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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BOOK REVIEW: Lilac Girls – by Martha Hall Kelly #buddyread

Title: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: February 11th 2018
Pages: 487

“There was no storm gathering in the east that day, no portent of things to come. The only ominous sign from the direction of Europe was the scent of slack water wafting off the East River.”

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I know I have been saying for months I was going to pick up Lilac Girls, but even my TBR jar couldn’t help me doing so. That’s why I was stoked when Nicki @ Secret Library asked if I wanted to buddy read it: the perfect excuse to finally stop procrastinating and get the job done! I can definitely see why so many people seem to love this novel, and I’m glad I finally did pick it up. It did leave me with a huge book hangover though! Because there is one thing for sure, Lilac Girls doesn’t try to soften the emotional blows and sweeten the horrific facts of the holocaust. O no, you will get a full share of dreadfulness and shocking details of the happenings in the concentration camp Ravensbruck. Trigger warnings are in place for those with a weak stomach! Because especially the WWII camp scenes are both intense and gruesome.

Lilac Girls is divided into three different storylines and POVs, each contributing to the story in a different way. I had my doubts about how the different storylines would work together at first, but now I’ve finished it I can see the role of each one more clearly. I do have to say it took a long time for Caroline’s POV to fit into the story. Both the lack of this connection, the fact it took a long time warming up to her character and the romance made me enjoy her POV considerably less, although I do admit they were a perfect pitstop in between the intense Ravensbruck chapters. And Caroline’s chapters set after the war improved considerably. That’s why her POV ended up coming second place for me. My favorite POV by far was Kasia’s, not only because her storyline itself is fascinating, but her development and story as well. Emotional, heartbreaking, intense… Some chapters are not easy to read, but her POV is by far the strongest of the bunch. I really didn’t like Herta though, although I guess that is kind of natural with her being a camp doctor and doing the things she does? Still, I felt she was less developed than the other two and didn’t add as much to the story either. I guess she did serve as a perfect ‘tool’ to demonstrate the horrors of the holocaust and the ‘other’ side.

What that stood out for me is the fact that this story is actually based on true events and both Caroline and Herta did exist. (Kasia and her sister are close matches). This fact makes the story that much more fascinating and the impact of the horrific details that much stronger. The writing is very well done as well as the plot itself. And what I also loved is that Lilac Girls doesn’t just show us the events during WWII, like most novels with a similar theme do, but also show the aftermath and consequences for the persons involved. These final chapters (the latest set in 1957-1958) add a whole new level to the story and made this story that much more unique.

All in all, despite the fact that I initially didn’t like Caroline all that much and wasn’t sure of the romance in her POV, and despite the fact I couldn’t stand Herta as a character, I do think this is a fascinating historical fiction read. If you are a fan of the genre and can stomach the horrific facts of the holocaust, Lilac Girls is definitely for you.

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Caroline Ferriday works at the French consulate in New York, and has her hands full with her post. Then her world is changed forever when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939… And France might be next. Caroline has to work harder than ever to try and help all those people at the consulate. And some of the cases are rather too close to heart.

In Lublin, Kasia is a Polish teenager that decides to help the underground resistance movement after Hitler invaded Poland. Somehow the unthinkable happens and she is sent to Ravensbruck, the Nazi concentration camp for women. Will she be able to survive?

Young German doctor Herta wants to have a chance to show her talent and be seen as an equal to other male doctors, but this isn’t easy in Nazi Germany. When she sees an ad for a government medical position, she thinks it’s the chance to finally prove herself… But she ends up being trapped in a male-dominated Nazi concentration camp instead. She is still determined to reach her goal though…

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Lilac Girls is without doubt a story you will have to be in the mood for, because it is not an easy read. This historical fiction read will leave you emotionally drained and shock as you try to assimilate the many horrific facts and happenings in the Ravensbruck camp… No doubt excellent research and well written, but not for the weak hearted. Thankfully the Caroline chapters are there to bring some relief of the horrors… And the final part set after the war will help you breathe again as well. No doubt a great read, even if it did leave me with a book hangover!


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10 More TBR Jar Picks: The Numbers

I have been using my TBR jar for a long time now, although I only started keeping track of them just before the end of 2014. I have had mixed results with the ‘official’ rules, and therefore decided that I would create my own more relaxed rules and a shiny new TBR jar as well. I have been reading a lot of randomly chosen books since, and last year I finally made it to magic number of 25 TBR jar picks. It took me way longer than expected to read the next ten titles though, but now it’s finally time to present the following ten TBR jar picks to the world.

First of all, let me introduce you to the 10 books that have made it to this list:

26. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (May 13th 2016) (4 stars)
27. The Opposite Of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (June 11th 2016) (3,5 stars)
28. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (July 23rd 2016) (2 stars)
29. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier (August 21st 2016) (3 stars)
30. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (November 2nd 2016) (3,5 stars)

31. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (November 22nd 2017) (5 stars)
32. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (June 30th 2017) (2,5 stars)
33. The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson (February 14th 2017) (3,5 stars)
34. Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (August 2nd 2017) (2,5 stars)
35. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (August 20th 2017) (4,5 stars)

Let’s review my TBR jar choices, shall we? On to the numbers…

First of all some quick facts. The 10 books on this list have a total page count of 3.384 pages; an average of about 338 pages per book. The average rating is 3,4 stars, which is actually quite low considering 2 books had a 4,5 or 5 star rating and only 3 books received a rating below 3 stars. Still it seems like my TBR jar in general gives me pretty good choices.

And now some graphics for those who like them as much as I do. 😉

This graphic is actually quite surprising since I have been reading a lot of Adult books this year, but I guess my TBR jar wants me to read mostly YA? The MG number isn’t all that strange because I hardly read books belonging to that age group in the first place.

