YVO’S SHORTIES #95 – Across The Universe & The Wolf Border

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two completely different genres… The first a YA scifi story that turned out to be a pleasant surprise and also surprisingly light on the romance: Across The Universe by Beth Revis. I can’t say I was a fan of The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall though.


Title: Across The Universe
(Across The Universe #1)
Author: Beth Revis

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
First published: January 11th 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Finished reading: April 14th 2019
Pages: 399

“Everything is wrong here. Shattered. Broken. Like the light.”


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I’ve been wondering whether I should try this series for years, mostly because I was fearing a romance overdose and wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I’m glad I finally gave in and tried Across The Universe, because my instincts turned out to be wrong this time around. Despite the romantic cover, this first book of a YA science fiction series set in space is surprisingly light on the romance. There are hints of it now and then, but the main focus is the fact that the story is set on a space ship and the mysterious attacks that take place. And as you might guess, that is a huge bonus for me! The writing is engaging and this story is really easy to read. I liked the setting on the ship and how the story is able to show us the effect of having to live on a ship for generations has on its inhabitants. The story has a dual POV, where we alternated between Amy and Elder. Amy’s situation is without doubt interesting and is the driving force behind the plot. I wasn’t sure about the whole Elder/Eldest idea and I did guess some of the plot twists, but overall Across The Universe was a very entertaining story to read and I liked how a murder mystery was mixed in with the science fiction elements. I’m definitely curious to find out how this series will continue now.


Title: The Wolf Border
Author: Sarah Hall

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2015
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Finished reading: April 20th 2019
Pages: 435

“There seems no need for anything else now. There is no wound. The only wound is life, recklessly creating it, knowing that it will never be safe, it will never last; it will only ever be real.”


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I got a copy of The Wolf Border at a hostel book exchange during our Europe trip last year, intrigued by the cover and blurb and the promise of a story set in the wilderness. I’ve been looking forward to finally read it, and I thought the O.W.L.s Readathon was a great excuse to do so… I didn’t expect to have the reaction I had to this story though. Why? The fact is, The Wolf Border was very close to getting me in a slump, and not in a good way. I literally made every possible excuse to not pick up my copy and do something else instead, and it took me considerably longer to finally reach that last page. I even thought about just DNFing it multiple times… In short, I don’t think The Wolf Border and me were ment to be. The first thing that surprised (and disappointed me) was the fact that the wilderness and wolves don’t play as much of a significant role in the story as the blurb lets to believe, the plot instead mostly focusing on Rachel and her complicated life. This story is mainly something that can be classified as a family drama with an overdose of unnecessarily explicit adult scenes (another turn off for me), with the wolves playing a background role rather than being the main attraction. Sure, some things can be said about the comparison of animal instincts and behavior between human and animal. This can be considered an interesting aspect of this story; the underlying message that we are still basically animals in the end. BUT. It’s hard thinking about this comparison and its cleverness when you can’t stand the characters and don’t feel a connection to them at all… The same goes for the writing style. The sentences are halted and the prose doesn’t seem to flow at all; making it hard to stay invested and focus on the story. I know some have loved The Wolf Border and I’m glad, but I personally had a really hard time finishing it for various reasons. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m hoping others will like its taste.


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ARC REVIEW: The Psychology Of Time Travel – by Kate Mascarenhas

Title: The Psychology Of Time Travel
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
First published: August 9th 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Finished reading: January 23rd 2019
Pages: 336

“Life’s better with a few risks than a lot of regrets.”

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

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I have heard lots of great things about The Psychology Of Time Travel in the last couple of months, so I was excited to be finally reading it myself. The first thing that stood out for me was the fact that the most important characters are all female. This doesn’t happen too often in the sci-fi genre (that I’m aware of) and it’s good to see female scientifics in the spotlight. This story present time travel in a very interesting way. It was fascinating to see how they first developed the machine and how the company has grown over time, making time travelers into an elite group with their own slang and views on life. The psychological aspect behind time travel is intriguing and The Psychology Of Time Travel will definitely leave its mark and make you wonder how you would react to the effects of time travel. It’s interesting that they cannot go to the distant past; only to when machine was invented onwards. The whole seeing past and future selves does sound a little disturbing though… I think I would go mad myself even though I would probably be aware time travel exists in that situation. This is partly where I had some doubts: the way that so-called ‘one-way travelers’ accept the sudden appearance of time travelers that easily without going crazy. The plot is intricate and constructed in quite a complex way, making sure you will have to pay attention to the different characters and timelines to be able to put together the full puzzle. The mystery around the death in the toy museum and the different characters and their futures are intertwined, and you will slowly learn how everything fits together. The Psychology Of Time Travel is a fascinating debut that left me wondering about how I would react to such situations. Surprisingly low on the sci-fi and high on the psychology, this story is perfect even for those who are not really into the sci-fi genre.

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Back in 1967, four female scientists are able to build the world’s first time machine. Just as they are about to present their invention to the world, one of them has a breakdown and the other three exile Barbara from the team… Fifty years later, time travel is a successful business and the three remaining scientists are thriving. Barbara has never forgotten her time as part of the team though and even though her daughter wants to forget that time forever, her granddaughter Ruby feels different. Ruby knows that her grandmother was one of the pioneers… And when Barbara receives a mysterious message about the murder of an unidentified woman in the near future Ruby is determined to find out what will happen.

