YVO’S SHORTIES #77 – A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful & Ghost Boys

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a title I picked up on a whim and another I needed for the #ownvoices prompt of the Beat The Backlist EPIC Bingo challenge. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom turned out to be a slowburner, but the rest of the story made up for the slow start. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes blew me away. Definitely a must-read.


Title: A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful
Author: Eric Lindstrom

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 29th 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Finished reading: January 15th 2019
Pages: 353

“I can’t bear the thought of how they’d look at me, and treat me, if they knew how many pills I take every morning just to act more or less like everybody else.”


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This is one of those titles I picked up on a whim without a proper reason of doing so. I do remember enjoying his debut in the past, so that might have had to do with my decision to pick up A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful… Although it might have been the cover itself as well. I have to say that this story was a slowburner for me. It took me a while to get into the story and get a proper feel for the plot and characters. The warming up was slow, but once I did my feelings soared. There is just something about Eric Lindstrom‘s writing and character development that will manage to win you over even if you think it won’t happen. I can really appreciate how bipolar disorder is put in the spotlight with the help of this story, and it was interesting to see how it was portrayed in both Mel’s character and those around her. The chapter introductions were a nice touch, and I just loved how romance only played a tiny part in the story (and mostly innocent at that), leaving room for the important things to be properly developed and discussed. I could really appreciate that! It was interesting to see how things ended and while there are a few high school cliches involved, somehow they didn’t bother me that much. Slow, but sweet and definitely worth the read! Mel will be able to turn around your feelings, David is adorable and the bipolar disorder seems to have been very well handled!


Title: Ghost Boys
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes

Genre: MG, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 17th 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: January 16th 2019
Pages: 224

“Only the living can make change.”


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I first heard about this book when it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards last year, and to be honest I’m surprised this little gem hasn’t received more attention and love. Ghost Boys is such a powerful read! With race problematics and discrimination sadly being all too real even today, this is such an important book for middle graders and adults alike to read… The topic itself is brilliantly handled, well developed without things becoming too political or dull. The power behind Ghost Boys is the twelve-year-old Jerome, who gives the fatal consequence of racism a face and will make your heart break. The division between the dead and alive chapters was very cleverly done and gives the story an original twist as well as a paranormal touch. I really liked the idea of the other ghost boys, the inclusion of different ideas about life after dead and the incorporation of historical information was very well done. The writing will draw you in right away, your heart will ache for Jerome and those close to him and you will feel the powerful message behind the story long before you reach the final page. This is a story of what sadly is still happening around the world and something ‘only the living can change‘. A true eye-opener and a very important read anyone should read.


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WWW Wednesdays #206 – January 23rd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading one of the last pending February NG ARCs: The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. I’ve heard lots of things about this story so fingers crossed this time travel experience will be a good one. I’m also finally starting Exquisite by Sarah Stovell. I can’t believe I’ve been posponing it for this long!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I had high hopes for We Told Six Lies, but sadly I can’t say this story lived up to expectations. Part of this feeling has to do with the fact I was expecting a mystery, not a romantic drama with two unlikeable main characters I couldn’t care less about. Sure, at least Molly wasn’t ment to be likeable in the first place, but it’s hard to stay invested in a story when you can’t stand the main characters. The amount of sexy scenes and (romantic) cliches were likewise a huge turn off. Sadly, the plot was quite predictable as well… The writing does flow well and the story reads superfast. The right person will probably enjoy We Told Six Lies better than I did.

2. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/01
Ghost Boys is such a powerful read! With race problematics and discrimination sadly being all too real even today, this is such an important book for middle graders and adults alike to read… The topic itself is brilliantly handled, well developed without things becoming too political or dull. The power behind Ghost Boys is the twelve-year-old Jerome, who gives the fatal consequence of racism a face and will make your heart break.

3. The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/01
My instincts told me I was in for a treat with this one and it turns out they were right. The Winter Sister offers us a well balanced mix of a family drama, cold case murder and psychological thriller with a focus on the complicated relationships between mother and daughters alike. The writing is solid and the plot well crafted and interestingly developed. The switches between past and present added to the intrigue and suspense around Persephone’s death and the truth what really happened to her… There are a lot of secrets and twists to discover, and while I did see some of them coming, others managed to surprise me. All in all The Winter Sister was a very satisfying read fans of the genre will love.

