ARC REVIEW: To Drink Coffee With A Ghost – by Amanda Lovelace

Title: To Drink Coffee With A Ghost
(Things That H(a)unt #2)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: September 17th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: August 13th 2019
Pages: 160

i walk

the thin line

 between

nostalgia

& trauma,

never fully

knowing

the difference.

 

– maybe there is none.”

*** 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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After reading and enjoying the Woman Are Some Kind Of Magic poetry bundles in the past, I tried the first book of this duology earlier this year and found myself really enjoying that collection as well. Reading the second collection of this duology was an easy choice, and it is without doubt an excellent addition. Amanda Lovelace‘s poems are easy to recognize, and while it’s true that the structure of the poems is quite simplistic and basically seems like hitting the space bar every few words, I personally don’t mind. Why? I feel this simple style gives the words and message behind the poems even more power and focuses on what is said instead of just how. Once again, Amanda Lovelace writes without fear and is fully open about her experience with abusive and toxic relationships in the past; To Drink Coffee With A Ghost having a special focus on the relationship with her now deceased mother. And once again, I have to stress that these poems are really easy to relate to for anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship in general (or is still experiencing it) and will provide both comfort and an empowering message to let you know that you are worthy and can beat that monster. She uses words to not only express feelings, but also heal herself and try to free herself from her past and demons… It’s not the style, but the words and the emotions behind those words that turn To Drink Coffee With A Ghost into such a success for me. And while it’s true that her poetry might not be for everyone, those who can connect to her words will be able to treasure it. Another successful bundle and a worthy conclusion to this duology!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #120 – Twisted & I Am Malala

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a new 5 star favorite and another good read as well. I loved Thirteen when I read it a while back, and I think I might just love Twisted a tiny bit more. Steve Cavanagh is definitely one of my favorite new discoveries this year! And it took me years, but I finally managed to read I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, and it was without doubt a very powerful memoir even though I failed to connect with it completely.


Title: Twisted
Author: Steve Cavanagh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 24th 2019
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: August 16th 2019 
Pages: 320

“This was what Paul lived for.

He just liked writing twists good enough to make the reader drop the goddamn book.

And there was one of the way.”


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I’ve had a copy of Twisted on my shelves for a few months, and after being blown away by Thirteen a little while back I was even more excited to finally read it. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I loved Twisted even a tiny bit more than my first meeting with Eddie Flynn. This book knocked me out with a hammer and left me staring at the last page, trying to process what I had just read… Oh yes, this will definitely be on my list of favorites of 2019. And I can also say that Steve Cavanagh is one of my favorite newly discovered authors this year.

I don’t know how I should even start discussing my feelings, because it’s hard to explain the plot and story in general without giving away spoilers that could potentially ruin the fun. But let’s just say that both writing, pace, plot, characters and twists are top notch and definitely take Twisted to the next level. What I love about this book is that nothing is as it seems. You are told something and believe it is true, only for the next chapter to bulldozer over your newly discovered ‘facts’ and feeding you yet another lie instead. Which you will proceed lapping up greedily, desperately trying to get the full picture of it all as you are on a quest to discover the elusive truth. Lie after lie and twist after twist will mislead you up until the point that you even start doubting your own name and your sanity… Oh yes, Twisted will mess with your mind and it’s definitely the right title for this story. Clever, original, complex, brilliantly executed and hands down one of my favorite reads of the year.


Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: November 1st 2012
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Finished reading: August 17th 2019
Pages: 352

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up this memoir for a long long time now. I’m sure most have heard about Malala’s story in some way or the other, and this memoir makes for a very inspiring, powerful and heartbreaking story. I think I might have picked it up at the wrong time, because I somehow against expectations I failed to connect to the story… Especially the first half was a struggle for me; I think it has something to do with the sheer amount of different names, places and politics being involved. While it gives an excellent background and is a goldmine for information about Pakistan, I struggled to keep my attention to the story. But like I said, that might just have been that it wasn’t the right book at the right time for me. When you get to the second half and learn more about Malala’s personal story, both the events of her being shot for her beliefs and the aftermath, it was a lot easier to keep your attention with the story. Malala is without doubt both inspiring and extraordinary… And it is easy to understand why she is considered a symbol of peaceful protest in the world. I might end up rereading this one when I’m in the right mood to see if I react differently to it.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #98 – Fun Home & Five Feet Apart

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a graphic novel memoir and a YA contemporary romance read; one I almost wish I had DNFed and another I enjoyed despite a few issues. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott.


Title: Fun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel
First published: June 8th 2006
Publisher: Mariner Books
Finished reading: April 30th 2019
Pages: 232

“It could be argued that death is inherently absurd, and that grinning is not necessarily an inappropriate response. I mean absurd in the sense of ridiculous, unreasonable. One second a person is there, the next they’re not.”


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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead!

