Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

I’m on Vacation!

vacation

Hi all! Every year I take a break in summer, in order to fully relax, get some reading done, and possibly go on a trip or two without having to worry about the blog. I’m going to Paris next week (I’M SO EXCITED), so I’m taking a break to eat some croissants, amble around cobbled streets, and sniff books in Shakespeare & Company.

I will return in about two weeks – so you can expect new posts on Nyx Book Reviews on the 10th of August. Have a good summer, friends!

If you’re bored, here are some awesome posts you might not have read yet by yours truly:

Or, if you’d like to read about my travels, check out my posts on London (United Kingdom), Cologne (Germany), Stockholm (Sweden), Scheveningen (the Netherlands), Bruges (Belgium), or the music festival I recently went to.

See you soon!

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The Sunday Post #35

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

Welcome to the Sunday Post! But Celine, you might say, it’s not even near Sunday. Dear hypothetical reader, you are completely correct. It’s Wednesday evening, pretty much as far from Sunday as is possible. I didn’t feel like blogging this weekend, and in typical rebellious fashion, I just didn’t. Therefore, I’m doing this post now, basically because I can.

So – I had a nice week, filled with very little thesis writing, and a lot of watching Netflix and playing computer games. I’m almost completely caught up with Orphan Black (you can read about my first impressions over here), and I played my way through the introduction of the first Bioshock game. I’ve been taking some time for myself to just do fun things, before diving into the last thesis revisions before my deadline this August.

I also went to my very first pub quiz! We had quite a fabulous time, although I failed spectacularly in the literature-related questions (did you know Churchill won a Nobel Prize for Literature? I sure didn’t). We ended up second to last, even failing to win the consolation prize. It was a fun night.

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

Just the two reviews on the blog this week – one of the gigantic fantasy tome A Storm of Swords (my favourite Song of Ice and Fire book so far) and one of the feminist horror story The Stepford Wives.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

I’m always completely fascinated to hear what goals other people have in life, so, inspired by the blog posts of others, I too decided to share my life goals. They are actually rather modest, but hop over to the Cactus and let me know what your goals are :)

Read this week

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When I get in the reading mood, I REALLY get into the reading mood. I finished The Slippery Slope, a book part of my summer reading list, and then barely read anything for a few days. Then, in rapid succession, I finished Jane Eyre, Magic Strikes, and another Fullmetal Alchemist manga in just two days. Finally finishing Jane Eyre after a month really gave me the push I needed to get back into the groove.

How was your week?

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Review: The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

Title: The Stepford Wives
Author: Ira Levin
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3 Stars

135 pages
Published July 23rd 2002 by Perennial
Read on Scribd

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Unlike most of my reviews, this review contains hints towards the final revelation in The Stepford Wives. It’s safe to read if you know what the story is about, or if you have ever seen one of the movie adaptations.

A few years ago I wrote an essay about the movie of The Stepford Wives (2004) and how it fit in with the Pygmalion myth. To give a quick recap – Pygmalion is a character from Greek mythology who sculpted a woman and fell in love with the statue. Aphrodite, sucker as she is for a love story, turns the statue into a woman of flesh in blood. What’s most interesting about the myth is how Pygmalion has no interest in ordinary women. Only the woman he has shaped himself can he love.

Just like in the movie, the Pygmalion myth is evident in The Stepford Wives, maybe even more so. The book is more subtle than the 2004 movie, and because of that, also more uncomfortable. Even though what’s happening in Stepford isn’t all that scary in horror terms, it freaked me out.

The Stepford Wives is actually more like a longish novella rather than a full novel. The tension is well spread through the story, and I loved how everything when from creepy, to bad, to worse. Unfortunately, Levin never attended the writing class where pupils are taught “show, don’t tell”. Entire paragraphs are just summations of what the main character Joanna does; things like “she picked up the kids, made them dinner. Kate still had a cold, but hopefully tomorrow she would get better. At night, she made love to her husband, and fell asleep.” I get that these passages have some meaning. They show how time passes, how Joanna is caught up in the normalcy of her life, but dear god, who wants to read these dry pieces of day to day life like that? I sure didn’t.

