Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

Review: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Title: The Cemetery Boys
Author: Heather Brewer
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3 Stars

288 pages
Published March 30th 2015
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

The Cemetery Boys is my first experience with the writings of Heather Brewer, author of the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. Although the story didn’t hold any surprises for me, I’m interested enough to pick up her other books.

When Stephen’s dad loses his job, they are forced to move back to his dad’s home town, some weird small town called Spencer. Here he meets Cara, a cute girl, and her brother Devon. Devon and his friends love to hang out at the cemetery. After a while Stephen discovers that not everything in Spencer is what it seems.

Ms Brewer writes boys extremely well; I enjoyed the inner monologue and sarcastic remarks of Stephen. It was also refreshing to see a young-adult romance through the eyes of a boy, without that romance being a projection of what a female would like a boy to think about his crush. Stephen’s thoughts are destinctly teen-boy, with him wondering what it would be like to kiss those kissable lips, instead of thinking how he must love and protect her for ever and ever. Yay for realism!

Having years of experience with detective and crime fiction (especially on television), I have a knack of guessing endings. I always expect the unexpected – the person least likely of being the killer usually is. Whether it’s the kindly butler or the loving mother, I have a nose for finding the bad apple. Yet again this nose worked, and I knew what the final twist would be. It was still a good twist, it was just a shame that I found it out beforehand.

The Cemetery Boys is well-written, and has a lovely dark atmosphere. I enjoyed how some questions aren’t fully answered, because answering would have diminished the magic of the story. I would recommend this for fans of Darren Shan, Madeleine Roux, and Charles Gilman.

Blurb

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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The Sunday Post #23

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba from The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Had an appointment with my thesis coordinator this week, and he was satisfied with the work I did! It’s such a relief to know that I’m on the right path, and that all of the hard work so far hasn’t been for nothing.

The cinema in my boyfriend’s town had an offer where you could go see a movie for very cheap on Tuesdays, so we had a nice outing. First, we went shopping (including book shopping), had dinner, and saw Focus. It was definitely a good day!

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

My reading hasn’t exactly been on par lately – so I’m discussing what its like when just every book you’re reading is not fun. Luckily I do have plenty of reviews stockpiled, so this week I shared my mini reviews of a few BDB books (my favourite romance series), and shared my thoughts on Unhinged, an Alice in Wonderland Adaptation.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

Though I’ve been in a reading slump, I haven’t experienced a blogging slump. Two posts for the Cactus this week – one on a great second hand book store called Books & Brunch, and one slightly more personal one on my struggles with photo albums.

Read this week

sundaypost23After I came clean about my feelings towards my current reads on Wednesday, I decided to do something about it. I forced myself to finish Cress – and immediately felt better afterwards. I also DNFed a different read that has been bothering me, and now I feel all ready to take on new books!

How was your week?

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Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Rating: 2 Stars

387 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Amulet Books
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I was on the fence about Splintered. Having read Unhinged, I know for sure: A.G. Howard just isn’t the writer for me.

After returning from Wonderland, Alyssa thinks she’s done with anything netherworld – until Morpheus shows up again, and she discovers that Red is trying to destroy Wonderland. Alyssa has to choose which is more important to her: her netherling side, or her normal side?

Jezus Christ did this story drag. I don’t know if it’s just the writing style or the story itself, but I was incredibly bored. We can’t get through one simple scene without Alyssa angsting over life, the universe, and everything. I’m a frequent reader of young-adult books, and I’m quite used to their teenage meanderings, but Alyssa is the Queen of All Angst.

And maybe I could have handled Alyssa – but in Unhinged my already low esteem of Morpheus and Jeb get even lower. Jeb is inconsiderate and just plain weird. Morpheus is the same self-centered asshole he has always been. And somehow Alyssa is attracted to both of them, even though they do nothing at all to deserve her attention.

As always, Alyssa kind of ping-pongs through the story like a bumper car, running after the facts. Almost all plot points in Unhinged are told in dialogue. Alyssa bickers with Morpheus. Wonderland creature shows up, tells news. Alyssa and Morpheus bicker some more. End scene. Rinse and repeat. Again, Alyssa is so incredibly passive – she just lets everything happen to her, and watching her taking hundreds of pages to get to a conclusion she could have gotten to in two good conversations with key characters is just tedious.

Alice in Wonderland is awesome, but I’m done with this rendition of it. I never knew one could make such a rich and interesting world so boring.

Blurb

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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When Everything You’re Reading is Meh

booksWhat to do when every book you pick up isn’t working for you? 