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This story is part sci-fi, part psychology, part murder mystery, part family drama and part romantic fiction. There are a lot of different elements involved in The Psychology Of Time Travel, and somehow they all manage to work together and create a very fascinating debut. The complex plot will have you on your toes as you try to fit everything together, but only in the most positive way. It was interesting to see the different characters evolve over time and the psychology behind time travel is simply intriguing. I loved the details of the time traveler’s slang as well! This book definitely left a mark and will stay with me for quite some time.


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ARC REVIEW: Here And Now And Then – by Mike Chen

Title: Here And Now And Then
Author: Mike Chen
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Mira Books
Finished reading: January 14th 2019
Pages: 336

“We’re all different people all through our lives, but that’s okay, as long as you remember all the people you used to be.”

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

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I know that science fiction isn’t my typical genre, but there was just something about this story that made me want to read it almost instantly. I have been looking forward to pick up Here And Now And Then for months, but somehow I don’t think my expectations were actually met. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think it has to do that for a time travel story, I found the sci-fi elements rather weak. Here And Now And Then read more like a romance/family drama with a time travel touch rather than the other way around, and this definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The story is mostly character driven and while some details are mentioned about the time travel and future, the focus was mostly on Kin and his lives in the 1990s and 2142. The chapters in the future didn’t feel all that authentic or detailed and I didn’t get a proper 1990s vibe from those chapters set in that era either… As I said, the focus was mostly on the characters themselves. There was a whole lot of drama going on and combined with my lack of connection with the characters I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story. Add a slower pace (not unusual with character driven stories), and I ended up having a completely different experience than I thought I would have… But that is probably just me, since most people do seem to love this story. Sci-fi fans might be disappointed by Here And Now And Then, but fans of family dramas with a sci-fi adventurous touch will probably have a great time.

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Kin Stewart seems to be having a very ordinary life, married with a teenage daughter and working in I.T. in suburban San Francisco in the 1990s. Nobody knows he used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142, stranded in the 1990s after a mission went wrong… He has been stranded for eighteen years, keeping his past a secret and making a new life for himself even though that is against the rules of the agency. Then a rescue team suddenly shows up to bring him home to a family he can’t even remember anymore… And Kin suddenly finds himself torn between two lives.

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I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #48 – City Of Ghosts & All These Things I’ve Done

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two new series I’ve started; one that has become an instant favorite and one that I won’t be continuing. I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab‘s work, so of course I loved her new MG story City Of Ghosts as well. I can’t wait for the next book! And I was hoping All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin would be interesting with the dystopian and mafia angle, but not such luck…


Title: City Of Ghosts
(Cassidy Blake #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Finished reading: September 13th 2018
Pages: 272

“If we were a comic book, this would be our origin story. Some people get a spider bite, or a vat of acid. We got a river.”


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It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of anything that Victoria Schwab writes, so after a few mediocre reads I turned to her books for something good. Just reading about how excited the author herself is about City Of Ghosts made me pospone my scheduled read of The Archived and pick up this new story instead. City Of Ghosts delivers right from the cover until the very last page. I knew I could trust my instincts when I picked up this title, but this first book of a new MG paranormal series has proven once again you cannot go wrong with anything Schwab writes. It was hook, line and sinker when I started reading City Of Ghosts and I had to put all other tasks on hold until I finished reading it. The writing, the characters and their development, the Scottish setting, the ghosts, the plot… There is a lot to love in this story, and Cassidy and Jacob have already found a place in my heart. I loved the story of her parents, the motive behind their travels and how well it works with Cassidy’s own story and development. Reading about the Scottish setting was almost like being there myself seeing all the sights… It was a truly delightful read and I can’t wait what the next episode has in store.


Title: All These Things I’ve Done
(Birthright #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
First published: September 6th 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Finished reading: September 15th 2018
Pages: 368

“Tragedy is when someone ends up dead. Everything else is just a bump in the road.”


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I’ve had this one on my TBR for a long time, and I have always been intrigued by the dystopian and mafia angle in All These Things I’ve Done. So of course, when I needed a book set in the future, my first thought went out to this story. I really do think this story has a lot of potential, but instead of focusing on the more interesting aspects of the plot, All These Things I’ve Done is mostly just another teenage romantic drama with a few twists. Instead of focusing on the dystopian setting, when chocolate! and coffee! are illegal and resources seem to be limited, or the whole mafia background of Anya’s family, we mostly see the typical high school scenes with star-crossed lovers, food fights and other cliche elements. Definitely not what I thought I had signed up for. To make things worse, the main character Anya is absolutely despicable. Not only is she arrogant and thinks she is better than the rest, there is a lot of slut shaming going on. She constantly looks down on other girls, insults them and then sees herself as a ‘good Catholic girl’ while she is not that innocent herself. I think these views can badly influence or even shame the teenage target group this story was ment for, making sexuality seem as illegal as the chocolate in this story. And I’m definitely not okay with that. The pace was also quite slow at points, and like I said, the few mafia references only left me wanting for more. All in all I can’t say I can recommend All These Things I’ve Done.


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ARC REVIEW: Reincarnation Blues – by Michael Poore

Title: Reincarnation Blues
Author: Michael Poore

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Finished reading: August 12th 2017
Pages: 384

“Death was a door. You went through it over and over, but it still terrified people.”

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

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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!

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Milo has been reincarnated nearly 10.000 times when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection so he can become part of the Oversoul. He is not sure he truly wants this though because it might affect his relationship withhis one true love: Death herself. They only see each other in between lives and he can’t imagine having to continue without her… But Milo doesn’t seem to have any other option than to try his best, because if he doesn’t get it right before the deadline, his soul will vanish forever. His lives take him from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day in the hope of finally living that perfect life. Will he be able to reach that goal in time?

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Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.


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