YVO’S SHORTIES #164 – Tweet Cute & The Bird And The Sword

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a YA version, although two different genres… But both turned out to be excellent reads. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord turned out to be the dose of contemporary cuteness I was craving, and The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon was a wonderful mix of high fantasy and romance.


Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 21st 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: May 9th 2020
Pages: 362

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

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After a few misses with recent romcoms, I was really putting all my hopes on Tweet Cute for one last try… And it looks like I finally hit the jackpot: what an absolutely adorable adorable read this was! Trust me, this book is gold if you are looking for a supercute YA contemporary romance read, and it’s without doubt a debut to keep your eyes on. While not without cliches and even a dose of teen angst, those were mostly forgiven thanks to the sheer cute factor of Tweet Cute as a whole. Both Pepper and Jack are extremely easy to connect to and I loved both the Twitter and the food elements in the story. Warning: this story will make you crave grilled cheese and all kinds of delicious sounding desserts though… Although for me that wasn’t a bad thing. The friends to lovers trope is a bit cliche, but Pepper and Jack make it worth it and I can even forgive the hint at a possible love triangle. There is some teen angst and drama going on at points, but overall I had an excellent time with this supercute read and any fan of fluffy and adorable romcoms should give Tweet Cute a try.


Title: The Bird And The Sword
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #1)

Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 6th 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Finished reading: May 19th 2020
Pages: 352

“You are what you are. I am what I am. It matters little what we want.”

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I think that it’s no secret that Amy Harmon is one of my absolute favorite authors and I basically adore anything she writes. One of the things that stands out in her work is just how diverse and unique each story is, spanning different genres and even age groups. The Bird And The Sword is the first book of a YA high fantasy duology which has both a high dose of romance and magic. And while I’m normally not a big fan of too much romance in my fantasy reads, Amy Harmon is one of the few authors who can make it work for me. Of course it’s always a blessing not having to deal with a love triangle… I loved the worldbuilding and the descriptions of Jeru; the main focus is mostly on the magical aspects of the high fantasy world, but this was more than enough for me. The writing is simply wonderful and managed to enchant me from the very first chapter. The main stars of this story are Lark and Tiras though, who basically run the whole show. They are both extremely easy to like, excellently developed and make it almost impossible not to fall in love with this story. I loved every single minute of my time with The Bird And The Sword, and while the ending is close and the book can be considered as a stand-alone, I’m already excited to return to Jeru and meet up with the characters again in the sequel. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a well balanced YA high fantasy with thoroughly developed characters, magic and a dose of romance as well as danger.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #133 – SHOUT & With The Fire On High

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! …


Title: SHOUT
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Poetry
First published: March 12th 2019
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 7th 2019
Pages: 304

“untreated pain

is a cancer of the soul

that can kill you”


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While it’s true that I’m not exactly a big fan of poetry, I do like to try it every once in a while if the subject matter speaks to me. SHOUT has been recommended to me a couple of times, and when I saw it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards I decided to give in and finally read it. First of all I have to say that I truly admire Laurie Halse Anderson for not only speaking up about what happened to her, but also inspiring others to open up and talk about their own experiences. I confess I’ve yet to read Speak, but it’s on my TBR and I’m definitely hoping to get to it some time soon. SHOUT is 100% free verse, so don’t expect clear poetry structure and elements, but I guess the structure works as it helps the author talking about a wide variety of subjects including her childhood experiences, her time in Denmark and more recent events including author related experiences. Trigger warnings are definitely in place for difficult elements as (child) abuse, rape, violence, mental illness, alcoholism and drugs. They are the main reason behind this poetic memoir though: SHOUT is all about the author wanting to give victims the right to shout what happened to them from the rooftops as well as telling about her own experiences. I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t always able to connect to the writing style all that easily, and some ‘chapters’ worked better for me than others. This is purely talking about the form, not the content, which is both powerful, heartbreaking and harrowing. This memoir might not be for everyone, but there is no denying its power.

Title: With The Fire On High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: November 10th 2019
Pages: 400

“And I know the past isn’t a mirror image of the future, but it’s a reflection of what can be; and when your first love breaks your heart, the shards of that can still draw blood for a long, long time.”


