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Nyx Book Reviews

I love to read and to review. My favourite genres are fantasy, horror, YA, historical, and everything paranormal.

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld, Book 11) - Kelley Armstrong

Waking the Witch is the first book that marks the final trilogy of books within the Women of the Otherworld series. Only two more books to go, and then it's all over. We've met Savannah as a little girl about five books ago, and she has grown up into a twenty-one year old woman now.

With Paige and Lucas out of town, it's finally time for Savannah's solo investigation. In a small town there have been three murders, bodies found at the same location, and there is evidence of supernatural happenings. But what's really going on, and as a young woman herself, is Savannah in danger?

If you've followed this series, by now you've been on a very long ride. You have had over five different narrators, some better than others. Some books in the series are more paranormal romance, others urban fantasy. In the later book I'm seeing that they're leaning more towards some kind of paranormal mystery genre - paranormal creatures (witches, half-demons, werewolves) trying to solve crimes that may or may not have been committed by other supes. It makes for nice stories, but I was kind of expecting more than just a decorated mystery.

The same goes for Savannah. She was a spunky kid, she was slightly evil and rebellious and had awesome magic powers that surpassed both Paige and Lucas. I was really excited to be reading about Savannah's magic, but was sorely disappointed in that respect. She only uses the most basic spells: knockback spells, unlock spells, lightballs and energy bolts... It's basically all we've already seen from Paige. She only does one cool spell in the entire book, and that made me a bit sad. I hope there is more magic action in Spell Bound

Waking the Witch is a decent paranormal mystery. It has plenty of breaking and entering, listening in on people, interrogating town people and going through suspects like cookie monster goes through cookies. It's engaging, but I didn't see the Savannah I was looking for yet except for at the very end.Waking the Witch is the only Women of the Otherworld book that ends on a cliffhanger as far as I know. Even though I've been a bit disappointed with the last books in the series that I've read, I'm still looking forward to the next one.

Welcome to Camp Slither by R.L. Stine

Welcome To Camp Slither - R.L. Stine

Welcome to Camp Slither takes a while till it gets going. The middle part was good, sufficiently scary, but the climax of the horror story was a bit too lame for me. It's probably a very scary book for people that are afraid of snakes (I'll have to keep it away from my mom) but not so much if you're not. The Horrorland part was good though, and I see some hinting to plot twist that I hope is actual hinting to a plot twist. If you know what I mean.

Until I Die by Amy Plum

Until I Die - Amy Plum

After finishing Die for Me I was very enthusiastic about revenants and this series. Until I Die didn't live up to my expectations, although it's by no means a bad book.

Kate can't handle Vincent dying, so they are both trying to find ways to stop his urge to save people. They both go on a different path, not wanting to give the other hope in case it ends up being a false lead. 

The biggest problem Until I Die had is that it's such an in-between read. It doesn't feature much of a plot, except the couple trying to work around Vincent's dying urges. Which I thought was so strange - why does Kate care that Vincent dies? The guy gets up after a day or so. If you become alive after dying, does that really count as being dead? My definition of dead is that it's something final and irreversible. Dead is dead, and they will never come back. Vincent will always come back unless he is killed by numa, but just dying to save people is his job. Kate's objections against Vincent's dying didn't ring true to me. 

People that love romance should read the Revenants series. Vincent is probably one of the most perfect book boyfriends you're going to encounter. Instead of just hanging around at home, he takes Kate to the opera, art galleries, and picnicking. Their romance is close and smoochy and filled with kisses. In this case it was a big "it's not you, it's me" kind of thing. There is nothing essentially wrong with their romance - I'm sure plenty of readers will love this. It was just too close, too clingy for me. I'm not a big romance reader anyway, so if the couple is worried about how one of them will die and the other will live for ever after five months of being in a relationship, I just shake my head. Everyone that loves a "meant to be" kind of romance, you will get your fill from Amy Plum.

