YVO’S SHORTIES #82 – A Wrinkle In Time & What If It’s Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a modern classic I somehow never read when I was younger and a new release I have been really excited about. Both turned out to be really good reads! A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine D’Engle and What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera.

Title: A Wrinkle In Time
(Time Quintet #1)
Author: Madeleine D’Engle

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Classics
First published: 1962
Publisher: Yearling Books
Finished reading: February 1st 2019
Pages: 211

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”


Somehow, I’ve managed to grow up without ever reading this modern classic. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but I sure wish I would have been able to read it twenty years ago… Still, A Wrinkle In Time made a more than solid impression on me as an adult. I definitely understand the love for this story now! The writing style draws you right in and is very engaging and timeless. Even though the story was first published over 50 years ago, it will still be easy for children and adults alike to connect to this story. The plot itself is simple, but the setting in space and the time warps give the story a little something extra. The main characters are easy to like and all have their own personality. I also really liked how Mrs. Whatsit and her friends were represented not only with descriptions but also in the way they talked. The ending was a bit too abrupt, easy and ‘clean’ for me, but overall I had a great time discovering A Wrinkle In Time. I’m not sure if I will continue the series any time soon, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind for the future.

Title: What If It’s Us
Author: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 9th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: February 4th 2019
Pages: 448

“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”


I’m a fan of both Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera’s books, so I have been eagerly awaiting this collaboration ever since I first heard about it. I already had that feeling I was probably going to enjoy What If It’s Us, and it turns out my instincts were absolutely right. This was such an adorable read! The writing, the main characters, the geeky elements (go The Sims and Harry Potter references among others!)… It was just all so cute and fluffy and I had a wonderful time reading it. The story is told in alternate chapters going between Ben and Arthur. Each has his own personality shining through in everything and also has his own set of companion characters that will slowly merge together as one big group. I really loved the idea of the missed connection, the search of the so-called needle in the hackstack and what happens afterwards. The characters are all well developed, feel realistic and I love that they not only represent the lgbt community but also minority groups in such a natural way. The plot itself does have its moments where credibility is in doubt and there were also cliches as well as a love triangle involved, but overall this minor flaws fade away compared to the rest of the story. My heart melted for these characters, and as a Harry Potter and The Sims fan I’m stoked to see references to both incorporated into the story. There are other fandoms included as well and I just LOVE that Ben writes his own story. There is a lot to love in this cute, adorkable and fluffy read and fans of the genre will adore What If It’s Us. Without doubt a winner!


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ARC REVIEW: The Letter For The King – by Tonke Dragt

Title: The Letter For The King
(The Letter For The King #1)
Author: Tonke Dragt
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical, Fantasy
First published: 1962
Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books
Finished reading: April 9th 2018
Pages: 508
(Originally written in Dutch: ‘De Brief Voor De Koning´)

“It’s only when something’s threatened that you realize just how much you love it.”

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


The Letter For The King was my very first MG read of the year and a translation of an older (1962) Dutch publication that is scheduled to be published later this year. And just look at that gorgeous cover! I thought I had read it in Dutch before when I was a kid, but apparently I was wrong because I didn’t recognize the story. That said, I think I probably would have enjoyed it a lot better back then. It’s not the fact that this is a middle grade read and ment for a younger public, because I have enjoyed books belonging to the age group before… And I can’t really put my finger on the why, but the fact is that I just couldn’t get used to the writing style and tone. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, just that I was never able to get a proper feel for it. And unfortunately it took me ages to finally finish it. I felt the story itself was rather slow and dragged at points… The Letter For The King is over 500 pages long and I think it would have worked better with a faster pace and 200 pages less. The story itself is interesting as well as the quest the main character finds himself on; I liked the worldbuilding too. There was just something about the different kingdoms, the long ago setting with knights and quests that is truly enchanting. But overall it was just too slow for me. The right age-group will enjoy this story a lot better though, as long as they don’t have a short attention span.


Sixteen-year-old Tiuri is about to become a knight when he is forced to abandon his vigil after a desperate call for help. He feels it is his duty to do as the old man says, but his task is becoming a lot more complicated than I initially thought. Suddenly, he finds himself on a mission both important and dangerous, where enemies will try to stop him from completing that mission. The future of an entire kingdom depends on him and his mission…


There were things I really liked about The Letter For The King, including the long ago setting and worldbuilding full of knights, interesting kingdoms and quests. The rating above is my personal rating, but I do believe the right target group will enjoy this story a lot better. The main element I personally struggled with is a combination of a slow pace and a writing style I couldn’t become used to. I believe The Letter For The King would have worked better with a faster pace and less dialogue; with over 500 pages, I felt the story was a bit overlong. The adventure, intrigue and suspense are there, but it was kind of burried under a big pile of not that important dialogue… Still, especially younger boys will like following Tiuri on his mission.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #1: Still Life With Tornado & We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Say hello to a new feature on It’s All About Books! As you all probably already know, I’ve been fighting with a rather stubborn reading and blogging slump during the last few months and it’s been a real struggle… I managed to get more or less back to reading, but as the pending book reviews started piling up the whole ‘getting back to blogging’ was getting more and more difficult to achieve. Currently the list of pending reviews is about twenty books long and while I know I don’t HAVE to review every book, I feel bad if I not at least mention a few things about each one. Hence, Yvo’s Shorties was born. Similar to my normal reviews, but with a 2×1 book bonus in each post that includes my rambles about both.

Let’s get started with the first edition! *drumroll*

Featuring Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Title: Still Life With Tornado
Author: A.S. King

Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: December 14th 2017
Pages: 295

“I put out my umbrella and open it. There is a tornado of bullshit in our house. When it’s over, we will be okay.”


