YVO’S SHORTIES #37: It’s Okay To Laugh (DNF) & Britt-Marie Was Here

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Another round of extremes… Not only two different genres here, but also two complete opposite reactions to them. The first, a memoir called It’s Okay To Laugh, turned out to be a DNF read, something that doesn’t happen all that often. The second was actually me playing safe and picking up another book of one of my favorite authors: Britt-Marie Was Here. And this title has only reconfirmed my love for his work.


Title: It’s Okay To Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too)
Author: Nora McInerny Purmort

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: May 17th 2016
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2018
Pages: 288
DNF at 66% (190 pages)

“I am creating my own path through my own grief, toward my own version of happiness.”


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I like reading memoirs every once in a while and when I saw It’s Okay To Laugh being compared to the memoirs of Jenny Lawson, I just HAD to get a copy. Fierce and hysterically funny? Sign me up for that! Sadly, I’m feeling kind of cheated now I have picked it up… Because there is no way It’s Okay To Laugh bares any similarities with the work of that author. I know humor is kind of tricky in the first place, and a very personal taste, but to be honest I just didn’t saw any potentially funny moments at all. Could it just have been me not connecting to the book? Maybe. But I would never actually classify this memoir as ‘humor’. I get that the author had to go to through the worst possible time with both her father and husband passing away after a battle with cancer and with her losing her unborn child like that, but I can’t say I enjoyed the way she wrote about it. Both the writing style and tone were just off for me, and it felt rather repetitive and almost nagging to me. Like I said before, I understand her struggle and feel her pain (I just lost my mother in law to cancer as well), I just didn’t want to continue reading about it. If you enjoy reading memoirs and are able to connect to her writing style, your experience with It’s Okay To Laugh might fare better. Just don’t expect any Jenny Lawson humor to appear out of thin air… In a way I feel sad I had to take the decision to DNF this that far into the story, but I had been struggling for a long time and just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading. Here’s to others being able to enjoy the memoir better than me though.


Title: Britt-Marie Was Here
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 3rd 2014
Publisher: Sceptre
Finished reading: August 4th 2018
Pages: 312
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Britt-Marie var här’)

“Sometimes it’s easier to go on living, not even knowing who you are, when at least you know precisely where you are while you go on not knowing.”


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I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman‘s work ever since I finished reading A Man Called Ove, which is one of my absolute top favorites. Britt-Marie Was Here is already the fourth book I’ve picked up, and this story has only reconfirmed my love for his stories. Fredrik Backman is a true master in creating unique and flawed characters that you cannot help falling in love with. It was so great seeing more of Britt-Marie! For those who not know, the main character Britt-Marie first made her appearance in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (another excellent read by the way!), and I strongly advice reading that one before starting with Britt-Marie Was Here to not miss out on anything. What is both funny and remarkable is that his characters all have their flaws, might be grumpy, unsociable and don’t seem all that likeable when you first meet them. But don’t underestimate the power of Fredrik Backman‘s character development! You will soon find yourself loving each quirky little detail of those characters, grumpy, awkward and unsociable treats and all. Britt-Marie is another excellent example, and I LOVED seeing her character evolve in Borg along with the other main characters. Brilliant brilliant character development and spot on writing! I also really liked how football played a big role in the story and how big of an impact it had on the community. Basically, I loved every single minute of this book, and while nothing can beat Ove, both My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here currently share a second place on my list of Backman favorites.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #24: The Poison Plot & A Secondhand Lie

Time for a last round of Yvo’s Shorties before our trip! Sadly this time they were not the best of reads… The first, a NG ARC called The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane, turned out to be my second DNF of the year. And the second is a companion novella of a book (A Secondhand Life) I really enjoyed reading earlier this month, but the novella fell flat for me. A Secondhand Lie by Pamela Crane… I recommend sticking with the actual book with this one.


Title: The Poison Plot
Author: Elaine Forman Crane

Genre: Non Fiction, Historical
First published: May 15th 2018
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Finished reading: April 17th 2018
Pages: 264
DNF at 31% (82 pages)

“Then again, there is no hard evidence that Mary actually tried to poison Benedict or that he was in fact poisoned.”

