Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

August in Review

reviewsIn which I summarize all that has been going on on the blog this month

August in one sentence: I honestly can’t believe I’ve been back at school again for a week, the last month of the summer holidays flew by!

strandWe went to the beach in Scheveningen on Saturday

Reviews on the blog:

Old reviews re-considered:

Interviews & guest posts:

Features, memes & events:

Reading stats:

  • 9 Books read
  • 3152 Pages read
  • Received 13 books, read 6, TBR stack gains 7 books (very ARC heavy month for me, combined with a lot of fiction books for a lit course)

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Review: The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

Title: The Hot Zone
Author: Jayne Castle
Series: Rainshadow #3, Harmony #11
Rating: 3.5 Stars

352 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Piatkus Books
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Let’s start this review with a disclaimer: I have never read any of the Rainshadow books before. Neither have I read anything in the Harmony series before. Going into a series within a series blank like this usually is a terrible idea – but actually it worked out fine!

The planet of Harmony is suffused with psi-energy, a force that can be used by people with para-psychological talents. One of those people is Sedona, who can open and close gates in the Underworld, a vast network of caves left behind by Aliens. Trying to have a normal-ish life, Sedona however, ends up as guinea pig for an evil scientist, and then a Guild boss starts to show interest in her. What’s going on, and how is it all connected?

Science-fiction romance is not a genre I’m well-versed in, but as far as I can tell, The Hot Zone ticks all the boxes. We have a heroine that can take care of herself, a swoon-worthy hero, plenty of action and intruige, and an animal sidekick. I can’t say much about the world-building, not having touched the ten other Harmony books – all I can judge is the bit I’ve seen in The Hot Zone. From what I’ve seen it’s not terribly complex (or I wouldn’t have had such an easy time reading this book), but it’s functional for plenty of drama. There are many different parties including powerful Guild bosses, some kind of Society, the Arcane, and other families that hold sway in Harmony.

The atmosphere of the Rainshadow island was quite spooky. On one hand there is a mysterious Preserve, but underneath is also the Underworld, where big scary monsters live. The book is set around Halloween, and the main character lives on a cemetery, which makes the gloomy atmosphere even more appealing.

Since it’s a romance, I’ll touch upon the romance as well. It was good. Very decent romance. There was no insta-love as there was plenty of time for them to bond. There are some sexy times. They have small hurdles to conquer in their relationship, but generally everything develops smoothly (though quickly) and by the end of the book all problems are solved.

My biggest gripe with this book is the emphasis on family. I get that it’s part of how things work on Harmony – being born out of wedlock is unacceptable and marriage is super-duper important. They’re kind of obsessed with bloodlines and the abilities being passed down, and honestly, it just didn’t work for me. Just because your great-grandmother had certain genes, scientifically the chances of you resembling her that much are super tiny. Just because you’re family, it doesn’t mean you’ll be anything like the others in your family. The constant and repetitive mentioning of families just grated on my nerves.

Apart from familial issues, The Hot Zone is a pretty cool book. It’s readable, entertaining, exciting. And on top of that, it’s perfectly readable if you haven’t read any of the other books – although you probably get more out of the story if you have.

Blurb

The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island. Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret…

Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true. Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick. But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare. Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.

And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her. Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town. He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Release Day: The King by J.R. Ward

Today is the paperback release of J.R. Ward’s latest Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, The King, by Piatkus. As you all have probably noticed, I love love love this series (I even did an event thing this summer), but sadly I’m still at the fourth book! I’m really looking forward to The King though, because it returns to the couple this series started with (and, even better, one of my favourite fictional couples) Beth and Wrath.

Long live the King…After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle- with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sits heavily on his head.

As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything – and everyone- at risk.

Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it.

But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response – or the distance it creates between them. The question is, will true love win out…or tortured legacy take over?

Baby vampire stuggles! How interesting. If this blurb tickles your fancy you can check the book out on Goodreads, buy it on The Book Depository, or maybe read my post on the first BDB book, Dark Lover.

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Review: Our Broken Sky by Sarah Harian

Title: Our Broken Sky
Author: Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1.5
Rating: 3 Stars

90 pages
Published August 19th by InterMix
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This review only contains spoilers if you haven’t read The Wicked We Have Done.

Our Broken Sky tells the story of Val, who’s in the Compass Room together with Evalynn, the protagonist of The Wicked We Have Done. We see Val together with her family, in the Compass room, and a glimpse of her beyond.

