YVO’S SHORTIES #108 – Dear Evan Hansen & The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads… Sadly Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich failed to blow me away, but The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen completely won over my heart. It’s a must-read for fans of A Man Called Ove!!


Title: Dear Evan Hansen
Author: Val Emmich

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 9th 2018
Publisher: Poppy
Finished reading: June 17th 2019 
Pages: 352

“Fantasies always sound good, but they’re no help when reality comes and shoves you to the ground.”


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I’ve had Dear Evan Hansen on my radar for a while and decided to pick it up on a whim while browsing my kindle for contemporary titles. I initially thought it was going to be a great title for Pride month, but I guess I remembered the facts wrong as the LGBT element hardly plays a role in Dear Evan Hansen. Instead, the focus is on the main character and his mental health issues and anxiety. I’m always interested in stories with that angle, so I didn’t mind that much at first, but I’m not sure I actually like the execution here. Why? Well, I felt there was just too much focus on Evan’s mental problems as a personality trait and I didn’t feel his character was all that developed otherwise; making him essentionally one dimensional and not at all easy to connect to. I understand social awkwardness and anxiety on a personal level, and I don’t feel that Evan was necesarity a realistic and thorough representation of this. He almost felt like a cartoon of himself; his mental issues used as a way to ‘spice up’ the plot and create new plot angles. And to be honest I’m not sure what to think about that. I wasn’t a fan of the plot itself either; I found it rather tasteless to be honest and quite unrealistic as well. The writing wasn’t bad and the story reads fast generally, although I wasn’t happy with the tone sometimes. I do have to confess I have never seen the Broadway show, and this might have had an influence on my reading experience? I’m not sure, but what I do know that this story definitely wasn’t for me. I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely give it a shot if you think you would enjoy it!


Title: The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen
(Hendrik Groen #1)
Author: Hendrik Groen

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
First published: June 1st 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: June 18th 2019
Pages: 400
(Originally written in Dutch: ‘Pogingen Iets Van Het Leven Te Maken’)

“Loneliness can sometimes feel even worse when you’re with other people.”


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As soon as I read the blurb of The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen for the first time two years ago, I knew I HAD to read it. There was just something about the story that made me think of grumpy Ove in A Man Called Ove, one of my all time favorite characters and stories, so there was just no way I was going to pass up on this read. The book is actually a translation of an originally Dutch publication, and the funny part is that for a long time it wasn’t sure who exactly was behind this little masterpiece. Yes, The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen was written under a pseudonym and the author didn’t want his identity to be revealed… Which means that we sadly won’t be able to meet the infamous Hendrik Groen in person. And how would I have loved to do that! I have a feeling Ove and Hendrik would have been great friends and I fell in love with his character right away. The slight grumpiness, the sarcastic humor, his attitude towards the world, the Old But Not Dead club in general… Everything just clicked perfectly and I had a blast reading about their adventures. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen is exactly that: a diary. The story is told through (almost) daily entries in Hendrik Groen’s diary, and through his diary we get to learn more about both himself, the care home and its inhabitants, the care system and Dutch politics/key events in 2013 and last but not least the members of the Old But Not Dead club. I loved the idea behind this club and how Hendrik and his friends decided to keep enjoying life while they still can. The outings were fun to read about and I really loved seeing both their characters and their bond develop over time. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen isn’t all fun and there are a few sad moments included that will most likely make your eyes water. And the ending most definitely left me wanting more more… Hendrik Groen is without doubt a character that will stay with me for a long time! Funny, entertaining and heartfelt: fans of strong main characters, sarcastic humor and A Man Called Ove should consider The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen a must-read.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #105 – We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (DNF) & The Confectioner’s Guild

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I was less lucky with my reading choices… The first, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby, ended up being a DNF for me as we definitely didn’t get along. The second, The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana, started out good enough, but things soon fizzled out and the story failed to impress me in the end.


Title: We Are Never Meeting In Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: June 4th 2019
Pages: 272
DNF at 42% (114 pages)

“And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just tell some more stupid jokes. Good thing I’m hilarious.”


