YVO’S SHORTIES #4: Alex And Eliza & Herding Cats (ARC)


Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two books I read a while ago… One historical fiction romance and a graphic novel which is actually an ARC and due to be published later this year; namely Alex And Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz and Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen.


Title: Alex And Eliza
(Alex & Eliza #1)
Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 19th 2017
Pages: 368

“Alexander Hamilton, widely reputed to be the most eloquent man in the United States Of America, had, for the first time in his life, been rendered speechless.”


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I know most people are probably aware of the fact that I’m not a romance fan, so it might seem like a strange choice to pick up a novel like Alex And Eliza. But while I’m not a fan of the romance genre, I do love my historical fiction and my interest was peaked when I read the blurb. No, I am not familiar with the details of Alex Hamilton’s life nor did I see the Hamilton musical. Call me ignorant, but that part of American history was never talked about in the country I grew up in. I was looking forward to find out more about Hamilton’s life and importance in history and historical timeframe in general, since it’s been a while since I’ve read a story set in the 18th century… And to be honest, I found myself being mostly disappointed with the historical aspect of Alex And Eliza. Instead of a detailed historical setting and information about Hamilton’s life, this is mainly a love story that could have been about any random high society girl and boy without important family name or money. I don’t have the feeling at all that I know more about Hamilton’s life after finishing it and I wasn’t a fan of the character development either. The romance… I know it isn’t my thing in general, but between the love triangle and the way the lovebirds acted, it was quite a turn off for me. I guess romance fans who don’t mind the lack of historical details will be able to enjoy the story a lot better than me though.


Title: Herding Cats
(Sarah’s Scribbles #3)
Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor
First published: March 27th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: December 3rd 2017 
Pages: 112


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I enjoyed reading Big Mushy Happy Lump last year, so I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Herding Cats when I saw it. I don’t really read a lot of graphic novels, but I like both the style of the illustrations and the topics the author talks about. Daily life mixed with anxiety topics and all in all things that I personally can easily relate to. And while I had fun reading Herding Cats, I felt some of the spark of her previous graphic novel was missing… I especially loved the cat and reading related graphics, which I obviously could really relate to, but other pages didn’t manage to speak to me in a way I was expecting when I started reading it. Herding Cats is still a fun read though and perfect to take a little break, get yourself a cuppa and just absorb those pages. Coming out in March!


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ARC REVIEW: Her Last Secret – by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture

Title: Her Last Secret
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 13th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 24th 2017
Pages: ?

“Life was sweet. Until it turned sour.”

*** 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 really enjoyed reading The Darkest Lies earlier this year, so I was really looking forward to Barbara Copperthwaite‘s newest psychological thriller. And as the title might already suggest, this one is yet another story packed until its limits with lies and secrets. Her Last Secret is mostly a character-driven psychological thriller and focuses on the many different characters that play a role in the event of that damned Christmas day. I do have to admit the pace was initially a lot slower than expected and I found myself struggling a little in the beginning. This was due both to the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters. Somehow was never able to warm up to any of the main characters (except mayby for Mouse) and some of their actions and opinions actually started to frustrate me (the father is despicable!). I can’t deny their development feels realistic and rounded though; each of them having a different web of lies and secrets and adding a different level to the story. This complexity of characters and different subplots is what saved this story for me. Once you get used to the different characters, start learning about the events leading up to Christmas day and start guessing what really happened, you will find yourself hooked. The second half of the story definitely made up for the slow start for me. I loved the whole countdown idea and how slowly more of the present day event is revealed… Leaving you in the dark and guessing what could have happened and who is to blame as you learn more about the characters. And the final part is more than shocking! Basically, Her Last Secret will make you think a lot of things and suspect a lot of people, but I can garantuee you won’t guess the final truth about what really happened. I could also really appreciate the role (cyber)bullying played in this story. All in all, if you enjoy reading character-driven psychological thrillers, you will have a great time with this one.

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On the outside, they seemed like a perfect family. Ben Thomas is a successful business and lives with his wife Dominique in a beautiful house along with their two daughters Ruby and Mouse. But this perfect image is just a mirage, as they seem to be hiding a lot of secrets… And then on Christmas day the police is called to their home, only to find a horrific scene. What happened in their home? What secrets were they hiding? And did those secrets have anything to do with what happened on Christmas day?

