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.”


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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.”


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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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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: Toxic – by Lydia Kang

Title: Toxic
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
First published: November 6th 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Finished reading: September 7th 2018
Pages: 320

“Funny how, with everything available to us, we still want to learn how to do things the old ways.”

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

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Toxic easily has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen so far this year. This was the perfect definition of cover love: I knew I HAD to read this one even before I actually read the blurb. I know science fiction isn’t really my genre, but I like branching out every once and a while to mix things up. It’s been a while since I read a story set in space, and Lydia Kang was able to make it into a very interesting experience. I loved the idea behind Toxic with the biological ship Cyclo, the detailed descriptions of the ship, the use of colors to communicate… Cyclo was basically another character and I loved to see how the ship ‘evolved’ over time. As for the other characters: there are a few cliches involved, and I’m not sure I like Hana, but overall their development is interesting enough to follow. I do think Cyclo overshadows the other characters in its uniqueness though. That said, it was an entertaining enough ride with plenty of action as Cyclo becomes less and less predictable and more dangerous. I wish there would have been less romance scenes involves, especially since most of it is quite cliche and takes away attention from the more interesting sci-fi elements. I’m sure romance fans will take those scenes differently though. The writing is solid and makes this ride very enjoyable. Fans of more romantic YA sci-fi books will have a blast reading Toxic.

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Cyclo is the first biological ship out there and has been working fine for a long time, but time seems to have run out and the ship is dying. Everyone has been evacuated, and now a small crew is on their way to board the abandoned ship to record and analyze Cyclo’s final days. They have signed a contract, giving up their lives to document the death of Cyclo in exchange for a healthy sum of money to be awarded to the person they indicate, but only if they fulfill their mission. When they arrive, they find out the ship isn’t completely abandoned… A girl has been left behind, and she might just be the reason they won’t be able to finish everything on time. Especially since Cyclo seems to be more instable than originally indicated.

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Even though science fiction isn’t really my genre, it was actually those elements that stood out for me. Especially Cyclo was fascinating, since the ship was almost like another character with its own development, ’emotions’ and flaws. I could have done without the more cliche romance scenes, and I wasn’t a fan of Hana, but overall I really enjoyed my time with Toxic.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wanderers – by Meg Howrey

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Title: The Wanderers
Author: Meg Howrey

Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 7th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: March 5th 2017
Pages: 384

“We can look and look, but it’s not like looking will give an answer. There isn’t a right or wrong decision to be made, just a decision.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I heard about The Wanderers last year and the blurb mentioned things including its resemblance to The Martian, astraunauts and a mission to Mars, I just knew I had it to my list of most-anticipated releases. I was stoked to be granted an ARC copy and last weekend I had made preparations to be able to fully emerge myself into a wonderful story… But what I found was a completely different experience. First of all, I really feel The Wanderers suffers from false advertisement. Why? It’s being compared to The Martian (which is one of my all time favorite stories), and the two books just couldn’t have been more different.  I think I won’t be the only one to pick up this novel expecting something else, which is a shame because the right target group might enjoy this story a lot better than I did. The Wanderers is more about the psychological effects of the three astronauts who are TRAINING for a mission to Mars (yes, they don’t even go to Mars), and talks mostly about feelings, relationships and what effects such a mission can have on both the astronauts and their family. The story did started to grow on me later on, but I have to be honest to myself and say I don’t think I would have made it to that part if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. The writing is interesting, but a bit dense and combined with the slow pace it was quite a struggle to get through this book. I had also mixed experiences with the main characters. What I liked is that they represented a multi-cultural group and the diversity in characters is a huge bonus. The psychological effects of the long term Mars mission simulation are probably the most intriguing part of The Wanderers, but that doesn’t mean I actually liked every character. All in all not at all what I was expecting.

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In four years Prime Space will send the first humans to Mars, and the three selected astronauts will have to prove they are up for the job. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka and Sergei Kutznetsov will have to spend the next seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created; a perfect simulation of the same mission they will start in four years if they succeed. For Helen, the MarsNOW mission is the last chance to return to space; the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. Yoshi sees it as an opportunity to prove himself worthy of his wife… And Sergei is willing to do what it takes if it gets him to Mars and set an example for his sons as well. Will they be able to show Prime Space that they are the best crew for the mission?

