ARC REVIEW: The Woman In Our House – by Andrew Hart

Title: The Woman In Our House
Author: Andrew Hart
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 7th 2019
Pages: 352

“That was the real thrill: not the commission, not having clients hitting bestseller lists or coming home from awards shows with little statuettes. It was the electricity of finding magical, compelling words, stories, and ideas, all entrusted to me to put them where they could be seen.”

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

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There was just something about the premise of this story that immediately left me intrigued and with no other option but to add it to my reading pile. It’s true that a potentially dodgy nanny or babysitter doesn’t exactly make for an all that original plot base on its own, but the literary agent angle, the promise of dark secrets involved and the menacing cover were enough to convince me to read The Woman In The House. I’m definitely happy with what I found. While I can’t deny that this story is what you call a slowburner and it took me some time to warm up to both the characters and the plot itself, things speed up as we get closer to the final reveals and the ending is without doubt intense. The Woman In The House has multiple characters and point of views incorporated into the story, which can be a bit confusing in the beginning as it’s kind of difficult to get a proper idea where everybody stands. In fact, the involvement of some of the characters only get explained near the ending, which can get a tad frustrating as you are kept juggling with lose ends and information that doesn’t seem to fit the puzzle. As for the characters themselves… I’m not sure up to what point they are likeable, but I loved the parts with the focus on Anna’s job as a literary agent, her interaction with upcoming author Ben and the novel fragments of his upcoming work. Those elements are very cleverly incorporated!

I did feel the story tried to incorporate too many different elements into the plot, with Oaklynn’s secrets and past, Josh’s secrets, Anna’s job and novel fragments and the home life of the Klein family among other elements fighting for the spotlight. Having to juggle all those different elements slowed down the pace and made it harder to keep track of everything, although all secrets and connections will be revealed before you reach the final page. The last part of The Woman In The House was without doubt intense, although I do wonder if it was over a bit too soon and quickly after such a slow building up of intensity… Most people will be both shocked albeit still quite satisfied by the final reveals though. If you love surprises, this story will definitely have a few in store for you! In short, The Woman In The House is a psychological thriller with a slow start and an explosive twist that will leave you rattled.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #5: The Hate U Give & Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two of the last high ratings of 2017… The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was my last 5 star read last year and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which turned out to be another excellent read. Both have been recommended to me numerous times; thank you for convincing me to read both of these!


Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary 
First published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: December 20th 2017
Pages: 444

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”


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I know everybody and the neighbor’s cat have been recommending this book to me since even before The Hate U Give was published, but to be honest this only made me hesitant to pick it up myself. I have a love/hate relationship with hyped books, but after THUG came out as a Goodreads Choice Awards winner I thought it was about time for me to check it out. And WOW. I’m so glad I finally did so! This book is definitely an exception to the rule and absolutely worth the hype around it. Brilliant writing, plot, character development and such an important topic! I feel words cannot describe just how important this story is and everybody should just read it. Because The Hate U Give isn’t just another YA contemporary novel… With this book, Angie Thomas not only manages to portray the main characters brilliantly and create a realistic plot and scaringly accurate image of race problematics, but also address issues related to this topic. The Hate U Give serves as a general eyeopener as well as an insight of what it would be like living the lives of the main characters. The writing itself is brilliant, very easy to read and engaging, making it impossible to put down this story until you reach the final page. Because trust me, you will want to know what will happen to the main characters. The Hate U Give is highly praised with a reason, and I will be joining this wave of praise in the future.


Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: November 7th 2017
Pages: 332

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”


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This one was another recommendation I have been looking forward to read… Then again I love my quirky and unique characters. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine managed to completely blow me away, and not just because of the excellent writing and character development. Because Eleanor Oliphant is without doubt one of the most unique main characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet and she will stay with me for a long time. Basically her whole character is what makes this book into such a hit and fans of quirky characters will be able to fall head over heels in love with her. The writing and pace were a perfect match for this story and I managed to fly through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in no time at all. Gail Honeyman also has a few plot twist bomb surprises in store, so make sure to get yourself comfortable when you pick up your copy and get ready to be surprised. Because the whole mystery around Eleanor’s past definitely adds a little suspense to this quirky, endearing, sad and very well written story. More than recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: April 27th 2017
Pages: 470

“That’s because racism isn’t just about hate. We all have biases, even if don’t think we do. It’s because racism is also about who has power…and who has access to it.”


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Small Great Things is one of those books I’ve heard nothing but great things about and was really excited to read, but somehow it took me months to actually pick it up. Not for any specific reason and definitely not because I didn’t want to, especially since I’ve read and enjoyed a few Jodi Picoult novels in the past, but somehow I always ended up with a different title in my hands instead. And right now, I kind of want to kick myself for waiting this long to pick up my copy. Because there is no doubt that Small Great Things is an emotional, well written, powerful and unforgettable story. Simply brilliant!

I’m actually having a hard time getting my thoughts properly on paper, but I’m going to try and explain why this story is THAT good anyway. First of all, Small Great Things focuses on the very important topic of racism and racial problematics. This alone was enough for me to want to read the story, but what stands out is the excellent execution of this topic. The diversity of the characters Jodi Picoult used to tell this story is spot on, as well as their development. We see the story develop through the eyes of both the African American nurse Ruth, the white supremacist Turk who just lost his baby and Ruth’s (white) lawyer Kennedy. Through this diverse collection of characters Jodi Picoult is able to address a wide variety of issues related to race problematics, resulting in a VERY powerful story that will stay with you for a long time. This is a story that will make you think: like the author says, racism isn’t just about active racism; passive racism is just as dangerous and something we don’t tend to pay enough attention to. But there is more. Not only is Small Great Things a story with a very important topic that is well executed and with diverse and well developed characters, the plot itself is also intriguing and the whole message behind this story is very powerful. And to top things off, the prose is just as good as every other aspect of this novel. As you might have guessed, I can more than recommend Small Great Things.

