YVO’S SHORTIES #108 – Dear Evan Hansen & The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads… Sadly Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich failed to blow me away, but The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen completely won over my heart. It’s a must-read for fans of A Man Called Ove!!


Title: Dear Evan Hansen
Author: Val Emmich

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 9th 2018
Publisher: Poppy
Finished reading: June 17th 2019 
Pages: 352

“Fantasies always sound good, but they’re no help when reality comes and shoves you to the ground.”


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I’ve had Dear Evan Hansen on my radar for a while and decided to pick it up on a whim while browsing my kindle for contemporary titles. I initially thought it was going to be a great title for Pride month, but I guess I remembered the facts wrong as the LGBT element hardly plays a role in Dear Evan Hansen. Instead, the focus is on the main character and his mental health issues and anxiety. I’m always interested in stories with that angle, so I didn’t mind that much at first, but I’m not sure I actually like the execution here. Why? Well, I felt there was just too much focus on Evan’s mental problems as a personality trait and I didn’t feel his character was all that developed otherwise; making him essentionally one dimensional and not at all easy to connect to. I understand social awkwardness and anxiety on a personal level, and I don’t feel that Evan was necesarity a realistic and thorough representation of this. He almost felt like a cartoon of himself; his mental issues used as a way to ‘spice up’ the plot and create new plot angles. And to be honest I’m not sure what to think about that. I wasn’t a fan of the plot itself either; I found it rather tasteless to be honest and quite unrealistic as well. The writing wasn’t bad and the story reads fast generally, although I wasn’t happy with the tone sometimes. I do have to confess I have never seen the Broadway show, and this might have had an influence on my reading experience? I’m not sure, but what I do know that this story definitely wasn’t for me. I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely give it a shot if you think you would enjoy it!


Title: The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen
(Hendrik Groen #1)
Author: Hendrik Groen

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
First published: June 1st 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: June 18th 2019
Pages: 400
(Originally written in Dutch: ‘Pogingen Iets Van Het Leven Te Maken’)

“Loneliness can sometimes feel even worse when you’re with other people.”


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As soon as I read the blurb of The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen for the first time two years ago, I knew I HAD to read it. There was just something about the story that made me think of grumpy Ove in A Man Called Ove, one of my all time favorite characters and stories, so there was just no way I was going to pass up on this read. The book is actually a translation of an originally Dutch publication, and the funny part is that for a long time it wasn’t sure who exactly was behind this little masterpiece. Yes, The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen was written under a pseudonym and the author didn’t want his identity to be revealed… Which means that we sadly won’t be able to meet the infamous Hendrik Groen in person. And how would I have loved to do that! I have a feeling Ove and Hendrik would have been great friends and I fell in love with his character right away. The slight grumpiness, the sarcastic humor, his attitude towards the world, the Old But Not Dead club in general… Everything just clicked perfectly and I had a blast reading about their adventures. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen is exactly that: a diary. The story is told through (almost) daily entries in Hendrik Groen’s diary, and through his diary we get to learn more about both himself, the care home and its inhabitants, the care system and Dutch politics/key events in 2013 and last but not least the members of the Old But Not Dead club. I loved the idea behind this club and how Hendrik and his friends decided to keep enjoying life while they still can. The outings were fun to read about and I really loved seeing both their characters and their bond develop over time. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen isn’t all fun and there are a few sad moments included that will most likely make your eyes water. And the ending most definitely left me wanting more more… Hendrik Groen is without doubt a character that will stay with me for a long time! Funny, entertaining and heartfelt: fans of strong main characters, sarcastic humor and A Man Called Ove should consider The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen a must-read.