We get some more insight into the world of Revenants in this book, and it basically sets the scene for the third and final book in the trilogy, If I Should Die. The book ends on a big whomper of a cliffhanger, so make sure you have part three nearby! Until I Die is a decent YA paranormal romance in the tradition ofTwilight, I'm just afraid Vincent isn't my kind of guy.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights - Richard J. Dunn, Emily Brontë

I'm so on the fence about Wuthering Heights. On one hand I loved the writing and the story, but on the other hand the story moved so slowly that I read it over a span of half a year. There was nothing that gripped me or made me continue, it's only because I've got such an expensive edition that I felt like I had to finish it.

The narrative technique in Wuthering Heights is interesting. In present day we have a conversation between the new inhabitant of the house and the housekeeper. The housekeeper tells the history of the house and the families that have occupied it. Near the end the story returns to the present day, which wraps up all story lines.

I hate Heathcliff. He didn't have a great childhood, but that didn't account at all for the cruel and terrible person he grew up to be. Some things he did were inexcusable to me, and I'm having a hard time to imagine how people can find him attractive. He's not a tortured hero, he's a villain with no redeeming qualities. Loving someone is not a redeeming quality. Just because a serial killer spoils his dog doesn't make him a good person - neither does Heathcliff's obsession with Cathy excuse anything he did. 

For me Wuthering Heights is not a story of love, but a story of destruction. It's the tale of how two families become bonded in jealousy and hate, and destroy each other from the inside out. That being said, I loved how it ended on a positive note. After so much tragedy I could use some positivity.

Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov, Craig Raine
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. "

Captured by the Highlander by Julianne MacLean

Captured by the Highlander - Julianne MacLean

Confession time: I never read straight up romance. I've been an action/fantasy kind of girl for as long as I could remember, and even when I do read something that's clearly romance-focussed, I make sure it at least has a setting that I can focus on. I pickedCaptured by the Highlander up out of curiosity. I love the Highlands, I love Scotland, and I love history. And it's good to branch out now and then, right?

Lady Amelia awakes with a bulky highlander standing over her, that has come to kill her fiancée. Instead he decides to take her for a prisoner. As his prisoner Amelia discovers a lot about her fiancée that makes her reconsider her decisions and values.

I got into Captured by the Highlander without any prejudices, ready to be entertained. At first I was. Although I found it weird how Duncan the highlander manages to cut up Amelia's clothes in the first ten pages without Amelia feeling violated in any way, I suspended my disbelief. When he grinds against her leg with his discostick twenty pages after that while she is "aroused against better judgement", I was still fine. But when they started solving their problems by having sex about half-way through the book, I got very bored and disappointed with this book.

I don't care how hot your Scottisch boyfriend/English girlfriend is. Sex doesn't make your relationship problems go away.

I found Amelia and Duncan's relationship terribly weird, especially towards the end. I was fine with them falling in lust within the space of a few days, and although I though Amelia was too stupid to live and Duncan needed a good smack in his face a few times, I was entertained and happy. But about half-way the story loses steam. The attraction between them gets resolved, and the only "hurdle" they have to overcome is one that insures them their happily ever after. There is no struggle though, nothing that wanted me to root for them. The main problem basically gets solved by changing nothing, but by the same old "oh I can live with that because I luuuurrrrve you". That's not a solution in my opinion, and I didn't think I needed to read three-hundred pages to get to that conclusion.

So, Captured by the Highlander wasn't for me. I think this story was better told in a novella-length, instead of a full length book. There just wasn't enough story to keep me entertained once the novelty wore off.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Heavily inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula'Salem's Lotfeatures the same kind of unlikely heroes and a terrifying villain.

The writer Ben Mears returns to Jerusalem's Lot where he lived as a boy to face his childhood fears and to write a book about the village. The Marsten house, situated on top of a hill at the edge of time has been empty since the last owner killed his wife and committed suicide. But there are new inhabitants now, who are even more evil than the previous ones...