4. End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/01
I love a good international setting where it seems like reading a story comes with free travel. Add the fact that this story visits two places I’ve recently been able to explore and love myself, and it’s easy to say that the international feel of End Of The Lie was a huge bonus for me. I still struggled with the main characters, the bitchiness and the romance (although I liked some of the romantic developments), but the writing reads like a train and once the pace picks up things get interesting. Fans of international YA spy thrillers will have a great time with this trilogy.

5. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (4/5 stars) REVIEW 04/02
I really enjoyed my time with The Last Time I Lied. The writing is strong and draws you right in; the descriptions of the art and surroundings are done in such a way that really makes them come alive. Using the unreliable narrator technique and a whole bunch of twists, secrets and lies, Riley Sager will be able to keep you guessing about what really happened all those years ago. And not only that, because things are happening in the present as well that make you wondering what is really going on and who is behind it all.

6. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (3/5 stars) REVIEW 04/02
I was looking forward to a historical fiction read and the promise of a foreign setting in the 1920s sounded great. Add the fact that reading it would mean crossing off my first classic of the year early, and I was fully convinced. What I didn’t expect is just how focused this story is on the romance, adultery and love triangle. This never goes well for me and I guess it’s part of the reason I’m guessing The Painted Veil simply wasn’t for me despite my love for historical fiction.

7. Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
I think Bright We Burn is my new favorite of the series. The historical setting, the references to Vlad The Impaler, the worldbuilding, the descriptions, the writing, the characters… There is so much to love here and I have enjoyed every single minute I spent emerged in this world. It’s hard to compare books since it’s been too long since I read the first two, but what I can definitely say is that The Conqueror’s Saga ends stronger than ever.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I still have a pile of ARCs I need to get to, but I’m liking this balance between ARCs and backlist titles I’ve been able to maintain so far. I’m probably reading the ARC How To Experience Death For Beginners by Jessica Branton next, and then I get to read two more backlist titles afterwards as a reward. I’m in the mood for something contemporary, so that will probably be When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon… There has been such a hype around this book that I’m afraid to pick it up, but fingers crossed it will be a good one for me. I’m also planning on making good to my promise to read more Agatha Christie and pick up the second Hercule Poirot book The Murder On The Links. (The fact that this means another classic I can cross off is a huge bonus.) My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey, which I’m hoping to read before the end of the month.


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WWW Wednesdays #205 – January 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to get rid of my backlog of pending NG ARCs so I can go back to my backlist titles, so I’m currently reading We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott. So far it’s proving to be a fast read… I’m also starting The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, a title I’ve been really excited about.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Treatment by C.L. Taylor (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
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. 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.

2. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
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. 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.

3. Finding Grace by K.L. Slater (5/5 stars) REVIEW 17/01
Finding Grace is definitely a great way to start the year with a bang. Well written, intriguing, suspenseful, complex and nailbitingly good: oh yes, say hello to my very first 5 star read of the year! I’m a big fan of her work in general and this one might just be my new favorite. What seems to be another kidnapping case at first glance turns out to be so much more… With a lot of extra layers, flashbacks and twists to form a properly complex and well executed plot. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, because it will be VERY hard to stop reading before reaching that final page.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old!

5. The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* It wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.

6. Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/01
I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!

7. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
I have to say that this story was a slowburner for me. It took me a while to get into the story and get a proper feel for the plot and characters. The warming up was slow, but once I did my feelings soared. There is just something about Eric Lindstrom‘s writing and character development that will manage to win you over even if you think it won’t happen. I can really appreciate how bipolar disorder is put in the spotlight with the help of this story, and it was interesting to see how it was portrayed in both Mel’s character and those around her.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to make a dent in my February NG ARCs… End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach is up next and also conveniently the first series I will be able to finish this year. Then I’m going to go back to a few backlist titles, with Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White coming up next. I was going to finish the Fire And Thorns trilogy first, but I saw Bright We Burn mentioned a few days ago and I just couldn’t resist picking it up any longer. I need to know what happens to Lada, Radu and Mehmed! My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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