Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Girl from the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: The Girl from the Well #1
Rating: 3.5 Stars

304 pages
Published May 1st 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire
Received as a gift

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Horror books in the YA genre often seem to be a rather flimsy excuse for smooching in dark corners rather than providing actual scares. The Girl from the Well does not fit this picture at all, featuring no romance to speak of and scenes reminiscent of popular horror movies like The Ring.

Okiku is a vengeful spirit. She is compelled to hunt those who have killed children, giving them their deserved horrible death. She has subsided in this manner for centuries, but when she notices a boy with strange tattoos, the monotony of her existence is shaken up.

Interestingly, The Girl from the Well is mostly told from Okiku’s point of view, yet the focus of the story is not Okiku herself but rather Tark and his cousin Callie. Tark’s story is slowly revealed while Okiku observes the humans, seldom interfering herself. In a way, this was rather unsatisfactory – there is little room for emotional depth because Okiku only observes actions. The reader is constantly reminded of a distance between themselves and the characters. Additionally, I would have loved to learn more about Okiku and her past. Many readers aren’t very enarmoured with flashbacks, but I think in this case more insights into her past would have strengthened the narrative.

The upside of Okiku’s point of view is that The Girl from the Well is written in a highly visual manner. Combined with a subject matter – Japanese mythology – that is relatively in the public conciousness through horror movies such as The Ring, the book provides some very hauntingly familiar images.

Very creepy though ultimately never truly scary because of the distance between the reader and the characters, The Girl from the Well is a short but enjoyable read. Especially its basis in Japanese folklore makes the novel worthwhile.

Blurb

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

Other reviews you might be interested in

The Sunday Post 10/01/16

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

Hello dear readers! I hope you are all well and that you have enjoyed the last few weeks. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get back into the day to day routine. I’m currently finishing up an essay and trying to come up with a thesis proposal. Right now I’m considering doing my thesis on the penny dreadfuls, little books about vampires and murder and mayhem from the nineteenth century.

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

The last book in the Parasitology trilogy, Chimera, is a worthy conclusion to a lovely science-fiction trilogy. Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire, whose book Rosemary and Rue we are reading with a bunch of people over at SF/F Read Alongs. It’s not too late to join, should you be interested.

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

With a new year comes a whole slew of resolutions. This week I’m talking about why I don’t make any resolutions at the start of January.

Read this week

sunday post 100116I got these two graphic novels for Christmas, and I read them immediately. The art style is very minimalist, which isn’t my personal favourite, but it does fit the theme and aesthetic of the series. I also like that the story is completely finished after three volumes, rather than going on forever.

How was your week?

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Rosemary & Rue Readalong: Week 1

Together with a bunch of awesome ladies, we are reading Seanan McGuire’s Rosemary and Rue. Every week we will discuss a few chapters based on some questions. This week’s host is Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. To find out more about SF/F Read Alongs or to join, check out our Goodreads group. Or, learn more about the book we are currently reading.

rosemary_and_rue_read_along

1. So, first impressions time! What do you think of the book setup, first of all? Setting, magic system, Faerie in general?

The book starts off on such a bittersweet and sad note, I immediately had to read more and see if things ever got better for Toby. Somehow I completely missed that this book was about fae, so all of the different courts and Changelings and magic came a bit as a surprise. Overall, it’s not too hard to keep track of all the elements of the worldbuilding, but I can’t say I feel like I truly *know* the world or the magic system yet.

2. Now let’s take Toby Daye herself. We get to see some of how she’s grown up and how she fits in, or doesn’t, in the modern world as it is post-fish. What are your initial thoughts on her?

Hahaha, post-fish. I have to say, having the main character stuck as a fish for fourteen years is a nice change from the boring old amnesia-plot. I feel so sad for Toby. She only had the best intentions, but now she only lives half a life because of what happened to her. I’m looking forward to her finding a place where she belongs.

3. We have yet to properly meet certain characters (Devin and Sylvester), though we’ve gotten brief intros to others (Tybalt and the Queen of the Mists)… Who stands out for you among these secondary characters, and why?

The brief time we spend around fae characters such as Tybalt and the Queen intrigue me. On one hand these characters seem to be quite human, but their interactions are based on different rules than human ones. I have the feeling that Tybalt might become more of an ally than an enemy as the series progresses, but I could be wrong.

4. Toby has a murder mystery to solve. Any initial thoughts on the whodunit?

It’s still very early on, and we’ve barely had any clues as to what happened. My first hunch would be that the killer is a character that has not yet been introduced. Or one that has so far stayed in the background. Maybe it’s Sylvester? Who knows 😀

*****

So far, I’ve been really enjoying Rosemary and Rue. I’m looking forward to next week’s reading!

Have you read Rosemary and Rue?

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Review: Chimera by Mira Grant

Title: Chimera
Author: Mira Grant
Series: Paraistology #3
Rating: 4 Stars

488 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Orbit
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Mira Grant – of Feed fame – has finished another wonderful science-fiction trilogy, proving again that she knows how to write good endings.