Even though The Stepford Wives was written over forty years ago, its message hasn’t lost an ounce of its strength. Highly recommended for people who would like to read about a feminist’s worst nightmare.

Blurb

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town’s idyllic facade lies a terrible secret — a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Steel and Snow + Blood and Gold)

Title: A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow
Author: George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #3.1
Rating: 4 Stars

569 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Harper Voyager
Received as a gift

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

At over 1200 pages A Storm of Swords is such a big-ass book that in some editions it has to be split in two separate books. Since I haven’t read the second part of the third book yet, this review will only reflect my thoughts on A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow.

In the wake of the battle at King’s Landing, the power balance has shifted once again. Shit’s going down in the North as well, and the Khaleesi is still collecting her army.

To be honest, if you would make a summary of the essence what happens in this book, you could probably condense it in a page or two. This is probably true for all of the Song of Ice and Fire books. Martin’s books are SLOW. They are honest to god the slowest books I’ve ever read. That being said, it’s so easy to drown in the world of Westeros. It’s like one big puppet play, set in dozens of locations, and Martin is the puppet master. His characters meet and clash, deceive or reveal, or narrowly miss each other.

I enjoy spending time in Westeros. But as I’ve said before, I don’t have the idea this story is actually going anywhere. I think the finale of the books will bring a lot of deaths, but I don’t think there will be a truly satisfying way to finish these books. There are just so many characters, and although Martin is great at culling the ranks, he adds more points of view than he removes.

As a book on itself, Steel and Snow feels unfinished and unsatisfying. It clearly isn’t meant to stand on its own, and it feels like the book ends before something big can really happen. Don’t start this one unless you have the second one near as well.

I can’t wait to read about a certain wedding everyone keeps talking about in the next one.

Title: A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold
Author: George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #3.2
Rating: 5 Stars

609 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by HarperVoyager
Received as a gift

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

It has taken a while, but Martin’s world is finally in its maturity. All of the seeds he has planted in the first two books have grown into cut-throat plots and killer conclusions. Martin’s writing style is still dry, but the trials he puts his characters through made me forget that A Storm of Swords isn’t perfect. This is the first volume of the Song of Ice and Fire series that I managed to read in little over two weeks – usually these take me at least a few months. My favourite book in the series so far.

Blurb

Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his young sisters in their power.

Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

Other reviews you might be interested in
Other books in this series
  1. A Game of Thrones
  2. A Clash of Kings
  3. A Storm of Swords
  4. A Feast for Crows
  5. A Dance with Dragons

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The Sunday Post #34

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

This past week has flown by in a blur of blogging, writing, books, and TV. I always feel vaguely adrift during summer because I don’t have a sense of different days or a schedule to adhere to. I visited my college apartment for the last time, preparing it for summer break in which I can’t tour around by train for free.

I’m terrible at just letting go and doing nothing for a while. Do you guys ever have any issues with that?

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

It feels so good to have Nyx Book Reviews back in order again. I’ve returned to my preferred posting schedule – two reviews, a feature/discussion post, and a weekly wrap up. This week I’m sharing my thoughts on two very different books, Paperweight, a YA contemporary dealing with eating disorders, and The Miniaturist, a historical novel. I also make a nice list of the books I’m hoping to read this summer in Summer Reading List.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

I’ve been watching a whole bunch of Netflix lately – one of which comes highly recommended by almost everyone. Orphan Black is fast-paced and quite fun, and this week I’m sharing some of my initial thoughts over at the Cactus.

Read this week

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Somehow I feel like I haven’t done any reading – yet I finished two novels, a manga, and a graphic novel! I would definitely call that a really good reading week. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was fantastic, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Slave to Sensation was a lot better than that horrible cover would suggest, and Fullmetal Alchemist is quickly becoming an obsession. The Goddess of Thunder was great, and quite easy to get into for someone who hasn’t really been following the Marvel universe that much.

How was your week?

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Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3 Stars

435 pages
Published July 3rd 2014 by Picador
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

There are three reasons I bought The Miniaturist. It was cheap, has a lovely cover, and has a historical setting in Amsterdam – finally a book that features my country!