This book has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but the blurb sounded fascinating and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. Fact: magical realism and me don’t always get along all that well. It’s a peculiar genre that either works for you or doesn’t, and for me it really depends on the execution if I’m able to enjoy the magical realism elements. Unfortunately in the case of Still Life Of Tornado I wasn’t convinced. First of all and more importantly, I really didn’t like the writing style, tone or main character (or other characters for that matter) and this hugely impacted my reading experience. I’m not saying the writing style is bad, but it’s definitely one that isn’t for everyone. The lack of connection to the characters and my struggles with the writing style made it hard for me to keep myself focused on the story, but that wasn’t all. Honestly, I felt that nothing really made sense to me at all and my eyebrows worked overtime while I was reading Still Life With Tornado. Magical realism or not, this book is definitely not my cup of tea. Still, I also feel the right person could really enjoy this quirky story.

Title: We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Gothic
First published: 1962
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 22nd 2017
Pages: 146

“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.”


I have been wanting to read this modern classic for ages now, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up my copy of We Have Always Lived In The Castle. I truly had the feeling this was going to be another new favorite classic, so I was really surprised when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up We Have Always Lived In The Castle, but it definitely wasn’t what I found when I started reading. Because honestly, nothing much really happens during all those pages. The promise of suspense is there, and the mystery around what happened at the Blackwood estate, but those promises didn’t come true. Instead, I found it a rather dull story about two quirky sisters living isolated in a mansion, and I was almost bored while I was kept waiting with my fingers crossed and hoping to see something would actually happen. I’m not sure what to think of the ending either… The writing was interesting and I can see why it has turned into a modern classic, but personally I was quite disappointed with what I found. Fans of slowpaced, mostly character-driven stories will probably enjoy this story a lot more though.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Middle Passage – by V.S. Naipaul


Title: The Middle Passage
Author: V.S. Naipaul
Genre: Travel, Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: 1962
Finished reading: July 31st 2014
Pages: 256
Rating 3

“I had seen how deep in nearly every West Indian, high and low, were the prejudices of race; how often these prejudices were rooted in self-contempt; and how much important action they prompted. Everyone spoke of nation and nationalism but no one was willing to surrender the priviledges or even the separateness of his group.”


A friend of mine lend me a copy of The Middle Passage, and I’m glad I took the time to finish this travel memoir by V.S. Naipaul before I returned it to her. The Middle Passage was not my typical choice of reading and I have to admit I don’t know that much about Trinidad and the four Carribean societies mentioned (except for maybe Surinam because of its connection with Holland). What the countries have in common are the traces of slavery and colonialism, and that is what Naipaul focuses on in his book: the racial differences and the connections the former colonies have with their occupiers.


It’s hard to give a proper summary of all the different countries without this review becoming a short novel itself, so I have decided to keep this short. In The Middle Passage, Naipaul takes you on a journey through five societies and former British, French and Dutch colonies. He tells us his experiences during his journey, and analyzes the situation in the different countries (Trinidad, British Guiana, Surinam, Martinique and Jamaica). Not every society has reacted to its occupiers in the same way, and while some reject the foreign cultures, others openly embrace it. There is also an enormous difference in racial acceptance between the different countries… With huge social consequences.


The way Naipaul wrote down his story didn’t convince me fully, and I had to make myself continue at certain points where the story just became too slow to keep my attention. But I cannot deny it is an interesting story Naipaul is trying to tell. The fact that he was born and raised in Trinidad and later moved to London has a lot to do with that. Having lived in both ‘worlds’, he is able to blend in with the locals as well as having access to the insights of outsiders. I cannot judge properly if the comments he makes in The Middle Passage about the different societies, race problematics and inequality are accurate. What does become clear is that the book narrates his experiences when travelling through those countries; the difficulties on the way and the people he meets a sample of what the situation was like back then. Recommended to those who want to know more about the societies mentioned and enjoy reading non fiction travel memoirs.

BOOK REVIEW: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – by Ken Kesey


Title: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Genre: Classics, Psychology, Contemporary
First published: 1962
Finished reading: January 7th 2014
Pages: 272
Rating 4,5

“Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn’t it?”


This classic of the sixties is without doubt worth reading. Ken Kesey wrote a story that is both brilliant and intriguing, and it’s one that can be explained in many different ways. I guess that’s why this book is so popular among English Literature teachers; although mine never chose One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for her lessons… McMurphy is an interesting character, although my favorite will always be Chief Bromden. The fact that we see the story through his not so normal eyes only adds to the brilliance of this classic. Definitely recommended, as well as the movie!


 This is a story about an asylum and its patients, with in charge Nurse Ratched. She runs her ward like a dictator and nobody dares to defy her. Three black male nurses are her ‘helpers’; each selected for their hatred towards the patients and obedience to her. She is the authority on her ward until a new patient comes in. Randle Patrick McMurphy is a loud and life-loving troublemaker who fakes his mental ilness in order to be transferred from a prison farm to Ratched’s mental hospital. Once there he starts a so-called mental revolution. McMurphy challenges the authority of the Big Nurse (Ratched) and one by one wins the patients to his side by bringing gambling, alcohol and even women into the ward. He defies the rules openly and soon it’s war between the two. But Nurse Ratched has a strong ally: the autorities. First she tries to make McMurphy obey as she does with the other patients, but the big redhead is not one easy to be scared. So she turns to more drastic solutions: shock therapy. McMurphy still seems to be winning, until the Nurse uses her last and biggest hand and we read the book’s shocking end…


We see the ward through Chief Bromden’s eyes, and sometimes it’s hard to understand his thoughts because of the hallucinations and ‘mental fog’ he’s suffering from. But it also makes you understand the whole situation inside the ward that much better, and without Bromden the story wouldn’t have been the same. Great read!