YVO’S SHORTIES #76 – The BFG & The Insect Farm

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a reread of a childhood favorite and a TBR jar pick. Roald Dahl is one of the very first authors I was able to read by myself back when I was tiny, and I’ve read his books over and over again since. It’s been a long time since I last read The BFG though, so I thought it was about time I did. Such a wonderful experience… The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble was a TBR jar pick, and not as good as I hoped.


Title: The BFG
Author: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1982
Publisher: Puffin Books
Finished reading: January 11th 2019
Pages: 195

“The matter with human beans,” the BFG went on, “is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.”


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Roald Dahl is one of the very first authors I was able to read on my own back when I was tiny, and I’ve read his books over and over again since. It’s been a long time since I last read The BFG though, so I thought it was about time I did. And boy, did I forget about a lot of the details of this story! I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old and I will be looking forward to finally watch the movie adaptation so I can compare the two. Another successful Roald Dahl reread and a jump back in time!


Title: The Insect Farm
Author: Stuart Prebble

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Romance
First published: March 10th 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Finished reading: January 13th 2019
Pages: 320

“In my mind, and what keeps coming back to me is that the insect farm has been a hidden player in so much that has happened – the continuing thread running behind so many of the milestones along the way.”


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The Insect Farm has been my TBR jar pick during the last two months, and it took me way longer to finally pick it up despite the fact I was looking forward to it. The blurb was quite interesting and I was looking forward to discover more about the mystery and what the insect farm had to do with it all. What I didn’t expect to find was that The Insect Farm is basically a mix of a family drama and a romance story including a love triangle. The story has a character driven plot and a considerably slow pace, something I didn’t expect and it took me longer that expected to finally finish the story. As always with character driven stories, it’s important being able to connect to the main characters to ensure properly enjoying the story. Sadly, this was not the case here. While Roger is quite an interesting character and I would have loved to learn more about both him and his learning capacities, I felt he wasn’t developed as thoroughly and his character fell flat for me. As for Jonathan and Harriet: they did have a more thorough development as the main focus seems to be on them, but I can’t say I felt really invested in their story or what happened to them. The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* All in all it wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.


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WWW Wednesdays #205 – January 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to get rid of my backlog of pending NG ARCs so I can go back to my backlist titles, so I’m currently reading We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott. So far it’s proving to be a fast read… I’m also starting The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, a title I’ve been really excited about.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Treatment by C.L. Taylor (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
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. 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.

2. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
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. 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.

3. Finding Grace by K.L. Slater (5/5 stars) REVIEW 17/01
Finding Grace is definitely a great way to start the year with a bang. Well written, intriguing, suspenseful, complex and nailbitingly good: oh yes, say hello to my very first 5 star read of the year! I’m a big fan of her work in general and this one might just be my new favorite. What seems to be another kidnapping case at first glance turns out to be so much more… With a lot of extra layers, flashbacks and twists to form a properly complex and well executed plot. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, because it will be VERY hard to stop reading before reaching that final page.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old!

5. The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* It wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.

6. Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/01
I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!

7. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
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.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to make a dent in my February NG ARCs… End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach is up next and also conveniently the first series I will be able to finish this year. Then I’m going to go back to a few backlist titles, with Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White coming up next. I was going to finish the Fire And Thorns trilogy first, but I saw Bright We Burn mentioned a few days ago and I just couldn’t resist picking it up any longer. I need to know what happens to Lada, Radu and Mehmed! My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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WWW Wednesdays #178 – July 11th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I finally continued Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut yesterday as part of my promise to read more (modern) classics this year… I can’t say it’s my cup of tea unfortunately, but that might have to do with the science fiction angle (I like the WWII bits though). I’m also starting with The Death And Life Of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson since it’s the last pending NG ARC this month and I also started Misery by Stephen King as another backlist read.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Secret by K.L. Slater (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/07
Let me tell you a secret: the secrets and twists in The Secret will have you flabbergasted by the time you reach the last page. Oh yes, you will be in for one hell of a surprise and shocking ending with this one… Make sure to brace yourself. It is true that the strong dislike for one of the main characters did get a little frustrating, but the story would not have been the same otherwise and the suspense and general plot made up for it. What a read!

2. Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (3/5 stars) REVIEW
While without doubt still an entertaining story with the wonderful illustrations of Quentin Blake and the same writing that is able to enchant child and adult, I don’t think it’s as strong as his other books. Or in fact the first book and highly popular Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. After such a strong first book, the sequel falls kind of flat for me and doesn’t have the same magical feel despite the space adventure.

3. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
For a story that is ment for such a young audience, it is surprising just how much you will be able to relate to the underlying message as an adult. The illustrations and easy and well written prose are to help kids understand and enjoy, but I truly think this is a story for all ages. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! has a strong moral message and shows us that there is a whole world out there… Waiting for us to just step outside and discover it

4. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (3/5 stars) REVIEW 16/07
Do I regret reading the story? No, because I would have always wondered otherwise. Is it a bad read? Not exactly. But it was definitely one of those cases where the story just didn’t work for me. Which is actually kind of strange, because I’m always intrigued by a story with a mental illness theme and I do love my quirky and unique characters. But there was just something about Aza that just didn’t do it for me.

5. The Getaway Girls by Dee MacDonald (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/07
If you love a good road trip story with well developed and interesting characters, lots of sightseeing, funny moments, a dash of suspense and a dose of romance that is just right, you will love The Getaway Girls as well. I had so much fun following Connie, Gill and Maggie around and I loved the fact that they were seventy-year-olds, as I don’t see older main characters around that often. Entertaining, uplifting, a pinch of suspense and a healthy dose of summer romance… This story will make you forget about your own problems for a while as you join the main characters on their journey.

6. Champion by Marie Lu (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/07
I didn’t enjoy the final book of the trilogy as much as the previous two. I didn’t think the plot was as interesting and the whole love triangle was quite annoying as well. It just lacked that little something extra from the previous books for me… Also, I didn’t like the ending at all. But I guess it’s kind of an ending that can go either way for you, because there are some twists that will mess with your emotions for sure.

7. Het Jaar Dat De Wereld Op Zijn Kop Stond (The Year Of The Rat) by Clare Furniss (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/07
I still can’t believe I was able to finish my Dutch read of the year this quickly! The Dutch translation of The Year Of The Rat was quite a fast read and that definitely helped me reach the final page easily. I’m not a fan of reading in Dutch, but I liked this story well enough and it was interesting to see what loss and grief can do to a person. Not perfect, but well developed and I definitely appreciated that there almost wasn’t any romance included in the plot.

8. Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/07
I’ve become a huge fan of Kay Hunter in the short time I’ve gotten to know her, and this book is no exception. This might just be my new favorite! Although it’s hard to pick favorites when all the books are good… The writing is excellent, the plot well developed and this one definitely has some shocking surprises in store. Like an explosive ending? This one will more than deliver that. SO good!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf so Broken Dolls by Sarah Flint is next. And as I’ve been saying I need to read more Agatha Christie, I’m starting with Hercule Poirot book number one The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Also, as I’m trying to read all the books on my monthly TBR for the second month in a row, I want to pick up The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott. My newest TBR jar pick is Thin Wire by Christine Lewry, a memoir about a woman addicted to heroin and her mother. I’m having a feeling it’s going to be a tough read, but the blurb sounds pretty good.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #32: Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator & Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties: Children edition! I realized I have barely read any MG or Children books in the first half (only the one), so I decided to remedy that by reading not one but two what you call classic children stories. I must have read Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl at least a dozen times as a kid… I was a huge fan of his work and it’s always been great to revisit the stories. This one is not my favorite, but still entertaining enough. And I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t had contact with Dr. Seuss‘ work as a child, but it’s good to finally discover it now. Better late than never right?


Title: Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
(Charlie Bucket #2)
Author: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1972
Publisher: Puffin Books
Finished reading: July 5th 2018
Pages: 190

“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”


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Roald Dahl was one of my childhood favorite authors, and I must have read his books hundreds of times over the years. I have read Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator multiple times as well, although not as many as some other titles. I didn’t remember why, but now I’ve had the chance to reread this story as an adult, I do understand. While without doubt still an entertaining story with the wonderful illustrations of Quentin Blake and the same writing that is able to enchant child and adult, I don’t think it’s as strong as his other books. Or in fact the first book and highly popular Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. After such a strong first book, the sequel falls kind of flat for me and doesn’t have the same magical feel despite the space adventure. It’s not a bad read and children will still enjoy it, but they probably won’t ask you to read it over and over again unless they are obsessed by anything space related.


Title: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Author: Dr. Seuss

Genre: Children, Fiction
First published: January 22nd 1990
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Finished reading: July 6th 2018
Pages: 48

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”


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I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t had contact with Dr. Seuss‘ work as a child other than a movie/cartoon or two… It might be too late to remedy that, but better late than never right? I was lent a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and I’ve been looking forward to pick it up. As someone who has had the travel bug for a long time now, I thought it would be an appropriate read, but what I didn’t know is just how much I would be able to connect to this picture book. For a story that is ment for such a young audience, it is surprising just how much you will be able to relate to the underlying message as an adult. The illustrations and easy and well written prose are to help kids understand and enjoy, but I truly think this is a story for all ages. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! has a strong moral message and shows us that there is a whole world out there… Waiting for us to just step outside and discover it. Ups and downs are normal, but the thing is to just keep going. This one will go straight to my must-read list for any future kids we’ll be having one day.


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BOOK REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox – by Roald Dahl

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Title: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: 1970
Finished reading: January 8th 2016
Pages: 81
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“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.”

