Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

The Sunday Post #10

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

gijsjeI FINISHED THE PAPER GUYS. The paper of hell is finally done, and I can enjoy some quiet days before I have to start studying for my exam of January 5th. I actually did some pretty fun stuff between all the writing; I saw Seether in concert (they were AMAZING), and I saw the third Hobbit movie.

This will be the last post on Nyx Book Reviews in this year – I’m taking a short one and a half week away from the blog to spend with family and destress before the January exam and paper clusterfuck starts happening.

I hope you all have lovely holidays, best wishes, and I’ll see you all next year! <3

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

I reviewed The Selection this week, and I quite enjoyed it! The same can’t be said about To the Lighthouse. To get into the Christmas spirit, I’m sharing my Christmas Wishlist.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

For the first time in like, a month and a half, I’ve blogged on Irresponsible Cactus! I decided to post this review-like post over there instead of on Nyx Book Reviews, because I’ve never reviewed non-fiction over here, and it seems to fit pretty well with the eclectic style I’m going for on Irresponsible Cactus.

Read this week

Ack, I barely read anything this week! I guess I was just too busy with school. In between writing, I mostly read parts of the pretty giant Dreamcatcher. It was quite different from most of the books by King I’ve read, but I liked it.

How was your week?

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Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Rating: 3 Stars

336 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

On a complete whim, I decided to read The Selection. I stayed away from it before because of all the dramallama connected to it, but since that has quieted down, I picked up the book. Because of all the scathing reviews around its release my expectations were pretty much rock-bottom.

The premise of the book is this weird cross between a dating reality show and a touch of dystopia. Add a love triangle, and you have The Selection. This is one of those books that people love to hate, and I understand that. The premise is pretty laughable – but then again, does that matter?

For me, no. With the glee of someone reading a forbidden book, I read The Selection. The book actually surprised me with the likeable characters and slow-burn romance. From the fact that it had a love-triangle I had assumed that we were getting into a Bella-esque instant without-you-I-will-die puppy-love. Instead we got a steady first boyfriend love interest and a friendship-turned-romance love interest. There is very little romance in the book from about 20% till 60%. Instead of the oozy swoonfest, The Selection presented the love-triangle in a believable and understandable way. Although I want her to make a choice already, I’m not hating it yet.

The world building is pretty shallow. There is very little reason given for things to be the way they are. The up side of this is that when you’re not given much information anyway, there is no room for plot-holes. I’m not sure whether that’s an extremely clever tactic or whether that’s just really sad.

Some people have told me that The Selection is a total mood book, and I agree. When you’re in the mood, it’s so much fun, and you’ll be picking teams and predicting outcomes. When you’re not… Well, there are plenty 1-star reviews putting their opinions down quite eloquently.

If I were the kind of person to feel guilty about spending two dollars on something that entertained me for a few hours, I would call The Selection a guilty pleasure. Since I’m not, I’m going to call it two dollar well spent!

Blurb

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Christmas Wishlist

In my family, giving Christmas presents is essential to the Christmas celebrations. Gifts are deposited underneath the Christmas tree in the days leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas day we open them once everyone is up. To make gifting things easier, we all make wishlists so when the imagination runs short, you can easily give the other person something they really want. I always add tons of stuff to my wishlist, so it’ll still be a surprise what I get. Usually my wishlist is super book-heavy, but this year I managed to keep the bookish presents to a minimum because I really don’t need tons of new books.

This year, a lot of cool stuff made it on the list. I’m looking for a new Filofax organiser because mine has become pretty battered. Board games are always fun, and Smallworld is the perfect mix of strategy, luck, and competition. I’m a HUGE Lush fan, and their Celestial moisturiser is pretty heavenly. I’m also an un-apologetic fan of sticky notes, so I asked for ALL the sticky notes. Last but not least, some graphic novels that caught my fancy.
christmas wishlistEvery year, I get some gifts from my wishlist, and some that aren’t on it. I’m super excited to see what I’ll get this year, and to see what my family thinks of the things I got for them!

What is on your Christmas wishlist? Do you have any gifting traditions for the holiday season?

This is actually my fourth Christmas wishlist post. You can also check out the ones from 2010, 2011, and 2013.

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Reading Classics: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I read this book as part of the Classics Club Challenge – I challenged myself to read fifty classics picked by me in the next three years. To find out more, you can see my list or visit the Classics Club website.

Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
First Publication: 1927

Goodreads To the Lighthouse (free download)
Or find it at The Book Depository

I believe myself to be a highly sensitive person – bright lights annoy me, extremely loud noises drive me to panic attacks, I can go crazy over the ticking of a clock. I know what it’s like to hop from one thought to the other, what it’s like to daydream without abandon, and how it feels when sensory input becomes too much.

And then Virginia Woolf comes in and puts this all on steroids.

Reading To the Lighthouse was comparable to being inside someone’s head when they take LSD. The sort of hyper-reality which Woolf tries to describe through language becomes a caricature of itself. She writes metaphores within metaphores within metaphores, and honestly, that’s just not how the human mind works. That’s not stream of conciousness, that’s attempting to create poetry within prose. I like to be caught up in a stream of thoughts, even if they go from one point to the other without having a frame of reference, because that’s relatable to me. What Woolf does in To the Lighthouse has completely lost its point of reference, and the writing irks me like no tomorrow. It’s almost impossible to read – and if it sounds so wrong within the readers conciousness, how is it an apt description of someone’s conciousness? For example, a boy in his teens watching his father. It starts off just fine, but ends in some weird Poe-esque description that somehow should be representative of a sixteen-year-olds thinking:

He had always kept this old symbol of taking a nife and striking his father to the heart. Only now, as he grew older, and sat staring at his fater in an impotent rage, it was not him, that old man reading, whom he wanted to kill, but it was the thing that descended on him-without his knowing it perhaps: that fierce sudden black-winged harpy, with its talons and its beak all cold and hard, that struck and struck at you (he could feel the beak on his bare legs, where it had struck when he was a child) and then [etc]

I also feel like almost all of the female characters were a version of Woolf herself. Now, this is actually more common in fiction than most people realise, but in this case I felt like she took it too far. The man of the house is the tyrant, and every single one of them falls for his charm. It makes an argument about how women are somehow always caring and lose pieces to themselves to men, and this kind of rudimentary counter-feminism was very alienating to me. Maybe that’s how Woolf felt in the 1920s, but it can hardly be how all the women felt.

Even though I enjoy a well-done stream of conciousness, Woolf took it too far, and the end result was depressing and near-unreadable.

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The Sunday Post #9

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

I feel so boring this week. I only had one thing to do: finish a paper. This particular paper will probably span around 5000-7000 words (double or triple the amount of words our papers usually are), and I have to write it from scratch in ten. frigging. days.

So this week I’ve been writing, sleeping, procrastinating, and writing. I did manage to read a bit as a study break, so I guess that’s a good thing.

I’m so excited that Christmas is only a few weeks away!

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

I don’t usually read holiday themed books, but The Snow Globe was offered to me for review, and it was quite enjoyable. The Midas Flesh is a lovely science-fiction graphic novel that I highly recommend. Together with my brand new classics challenge for 2015 and a review of Moriarty, I actually had a pretty great blogging week.

Read this week

sundaypost9The long-awaited Symbiont was absolutely fantastic. I also read quite a few graphic novels this week, which were all great. I also finally continued the Sookie Stackhouse series – but I’m definitely starting to feel like Ms Harris’ heart isn’t in the series any more. Reviews for these will be posted in the new year.

How was your week?

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Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Title: Moriarty
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Rating: 3 Stars

304 pages
Published December 9th 2014 by Harper
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I’m a huge self-proclaimed fan of anything Sherlock. Recently I’ve started dabbling in the original works by Arthur Conan Doyle, while simultaneously gorging myself on the BBC adaptation of Sherlock – and this book by Anthony Horowitz, the second of his Sherlock Holmes books.

After Moriarty and Sherlock face off and disappear in Switzerland, Frederick Chase, a private detective from New York, teams up with Athelney Jones, a detective of Scotland Yard and a severe Sherlock fanboy, to discover what happened and to stop the recent invasion of the London crime scene.

For a book in a series about Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty sure does feature very little actual Holmes. As a character he never makes an appearance, and the sad little substitute we get is Jones, who loves everything Sherlock but sucks in actually bringing it into practice. I had a hard time loving the book when the characters I love so dearly – Holmes and Watson – are completely absent. Chase and Jones at no point have the fantastic chemistry that Holmes and Watson have, nor are they as interesting as the enigma Sherlock Holmes.

