YVO’S SHORTIES #74 – Artemis & Beneath The Sugar Sky

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two anticipated releases, one that turned out to be a disappointment and one that turned out to be a success. Artemis by Andy Weir sadly didn’t live up to expectations at all (although I was warned), something I had hoped wouldn’t happen since The Martian is one of my all time favorites. Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire turned out to be a very strong third book and definitely just as good as the first one.


Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction
First published: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: January 7th 2019 
Pages: 322

“It’s a simple idiot-proofing scheme that’s very effective. But no idiot-proofing can overcome a determined idiot.”


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Part of me already knew this was going to happen, because people did warn me about Artemis before I started reading it… But even lowering my expectations didn’t prevent me from feeling very much disappointed by Artemis, especially since The Martian has a special place on my list of all time favorites. I know it’s not right to compare the two books and I won’t be don’t that here actively, but let’s see if I can put together just exactly why this story didn’t work for me. The first mayor problem has a lot to do with the main character Jazz. Let’s just start with saying I had no clue the main character was actually female until she was referred to in that way. And that was one heck of an unpleasant surprise… Because while Mark Watney’s personality really worked for him in The Martian, having a very much similar attitude and personality implanted in an Islamic young woman REALLY gives off the wrong vibe. I don’t mind sassy, I don’t mind attitude, but what is with the constant sexism, adult jokes and sex references? And why do other treat her that way, talk to her in that way, and think that it’s okay to do so? Not only did it feel unnatural, but I also found it offensive. In short, both Jazz and the way others reacted to her really ruined the story for me. It seems that this personality that was once successful just doesn’t work for a different gender or a situation where a lot more characters are involved. The writing on its own isn’t bad and I do like part of the dry humor (when it’s not sexist); the worldbuilding is also quite interesting and I liked the idea behind the plot. This story could have worked really well, but sadly went in the wrong direction for me… As for the credibility: well, it IS a story set on the moon and sci-fi at that, but I couldn’t help start wondering about how Jazz and only a few others were supposed to do all that without getting killed in the process. Or blowing up the moon. This was only minor compared to my problems with Jazz and what she represented though, and I’m really sad to be feeling this way about what I had hoped would be a new favorite. Oh well, at least now I know for sure…


Title: Beneath The Sugar Sky
(Wayward Children #3)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: January 8th 2019
Pages: 157

“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.”


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I fell in love with the worldbuilding and writing in Every Heart A Doorway last year, and have been looking forward to read more about the different worlds and doors ever since. Don’t let the shortness of these little gems fool you, because there is a lot to love in each story and the only downside is that it will leave you wanting for more. Beneath The Sugar Sky is already book number three and bumped straight to the top of this series favorites along with the first book. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we go back to the ‘real’ world temporarily and meet a lot of the characters mentioned in the first book again. This mixture of reality and a healthy dose of a glimpse of not one but multiple magical worlds made the story really stand out for me. Old and new characters are mixed naturally and I love just how diverse Seanan McGuire is able to make her characters without them becoming a cliche. I could really appreciate the focus on the whole body image issue through the eyes of Cora… There is so much truth in her experience and it’s sad the real world has to be this way. That said, I loved the whimsical, nonsense and basically impossible quest the main characters find themselves on in Beneath The Sugar Sky and I’m already curious about what the next story will bring us.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #73 – The Kiss Quotient & The Crown Of Embers

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Time for my first 2019 reads and first two Beat The Backlist titles! The Kiss Quotient has been recommended to me various times and I should have investigated better before starting it, because there was an overload of sexy scenes involved and that made this story into something that is definitely not for me. The Crown Of Embers turned out to be an interesting sequel even though I wish there would have been less romance…


Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 30th 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: January 2nd 2019
Pages: 336

“At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”


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Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write. And not only the writing style is very engaging, but the character development is simply spot on. As much as I hated all those steamy scenes, it was due to main characters Stella and Michael I made it to the very end of this story. Stella is unique, quirky and simply brilliant as a main character. I love how realistic her Asperger’s is described and incorporated in the story (it shows that the author used personal experiences) and how it shines a light on autism as a whole. Michael has his own personality, history and problems and I really liked those family dynamics combined with Stella and their story. Were there a lot of cliches and typical romance tropes involved? Yes. Will your glasses (if you use them) get all steamed up while you read The Kiss Quotient? You bet. But if you love the genre, you will fall in love with this story as well.