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Elizabeth Acevedo’s books have been on my radar for quite some time now, and as I’m a huge foodie I just couldn’t resist picking up her newest book With The Fire On High first. My expectations were high after reading various glowing reviews, and I have to say that expectations were more than met. Because from that gorgeous cover to the very last page this story simply delivers. The driving force behind With The Fire On High is the main character Emoni. Strong, driven, talented and determined to do whatever is best for her family despite difficulties life keeps throwing at her… The fact that she is a teenage mom, but not afraid to fight the prejudices, show the world what she is worth and fight for the ones she loves is truly inspiring. The development of both Emoni and the other characters is thorough, spot on and really made them come alive for me. As a girl with Puerto Rican/black heritage, Emoni’s character is able to teach us more about prejudices, race related struggles as well as community and culture. I loved the introduction of not only Spanish words and sentences, but also Latin flavors, spices and food in With The Fire On High. I also loved just how big of a role food plays in the story in general, and all those mouthwatering descriptions and recipes definitely made me crave food. And as someone who has lived in Spain and visited Sevilla herself, those chapters brought back great memories. The writing itself is beautiful and something to savour on its own, but With The Fire On High turned out to be the perfect YA realistic fiction recipe with a dash of slowburn romance to sweeten it all. Recommended!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #105 – We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (DNF) & The Confectioner’s Guild

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I was less lucky with my reading choices… The first, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby, ended up being a DNF for me as we definitely didn’t get along. The second, The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana, started out good enough, but things soon fizzled out and the story failed to impress me in the end.


Title: We Are Never Meeting In Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: June 4th 2019
Pages: 272
DNF at 42% (114 pages)

“And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just tell some more stupid jokes. Good thing I’m hilarious.”


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Give me a cat on a cover and I’m immediately intrigued, and give me a promise of a potentially funny memoir and consider me signed up for the challenge. I’ve been looking forward to pick up We Are Never Meeting In Real Life despite the mixed reviews and despite the fact I hadn’t heard of the author before. Maybe I should have checked out her blog to see if her writing style would be for me, because there is one thing for sure: her writing and me definitely didn’t get along. I love my snarky humor, but we are most definitely NOT going to be meeting in real life or getting along for that matter… I’m going to be honest here and say I just felt the author was too full of herself (see quote above) and trying way too hard to be funny and it had the complete opposite effect on me. Add an overdose of sex references to the whole self-centeredness and I had no other option than to simply throw in the towel at 42%. I never like making the decision to DNF a story, but sadly the writing style and content was such a struggle for me that I just couldn’t force myself to read the other 58% of the essays. Hereby I declare We Are Never Meeting In Real Life officially my fourth DNF of the year and it’s easy to say it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for. Note to self: next time, don’t get distracted by a cute cat on the cover and investigate first before deciding to read another ‘funny’ memoir. If you are able to connect to her humor and don’t mind a lot of sex-centered comments, you will probably have a better time reading We Are Never Meeting In Real Life though.


Title: The Confectioner’s Guild
(The Confectioner’s Chronicles #1)
Author: Claire Luana

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: October 23rd 2018
Publisher: Live Edge Publishing
Finished reading: June 5th 2019
Pages: 327

“Small things change the course of history.”

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I stumbled upon this series while browsing for books with a food element for a challenge, and both cover and blurb sounded positively delicious. I’ve been looking forward to bite into The Confectioner’s Guild ever since (did I mention before I love baking?), and when I started reading I really liked what I was tasting. The fantasy world, the many many baking references, the mystery around Kasper’s death and Wren’s past, the existence of the Gifted… Oh yes, there were a lot of interesting ingredients in play. The Confectioner’s Guild reads quite fast at first and part of this has to do with the writing, which starts out engaging and interactive. It’s true though that things start slowing down a bit after a while and the initial flame peeters out mostly… I think a lot of it has to do with the introduction of sappy romance in the plot, which distracts from the murder conspiracy and delicious baking elements. It also had to do with Wren, who started to get on my nerves with the whole ‘I can’t trust anyone’ and then ‘I’m trusting them anyway’ repeating over and over again. The romance itself mostly felt forced and unnatural for me, but at least we don’t have a love triangle (or at least for now). I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Confectioner’s Guild, because while I loved certain elements, there were others that failed to convince me including the ending. But there is one thing for sure: you will crave lots of baked goods before you reach the final page! I’m really tempted to make another batch of these rose buttercream cupcakes I prepared two weeks ago for a birthday party just because they match the cupcake that changed Wren’s fate so well. 😉


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ARC REVIEW: The Art Of French Kissing – by Brianna R. Shrum @skyhorsepub

Title: The Art Of French Kissing
Author: Brianna R. Shrum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Finished reading: February 14th 2018
Pages: 247

“Talking about our favorite foods feels like something way more intimate than it should. It’s the thing each of us is more passionate about. It’s like asking a reader their favorite book. Asking a fighter their favorite move. It’s a soul-level question.”

