YVO’S SHORTIES #25: Summer Of Sloane & Scrappy Little Nobody

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties and the first round of Europe trip books! Summer Of Sloane was a TBR jar pick I thought would be a perfect way to start my vacation, but it didn’t turned out to be as good as I hoped. Scrappy Little Nobody I picked up in the hope of finding something entertaining and funny to read, and while it wasn’t a bad read, my lack of familiarity with Anna Kendrick might have had a negative effect on my overall opinion.


Title: Summer Of Sloane
Author: Erin L. Schneider

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 22nd
Pages: 304

“We all make mistakes, but hating someone for one they’ve made can ruin your life if you let it.”


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Summer Of Sloane was my latest TBR jar pick and after posponing it for a long time, I thought this YA contemporary would be the perfect way to start my Europe trip. I actually finished it in the last days before our flight, as it is a superfast read. As the cover already suggests, Summer Of Sloane is what you call the perfect beach read. The writing style is easy on the eye and reads superfast, and romance fans will probably have a great time with this one. Because there is no doubt this story has a very high dose of romance, including love triangles and a whole lot of drama. While it was an easy read and had all the signs of being entertaining, it sadly was just way too heavy on the drama for me to be still enjoyable. True, I’m not a real romance fan and I’m practically allergic to love triangle, but it wasn’t just that on its own that bothered me. The constant drama and Sloane herself just really got on my nerves. I mean, if she doesn’t want her boyfriend or friend ruining her vacation after what they did, why not simply block there phone numbers and emails? Why do we as readers have to suffer through her constant complaining after she received yet another message she didn’t want to see? The love triangles and romance scenes themselves were supercheesy as well, but I guess if you are looking for an easy read and love the genre, you will enjoy Summer Of Sloane a lot better than I did.


Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Humor
First published: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: May 8th 2018
Pages: 304

“That night, I resolved to keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.”


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I picked up this memoir on a whim on the plane, wanting for something light and hopefully funny. I actually didn’t read a lot and ended up finishing it a lot later during our trip (the first week was too hectic to read much), but I guess most will finish this one superfast. It’s quite easy to read and has both funny and very personal moments of her life included. I admit I’m not really familiar with her work and that might have had an negative influence in my opinion. That said, I do admit it’s not the first memoir of famous personalities I’m not familiar with I’ve read, and I was still able to enjoy some of those more than I did Scrappy Little Nobody. I don’t mean this memoir is a bad read though, and I guess there were some parts that were really entertaining while others were brutally honest. I really liked that of Anna Kendrick, letting us get a glimpse of what it was like growing up for her. And I’m sure fans of her work will love this one.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #24: The Poison Plot & A Secondhand Lie

Time for a last round of Yvo’s Shorties before our trip! Sadly this time they were not the best of reads… The first, a NG ARC called The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane, turned out to be my second DNF of the year. And the second is a companion novella of a book (A Secondhand Life) I really enjoyed reading earlier this month, but the novella fell flat for me. A Secondhand Lie by Pamela Crane… I recommend sticking with the actual book with this one.


Title: The Poison Plot
Author: Elaine Forman Crane

Genre: Non Fiction, Historical
First published: May 15th 2018
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Finished reading: April 17th 2018
Pages: 264
DNF at 31% (82 pages)

“Then again, there is no hard evidence that Mary actually tried to poison Benedict or that he was in fact poisoned.”

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


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Fact: the blurb of The Poison Plot immediately had me under its spell. I enjoy a good non fiction read every once in a while and the promise of a murder plot and a 18th century setting sounded like a perfect match. So even though I had seen mixed reviews before I started it, I had still high hopes for The Poison Plot. Sadly, I did not have the positive reaction I was hoping to have to the story. In fact, I struggled right from the start and after several tries and careful consideration I had no other option than to make this book my second DNF this year. Am I sad to have to make this difficult decision? Yes. But I will try to explain below why. First of all, the writing style is dry, formal and hard to get into. This made it considerably harder to keep reading. Also, the whole mystery around the case is basically revealed in the prologue, leaving little to look forward to in the rest of the book. And as has been stated various times in the book, there is no hard evidence Mary tried to poison Benedict or that he even was poisoned at all. Doesn’t that mean that the whole ‘poison plot’ this book is based on is actually nonexistent? Especially since this is supposed to be a NON fiction account based on facts. Related to this is the cheer amount of guesswork about Mary’s life in general and what happened with all the if, would, probably, may have... I understand there are not that many details available of that era, but no facts means no accurate account of the supposed ‘poison plot’ and Mary’s life can be given. This guesswork really bothered me and I would have preferred this being converted in a historical fiction read based on available information instead. This would probably make the story a lot more readable as well. Another thing that made me DNF The Poison Plot were the constant and repeatedly mentions of random details and facts of the time period without it having a solid connection to Mary. There is an overdose of unimportant details and information of the era, and honestly I don’t really care about the minute weather details or what someone may or may not could have bought and when. Especially since most of the time there was no direct link to Mary or the other key characters. I tried really hard to keep reading, as I wanted to learn more about the supposed murder plot and what really happened. Unfortunately, between the writing style, guesswork, unimportant detail overdose and lack of connection of most of the content to the main characters, I found myself having no other option than to DNF it.