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Her Last Secret turned out to be a slowburner for me. While I initially struggled with the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters, I was seriously hooked by the time I reached the second half. This character-driven psychological thriller has more layers than an onion and a huge dose of secrets to go with it. The complexity of the plot and how the different storylines slowly merge is what makes this story so intriguing; the countdown chapters mixed with the slow Christmas day revelations only add to the suspense.


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ARC REVIEW: Things I’m Seeing Without You – by Peter Bognanni

Title: Things I’m Seeing Without You
Author: Peter Bognanni

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: September 20th 2017
Pages: 336

“What I mean is that nothing ever happens the way itt’s supposed to. Everything is messed up. Everything is flawed. And if we didn’t have imperfection, I’m not sure what we would have left.”

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

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I confess: this was 100% a cover-love decision since I just couldn’t say no to such a stunning cover. Things I’m Seeing Without You is a YA contemporary read that mixes romance with more serious themes as death and grief and even has a dose of humor as well. There is no doubt that the writing style is very engaging and I was able to connect instantly to the story. I liked Tess’ sassy tone and took an instant liking to the writing, making Things I’m Seeing Without You a very enjoyable read. I do have to say that the main character’s sarcasm and humor are probably not for everyone, explaining the mixed reviews out there… But if you are able to connect, you are in for a treat. The whole funeral business definitely gives this story a unique touch and adds a little something to the plot as well. I’m not sure if everything is all that credible and I had a few eyebrow-raising moments here and there, especially concerning the credibility of the final part of Things I’m Seeing Without You. Somehow I just don’t think they would ever been able to do what they did or even get there in the first place… And it’s one of the reasons I had to lower the rating. I’m still on the fence when it comes to the main characters; I liked Tess even though she is a handful, but I never really did warm up to Daniel completely. But like I said before, the whole special funeral business added a little spark to the story and definitely managed to introduce some ‘light’ moments in what is otherwise mainly a sad story about death, loss and how to deal with it all. It’s a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read I’m sure fans of the genre will be able to enjoy. The writing might not be everyone’s taste, but I personally felt an instant connection and Things I’m Seeing Without You is definitely worth the try.

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Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler hasn’t been the same after the death of Jonah. Even though they only met once in real life, they have been talking over texts and long e-mails for months and were in love… And she never saw his suicide coming. She continues to write to Jonah as a way of dealing with her grief, and also decides to drop out of high school because she couldn’t deal with it any longer. She returns to her father’s home, where she discovers his newest business: an alternative funeral business with very special clients…

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Things I’m Seeing Without You is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read despite the more serious themes. The fact that death, loss and grief is mixed with humor as well is refreshing and the funeral business added a really unique touch to the story. I’m not sure about the credibility of certain part of the plot and the actions of the characters, but there is one thing for sure: you will fly through this read. I personally liked Tess with all her flaws and complicated personality; the sassy tone of the story definitely complements her character. This story might not be for everyone, but I can definitely suggest giving it a try!


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ARC REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere – by Celeste Ng @penguinpress

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Finished reading: August 25th 2017
Pages: 384

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

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

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who has Little Fires Everywhere on their list of most anticipated releases and you can imagine I was over the moon when I found out my request for such a popular title was actually approved. I have been looking forward to this title ever since I first received my copy on my kindle, and now I’ve read it I can predict this title will receive a lot of love. Because Celeste Ng has created a very intriguing story full of drama, complex characters and a wide range of emotions and themes. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is excellent and helps set the right atmosphere for this story. Little Fires Everywhere kind of starts with the ending and then slowly shows you how everything gets to that point, unraveling secrets, lies and learning more about the main characters, their history and the town the story is set in. Shaker Heights makes for a very interesting setting and only reinforces the contrast between the successful and rich Richardson family and both Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. This clash is the basis for a well developed and intriguing story not only about the relationship between both families but also about how they react to a different situation that will affect both. Celeste Ng is very good at developing her characters and making them feel realistic with all their flaws and other signs of their humanity. I personally struggled a bit to connect to them, but that might have just been me not agreeing with some of the choices the characters make. It’s probably one of the reasons I didn’t LOVE love Little Fires Everywhere, even though I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why. There is no doubt that this book is an excellent read though and fans of her books and the genre in general will be in for a treat.

