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.”


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


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!


You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: It’s All Absolutely Fine – by Ruby Elliot


Title: It’s All Absolutely Fine
Author: Ruby Elliot

Genre: Graphic Novel, Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 15th 2017
Pages: 256
Rating 4qqq

“That’s what you need sometimes, whether it’s a dog or a cat or a jazzy lizard or something else entirely that provides you with some emotional respite when it’s all too messy – a tiny yet significant port in an almighty storm.”

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


I confess I don’t have a lot of experience reading graphic novels, but when I saw It’s All Absolutely Fine at Netgalley I was immediately intrigued by the promise of a combination of simple drawings and a down-to-earth description of the daily struggles of life with mental illness. It is a topic that has always interested me for various reasons… And It’s All Absolutely Fine is without doubt another title to add to my list of favorites talking about mental illness. Why? First of all, I found it really easy to connect to the little stories. Ruby Elliot shows life as it is without trying to hide the ugly parts, and I can really appreciate the sincerity of it all. This bundle switches between short essays and illustrations that show the reader Ruby’s experiences living with social anxiety and the daily struggles of life with mental illness. Simple drawings of sometimes ‘simple’ situations, but with a huge dose of sharp humor for maximum effect.

I think this illustration above gives just the right idea of what I’m talking about… Ruby Elliot‘s drawings are sometimes brutally honest, but they always feel 100% real. It’s both an entertaining and eye-opening read that will appeal both to anyone interested in the topic and fans of memoirs such as Furiously Happy.


It’s All Absolutely Fine is both an honest and unapologetic account of Ruby’s daily struggle living with mental illness. She uses simple drawings and a few short essays to talk about themes like mood disorders, anxiety and issues with body image; all sprinkled with the right dose of humor. Each chapter talks about a different set of struggles, and every aspect is talked about openly without hiding the ugly parts.


It’s All Absolutely Fine is a graphic novel and memoir that tries to both show what it is to live with mental illness and tell other people that it is okay to not feel okay. The drawings might be simple, but are brutally honest and have a dose of sharp humor for maximum effect. I really enjoyed reading this story and I think anyone interested in the topic would enjoy reading It’s All Absolutely Fine as well. Recommended!


You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Bloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Big Mushy Happy Lump – by Sarah Andersen


Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump
(Sarah’s Scribles #2)
Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor, Non Fiction
First published: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 1st 2017
Pages: 128
Rating 4qqq

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


I admit I don’t have a lot of experience reading graphic novels, but I fell in love with these illustrations as soon as I saw the cover. And what better way to start the year with a light read full of ‘down to earth’ and endearing illustrations and situations that are extremely easy to relate to? Big Mushy Happy Lump is actually the second comic by the author and is coming out on March 7th; the first, Adulthood Is A Myth, I will be looking forward to read soon. I had a lot of fun reading this graphic novel and it was really easy to connect to the illustrated personal essays of Sarah Andersen. I could see myself in so many of the real-life situations! I mean, I think any booklover can relate to the illustration below…


The essays are not just about books though. They also talk about the author’s real-life experiences with for example anxiety, career and relationships. These little stories are both fun to read, orginal, easy to relate to and feel authentic; the illustrations a real treat. This bundle would make a perfect gift!


This second bundle of Sarah’s Scribbles is full of both the most recent fan favorites and dozen’s of all-new comics. The illustrated personal essays are based on the author’s personal real-life experiences with topics as anxiety, career, relationship and other challenges adults have to face.


I had a lot of fun reading Big Mushy Happy Lump. Not only are the illustrations easy on the eye, it is also really easy to relate to the highly personal little essays. The stories feel authentic and the humor used was right up my alley. I’ve seen the tone being compared to Furiously Happy, and I completely stand behind that comparison. If you are looking for an entertaining graphic novel that talks about real life, this one is an excellent choice!

ARC REVIEW: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn – by Dana Simpson


Title: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe And Her Unicorn Adventure
(Heavenly Nostrils #4)
Author: Dana Simpson

Genre: Graphic Novel, Children, Humor
First published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: August 10th 2016
Pages: 184
Rating 4qqq

“”My dad speaks ‘nerd’.”

“It’s good to be bilingual.”

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


I have been wanting to explore the graphic novel/comic genre for a while now, but with so many options out there it’s really hard to decide where to start. Netgalley and Andrew McMeel Publishing offered the great opportunity to try my hand at my very first graphic novel this year with Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe And Her Unicorn Adventure. I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the cover. It’s just so colorful, fun and I simple love the artwork! This graphic novel is perfect for young girls from the age of 8 to 12 years, both because of the graphics and the simple, but funny and relatable stories. Dana Simpson has found the perfect formula in the friendship between little Phoebe and her best friend Marigold the unicorn. The interaction between both characters is great even at those pages where there isn’t happening much plotwise, and I love that it shows young readers that it isn’t necessarily bad to be different. Razzle Dazzle Unicorn shows a range of typical childhood events like the holidays, school assignments, summer camp, frenemies and chores. Phoebe’s childhood is quite typical except for the fact that her best friend happens to be an extravagant unicorn and she frequently runs into other magical creatures. Contemporary with a dash of fantasy,  and so much fun to read! I can definitely recommend this graphic novel for younger (female) readers.