Title: The Crown Of Embers
(Fire And Thorns #2)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: January 4th 2019
Pages: 416

“I lie awake for a long time, wondering which would be more foolish, to prepare for something that may never happen, or not to prepare for something that might.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns book back in 2015 and even though I enjoyed it, I somehow never picked up the sequel. I read the novellas last year, and thought it was about time to finally finish the last two books this year as well. First up is book number two The Crown Of Embers. I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. I loved the inclusion of many references to Spanish names and words and the way the world is constructed. It’s a very interesting high fantasy world and we get to see a lot of it in the sequel. This series has a religious angle, but handled in just the right way that it doesn’t become too present for those who are like me agnostic. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver. The quest the main characters go on in The Crown Of Embers is an intriguing one, and it definitely ends with a mayor cliffhanger. I’m looking forward how things will continue in the final book!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #70 – The Deal Of A Lifetime & Down Among The Sticks And Bones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a Christmas themed novella by one of my favorite authors and a sequel I have been meaning to read for a while. The first, The Deal Of A Lifetime, surprisingly turned out to be kind of a disappointment, while the second, Down Among The Sticks And Bones, definitely did deliver.


Title: The Deal Of A Lifetime
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Novella, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 31st 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: December 17th 2018
Pages: 96

“A second is always a second; that’s the one definitive value we have on earth.”


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I’m a big fan of Fredrik Backman’s books and I really needed to start reading more Christmas themed stories, so I thought this would be a perfect fit… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. Why? I have to say I was very surprised to have a less than positive reaction to the novella, especially since I seem to love his stories in general. I admit the story is clever in a way, but somehow I wasn’t able to connect to the characters or writing and the plot was all over the place. The Deal Of A Lifetime has an interesting premise, but this time around the author failed to hit the mark for me. Such a shame, because I really thought I would be adding another favorite!


Title: Down Among The Sticks And Bones
(Wayward Children #2)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: December 21st 2018
Pages: 190

“Children have preferences. The danger comes when they, as with any human, are denied those preferences for too long.”


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I fell in love with Every Heart A Doorway earlier this year and I have been meaning to read the sequels ever since. I have been looking forward to learn more about the background of some of the characters, and Jack and Jill were definitely among those I was most curious about. And there is no doubt that Down Among The Sticks And Bones without doubt delivers that. I gives you both their background story and a very detailed description of both their world and what happened during their stay. The whole idea of them being twins and roles being forced on them is disturbing, but fascinating. And it’s probably one of the few times vampires are involved in a story and I don’t really mind. This is quite a dark read, fit with the image we received in the first book of the characters. I really enjoyed reading it, although I did prefer book number one… But that doesn’t take away I’m looking forward to continue the series soon.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #69 – A Boy Called Christmas & The Girl Who Saved Christmas

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And with Christmas Eve being tonight, what better stories to review than not one, but TWO Christmas themed stories! The first two books of the Christmas MG series by Matt Haig… Both absolutely adorable books that will get you in the right mood in record time.


Title: A Boy Called Christmas
(Christmas #1)
Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 12th 2015
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: December 20th 2018
Pages: 272

“An impossibility is just a possibility you don’t understand yet.”


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I have been wanting to read the first Christmas book ever since I received and read the third book as an ARC a while back, and I thought December would be the perfect month to do so. And it turned out to be another magical experience. A Boy Called Christmas is the perfect Holiday season read for children and adults alike, and also perfect for reading out loud to the younger ones. Matt Haig’s writing style is spot on. Funny, entertaining, engaging and easy to read; you will find yourself turning pages admiring both the story the author has been able to create and looking at those adorable illustrations which connect really well with the plot. There is sadness, there is even some violence, but overall it is mostly a happy story full of joy and goodwill… And a healthy dose of humor as well. Perfect for the season as well as a perfect gift!


