YVO’S SHORTIES #22: Cocktails And Dreams & Wing Jones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary romance reads I ended up actually enjoying despite the fact that the genre isn’t really for me. Cocktails And Dreams by A.L. Michael was such a fun read and I loved the writing style! And I loved the running element, mixed race main characters and the dragon/lioness symbolism in Wing Jones by Katherine Webber.


Title: Cocktails And Dreams
(Martini Club #1)
Author: A.L. Michael

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 24th 2017
Publisher: Canelo
Finished reading: March 15th 2018
Pages: 209

“Actually, what I really needed was my best friend, and a glass of wine the size of my face.”


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Fact: the contemporary romance genre and me don’t always get along. Also a fact: I can still really enjoy a contemporary romance story under the right circumstances. And this has a lot to do with both my mood and if the author is able to manage to convince me. It doesn’t happen all that often, but Cocktails And Dreams turned out to be one of those exceptions. Because I absolutely adored this story! I was in desperate need of something fun and entertaining to read and this book worked like magic. I had so much fun reading Cocktails And Dreams, and this is coming from someone who is normally allergic to romance… So if you like the genre, you will have a blast while reading this one. The writing style is engaging, easy to read and has just the right pace to allow for well developed characters and an interesting plot. The characters are really easy to like and this made me connect to the story right away… And I just loved the food and drink elements in the story, which added a little something to the plot as well. The descriptions of the different foods and drinks are simply mouth watering and will make you want to try everything out yourself! I also loved the Martini Club setting and the way the different relationships developed. I’m not too sure what to think about Savvy’s mother, but I guess it does give the story an edge. Cocktails And Dreams is such an easy story to love though! And I will definitely be looking out to get a copy of the sequel, because the writing style is fabulous.


Title: Wing Jones
Author: Katherine Webber

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 5th 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Finished reading: March 24th 2018
Pages: 378

“But when I’m running, I don’t feel like an idiot. I feel free, like anything is possible. Like I’m not running from something, but for something.”


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I kind of picked up this title on a whim after seeing it mentioned recently, and I thought it would be a nice change of genre. Wing Jones is a YA contemporary romance story with a twist. You will find a healthy dose of drama, with the main character Wing’s brother being in a coma after a car accident he was to blame for. There will be romance scenes as well, which can be distracting, but gladly at least did not include a love triangle. But the main element of Wing Jones, besides showing how they have to live with the aftermath of the accident, is running. I just love how important running is in this story and how Wing uses this newly found talent to try to move on and make a life for herself. I really liked the characters in general as well as the fact that the Jones family is mixed race and how this is represented in the story. Very well done! I also loved the lioness and the dragon and how they were being used as symbols for Wing’s heritance. A little magical touch in an otherwise ‘realistic’ story and it added a little something extra to it. I did feel the middle part dragged a little and the ending was a bit rushed, but overall I had a great time reading Wing Jones. The romance and insecurity of Wing were a tad annoying as well, but the running and dragon/lioness elements made me mostly forget about that. If you enjoy reading YA contempories with a healthy dose of drama, this one will be a very good fit for you.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Kookaburra – by Liza Perrat

Title: The Silent Kookaburra
Author: Liza Perrat
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: November 29th 2016
Finished reading: March 19th 2018
Pages: 309

“It wasn’t true what Dad said: that time heals wounds and grief. Time was not healing mine. The grief pain wasn’t fading; it was getting worse, and in a colder, uglier way.”