Val is one of the most interesting characters in The Wicked We Have Done. She has this really tough exterior, which makes you wonder what’s beneath. She has murdered the three guys that raped her twin sister, and has spent years in prison before she’s convicted to the Compass Room. It’s nice to see the story from her point of view, and to spend some time in her head.

Our Broken Sky feels more like a collection of short stories rather than a novella. Novellas are incredibly hard to do well, and this one falls short of the format. It’s at this weird, uncomfortable pace, and skips over exactly those scenes I was most looking forward to. For example, the murder of the rapists falls outside of the scope of this book. So does her time in prison. The novella flashes through events at an incredible speed, because if it doesn’t, it would evolve into a full length book.

I would recommend Our Broken Sky for fans of the Chaos Theory series that are interested in Val. Or in some lesbian lovin, because this novella has plenty of that too. If you’re new to the series, don’t start here. Almost everything that happens in The Wicked We Have Done is described in this novella in a few pages.

Blurb

In The Wicked We Have Done, readers were introduced to Valerie Crane. But you don’t know her the way you think you do. This is her story…

Valerie has always been different from her identical twin Veda. Tattooed, fiery, and foul-mouthed, Valerie acts on instinct, getting even with anyone who wrongs her passive and sensitive sister.

At twenty-two, Veda doesn’t want to seek revenge against the three young men who raped her. As for Val…

Val never could manage her anger well.

As far as Val sees it, the Compass Room is simply a quicker way for her to die—payment for the crime she feels no guilt over. There isn’t a reason to fight, not until a girl as broken as she is reminds Val of what it’s like to hope…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Top Ten Favourite TV Shows

toptentuesdayThis feature is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read. However, since this week’s theme has a lot of books in common with last week’s top ten, I decided to do an older one: Top Ten Favourite TV Shows. In no particular order these are:

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  1. Fringe – We’re currently watching the fourth season and it’s SO GOOD. Best science-fiction TV series I’ve seen
  2. Friends – My comfort-show. I’ve watched all the episodes so many times I can practically talk along, but they’re still so funny
  3. Gilmore Girls – I want to move to Stars Hollow when I grow up
  4. Supernatural – Paranormal shows are so hard to get right, especially since Supernatural deals with characters like the Devil, Death and angels, yet they make it work
  5. Murdoch Mysteries – This Canadian historical detective is cute and funny and I love watching this
  6. Heroes – This series is really epic in scope and very engaging. I’m at season three now, and I’m sad that I’ll be over soon
  7. New Girl – I’m not really into most of the “new” comedy shows, but New Girl is the perfect combination of funny, awkward and recognisable
  8. Once Upon a Time – Faerie tales in the contemporary world! Sometimes this show is a bit too sappy for me, but I generally really enjoy it
  9. Game of Thrones – What a surprise! A fantasy lover that loves Game of Thrones. I hope this paves the way for more fantasy on television, I would love to see more of my favourite books turned into shows
  10. The Big Bang Theory – Can you believe this show is already in its eighth season? Big Bang Theory is great for short breaks of mindless geeky fun

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Review Rewind: Lord Loss by Darren Shan

The original review of this book was posted on 30/07/2010.

Title: Lord Loss
Author: Darren Shan
Series: Demonata #1
Rating: 4 Stars

224 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I love Darren Shan. I loved his vampire series (although I read the last page first, and when I saw the ending spoiled I didn’t dare to finish the book). Lord Loss is the first book in a new series about the Demonata. And I’m proud of Darren, because this is a completely new series. It doesn’t feel like Cirque du Freak at all. The only similarity is the first person narration.

This book follows Grubbitsch Grady, who likes to be called Grubbs. I immediately fell in love with the name Grubbs. Been thinking about calling my kids like that. Anyway, Grubbs’s family bears a secret. Grubbs notices his parents and sister acting weird. He knows there is something going on, and when he is shipped off to aunt Kate, he walks back home to find out what is going on. At home, he is the witness of something terrible. His dad, head chopped off. His mom, in a pool of blood. His sister, used as a puppet by a demon. Like a miracle, Grubbs escapes the slaughter. And that’s only the beginning.

This book has a warning on the back, and for the first time I really thing the book deserves the warning. This book is scary. It’s disturbing and gross. It’s amazing. This book is not childish at all. The writing style is short and simple in places, to pick up some speed, and descriptive and extensive in other places, to set the scene.

This is a quick, surprisingly dark read.

