Nyx Book Reviews

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Review: Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: Down With the Shine
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Series: Standalone
Rating: 4 Stars

355 pages
Expected publication April 26th 2016 by HarperTeen
Review copy received from the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Kate Karyus Quinn not only has a fantastic imagination, but also the skills to translate that onto the page.

Everyone knows Lennie’s name. After her criminal father killed a few people during a heist and got away with it, it’s hard to just live your life; which is exactly what Lennie wants. There are more secrets in her family – including the fact that she can grant wishes. Which her uncles did not tell her. And now she has granted a dozen wishes to drunk teenagers by accident. Whoops.

I have been hooked on Quinn’s books from the moment I read (Don’t You) Forget About Me. Her stories are fantastic, nostalgic, and always resonate with me. Down With the Shine has plenty of moments that will break your heart, but overall I found the tone to be relatively light and humorous. Much of what happens is absolutely absurd and Lennie’s adventure made me think of a teen Alice in Wonderland. Granting all those wishes has led Lennie down the rabbit hole, and will she ever return to normalcy?

The author does voice very well, and Lennie was realistic and relatable throughout all the madness that is thrown her way. Down With the Shine has a cute hate/love interest and I enjoyed their permanent banter. I mention this in my reviews quite often, but no sweeping declarations of eternal love here. Just two teenagers having a crush on each other, and both not ready to admit it yet.

My only issue with the book is that at some point it tried to tie together too many storylines. Though it never got to the point where it got confusing, I did not feel invested in all aspects of the story, most notably that related to Lennie’s father. I can’t pin-point the exact reason I did not care for that part. Maybe it was one step too far? Maybe that storyline was not set up enough? It wasn’t a large issue, but it did temper my excitement for this novel a bit.

Overall Down With the Shine is a great novel of wonkiness and awkward teens being awkward teens and family members that are never exactly who you expected them to be.

Blurb

There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their “important family legacy,” she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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On Silence and Stress

I originally wrote this post on Irresponsible Cactus, but decided to cross-post it here as well.

It has been over a month since I last blogged on Nyx Book Reviews. It has been over two since I last blogged on Irresponsible Cactus. One day I was here, and the next, I disappeared. Or at least, my digital presence did. I turned silent, and that silence has been pressing on me since.

I love blogging. I love reaching out with my words and my mind and to create a little slice of me that others can read and relate to. I love to entertain you, I love to interact on Twitter and meeting new people and chatting with the familiar ones. Blogging and writing have been a huge part of my life in the last six years and I would not have it any other way.

But the truth is, dear reader, that I can’t at the moment. And that makes me feel like a failure in some ways. Why can’t I just open that browser and put some words down? Even if I can’t do it every week, why not at least a few times a month? Why can’t I answer comments and post tweets, or, what weighs even more on me, answer the letters some lovely bookish friends sent me? I’ve done it before. I’ve done it for years. Why can’t I just do it now?

I can pinpoint some key moments where I started to realize that no, I was not well. I was not dealing with the stress. I was not handling it. I was not fine.

So I culled down on anything that wasn’t completely essential in my life and faced the issues that I had been suppressing, in some cases, for multiple years. Though I’m glad I did it, these last few months have been absolutely terrible. All energy I have goes into setting things right both in my mind and my life, and in trying to keep up with school. Even the smallest tasks beyond that are out of my reach. I’ve had days in which I just sat on the couch for six hours straight, doing nothing and feeling overwhelmed. Hell, I still can’t bring myself to do the dishes, even though it’s so easy and takes so little work but even that small household task feels like it’s too much. Everything takes energy, and I have none left.

On some days I feel better, and on some I slip backwards. I’ve made many changes, and one of the most important ones is that I no longer want to lie and pretend I’m doing just fine, thank you. People can’t help you if you’re not honest. I can’t help myself if I’m not honest.

So I’m here today, dear readers, to break through that silence I’ve maintained here and on my other blog. Though generally because I simply couldn’t write, it was also an embarrassed silence. It was easier to disappear than to give a reason why.

I’m here to tell you today that I’m not fine, and that’s okay.

I’m working on it.

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The Sunday Post 24/01/16

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

Hey all! I hope you’re not stuck underneath a huge pile of snow. We’ve had some cold weather here, but barely any snow at all. I love how quiet the world gets when there’s snow, so maybe (hopefully) there will be some more of it in the upcoming weeks 🙂

Last week I shared this short questionnaire about my blog. If you haven’t filled it in yet, please do! It’s been super interesting seeing the answers. Thanks so much <3

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

A while ago I read the science-fiction bestseller The Martian. Though I can see why people love it, I didn’t adore it as much as the majority. I’m also answering the second round of questions for the Rosemary and Rue readalong we’re having. The book is pretty exciting, very high-paced urban fantasy. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Read this week

You know who the best Marvel super hero is?

It’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!

She’s seriously awesome, has the best sidekicks, and cannot be beaten even by the worst baddies. Unlike all of the gritty noir comic heroes, Squirrel Girl is upbeat and funny and cartoony and full of awesomeness. This is the second volume, and though I wasn’t as blown away by it as the first, but it was still very cool.

