YVO’S SHORTIES #61 – Every Note Played & The Cheerleaders

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different stories I both ended up enjoying. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova and The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, both Goodreads Choice Awards nominees.


Title: Every Note Played
Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: March 20th 2018
Publisher: Scout Press
Finished reading: November 3rd 2018
Pages: 321

“Life is not a static organism. Every day, he’s a little more shut down, shut in, turned off. A little less in motion. A little less alive. “


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This is already my third Lisa Genova story… I’m always in awe how she is able to put a devastating neurological disease in the spotlight, mixing medical facts and symptoms with a fictional story in such way that you end up both being educated and entertained at the same time. This balance between facts and fiction is what makes Every Note Played such an interesting read for me. It’s not just a simple description of ALS and its symptoms. Through the main character Richard we get to see exactly how this disease evolves and what effects it has on both his life and those close to him. This impact is shown really well through both Karina and Bill, and in a lesser role Grace and other characters  as well. As always, I enjoyed the writing style and the way the story was told, although I do have to say I wish there would have been a bit more focus on the character development itself. I understand and appreciate a very present role of ALS in the story, but it did make me feel the main characters as persons were pushed a bit in the background. I would have liked to learn more about Richard and Karina and their background. I guess this would have made it easier to connect to them straight away… I loved the musical element though, and how music played a role throughout a story. In short, despite a few minor details Every Note Played was without doubt another excellent and fascinating read.


Title: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: November 5th 2018
Pages: 384

“Everyone goes through shit, and there’s always someone somewhere who has it worse. It doesn’t make what you’re feeling any less real or any less shitty.”


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After really enjoying Little Monsters last year, I’ve been looking forward to read more of her work. It took me longer than expected, and it isn’t the book I originally planned to read first, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to be starting The Cheerleaders. There was just something about the blurb that caught my attention, although the blood spatters on the cover alone weirdly made me want to read this story already. A possible high school murder mystery with cheerleaders involved? Talk about an interesting twist! I already knew I was probably going to enjoy the writing style after Little Monsters, and my instincts were absolutely right. There is just something about the writing that draws you right in, makes you forget about your surroundings and just read. I was intrigued from the start, and even though not all characters are likeable and there are a few high school cliches involved, somehow the mystery around the death of the five cheerleaders was enough to forget about those objections and keep on reading. Entertaining and twisty enough to finish it in record time. The Cheerleaders is without doubt one of the strongest YA contemporary/mystery reads I’ve had the chance to read this year, minor flaws and all.


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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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BOOK REVIEW: Maybe Someday – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: Maybe Someday
(Maybe #1)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 18th 2014
Finished reading: April 22nd 2016
Pages: 385
Rating 3,5qqq

“Sometimes in life, we need a few bad days in order to keep the good ones in perspective.”

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I seem to be having a love/hate relationship with Colleen Hoover books. While I loved November 9 and enjoyed the first two Never Never novellas, I really disliked both the third Never Never part and Ugly Love. It doesn’t happen often that an author is able to cause such contradicting feelings with their work… And to be honest I was a bit afraid to pick up Maybe Someday. Luckily enough I ended up mostly enjoying this book. In fact, up until about 55-60% I would have given it the highest rating, because I really loved the first part. The lyrics that are incorporated in the text make the already entertaining and easy-to-read prose even more enjoyable and I LOVED Sydney and Ridge. The musical elements in general and their roommates Warren and Bridgette were definitely a huge bonus as well and even Ridge’s girlfriend Maggie seemed like a great character. Unfortunately, after the mark mentioned above things took a turn for the worse. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say Maggie has a ‘secret’ and when it was revealed and things escalated I wasn’t so sure I liked the story OR the two main characters anymore. And it wasn’t even because of the love triangle, because the first part of Maybe Someday was actually one of those few exceptions where the love triangle didn’t bother me. In short, for me the story started out with a blast and got weaker towards the ending… And I still kind of wish she wouldn’t have added the ‘Maggie plot twist’. Still, the first part is good enough to (mostly) make up for it. Recommended for fans of the genre!

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Sydney things she has a perfectly comfortable life as a student with a steady part-time job, living with her best friend and a great boyfriend she has been with for a long time. Even her afternoons studying in listening to the music coming from the balcony opposite hers seem to be perfect. But that all soon comes to an end when she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend. She storm out of their appartment and is suddenly homeless… But not for long, as the mysterious man behind the music, Ridge, decides to let her stay in his appartment he shares with two more roommates. Their initial connection is purely related to music, since Sydney seems to be able to put the lyrics to the songs he plays. But the heart can cheat on the mind, and things are starting to become more complicated…

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Like I said above, I LOVED the first 55-60% or so of Maybe Someday and literally flew through the pages. The prose, the musical elements, Sydney and Ridge, Warren and his hilarious comments… Everything was just perfect and I even managed to ignore the love triangle. But then… BAM! The plot twist happened that made me change my feelings for the two main characters and I kind of lost my respect for them. In the end it is still an interesting story, but not as good as I thought it would be when I was reading the first part.

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Wood – by Dan Ames

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Title: Dead Wood
(John Rockne Mysteries #1)
Author: Dan Ames
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 31st 2011
Finished reading: January 5th 2016
Pages: 204
Rating 3,5qqq

“It was like a beautiful melody to him that ended in a blazing crescendo of blood and violence, capped off by the silent applause of a roaring crowd inside his head.”