Phoebe and her unicorn are back with more adventures and more sparkly than ever! In this fourth volume, Phoebe and Marigold talk about the holidays and NY resolutions, confront trouble at school, frenemies and messy rooms. Marigold also has a nasty case of ‘sparkle fever’, and they both go to music summer camp to meet up with Phoebe’s friend Sue and her friend Ringo the lake monster… And they are reminded that being weird is WAY more fun than being normal.


I fell in love with this graphic novel as soon as I saw the cover art. The graphics in Razzle Dazzle Unicorn are just too cute, colorful and adorable in general! They will lure in even those children that might need a little push to start reading, and Phoebe and Marigold the unicorn will put them under their spell from the first page. The stories themselves are simple, but quite entertaining and funny. It will be easy for the younger readers to relate to Phoebe and it has an interesting underlying message that will encourage kids to use their imagination and not be afraid of being different. The glossary in the back and the final section are a nice touch as well!

BOOK REVIEW: The Summer I Became A Nerd – by Leah Rae Miller


Title: The Summer I Became A Nerd
(Nerd #1)
Author: Leah Rae Miller
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Finished reading: August 3rd 2016
Pages: 352

Rating 3qqq

“Be true to yourself and others will be true to you, too.”


I picked this book up on a whim because of the summery title, mostly because I needed something to distract me from the cold weather down here. And while it’s certainly a great summer read, I’m having mixed thoughts about The Summer I Became A Nerd. It’s without doubt a fast-paced and mostly entertaining contemporary romance story and I LOVED the geeky/comic references. Those nerdy elements are without doubt the best part of this book! The story reads easily and both Logan and Dan are adorkable (in the best possible way.) And there is where it also went wrong: it really bothered me that the main character Maddie is so ashamed of the fact that she likes comics and other geeky things. Especially since she has been hiding it for so long and creating an alternative personality in order to be popular… Add a bunch of other cheesy high school cliches and a love triangle and it was close to ruining the story for me. Luckily the final part did manage to satisfy my inner nerd and that probably saved the rating from plummeting even lower. If you don’t mind cheesy high school cliches and a love triangle, you will probably end up loving this contemporary romance story though.


Seventeen-year-old Maddie looks like just another typical blond cheerleader and she has worked hard to create that image; picking only popular friends, liking only the right things and even dating the quarterback. But Maddie has a secret: she is a huge fan of comics and doesn’t really care about pep rallies or her best friend’s favorite singer. She is desperate to keep her secret nerd identity hidden, and doesn’t even enter the only comic store in town because she is afraid someone will see her. But when de delivery of issue #400 of her favorite comic is delayed, she can’t resist and enters the local comic shop anyway. And working at the counter is Logan, a geeky guy from school she secretly likes but can’t date because it would ruin her reputation. But Logan recognizes her and Maddie will soon have to choose between letting her inner nerd out or ignore her love for comics and lose Logan forever…


I love books with geeky elements, and those parts (especially the role playing!) were probably my favorite in The Summer I Became A Nerd. Logan is adorable as well and I really wanted to smack Maddie various times throughout the story for being that ignorant. I mean, why is it so necessary to be popular if you can’t even be yourself? That and the cheesy high school cliches/ love triangle lowered my rating considerably. I do have to say the story itself is fast-paced, entertaining and I LOVED the role-playing descriptions and comic references. Therefore I would still recommend it to fans of the genre.

BOOK REVIEW: Through The Woods – by Emily Carroll


Title: Through The Woods
Author: Emily Carroll
Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror, Paranormal
First published: July 15th 2014
Finished reading: October 7th 2015
Pages: 208
Rating 4qqq

“It came from the woods. Most strange things do.”


I have to confess: this is the first time I’ve read a graphic novel. Sure, I’ve read a few comics and stuff when I was younger, but I guess you can say that otherwise I’m pretty much a graphic novel virgin. As soon as I saw the cover of Through The Woods though, I knew I just had to read it. The illustrations Emily Carroll created are just so beautiful and really made this read something special. With the five short stories being delightfully creepy and the drawings matching the haunting atmosphere just right, this is what you call the perfect Halloween read. Not all five stories are equally terrifying, but I enjoyed reading every single one of them. I liked the illustrations of A Lady’s Hands Are Cold the best, The Nesting Place the scariest and to my surprise in My Friend Janna one of the characters my name! Not only doesn’t that happen that often, but it also appeared during a pretty creepy scene.


In short, if you enjoy reading creepy graphic stories with beautiful illustrations that you can stare at for hours, Through The Woods is an excellent choice.


This is a collection of five spooky graphic stories that are basically fairy tales gone wrong.

In Our Neighbor’s House you can travel to your neighbor, but it’s not certain you can return home…
In A Lady’s Hands Are Cold a newly married couple lives in a house with a terrible secret and the wife starts to hear creepy voices…
In His Face All Red two brothers go into the woods to kill a monster, but one of them is tormented by jealousy…
In My Friend Janna two friends pretend one of them can speak to ghosts, but their tricks come back to haunt them…
In The Nesting Place a girl visits her brother and new fiancé, but the woman has a terrible secret…


I do think not every plot is that strong, but the illustrations of Through The Woods more than make up for it. They are just so beautiful and make a perfect match with the haunting stories. Each story is scary in a different way and I really enjoyed reading all of them. The first one, Our Neigbor’s House, works perfectly as an introduction and the last one, The Nesting Place, is the scariest story by far. All in all this graphic novel by Emily Carroll is the perfect Halloween read!