Let me describe to you my current situation. I’m someone who is always in the middle of a few books – I usually have a long book on my night stand that I can easily put away after reading one chapter (right now, a Song of Ice and Fire book), and at least one or two others I read on the train or on the couch. I enjoy reading different genres at the same time, and it actually helps me reading more book, because I can easily switch to something else when I’m in a certain mood.

But I’ve come to the point where I’m reading eight books at the same time and I’m not enjoying them. I do like my night stand book, but I don’t tend to read that one during the day. I picked up Monstruous, an ARC, and found it a bit boring. House of Leaves is depressing and makes me think of uni too much. I started Midnight Crossroad but it didn’t grab my attention. Anna Karenina is okay, but I’m at a farming chapter and yuck. I was terribly excited for Cress, and I’m buddy reading it with the wonderful Isalys, but I’m not enjoying it that much. Honestly, I feel just very ughh about all of them.

It’s come to the point where I don’t feel like reading at all, simply because I simply don’t like the books. I don’t easily DNF, especially not when I don’t truly hate the book, and I just can’t see myself DNF eight books at one time. Like, that’s a serious commitment.

So, basically I’m stuck. I know I’m going to have to bite the bullet and just finish a few of them so I can start new reads, which, hopefully, will be better. I only have about 150 pages left in Cress, which I should easily be able to finish in under two hours, but I just don’t feel like it. It’s probably a result from being under a lot of pressure at university, where I truly need my books to take me away from the world, and not have them feel like homework as well.

In the end, I decided there is only one solution. I picked up Harry Potter, and I’ll bury my head in the sand and not look at my current reads until I feel like them again. When in doubt, read Harry.

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Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (#4-6) Mini Reviews

Title: Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published March 6th 2007 by Onyx

Butch and Marissa’s story. I love how Marissa develops as a character and goes from a sheltered member of the aristocracy to an independent individual. Butch goes through many transformations himself, and I was glad for the fact that he finally found a place where he felt like he belonged. We also get some glimpses into the lives of the other characters, I’m especially getting curious for the younger generation.

Rating: 5 Stars

Find out more on Goodreads

*****

Title: Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood #5)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published September 25th 2007 by Signet

The fifth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Unbound focusses on Vishous, and on Phury in lesser degree. Vishous is the smart brother, and he has a hand that cannot be touched or it’ll kill you. Even compared to the other BDB books, Love Unbound was incredibly light on a plot. There were no lesser chapters (lessers are the mortal enemies of the vampires) and all of the conflict was based on character interactions. In my head the brothers look completely different, but that only increases my enjoyment of these books. Ms Ward knows how to toy with your emotions, and her love for her characters shines through at every page.

Lover Unbound gets bonus points for having a non-feminine female love interest, and for the awesome bromance between V and Butch.

Rating: 5 Stars

Find out more on Goodreads

*****

Title: Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published June 3rd 2008 by Signet

Phury is the celibate, reserved brother with a slight drug addiction. His personal story might not be my favourite, but I adore all of the other story lines we see in Lover Enshrined. I’m falling in love with the younger vampires, John, Qhuinn, and Blay, and it’s been heartbreaking to see the precarious balance between the vampires and their mortal enemies being upset. The scope of the world is steadily increasing, and I can’t wait to read more about all of these fascinating characters.

Rating: 5 Stars

Find out more on Goodreads

Other books in this series:

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The Sunday Post #22

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba from The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Not a very exciting week, but I did get quite some thesis writing done. I also went to a city polo match, which was free, as long as you didn’t mind sitting in the cold as four dudes on horses carrying sticks dashed around a sandbox. It was quite entertaining, especially because we were being so loud in our cheering, that some of the players started to show off just so we would yell at them. In the end we even got a thumbs up from one of them. Much hilarity ensued.

I also went for coffee with a friend at the campus Starbucks when the building randomly got evacuated. Apparently they had found a rip in one of the floors, and everyone had to leave immediately because of safety measures. What a week of random experiences!

1000thpost

In case you haven’t seen it yet, my 1000th blog post celebration is still going strong! Check out the post for my top ten favourite posts, and enter the giveaway to win a copy of a book reviewed on this site :D

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

Don’t you just hate some romance tropes? This week I’m talking about those that I can’t relate with. I’m also reviewing a super fun urban fantasy book by R.L. Naquin, and a classic Stephen King.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

The non-fiction book I’m talking about this week combines chemistry with history, and picks it all in an entertaining and readable story.

Read this week

sundaypost22Eesh, all that school work is killing my reading vibe! Don’t Stay Up Late was quite the nostalgic read, though it did feel slightly dated. Jackaby is a ton of fun. Both books were very quick reads, which is what I apparently need right now.