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Give me a cat on a cover and I’m immediately intrigued, and give me a promise of a potentially funny memoir and consider me signed up for the challenge. I’ve been looking forward to pick up We Are Never Meeting In Real Life despite the mixed reviews and despite the fact I hadn’t heard of the author before. Maybe I should have checked out her blog to see if her writing style would be for me, because there is one thing for sure: her writing and me definitely didn’t get along. I love my snarky humor, but we are most definitely NOT going to be meeting in real life or getting along for that matter… I’m going to be honest here and say I just felt the author was too full of herself (see quote above) and trying way too hard to be funny and it had the complete opposite effect on me. Add an overdose of sex references to the whole self-centeredness and I had no other option than to simply throw in the towel at 42%. I never like making the decision to DNF a story, but sadly the writing style and content was such a struggle for me that I just couldn’t force myself to read the other 58% of the essays. Hereby I declare We Are Never Meeting In Real Life officially my fourth DNF of the year and it’s easy to say it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for. Note to self: next time, don’t get distracted by a cute cat on the cover and investigate first before deciding to read another ‘funny’ memoir. If you are able to connect to her humor and don’t mind a lot of sex-centered comments, you will probably have a better time reading We Are Never Meeting In Real Life though.


Title: The Confectioner’s Guild
(The Confectioner’s Chronicles #1)
Author: Claire Luana

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: October 23rd 2018
Publisher: Live Edge Publishing
Finished reading: June 5th 2019
Pages: 327

“Small things change the course of history.”

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I stumbled upon this series while browsing for books with a food element for a challenge, and both cover and blurb sounded positively delicious. I’ve been looking forward to bite into The Confectioner’s Guild ever since (did I mention before I love baking?), and when I started reading I really liked what I was tasting. The fantasy world, the many many baking references, the mystery around Kasper’s death and Wren’s past, the existence of the Gifted… Oh yes, there were a lot of interesting ingredients in play. The Confectioner’s Guild reads quite fast at first and part of this has to do with the writing, which starts out engaging and interactive. It’s true though that things start slowing down a bit after a while and the initial flame peeters out mostly… I think a lot of it has to do with the introduction of sappy romance in the plot, which distracts from the murder conspiracy and delicious baking elements. It also had to do with Wren, who started to get on my nerves with the whole ‘I can’t trust anyone’ and then ‘I’m trusting them anyway’ repeating over and over again. The romance itself mostly felt forced and unnatural for me, but at least we don’t have a love triangle (or at least for now). I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Confectioner’s Guild, because while I loved certain elements, there were others that failed to convince me including the ending. But there is one thing for sure: you will crave lots of baked goods before you reach the final page! I’m really tempted to make another batch of these rose buttercream cupcakes I prepared two weeks ago for a birthday party just because they match the cupcake that changed Wren’s fate so well. 😉


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ARC REVIEW: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane – by Dee MacDonald

Title: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 24th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 2nd 2019
Pages: 275

“These things usually happen when you aren’t looking for them.”

*** 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 was really looking forward to spend time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, especially since I loved the writing style and humor in The Getaway Girls last year. I was fully expecting to be having a blast while reading Dee MacDonald‘s newest title, but I guess it just wasn’t ment to be… And I turned out having a completely different reaction instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Because I ended up having quite a few issues with this story and surprisingly none had to do with the fact that the contemporary romance genre normally isn’t really for me. I’ll try to explain why The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane didn’t work for me below.

The first and most important issue I had with this story had to do with one of Tess’ dates… More especifically the one in the hotel. I don’t want to give away too many details to avoid spoilers, but basically what is described can be considered rape. Disgusting enough on its own and trigger warning worthy, but to make things even worse Tess tries to justify it and blames herself? No, no, NO!! I nearly stopped reading there and then because of this scene. Another thing that bothered me considerably is that way this story completely destroys body positivity. I mean, Tess believing she has to lose weight in order for her to look good, be successful and find a man? Not only shallow but completely contradicts the image their own shop tries to portray. Characters in general are discriminated and talked about negatively because of their weight and appearance and this really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The story itself is filled with cliches and not in a good way… I personally couldn’t even find the humor in them this time around. I also failed to connect to the main characters, mostly due to how they behaved and the negativity towards others. The dates themselves were so cliche that they are almost offensive and most characters really lacked fleshing out for me. A shame, because I was really looking forward to see more mature main characters for a change. What I did like? The writing does read quite fast and I loved the descriptions of the different places of their Greek cruise. This travel element was probably my favorite part of the story. Otherwise, unfortunately this turned out to be a rather disappointing journey for me. I do hope others will react differently to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane!