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I have been neglecting the mystery/thriller/crime genre last year, so I made myself a promise this year to read more books belonging to what is basically one of my favorite genres. During the read-a-thon last week I was in the mood for a crime read, so I decided to pick up one of my kindle crime freebies Dead Wood. It turned out to be a quick and quite entertaining read I was able to finish almost in one sitting. Dan Ames (pseudonym Dani Amore) writes in a way that keeps you interested throughout the story, using plot twists and full blown action to keep the pace fast. The characters are interesting enough, although I didn’t like all of them and some of their actions were not completely credible. In short: Dead Wood might not be a perfect masterpiece, but if you like a good crime story with some interesting music references I would definitely suggest picking this one up.

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John Rockne used to be a cop, but he had to turn in his badge after making a fatal mistake. He now works as a private investigator in a small town named Grosse Pointe in Michigan. Nothing big ever happens ever there, but with Detroit around the corner things are never completely safe. When a woman who builds custom guitars is murdered, her father contacts Rockne to investigate the murder. The father believes her daughter’s ex is the killer even though he has an alibi. Rockne is not sure what to think, but he decides to investigate a little anyway. What he doesn’t know is that the case is more complicated than he first thought and he soon finds himself in danger… Will he be able to find the killer before the killer finds him first?

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What made Dead Wood truly special were the many musical references throughout the story. A professional killer obsessed with music and The Rolling Stones; not something you read about every day in a crime novel. The rest of the story is good enough, although some of the plot twists and action scenes are a bit too fantastical to my taste. Still, in general I really enjoyed reading this story. If you are looking for a quick and entertaining crime read, Dead Wood would definitely do the job!

BOOK REVIEW: The Sky Is Everywhere – by Jandy Nelson

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Title: The Sky Is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 9th 2010
Finished reading: December 29th 2015
Pages: 277
Rating 4qqq

“When he plays
All the flowers swap colors
And years and decades and centuries
Of rain pour back into the sky.”

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I have been wanting to read this novel ever since I finished I’ll Give You The Sun last April. Jandy Nelson has a way of writing her books that simply blows your mind: beautiful, creative, emotional, sad, funny… Her prose is a mix of all that and more. The Sky Is Everywhere is just as beautifully written as her other book. It is a terribly sad and emotional story where the main characters try to deal with Bailey’s dead; the musical elements and descriptions make this book into something truly exceptional. Why didn’t I give The Sky Is Everywhere the full five stars? I had one problem with this otherwise brilliant novel: the love triangle. I think I have become allergic to love triangles after reading too many YA novels and the Lennie-Toby-Joe triangle more than bothered me. Sure, grief can make you do unspeakable things, but still… I think I could have lived without that element. That said, if you like YA contemporary romance stories and don’t mind having to use a full box of tissues, make sure you read The Sky Is Everywhere!

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After her older sister Bailey dies suddently, seventeen-year-old Lennie doesn’t know what to do with herself. She is used to be on the background, a bookwork and clarinet player, but now has nobody left to hide behind… She lives with her grandmother and uncle ever since her mother left her daughters behind to wander the world; all three of them now stunned by their grief. Bailey’s boyfriend Toby keeps visiting the family as he tries to live with his loss… And Lennie and Toby both feel they are the only ones that really understand each other’s grief. Lennie tries to continue with her life and still goes to band practice, where she meets the new boy and musical talent Joe. They slowly get to know each other, but Lennie is confused about her feelings… Her grief blinding her from making proper decisions.

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The beautiful prose, musical elements and many descriptions and bits of Lennie’s writing truly make The Sky Is Everywhere into something special. I personally didn’t appreciate the love triangle, but the rest of this story is outstanding. It’s a really sad story that will probably bring tears to your eyes at some point, but this Jandy Nelson novel is without doubt worth reading if you like the genre. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: Melophobia – by James Morris

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Title: Melophobia
Author: James Morris
Genre: Mystery, Dystopia, Music
First published: September 22nd 2015
Finished reading: December 1st 2015
Pages: 265
Rating 4qqq

“She could see how easily someone could succumb to the hex music weaved over them, the temptation to lose oneself within the hypnotic trance-like beats. No thoughts of the future, or the past, only the immediate present, as if life itself had condensed into a single moment.”

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

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I couldn’t imagine myself living in a world without music and I always enjoy a good dystopian novel, so when I was approached to read and review Melophobia I was immediately intrigued. This is the second time I’ve read James Morris‘ work this year and I really enjoyed both novels. Melophobia has an interesting plot and the worldbuilding is very well done. The fact that music is forbidden in this world and that the government is trying to control everyone reminded me of dystopian classics like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, which is a huge compliment since both are among my favorite classics. The characters are interesting and I really appreciated the development in the main character Merrin. One minor drawback: the love triangle between Merrin, Anders and Rowan. It didn’t add anything substantial to the plot and part of their relationship seemed a bit forced. I personally felt the story could have worked perfectly fine with Anders just being Merrin’s best friend… But aside from that, I more than enjoyed this dystopian story and I would definitely recommend it if you like the genre.

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America in an alternate present, a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity including music. Almost all music is banned and destroyed when found, both creators and listeners reeducated when arrested. Only Musak can be listened to, a government approved background tune that doesn’t make people feel rebellious. Merrin Pierce is the daughter of the Minister of Broadcast Standards and works as an undercover Patrol officer. Her assignment is to infiltrate the music scene and arrest any musician and fan she can find… But when she is asked to stop the government’s biggest treat so far, the Source, she discovers things about herself and her past she is not sure how to deal with. Was her past just a lie? And is music really that dangerous?

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Melophobia means fear or hatred for music, and this concept is used perfectly in this novel. The story is set in an alternate present where music is forbidden and the government suppresses and reeducates those who want to have music in their lives anyway. The plot is interesting and the story is well written, making Melophobia in a very entertaining dystopian read. The music angle is really refreshing as well!