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Roald Dahl is easily one of my favorite childhood authors and every once in a while I like rereading one of his books. Browsing his books for another reread the other day I realized I couldn’t remember if I had ever read Fantastic Mr. Fox… And I decided to change that immediately. I enjoyed reading this children story, although I have to admit it’s not as good as some of his other work. Still, he writes in a way that will win over any child’s heart whether they read it themselves or you read it to them. Quentin Blake‘s illustrations maybe are not the prettiest, but they fit well and bring back memories of my own childhood reading Roald Dahl‘s books. Mr. Fox and the other animals all have different personalities as do the three farmers… I definitely would have enjoyed this read as a kid and I would definitely recommend it to someone with young children. And for us adults: it’s not his best work and it might get a bit boring… If you haven’t read anything Roald Dahl yet, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first.

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Someone has been stealing animals from the three mean farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Turkeys… Boggis, Bunce and Bean have had enough and join forces to catch the thief. They already know who did it: Mr. Fox! The farmers decide to get rid of him forever and have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. But Mr. Fox isn’t just any fox and very clever. He comes up with a plan to fool the farmers and save his family from starvation…

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Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t my favorite, but it still very much shows it was written by Roald Dahl. I really like his writing style and it’s perfect for children with just the right dose of humor and adventure. The illustrations combine well with the text and I would definitely read this story to small children. I’m sure they would love it…

WWW Wednesdays #73 – January 13th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I finally picked up Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and so far I’m absolutely loving it. I can’t wait to continue reading it later today! Looks like this is one of those books that is actually worth the hype around it…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished since last week is Serafina And The Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. A very good middle grade story that has a good mix of fantasy and scary elements and I really liked the prose.
* I then finished All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry. I was more than pleasantly surprised by this historical fiction novel. Such an original, beautifully written and emotional story!
* I was in the mood for another crime read so I picked up Confessions Of A Murder Suspect by James Patterson. It’s the first time I read a Patterson YA novel, but I flew through the pages and it was a really entertaining read.
* Afterwards I decided to read Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl since it has become a tradition to reread at least one or two Roald Dahl books a year. He is one of my favorite childhood authors and I always love rereading his work. This is not my favorite, but still good.
* The last book I finished during the read-a-thon was Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid.  I can’t say I was impressed by this one. It wasn’t terrible but there were some parts that really bothered me…
* The last book on this list, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, was not as great as I would have thought either. It’s definitely a dark, twisted and disturbing read with many crazy plot twists and a somewhat surprising ending, but it took me a long time to actually finish it and I didn’t like the characters…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have a new ARC waiting for me: Eternal War Armies Of Saints by Livio Gambarini. This book set in the 13th century is a mix of historical fiction and fantasy and I’m really looking forward to it! I really should read The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings as well, so I can at least start finishing all those poor neglected series… Although I will probably read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng first. Last but not least, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is still my newest TBR jar pick.

BOOK REVIEW: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – by Roald Dahl

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Title: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
(Charlie Bucket Series #1)
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: 1964
Finished reading: January 31st 2015
Pages: 189
Rating 3,5

“Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”
Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”
Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

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I was looking for something interesting to watch on TV the other day when I bumped into the Johnny Depp version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. I immediately started craving both chocolate and a Roald Dahl reread… And I decided to just give into both temptations. I’ve always loved Dahl‘s books as a kid and while this reread as an adult takes away some of its magic, there is no doubt I would read this to my hypothetical child. This is the perfect book for funny voices and reading out loud to kids! Plus, it’s about the most amazing chocolate factory ever, and who doesn’t like something sweet? 3.5 stars for the high nostalgic factor and great prose for children. The excessive use of exclamation marks does become annoying when you read it as an adult, beware!

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Willy Wonka is finally opening his world famous chocolate factory, but under one condition: only five children and two of their relatives will be allowed inside. Wonka has hidden five golden tickets inside his chocolate bars, and soon the world is going crazy trying to find the tickets. Soon four tickets were found; the first a fat boy named Augustus Gloop, the second a spoiled brat named Veruca Salt, the third Violet Beauregarde the gum-chewer and the last Mike Teavea, the boy who doesn’t like chocolate but loves his TV. Poor Charlie Bucket didn’t have the same chances at finding the golden ticket. His family is only able to buy him one chocolate bar a year, but luck is finally at his side. The day before the factory visit, he finds money on the street and when he uses it to buy chocolate he finds the golden ticket! He and his grandpa are now going inside the factory as well, and they will never be hungry again with the lifetime supply of chocolate Willy Wonka gives to all five winners. And that is not all; at the end of the visit Willy Wonka will pick one child that wins a special prize!

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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory brings back great memories. Even though I did enjoy the novel less as an adult, this is still without doubt a perfect book to read with or to children. There are a lot of funny moments and the prose perfect for kids. Recommended!