Title: A Secondhand Lie
(Killer Thriller #0.5)
Author: Pamela Crane

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 8th 2015
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: April 18th 2018
Pages: 97

“In the pregnant pause between my birth and death, life had become little more than a series of cruel jokes, and I was always the punch line.”


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After reading A Secondhand Life earlier this month and being really impressed with it, I decided to get a copy of the companion novella as well and read it. I normally don’t read a lot of novellas, but I was curious about what really happened to Landon’s dad and I wanted to seein what ways A Secondhand Lie connected to the main story. I’m glad there are no obvious spoilers involved, although I do advice reading A Secondhand Life first just in case. It will also give you a better feel for the main characters. Because on it’s own, I can’t say I was all that impressed by the novella. It’s not a bad read and it adds a few new details to Landon’s life, but overall I don’t think it’s necessary to read it. The whole mystery around his dad’s arrest kind of fell flat for me, especially after the truth was revealed. Way too simple and not all that satisfying! Some scenes of A Secondhand Life were also repeated, but might feel out of context if you haven’t read the actual story. The writing is good and I liked the difference in style when the POV changes. But overall, I would recommend sticking with A Secondhand Life instead or at least not read this novella without having read the actual story first.


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ARC REVIEW: The Sun Does Shine – by Anthony Ray Hinton @StMartinsPress

Title: The Sun Does Shine
Author: Anthony Ray Hinton
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, True Crime
First published: March 27th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: March 11th 2018
Pages: 272

“And with that laughter, I realized that the State of Alabama could steal my future and my freedom, but they couldn’t steal my soul or my humanity.”

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

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I was intrigued by the premise of The Sun Does Shine as soon as I first read the blurb. I have a weak spot for memoirs, and Anthony Ray Hinton‘s story is without doubt one that will be able to catch your attention straight away. I knew right from the start this wasn’t going to be an easy read, but it is almost impossible to wrap your head around all that the author has had to go through during all that time. Powerful, infuriating, heartbreaking and with a dose of hope and forgiveness… The Sun Does Shine is one of the best true crime memoirs I have read to this date, and his story will stay with me for a long time. Why did this memoir have such an impact on me? Let’s see if I can explain my reasons… In a nutshell, this memoir is about the life of a man who had to spend thirty years on death row despite being innocent and having a solid alibi. His crime? Being born poor and black in the South (Alabama), a place where he ended up being judged by the color of his skin and the money in his pocket instead of the simple fact he was guilty or not. This fact alone will be enough to enrage you, one infuriating detail of his case after the other causing sparks and making you want to scream and pull at your hairs. How is it possible that in 1985 things like this still happened? Incriminating an innocent man with a solid alibi, discriminating him and denying him his rights? It made me want to travel back in time and just tell those persons involved in his case what I really thought of them. The Sun Does Shine talks about the author growing up as well as the difficulties he has had to face during his entire life, even long before he was wrongly convicted of a crime. Racial segregation and discrimination is an important element in this memoir, and even though Anthony Ray Hinton never points a direct finger at the guilty and even stresses he forgives them, it shows us readers just how wrong the system was and still is in Southern Alabama. It’s a topic that has always touched me, and it is very well described in this memoir.

But this memoir isn’t just about injustice and racial discrimination. Like the author stresses, it is also about hope and forgiveness, which shines through in his writing and underlying message. His experience during all those years on death row is fascinating to read, as well as describing his personal relationships with fellow inmates and how the experience truly changes men. While I believe in punishment for those who have committed crimes, I don’t think death row is a solution. Like Anthony Ray Hinton said, who are we to judge who is innocent and who deserves to die? And then I’m not even thinking about possibly innocent men and women killed because of a mistake during their trials. Anthony Ray Hinton‘s case shows us just how wrong things can go, sending an innocent man to spend thirty years of his life on death row. I’m truly impressed and inspired by his view of life and ability for forgiveness. I can recommend this memoir to everyone; it is a true eye-opener.