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I was really looking forward to this story, and I think part of reason I ended up being disappointed by it is the incorrect comparison to The Martian. Yes, both have astronauts and talk about a Mars mission, but that’s about it… The Wanderers is just a Mars mission SIMULATION, the story itself focuses mainly on the psychological effects of such a dangerous and long term mission and there isn’t a lot of excitement involved in general. On top of that, a slow pace and sometimes dense prose made it a lot harder to properly enjoy this story… And although the pace picks up a bit later on and the story started to grow on me, I don’t think this makes up for the initial disappointment. Such a shame!


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ARC REVIEW: Hero – by Belinda Crawford

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Title: Hero
(The Hero Rebellion #1)
Author: Belinda Crawford
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 21st 2015
Finished reading: May 22nd 2016
Pages: 242
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“All my life, everyone has used my ‘ilness’ as an excuse to take my choices away. I’ve been locked up, told what to eat, who I can be friends with, where I can go to school. They even forced those damn meds down my throat.” She paused, breathing hard. “It’s my life. Even if I’m sick, I’m the only one who should get to choose what I do and how I do it.”

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

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I am becoming seriously tired of the fact that EVERY single YA fantasy/sci-fi series I decide to read seems to be having either a love triangle, insta-love where a strong female main character falls hopelessly in love with the pretty boy or sappy romance scenes in general. I like the genre too much to give up on it all together, but I have started screening my potential reads… So you can imagine how happy I was when Belinda Crawford contacted me about her novel Hero with the promise that it would be a proper science fiction story without any focus on romance. In fact, in her own words:

A large part of why I wrote Hero was because I was sick of all the female protagonists losing their brains as soon as a cute boy came along. Drives me nuts.”

How can I say no to that? Hero ended up being just as good as I was hoping for. First of all, the worldbuilding is really intriguing. The story is set on the distant planet of Jørn and kind of has a dystopian/futuristic feel with all those scientific elements and genetic engineering. The main character is interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about her in the sequel, although I do think I liked her ruc-pard Fink even better. In fact, the companion animals and the streetrace scenes are probably two of my favorite elements of this story, although I really enjoyed reading Hero in general. With its fast pace, interesting prose and worldbuilding and the promise of no romance, this first book of The Hero Rebellion series is without doubt worth reading!

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After careful observation centuries ago, the humans decided to colonise the planet Jørn on the far side of the galaxy. They arrived in big colony ships and settled on the surface of the planet, but soon found out that a native spore was slowly killing them. With the help of genetic engineering, the scientists were able to blend Earth and Jørn DNA and create new hybrids for their crops and livestock. Unfortunately, the same didn’t seem to work for humans. They were forced to leave the surface and turn their ships into cities that floated in the sky. Only trained teams can now travel to the surface and while Hero Regan’s mother is involved in the organization, Hero herself won’t be seeing the surface any time soon. To make things worse, she is special; surrounded by bodyguards and tutors all day and insulated from the outside world. Her only companion is a huge genetically engineered ruc-pard named Fink, who she can even share her thoughts with. One day her situation seems to improve as they allow her to attend school in Cumulus City. She will be having more freedom than ever, but things are getting more and more dangerous as well…

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It is not every day that you find an entertaining YA science fiction novel that doesn’t include any sappy romance scenes, insta-love or love triangle and this fact should definitely be celebrated. But more importantly, Hero is so much more than that. The worldbuilding is intriguing and I really liked the idea of hybrids, companion animals and humans living on a distant planet in a dystopian future. The prose is easy to read and the ending definitely left me wanting for more… If you like the genre, make sure to read this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Illuminae – by Amie Kaufman

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Title: Illuminae
(The Illuminae Files #1)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: October 20th 2015
Finished reading: January 15th 2016
Pages: 608
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“Part of being alive is having life change us. The people around us, the events we live through, all of them shape us. And that’s what I think you’re afraid of. Maybe not of dying. But of this you, the you you’ve become, ceasing to exist.”