Title: The Girl Who Saved Christmas
(Christmas #2)
Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: November 3rd 2016
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: December 22nd 2018
Pages: 337

“Life is like a chimney – you sometimes have to get through the dark before you see the light.”


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I couldn’t NOT read the second book after finishing the first, especially since it’s exactly that time of the year when these little stories are to be appreciated most. The Girl Who Saved Christmas is without doubt a worthy sequel. I admit it took me a little while to get into the story, but that was probably mostly me and not the book itself. The writing is just as spot on as in the first and third book, and I’m adding Matt Haig to my list of authors I need to read more of ASAP. His middle grade writing is absolutely adorable with just the right amount of humor and spark to give it that special feel. This story is another one that is perfect to read out loud to children; I’m positive it will be a big hit with all those funny moments and characters to follow! The illustrations fit the story perfectly, and add a nice little touch to what is already a wonderful story. I can completely recommend all three books of the series both as a Holiday read and the perfect gift for young and old!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #66 – The Great Alone & Children Of Blood And Bone

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two highly popular books I’ve been a bit afraid to pick up, since hyped books and me don’t really get along… The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah turned out to be a huge success, while Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi failed to blow me away completely.


Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 20th 2018
Pages: 435

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”


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After enjoying her other story The Nightingale in the past, I had high hopes for this one as well. I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about The Great Alone over time, and I’m glad to say I’m another one to join the fan club. The Great Alone is without doubt one of the best historical fiction stories I’ve read so far this year. I already knew the writing was going to be good, but that doesn’t take away I was overwhelmed by just how emotional, challenging and harrowing this story was going to be. The Alaskan setting is brilliantly developed and well described, making it feel as if you were discovering the island along with the characters. This setting was definitely a huge bonus! I also loved how the development of the setting reflected a development in the characters as well. The story is set in three different years (1974,1978, 1986), where we follow the same characters as Alaska changes them and things happen. Warning: The Great Alone is not a happy story. It is a story of survivors, emotional and hard to read. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse and violence… The development of the characters is excellent and makes them both feel realistic and easy to connect to. Especially Leni won over my heart easily (and Matthew of course!). Domestic abuse is a very difficult topic to write and read about, but I think Kristin Hannah did an excellent job of portraying it realistically. Did I feel frustrated sometimes by some of their actions? Definitely. But that doesn’t take away that I feel their situation was very realistically developed. There are a lot of difficult, sad and harrowing moments involved in The Great Alone, and I definitely suggest keeping a box of tissues close. But it is also a very rewarding read and I’m sure fans of both historical fiction and family dramas will love reading about Leni’s journey.


Title: Children Of Blood And Bone
(Legacy Of Orïsha #1)
Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt And Co.
Finished reading: November 23rd 2018
Pages: 537

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. it was thinking we’d never fight back.”


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I wasn’t planning on reading this one at first. Hyped books and me don’t tend to get along, especially YA fantasy ones, and let’s face it: there has been a lot of hype around Children Of Blood And Bone. But there was just something about the cover and blurb that made me want to give it a go anyway. And while I do have to say that this first book of a new high fantasy series failed to blow me away completely, I can also understand the love for this story. In fact, I was going to give it an even higher rating before the appearance of the romance scenes… Which I felt were completely unnecessary and made me feel a little disappointed. The writing is good though, and I really like the idea behind Children Of Blood And Bone. While I did feel the many foreign sounding names and terms were a bit confusing in the beginning, they did add to the magical atmosphere. I admit I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a bit mor developed, with more details and sooner in the story to fully enjoy the setting. But the idea of the diviners and maji is fascinating as well as the different kinds of magic. The quest was a bit too simple to my taste, and the plot twists a bit too abrupt, but overall it was without doubt a very entertaining YA fantasy read with pleasant enough characters. They just didn’t really stand out for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #65 – The Cruel Prince & The Wife Between Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two very hyped books that (I should have known) didn’t live up to the hype for me even though they weren’t bad reads. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks &Sarah Pekkanen


Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk Of The Air #1)
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 17th 2018
Pages: 384

“Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way to far.”