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Shaker Heights is a placid suburb of Cleveland where everything is planned until the very last detail. The people living there are expected to live successful lives in their grand houses and the guiding principle in the community is to play by the rules. The current residents all seem to follow this principle, including the Richardsons. But then Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in town, and they don’t seem to fit in that mold. Mia is a single mother and an artist who doesn’t seem to follow the same rules and managed to live her life so far anyway. Elena Richardson first rented them a house, but later seems to start resenting Mia for not fitting in; although her children seem to think otherwise. And then something will happen that will endanger this delicate balance…

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Even though I ended up giving Little Fires Everywhere a slightly lower rating than expected, there is no doubt that this was still a very good read. Both the writing, character development and twists were very well done and turn Little Fires Everywhere into an excellent contemporary fiction read with a healthy dose of drama, secrets and lies. The flashbacks to the past are interesting as well as the way as some sensitive themes as abortion are incorporated. And I just loved the photography elements! Fans of the genre will love this book.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Jungle Book – by Rudyard Kipling

Title: The Jungle Book
Author: Rudyard Kipling

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1894
Publisher: Random House UK
Finished reading: August 14th 2017
Pages: 248

“The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him.”

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I’ve been seriously neglecting my classics this year, but didn’t want to force myself to read something complicated to avoid worsening my slump either. That is when I remembered I had a copy of The Jungle Book on my kindle, and decided to read it on the spot. I must have seen the Disney movie a hundred times when I was little and still remember some of the songs to this date… So I was really looking forward to finally read the original story the movie was based on. And let me tell you, the people of Disney have interpreted Mowgli’s story VERY loosely. I personally didn’t mind that much since it has been ages (read: 15-20 years; damn I feel old!) since I last saw the movie in the first place, but I can imagine true fans of the movie will be surprised when they start reading the classic. I really liked Rudyard Kipling‘s story of Mowgli though and was surprised by how easy it was to understand the prose. It shows in the dialogue this story was written in the 19th century, but the rest of The Jungle Book didn’t feel dated at all. I really enjoyed reading the original version of Mowgli and probably would have rated this book even higher if it wouldn’t have been for the other stories included afterwards. I’ve seen others like those four stories about seals, the mongoose, an elephant and animals used in the army better, but I personally prefered Mowgli. All in all this was definitely still a very positive experience reading a classic and I’m glad I made time to read The Jungle Book.

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A young man-cub barely escapes the claws of the greedy tiger Shere Khan as he is found by Father Wolf and Mother Wolf in the jungle. Shere Khan demands the wolfs to hand the man-cub over, but Father and Mother Wolf are determined to protect the little one and decide to raise the child as their own. Little Mowgli grows up among the wolves, but there will come a time the pack can no longer defend him… And Mowgli will have to learn the secrets of the Jungle in order to survive.

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I was pleasantly surprised by just how easy it was to read this classic. Sure, the dialogues felt a bit dated, but the rest of the writing read naturally and made it really easy to enjoy Mowgli’s story. The other four stories included afterwards weren’t as enjoyable for me and lowered the rating a bit, but all in all I can definitely recommend The Jungle Book to those who are looking for an easy and entertaining classic. The songs at the beginning of the chapters were a nice touch!


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ARC REVIEW: The Lying Game – by Ruth Ware @vintagebooks

Title: The Lying Game
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 15th 2017
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Finished reading: August 1st 2017
Pages: 352

“I hate lying. It used to be fun – until I didn’t have a choice.”