There are no words for how much I love Stephen King's writing. The first books I read of him didn't grip me that much, but as my reading has matured (I read my firsts when I was about thirteen) he has rapidly become one of my favourite writers. My version of 'Salem's Lot was a hefty six-hundred pages, but after finishing I was hoping for another hundred more. Lucky for me, my edition also had tons of deleted scenes and extra stories.

'Salem's Lot is the story of a town, and in that way reminded me strongly of It. I think there are a lot of similarities between the two, both character-wise and setting-wise. Mr King has a knack for describing the inhabitants of small towns. They're all so recognisable: the men that go to the local bar for gossip, beer and burgers; the woman that has nothing better to do but to spy on her neighbours with binoculars and telephone her findings to her friends; the clever girl that wants to break free from her parents. Together they constitute the heart of the town, and once the monsters really get started and the people start dropping like flies, I felt for every single one of them.

I can totally see why Stephen King wasn't impressed byTwilight. His vampires are certainly not sparkly.

Just like Dracula'Salem's Lot has a lovely cast of heroes. We have Ben the writer, Susan the stubborn but brave girl, Matt the teacher, Jimmy the doctor, Father Callahan the drunk priest and Mark, a kid that has more balls than many grown-ups. They're all lovely, and I especially appreciated Mark's point of view. He is a child through and through, but with such a vigour and courage. 

I'm having a hard time doing this book justice. 'Salem's Lot is one of the best vampire books I ever read. If you're a fan ofDracula, read this.

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

Frostbitten - Kelley Armstrong

Frostbitten is narrated by fan-favourite main character Elena, the only female werewolf in the Women of the Otherworld world. Sadly, except for the first Elena-book Bitten, I haven't been very impressed by the Elena books.

Elena and Clay travel to Alaska to look into the disappearances of several women and hikers, and to visit old fellow werewolf friends. Elena is simultaneously facing off mutts gone wild and her emotional demons after receiving a letter from her former sexual abuser. 

I think the main reason I don't enjoy Elena's books that much is because of everything about her and her personality. I don't very much like her relationship with Clay - I like him well enough, but they tire me. I don't like that she's the only female werewolf in the world, because I feel like that's a bit illogical. All the werewolf men either want to fuck her (if necessary, rape her) or kill her. 

In Frostbitten Elena works through her traumatic past where she apparently has been abused sexually by multiple foster fathers and brothers. I completely get that abuse in foster families happens, but I did find it a bit over the top that Elena was abused by big masses of brothers and fathers that all wanted to have sex with her. It seems like every men she meets has want-to-hump-Elena syndrome - even her friend Nick french-kisses her every time he can get away with it. Her dealing with it was only so-so done in my opinion, it was all a bit clichéd. 

The story has the same thriller-like quality most of the Women of the Otherworld books feature, and this one introduces yet another type of supes. I quite liked them (I'm being vague on purpose - the identity of the supes is a plot-point). The plot was engaging, and as this book was shorter than the last few books in the series it moved at a higher pace. 

I'm looking forward to the next book, Waking the Witch. It'll feature Savannah, the witch/sorcerer kid we've met in the books featuring Paige. I like witchery magic better than werewolves in general, and I hope Waking the Witch will be back on the level I'm used to from Kelley Armstrong.

The Twits by Roald Dahl

The Twits - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Oh, I love The Twits. When rereading I can still remember how I felt reading this lovely disgusting book when I was a little girl of seven. I knew my mum loved Roald Dahl books, and The Twitswas one of the first ones I read because it's so thin. It's a bit younger than The BFG and Mathilda are, but this book still makes me smile like an idiot.

Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus

Praise of Folly - Desiderius Erasmus, Betty Radice, A.H.T. Levi

Praise of Folly was written by Erasmus when he was ill for a few days. It got a bit tweaked and published, even though Erasmus himself thought it wasn't very good.

Yet Praise of Folly sparked a literary revolution with its commentary on medieval values and more modern view of society. The whole novel is a satire written from the viewpoint of Folly itself. At first she praises herself and argues that she is revered by thousands of people, often without them even knowing it. After the initial chapters, she talks about the different kinds of fools, including but not limited to women, aristocracy, philosophers, scholars...