*** 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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I was excited to be given the chance to read The Silent Kookaburra, especially since fellow bloggers enjoyed it. And while it took me considerably longer than expected to finally get to it, that excitement was just as strong when I finally did pick it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting to have. A big part of the problem here is me though, and not the book itself… I’ll try to explain why. The writing is wonderful and I just loved the incorporation of many Australian elements that made the story feel authentic. From the slang to the beautiful descriptions of the plants and animals… It really helped setting the right atmosphere. This is more of a family drama rather than the psychological thriller I was expecting, but that was not the problem here. The Silent Kookaburra has an element I just couldn’t stomach and it made it really hard for me to keep reading. What element? One of the characters is a pedophile, and there are quite a few scenes where a trigger warning should have been in place and reading about what he was doing seriously made me feel sick. I’m not saying it is badly described and if you are not bothered by reading about a pedophile at work, you will probably find this story fascinating. But I was mostly disgusted by it all and I don’t think I would have read it if I would have realized beforehand a pedophile character had such a big role in this story. (I realize there were hints in the blurb, but the importance of this element in the story really made me too uncomfortable.) But like I said, this feeling is highly personal and has nothing to do with the quality of the story or the writing itself. And it doesn’t take away the fact I loved the Australian vibe of the story with its many descriptions and use of ‘slang’. The final reveal was an interesting twist as well, although I do have to say I kind of saw it coming. But overall, if you think the pedophile scenes won’t bother you that much, The Silent Kookaburra will make for a very interesting and atmospheric domestic drama.

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Tanya Randall would love to have a normal and happy family, but things haven’t been the same for a long time. But then their luck seems to change as her mom is finally pregnant again, this time managing to give birth to a healthy little girl. Shelley is a true miracle baby and seems to be able to fuse the family back together… Until she gets sick and the peace is disturbed once again. Right in the middle of all of this, Tanya meets an uncle she didn’t even know she had, because her family refuses to talk about him. And then disaster strikes one summer day…

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Both the writing, descriptions and general setting of this story are very well done and I loved the use of so many local expressions and descriptions of the Australian plants and animals. I am glad I read it on my kindle though to help me with the meaning of some of the words! The Silent Kookaburra is more of a domestic/family drama with a dash of mystery around what happened that summer… With an interesting final twist. The whole pedophile element did make me very uncomfortable and make me feel sick. Call me weird, but while I can manage horror, gruesome murder and violence, don’t touch my animals and don’t mention child abuse in detail. This reaction is highly personal though and if you don’t mind this element in a story, don’t let my review stop you from reading The Silent Kookaburra.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #21: Wink Poppy Midnight & My Sister’s Keeper

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books that didn’t turn out to be positive reading experiences, and both had something to do with a character and the way they behaved. Winky Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult… Continue to find out more about the why of the lower ratings.


Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: YA, Mystery, Paranormal
First published: March 22nd 2016
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: March 10th 2018
Pages: 352

“All the strangest things are true.”


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Wink Poppy Midnight was a tbr jar pick and a title I have been looking forward to read despite the mixed reviews. I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover! And the story itself sounded really promising as well. As soon as I started reading Wink Poppy Midnight, I was blown away by the writing style. So so beautiful, mysterious and intriguing! The writing style is by far what stood out most for me in this book and it’s the only reason I’m giving this story the benefit of the doubt. Because I absolutely loved how April Genevieve Tucholke tells her stories, and I can’t wait to read more of her work. Why the low rating, would you ask? I’m keeping things simple and give one main reason: Poppy. I understand we are not supposed to like her in the first place, but I absolutely utterly despised her character. This extremely negative feeling for Poppy ruined the reading experience for me and made it really hard to just forget about her and enjoy the other chapters. Wink Poppy Midnight is told from the POV of the three main characters Wink, Poppy and Midnight, whimsical names that alone set the right tone for this story. This multiple POV layout didn’t distract me, since I liked discovering new things and see how the personality of each character shines through in the writing and dialogue. BUT. While I absolutely adored Wink and liked Midnight as well, my negative feelings for Poppy were so strong the rest was kind of blurred out. Gone were my feelings for the fabulous writing, gone was my love for the whimsical and magical realism feel of the plot and incorporation of fairy tale elements (my second favorite thing of Wink Poppy Midnight!). What was left were the ashes of a story that could have ended up being one of my all time favorites… If it wouldn’t have been for Poppy dancing on its tomb.


Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 6th 2004
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Finished reading: March 14th 2018
Pages: 423

“It is the things you cannot see coming that are strong enough to kill you.”


