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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ARC REVIEW: The Girl Without Skin – by Mads Peder Nordbo

Title: The Girl Without Skin
(Greenland #1)

Author: Mads Peder Nordbo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 27th 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: December 29th 2018
Pages: 352
(Originally written in Danish: ‘Pigen uden hud’)

“If you want to understand why a ball is rolling, you need to find out what set it in motion. The rest is nothing but effect, and the effect is visible to everyone.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to read more Nordic crime, so when I saw this title popping up I just couldn’t resist. That cover does look kind of daunting, doesn’t it? I went in The Girl Without Skin full of expectations and they were more than met. The first thing that stood out for me was the setting. It shows that the author knows Nuuk and Greenland from his own experience living there, because he is able to describe it in a way that makes it truly come alive. I also like that the main character Matthew is a Danish ‘outsider’ like the author himself. Being able to see both Nuuk and Greenland through his eyes was truly insightful, and I feel like I’ve learned a bit about the life there as well as having read a solid crime thriller. Because solid it was. Bloodcurdling, twisted, disturbing and bodies piling up as you turn the pages… Oh yes, The Girl Without Skin isn’t for those who don’t like to see their crime thrillers bloody. But if you, like me, don’t mind things getting messy, you will have a great time with this little shocking story. I really liked the writing style, which was engaging and made me keep reading until I suddenly reached the last page. The pace is good and I liked how the plot was constructed, which 1973 flashbacks as well as the current (2014) storyline. It was interesting to see how the author slowly tried to link both point of views and there is one thing for sure: The Girl Without Skin will have some shocking surprises for you in store!

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Journalist Matthew Cave is called in to investigate the body of what is suspected to be a mummified Viking discovered out on the edge of an ice sheet. He is eager to cover the story, knowing that this discovery might just be his big break… But the next day the body is gone, and all evidence with it, leaving only the mutilated body of the policeman who was keeping watch. Gutted and flayed, his death resembles the victims of a chain of murders back in the 1970s, crimes that were never solved. Are the two crimes linked? Matthew might be in more danger than he realizes as he tries to investigate.

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I was without doubt more than pleasantly surprised by The Girl Without Skin. I like my crime thrillers dark and disturbing, and an interesting international setting is always a bonus for me. This story isn’t for those with a weak stomach, as there are a lot of graphic scenes involved including violence, bloodcurdling murder scenes and abuse. The Greenland setting is excellently executed and it felt like I were there myself along with the main characters… The story itself chilled me to the bone. If you like dark crime thrillers, you should definitely give this one a go!


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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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ARC REVIEW: The Cottingley Fairies – by Ana Sender

Title: The Cottingley Fairies
Author: Ana Sender
Genre: Picture Books, Fairy Tale
First published: March 5th 2019
Publisher: North South Books
Finished reading: November 15th 2018
Pages: 48
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Las Hadas De Cottingley’)

“Adults lived in a very different world… It was hard and sharp, and they weren’t able to see ours.”

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


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I first fell in love with the cover of The Cottingley Fairies, and after I read in the blurb it was based on true events I was fully intrigued. Proof that fairies really exist, and a reference to the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It cannot get more intriguing than that. I was looking forward to find out more about Elsie and Frances’ story, since this was the first time I had heard about it. In the end I was unfortunately quite underwhelmed by The Cottingley Fairies. The first thing that stood out for me had to do with the illustrations. While I loved the cover illustration, I wasn’t so sure about the rest of the picture book in general. They felt a bit simple and almost unfinished to me, and lacked that ‘magical’ feel that would have worked better with this story. I don’t think children are as attracted to the illustrations as it is. That said, I wasn’t really convinced by the text either. The story paints the fairies as something that really exists and the ‘proof’ are photos the girls actually confess to have fabricated themselves. Fairies made out of paper are shown instead of ‘real’ fairies, and even though in the back the story is explained and it’s said that Frances until the day she died stood by her words that fairies are real, it’s really hard to believe. Also, I think the story kind of shone a negative light on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m sure little children will still find this story entertaining enough, but it’s best to treat The Cottingley Fairies as a little fairy tale and not really look for a deeper meaning behind it.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #62 – The Burning World & Elevation

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two stories that ended up disappointing me unfortunately. The Warm Bodies sequel The Burning World by Isaac Marion and the ‘impossible to understand why this is horror’ Elevation by Stephen King.


Title: The Burning World
(Warm Bodies #2)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: February 2nd 2017
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: November 6th 2018 
Pages: 512

“There’s no bigger threat to the world than people who think they can improve it. “


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I confess I actually read the first book so long ago (three years) that I confused my feelings for the first book with another zombie read. Oops? It turns out I wasn’t convinced by the first book Warm Bodies, and sadly this sequel didn’t wow me either. The first thing you have to know before you start the series is that the zombies are not actually scary and they are in fact not the real enemy. That on its own isn’t a real problem, as the idea of having different kind of zombie states is actually quite interesting and original. What I didn’t expect is just how NOT scary either book is. And of course, the romance plays a big role in the story. While I appreciate the idea of a zombie and human being together and all (you can’t deny it’s a slightly disturbing but original idea), it doesn’t lend itself for the most exciting plot. And talking about plots, I found that The Burning World in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line (although things might become clearer in the final book I guess). This wasn’t the only thing I struggled with though, as more importantly I wasn’t a fan of the writing style itself. Especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches to make for a coherent story. The story was overlong for me with its 500+ pages and I sincerely hope my experience with the final book will be better.


Title: Elevation
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 160

“This was the same. Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go farther still.”