In the final Parasitology book, the tapeworms are spreading. Countless people are getting infected and turned into mindless husks, incapable of complex thought, ruled by their instincts. It is up to Sal and her friends to save the world – but the world doesn’t seem to want to be saved.

An issue that is incredibly prevalent in science-fiction is a lack of character growth and development. More often than not, sci-fi characters are mere sock-puppets, mouth-pieces for the author to express a certain message. Grant (the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire) takes a solid science-based concept, and combines it with characters that feel real.

At the core of the Parasitology trilogy lies the story of Sal coming into herself. She is the focus of the books, and Chimera shows the final part of her journey into accepting what and who she is, and finding her place in a broken world. Because so much careful attention is spent on Sal’s development, I felt that some other characters were done a bit short. I would have loved to read more from the points of view of other key characters – the short pieces of autobiographical writing at the start of chapters provided a welcome insight into their minds, but I was left wanting to know more.

Like all the other books I have read by Grant, the science in the Parasitology novels is sound. The fact that a character like Sal takes the spotlight does not mean that Grant lets the worldbuilding slide. Chimera is well researched, though the subject matter – parasites! tape worms! – might put people off from reading these books.

Chimera answers all of the questions raised throughout the trilogy in a satisfactory manner, and has all the elements I look for in a science-fiction. Grant has yet to disappoint me in anything she writes.

Blurb

The outbreak has spread, tearing apart the foundations of society, as implanted tapeworms have turned their human hosts into a seemingly mindless mob.

Sal and her family are trapped between bad and worse, and must find a way to compromise between the two sides of their nature before the battle becomes large enough to destroy humanity, and everything that humanity has built…including the chimera.

The broken doors are closing. Can Sal make it home?

Other reviews you might be interested in
Other books in this series
  1. Parasite
  2. Symbiont
  3. Chimera

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Happy New Year! & 2015 Wrap Up

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All the best wishes for 2016! 😀

I hope you all had a nice holiday season, whether you celebrated Christmas or not. New year’s day is always a nice moment for looking at what has come before, but also at what is still yet to come.

2015 was not an easy year for me on the personal front. It was the year I struggled to finish my bachelor’s thesis, started at a new university, and had to fight to keep up. Though I love my blog, and finally found a good flexible schedule, I lost the energy to do anything but study and sleep. It wasn’t all bad though – 2015 saw a huge amount of travel. Within the year I went to London, Bruges, Paris, AND Milan, and we visited the Rock am Ring festival. I love to travel, and it has been fantastic to have the freedom to actually roam around Europe like this.

For the upcoming few months, life will have to wait, or at least take a back seat. If all goes well, I will graduate in July, receiving my MA in Culture History. After that, I’ll have to take the last step towards full maturity – finding a job! In many ways, 2016 will be a venture into the unknown, but after years of following a rather exact plan, I enjoy that insecurity. Many adventures are to be had!

2015 in numbers

Books Read: 111
Pages Read: 30556
Average Pages a Book: 275
Most Books Read by One Author: 8 (I read eight books both by Hiromu Arakawa and Tsugumi Ohba)
Books Reviewed: 85 (77% of books read)

Blog Posts: 144 (one blog post every 2,5 day)
Total Page Views: 1114511
Unique Visits: 332209
Most Views in a Month: 147888 in July

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My Bookish Christmas Wishlist

Christmas is around the corner, and as always, I am sharing a part of my wishlist. I asked for quite some books this year, but I tried to put some variety in my list by asking for non-fiction and graphic novel titles as well. All of these look amazing!

This post is part of a Christmas tradition here on Nyx Book Reviews. You can also check out my lists for 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

Graphic novels

graphic novel

Non fiction books

non fiction christmas

Fiction books

fiction books christmas

Have you read any of these books? What books are on your wishlist?

PS. This is the last post that will appear on Nyx Book Reviews in 2015. I hope you all have lovely holidays, and I am looking forward to seeing you all again in the new year!

 

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The Sunday Post 13/12/15

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

Greetings, fellow book worms! The Christmas season is within reach, but before that, I have one last week of deadlines. The last deadline is upcoming Friday – and on Saturday, I am getting on a plane to Milan, Italy!

I’m dreadfully afraid of flying, but I’ll be glad I’ve done it when we get there and we can have Italian coffee and eat all the fantastic food and see what Milan has to offer. As always, I will take plenty of pictures and write up a travel post for on Irresponsible Cactus. I have one more post for Nyx Book Reviews coming up this week, and then I’ll be taking a little break to travel and spend time with my family on Christmas. I hope you guys are having a great week, and that the holidays rush isn’t too hard on you!

Picture of the week on Instagram

Selfie with my partner in crime. She’s so fabulous #dogsofinstagram

A picture by Celine (@celinelien) on

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

I reviewed The Silver Witch this week as part of a book tour. If witchery and time travel and twin story lines are your thing, check it out! Secondly, I wrote a letter to my Secret Sister, which I am sharing with all of you 🙂

How was your week?

