Excerpt: The Exo Project by Andrew DeYoung


Hello, bookworms! I was lucky enough to read The Exo Project earlier in the year and it’s such a great book. You can read my review that I posted awhile back. I wanted to do some type of spotlight on the book closer to release date, so I jumped at the opportunity to do an excerpt! 🙂 Read about the book, a little about Andrew, and the excerpt for The Exo Project. And be sure to check out Andrew’s website for a Q&A!

About the Book

Title: The Exo Project
Author: Andrew DeYoung
Pub. Date: April 2017
Pages: 455
Format: Hardcover/Kindle


On a future, dying Earth, seventeen-year-old Matthew has a choice: live out his days on a doomed planet or leave his family forever to join the Exo Project and journey one hundred years into space to find a new home for humankind.

One hundred light-years away, a teenage girl named Kiva is preparing to lead her people. But she is troubled by a vision of a ship hurtling through space, bringing a strange boy who seems to see her, too.

When they finally meet, Matthew and Kiva discover an emotional connection that neither expected, a connection both powerful and dangerous. Now each must make an impossible decision: Stay loyal to the bonds that tie them together, but risk the loss of their communities. Or protect their own worlds at all costs—even at the expense of each other.

About Andrew DeYoung

Andrew DeYoung is a writer and editor who has dreamed of being an author ever since his ninth-grade English teacher made him write down his biggest life goal for a class assignment. He studied literature in college and graduate school, writing a thesis on the history of Victorian detective fiction before making the jump from academia to publishing. These days, he lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he edits children’s books and lives with his wife, daughter, and a feline companion named June Carter Cat. Andrew’s taste in science fiction leans more Star Trek than Star Wars—though only barely. The Exo Project is his debut novel.

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The Excerpt


They called it the Exo Project.

It had been almost a year ago now that the announcement had come in over the web. Matthew had been sitting in his bedroom at the time, doing homework and wondering what to make for dinner for himself and his little sister, when his tablet buzzed with an incoming transmission.

Matthew glanced at it. A blue crest flickered onto the screen: the logo of OmniCore, the global Earth government. Matthew snatched the tablet from the desktop, his back going straight.

An official announcement. Everybody on the planet was probably watching it.

There was a silent moment—then the OmniCore logo faded from the screen, replaced by an image of the sun burning hot in the sky. The music in the background was ominous, threatening. Over the music came a man’s voice.

“Earth is dying,” the voice said, “burning up. Crops are failing, fresh water is becoming harder to find, and the future of the human race is at risk.”

The camera panned down from the sun to a vast desert. Antlike humans staggered across the dunes in radiation suits.

“But there’s a new hope for humanity: The Exo Project.”

The screen filled with images of scientists hunched over lab tables, engineers drawing up 3-D blueprints with their fingertips in holographic computer environments, half-constructed spaceships in hangars, surrounded by scaffolding and showers of sparks.

“Exoplanets are worlds outside our solar system, and scientists have identified thousands of them that might sustain life. Now, with new innovations in cryogenics and lightspeed travel, these planets are within our reach, ready to be explored. There’s just one thing missing. You.”

Now the music swelled, and the next image that came on the screen was a close-up of a person’s face: a young woman looking off-camera, hopeful and determined, the faintest trace of a smile on her lips. Slowly, the camera pulled back to reveal that she was marching across a flat expanse of concrete, carrying an OmniCore flag that flapped in the wind above her head. She wasn’t alone. One by one, other people joined her, men and women of all ages, races, and ethnicities, smiling and nodding to each other as they came to march at her shoulder. Soon, the camera had pulled back far enough to reveal hundreds of people, maybe thousands, and the image panned around to reveal what they were marching toward: a spaceport with thousands of ships lined up on the tarmac.

“The Exo Project is seeking volunteers now. The future of the human race lies in your hands.”

And with that, the announcement was over. The tablet screen blinked back to the normal view. In the lower left-hand corner, Matthew saw that he had a new message. He tapped it open with his fingertip. It was a message from the Exo Project. It must have come through with the announcement. Matthew scrolled past a photograph of a young man gazing boldly toward the skies, past the banner commanding him to “Sign Up Now!”, and squinted at the fine print at the bottom of the message.