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I was curious when I saw a new Stephen King was coming out, and I’m sure we can all admit that cover is gorgeous. Even though Elevation is a novella and I don’t read a lot of those, I was really looking forward to reading it. The first thing that stands out for me is that I have no clue whatsoever why this novella is marked as ‘horror’. Contemporary romance with a hint of sci-fi and even a far-fetched urban fantasy… Maybe. But horror? I don’t think anyone would find Elevation scary unless you are afraid of hights or stepping on the scale. That was the first thing that went wrong for me. The second thing had to do with the characters. I know it’s only a novella, but the characters just felt like one big cliche for me and didn’t add anything interesting to the story for me. A big problem, as the story is mostly focused on them. I did like the huge focus on the running, but overall there wasn’t really that much of a plot to talk about. Just a guy losing his pounds until he is closer and closer to zero… Not horror, not thrilling at all, and mostly a cliche contemporary story on how one person’s doom can bring other people together. And mostly just a meh story for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #54 – Reboot & They Both Die At The End

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA read that both turned out to be great reads. The first Reboot by Amy Tintera, a series I will be continuing very soon. The second They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera, a book I’m very happy about to have finally picked up.


Title: Reboot
(Reboot #1)
Author: Amy Tintera

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 7th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: October 12th 2018
Pages: 365

“We might have been monsters, but we were still stronger and faster and far more useful than any human army.”


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I’ve been meaning to start this duology for years now, and I’m definitely glad I finally did so. YA dystopians can go both ways for me, depending on the cliches and the dreaded love triangle, but I’m happy to say Reboot was a success for me. First of all, a big round of applause for not having a love triangle! There are romance scenes of course, but somehow they didn’t bother me as much as I liked them together. The writing style is spot on for me and I’m definitely looking forward to read more of Amy Tintera‘s books after this. The writing draws you right in, and the dystopian world Reboot is set in is quite interesting. Not all that original perhaps with the virus and all, but entertaining enough anyway. I liked the idea behind the reboots and how they are all different depending on how long they were dead before they rebooted… What makes this story so enjoyable is the fact that some of the characters are easy to like and you will find yourself rooting for them soon enough. I had a great time reading Reboot and I will be starting the sequel very soon. Fans of the YA dystopian genre will have a great time with this one.


Title: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: October 15th 2018
Pages: 376

“I’ve spent years living safely to secure a longer life and look where that’s gotten me. I’m at the finish line, but I never ran the race.”


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They Both Die At The End is one of those titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but somehow managed to pospone anyway. I’m glad I finally did pick it up! There is just something about Adam Silvera’s writing style that draws you right in and keeps you invested until the very end. I was expecting another contemporary romance read, so I was more than pleasantly surprised by the science fiction like twist of this story. Of course I knew there were going to be sad moments because as the title suggests, both main characters will die before the story is over. But I really liked the idea behind the Dead Cast, Last Friend App and how they spend their last day together. Sci-fi with a romantic lgbt twist, and a whole lot of carpe diem before they kick the bucket. The author is a pro at creating characters that both feel real and are easy to connect to. I took to both characters instantly and this is probably why this story worked so well for me. I enjoyed learning more about them as well as the people close to them… And I actually liked the random different POV chapters mixed in between as well, since they will all somehow connect in the end and it just felt like putting together a big puzzle. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending, but overall there is no doubt They Both Die At The End is worth the read.


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ARC REVIEW: A Thousand Devils – by Frank Goldammer

Title: A Thousand Devils
(Max Heller, Dresden Detective #2)
Author: Frank Goldammer
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 13th 2017
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: September 25th 2018
Pages: 312
(Originally written in German: ‘Tausend Teufel’)

“Nothing came for free. In a place where so many people hat lost their lives, it was a simple fact that you would pay somehow for still being alive.”

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

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I really enjoyed reading the first book of this series, The Air Raid Killer, earlier this year, so of course I wanted to read the sequel as well now that it is translated into English (out tomorrow!). I have to say that A Thousand Devils has only increased my interest in this series. The stories are what I call a perfect mix of historical fiction and a detective thriller, with our detective Max Heller trying to solve cases just after WWII in the German city of  Dresden. Talk about a fascinating setting! Learning more about the German situation just after the war is fascinating, especially in the subtle way Frank Goldammer incorporates historical elements. It makes the historical setting feel authentic and it was very interesting to see how the detective tried to do his job in an almost impossibly difficult situation. I feel A Thousand Devils will appeal to both historical fiction fans and detective thriller readers because of the well crafted balance of both genres, although I do have to warn for some graphic scenes, violence and abuse. That said, I think A Thousand Devils was even stronger than the first, and although set just after WWII this time instead of during the last year, you will find plenty of historical facts to absorb. There are lots of twists involved as well, cleverly executed to keep you guessing how everything fits together until the end… I can without doubt recommend this series.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Two years after the bombing of Dresden left most of the East German city in ruins, survivors are still struggling to continue their lives and the suffering continues. The winter months have been brutal so far, and with supplies being low everyone has to fight to survive… The German citizens are not happy with the Russian occupation, and the Russians are always trying to keep everything under control. When the both of a brutally stabbed Russian officer is found, detective Max Heller is called to the scene. To make things worse, near to the body they find an abandoned backpack with another man’s head inside… Are the two cases connected? Is this an attack against the Russians or simply an act of rage? Detective Max Heller has a hard time figuring out the facts as he finds obstacles around every single corner.

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Whether you prefer reading historical fiction or detective thrillers, the content of A Thousand Devils will be able to satisfy your needs. It is not easy to combine the two genres in a natural way, but there is no doubt that Frank Goldammer has done an excellent job. From the writing to the plot development, historical details, suspense and characters… Everything just clicks together and makes it easy to imagine just being there right next to Max Heller trying to solve those cases. Recommended!


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