Looking back

Over the course of four years, I’ve read seven out of the ten books this series has. Although I’ve been slowly outgrowing the age category Shan writes for (which is a horror-loving upper middle grade), these books are still pretty greatI don’t know which series I like better – Demonata or Cirque du Freak; Cirque has more lovable characters, but the Demonata ones are a lot darker which I enjoy as well. I can’t wait to read the last three books in this series.

Blurb

When Grubbs Grady first encounters Lord Loss and his evil minions, he learns three things: the world is vicious, magic is possible, demons are real. He thinks that he will never again witness such a terrible night of death and darkness. He is wrong.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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You’re Cordially Invited for The Book Club That Doesn’t Read

book club laagI’ve been in two book clubs for a short amount of time – but for one others gave up quickly, and the other didn’t work out for my schedule. Book clubs are awesome. Getting together to talk about books and other things, just to rant or rave about the novels we’ve read sounds like every book lover’s dream. However, it’s hard to get a group of people together, and even harder to fit in a book to read together during a month.

So, if you’re like me and you always fail to read the books you’ve promised to read, yet you do want to have monthly chats with book lovers, join the Book Club That Doesn’t Read!

So what does that mean?

  • There will be a chat every month. We’ll find a time by using planning software so we can find a moment that works for everyone
  • The chats will be at least one hour – but if you feel like staying and talk some more that’s great
  • We’ll either use Skype or Google Hangouts. It really depends on the general consensus, I think it would be fun to do voice chat but if others aren’t comfortable with that we’ll use the text chat feature
  • We’ll talk about anything bookish! I’ll think of some themes and questions every month to break the ice, but all suggestions are welcome
  • There are no obligatory reads. Ever.
  • Everyone is welcome. Even if I don’t know you well, feel free to sign up! I’d love to meet you (:
  • It doesn’t matter what kind of books you like. Be it fantasy, YA, classics or erotica, all book lovers are invited
  • The first chat will be in early September

Does that sound good to you? Sign up using this form!

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Review Rewind: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The original review of this book was posted on 27/07/2010

Title: The Blade Itself
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #1
Rating: 4 Stars

517 pages
Published October 2009 by Gollancz
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This book follows several characters in their struggle with the hard world this story is set in. We meet Logen, aka the Bloody-Nine (he only has nine fingers left), a barbarian who doesn’t seek out trouble, but well, trouble finds him. Then there is Glokta, a cripple Inquisitioner that doesn’t do much asking, but more torturing instead. We also follow Captain Luthar in his struggle to become the winner of the annual Contest. A small role is for Mayor West, and his sister Ardee. And then, the person that connects all these people: the mysterious First of the Magi Bayaz. Also notable is his sickly assistant, Quai.

There are so many characters in this book, and at first that is rather annoying because it makes it harder to really get to know them, but as I continue reading, it struck me that this really is the strength of this book, because they actually are all interesting and have so much depth, that they indeed deserve a story of their own.

Thumbs up for Mr. Abercrombie for the highly original fantasy story he has created. It is hard to write in a genre like fantasy, where is written so much and almost everything has been done before, and still he manages to write a book that feels refreshing.

Be warned though: this book contains a lot of dark humour. If you don’t appreciate that, please don’t read this. If you can’t handle torture, don’t bother trying it. This is not for the weakly minded.

Looking back

At the time I read a lot of fantasy, and although I really enjoyed The Blade Itself, it didn’t stand out much, except maybe for its grossness. I’m quite impressed now by how much I still know about what happened in this book, and how the characters somehow became imprinted on my concious. The other two books in this series have been waiting for my attention for years, and I hope I will be able to get to them soon. Rereading the blurb and my review makes me want to continue the adventures of Logan, Glokta, and the other dozens of great characters by Abercrombie.

The scene that I remember best is when Glokta tortures someone by chopping off someone’s fingers. Ick.

Blurb

Logen Ninefingers, the infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, his friends dead and his future bleak, he could be staring at death for the last time. But it’s the dead who will offer him a final chance — someone out there still has plans for the Bloody-Nine.