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There has been an enormous hype around this book even before it actually came out, and now I’ve read it I can definitely understand why. Illuminae is without doubt a very special book. The plot itself might not be overly original, but the prose and creative layout of the text and many illustrations are just that: highly original. Still, it was the creative layout of some parts of the book (especially the AIDAN pages and the battle scenes) that were also starting to frustrate me. Those who have read a shiny paperback or hardback version will probably be surprised, but trust me: having to read a kindle version of Illuminae royally sucks. There really should be a warning on the cover saying to only start reading it if you have an actual copy in your hands… Because I really started to get a headache trying to decipher some of the pages and ended up finishing it on my computer. The plot is quite simple and I liked the idea behind Illuminae, but I’m not sure I was a fan of the relationship between Kady and Ezra. The computer AIDAN had an interesting role even though I’m still not sure why they couldn’t just shut it down… But hey, a computer of fantasy story is set in 2575 can do whatever it wants right? Would I recommend it? Yes, but please don’t make the same mistake as I did and read it on your kindle…

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Kady decided to break up with her boyfriend Ezra the other day, but what she didn’t know is that her planet was about to be invaded… Two megacorporations are at war over a planet, and the planet and its people are being destroyed in the process. Some manage to escape, and both Kady and Ezra are among them. They were forced to fight their way out onto an evacuating spaceship, and the three ships that managed to escape are now trying to escape the enemy warship in pursuit. Kady, her mother and Ezra end up on different ships, and the enemy warship is not the only problem they have to face… A deadly plague broke out on one of the ships and is mutating, and the onboard computer AIDAN is having problems as well. Will they be able to make it somewhere safe on time?

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Like I said above, the actual plot is not that special, but the way the story is told is. Amie Kaufman has used all kinds of documents, emails, military files and other things to slowly tell us the story what happened on those ships that were trying to escape the enemy warship… The creativeness of the layout and illustrations is clear, but I also cannot deny some of the pages really started to frustrate me as they weren’t easy to decipher on my kindle. Still, there is no doubt that I will pick up a paper version of the sequel as soon as it comes out.

BOOK REVIEW: The Martian – by Andy Weir

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Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Adventure
First published: February 11th 2014
Finished reading: August 18th 2015
Pages: 369
Rating 5

“I need to ask myself, ‘What would an Apollo astronaut do?’ He’d drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool.”

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The Martian has been all over the blogosphere lately and it sounded like a very interesting read, so I thought it was about time I finally read it. In general I’m a bit hesitant towards overhyped books and I normally don’t read a lot of books set in space either… But I’m glad I decided to read this story by Andy Weir anyway, because The Martian was definitely an exception to the overhyped books rule. This book was simply brilliant. The main character, the plot, the prose… Everything was perfectly done and there were so many quotes marked on my kindle! The story of the main character and astronaut Mark Watney is one of extreme survival, but it’s also full of technical/scientific details I loved and funny moments that made me laugh out loud at points. It’s the perfect mix of science, adventure and humor that will speak to a very broad public… Even to those who normally don’t really like stories set in space like me. The Martian is without doubt one of my favorite reads this year and I would recommend it with my eyes closed!

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A few days ago, astronaut Mark Watney was just one of the first people to set foot on Mars, but things have gone terribly wrong since. A mayor dust story forces the crew to evacuate, but Mark never made it back to the ship… The rest of the crew thinks he’s dead and leave him behind. Mark is now stranded and completely alone on the foreign planet, but his resourcefulness helps him survive the first crucial days. He takes a crash course in Surviving On Mars 101 and soon he found himself a daily routine. He has no way to contact Earth to tell everyone he’s alive, but Mark is working on that. He will have to succeed to survive; there are a lot of things that can kill him on Mars and he is slowly running out of supplies and time…

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I can definitely understand why The Martian has won already so many awards, because this book is simply brilliant. Even if you aren’t into the whole space genre, you cannot help but enjoy this story, feel for the character and be amazed by his resourcefulness while surviving on Mars. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time and I loved the prose and character development. This book has made it straight to my favorites list and I would love to read more of Andy Weir‘s work in the future. 110% recommended!