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In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with robbery and two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Hinton was working the night the last robbery took place and had a solid alibi, so he knew it was a case of mistaken identity and believed the truth would soon set him free. But the fact that he was innocent didn’t mean anything to those in charge of the trial, and with no money and simply being a poor black man in the South, he was sentenced to death soon after. He spent the first three years on Death Row at Holan State Prison without speaking a word to anyone except those who believe in his innocence. His initial anger and despair of being sent to his death as an innocent man changed when he realized he had to accept his fate, and he was determined to not only survive and prove his innocence, but also find a way to live on Death Row.

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Powerful, inspiring, infuriating, heartbreaking, but also full of hope and forgiveness. The Sun Does Shine shows us how racial discrimination and prejudice helped send an innocent man to death row and keep him there for thirty years despite solid proof of his innocence. The pure injustice of it all makes you want to scream, but both his case and experience is very well documented in this memoir and makes for a painful, but inspiring, intriguing and very powerful read. I’m truly impressed by his views on life and his ability to be able to forgive the unforgivable. Highly recommended!


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #16: Born A Crime & Halfway (ARC)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time about two completely different books… The first a memoir I’ve been meaning to read for some time now: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. And just as everyone kept saying as they recommended this title to me, it was GOOD. The second was an ARC I’ve been meaning to read for ages now… Halfway by Lokesh Sharma. Unfortunately that one didn’t work for me.


Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Finished reading: January 25th 2018
Pages: 304

“Regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”


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One of my goals this year is to read more memoirs and international authors, and Born A Crime has been on my list ever since it was first published. The apartheid has always intrigued me and Trevor Noah‘s memoir sounded like a fascinating account during that time. Of course the many many recommendations have helped put this story on my radar as well… And I’m glad I finally got the chance to read it. Because there is one thing for sure: Born A Crime is a very powerful and thought provoking read. I already knew the apartheid was going to be an intriguing topic, and Trevor Noah does an excellent job narrating his personal experience during the end of the apartheid as well as his mother’s experience. He balances these personal accounts with a lot of background information and facts about apartheid that are relevant to that particular account he was talking about. These little chapters were both extremely helpful to those who want to learn more about apartheid and fascinating as well. His writing style, honest tone and willingness to put it all on paper, even if it might shed a negative light on his life is something I could highly appreciate. Honest, heartbreaking, funny, engaging and gripping… Born A Crime is a memoir you will not soon forget. Haven’t read it yet? If memoirs are your kind of book, you definitely should remedy that!


Title: Halfway
(Aspiration For Deliverance #1)
Author: Lokesh Sharma

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: January 29th 2017
Finished reading: Januart 27th 2018
Pages: 220

“We want others to care about us. But without feelings, nobody would care about anybody.”

*** 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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True, I don’t read a whole lot of science fiction stories, but I have enjoyed the genre in the past and I had high hopes for Halfway. It took me way longer than expected to finally pick it up, mostly due to the slump, but I was looking forward to it… Sadly I didn’t have the reading experience I was expecting to have. Unpopular opinion ahead! I went in looking forward to emerge myself fully in a new futuristic world, but I was actually mostly confused during a long time. While Halfway has a substantial amount of descriptions, I still feel the worldbuilding of Enigma isn’t really fleshed out and this made me never fully adapt to this world. The many descriptions only slowed down the pace for me… Another thing that bothered me was the lack of a proper plot. Between the descriptions and character background detail that doesn’t have a clear connection to Enigma for a really long time, I didn’t feel the story was really going anywhere. There are some hints at a war and a threat, but it almost feels as if all important details are pushed into the background as Halfway focuses more on the history of some of the main characters. The Enigma chapters and character memoires were so dissociated that I had a hard time connecting everything (again, lack of plot), and this confusion influenced my reading experience considerably. All in all a story that definitely isn’t for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #15: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo & From Bad To Cursed


Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! No more backlog reviews, so from now on it’s only books I’ve actually read this year. The first is one of the (hopefully) various memoirs I will be reading this year: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. I had high hopes for this one besides the fact I’m not familiar with her at all, but I just couldn’t connect to her writing style and her humor definitely wasn’t for me. The other title on her is the Bad Girls Don’t Die sequel From Bad To Cursed by Katie Alender, which turned out to be a disappointment as well. A shame, because I loved the first book!


Title: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Humor
First published: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: January 23rd 2018
Pages: 323

“If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them—like the sun.”