How was your week?

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Review: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Title: Dreamcatcher
Author: Stephen King
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3.5 Stars

694 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Hodder
Gifted

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Dreamcatcher is kind of an odd little ducky. At seven-hundred pages, it can hardly be called little, but in the oeuvre of Stephen King it hardly registers as a small blip. It’s not well loved, but as per my usual reaction with King’s books, I still found plenty of enjoyment in Dreamcatcher.

Five boys from Derry grow up to be four guys. They go on an annual hunting trip, but barely speak throughout the year. This year’s trip is different – they see moving lights, get stuck in a terrible snow-storm, and meet someone who is… not entirely right.

Dreamcatcher is a strange book. On one hand we have this motif we’ve seen before – children who do something important in their childhood which ties together with some happening in their adulthood. It is a prime example of such a story. Yet Dreamcatcher doesn’t feel the same as It – it’s much more concrete where It seemed whimsical. It’s threat is more direct, the execution more ruthless and realistic.

Something that doesn’t appeal to many people, is that Dreamcatcher is old-school science-fiction. It’s just not something you’d expect from the Stephen King stereotype – the archetypical horror writer. Dreamcatcher deals with an UFO that lands on American soil. The UFO holds extraterrestrial beings. The beings are not very friendly, and the US army makes an appearance. Imagine a 90s Hollywood movie with aliens – Dreamcatcher is exactly that, in book form.

The problem with this subject is that it seems so fake, so done, and so last century. No one is interested in aliens any more, at least not like this. The time of green men with big heads has passed, and the market of Dreamcatcher with it. It doesn’t help that, though quite an interesting concept, the procreation of the aliens is just icky. I’ve always appreciated that King calls a cow a cow, and if a story involves pee/poo/vomit/blood/brain goo, he will tell you so. In this book, aliens bury themselves in the digestive system of humans – and they come out again too. Out of your bottom. Giving them the nickname of shit-weasels. The way society works, we see books that deal with things like farts as immature. A focus on bodily functions is childish, and not suited for adults. This manifests itself in how in not a single apocalyptic story, anyone worries about toilet paper. Zombie brains, sure, but poo is a topic not discussed. Dreamcatcher pushes this boundary.

Although I didn’t always enjoy the direction of the story (US army themes are just not my cup of tea), I loved the journey these characters go through. Dreamcatcher is well written, engaging, and has a terrific nail-biter of an ending. A huge part of the plot revolves around mind-reading, which I always find a fascinating subject. All in all, I don’t regret reading the seven-hundred pages of Dreamcatcher.

Blurb

In Derry, Maine, four young boys once stood together and did a brave thing. Something that changed them in ways they hardly understood.

A quarter of a century later, the boys are men who have gone their separate ways. Though they still get together once a year, to go hunting in the north woods of Maine. But this time is different. This time a man comes stumbling into their camp, lost, disoriented and muttering about lights in the sky.

Before long, these old friends will be plunged into the most remarkable events of their lives as they struggle with a terrible creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past – and in the Dreamcatcher.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Things I Can’t Relate to in Romance

Romance might be one of the most popular elements ever in fiction. It’s almost impossible to open a YA novel without there being a love interest, and in adult fiction romance in every flavour sells millions of books. I’m personally rather ambivalent towards romance in fiction – it can be good to have it in a book, and it can be annoying. There are some often-used motifs in romance that I simply cannot relate to. This post might contain some of my personal experiences in the land of romance.

romance

1. Love at first sight

I actually do remember the first time I saw my current boyfriend. It was in the first class of the year, and when my name was called he looked at me and smiled (he doesn’t remember this at all, by the way). Classic fairytale moment, no? The only thought that ran through my mind at that moment was “ah, he’s cute”. That’s it. No declarations of eternal worship. No, oh my god this is the most perfect human being I have ever seen in my existence. I really don’t see myself thinking that of anyone, ever.

2. Hate to love

When I truly dislike someone, no amount of kissing is going to make me like that person. I don’t care how hot he is, if he’s an ass, no way I’m going to spend time in his vicinity.

3. The drama llama

Couples in fiction always have these huge hurdles to overcome. Most of them are usually imaginary – some word here or some letter there got misunderstood, and because of communication issues the couple is kept apart. Seriously people, what would it take you to actually talk to each other? And then the problem is magically solved because they luuuurve each other. Without having a legit conversation. I don’t understand why the characters don’t just yell or curse or vent a little so the air is cleared.

