YVO’S SHORTIES #84 – Half Lies & To Make Monsters Out Of Girls

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two short reads I picked up to fit two BTB Epic Bingo prompts: the prequel novella Half Lies by Sally Green and the poetry bundle To Make Monsters Out Of Girls by Amanda Lovelace.


Title: Half Lies
(The Half Bad Trilogy #0.5)
Author: Sally Green

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: November 13th 2014
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: February 9th 2019
Pages: 72

“Who would think that a drunken misery-guts like him could be so poetic? But then again maybe that’s what poets and artists are like. “


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I should have known after my less than satisfying experience with Half Bad last year, but since I already owned a copy of the prequel novella AND both sequels I’m giving the trilogy another chance. I’m having a feeling Half Lies wasn’t the best place to start… Novellas are always short and not having a well developed plot and characters is not that much of a surprise. Still, I found myself craving to know more about their past in France and I would have liked to see more focus on magic as well. Instead, Half Lies was basically a sappy forbidden love story where two quite cliche characters fall in love a la Romeo and Juliet. I liked the Giving details and the discovering of power bits, but like I said before those elements are mostly pushed into the background (except for Gabriel’s problems with his power). My biggest struggle was with the writing style. There is just something about the way this story is written that is a huge turn off for me… This might have had to do with the abuse of brackets or short sentences, although it might just have been the writing style as a whole as I remember having similar problems in Half Bad. All in all this prequel novella wasn’t really a success for me and the ending felt a bit abrupt… I’m hoping my experience with the sequel will be a better one.


Title: To Make Monsters Out Of Girls
(Things That H(a)unt #1)
Author: Amanda Lovelace

Genre: Poetry, Feminism
First published: September 18th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: February 10th 2019
Pages: 168

“there was
no comfort

 

to be
found in

 

the
pages

 

that once
pulled me

 

through
it all.

 

– you took things i didn’t know you could take.”


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After reading and enjoying the Women Are Some Kind Of Magic poetry bundles, I decided to try Amanda Lovelace‘s other bundle To Make Monsters Out Of Girls as well. Her poems are easy to recognize and this was another excellent collection. It is true that the structure of the poems is simplistic and basically seems like hitting the space bar ever few words, but I personally think this simple style gives the words and message behind the poems even more power. Amanda Lovelace writes without fear and is fully open about her experience with abusive and toxic relationships in the past. She uses words to not only express feelings, but fight those monsters and free herself (and hopefully others) in the end. I’ve said it before, but these stories are very easy to relate to for anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship (or is still experiencing it) and will provide both comfort and and empowering message to let you know you are worthy and can beat that monster. It’s not the style, but the words and the emotions behind those words that make To Make Monsters Out Of Girls into such a success for me. Her poetry isn’t for everyone, but those who can connect to her words will be able to treasure it.


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ARC REVIEW: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One – by Amanda Lovelace

Title: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One
(Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #3)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Feminism
First published: March 5th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: February 2nd 2019
Pages: 208

“only now

 

am i

realizing

 

that is was

all make-believe”

*** 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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I enjoyed reading the first two poetry bundles last year, so it was an easy decision whether to read the third and final bundle of the Women Are Some Kind Of Magic series. Where Amanda Lovelace‘s poetry might lack in style, complexity and elaboration, it outshines other poetry with its overwhelming and powerful emotions and strong messages. It’s actually combination of the simplicity of the words and the overpowering message they are able to communicate that turns her work into something special for me. I admire her for being able to speak this openly about the past and what happened to her. The bundles talk about the three stages she had to go through (the princess, the witch and finally the mermaid) to be able to start healing herself and keep working on the future. As someone who has been in an abusive relationship herself, it’s really easy to relate to her words and those who have had or are having a more recent experience will find comfort. What made The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One stand out from the others is that Amanda Lovelace mixes fantasy with reality this time, using not only poems but also short paragraphs with odes to famous stories by other authors. And that is not all: in the final part of this bundle you can find thirteen guest poems by other poetry writers with a similar topic mixed in between her work. An original touch and something I could really appreciate. I think the second bundle is still my favorite, but The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One is without doubt a wonderful addition.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #75 – The Treatment & Heart Berries

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a title I picked up on a whim and I title that has been recommended to me. The first turned out to be a solid decision and another author I will be looking forward to read more of in the future: The Treatment by C.L. Taylor. The second an emotional and lyrical memoir that I’m very sad I failed to connect with: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.


Title: The Treatment
Author: C.L. Taylor

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: October 19th 2017
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: January 9th 2019 
Pages: 299

“He taught me about body language, micro expressions and verbal tics. He showed me how much people give away about themselves without realizing it.”