I didn’t start with any particularly high expectations, because historical novels aren’t necessarily my favourite kind of books, and the average rating on Goodreads isn’t all that great either. I did quickly fall in love with the characters of The Miniaturist. I was intrigued by the home life of Nella and how she deals with being swooped away from anything she knows on the countryside and surviving in an Amsterdam she has only heard of.

The Amsterdam Ms Burton describes is fabulous. I really enjoyed the way Nella visits places I have visited in Amsterdam myself. The author really captured the feel of the bustling sixteenth century city, and I felt she did sufficient research. The element I wasn’t much enamoured with was the plot.

I feel like this book would have been much better if it had kept its focus on the Brandt household and the social struggles, rather than introducing a weird subplot featuring the miniaturist. Every time a miniature arrived, I felt like the story was slipping. There was simply nothing interesting about it. All of the miniaturist scenes felt very deus ex machina, like some divine intervention that didn’t even serve a purpose in the end.

About halfway, I lost interest in the book. The pages that so quickly turned when I started, all of a sudden became a slog. The final impression The Miniaturist has left on me is that this was a good idea, a book with great promise, but one that could have been improved if it had had a different focus. Maybe if it had paid more attention to Nella herself, or the 17th century society in Amsterdam, anything deeper really, I would have enjoyed The Miniaturist more.

Blurb

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Summer Reading List

While I’m not actually all that great at sticking to reading plans, I do love creating bookish lists. Because of school I’ve barely had any time to read, and I cannot wait to make up for the lack of reading this summer! While I’m obviously just going to read whatever I feel like, I’m going to focus on catching up with some series. I did a self-challenge for series this winter, and even though I didn’t complete it, it did give me more motivation to finish some series. I’m hoping this summer reading list will have the same effect!
summer reading list

A Series of Unfortunate Events

summer1

I love this series, and I’ve been reading and rereading parts of it since I found the first book in our library when I was nine, but I’ve never actually gotten to the last book of A Series of Unfortunate Events. For some reason I actually like reading dark and gloomy books in summer (I’m weird, I know), so these will be perfect.

Harry Potter

summer2

As I confessed in this post about my Harry Potter collection, I’ve only read the last three Harry Potter books once. My memory of them is incredibly fuzzy, so I think it’s about time I bite the bullet and reread them just to see what adult me thinks of them. Goblet of Fire is actually my favourite together with The Prisoner of Azkaban, so I’m looking forward to revisiting that one.

Giant Books

summer3

All three of these books are longer than 800 pages – and though I’m a fast reader, I definitely need some long summer days to finish these bad boys. I’ve already started in all three of these (I’m notoriously bad about reading at least seven books at the same time). I’m about halfway A Feast for Crows, but I’m in a boring chapter right now, which made me lose motivation to continue. After this one, there is only one more Song of Ice and Fire book until I’m completely caught up!

In a perfect world I would read all of these books, but in reality I would be perfectly satisfied if I read half of these this summer. I used to think I wasn’t a mood reader – but who am I kidding, I totally am!

Do you have any reading plans for this summer?

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Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

Title: Paperweight
Author: Meg Haston
Series: Standalone
Rating: 4 Stars

304 pages
Published July 7th by HarperTeen
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I initially requested Paperweight because of two reasons. One, I’m always intrigued by books concerning any kind of mental illness or disorder. Two, Paperweight is one of the very few contemporary book blurbs that doesn’t allude to a romantic subplot that I’ve seen in a while.

The death anniversary of the brother she killed is coming closer – and Stevie has it all worked out. On that day, she will die too. But then she gets sent to a treatment center by her father, making her plan a lot harder to execute.

The voice of the narrator of the story, Stevie, is very authentic. This gives the entire story a gravity and emotional impact that it might not have otherwise, but it also makes for incredibly uncomfortable reading. Stevie is being treated for an eating disorder, and her guilty, mean thoughts are displayed in full. She hates seeing fat – she hates seeing anything but skin and bone. Her own body filling out disgusts her, and eating is incredibly hard for her. Depending on what your own relationship with food is, Paperweight might make you uneasy or anxious, or its message might hit a bit too close to home.