I somehow seem to read a lot more books written by female authors in general, so this graphic isn’t all that surprising. I still do wish to balance this number more in the future, but with the TBR jar making the choices it won’t be easy. xD

The main genre is basically the most dominant genre I think each book belongs to. I’m actually surprised so many books were contemporary romance, because it’s not my favorite genre… Historical fiction isn’t a surprise, but what was unexpected is the fact only one of the books belonged to the mystery/thriller genre.

I have been reading less series in general, so I’m not all that surprised most TBR jar picks were stand-alones. I do have a few series I really want to get to, but in general it’s not the TBR jar that makes me pick them up. 😉

Most books that belong to my list of TBR jar picks are recently published, which is no surprise since I’m guilty of reading a lot of recently published books in the first place. It did surprise me books were published in 2014 or before! And one of them was a classic published in the 19th century.

Last graphic: unsurprisingly most books I’ve read have between 300 and 399 pages, which seems to be the norm with the books I’ve read so far this year as well. No short and very long reads here, although two titles did have 400 pages or more.

Tired of numbers yet? I know I am! That’s it for this TBR jar picks review; I’m looking forward to the next 10… Do you have a TBR jar and does it work for you? Feel free to comment. 🙂


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BOOK REVIEW: The Kind Worth Killing – by Peter Swanson

Title: The Kind Worth Killing
Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: August 20th 2017
Pages: 312

“Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”

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The Kind Worth Killing is one of those books that has been on my TBR for ages and somehow never picked up despite the fact I was really looking forward it. Apparently my TBR jar thought it was about time to change that… I admit I was very happy when I learned what my latest TBR jar pick was going to be. And all those raving reviews were absolutely right. The Kind Worth Killing is one heck of a thrilling rollercoaster ride! From the brilliant writing style to the suspense, plot twists, character development and the plot itself… This story will have you in its claws as soon as you start reading it and trust me, you will find yourself unable to stop until you figure out how things end. I really liked the idea behind this story and it was both disturbing, twisted and refreshing at the same time. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but the quote above gives you an idea of how the mind of one of the main characters works… The characters and their development are very well done and it was interesting to see how things played out as the plot twist bombs were dropped on you. Some are pretty shocking! The Kind Worth Killing is suspense at its best and I can definitely highly recommend this title to any fan of the genre. You won’t regret reading this one!

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Ted Severson and Lily Kintner meet waiting for a flight from London and Boston, and after a few martinis they seem to start a very revealing game of truth. Ted talks about his marriage and how he is sure that his wife Miranda his cheating on him. They weren’t exactly a perfect match to begin with, but still… Then the game takes a different turn when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda and Lily takes him seriously. After all, as Lily believes some people are just worth killing… Back in Boston the two keep in touch and their bond grows stronger as they start talking about the how and when. But can they really get away with it? And why does Lily, a total stranger, want to help Ted in the first place?

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If you like fast-paced and twisty thrillers that read like a train, you will love The Kind Worth Killing. This story is packed with plot twists that will both surprise you and keep you guessing about what will happen next until the very end. The writing is excellent and only helps enjoying the story even more. The flashbacks to the past of Lily don’t distract from the main plot at all and only help to develop her character further. In short, definitely read this title if you haven’t already and like the genre. It’s just as good as everybody keeps promising in their raving reviews!


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BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things – by Sara Barnard

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2017
Pages: 322

“Everyone says apologizing works, but it never really does. Not quickly enough anyway.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up Beautiful Broken Things for quite some time now, so I was quite happy when my TBR jar decided for me it was time to read my copy. I always have mixed experiences with YA contemporaries, but I was drawn to this cover and blurb like a bee to honey. And to be honest, I initially really enjoyed reading it. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and makes it very easy to read this story. I found myself literally flying through the pages at first. Even though the plot itself isn’t all that special and nothing I haven’t seen before in the genre, I had a great time reading it. There are quite a few high school cliches involved though which I could have done without as well as the jealousy and the whole new friend/third wheel theme. I had mixed feelings about the characters and as the story continued especially Caddy really started to bother me. Both her attitude and her idea that having bad things happen to you make you more interesting is not only frustrating but almost offensive. It’s one of the reasons I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less and less and ended up having to give a lot lower rating than I initially suspected. Sure, Suzanne’s character is quite interesting and opens the way to talk about important themes as abuse and its consequences and mental health, but her reactions are also almost cliche at points and I’m not sure I’m happy with the final developments and the ending. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for… Beautiful Broken Things had a quite strong start because of the enjoyable writing style, but didn’t manage to convince me in the end. Part of the problem might have been me, so if you love the genre and don’t mind cliches it’s still worth giving a go.

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Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for years and even though they go to different high schools, they are inseparable. Caddy has always been the quiet one though and when she turns sixteen she wants to make some changes in her life. And then Rosie meets Suzanne, a new girl at her school and they become friends. Suzanne is everything Caddy wants to be and she is jealous of their friendship. Things are becoming a whole lot more complicated… Especially when Caddy starts to get knowing Suzanne better. What will happen to the three girls?

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Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.


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25 TBR Jar Picks: The Numbers

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shinynewtbrcupI have been using my TBR jar for a long time now, although I only started keeping track of them just before the end of 2014. I have had mixed results with the ‘official’ rules, but I decided about a year ago that I would create my own more relaxed rules and recently a shiny new TBR jar as well. I have been reading a lot of randomly chosen books since, and earlier this month I finally made it to magic number of 25 TBR jar picks! I thought it was the perfect time to review the numbers.

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