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I’ve been meaning to read one of C.L. Taylor‘s books for quite some time now… I decided to finally start reading The Treatment on a whim after browsing my kindle for something thrilling to read. It turned out to be a great decision! I normally tend to stick to adult fiction when it comes to the mystery/thriller genre, but this YA story was a nice change of scenery. The first thing that stood out for me was the writing, which was both engaging, well constructed and together with a fast pace made me finish it in one sitting. The plot itself is intriguing and has elements that are almost on the border of science fiction, but with a strong focus on mental health and family as well. There is a lot of mystery and suspense around the Residential Reform Academy and what happens behind their doors, and it was definitely interesting to see how things developed. The Treatment started with a bang and sets the right mood of what the author calls is a story that is ‘Prison Break meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but for teens‘. I can definitely understand that reference, especially during those chapters set inside the RRA. It was very interesting to see the characters develop and to see Drew adapt as she tries to figure out what to do… I’m not sure all aspects of the plot were completely credible, but it sure made for a very entertaining story! If you are looking for a fast-paced, intriguing and well written YA mystery with a mental health angle, The Treatment is an excellent choice.


Title: Heart Berries
Author: Terese Marie Mailhot

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Feminism
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Counterpoint
Finished reading: January 10th 2019
Pages: 178

“Sometimes trying to be the absence of something makes you that very thing.”


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I remember this memoir being recommended in the past and after it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards I decided to finally get a copy and give it a go. I’m always intrigued by #ownvoices memoirs as it gives us a way to learn more about a culture and/or person we might not know much about. Heart Berries is a fascinating and emotional memoir written by woman born in the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in Canada. Let me say before I continue that the problem here is most definitely me, and not this story. Heart Berries is powerful, raw and simply devastating and the writing is lyrical and almost poetic at times. Oh yes, the prose is gorgeous and this is definitely one of the things that stood out most for me apart from the way the author isn’t afraid to bleed and give us the ugly truth about her childhood and past. There is a lot to love and I truly admire Terese Marie Mailhot for not only surviving her childhood and other life obstacles including mental illness, but also for not being afraid to get her memories out there. Why didn’t I enjoy this memoir better then? Well, this is mostly a case of me, while truly appreciating the wonderful prose, somehow being unable to connect to the words, story or the things that happened to her. This failed connection made it hard for me to keep myself invested and I didn’t enjoy my reading experience as much as I thought I would. This is 100% my own experience with Heart Berries and has nothing to do with the excellence of this memoir.


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ARC REVIEW: Love Looks Pretty On You – by Lang Leav

Title: Love Looks Pretty On You
Author: Lang Leav
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: December 1st 2018
Pages: 224

“Don’t stay where you are needed. Go where you are loved.”

*** 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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I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Lang Leav‘s poetry bundles in the past, so I was drawn to her newest poetry bundle coming out next year as well. I know I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I like to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while and read something different. Unfortunately, I can’t say Love Looks Pretty On You turned out to be an entirely positive experience. There was just something about the writing style and tone this time around that didn’t manage to convince me completely. I found that the poems in Love Looks Pretty On You lacked proper cohesion between them and there was no absolute theme and obvious connection between all of them. Instead of the positive tone I was expecting from the title, there were a lot of negative feelings portrayed in the poems. Not bad perse, but not what I expected and somehow I wasn’t able to connect to most of the poems. I wasn’t too sure about the style and form of most of the poems and thoughts included. It wasn’t a bad read, but by no means her strongest bundle either.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #58 – The Princess Saves Herself In This One & The Smallest Part

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two genres I don’t read all too often, but two titles that turned out to be winners. The Princess Saves Herself In This One has a very powerful message and The Smallest Part was simply brilliant.


Title: The Princess Saves Herself In This One
(Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #1)
Author: Amanda Lovelace

Genre: Non Fiction, Poetry, Feminism
First published: April 23rd 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: October 25th 2018
Pages: 156

“When I had
no friends
I reached inside
my beloved
books
& sculpted some
out of
12 pt
Times new roman.

— & it was almost good enough.”


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I actually read the second poetry bundle of this series earlier this year, and I’ve been meaning to pick up The Princess Saves Herself In This One ever since. While there is no complicated poetry style to admire and the main technique seems to be the use of the space bar, somehow I wasn’t as bothered by that. Because there is one thing for sure: where The Princess Saves Herself In This One might lack in proper technique, it’s the words themself and the powerful message behind them that will blow your socks off. WOW! It doesn’t happen often that I’m able to connect this much with poetry… Relatable, emotional, clever wordplay; these words will no doubt move you. I still prefer the second bundle, but I can understand why so many seemed to have enjoyed this one. It shows Amanda Lovelace has gone through a lot in life, and I admire her for being so open about it and her not afraid to show the hurt and beat the monsters by throwing words and poems at them. I will definitely be looking forward to the third bundle coming out next year.