The mystery itself was pretty thin. At first there barely is a mystery, and even less motivation of our main characters to spend any time of it. Some high-up mobster from the States has decided to make London his home, and he is somehow linked to the incident at the Reichenbach falls. However, it takes ages for the plot to gain any steam or sense of urgency. There was no necessity, and the mystery on a whole felt soulless and flat.

Horowitz is a fantastic writer, and he has a way with words that’s both natural and engaging. I didn’t feel like Moriarty showed his writing off to its full potential. His writing in The House of Silk, his first Sherlock Holmes book, felt more dynamic.

Since I haven’t read all of the original Sherlock Holmes books yet, I can’t fully judge how Moriarty ties in with them. Moriarty seems to be set within the boundaries and stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, maybe showing a different side of the story, or filling the voids in between books. The meta-storytelling is admirable, especially when Chase sets out to improve on Watson’s writings. Although the ending of Moriarty was well done, on a whole the book left me rather cold.

Blurb

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of Detective Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty–dubbed “the Napoleon of crime”–in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall’s churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York’s infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty’s death has left a convenient vacancy in London’s criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place–including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes’s methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London–from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks–in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

Other reviews you might be interested in

A long time ago I asked Anthony some questions on Twitter

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Review: The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

Title: The Snow Globe
Author: Sheila Roberts
Series: None
Rating: 3 Stars

166 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Piatkus
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

The Snow Globe is a short novel filled with Christmas spirit. An antique snow globe is being passed from person to person, working in a miraculous way to change their lives for the better. In the book, the snow globe makes its way to our three female main characters, and plays a pivotal role in changing their lives.

Fans of holiday movies will gobble this up. Filled with every-day problems, The Snow Globe solves them all with a neat little bow. Written in a forward manner, Ms Roberts goes straight to the point – the problems of the three friends, Kiley, Suzanne and Allison, are immediately and concisely laid before us. Kiley is dealing with a crappy break-up and the lack of a boyfriend, Suzanne tries to juggle her career and her family with the family drawing the short end, and Allison misses her grandmother who passed away a year ago. These issues are dealt with in a predictable, though satisfying way.

The Snow Globe does exactly what it promises: leave you with a good mood and the belief that all is right with the world. It left a slightly bitter taste for me, because I had some fundamental issues with the way some subjects were handled. But don’t mind this Grinch if you’re looking for something light and fluffy for the holidays – The Snow Globe will probably do perfectly.

Grinchness and huge spoilers beyond this point. Highlight the text to read it.
The sad thing is that I have something bad to say about every single of the stories in this book.

First of all, we have Kiley. Kiley is incredibly obsessed with her ex boyfriend, to the point where I’d calmly escort her to a psychologist, because girl, you’re not coping well. Of course Kiley finds a perfect hunky boyfriend, whom she knows she will marry in like a year. Healthy, right?

My gripe with Suzanne’s story is pretty stupid. Suzanne has a daughter (and a terribly obnoxious one at that), who desperately wants a puppy. Her husband is like “don’t be such a stuck-up, let’s get a dog”. Suzanne responds with “but we don’t have time for a dog, they need company”. Husband says “you’re just making up reasons, I’m sure we can figure something out”. NO. Just NO. You do not adopt an animal if you’re not sure that you can actually care for it. That’s why animal shelters are so incredibly bursting with abandoned animals. A neglected dog will bark, whine, destroy your stuff, and basically turn into a huge nightmare. This completely ruined that story for me. You don’t adopt a puppy without having a plan.

And the Allison story just didn’t make much sense to me. Yes, your grandmother passed away. And the solution is that you meet a completely random old woman that resembles your grandmother, and now everything is okay? There are plenty of old people in any retirement home near you, she could have just visited any of those.

Blurb

When Kiley Gray discovers an enchanting snow globe in an antique shop, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. For years, the snow globe has passed from generation to generation, somehow always landing in the hands of a person in special need of a Christmas miracle.

Kiley could use a miracle herself. This year, all she wants for Christmas is someone to love. A hopeful shake leads her on an adventure that makes a believer out of her. When Kiley shares the story of the snow globe with her best friends-two women with problems of their own-they don’t believe it. But they’re about to discover that at Christmastime, sometimes the impossible becomes possible and miracles really do come true.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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The Classics Club – Revamping the List

March 2013 I pledged to read fifty classics in three years for the Classics Club challenge. Since then I have read 30 out of 50 books, and I’ve come to realise I have lost interest in some books I initially put on my list. I decided to refresh the list a bit, removing the books I probably won’t want to read, and adding some others.