Tess and Orla have been best friend for a long time and have worked together in a dressmakers shop on the corner of Penny Lane for quite some time. Then one day, sixty-two-year-old Tess decides she wants something more out of the rest of her days and wants to rediscover herself… Hoping to find someone special to spend those days with sooner than later. Orla convinces her to join a dating agency, resulting in some very interesting meetings… And a cruise visiting the Greek islands on the menu as well.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to be having this reaction to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, but it is what it is I guess… I turned out having various serious issues with this story, a lot relating to how characters behaved and were portrayed. I apologize if this review turned into a rant, but I really couldn’t help but getting my feelings out there since it doesn’t happen often I have this strong of a reaction to a story. I do hope others will have a better time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane though.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #87 – Be Frank With Me & A Thousand Perfect Notes

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a story that unfortunately disappointed me and another that completely blew me away. The only thing that saved me from DNFing Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson was the main character… While I enjoyed every single perfect second of A Thousand Perfect Notes by our fellow book blogger C.G. Drews.


Title: Be Frank With Me
Author: Julia Claiborne Johnson

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
First published: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: February 25th 2019
Pages: 309

“Sometimes just explaining your predicament–to a bartender, a priest, the old woman in a shift and flip-flops cleaning the lint traps in the Laundromat dryers–is all it takes to see a way out of it.”


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I have been meaning to pick up Be Frank With Me for quite some time now, mostly because I love my quirky characters and Frank sounded like someone I just HAD to meet. My TBR jar thought it was about time I finally read it, and although my experience wasn’t all that positive there is one thing for sure: I’m glad I finally did get to know him. The premise behind this story on its own is quite interesting, with the reclusive writer being forced to write a few book after falling for a ponzi scheme. But M.M. Banning, also Mimi, doesn’t steal the show nor is the main character here. Not even the narrator of this story, Alice, seems to be in the true spotlight. Oh no, that place is reserved for the young Frank. He is the sole reason I made it to the final page, because there were things I unfortunately struggled with considerably… There was just something about the writing style in Be Frank With Me that made it hard for me to stay focused and the slow pace didn’t help either. The plot is pretty basic and I really felt the story dragged in parts. I wasn’t at all interested in what was happening in the Bel Air house in general or if Mimi would ever finish her book… Not a good feeling to start with. The many Hollywood references and Frank being Frank were what made me keep reading though. His character is both quirky and unique and is definitely what makes me give this story the benefit of the doubt.


Title: A Thousand Perfect Notes
Author: C.G. Drews

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: June 7th 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Finished reading: March 3rd 2019
Pages: 288

“Music is nothing unless it fills your soul with colour and passion and dreams.”


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It’s always fantastic to see a fellow book blogger being published and I’m sure a lot of you now C.G. Drews for either her Paperfury book blog or gorgeous Instagram account (or both!). Her debut A Thousand Perfect Notes was published last year and I’m still kicking myself I didn’t pick it up sooner… Because the reviews are right: this is an absolutely fantastic and heartbreaking read! Well worth the 5 stars and without doubt one of my 2019 favorites. There is just something about the writing style that will draw you right in and I wasn’t able to let go until I reached the final page. I loved how big of a role music played throughout the story, the many musical references both relevant to the plot and enchanting at the same time. The power of A Thousand Perfect Notes is in its characters though. Both Beck, August and Joey are so easy to love; you will adopt them straight away and your heart will ache for them as the plot evolves. I love how the personality of Beck and August are completely contrary and balance each other that way. The Maestro is a horrible character and source of a few trigger warning worthy elements including abuse and violence. She is the perfect villian for this story though and I loved her background and the fact German words are incorporated in the text. A Thousand Perfect Notes will make you laugh and cry and the characters will stay with you for a long time. It’s a fantastic contemporary read which balances happy moments and a romantic interest with a thousand musical notes and a dark twist. If you like the genre and haven’t read this debut yet, you should definitely remedy that. I personally can’t wait until her new story comes out in April!