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


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Fact: the blurb of The Poison Plot immediately had me under its spell. I enjoy a good non fiction read every once in a while and the promise of a murder plot and a 18th century setting sounded like a perfect match. So even though I had seen mixed reviews before I started it, I had still high hopes for The Poison Plot. Sadly, I did not have the positive reaction I was hoping to have to the story. In fact, I struggled right from the start and after several tries and careful consideration I had no other option than to make this book my second DNF this year. Am I sad to have to make this difficult decision? Yes. But I will try to explain below why. First of all, the writing style is dry, formal and hard to get into. This made it considerably harder to keep reading. Also, the whole mystery around the case is basically revealed in the prologue, leaving little to look forward to in the rest of the book. And as has been stated various times in the book, there is no hard evidence Mary tried to poison Benedict or that he even was poisoned at all. Doesn’t that mean that the whole ‘poison plot’ this book is based on is actually nonexistent? Especially since this is supposed to be a NON fiction account based on facts. Related to this is the cheer amount of guesswork about Mary’s life in general and what happened with all the if, would, probably, may have... I understand there are not that many details available of that era, but no facts means no accurate account of the supposed ‘poison plot’ and Mary’s life can be given. This guesswork really bothered me and I would have preferred this being converted in a historical fiction read based on available information instead. This would probably make the story a lot more readable as well. Another thing that made me DNF The Poison Plot were the constant and repeatedly mentions of random details and facts of the time period without it having a solid connection to Mary. There is an overdose of unimportant details and information of the era, and honestly I don’t really care about the minute weather details or what someone may or may not could have bought and when. Especially since most of the time there was no direct link to Mary or the other key characters. I tried really hard to keep reading, as I wanted to learn more about the supposed murder plot and what really happened. Unfortunately, between the writing style, guesswork, unimportant detail overdose and lack of connection of most of the content to the main characters, I found myself having no other option than to DNF it.


Title: A Secondhand Lie
(Killer Thriller #0.5)
Author: Pamela Crane

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 8th 2015
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: April 18th 2018
Pages: 97

“In the pregnant pause between my birth and death, life had become little more than a series of cruel jokes, and I was always the punch line.”


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After reading A Secondhand Life earlier this month and being really impressed with it, I decided to get a copy of the companion novella as well and read it. I normally don’t read a lot of novellas, but I was curious about what really happened to Landon’s dad and I wanted to seein what ways A Secondhand Lie connected to the main story. I’m glad there are no obvious spoilers involved, although I do advice reading A Secondhand Life first just in case. It will also give you a better feel for the main characters. Because on it’s own, I can’t say I was all that impressed by the novella. It’s not a bad read and it adds a few new details to Landon’s life, but overall I don’t think it’s necessary to read it. The whole mystery around his dad’s arrest kind of fell flat for me, especially after the truth was revealed. Way too simple and not all that satisfying! Some scenes of A Secondhand Life were also repeated, but might feel out of context if you haven’t read the actual story. The writing is good and I liked the difference in style when the POV changes. But overall, I would recommend sticking with A Secondhand Life instead or at least not read this novella without having read the actual story first.


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ARC REVIEW: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past – by Paul Cude

Title: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past
Author: Paul Cude

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
First published: October 19th 2011
Finished reading: September 29th 2017
Pages: 486
DNF at 49% (238 pages)

“The valuable lesson you should have learned, was that evil comes in many guises, not always visible to everyone.”