How was your week?

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Rosemary and Rue Readalong: Week 2

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 we read up to chapter 14, and the host is Lynn from Lynn’s Books. 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. We finally get to meet Devin and Sylvester. They’ve both played important roles in Toby’s life. What were your initial impressions of both of them and the worlds in which they live. What were your first thoughts about them?

While Devin was quite the way I expected him to be – self-centered, slightly creepy yet kind of loveable, Sylvester was more… excitable than I was picturing? I think throughout the book he has been the first character to be truly happy to see Toby, and he doesn’t seem to be suspicious at all (while all the other fae character seem to be a bit off). This complicates my theory that he might be involved in Evening’s murder!

2. I’m totally intrigued by the Hope Chest – do you have any ideas about what exactly it is and what might be the significance of it being found?

I’m quite interested in the name. Is it a hope chest because it provides hope to changelings? Because fae hope it existed? Some other reason?

It does seem to be a rather powerful magical object with a bit of a mind of its own, which always makes things interesting.

3. Tybalt – I was curious as to Toby’s reasoning to trust him with the Hope Chest – what do you think?

Well, I personally would never entrust anyone I hate with something that important, but Toby didn’t really have any other choices. It would be too easy to put it with her known friends. To be honest I liked it because there was more Tybalt time. I’m not fully aboard the Tybalt-train, but we’re getting there.

4. We experience the reaction of other members of the fae to the murder of Evening and Toby telling them about the Queen’s reactions – did their reactions give you any clues at all?

Everyone deals with grief differently, and I think that counts for the fae as well. Toby’s observation that the Queen is losing her mind makes sense. I can’t say I was looking for clues though, so I have no thoughts on that 🙂

5. What were your thoughts on Raysel and Luna?

Raysel might be the only person more broken than Toby herself. I wonder what happened to Raysel and Luna while they were away for twelve years – I feel like they might have been trapped by that Simon guy, only not transformed into a fish. Luna is an awesome character, I like how she is some kind of pro gardener.

6. That ending, did we just end up back in the first post? – what is going on? Speculation?? Lets just talk about it please.

Poor Toby. Chapter fourteen makes for a fantastic cliffhanger, doesn’t it? I definitely feel like someone is going to rescue her, but I have no idea who yet.

*****

Are you reading with us?

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Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3 Stars

369 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Crown
Received as a gift

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

After a long period of going back and forth I decided that yes, I did want to give The Martian a try. Usually I am not a fan of books being limited to one person in isolation somewhere, because let’s face it, survival can be quite boring. But since The Martian was turned into quite a successful movie, and it received quite some attention from the mainstream, I put it on my wishlist.

Mark Watney is part of a mission to perform tests on Mars. Disaster strikes, and Mark is left hurt and all alone on Mars, while his team mates and everyone else in the world, for that matter, assume him dead. The next Mars-bound mission is scheduled in five years. Can he survive that long in a hostile environment?

The Martian is basically Robinson Crusoe in space without the racism. This similarity touches on what I see as the weakest aspect of the book – the fact that entirely too much time is spent on Mark’s day to day survival. He tells us about his potatoes. He tells us about his machines. He tells us more about the potatoes. What was missing for me was any psychological insight into the mind of Watney. We barely get any sense of what he actually thinks about – unless he truly does only have potatoes on his mind? That part of the story fell flat for me, and often I felt Watney’s chapters were as dry as the dusty surface of Mars.

On the bright side, The Martian comes with a healthy dose of witticisms and quips, and there are plenty of exciting life-threatening situations for Watney to overcome. Additionally, after a while additional points of view are added to the story, which makes it move along faster and breaks the possible monotony of Mark’s potato farming.

At times The Martian felt very much like a debut – the writing isn’t always as smooth as it should be, and there was a lack of psychological depth. Ultimately though, it is a fun and light-hearted science-fiction novel that appeals to a wide public.

Blurb

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

Other reviews you might be interested in

The Sunday Post 17/01/16

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

Alas, the ending is in sight! I handed in one big boy of an essay this week and will have to finish the other by Friday. And after that, my dear friends, there lies an oasis of DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for at least one whole week. There will be reading and Netflix and all the sleep. It’s going to be wonderful.

I’ve been thinking about my blogging schedule, and I might mess around with that a bit. It would mean a lot to me if you could take a minute to answer these four questions regarding my blog. They’re multiple choice, so you’ll be done in no time at all. Thanks!

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

I got The Girl from the Well from my absolutely awesome Secret Sister as a present and read most of it in a bath tub in Milan. I feel like I have a special connection with this book now, ha. And it’s a good ghost story featuring Japanese mythology, so definitely check it out!

Read this week

Kate Karyus Quinn has been on my radar ever since the fantastic (Don’t You) Forget About Me. It was one of my favourite books of 2014, so I was thrilled that HarperCollins was so kind to provide me with a review copy of her newest book, Down With the Shine. This book has quirky characters, a relatable voice, humour, and just the right amount of bleakness. Its release date is still a while off, but I recommend keeping your eyes out for this one if you enjoy young adult novels with a magic twist.

How was your week?

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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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