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

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The truth is I have been wanting to read one of Ruth Ware‘s books for ages and I was actually going to read one of her other titles first, but decided to tackle The Lying Game instead due to mixed reviews. I guess I didn’t want the other books to possibly spoil my reading experience for this one… I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying The Lying Game despite a few things I wasn’t happy about. What became clear very early on is that I was going to love the writing style. I was hooked right from the first chapter and even though the story itself isn’t as fast-paced as I would have liked, it was the writing style that still made me thoroughly enjoy The Lying Game. I liked the mystery around what happened all those years ago and what the friends are hiding. I had my suspicions on the lies and secrets of the group, but I wasn’t able to guess the full truth until the very end. What did bother me considerably were the characters. I wasn’t able to connect to any of them and this made this more character driven story a lot more difficult to love. One of the characters stood out painfully for me: Isa. I actually despise her for how she treats both her baby daughter and husband and was starting to feel more and more frustrated as things went further. And it’s clear that these feelings have influenced my experience negatively. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending either… But like I said before, what probably saved this story for me was the writing style. This alone has made me look forward to her other stories now!

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When a human bone is found in the seemingly idyllic coastal village of Salten, it causes a unexpected and uncomfortable reunion for four childhood friends. They hadn’t seen each other for years, but one message from Kate and they all come back, knowing perfectly well what she is so worried about. The four have been hiding secrets and covering everything in lies for years, but things are slowly starting to unravel… Will they be able to stop the truth from coming out? What would happen if it does?

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Now I’ve read The Lying Game I can see why it has been receiving mixed reviews. I haven’t read her other books yet, so I can’t compare, but if the writing style is anything close as good as in The Lying Game I can see why the plot and characters could be a disappointment. The characters were highly unlikeable and to be honest the whole unreliable narrator theme is getting old. Unreliable or not, my main issue was with Isa and the despicable way she treats her baby, her husband and people in general. Not liking the characters made it a lot harder to enjoy this more character driven and rather slow paced thriller… I still quite enjoyed the ride though, mostly because the writing style had me seriously hooked.


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BOOK REVIEW: Now You See Me – by Sharon Bolton

Title: Now You See Me
(Lacy Flint #1)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 7th 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: July 22nd 2017
Pages: 400

“But I learned something that night. When everything else is slipping away, pride is one thing you cling on to.”

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I know, I know, I’m exceptionally late when it comes to the whole Sharon Bolton party, especially since her books belong to one of my favorite genres. It took me long enough, but I can now finally say I’ve read at least one of her books. At least, because I will definitely be picking up more of her work even though I expected to be giving Now You See Me a higher rating than I did. Because before I continue with my review, I have to make clear that this first book of the Lacey Flint series has probably suffered from the fact that I’m currently in some sort of a slump and can’t seem to love any book right now. Should I have posponed my first experience with her work? Maybe. But Now You See Me has still given me a very good idea of the sheer quality of her work and there is definitely a lot to love in this first book of a series I will continue (hopefully) some time soon. This book had me at serial killer and once I saw Jack The Ripper mentioned I started jumping up and down out of excitement. I just love how this old case plays such a big role in the story! And it surely shows just how well Sharon Bolton has investigated the original crimes and many theories about the identity of the killer. Now You See Me is a well written crime thriller in general with a lot of twists that will keep you guessing… Although I do have to say I was never able to warm up to Lacey and the whole bantering between Joesbury and her started to get annoying. Also, the whole mystery around Lacey’s character and the twists and misformation in the final part of the story sort of had the opposite effect on me and I mostly felt confused and frustrated instead of on the edge of my seat. Does something like a ‘plot twist overkill’ exist? Part of the problem was most likely me though and I’m definitely planning on reading the sequel some time soon.

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As young detective Lacey Flint is exiting the apartment complex after interviewing a reluctant witness, she stumbles onto a women who has just been brutally stabbed moments before on the parking lot. Lacey suddenly finds herself involved in a murder case, and her role as witness will soon turn into something a whole lot more complicated… Because not even twenty-four hours later, a reporter receives an anonymous letter pointing out the similarities between the case and Jack The Ripper’s first murder… And the letter mentions Lacey by name. Why is her name mentioned? Is she a suspect? And is there really a new Jack The Ripper out there determined to recreate the original murders?

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Like I said before, I’m probably partly to blame for the slightly lower rating than expected. But there is no doubt that Now You See Me is the start of what is promising to be a very interesting crime thriller series and I will be looking forward to pick up the next book even though I haven’t been able to warm up to Lacey yet. Sharon Bolton‘s writing style makes it very enjoyable to read her story and I can’t wait to pick up more of her books.


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