My experiences with the Classics Club challenge have been pretty fantastic so far. Although I definitely didn’t enjoy all of the books on my list (I hated Robinson Crusoe and Nana), all of them have such a rich historical tradition that I’m glad to have read them.

There are some pretty big tomes in this list (War and Peace, anyone?), so although I’m not expecting to finish the challenge anytime soon, I’m adding it to my 2015 Reading Challenges to keep things nice and tidy. You can follow my progress on that page, if you’d like (:

The last 20 books of the Classics Club challenge
  1. The Divine Comedy by Dante (895 pg)
  2. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (909 pg)
  3. Paradise Lost by John Milton (453 pg)
  4. Complete Stories by Edgar Allan Poe (1023 pg)
  5. Ulysses by James Joyce (816 pg)
  6. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (435 pg)
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen (236 pg)
  8. Villette by Charlotte Brontë (472 pg)
  9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (964 pg)
  10. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1392 pg)
  11. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (288 pg)
  12. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (329 pg)
  13. Christmas Books by Charles Dickens (383 pg)
  14. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (554 pg)
  15. The Last Man by Mary Shelley (395 pg)
  16. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (185 pg)
  17. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (228 pg)
  18. Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert (288 pg)
  19. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (528 pg)
  20. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (206 pg)

Have you read any of these classics? Do you have any reading goals for 2014?

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Graphic Novel Review: Midas Flesh, Vol. 1 by Ryan North

Title: Midas Flesh
Author: Ryan North
Series: Midas Flesh #1-8
Rating: 4 Stars

208 pages
Published December 18th 2013 by Boom! Studios
Bought

Goodreads

Summary: On one drunken night, King Midas only has one wish – to have everything he touches turn into gold. This is the catalyst of the entire earth turning into gold. Millennia later, three unlikely rebels try to salvage the gold-maker to use it as a weapon against the oppressive Federation.

What I liked:

  • Spread over eight comics, the story is highly developed. Although it progresses in a linear fashion, it didn’t feel like the usual one-act story like many comics do
  • There are plenty of twists and turns to keep everything interesting
  • The stakes are incredibly high, as is the amount of casualties
  • It has a dinosaur in a space suit. Nuf said
  • The art style is simple and clean and a joy to read
  • Diversity! One muslim girl, a dino, and a androgynous girl make up the space crew
  • Plenty of space battles and warp speeds and other science-fiction fun

What I didn’t like:

  • Although the stakes are high, I felt like there wasn’t enough time spent on the repercussions for the characters. Plenty of really bad things happen, but they don’t seem to react on that
  • The panels with the ship battles were hard for me to make sense of
  • I wish we got to know more about the Federation. Only in the first few comics we get some insights into them, but in the later ones we don’t

Verdict: A fun spin on an old genre, including some diverse and loveable characters.

Blurb

The space crew of Joey, Fatima and Cooper have decided to return to Earth—a planet completely sectioned off, abandoned, and covered in gold—to find out exactly what happened to this once thriving planet and see if they can use that knowledge against the evil empire that’s tracking them down. As luck would have it, they just landed the most powerful weapon in the universe: some ancient dead guy’s body.

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The Sunday Post #8

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

snowTHERE WAS SNOW THIS WEEK. It was wet tiny snow, but still, it was awesome. Less awesome is the fact that the heating in my apartment is absolutely terrible and I felt like an ice cube for two days straight. On the bright side, I went bargain bookshopping with my mom, and we celebrated the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaas with my boyfriend’s dad.

On the academic side of things I’m drowning in deadlines. I made quite a rigid schedule of things I have to get done in a very short amount of time. I’m very much looking forward to the end of January, when all this is (hopefully) over!

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

I decided on a more structured format for my blog: reviews on Mondays and Fridays, a non-review post on Wednesdays. So far, so good!

Read this week

sundaypostNot as much time for reading this week like I had last week! Glass Houses was a really fun intro into the Morganville Vampires series – I had some issues with the beginning, but I really enjoyed it. World War Z was quite nice as well, but again, some issues preventing me from giving it four stars. Dark Calling is part of my mission of finishing some series.

How was your week?

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