I’m keeping these rambles short, because honestly I don’t feel I have a lot to say about this graphic novel. It’s true I wasn’t sure if Fun Home would be for me even before I started reading it, but I needed a graphic novel for my BTB Bingo challenge and my TBR choices were limited. I enjoy reading memoirs and the idea of reading a memoir in graphic novel form intrigued me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect to the tone or writing style of the author. The many many references to classic literature for me were, instead of an unexpected bonus, rather a hint to feelings of self-importance and superiority. I wasn’t a fan of how the whole lgbt element was handled nor how characters were portrayed. I honestly wish I would have just taken the decision to DNF, because I had a really hard time reaching that final page. This definitely wasn’t a story for me, although I should note others have highly enjoyed it and it has a high overall rating on Goodreads, so it might have been just me. Still, the fact is I had a really hard time reaching that final page of Fun Home and I can’t say I had ‘fun’ while I was trying to get there. If you are looking for an original memoir, enjoy reading in graphic novel form and don’t mind classic literature references in abundance, you will probably be a better match for this story though.


Title: Five Feet Apart
Author: Rachael Lippincott

Genre: YA, Fiction, Romance
First published: November 20th 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster For Young Readers
Finished reading: April 30th 2019
Pages: 288

“Everyone in this world is breathing borrowed air.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while… Especially since I’ve been hoping to watch the movie adaptation some time soon. The first thing that stood out for me was that this story has that The Fault In Our Stars and Everything, Everything vibe down to the terminal illness and cheesy romance. I’m still deciding whether that is a good or a bad thing, but there is one thing for sure: you will find yourself flying through this story. I literally finished it in less than a day, and a lot of this has to do with the writing style. I appreciated the focus and insight in CF and how the story shows the impact of this disease on someone’s life (once it is in an advanced stage). BUT. I’m not sure up to what point some aspects of the plot are exactly credible. I don’t want to end up including spoilers, but let’s just say part of it has to do with the unnecessary risk taking (something similar happened in Everything Everything). I don’t think it’s encourageable to have main characters who are that ill taking significant risks that basically endanger their lives. It gives a bad example and it is simply not credible. The same goes for the sudden change in attitude towards safety of Stella. The romance itself was cheesy, but somehow I found myself liking it anyway. Five Feet Apart is a story that will both make you smile and make your eyes water… Perfect if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind a considerable amount of cliches and some inconsistencies.


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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: My Life In A Cat House – by Gwen Cooper

Title: My Life In A Cat House
Author: Gwen Cooper
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Animals
First published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: BenBella Books
Finished reading: December 9th 2018
Pages: 270

“And they remind us that, no matter how complicated our lives, or how complex our relationships, or how sophisticated our desires and goals may become with the passage of years, those simple pleasures are still the ones most worth having.”

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


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I am what some people call a proper ‘crazy catlady’ and I’ve been in love with these feline creatures ever since I was tiny. A bout of fur allergy prevented me from coming close to them between the age of three and twelve (more or less)… But as my allergies mysteriously disappeared after that, I was able to admire them more closely again. I’ve owned cats during most of my life since, except for a few years when I was traveling. So I definitely know what Gwen Cooper is talking about that every cat is unique and cat owners can create an unique bond with their feline friends. I knew I wanted to read My Life In A Cat House as soon as I saw the gorgeous cat on the cover. A memoir written by a fellow cat admirer? Yes please! I admit I hadn’t heard of Gwen Cooper before I started this memoir, but this hasn’t prevented me from highly enjoying her different ‘tails’ about her five cats. We get to know each of them through memories and anecdotes about why each cat is unique in its own way. Funny and heartwarming moments are mixed with a few heartbreaking ones… But the stories stay mostly on the humorous side. Cat owners will be able to relate to the different ‘problems’ Gwen Cooper has had to face while living with her pets as well as the happy moments and the benefits of being lucky enough to share your life with one or more cats. It also shows the importance of rescue centers and adoption (all of our pets were actually rescued from the streets); it is so much more fulfilling being able to give an animal a home after it having such a rough start in life… My Life In A Cat House will make a great gift for any cat owner or cat lover in general.


And what is this review without a few pictures of my own feline friends?! Jasmine and Delilah Bard say hello.


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ARC REVIEW: PLUS+ – by Bethany Rutter

Title: PLUS+
Author: Bethany Rutter 
Genre: Non Fiction, Fashion, Photography
First published: February 15th 2019
Publisher: Ebury
Finished reading: November 27th 2018 
Pages: 224

“So let this book be a record of how far we’ve come, filled with people who know we have so much further left to go and are having so much fun getting us there.”

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

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I know, I know, you are probably as surprised as I am to see this title pop up on my blog. PLUS+ isn’t just a little out of my comfort zone, it’s waaaaaay out. But, as someone who has struggled with her weight her whole life, there was just something about this title that drew me in. I was in desperate need of both some body positivity and fashion inspiration, because let’s face it: it’s not easy at all to find good plus-size clothes out there that are affordable, look good and are comfortable as well. Although I wish PLUS+ would have had more text and more fashion advice handed to us by the different models futured in this collection, the forward was brilliant. The photos themselves are wonderful, showing the world us plus-size girls have the right to wear whatever the heck we want and that we don’t have to hide our body. Body positivity to the win! I admire all these beautiful women for not being afraid to show everyone there style and looking fabulous while doing it. And I definitely felt inspired by quite a few photos.


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