Exo Project participants will be chosen by lottery, Matthew read. The volunteers selected for participation will be cryogenically frozen for the lightspeed expedition. There is no means of return to Earth. Participants who find habitable planets will be refrozen until the first settlers arrive. Those who do not will take mission-termination pills.

Matthew’s skin felt cold. He wasn’t certain what “mission termination pills” referred to, but he had an idea.

The Exo Project was a suicide mission.

Then Matthew’s eyes fell on the last line of the fine print.

The families of Exo Project participants will receive a reward of one million units.

Matthew’s stomach dropped.

He had to volunteer. He had to put his name in the lottery.

So he did. And months later, Matthew learned that he’d been chosen randomly from millions of applicants to be part of the Exo Project.

He was going. He was leaving Earth, never to return.


Kiva went out from the village to watch the Great Mother set in a blaze of red on the horizon, then wait for the Three Sisters to blink on in the night sky. This was her tradition, her private ritual. She allowed no one to see her, no one to follow her as she slipped away from her father’s hut on the edge of the village. As she came over the rise, a lip of rock separating the village from the surrounding plain, she paused to watch the wind ripple over the grass, a sudden tessellation of lines dancing in shifting patterns across the prairie before disappearing once more as the air went still. She walked down into the low, flat expanse, her fingers trailing in the purple and brown grasses, clutching at the tips. She lay down in her favorite spot, against the cleft swell of a small hillock, and waited.

Waited for the time that was neither night nor day. A thin cusp between the light and the darkness.

This was her favorite time—a secret she kept with herself. It was hers and hers alone.

As the Great Mother inched toward the horizon, Kiva felt the stirrings of something she couldn’t quite name welling up inside her. It began in the back of her mind as a sort of itch, a tickle, the ghost of something she once knew but had long since forgotten. Then it—whatever it was—began to gain strength, like a light breeze growing to a mighty wind. Slowly, an image began to take shape in her mind: a blue orb, cloud-dappled, suspended in deep blackness.

And then, at the moment that the last red-rimmed sliver of sun fell below the curve of the planet Gle’ah, a sharp agony seized Kiva at the root of her torso. Her body convulsed with the force of the pain; her stomach and back clenched tight, and her heels ground deep into the grass.

Kiva’s eyes clamped shut as, above, the Three Sisters—the moons of Gle’ah—began to glow in the darkening sky. In the far distance, Vale and Dalia, the Twins, had entered into the part of their orbit where they appeared to dance together, their two white orbs seeming to merge into a single elongated mass. Ao, the third moon of Gle’ah, passed by on a closer orbit, near enough to the planet that, had her eyes been open, Kiva could have traced the moon’s path with her finger as it spun across the sky.

As it was, Kiva merely felt her hair float next to her ears in the pull of Ao’s gravity as the moon passed overhead—and when the pale white sphere was directly above her, nearly lifting her entire body off the ground, the pain sharpened to an agonizing point in her chest as images fluoresced on her eyelids.

An explosion of light and fire.

A sea of stars elongating and whizzing past in the blackness.

A huge bird made of polished stone, coming through the clouds to land on the prairie.

And three dark silhouettes standing shoulder to shoulder on the horizon.

Then the moon spun on, releasing Kiva’s body from its grip.

The strands of her hair fell and pooled again on the ground. When Ao had disappeared over the horizon, the images on Kiva’s eyelids faded, and the pain loosed its hold on her body. Her eyes snapped open, her lungs gasping for air. In the now-dark sky, the Twins went wobbly in her vision as tears brimmed at the edges of her eyes. She blinked away a single tear; it ran down her cheek and dripped in her ear.


The word came to her unbidden.

They’re coming.

Review: Beast by Brie Spangler


Title: Beast
Author: Brie Spangler
Pub. Date: October 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality.

As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

The Review

Despite the fact that there were barely any characters that were likeable, I enjoyed Beast so much!