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WARNING: Unpopular opinion review and rant ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉

Trust me, I’m still shocked about this rating and reaction I had to My Sister’s Keeper, especially since I’ve read and enjoyed several of Jodi Picoult‘s other novels in the past. I fully expected to add this title to that list, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the reading experience I was hoping for. I’m not saying the writing is bad, which would be a lie since it is just as strong as ever and of a quality I’ve become to expect of her work. And without doubt the plot is complex and well developed with many different POVs and angles to try and get a full picture of what is going on. BUT. What ruined this story for me and basically turned me into a giant red angry monster spitting out flames and throwing things at the wall (no actual objects were harmed during this read), was the topic and more especifically the views on that topic. As soon as I got a glimpse of what really was going on, I started to get very angry very fast. Honestly, I don’t think I would have ever read it if I would have known My Sister’s Keeper was centered around these views. Complicated and uncomfortable moral topic and unorthodox views? Maybe, but I couldn’t care less if they were represented right because I was just too angry to pay attention. People might be offended by this, but I’m totally on Anna’s side here. She should NOT be treated as a walking human donor bank and just being pressured to give up everything and go through all those treatments just because her parents say so… It should be her choice and her choice alone. And honestly, the whole reason they had her in the first place made me sick. This book and especially Sara were so SO infuriating! Her with her saying she ‘cares’ for Anna, but only thinks of Kate and having Anna as a spare ready to give up whatever part of her body they need next. And I’m not even talking about their older brother, completely ignored as well. I get that having a child with leukemia is horrible and kind of makes you forget about anything else, but still… It’s no excuse to treat your other kids that way, and definitely not to do those things to Anna, treating her like she’s some object and ignoring her when she’s not needed. Ugh. I’m feeling the anger rise again just as I type up this review… Simply disgusting. These strong negative feelings made it impossible for me to try and enjoy the other aspects and side stories of My Sister’s Keeper, which had potential on it’s own but lost its charm since I was seeing everything through a red haze. Oh yes, this book was able to provoke strong feelings, just not the positive ones I was expecting. Most people do seem to enjoy it though, so if you think you would enjoy it, don’t give up on it yet. Just don’t make me discuss this story ever again…


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ARC REVIEW: My Sweet Friend – by H.A. Leuschel @HALeuschel

Title: My Sweet Friend
Author: H.A. Leuschel
Genre: Novella, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 6th 2017
Finished reading: March 2nd 2018
Pages: 92

“Some people have a special antenna for detecting fears and weaknesses in others.”

*** 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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I’m aware of the fact I don’t read all that many novellas, but this doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate them. In fact, I think of them as taking the art of storytelling to the next level, because it is just so much harder to write a convincing story when you have a limited amount of pages to do so. After enjoying Manipulated Lives last year, there was no doubt I wanted to try the author’s newest novella as well. Not only is the psychological angle in her stories intriguing, but her writing style is really engaging and she makes it easy to connect to the characters. My Sweet Friend is no different, and is without doubt my new favorite. I found myself invested into the story right from the start and the writing was both engaging and flowed naturally. The introduction of the manipulative element is subtle at first, but very well and realistically developed. Despite its limited pages, My Sweet Friend is able to create a dept in both characters as well as creating a hint of suspense and several twists. The dual POV works really well and helps you understand and see both sides of the relationship. While I do think Rosie is a bit naive, I do think her character is very realistic. And that can also be said for Alexa, who is not exactly likeable, but fits her role perfectly. The psychological effect of manipulation is well described and also show the consequences for both sides. The plot itself is an interesting one and well fleshed out for a novella. I had a great time reading My Sweet Friend! One of the better novellas out there I’ve read to this date… Although it did leave me craving for more information about Alexa’s background.

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Alexa is the new member of a Parisian PR company and seems to be an energetic and charming woman as well as professional. She is quick to befriend her colleagues Rosie and Jack and seems to be the perfect match for her new team. Most of them seem to grow to her instantly, but is she really who she claims to be? And can first impressions ever be trusted?

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My Sweet Friend is the perfect example of a novella done right. With a well developed plot with interesting and fleshed out characters and a writing that simply flows it’s hard not to like this story. The manipulation element is incorporated in a way that feels completely natural and instead of it being forced on you, it shows up gradually. The switching back and forward between Rosie and Alexa helped set the right atmosphere as well as show the different sides of the effects of a manipulative relationship. The story will also have some surprises in store for you! Definitely recommended.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #11: Fragments Of The Lost (ARC) & Things I Should Have Known

Oh yes, it’s time for yet another round of 2017 backlog reviews and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time with one of my most-anticipated releases and ARC Fragments Of The Lost by Megan Miranda and a random YA contempory I picked up on a whim: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik.