Captain Jezal dan Luthar, paragon of selfishness, has little more dangerous in mind seizing glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, the army is mobilising, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would be delighted to see Jezal come home in a box. But then he hates everyone. Cutting treason out of the heart of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships — and his latest trail of corpses could lead straight to the rotten heart of government…if he can stay alive long enough to follow it…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read

toptentuesdayThis feature is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is books I’m not sure I want to read. In no particular order these are:

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  1. Rapture by Lauren Kate – I read the first three Fallen books when I just started blogging, and I’m afraid I might have outgrown them. I don’t think I’ll enjoy Rapture as much as I would have back then
  2. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick – Another series I started when it came out. Hush, Hush has gotten a pretty bad reputation as condoning rapist behaviour, and I think this series is probably ruined for me
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I’ve read and loved three Jane Austen books, but I keep putting it off to read P&P. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations?
  4. White Cat by Holly Black – The Curse Worker books come so highly recommended, but I’m afraid they might not be for me
  5. Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton – The first Anita books are great, but from here on the fans get divided. Some call this book the first departure into pure shittiness. Eek
  6. The Selection by Kiera Cass – This series has the potential to be either awesome or absolute crap
  7. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – I honestly didn’t really enjoy The Magician’s Nephew. Maybe I’m just too old to get into the Narnia thing?
  8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl is heralded to be the best book ever, but the premise doesn’t draw me in. It comes so highly recommended though, so I’m not sure what to do with this one
  9. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris – This is the last book in a 13-book long series. I already kind of know how it ends, but still, it will feel so final when I read Dead Ever After
  10. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa – This is the sequel to The Immortal Rules, which I thought was pretty good. However, I’m not really interested at all to continue the story line; it seems to me they will be walking for another 400 pages

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Review: The Army of the Lost by Lily Herne

Title: The Army of the Lost
Author: Lily Herne
Series: Mall Rats #3
Rating: 3 Stars

329 pages
Published April 17th 2014 by Much-in-Little
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

The Army of the Lost is the third book in the Mall Rats series, and marks a departure from the usual setting of the books. I’m a big fan of the series, but the elements that make these books so much fun for me were party missing from this one.

As they left Cape Town in the last book, the Mall Rats find themselves near Johannesburg in The Army of the Lost. Although there are no Resurrectionists here, and the people are relatively safe from zombies, the living conditions are terrible, and they have returned to slavery. The Mall Rats are split up, and each of them have to fight their own battles.

It’s easy for me to pin-point exactly where this book went wrong for me. Instead of the usual banter and family-like feeling we have in Deadlands and Death of a Saint, all of the main characters are separated in The Army of the Lost. Instead, a dozen new characters are introduced, and two new points of view is added to the narrative. Death of a Saint ended on quite the cliffhanger, and all I wanted was to dive into this one – and then it felt like I encountered the fictional equivalent of a brick wall. Instead of the fast-paced beginning I was expecting, I got all these different points of few, and tons of exposition because all the characters are in new environments.

I honestly couldn’t care for the inhabitants of Sandtown. Their plight is probably the worst so far, but I wasn’t interested, and all I wanted was to get the group back together and send them to Cape Town.

It took me months to get through the first part of the book. The only reason I’m still giving The Army of the Lost three stars is because the speed did pick up around halfway. It looks like we’re finally getting some answers (something that doesn’t happen often in zombie books). I’m starting to see the bigger picture, and understand now that this small detour book does have a purpose.

I’m sad that this book wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’m still invested in the fate of most of our characters (though one of them is annoying me to death). The fourth book is scheduled to come out in a few months, and I’ll try to get my little hands on that one as well.

Blurb

One of us is dead, one of us is broken, one of us will betray the others and one of us will have to sell her soul to survive . . .

Eleven years after South Africa was ravaged by the walking dead, most of Johannesburg’s survivors are forced to scratch out a living in the filth of Sandtown, an enclave in the old Sandton City mall, ruled over by a minority of rich, self-serving bureaucrats. Tommy, a bullied fourteen-year-old Sandtownite, dreams of joining the Army of the Left, a radical organisation intent on setting the city free of the dead that lurch around its walls. But fate has other plans for him . . .

Betrayed by one of their closest allies and sold to the highest bidder, Lele, Ash, Ember and Ginger – the remaining Mall Rats – find themselves sucked into the dark heart of Jozi’s twisted political system. While Ash is forced to face his traumatic past and Ginger struggles to regain his sanity, Lele goes head to head against Jozi’s most powerful manipulator – a man who has sinister plans for her. Meanwhile, left for dead on the outskirts of Jozi, Saint begins her own journey. A journey that she hopes will provide the answers to all of the Mall Rats’ unanswered questions …

Other reviews you might be interested in

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