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

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Some of you might seem surprised to see this title appear on It’s All About Books, because I normally tend to stay far away from the contemporary romance genre. But even though it’s not really my genre, it’s a fact I can really enjoy them if they are done right or if I’m in the right mood. After an particularly emotionally exhausting read, I desperately needed something light and fluffy to get over the book hangover. As soon as I saw this title, I was sold. YA contemporary AND a cooking theme? Yes please! The Art Of French Kissing was definitely a perfect match for that particular moment. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy and there are quite a few cliches involved. Sure, there is a lot of romance involved that you can see coming from a mile away. BUT. Somehow, I didn’t care about that at all. The Art Of French Kissing is easy to read, cute and there is a LOT of food talk involved, Basically, this book makes me crave all kinds of delicious food! Including those fabulous macarons on the cover… The writing is very engaging and sets the right atmosphere for this cooking competition. The plot is simple, but very effective and fans of cooking shows or food in general will be in for a treat. As for the characters… The whole hate/revenge theme is actually quite entertaining and it was interesting to see the characters evolve over time. The ending was a bit too neat for me, but then again I also admit it does fit the story. YA contemporary romance fans will love this one!

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Carter has wanted to be a chef since she was a little kid, and now she has the chance to achieve her goal. This summer, she is invited to participate it a prestigious scholarschip in Savannah along with nineteen other teenagers. They will compete all summer in a series of cooking challenges, where the weakest links will be eliminated until the last one standing will win a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. Carter was pretty confident, up until she and one of her rivals Reid get off on the wrong foot. Soon they are involved in a full-fledged culinary war, trying to screw each othe over looking for revenge. What will happen to the two and will this affect their place in the competition?

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If you like fun, light, cute, slightly cheesy and entertaining YA contemporaries with a healthy dose of romance, you will be in for a treat with this one. The Art Of French Kissing incorporates the whole cooking competition theme very well and all that food talk is probably one of the reasons I loved this book the way I did. The bantering and revenge element between the main characters worked better for me than I thought it would, and definitely added it’s own spice to the plot. The Art Of French Kissing doesn’t lack sugar either, as it has a healthy dose of (cheesy) romance especially in the second part. But at that point I was having so much fun following the competition, that the story was mostly forgiven for it. All in all this story was just what I was looking for!


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ARC REVIEW: No Excuses Detox – by Megan Gilmore

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Title: No Excuses Detox
Author: Megan Gilmore

Genre: Non Fiction, Cookbooks, Health
First published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Finished reading: November 4th 2016
Pages: 208
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*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Ten Speed Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I actually read this cookbook by Megan Gilmore last November as part of the promise to myself to start eating healthier, but I haven’t published my review before since No Excuses Detox is actually going to be published recently next month. The cover and promise of quick, affordable and delicious food recipes that will make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle every day had me sold straight away. This cookbook focuses on showing everyone that it is doable to start changing your eating habits and that there are literally ‘no excuses’ to be posponing the change. No Excuses Detox talks about the most common excuses and shows a wide variety of recipes that will please even the most complicated eater. I do admit I wasn’t convinced by everything that was talked about in the introduction and I think some of the points were a bit too complicated to be called simply ‘no excuses’. That said, the recipes are without doubt excellent and I liked that the author showed just how cheap a healthy meal can be. I have quite a few marked and I will be looking forward to try out more.

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In this cookbook, the author presents a collection of 100 recipes that are both quick to prepare, affordable, delicious and family-friendly. These recipes will make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle every day and convince even the most complicated eater. Recipes for traditional comfort food favorites have been altered to make them both healthy and still taste as good as their counterparts. It also gives answers to all most common excuses for posponing a change, and shows that being ‘too busy’, ‘healthy food is expensive’ and ‘healthy food probably won’t taste good’ are no excused to stick to a healthy diet.

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I always enjoy browsing cookbooks for more healthy recipes, and No Excuses Detox was without doubt a little goldmine. I don’t agree with everything that is said in the introduction about the common excuses, but I did enjoy the different recipe chapters. From budget and family-friendly recipes to variations of your favorite comfort food; if you are looking for a book that might help you start eating healthier, this one is worth the try.


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ARC REVIEW: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! – by Kristy Turner

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Title: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!
Author: Kristy Turner

Genre: Non Fiction, Food, Cookbook
Expected Publication: November 15th 2016
Publisher: The Experiment
Finished reading: September 28th 2016
Pages: 336
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One thing to keep in mind (and to remind your family members) is that your vegan version is not going to taste like chicken (or whatever food they like and/or are expecting). Mostly because it’s not chicken. That’s the whole point.