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

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It’s easy to say I have a weak spot for any story involving dragons as they are my favorite of mythical creatures. This story had me at the title, because how could I resist a new fantasy series where dragons play such a big role? I was really looking forward to start reading Bentwhistle The Dragon, and even though it took me longer than planned to actually pick it up my initial excitement was still there. That’s why it’s such a shock I had to make the hard decision to DNF this story. Because let’s face it: that almost never happens… But honestly, I’ve tried. Really tried. I’m not saying the writing is bad and it truly shows just how much time is put into the detailed and extensive descriptions and worldbuilding in general. This attention to detail is what stands out in this story and I can always appreciate when this much time is dedicated to creating a believable and well developed fantasy world. BUT. The thing is, the pace is supersuperSUPER slow and I just couldn’t get myself to keep interest. I don’t mind a slower pace if I get detailed descriptions in return, but I think in the case of Bentwhistle The Dragon it was kind of a description overdose. One superlong and extensive description after the other kind of had the reverse effect on me and instead of finding myself intrigued by a story about my favorite mythical creature, I was actually rather bored by it all. Because I have to be honest and say that nothing much really happens during the first half of the story especially considering it has over 200 pages. I definitely would have expected a lot more action or at least some suspense… I don’t think the age group would be happy with so many descriptions or the lack of action either, and I felt the tone was off for a YA story (too ‘formal’?). All in all Bentwhistle The Dragon definitely wasn’t for me, and unfortunately I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading all those extensive descriptions hoping something exciting would happen in the second half. Especially since I found the mystery and ‘dangerous’ situation not suspenseful at all and to be honest rather lacking for what is labeled as a fantasy adventure story… I’m sad to see this dragon story on my very short list of DNF reads.

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Dragons have walked among humans for a long time, and nobody seems to be aware of them… Because the dragons are disguised as humans and live among them, infiltrating the human world in key positions to guide and protect them. They can change forms at will, although dragons are always careful to not reveal their secrets. But something is off, and it might be up to three young dragons to put a stop to it before it’s too late… Will they be able to?

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I had really high hopes for Bentwhistle The Dragon, and that’s why it makes me extra sad I had to make the though decision to DNF it. This almost never happens, but I struggled so much with the endless descriptions and superslow pace that I just couldn’t get myself to read the second part as well. I was really surprised by the lack of action as well, especially since it’s labeled as a fantasy adventure story… The worldbuilding is excellent and extensive, but in this case it might have been too much detail and the balance between plot/action and description was lost. Such a shame! I really wanted to enjoy this one.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Tipping Point – by Tomas Byrne

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Title: Tipping Point
Author: Tomas Byrne

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Political
First published: October 3rd 2016
Publisher: Delta Stream Books
Finished reading: December 13th 2016
Pages: 414
DNF at 41%
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“The past is a tricky thing, Joe. Don’t pull the puzzle any more apart, or you might not fit the pieces back together.”

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

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I was invited to join Reading Alley last month, and I picked Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne as my very first Reading Alley ARC. Even though political stories are normally not really my cup of tea, I was really intrigued by the blurb of this story and the potential connections to the actual world climate change situation. I had high hopes for this story, but unfortunately I ended up having to make the though decision to DNF it. I’m not saying Tipping Point is a bad read and the right person will probably love the story. In fact most reviews I have seen so far are really positive, so the main problem is most likely me and not this political thriller. That doesn’t take away I had a hard time to stay focused on the story and plot, both because the pace was quite slow and the ‘preachy/dry’ feel of all elements related to politics and climate change. I had put the story on hold two or three times before deciding not to finish it, and that made me conclude that this story simply isn’t for me. If you like political thrillers and don’t mind a slowish pace, I would definitely suggest giving Tipping Point a chance though. The story has without doubt a lot of potential!

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Both Joe Hawkins and Kate Farrow used to work for the government, and are now whistleblowers wanted by the US and UK authorities. They have been exiled from their homelands after divulging information relating to a corrupt arms-for-oil deal, and are currently on the run. They are getting tired of running though, and they finally get a chance to fight back as they learn about the dubious events at the headquartes of an environmental group in California. Will they be able to find a way to finally stop running?

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I don’t often decide to DNF a book, but I had such a hard time reading Tipping Point that I made an exception. I’m by no means saying it’s a bad read, but sometimes you just know a story isn’t for you. The slowish pace and ‘dry’ political elements made it impossible for me to properly enjoy this novel, which is a shame because I liked the sound of the plot. I seem to be in the minority though, so if you like the genre I suggest giving Tipping Point a shot.