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ARC REVIEW: Sorry Not Sorry – by Sophie Ranald

Title: Sorry Not Sorry
Author: Sophie Ranald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Humor
First published: February 13th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 19th 2018
Pages: 329

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere – including heaven.”

*** 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, I know, contemporary romance isn’t really my thing, but I like to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while and there was just something about this title that made me want to read it. It sounds like the perfect and fun summer or beach read… And I still believe it fits that title perfectly. You see, I think the problem here was mostly me, and not Sorry Not Sorry. There were things I liked about the story, and the humor is definitely more than present. I was able to click with the funny moments, and I like the sharp, quirky and entertaining writing style in general. It sure is a superfast read as well! But I wasn’t prepared for the many so-called ‘sexy’ scenes, which are quite a turn off for me. I also don’t like seeing tropes as cheating and a love triangle in a story… (There are others as well, but I can’t mention those due to possible spoilers.) This overdose of romance cliches in general was just way too much for me. I also didn’t really like at all the bitchiness of some of the characters or the way some of them behaved in general… Also, Charlotte herself could get quite annoying at points. I do believe that contemporary romance fans who love a good dose of humor in their stories will have a blast with Sorry Not Sorry though.

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Charlotte has always made the sensible decisions, being the essentially good girl. But she is tired of her in her eyes boring life, looking for a way to spice up her life and find a new man in her life. A popular podcast, Sorry Not Sorry, seems to be the solution. A popcast challenging its listeners to embrace their inner bad girl by proposing a series of challenges. The New Charlotte is ready to wave goodbye to her comfort zone and embrace her inner bad girl; but will these challenges actually help her change around her life?

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As the cover already suggests, Sorry Not Sorry is a fun, quirky and entertaining read and perfect for those hot summer days while sipping on a cocktail (or juice if you don’t drink alcohol). The writing style is engaging and the humor was actually one of the things I really liked in Sorry Not Sorry. Then again, I like my humor a bit sarcastic and spicy. There were other things I didn’t like in Sorry Not Sorry, but I have the feeling that is mostly my own fault and not the story itself. Fans of the genre will have a great time with this one!


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ARC REVIEW: Dear Mr Pop Star – by Derek & Dave Philpott @DerekPhilpott

Title: Dear Mr Pop Star
Author: Derek & Dave Philpott
Genre: Non Fiction, Humor, Music
First published: September 20th 2018
Publisher: Unbound
Finished reading: October 26th 2018
Pages: 416

“Furthermore, you needn’t worry about the intoxicating effects of scrumpy on us; we’re not like those festival lightweights who have a couple of pints of the crazy apple and end up piddling in their own welly boots. We’ve been drinking it for so many years it no longer has any alcofrolic effect; we actually consider it one of our ‘5-a-Day’.”

*** 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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Even though I confess quite a few of the artists featured in Dear Mr Pop Star are before my time, I do love my music and I have been having a great time discovering and rediscovering songs. Tip: put the corresponding band/song on Youtube in the background while you read each letter and reply. It will make your reading experience even better! (Or even better: listen to this Spotify playlist ready to use!) I had a blast going through the letters in Dear Mr Pop Star. I love that they sent letters to famous musicians in the first place, and the fact that so many actually responded is simply brilliant. And so many are such clever and funny replies at that. My favorite replies include those of Doctor And The Medics, Dr Hook, Tears For Fears, Cutting Crew, Katrina And The Waves, The Wurzels, Smokie, The Climax Blues Band, The Jags, NuShooz, City Boy, Johnny Hates Jazz and Republica. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise and give them all away. Dear Mr Pop Star would make a perfect gift for any pop and rock music fan. The letters will make you shuckle out loud and bring a smile to your face on numerous occasions, and it’s interesting to see how the pop and rock stars react to those letters in the first place. Thank you for compiling this brilliant collection and giving us the chance to get a glimpse of what is going on in the heads of some of the famous artists out there!


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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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