Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

Review: Death of a Saint by Lily Herne

Title: Death of a Saint
Author: Lily Herne
Series: Mall Rats #2
Rating: 4 Stars

346 pages
Published October 17th 2013 by Much-in-Little
Review copy provided by the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Death of a Saint is the second book in the Mall Rats series by a South-African mother-daughter writing team. Except for being original by writing about a non-US/European setting, they also manage to innovate the zombie genre by having realistic characters.

The Mall Rats are not very loved in the enclave, and decide to find out what happened to the people outside of Cape Town. Within the group secrets are tearing them apart.

For the major part of the book Lele, Ash, Saint and Ginger are on the road. It reads like any other road trip novel to be honest. I’m not really a fan of road trip stories, the constant moving around is pretty boring. Luckily there is intrigue aplenty, as many of the characters are holding secrets. During their travels a few new characters are introduced, which seem to be here to stay. It was interesting to see more of the zombie-infested South-Africa Ms Herne created.

What I like most about these books is that the characters are more diverse than they are in most YA books. There are plenty of black characters, white characters, gay characters, old, young… In the YA genre most books are completely white-washed, and is the gay character doomed to be the stereotypical gay best friend. Saint, the lesbian character, just has so much more to offer than just her being a lesbian. Not in the least the fact that she can kick some serious butts.

Though I love the diverse characters, I’m afraid the writing didn’t always live up to that. Death of a Saint is written from the dual perspectives of Lele and Saint, but their chapters sounded exactly the same. So truly the same that I would have to skim back to see who was speaking. I wasn’t expecting their internal monologue to be this similar. The only difference I could discern was that Lele had some inner whining about Ashe, and Saint’s thoughts were more balanced. But I think this dual perspective could have been done better. Saint and Lele in the story aren’t the same person, so their thoughts shouldn’t sound so similar either.

Death of a Saint was very much a middle book. It’s interesting in itself, but you get the feeling that it’s a book needed to explain the running up to the third book. It ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. I still really enjoyed the character dynamics (oh and how I love that the main character doesn’t seem to be stuck with a “true love”, but has a normal love life for once). One of the high points of the book for me if when Ginger adopts a baby hyena. I can’t wait to read The Army of the Lost to find out more, because that one promises to be pretty epic.

Blurb

Some secrets are so unthinkable you can’t even admit them to yourself…

Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint – aka the Mall Rats – are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area of Cape Town, now swarming with the living dead. Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, the Rats face a stark choice: return and risk capture – or leave Cape Town and go in search of other survivors.But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-riddled wasteland?

Now Lele has discovered the truth about why the lurching dead leave them alone, she can’t bring herself to tell the rest of the gang. And she’s not the only Mall Rat harbouring a dangerous secret… Can the friends’ survive on the road if all they have is each other? Or will their secrets tear them apart?

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Nyx Weekly #3

NyxWeeklyOn the blog:
In life:

Have been unpacking boxes all week, but the apartment is shaping up to be amazing. It already looks really good, and once the finishing touches are done I’ll make sure to post some pictures (:

I’ve also been having some super annoying bouts of dizziness all week, even though I’ve been super careful not to over-exert myself. Maybe it’s just a tad of the flu annoying my immune system. Hopefully next week will be better.

New Books:
  • City of Dragons by Robin Hobb – Bought. Went to a small second-hand book store just a few streets from my new apartment, and it’s so cool! They have tons of books for a super low price. Found this copy of Robin Hobb for only €1,50 (around $2), still in perfect condition

Song of the week:

Bit of cuteness:

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Now & Then

nowandthen
I saw this really cool feature on Say It With Books where you look back and compare stuff. I kind of changed the questions to make them a bit more bookish orientated. It’s pretty fun to think back about what changed throughout these five years. Especially my amount of books kinda grew exponentially…

Favourite author
  • Then: Terry Goodkind, Darren Shan
  • Now: Mira Grant, Karen Marie Moning, Charlaine Harris
Reading style
  • Then: Occasional
  • Now: Obsessive
Amount of books owned
  • Then: Around 50
  • Now: Around 500
Time spending
  • Then: Gaming with friends, hanging out
  • Now: Frantic reading, watching TV, blogging, gaming and trying to have a social life
Study style
  • Then: Studying? What studying?
  • Now: Trying to keep up with everything as structural as possible
Favorite shows
  • Then: Friends, Gilmore Girls, Fringe, Being Erica
  • Now: New Girl, Game of Thrones, Friends, Heroes
Favorite bands
  • Then: Billy Talent, Three Days Grace, Bullet For My Valentine, Linkin Park
  • Now: Billy Talent, Biffy Clyro, The Pretty Reckless, Bring Me The Horizon

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Review: Bellman and Black by Diana Setterfield

Title: Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story
Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: None
Rating: 3 Stars

340 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Orion
Review copy received from Netgalley

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Contrary to what the subtitle might make you want to believe, there are very little ghost story elements in Bellman and Black. Many people have been disappointed with this book because they loved the other book by this author. I haven’t read her other book, so I went into the book without any expectations.