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Open Letter to my Secret Sister

secret-sister-project

If you’re on Twitter a lot, you might have seen the #otspsecretsister hashtag been thrown around on there. On the Same Page: Secret Sister is a wonderful six-month event hosted by Brittany, Amy, and Alyssa, in which people send others presents and notes of encouragement. If you want to know more about the nitty and gritty of it, check out the FAQ post.

The project has been going on for a few months now, and while I occasionally tweet about my Secret Sister, I thought it would be nice to blog about my thoughts on this project. One warning: I’m severely sleep deprived at the moment, so if I get weird and rambly, please bear with me 🙂

Dear Secret Sister,

Or, as you introduced yourself to me, dear Luna. You first sent me a letter of introduction, and I loved it immediately. It was full of Harry Potter references, and it put a smile on my face. To this day I do not know exactly who you are – you never gave any hints as to your identity, only that we hadn’t known each other before the Secret Sister.

Throughout these last few months you sent me cards, letters, and presents. People that know me very well know that I LOVE receiving presents. Seriously, Christmas and my birthday might be my favourite days of the year, because I just love that feeling that people thought of me, and are giving me something to show that appreciation. A present doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s the thoughtfulness that counts. And you absolutely nailed it. Not only did you get me the coolest stuff, you also made me writing prompts. I’m sure it took quite some work, and it’s just so perfect and sweet.

Additionally, your cards are absolutely spot-on. I put them on my desk, so when I need some encouragement, I can look at them. Especially the “Good luck & don’t feck it up” card is highly effective. I’m doing my best not do feck anything up.

Sometimes I feel like I complain too much about how difficult getting my master’s has been, but it does completely dominate my life right now. I barely sleep, I constantly have more things that need to be done, articles that need to be read, essays to be written, presentations to be prepared for. I’ve barely had a break since… god. I probably haven’t had a proper break since last Christmas. I’m run down, and I’m tired as fuck. But there isn’t anything to do except bite the bullet, ride it out, and hope I come out in one piece. So things have been tough lately. I haven’t been in the mood to do anything. I’ve barely read, blogged even less.

But your letters and packages have made my day happier and maybe a little bit easier every single time. And I have troubles expressing how much I appreciate how thankful I am for that, and for how lucky I feel that you are my Secret Sister. You always manage to have perfect timing – whenever I am feeling particularly down, there is a little something waiting for me. It’s uncanny, and it’s awesome.

Maybe I’m being ridiculous or overly sentimental right now, but I’m very thankful for everything you did for me these last few months. I hope we can get to know each other better, and I’m very curious to find out your very secret identity some day 🙂

Lots of love,

Celine

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Review: The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

Title: The Silver Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3 Stars

320 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A magical tale which weaves through the lives of two women, one in the past and one in the present.

It has been one year since Tilda lost her husband, and she moves into the cottage in rural Wales they bought together. She has always been afraid of the water, but the lake near the cottage has a mysterious draw on her. As time passes, she starts having visions of a different time, featuring Seren, a Celtic witch.

Bringing together two story lines, one in a past time and one contemporary is a technique that is used by many authors, but often it is hard to create a plausible connection between the two. The Silver Witch handles this very well, letting the two plot lines converge slowly.

If I had to describe The Silver Witch in three words, they would be: whimsical, delicate, and mysterious. Inherent in these words is the fact that nothing is rushed – that would break the spell Brackston is trying to weave here. Although I enjoyed the slowly unfolding of the plots and connections, at times I felt there wasn’t enough to keep me fully engaged in the story. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Brackston writes in an adjective-heavy style, which grinds on my nerves after a while. The book has many lovely and haunting moments, but, especially in the beginning of the book, there are too few.

The Silver Witch is a haunting read drenched in Welsh countryside and Celtic history; recommended for lovers of magic realism.

Blurb

A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.

On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.

In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.

Other reviews you might be interested in

Silver witch banner

Click the image to find other blogs participating in the blog tour!

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The Sunday Post 05/12/15

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

If these week should be turned in a book title, it would be called Celine and the Return of the Reader. Because after an absolutely dreadful reading month in November (only three books! the horror!) I am enjoying books again! Not only did I finish The Martian, a book I’ve been reading for almost two months, I am also very much into the last Parasitology book, Chimera. Hurray!

In the non-bookish world, I am getting in the Christmas spirit! I’ve put up my meagre collection of Christmas decorations, which made me realize I totally need more lights and shininess to brighten my apartment. Luckily for me I still have a few more weeks.

Picture of the week on Instagram

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

Just the one post this week due to my impromptu break, but it’s a good one! The Owl Killers is a fantastically researched and interesting historical novel. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Read this week

The Martian might be the most popular science-fiction book out there right now. It has been lauded by both critics and readers, and everyone seems to love it.

But not me.

Dun dun duunnnnn.

Okay, I’m totally being dramatic here because I did quite enjoy The Martian. The book had the potential of being quite depressing, but the humour made it a fun experience. On the other hand I do think the book had plenty of issues – Weir isn’t a good descriptive writer and all the technical details never came to life for me. On top of that, the secondary characters were incredibly thin, and nearly impossible to keep separate. In the end it took me a very long time to finish the book, but it did leave me with a smile.

How was your week?

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