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I have been hesitant, almost afraid to pick up The Cruel Prince for a long time. There has been such a hype around this book, and you all know how hyped books and me get along… But I figured I had waited enough to give it a try myself and see how I will react to the story. I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Things were going really well even though I’m not sure the plot itself is all that original. I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a little more developed and I think not enough attention was given to the description of the different characters. I mean, they are magical creatures and we only get so and so has a tail, that one has horns, that one has hooves etc? Without a more detailed description or more attention paid to the fact they are in fact not humans, I tended to forget about their special features completely after a few pages. The lack of sappy romance scenes in the beginning was a true relief though, although of course I should have had my hopes up. Of course the cliche romance scenes would come, and of course there would be another love triangle to deal with. Not talking about Locke, who I initially liked and came to despise. Jude is an interesting enough character though. While she in a way is just another typical strong female lead, I did enjoy reading about her development and how she would get themselves out of that mess. Did she lose points for the romance related actions in the second half? Most definitely yes. But I’m still intrigued enough to be looking forward to the second book. In short, while The Cruel Prince failed to blow me away completely, overall it was still a very entertaining read.


Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 19th 2018
Pages: 346

“We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


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In a way I’ve been hesitant to pick up The Wife Between Us due to the enormous hype around it earlier this year. I almost never react well to hyped books, but I was also curious about this title so I decided to give it a go. Now I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one… I’m not denying some of the twists were very clever, but they just didn’t do it for me (mostly related to the feeling this story was trying too hard). The writing style itself was pleasant to read and the unreliable narrator technique well used. It’s by no means a bad read and I can understand the love for it, but sadly The Wife Between Us just didn’t hit the mark for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #57 – Sadie & Spell Bound

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA books that sadly didn’t hit the mark for me… The first an unpopular opinion review on Sadie by Courtney Summers, the second being me suffering from a romance and love triangle allergy and those ruining the series for me: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins.


Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 4th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 23rd 2018
Pages: 378

“People don’t change. They just get better at hiding who they really are.”


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WARNING: Unpopular opinion review ahead.

Oh yes, the unpopular opinion curse has struck again… Sadie has been all over the place for a while now. I decided to pick up my copy on a whim, and I was fully expecting to love it: this story gives off all the right vibes, and I still think that the story itself was fascinating. But somehow, I didn’t actually enjoy reading Sadie all that much. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I’ll try to explain anyway. First of all I have to say that the idea of the podcast is very cleverly done, mixing those chapters with Sadie’s POV. There were a lot of different minor characters and locations to keep track of though, which can be confusing… But overall I think the format was a success. The plot development, twists and level of suspense were quite well done as well. There is a lot of mystery around Sadie and her sister, and it’s interesting to slowly figure out more and more about the past. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending though… I was left wanting for more. I also wasn’t able to connect properly to the characters, and I think that is part of the reason Sadie didn’t work for me in the end. The writing style didn’t click with me either (the same happened with All The Rage, so it might just be that her writing is not for me). Trigger warnings are in place for child abuse, addiction and violence. All in all sadly Sadie just didn’t do it for me, although I know I’m the exception and most people seem to love it. So definitely give it a chance if you haven’t read it yet!


Title: Spell Bound
(Hex Hall #3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 13th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: October 25th 2018
Pages: 337

“People are so rarely villains in their own minds.”


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I wasn’t so sure whether to read this one after my disaster experience with the sequel, but since I already had a copy and don’t like leaving series unfinished I decided to give it a go. Initially, Spell Bound went slightly better than the second book, and I started to enjoy the sarcastic kind of humor and writing style in general again. Then… BOOM! The annoying romance and frustrating love triangle was back to ruin the day again, and things went downhill from there. I hate that the romance has ruined a potentially excellent trilogy for me, especially since I really enjoyed the first book and thought it had so much potential. Sadly, the main focus is on the romantic scenes, pushing everything else into the background and making other aspects of the story suffer from lack of development. Potential not exploited for me… Although I’m having a feeling romance fans will react differently to both sequels. Oh well, at least I now know for sure what my reaction was to Spell Bound, and I won’t be left wondering. I guess we can’t like them all, can we? And I guess I’m kind of at least part of the problem here.


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