I hated JP from the beginning until the end. I didn’t care for Dylan/Beast too much either. Dylan just seemed very whiny and woe is me. I know part of that woe is me is a premise behind the book, but it just bothered me every time I read him degrade himself and the whole relying on what someone – including himself – looks like for happiness.

Of course I really loved Jamie’s character . . . she was real from the beginning to the end, didn’t take anyone’s shit, and could handle her own. Not once did she want Dylan’s help at all, despite his constant offering of protection.

Sometimes I felt like Dylan was trying too hard. He was obviously trying to prove something to himself and to Jamie, and it just felt forced. However, I could really tell it was all because of his internal struggling with everything that happened with Jamie. Having never dealt with this particular situation myself, I could completely understand his mentality.

The main topic of Beast is something I really think needs to be addressed more frequently, especially in YA! It’s something that’s not widely understood and it definitely should be. If more people took the time to understand and weren’t so close minded, maybe there wouldn’t be so much ignorance and hate.

If you or someone you know needs more information on transgender equality, please visit the National Center for Transgender Equality or visit GLAAD for further resources.

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Pub. Date: January 2017
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

The Review

I followed a lot of the hype for Caraval, and I went back and forth on whether I wanted to read it or not. One minute it sounded really good, the next I just wasn’t sure. It was on my wishlist and figured I’d get to it eventually, but then I won an ARC.

The rest is history. I didn’t think I’d like it . . . the first chapter or so was a little off putting, but it still kept me intrigued and kept me reading. I didn’t want to put it down, even long after my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer! Such an amazing book, and I am so glad I read it!

I immediately loved Julian the second he called Scarlett by the name “Crimson.” I shipped them pretty hard from then on. I still worried about his intentions the further into the story we got, because we find him in so many questionable situations.

I really liked Scarlett and her determination to find Tella. I am technically an only child, so I guess I don’t understand the sister dynamic. With that said, I am torn on how to feel about Scarlett and Tella’s relationship. Scarlett is the responsible one while Tella is the more wild and carefree one. However, it just felt like Scarlett was saving or protecting someone who didn’t care. It’s almost like Tella knew that Scarlett would do whatever and would be there no matter how careless she is, so she’s taking advantage. And I get it . . . if I had a sister, I would do everything and whatever I have to for her. It just felt awkward with Scarlett’s protectiveness and Tella’s “whatever” mentality.

Everything was so detailed and descriptive, that it made it feel like I was experiencing Caraval myself! It was such a fun read to get pulled into the world. And Legend is definitely an interesting character and I couldn’t get enough of the world of Caraval. There’s a story behind Legend and Caraval, and it was very fun to learn the history.

There’s magic, intrigue, a story to tell. And one hell of a cliffhanger!

Monthly Bookmail (March 2017).


March was another slow but generous month for me. It’s my birthday month, so I got a few surprises but I didn’t want a whole lot – mostly just Strange the Dreamer that came out the day after my birthday and will be here soon! 🙂 Everything else that I got was just a bonus, especially the surprises from my lovely bookish friends!

I finished off my Delirium series by Lauren Oliver by getting Requiem. The covers with the hearts are absolutely gorgeous, 🙂 Oh, and I used the #booksfortrade tag on Twitter and I’m now the owner of the Owlcrate exclusive white cover of Heartless by Marissa Meyer! Such a beautiful cover.

The lovely Gina at RandomlyBookishGina on YouTube sent me The Maze Runner by James Dashner for my birthday. I also got a cute little yeti – which is a little inside joke with us, 🙂 – but my son claimed ownership of that.

I’m actually really excited for The Maze Runner. I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to even hear of the series enough to want to check it out, then realise it’s right up my alley in tastes.

Thank you, Gina! ❤

I also went ahead and got The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure at Barnes & Noble as a birthday present.

I traded with the lovely Paige over at The Paige-Turner for this Divergent collection.

Now here’s the thing. I own all of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Recently obtained, actually. Never read them yet. However, my good friend Sara has convinced me to read the series, 🙂  So I was going to wait until I had Four before I read the series. I’ll be starting the series in April, and I really hope it’s as good as I hear!