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WWW Wednesdays #227 – June 19th

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 was going to take a break from ARCs, but the NG titles that are left are almost all highly anticipated titles so I don’t think I will resist them much longer. 😉 I’m currently reading one of them: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh. It’s still early days, but I’m excited to be finally reading one of his titles! I’m also starting The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, a book I’ve been meaning to read for years (and also the final backlist one I needed to read before her newest comes out). And I’m also finally picking up Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, one of my absolute favorite authors.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (3/5 stars) NO REVIEW
Overall it’s an interesting collection of stories. I liked some better than others and wasn’t impressed with the adult content in some of them. Some were creepy while others were mild, some long and some short and had a poetry feel. I really liked how Neil Gaiman included his inspiration for each story in the very beginning of the collection. It wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad to have finished my Dutch read of the year haha.

2. The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I’m happy I finally got the chance to read it, because I fell in love with both the writing and the story itself. It’s such a beautiful and well crafted story! It’s magical realism, but not too ‘heavy’ to distract or complicate you… Instead, you will find yourself mesmerized by the lives of the Corbeau and Paloma families and their performances. There is a hint of the magic, but mostly The Weight Of Feathers is a classic forbidden love story where two characters of rival families fall in love against all odds.

3. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
Sadly, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Two Boys Kissing… It had nothing to do with the actual content, and I’m sad this story was put on the banned books list, but there was something else I really struggled with. What? While I loved the idea behind this story and the symbolism in general, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all. The whole second/third person POV was both alienating and extremely annoying and made me enjoy the story a lot less than I thought I would. I can’t deny Two Boys Kissing has a strong LGBT message though, and I loved the idea of the record breaking and the background of each character.

4. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
I admit I went in blind, thinking I was going to find a nice and docil domestic thriller despite the knife on the cover… I couldn’t have been more wrong. What a delightfully twisted and properly disturbing read! If you are, like me, strangely into serial killer stories, imagine finding not one, but TWO in one story… And a couple at that! As soon as I was hit with that mindblowing information, I was hooked. And not just ‘normal’ hooked; I literally read the whole thing in one sitting by candle light (not by choice though as we had a country wide power failure that day), not caring if I was basically ruining my eyes or if had other things to do. I just HAD to know how things would develop and how twisted things were going to get.

5. Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/06
I’ve had Dear Evan Hansen on my radar for a while and decided to pick it up on a whim while browsing my kindle for contemporary titles. The focus is on the main character and his mental health issues and anxiety. I’m always interested in stories with that angle, so I didn’t mind that much at first, but I’m not sure I actually like the execution here. Why? Well, I felt there was just too much focus on Evan’s mental problems as a personality trait and I didn’t feel his character was all that developed otherwise; making him essentionally one dimensional and not at all easy to connect to.

6. The Lynmouth Stories by L.V. Hay (4/5 stars) NO REVIEW
It’s true that I don’t read a lot of short stories, but I’ve been meaning to try L.V. Hay‘s work for a while now… After reading Sarah’s review and learning it was currently available for free on Amazon (still is last time I checked!), I decided to jump in and give it a go. This bundle includes three short, but dark stories which all share a Lynmouth setting. This setting sets the right atmosphere for three eery and slightly disturbing reads, where the characters discover the unpleasant side of Lynmouth. A kidnapping/hostage situation, the busy summer months turning into a lonely winter and  an abuse story turning into a natural disaster… Three different stories, but they all have that daunting feel and are very well written and without doubt make me want to read more of her work. If you are looking for a quick dose of excellently written suspense, you should definitely try The Lynmouth Stories.

7. The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/06
I already had a feeling I was going to enjoy this title, and my instincts turned out to be right. If you, like me, loved A Man Called Ove, you don’t want to miss this one! I bet Hendrik and Ove would be the best of friends… Funny, entertaining and heartfelt; I definitely can’t wait to get a copy of book two.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to work towards finishing some of my challenges early, and the next couple of titles will help with that. I’ve heard mixed things about Ivory And Bone by Julie Eshbaugh and I’m not sure if the writing will be for me, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway… And I’m excited to finally pick up Jar Of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier after reading so many raving reviews. I’m also picking up House Of Furies by Madeleine Roux soon. My TBR jar pick is still The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout… I definitely need to read that one soon.


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Friday Finds #143 – July 28th

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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