Title: Fragments Of The Lost
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 14th 2017
Pages: 373

“Everyone had secrets. Trust is a luxury for fools. The more I discover, the less I trust my own memories, even.”

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


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Megan Miranda’s psychological thrillers All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are on my list of all time favorites, so of course I added Fragments Of The Lost to my most-anticipated list as soon as I heard about it. And while I still prefer her thrillers, there is no doubt that Fragments Of The Lost is an excellent read. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is just as strong and beautiful as ever and makes it really easy to fully dive into this story. I really liked how the chapters and memories were related to the things the character finds during her quest. This is a perfect reference to the title and quite an original touch. Those memories also involve some suspense around what really happened and will help introducing plot twists to the story. There were a few I definitely didn’t see coming! That said, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle included in the story and I was never able to fully warm up to the characters. Those are only minor compared to the other elements I did enjoy though, and YA contemporary fans will very likely devour Fragments Of The Lost.


Title: Things I Should Have Known
Author: Claire LaZebnik

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: October 21st 2017
Pages: 320

“It’s like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can’t deal with something just a little bit different. And that makes them uncomfortable.”


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I admit I picked up this one on a whim, although I’m always interested in stories with an mental health/illness angle. In the case of Things I Should Have Known the focus is on autism, and thankfully this is not just an empty filler and there is quite some focus on both autism itself and what it is like for people having an autistic family member or friends. I wasn’t a fan of the sappy romance or love triangle, but I did appreciate the central role Ivy and Ethan played. Do I agree with Chloe’s actions and the whole ‘trying to hook up Ivy with Ethan’ thing? No. Did I connect with the main characters? I’m not so sure either. But Things I Should Have Known is without doubt still a fast-paced, engaging and easy to read YA contemporary that sheds at least some light on autism. By all means not perfect, but if you are looking for a contemporary read with a dose of romance and fluff, Things I Should Have Known is an interesting choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #6: Still Alice & The Silent Children (ARC) @bookouture


It’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around I will be reviewing Still Alice by Lisa Genova and the ARC The Silent Children by Carol Wyer, both read last year and both great reads for different reasons. Let’s continue with the reviews, shall we?


Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: 2007
Publisher: Pocket Books
Finished reading: December 28th 2017
Pages: 353

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.”


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Basically I accidently saw the movie on Netflix and just HAD to pick up my copy of Still Alice straight away, because I normally never watch the movie first. I’ve been meaning to pick up this story for ages now, especially since I really enjoyed Lisa Genova‘s other  book Left Neglected, but I guess I needed this little push to finally do so. I’m glad I did, because there is no doubt that Still Alice is GOOD. The writing is very engaging and made me fly through this story… The plot and character development are both tragic, heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I’ve seen what Alzheimer can do up close, so I can relate somewhat to what the characters are going through… The descriptions of what Alice is going through are excellent, detailed and give insight of what it is like both having Alzheimer and what effects it has both on the person and those around them. All in all an excellent contemporary fiction read I can recommend to fans of the genre.


Title: The Silent Children
(DI Robyn Carter #4)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 19th 2017
Pages: 360

“Jealousy and love – two very powerful emotions that drove people to commit heinous acts.”

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


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I’ve been a fan of the DI Robyn Carter series ever since the first book, and this is already the fourth book of the series published. Things are moving fast! Fast-paced, engaging, suspenseful and always a new intriguing mystery and bad guy to hunt: DI Robyn Carter never lets us readers down. And The Silent Children is without doubt another winner. While I think I ended up enjoying it slightly less than book two or three (for reasons I can’t exactly put my finger on), there is no doubt this fourth book is still an excellent detective thriller that simply delivers. The case Robyn Carter and her team has to work on this time is another interesting one and wrapped in a big pile of secrets all there waiting for someone to uncover them. The mystery around the deaths and what is happening will keep you reading until you finally find out exactly what is going on… The Silent Children is without doubt a great addition to this series!


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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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