This is the best book mail ever! My girl Sara went to SEYA in March and was able to snag a signed copy of Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman! Completely unexpected. And the best part? It’s signed and has a birthday wish written by Nicole, ❤ 🙂

Thank you, Sara!

One of my best friends sent me this mug! I found it funny and I absolutely love it! It’s now positioned between my Fred and George Weasley on my bookcase,  😍

I absolutely love these mugs! I originally saw them in Target and my dad ended up getting me the Slytherin for my birthday, but said they only had the Ravenclaw left.

He doesn’t know a thing about Harry Potter, and I am so not a Slytherin, so I made it a point to get all four of them! I couldn’t find the other two at Target or their website, but found them on Think Geek.

They are perfect!  🙂  The handles have the names of each house on them, too.

After asking around and starting to feel like I would never find someone with it, I snagged the other notepad from the March 2017 Owlcrate! It’s so adorable, right? I also got another roll of the washi that was in the same Owlcrate. (I obviously love paper and washi).

What did you get this month that you’re most excited about?

Unboxing: Owlcrate (March 2017).


March is my birth month and I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, and surprisingly enough I didn’t want any books except Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor . . . so I said I wanted a 3-month subscription to Owlcrate. I’ve been wanting to try it again since I see so many people talking about it, and I was not disappointed with this month’s box!  😀

The March box included:

  • A hardcover of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, with signed bookplate
  • A Daughter of the Pirate King temporary tattoo
  • Washi tape with a “mermaid scales” design
  • An octopus notepad
  • A pirate owl button
  • A beautiful compass and anchor necklace
  • A tea towel with a quote from the book

This box was absolutely gorgeous! The notepad came in two different designs, randomly distributed and the second design is also stunning (I managed to snag one of the other designs, too). I also have a love for washi and this is a bright and gorgeous purple,  🙂

As far as the book – I am not too big on pirates and that kind of thing, but I know this is a highly talked about book and it does sound good, so I can give it a try!

Did you get an Owlcrate this month? What’s your favorite item that you received in the March box?

Unboxing: Uppercase Box (March 2017).


This month’s Uppercase was super exciting! I totally didn’t know what to expect in this month’s box. I wasn’t even thinking it could be a Beauty and the Beast inspired title . . . everything seems to be tied to Beauty and the Beast this month, which is really cool, but I didn’t put two and two together until after seeing the book – now I’m seeing everything tying to the release of the live action movie.

The March box included:

  • A signed hardcover of Hunted by Meagan Spooner
  • A Hunted bookmark (not shown)

I’m far from a bookstagrammer and can’t take photos to save my life, but this picture obviously doesn’t give the book cover justice. Absolutely stunning!

I know this is a highly anticipated book, and it’s been on my wishlist for awhile now and was so surprised to see it for this month. I almost bought it but thought I’d wait,  🙂

Can’t wait to read it!


Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich


Title: And the Trees Crept In
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Pub. Date: September 2016
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

The Review

I’m not usually big on horror/scary reads – I’m rarely ever touched by a scary book. I’ve seen so many people say that this book is very creepy with just enough scare, so I figured I could give it a try. I didn’t want something that would creep me out too much, because that’s just not my thing anymore.

To be honest, there were chapter intros – for instance the way it was broken down into “books” – that made me question exactly what their purpose was but it didn’t really alter the overall feel of the book. Despite that, And the Trees Crept In was a really well written book. The writing was so superb that it left just the right about of creepy tingles. There were some elements that made me cringe, too. Very detailed.

I love the ending to And the Trees Crept In, and I didn’t really see it coming. It made for a nice twist to an otherwise typical type of spooky story. I think this would make for an amazing movie, too. For some reason, I also got a little bit of a Flowers in the Attic vibe. For being “trapped” inside the house and nowhere to go.

Is there a true legend behind The Creeper Man or is it specific to this book? I know I’ve heard of Slender Man – it’s been in the news, and my six year old plays a game that has a Slender Man – that’s very similar to the description of The Creeper Man. It’s a nice little legend to tell over campfires and things like that.