The story follows the life of William Bellman, a boy that kills a rook when he was young. Apart from William’s life, there is barely any plot.

I have the vague impression that I’ve either (1) completely missed the point of the book or (2) the point was so terribly done that that what I got was all that there was. I think I understand what Ms Setterfield was going for. Bellman and Black tries to be a haunting book about a boy whose life is set in stone after one action. Instead we read a meandering tale about one man that goes through life, does things, with some random dude that pops up once in a while doing absolutely nothing.

Rooks are a huge part of the story, and the author tries to convince us of the awesomeness and cleverness of them. To be honest I don’t give a flying Frisbee about birds. The tiny chapters describing the (made up) history of rooks felt forced and admittedly pretty dull.

William is a business man. First he works in a mill where textile is made and dyed, and after a while he becomes manager of the mill and spreads his empire. Huge parts of the book (almost all of it) deals with William doing businessy things. It describes how he treats the employees, how he goes around his note keeping, how he barely spends any time at home… Again, almost no plot here.

I honestly don’t know what to make of Bellman and Black. The writing is easy and nice, which is probably the only reason I managed to finish the book. It wasn’t even a bad book, just a rather pointless one.

Blurb

Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who “could go to the good or the bad.” And indeed, although William Bellman’s life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife’s fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called “Bellman & Black”…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Graphic Novel Review: Artemis Fowl #1 by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Title: Artemis Fowl
Authors: Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
Series: Artemis Fowl #1
Rating: 4 Stars

125 pages
October 2nd 2007 by Hyperion
Library

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Summary: Based on the children’s book (or YA?) Artemis Fowl, this graphic novel follows a child genius trying to kidnap a fairy for ransom.

What I liked:
- I used to absolutely love the Artemis Fowl books, and read them all when I was about nine or ten. Since that’s quite a while ago now, I had mostly forgotten about the details of the story and it was lovely to revisit my childhood hero (who doesn’t want to be an extremely intelligent criminal mastermind?)
- This graphic novel doesn’t seem to pre-suppose any knowledge of the Artemis world. Though it might be a bit overwhelming without knowing anything about it, it’s easy to follow the story without having read the book
- It’s so much fun to finally see what all the characters look like!
- The art is very intricate and requested quite some attention. After the minimalistic art of Sin City this was a bit of a shock, but not necessarily a bad one
- Throughout the book there were pages with “files” where the characters get some background and other world-specific objects are explained – perfect for first-time readers

What I didn’t like:
- The troll! What the hell was that? That doesn’t look like a troll to me
- It was hard to distinguish the fairies when they were all wearing the same uniform
- It might just have been my edition, but the drawings sometimes got really tiny, and my crappy eyes had a hard time seeming all the details

Rant time:
There have been some reviews on Goodreads stating how shocked they are at how sexualised Holly is portrayed. At this, I can only react with “WHAT?!”. Holly is a full grown fairy woman, she is not a girl. We have to keep this in mind. The entire discussion was sparked by the fact that she wears a tank top and short shorts to bed, and the fact that she’s clearly naked in the shower. Well, I’m sorry, but how do you shower? In your two-piece? We don’t even see any body in the shower panel, only her face and the top of her shoulders. We don’t even see a silhouette or anything that could be considered sexy. And to be honest, even if it did, why would Holly as a character suddenly be considered less “kick ass” if she was attractive and feminine? There is nothing wrong with being sexy, and it doesn’t subtract to your credibility or your awesomeness. Just my two cents.

Verdict: Seamless adaptation of the book, a great read for old fans and new ones alike. And one hundred percent safe for children, in opposition of what some people seem to think

Blurb

In 2001, audiences first met and fell in love with a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind named Artemis Fowl. Since then, the series has sold over seven million copies in the United States alone. Now, this phenomenally successful series is being translated into a graphic novel format. Eoin Colfer has teamed up with established comic writer Andrew Donkin to adapt the text. For the first time, rabid fans will be able to see what Foaly’s tin hat looks like; discover just how “Beet” Root got his name; and of course, follow their favorite criminal mastermind as he plots and connives in action-packed, full-color panels.