An issue with books concerning this kind of topic is that the psychologist character is either a full-blown sadist or a flat caricature. Paperweight has a three-dimensional, sympathetic psychologist in Anna, also called Shrink by Stevie. Through glimpses of a back story, Anna is made into someone real, providing a perfect counterpoint to Stevie. Anna pushes her sometimes, and Stevie resents her for it, but she’s also professional and cares about her work. Paperweight deserves all the credit for presenting a human psychologist.

Stevie’s story of healing is a subtle one. There is no Hallmark epilogue in which everyone lives happily ever after in perfect harmony. By the end I wanted to know more about Stevie and the girls, even though the ending was quite satisfactory. Paperweight is a fantastic YA book on guilt, family, and eating disorders.

Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

Other reviews you might be interested in

The Sunday Post #33

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

This week I learnt that I do not cope very well with high temperatures. We’ve been having an exceptionally warm July in the Netherlands, with an all time high on July 1st of 38 degrees Celsius. The heat is making me lie around like a slug all day, chugging water and feeling overheated.

The good news is that I managed to write a coherent first draft of my thesis, so I’m enjoying my week of relaxation before I start the rewrites. I took this very tired selfie after printing the whole thing before handing it in. Luckily the end is in sight – and my supervisor has already told me my thesis (although not very good yet) is sufficient for graduating in August. Which means it’s certain that I’ll be able to start my master’s degree in September!

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

Will you look at me, all blogging and everything? I’m sharing all of my Harry Potter reading memories for Harry Potter Month. You should check out that post for the pretty pictures alone. I’ve also reviewed Shadowdance, the fourth book in the Darkest London historical paranormal romance series.

Read this week

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I had a decent reading week, with one manga and a mystery novel. Though the start of this Death Note volume was a bit dreary, towards the end it picked up speed again, and I’m looking forward to finding out how this series progresses towards the ending. The Whitstable Pearl Mystery is a nice cozy mystery featuring a coastal town close to Canterbury, where the annual oyster festival is disturbed by the discovery of two dead bodies. Though I had some issues with it, I quite enjoyed it.

How was your week?

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Review: Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan

Title: Shadowdance
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: Darkest London #4
Rating: 4 Stars

448 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Piatkus
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Kristen Callihan writes romance the way I like it: interesting setting (an alternate 19th century London with a touch of steampunk), interesting creatures (we got demons, shifters, and people with clockwork hearts), and interesting characters.

Mary is a Ghost in Machine, someone who has died but is given new life by being given a clockwork heart. She works for the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, and is finally given an opportunity to prove herself in the field, rather than being behind a desk all day. She is partnered with Jack, an irritable shifter.

What I enjoy in the Darkest London series is that all pairings have a different background, catering to different tastes. Shadowdance features a hate-to-love couple; not necessarily my favourite, but I was glad with how this one worked out. Enough time was spent between the characters working out their differences and getting to know the person underneath the anger/resentment.

The non-romantic plot introduces some extra lore, again expanding the Darkest London universe. The mystery of Shadowdance wasn’t my favourite of the series, mainly because I didn’t fully grasp the connection between the villain and our main characters. That being said, it was nice to see Mary kick ass; I honestly enjoyed every scene with her.

Though the Darkest London books never cross over from “great” to “awesome” for me, they’re always solid reads that keep me entertained and make me feel good on a dreary day (the first book, Firelight being the exception to this rule). I’m looking forward to the next book, Evernight, which features Holly, the awesome scientist lady.

Blurb

Once a heart is lost in shadow…

Life has been anything but kind to Mary Chase. But the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals has given her purpose. Now she’s been tasked with catching a vicious murderer dubbed the Bishop of Charing Cross. But someone is already on the case—and the last thing he relishes is a partner.

Only someone who lives in darkness can find it.

Jack Talent has been alone with his demons for many years. He never expected to have the willful Mary Chase assist him on the Bishop case. Their age-old rivalry reaches new heights—even as their desire for one another reaches a fever pitch. Though he aches to bring her close, Jack’s dark secrets are a chasm between them. With dangerous enemies closing in, Jack must find the strength to face the past…or risk losing Mary forever.

Other reviews you might be interested in
Other books in this series
  1. Firelight
  2. Moonglow
  3. Winterblaze
  4. Shadowdance
  5. Evernight
  6. Soulbound

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