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I have a weird fascination with reading memoirs even from persons I’m not really familiar with. So even though I don’t really know Amy Schumer or her work, I was still intrigued enough to want to pick up The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. The fact that this memoir has been praised a LOT did also help of course. I was fully expecting to be loving this read, but I ended up feeling the complete opposite. Oh yes, it’s time for another unpopular review… Did you really think I could go that long without one? I don’t think my opinion has all that much to do with the fact I don’t really know her… It’s more that her writing style, crudy humor and sexual talk simply aren’t a right fit for me. The humor felt kind of forced-funny, but then again my sense of humor has always been a bit ‘special’ and I don’t like what most people like. What was a surprise is that The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo was actually a lot darker and self-confessional than I thought it would be, especially since it’s labeled humor. Kuddos to her for having the guts to share all this personal stuff… Although if I got it right she kind of does the same thing in her shows. I guess her humor and writing style either works for you, or it doesn’t. Unfortunately I belong to the second group, and honestly I kind of struggled making it to the last page. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we?


Title: From Bad To Cursed
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #2)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: June 14th 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: January 20th 2018
Pages: 442

“Stay sunny, we said to each other.
Because if you don’t the whole world will know you’re a monster.”


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I read the first book back in 2016 for Halloween, and while I really enjoyed that one, I somehow ever picked up the sequels. No longer, because I’ve vowed to finish this trilogy before the end of February. Book number two starts off quite a few months after the first book finished its story… And in From Bad To Cursed the sisters will have another dose of the supernatural. Sadly I wasn’t able to enjoy this sequel as much as I thought I would. I still love the writing style, which is engaging, flowing and makes you fly through the story. But I wasn’t so sure about the plot. The idea behind From Bad To Cursed is an interesting one and definitely involves a healthy dose of creepy, BUT I wasn’t so happy with all those high school cliches included as well as a lot of ‘perfect pretty girl’ cliches. A bunch of teenage girls playing perfect and bitching to others if they don’t dress perfectly, eat the right food and say the right things? No thank you. The way both Alexis and Kasey behaved really started to bother me as well. I’m still hoping it was just this particular ‘problem’ they had to deal with that made them unlikeable and I’m having hopes for the final book. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to like that one better!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #4: Alex And Eliza & Herding Cats (ARC)


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two books I read a while ago… One historical fiction romance and a graphic novel which is actually an ARC and due to be published later this year; namely Alex And Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz and Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen.


Title: Alex And Eliza
(Alex & Eliza #1)
Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 19th 2017
Pages: 368

“Alexander Hamilton, widely reputed to be the most eloquent man in the United States Of America, had, for the first time in his life, been rendered speechless.”


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I know most people are probably aware of the fact that I’m not a romance fan, so it might seem like a strange choice to pick up a novel like Alex And Eliza. But while I’m not a fan of the romance genre, I do love my historical fiction and my interest was peaked when I read the blurb. No, I am not familiar with the details of Alex Hamilton’s life nor did I see the Hamilton musical. Call me ignorant, but that part of American history was never talked about in the country I grew up in. I was looking forward to find out more about Hamilton’s life and importance in history and historical timeframe in general, since it’s been a while since I’ve read a story set in the 18th century… And to be honest, I found myself being mostly disappointed with the historical aspect of Alex And Eliza. Instead of a detailed historical setting and information about Hamilton’s life, this is mainly a love story that could have been about any random high society girl and boy without important family name or money. I don’t have the feeling at all that I know more about Hamilton’s life after finishing it and I wasn’t a fan of the character development either. The romance… I know it isn’t my thing in general, but between the love triangle and the way the lovebirds acted, it was quite a turn off for me. I guess romance fans who don’t mind the lack of historical details will be able to enjoy the story a lot better than me though.


Title: Herding Cats
(Sarah’s Scribbles #3)
Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor
First published: March 27th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: December 3rd 2017 
Pages: 112


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I enjoyed reading Big Mushy Happy Lump last year, so I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Herding Cats when I saw it. I don’t really read a lot of graphic novels, but I like both the style of the illustrations and the topics the author talks about. Daily life mixed with anxiety topics and all in all things that I personally can easily relate to. And while I had fun reading Herding Cats, I felt some of the spark of her previous graphic novel was missing… I especially loved the cat and reading related graphics, which I obviously could really relate to, but other pages didn’t manage to speak to me in a way I was expecting when I started reading it. Herding Cats is still a fun read though and perfect to take a little break, get yourself a cuppa and just absorb those pages. Coming out in March!


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