DNF REVIEW: Careless In Red – by Elizabeth George

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Title: Careless In Red
(Inspector Lynley #15)
Author: Elizabeth George
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Crime
First published: 2008
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: August 30th 2016
Pages: 568
DNF at page 80
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WARNING: upopopular opinion ahead!! Honestly, I’ve tried. I think this is only the second or third book I have ever DNFed and I still feel a bit guilty for doing so… I must have started reading Careless In Red at least four or five times before over the last two years, but I just can’t bring myself to keep reading. There are too many storylines and the pace is slower than a sleeping snail. On top of that the descriptions are superlong, dull and the story itself just doesn’t grab my attention either. It’s honestly a shame because this book belongs to one of my favorite genres… And I’m aware Careless In Red is actually book nr. 15 in a series, but after this sample I don’t think I want to read the first book after all. I know a lot of people seem to enjoy this series, but it definitely isn’t for me.

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Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall after his wife was murdered. There he spends six solitary weeks hiking the coastline, but he cannot seem to escape his memories. On the forty-third day of his walk, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who seems to have fallen to his death. He has no choice but to abandon his solitary life and has to ask for reinforcements. While the closest town seems to be an unlikely place for murder, it soon becomes clear that a killer is indeed at work. And this time, Lynley is not a detective but a witness, and even a possible suspect…

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I always enjoy reading a good mystery/detective story, but somehow I never managed to read but a few pages at the time of this fifteenth book in the Inspector Lynley series. The pace is so slow and the descriptions are so long that it’s really hard to stay focused, and I also found that it had way too many storylines going on. That said, I’ve only managed to read the first 80 pages, so things might improve later on. I guess I will never know…

DNF REVIEW: The Liar’s Chair – by Rebecca Whitney

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Title: The Liar’s Chair
Author: Rebecca Whitney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
First published: December 15th 2014
Finished reading: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 224
DNF at 42%
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“In every room the recollection of my childhood is slight, and fireflies of memory disappear as soon as I turn my mind to them. I passed through my past, I didn’t or couldn’t savour the time, and now my history is huge and vacant, like a film I never finished watching.”

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I know I NEVER DNF a book, but I’ve made a promise to myself this year to stop reading those stories that are starting to feel like voluntary torture. It hasn’t been easy to take the final decision to DNF The Liar’s Chair, but I really couldn’t bring myself to waste any more time trying to finish this read. Do I feel guilty? Yes. But that doesn’t take away I feel releaved that I’m finally able to put a book down unfinished. I normally love a good mystery/thriller read, so I was actually looking forward to this novel by Rebecca Whitney despite the low Goodreads rating. Unfortunately, as soon as I began reading the unnatural and forced prose started to irritate me. I don’t mind an unreliable or unlikeable character if it’s done well, but Rachel Teller crossed the border to I-simply-cannot-stand-you land. Both her voice and her actions really annoyed me and I truly struggled to keep reading this story. The plot itself is unbelievable and both the characters and their development don’t feel natural. I hate being this negative in a review and I’m glad other people seem to have enjoyed The Liar’s Chair better, but sadly I don’t belong to that group.

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Rachel and her husband David seem to have the perfect life with a big house and a successful business, but not everything is as it may appear. David is desperate to control his wife, but Rachel is not exactly the woman that can be kept on a leash. She is quite skilled in hiding her secrets, but as she kills a man in a hit and run after she left her lover’s house drunk, the image of their perfect life is starting to crack. David insists they pretend nothing happened and makes all evidence of the accident disappear, but Rachel has a hard time living with the guilt of having killed someone. Her behavior becomesincreasingly self-destructive… Can Rachel confront both her past and present and find peace with herself before it’s too late?

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The general idea behind The Liar’s Chair sounds really interesting and there have been a lot of good books published using the unreliable narrator technique lately. Unfortunately I don’t think this book belongs to that group. I didn’t like the characters, Rachel’s ‘voice’ and the prose in general were really annoying and the plot is not exactly credible. I really wanted to like The Liar’s Chair, but I really couldn’t bring myself to finish it; resulting in my very first DNF read.