What Light even though I should have known the purpose of this story would be completely different. I couldn’t help but feeling What Light was basically a whole lot of cheesiness, cliches and drama wrapped in shiny paper and Christmas lights to make it appropriate for the Holiday season. I liked the idea of the Christmas tree lot and the family returning to it every year. The prose was also easy to read and the pace is quite fast. But there was just SO MUCH DRAMA everywhere! It almost felt like an overdose, and not in a good way. Part of the problem might just be me though, and I’m sure contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy the story a lot better than I did. Just make sure what you sign up for…

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Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Orgeon, and every year they pack up and move to California to sell their trees during the season. Sierra spends most of her time in Oregon along with her two best friends, but whenever she is in California her life is completely different. She has another best friend there and it means that leaving one place always means missing the other… And this particular Christmas, something else will complicate her situation even further. Sierra meets Caleb at her Christmas tree lot, and even though her best friend had initially encouraged her to date, she doesn’t seem to approve of Caleb… Are the rumors around Caleb’s past true?

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If you are looking for a sappy and drama-filled Christmas read, you will probably enjoy What Light a lot better than I did. It is quite fast-paced and easy to read, but I personally found there was just too much drama going on for it to be a feel-good Christmas read. It just all felt a bit too exaggerated and I’m not sure up until what point it was actually credible. I have to confess I didn’t connect to the characters either… It might have just been me, but unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of this story.

BOOK REVIEW: My True Love Gave To Me – by Stephanie Perkins

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Title: My True Love Gave To Me
Author: Stephanie Perkins 
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
First published: October 14th 2014
Finished reading: December 29th 2015
Pages: 336
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“He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are – not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.”

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Another Christmas read I end up reviewing in January… Although I’m finally starting to catch up with my reviews! Since My True Love Gave To Me is actually a collection of twelve Holiday themed short stories, I’ve decided to to this review slightly different from my normal format and discuss every story separately. As a whole this bundle edited by Stephanie Perkins is without doubt an entertaining read and perfect for the Holiday season, although I did like some stories better than others. If you haven’t read this one yet and like themed reads, put this one on your December 2016 TBR! On to the separate stories…

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell. (4,5/5)
This is such an adorable little story to start the collection with, and also very Rainbow Rowell! Without doubt one of my favorites… Midnights is basically story about what happens between two teenagers on various New Years Eves.  It’s funny, it’s awkward, it’s adorable and very well written as well.

The Lady And The Fox by Kelly Link. (2,5/5)
Meh I didn’t particularly like this one. It was without doubt an original story with a touch of magical realism, but I can’t say I was put under its spell. This is one of those stories that might have worked better as a longer novella… Because I felt it lacked proper explanation and character development.

Angels In The Snow by Matt De La Peña. (3/5)
This one was better than the second story, but I can’t say I was a fan of the prose. The story itself is quite funny where the main character is cat sitting and doesn’t have money for food, and the only other person in the building is a girl his age with a broken shower… You get the idea. The story itself sounds interesting, but like I said, I didn’t particularly like how it was told.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han. (4/5)
Such a cute little story! I love the idea of a human being ‘rescued’ by Santa and living with the elves. I also like the fact that this story was different from the others and the fact that it took place on the North Pole. Original, interesting and adorable!

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins. (4/5)
I enjoyed this story! It was sweet but not too sugary, and that is just how I like my Holiday themed reads. It’s about a girl who wants to ask a favor of a guy who sells Christmas trees and ends up buying a tree she doesn’t have room for… And he offers to help her organize her home.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan. (3,5/5)
This story was quite entertaining and I liked the glbt angle. I wasn’t 100% convinced by the prose, but I have had problems with his work in th epast. It’s a cute story though and perfect for the Holiday season; a boy who dresses up as Santa so he can convince his boyfriend’s sister that Santa is real.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black. (3,5/5)
This one was interesting enough, although not amazing. I liked the fantasy element in the story and the prose and descriptions… I have a feeling it would have worked even better as a longer story, because the characters sound interesting.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? By Gayle Forman. (4/5)
Quite an entertaining story! Not the best of the lot, but definitely one of the better stories. I’m seeing a lot of race/religion/sexuality diversity in these short stories and I like it! I wasn’t completely convinced by the main characters, but it did made me crave winter food.

Beer Buckets And Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire. (3/5)
I can’t say this was a great story, but it was not that terrible either. I just wasn’t convinced by the general plot or actions… Although I know others loved this one. Somehow a boy who is in love with the pastor’s daughter and accidentally burns down the church just before Christmas is just a little too cheesy to my taste.

Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White. (4,5/5)
YESSS! Food AND Spanish?! I’m sold. If this isn’t my favorite story it would come a close second, because I really loved this one. A girl lives in a town called Christmas and works at a diner when a new chef arrives… And he is not only a great chef, but attractive as well. Cute, well written and the perfect Holiday read!

Star Of Bethlehem by Ally Carter. (3,5/5)
This was such a sad story! Well written like I would expect of Ally Carter (I loved reading All Fall Down last year) and definitely worth reading, even though it’s not one of my favorites of the bunch.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (4/5)
This story confirmed to me that I really have to start the Daughter Of Smoke And Bone series soon, because I loved the prose. Very beautiful and such a creative worldbuilding for a short story. It was a little confusing and strange, but without doubt very interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares – by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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Title: Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 26th 2010
Finished reading: August 8th 2015
Pages: 260Rating 3

“We believe in the wrong things, that’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.”

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I know Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares is more of a Holiday themed read, but it was chosen as this month’s read by The Book Club Of Opinionated Hufflepuffs so I decided to give it a go anyway. I ended up enjoying this read, although I still think I would have liked it better if I would have waited until December. This novel is written by both Rachel Cohn and David Levithan; writing respectatively the chapters told by Lily and Dash. I personally liked the Lily chapters better; mostly because of the prose. I also really loved all the bookish facts that are included in this novel! But some of the characters weren’t that credible OR likeable… Especially Dash and his friends. I like the weird-factor of Lily though; she sounds a lot like me at points. In short: I like the plot and the notebook that travels back and forth between Lily and Dash, but not all characters were to my taste or credible for that matter. Still, if you are looking for a nice and easy Holiday themed read, I think I would still recommend Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares.

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Lily doesn’t want to spend her Christmas vacation alone and her brother talks her into leaving a red notebook full of challenges on a shelf in her favorite bookstore. She hopes that the right teenage boy will eventually find it and except her dares… When Dash goes to his favorite bookstore and finds the notebook, Lily’s wish seems to have come true. But is Dash really the right guy? Will they be able to keep sending dares as they pass back and forth the notebook? And will they be able to finally meet and not be disappointed by the ‘real’ persons behind their notebook versions?

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Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares has all the signs of a feel good Holiday read that will be perfect to read just before Christmas. I didn’t like all the characters and the Dash chapters weren’t as good as the ones written by Rachel Cohn. Still, this is a short and entertaining read that is worth reading at the right time, even though it’s not perfect.