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Nyx Weekly #2

NyxWeeklyOn the blog:
In life:

Still moving, ack. I have so much stuff, I had no idea! The boxes with books have multiplied and they’re now 10 boxes strong. And then I haven’t even started taking all of my kitchen stuff and office stuff and food stuff with me. I’m really looking forward to moving into my new apartment though (:

New Books:
  • The Army of the Lost by Lily Herne. Whee, part three of the Mall Rats series! My review for the second book will be posted soon (and you can read my review for the first one here). Can’t wait to see what happens next. For review by Constable & Robin.
  • Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett. Urban fantasy set in the roaring twenties? Count me in! I also have the second book in the Roaring Twenties series from Netgalley. For review by Penguin/NAL.

nyx weekly 2 book haul

Picture of the week:

insta2

Song of the week:

Bit of cuteness:

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Interview: Aidan Harte (Spira Mirabilis)

The third book in The Wave Trilogy, Spira Mirabilis, is being released today from JoFletcher books. In honour of this release, author Aidan Harte is answering some questions today, including the beautiful reader’s question asked by Bas. To find out more about Aidan and his books and art, visit his website.

harte

The Interview

Nyx Book Reviews: Hi Aidan, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews!
Aidan: Hi Celine, thanks for having me.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Dublin. Irenicon was my first book and I conceived the basic idea of a medieval town divided by a sentient river while studying sculpture in Florence. Before I started writing, I was an animator. I directed a show which appeared on Cartoon Network and BBC.

Could you describe your series, The Wave Trilogy, in one sentence?
History is a river and its water can be temporally diverted, siphoned off or dammed up but it always reaches the sea finally.

Your second book, The Warring States came out a few days ago. Was writing the sequel different from writing the first book in the series, Irenicon?
We’ve all seen movies with happy endings, and wondered what happens after The End. Irenicon ends with Rasenna overcoming its internal divisions to defeat a Concordian army. Lots of Fantasy’s empires have feet of clay, they lose one battle and crumble like badly-briefed politicians in front of Paxman. But empires die hard. The Warring States therefore begins with a change of scenery and a rewind: we’re in Concord two years before the events of Irenicon, watching a boy being sold by his mother to the Engineers’ Guild. As readers experience the brutal education that makes Torbidda into a tyrant, they start to understand Irenicon differently.

When we return to Rasenna, we discover what an ill match the City of Towers and happy endings make. Rasenna’s unity is threatened from within, as rich and poor compete for control, and without, as Concord returns stronger than ever under Torbidda’s leadership. Rasenna’s young Contessa likes to solve problems with the business end of her combat banner but that method won’t work this time. She’s pregnant and unmarried in a society where that’s scandalous. And gossip is the least of her worries because now Torbidda is fixated on killing her child.

Fantasy is an old genre, and many fantasy books have been written. How do you keep your books fresh and original?
Even when a writer takes a well-worn theme (and they’re all well-worn) a good writer will always make it their own, just to keep herself or himself entertained. There’s been lots of music composed too and yet there no shortage of new tunes. This only seems like a problem because we live in the fall out of the Post-Potter explosion, when new fantasy titles multiplying like Ebola.

This too shall pass.

It’s important to find inspiration beyond contemporary fantasy, in myth and literature, and – above all – life. Some misguided voices advise writers seeking to get published to do just the opposite, but knowing what’s trending in the genre is the job of agents and editors, and only a small part. By all means research who’s sold what after you’ve written your story, but the whole point of Fantasy is to discover new ideas. An agent looking for a book to slot into a fad is an agent you don’t want.

Do you still have time to read yourself? If so, have you read any books lately that you’d recommend?
My wife and I are currently fighting over custody of our copy of The Passage by Justin Cronin. I may have to get a court order.

You’re also a sculptor. Does your art somehow tie in with your writing, or is it completely separate?
A bit of both. I’m drawn to fantastical subject from Myth. Centaurs, minotaurs, harpies, cyclops and so on. The rendering is realistic in as far as they have an anatomical solidity, but in another way they are complexly surreal. Sounds like Fantasy, doesn’t it? I divide my year between writing and sculpting. It works because I do many drafts. The sculpting involves planning, building armatures, working with models, clay and wax, and many foundry visits. So each draft is interrupted by an unrelated activity and I return with a fresh palate. Check them out, incidentally, at Tumblr.

Nyx Book Reviews reader question: What is your favourite colour ice-cream? (Submitted by Bas – he insists on the correct word being colour, not taste)
Brown… God, that’s disgusting. Thanks Bas, you’ve ruined chocolate forever.

Thank you for answering my questions! (:
My pleasure!

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Review: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Thirteen
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #13
Rating: 4 Stars

444 pages
Published July 26th 2012 by Orbit
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thirteen (or 13) marks the end of an era. For at least a few years, there won’t be any full-length Women of the Otherworld books. I’m still hoping she will write some spin-offs in the form of a trilogy or something. I think I’m completely in denial that this actually might really be the end.