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

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I have to be honest when I say is that I will probably never be a vegan. While I have been eating less meat and more vegetarian/vegan dishes during the last few years, I could never give up meat altogether (and more importantly: CHEESE!!). Still, I always love browsing vegetarian and vegan recipes, especially since I’m always trying to prepare them at least two to three days a week. But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! turned out to be a little goldmine. Not only are the personal bits and recipe introductions hilarious, but the recipes themselves are easy to understand and follow. I’m not sure if I will be able to actually prepare all of them as some ingredients are not easy/impossible to buy down here in Argentina, but I am looking forward to try my hands on quite a few of them soon. I loved the chapter division as well; tackling a different group of ‘difficult’ relatives and friends in each one. My favorites were probably the easy weeknight solutions, ‘meat and potatoes’ eaters, kids chapter and desserts. Thank you Kirsty Turner for giving me so many new recipes to try! I will be looking forward to the reactions of my ‘guinea pigs’.

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Going vegan is a highly personal decision. But once you made your choice, what happens when you dine with the rest of your family and friends? A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to vegan food and cooking vegan can present its own challenges. With this new cookbook, even the most skeptical relatives will be begging for seconds. Each chapter tackles a different group of people to convince and they all have a variety of recipes to choose from. From elaborate vegan dinners, easy weeknight solutions and special ‘child-proof’ recipes: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! deals with them all with easy-to-follow and delicious recipes.

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Even though I’m not a vegan myself, I can still see myself preparing quite a few recipes mentioned in But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! The recipes are easy to follow and most of them have ingredients that won’t be too difficult to get your hands on. The personal experiences and funny introductions to the chapters and recipes made me want to read each and every recipe. Hilarious! I also appreciated the information about different ingredients and how to prepare them in the beginning of the book. All in all definitely a cookbook to keep in mind even if you’re not a vegan.

BOOK REVIEW: Eating Animals – by Jonathan Safran Foer

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Title: Eating Animals
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Non Fiction, Philosophy, Health, Food
First published: 2009
Finished reading: December 4th 2014
Pages: 341
Rating 4,5

“Isn’t it strange how upset people get about a few dozen baseball players taking growth hormones, when we’re doing what were doing to our food animals and feeding them to our children?”

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This is not a book about vegetarianism like the title Eating Animals might suggest. Nor am I are vegetarian or will I ever be; I enjoy eating meat too much to give it up all together. But this non fiction book by Jonathan Safran Foer sure left me thinking about my choices when buying and eating meat. In Eating Animals, he tells us about his three year investigation of what is REALLY going on in the meat industry. Safran Foer decided to investigate after his son was born; he wanted to make sure he was making the right choices for his kid. And after what he found out, he became a vegetarian. Says enough about the results, right? Safran Foer mixes facts with parts of his memoir focused on food, and is able to show us perfectly why he decided to stop eating meat all together. I respect his decision and I will definitely be more careful when buying meat. Eating Animals is what you call a ‘heavy’ read with a strong message, but definitely worth reading! The investigation is focused on the US meat industry, but without doubt the results apply to other countries as well.

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Safran Foer starts his story by explaining to us why he wanted to start his investigation in the first place. Food has always been important in his family. He already had some vegetarian experiences during college, but when his son was born he started to ask himself more and more why we do eat animals. We associate food with certain memories, and while he has some precious memories involving meat, he wanted to make sure including meat in the memories of his child would be the right thing.

The meat industry isn’t the same as a hundred years ago. Before, animals were raised and cared for at family farms, and in general had a relatively good life at those farms. But with the population and the meat demand increasing over the years, things changed. The so-called factory farms were born, and animals were treated more and more like mere objects. Torture, genetical manipulation, cruelty…The chickens, pigs, cows and other animals of today in general don’t have a happy life at all. Deprived of all basic humane living standards, those poor creatures in general suffer ever single day of their short life at factory farms. And the situation at slaughterhouses is not much better. Unnecessary cruelty during slaughter is a thing so common that even family farms that don’t want their animals to suffer have a hard time finding ‘proper’ slaughterhouses. Animals at factory farms are injected with hormones and are genetically manipulated so they grow faster while eating less. Hormones we later ingest when we eat their meat… And that is only the start of possible health risks and consequences of the current meat industry.

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Eating Animals is without doubt an interesting read that really makes you think about where your food really comes from. It is not a light read and people with a weak stomach might not enjoy it. Otherwise it is definitely recommendable to both vegetarians and those who enjoy their meat like me, but want to know how to make better choices when buying and eating animal products.