4. Unrealistic sexuality

Sex is the sparkling unicorn of romance fiction. Heroes suddenly have bodily capabilities that medically speaking aren’t very plausible, the heroine is either a virgin or has only had one not so great boyfriend. The sex is always amazing and more mind-blowing than the last time. The YA equivalent is the complete opposite – reading YA fiction you’d think that teens don’t ever think about sex. Ever. Neither adult nor YA sexuality are very compatible with real life.

5. “She didn’t want him to kiss her, but her body betrayed her”

I don’t know about you, but I have full control over my body. Pretty sure that if you don’t want to do smooching, you simply should not engage in said smooching. This super common trope reads more like sexual assault than romance to me.

6. Finding crazy over-protectiveness attractive

You all know the type. Always looking out for her. Sending other people to look out for her. Spying on her while she’s sleeping. Following her around – just to look out for her of course. CREEPER ALERT. Sometimes this goes to the extent that the hero locks the heroine up or keeps her captive in some way to “keep her safe”. I don’t care how dire the situation is, you’re not a parent and the love interest is not your kid. Grown ups can make their own decisions.

What are romance tropes you can’t relate to?

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Review: Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin

Title: Monster in My Closet
Author: R.L. Naquin
Series: Monster Haven
Rating: 3 Stars

209 pages
Published July 30th 2012 by Carina Press
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon

Monster in My Closet is the first book in the Monster Haven series, which centers around our eccentric main character Zoey.

Zoey gets the fright of her life when the monster in the closet from her youth is sitting at her table. It quickly becomes more shocking when she finds out his name is Maurice, and that his wife has left him. Zoey tumbles head-first into a world she never knew existed. She always helps people – but who is going to help her?

The best thing about this book is that it’s such light-hearted fun. Depending on a chicklit-esque humour, our heroine stumbles through life as a wedding planner slash monster rescue-er. There are some truly laugh out loud funny moments in this book, and the supporting cast of characters is the best. Maurice the closet monster is one of my favourites.

Monster in My Closet could have used some restructuring. The first third is too heavily centered around Zoey meeting all kinds of monsters. The second third kind of abandons the cute monster stuff, and focusses entirely on the main conflict. The problem with this is that the main conflict is mostly absent throughout the first part, and by the time it finally gets going we’ve passed the half-way mark.

I didn’t fully get a read on Zoey as a character – we know she’s clumsy, loves quirky clothes, and is extremely helpful. I’m hoping we can get to know her better in the next book in the series, and maybe see a bit more of her best friend Sara. There is plenty of room for character growth in Zoey – something that is lightly touched upon in this book – that I’m hoping will continue in the next.

Don’t be put off from this book by the awkward cover. Monster in My Closet will appeal to fans of Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison and Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

Blurb

I stopped believing in monsters long ago. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I found one in my kitchen baking muffins. I’d seen him before: lurking in my closet, scaring the crap out of my five-year-old self. Turns out that was a misunderstanding, and now Maurice needs a place to stay. How could I say no?

After all, I’ve always been a magnet for the emotionally needy, and not just in my work as a wedding planner. Being able to sense the feelings of others can be a major pain. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people–and non-people. But this ability has turned me into a gourmet feast for an incubus, a demon that feeds off emotional energy. Now, brides are dropping dead all over town, and my home has become a safe house for the supernatural. I must learn to focus my powers and defeat the demon before he snacks on another innocent woman and comes looking for the main course…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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The Sunday Post #21

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba from The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Apparently I’m not doing all that great health-wise this month, because I spent half of this week lying on the couch or in bed. Nothing serious – I just have low blood pressure, which makes you feel very weak and tired. It’s not dangerous, just quite annoying if you want to get things done.

1000thpostIn good news, Nyx Book Reviews has a slight celebration going on, because I finally posted my 1000th blog post! I’m not one who celebrates blogoversaries, so I’m celebrating this milestone instead. Stop by my post for a small thank-you giveaway (:

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

This week we have the aforementioned 1000th post, but also the second part of the How I Manage My Blog series. Last week was all about the posting schedule, and this week’s is about how I make the most of my blogging time. The week is completed with my thoughts of Jules Verne’s classic, Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

I like movies, and these jewels have caught my attention. What movie classics have you enjoyed?

Read this week

sundaypost21

Like last week, I’m still in the middle of eight books at once which means I’m not finishing all that many. That being said, I did finally finished A Tale of Two Cities (very good), and a novella and two mangas. Fullmetal Alchemist is so much fun, I can easily see myself reading all 27 volumes of it. I feel like they’ll only get better and better. The Fear Trials are a prequel to The Murder Complex, and it’s been nice to learn more about the characters.

How was your week?

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