I have had a hard relationship with the last few books in this series, but Thirteen returned to that what made me fall in love with the series. Awesome characters, cute interactions, and plenty of action. I won’t try to give a summary of the plot, but it will suffice to say that shit hits the fan in Thirteen. Most notable are the parents and grandparents of our lovely half-demon supernaturals that rear up their heads. I loved the way Ms Armstrong handled these lord demons, making them scary yet somehow vaguely relateable and human.

Almost all characters make a short appearance in the book. This was done with variable success – I think some characters could have used more page time, while others could have done with some less. The book has the same length as all of the other Women of the Otherworld books, but for this kind of “letting all characters pass by” to work it should have been longer. There is a conflict between Paige and Lucas that is never fully resolved. We don’t really know what will happen to Eve and Kristoff. In itself the ending was satisfying, but I can’t help the feeling that I was expecting more from the ending of such a long series with such a big and diverse cast of characters.

There is plenty of action in Thirteen and it was one of the quickest reads I’ve had lately. Savannah finally finds some balls, and the dynamics between and inside Cabals have always been a fascination of me. The book ticked more than enough boxes to fulfil my criteria of a good book, and if it hadn’t been the last one it might have been a five-star book. But it leaves me with questions, and I know there won’t be a next book to answer them.

Having read the entire Women of the Otherworld series now, I can whole-heartedly say that I recommend them. They’re good urban-fantasy, and a few of them have been amazing. Most of them were great. A few were okay. Because of the narrator changes it gives more the impression of books set in a world, rather than one continuous narrative (like with the Sookie Stackhouse books). The ending might not have been perfect, but it was a good one. It didn’t leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, just a desperation to find more Paige, Elena, Savannah and Jaime.

Blurb

War is coming to the Otherworld. A sinister cult known as The Supernatural Liberation Movement is hell-bent on exposing the truth about supernaturals to the rest of the world. Their violent, ruthless plan has put everyone at risk: from werewolves to vampires, from witches to half-demons.

Savannah Levine – fiery and unpredictable – stands at the heart of the maelstrom. There is a new, dark magic inside her, granting her the power to summon spells of terrifying strength. But whether this magic is a gift or a curse, no one knows.

On the eve of battle, all the major players must come together in a last, desperate fight for survival – Elena and Clay; Adam and Savannah; Paige and Lucas; Jeremy and Jaime; Hope, Eve and more…They are fighting for lives.

They are fighting for their loved ones.

They are fighting for the Otherworld.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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March in Review

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

March in one sentence: A month of changes – quitting my job at the library and moving to an apartment, and pretty decent reading.

Reviews on the blog:

Graphic novel reviews:

Classics read:

Interviews/guest posts:

Reading stats:

  • 9 Books read
  • 2691 Pages read
  • Received 3 books, read 3, TBR stack stays equal

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Graphic Novel Review: Sin City #1 – The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller

Title: The Hard Goodbye
Author: Frank Miller
Series: Sin City #1
Rating: 3/5 Stars

208 pages
Published October 20th 2010 by Dark Horse
Library

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Summary: Marv lives in Sin City, a city that is run by murderers, rapists and the corrupt. He has one amazing night with a woman called Goldie, but when he wakes up she is dead. He swears revenge and goes after her killer.

What I liked:
- This graphic novel is incredibly atmospheric; the erratic black and white pen-like drawings set the scene perfectly
- The stark contrast of black and white without even the aid of greys makes the already harsh environment seem even more harsh
- Though I wasn’t expecting it, I found myself caring for Marv. And I really, really didn’t see that coming – he is NOT a good guy
- Interesting cast of characters, especially the hookers play a role in the story that I enjoyed

What I didn’t like:
- The gratious violence was too much to stomach. I can usually take violence in word form, but the torture that happens in the pages of The Hard Goodbye crossed my boundries
- It got so much that I was glad when they were just breaking bones/hitting each other in the face with guns
- The solution to the main story line was a bit weird. It seemed to come a bit out of the middle of nowhere
- Overall I’m just very conflicted about this book. On one hand, it made me feel things (huge accomplishment) but on the other hand it’s so incredibly bleak

Verdict: Extremely bleak and heart-wrenching. Only read it if you don’t mind visual violence.

Blurb

The first volume of the crime-comic megahit that introduced the now-infamous character Marv and spawned a blockbuster film returns in a newly redesigned edition, with a brand-new cover by Frank Miller – some of his first comics art in years! It’s a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. But Marv doesn’t care. There’s an angel in the room. She says her name is Goldie. A few hours later, Goldie’s dead without a mark on her perfect body, and the cops are coming before anyone but Marv could know she’s been killed. Somebody paid good money for this frame . . .

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