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The African American Ruth Jefferson has been working as a delivery nurse in a Connecticut hospital for more than twenty years, and she has never had a complaint. But when one day she begins a routin checkup on a newborn, his parents don’t seem too happy about having Ruth as a nurse. They are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth to touch their child… Minutes later, Ruth hears she is no longer to come close to the child. There’s nothing to be done, but then the next day Ruth is faced with an impossible dilemma. The baby goes in cardiac distress when she is alone in the nursery; should she obey orders and stay away or try to save him? Sadly the baby dies and his parents blame Ruth for his death. Ruth soon faces a murder charge, and the one person that might keep her out of prison is the white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie. But when Kennedy tells Ruth they aren’t to mention anything related to racism during court, Ruth isn’t so sure if Kennedy is the right person to represent her…

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Small Great Things is without doubt my new favorite Jodi Picoult novel, and I don’t think it will be easy to outdo this story. From the prose to the diverse, intriguing and well developed characters; from the well executed and important topic of racism to the very powerful message behind this story… Everything just points towards the fact that this story is a very important, powerful and brilliant modern take on such a complicated topic.


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BOOK REVIEW: To Kill A Mockingbird – by Harper Lee

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Title: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, YA
First published: July 11th 1960
Finished reading: February 10th 2014
Pages: 287
Rating 4,5

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

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I know that many people consider To Kill A Mockingbird to be a classic, so I thought it was about time to read it. The novel is set in Maycomb Alabama during the Depression, and tells us the story of the Finches and what happens in their town. Harper Lee shows us a variety of significant themes important during the Depression and in Southern United States in her novel including racism and social classes. Every family in Maycomb has its own history and class, and are to behave according to that class… Scout for example is a rather boyish girl who doesn’t like dresses, but her aunt is trying to force her to behave more lady-like anyway. In Atticus we see the struggle for justice and change… Although the man accused of rape, Tom, doesn’t get free, Atticus still continues to fight for what he thinks is right. To Kill A Mockingbird is a powerful novel with beautiful prose that will definitely leave its mark. Recommended!

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Atticus Finch lives in a small town in the Southern United States of the 1930s, a place where race and class are still important factors to determine your social status. He is a lawyer that decides to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. In the eyes of the white population the man is already guilty, but Atticus wants to defend him anyway. He is struggling to find justice, but most of the town is full of prejudice or prefers to look away. His two children will soon find out the hard way what it’s like to live in the South during the Great Depression… And what the consequences are of race and class problematics.

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To Kill A Mockingbird is a powerful story and definitely worth reading. We can see the two young Finch children growing up and trying to understand what happens in their world. The whole story is told through the eyes of the young Scout, which is an interesting point-of-view… The novel also questions both racism and shows us the discrimination, inequality and injustice affecting the colored inhabitants of Maycomb. If you like historical fiction and are interesting in this subject, make sure you read this classic!

BOOK REVIEW: The Help – by Kathryn Stockett

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Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 10th 2009
Finished reading: December 6th 2012
Pages: 451
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“All my life I’d been told what to believe about politics, coloreds, being a girl. But with Constantine’s thumb pressed in my hand, I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.”

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I’ve actually read this book various times already in the past, but it never tires rereading this story. The Help has an interesting setting, the Mississippi of 1962, where racial discrimination is still as normal as going to the loo in the morning. It might feel strange to think about this subject today (even though discrimation still exists!), but it is truly terrible how people of color were treated in the past. Kathryn Stockett is able to portray the difference between the rich white people and their black maids in a way that is truly fascinating, and trust me, the supposedly ‘weaker’ class comes out a lot better than those rich snobs. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter is the perfect character to demonstrate the upcoming change in racial discrimination. She was raised by her black maid Constantine and sees her more as a mother than her biological one. When Constantine disappears, she is determined to find out what happened and get the word out how the black maids are treated in those rich homes. A very intriguing story, although the bad spelling in the parts where the maids were speaking did feel a bit like discrimination as well. Still, if you are looking for an interesting read about the theme, you will probably enjoy The Help.

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Her mother is doing all she can to find her daughter a husband, but twenty-two-years-old Skeeter has different plans for her future. She doesn’t seem to fit in with the high society of 1962 Mississippi and adores her beloved black maid Constantine that raised her, even though that is frowned upon. When Constantine disappears and her own mother doesn’t want to tell where she went, she asks for the help of other black maids to find out what happened. Furious when she discovers the truth, she decides to start a clandestine project soon afterwards where she wants to document the lives of the black maids in those rich homes. How are they treated? What do they have to do for their employers? What juicy secrets do they know about them? Still, getting the word out might put all of them at risk…

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Every time I pick up The Help I enjoy reading it. The way Skeeter and the maids defy the rules of class separation is both entertaining and interesting to read, even though I’m still not sure what to think of the bad spelling when the black maids are talking. The story itself is a mix of funny, sad, interesting and complicated moments and all in all quite a fast read. If you are looking for a racial problematics themed read, The Help is without doubt an interesting one to pick up.