Title: The Smallest Part
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
First published: February 13th 2018
Finished reading: October 27th 2018
Pages: 325

“We’re more than just a collection of bones, cobbled together by God or eons of evolution. We have souls, We have purpose. We’re more.”


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I have enjoyed every single Amy Harmon book I’ve tried so far and I love how different and unique each story is. I have been looking forward to read The Smallest Part ever since it came out earlier this year, and decided to finally read it as a treat to myself. This story has once again reconfirmed my love for her work. What an absolutely brilliant and moving story! I think this is one of the first times I wasn’t bothered at all by the appearance of a love triangle, and somehow I actually enjoyed the romance. Between the wonderful writing style, the excellent character development, an interesting plot and the paranormal angle The Smallest Part has everything and more needed to turn this into one of my top reads this year. The flashbacks added history and more background to the characters, which I was able to connect to immediately and they will stay with me for a long time. Well developed, original and an emotional rollercoaster… The Smallest Part will take you on a wonderful journey with highs and lows and characters you will cherish. This is without doubt one of the must-reads I will be recommending to everyone.


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ARC REVIEW: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – by Amanda Lovelace @AndrewsMcMeel @ladybookmad

Title: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One
(Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #2)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Feminism
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 24th 2018
Pages: 208

“to be a

woman

is to be

warbound,

k n o w i n g

all the odds

are stacked

against you.

 

– & never giving up in spite of it.”

*** 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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I know I don’t read poetry all that often, but I do enjoy reading poetry bundles every once in a while, especially if the topic speaks to me. I’ve heard lots and lots of wonderful things about Amanda Lovelace‘s powerful and feminist poems, and after a few teasers of her work, I was determined to find out what my own reaction to her work would be. And just like the bold red letters on an otherwise simple cover, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One without doubt makes a statement. Not only did I instantly connect with her style of poetry and the way she expresses herself, but I could also relate to some of the topics she discusses in her poems. Powerful, enchanting, inspiring and so well represented in both the words and format of her work! There a trigger warnings involved for a wide selection of sensitive themes, but all used in a way that will hopefully encourage women to finally stand up for themselves and say ‘no more’. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One simply blew me away and I can highly recommend it to fans of strong, empowering and feminist poetry. I can’t wait to read more of her work now!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Color Purple – by Alice Walker

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker

Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 1982
Publisher: Mariner Books
Finished reading: April 5th 2017
Pages: 304

“Oh Celie, unbelief is a terrible thing. And so is the hurt we cause others unknowingly.”

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Warning: possible unpopular opinion ahead.

Part of the promise I made myself this year is that I would try to read more classics this year as well as try to finally read some of the TBR backlist titles. The Color Purple by Alice Walker fits right into both categories: it’s a modern classic I’ve somehow never picked up before and I decided to change that this month. I’ve seen a lot of raving reviews about this classic and a lot of high ratings, so I found myself rather looking forward to it. And I have to say I was surprised when I found myself struggling to continue reading this story instead… Because it took me a LONG time to get used to the writing style. I get that the author is trying to make Celie’s voice feel more authentic, but it also makes her chapters a lot more difficult to read with all the broken sentences, words and bad grammar. Celie is an uneducated child wife living in the South and I’m sure very accurately described, but that doesn’t take away my feelings of frustration while I read her chapters. Luckily I found the second half of The Color Purple to be a lot better (mainly thanks to Nettie), or else I don’t think I would have finished it… To make things clear: my feelings have nothing to do with the fact that this book is right in your face when it comes to unpleasant themes as child abuse, rape and violence. Alice Walker doesn’t try to sugarcoat the situation and action of the main characters and while unpleasant, it does also give a very strong message. It’s without doubt a colorful read and I understand why it’s called a modern classic… I guess it just wasn’t for me.

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The Color Purple tells the story of two sisters who ended up living separate lives. While Celie is not able to escape her destiny and becomes yet another uneducated child wife living in the South, she managed to avoid her sister Nettie having to face the same fate. It does mean they will have to live far away from each other… As Nettie ends up living as a missionary in Africa. The story follows the two sisters over time and even though they are not able to keep contact, they remain loyal to each other and both have faith that some day they will see each other again. What will happen to the two sisters? Will they survive the challenges life will throw at them?

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I really wanted to like this modern classic, but I never recovered from my initial struggle with the writing style and voice of one of the main characters (Celie). The story itself is without doubt both shocking, intimidating, intriguing and heartbreaking; raw, but very realistic descriptions and feelings. I do have to say I enjoying the second part a lot better, but I’m having the feeling this book and me just aren’t a good fit. Most people seem to have a lot of love for The Color Purple, so don’t let my review discourage you! A little warning for those who are sensitive to graphic scenes including abuse and rape though.


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