I read this book in Dutch, as Erasmus himself was a Dutch person even though he wrote Praise of Folly in Latin. I haven't had this hard a time to get through a book in ages. I'm not sure what the problem is - maybe it's the subject matter. I had a hard time caring for Folly's ideas and the constant grating on one part of society or another. All philosophers are fools. We get it, Erasmus.

I can see why this book was important in its time, but I think it's almost unreadable unless you're familiar with the entire Bible and with everything that has been written in Antiquity. I'm not, so sadly all of his metaphors completely went over my head.

George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

George's Marvellous Medicine - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

This is the first time I read this book, and I love the humour Dahl has in his children's books. He stays very close to a child's perception. I can't count the times I made witch brews out of the most random things (usually I was sent outside to make them so I wouldn't make a mess). It would have leaves and grass and rocks and branches and if a fly fell into it, that was even better. The drawings by Mr Blake are just perfect. George's Marvelous Medicine is still very enjoyable over twenty years after it was first published.

Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

I liked this book.

The Cuckoo's Calling is a for me thoroughly British mystery. In my rather limited experience with the mystery and crime genres, I associate these kind of quiet, meandering kind of mysteries to British television (like Midsomer Murders) while the flashy action based ones seem American to me (like CSI). I might be completely prejudiced, but I do think the Midsomer Murders analogy works good for The Cuckoo's Calling. All the actual detective work is done by having conversations, instead of "doing" things.

Cormoran Strike is an ex-military with only one leg, trying to make ends meet by being a private detective. When the brother of one of his high school mates asks him to look into the death of his adopted sister, a well-known model, he agrees. Together with his temp assistant Robin he tries to unravel why Lula ended up falling from her balcony on a cold winter night.

In an interview with Ms Rowling about The Casual Vacancy she showed a profound interesting into delving into the workings of human nature. In my opinion characterisation is the main thread that follows through all of her works - but Harry Potter and adult books. Through internal monologue and actions she tries to make these characters real. All of the characters do what they do for a reason - all the motivations are true to their specific nature. This also means that plenty of Rowling's characters are very unpolished and sometimes weird. Humanity is sometimes very unpolished and weird.

I agree with other reviewers that The Cuckoo's Calling doesn't make a huge impact. It hasn't got the mind-blowing climax that other novels have, but I didn't mind that it didn't. After readingThe Casual Vacancy I thought to myself, "I wish she would write a mystery novel - she'd be great for that". I got my wish, and I loved immersing myself into Rowling's writing trying to unravel this mystery along with Strike. I'm thrilled that the next book in the Cormoran Strike series is already scheduled, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Your Brother's Blood - David Towsey 3.5 StarsYour Brother's Blood might feature zombies (called the Walkin') but it's not a zombie novel in the traditional sense. It's an ambitious debut, mashing up Western elements with a literary background into a readable adventure novel.Thomas should be dead. Yet he can walk, think, talk... He has become one of the Walkin', the abominations against God his pastor has always warned him about. Meanwhile in the village of Barkley, the wife and daughter he left behind are in constant danger because of his existence. I think what Mr Towsey is trying to accomplish in his debut is admirable. He truly has created an innovative and new world, which he furnished with believable and loveable characters. I liked the way he handled the Walkin', the way he incorporated a dysfunctional town crippled by a fanatic religion that doesn't even allow any written word except the Good Book. The story is engaging, and I felt for plenty of his characters.That being said, I do think Mr Towsey might have tried to put too much in his book. The main plot is sometimes drowned out by side plots and the main action loses speed because of it. Moments that are supposed to be branded in our brain lose their urgency because of the at places staccato writing. Your Brother's Blood is clearly well thought-out, but not everything the author has intended with his book will reach the reader because of what I think is simply lack of experience.Your Brother's Blood is highly original and has a lot of heart, but does suffer from being this author's first book. It does make me very curious for his next writing though, David Towsey is an author I will make sure to watch the upcoming years.


Sick - Tom Leveen Action-packed and brutal, Sick is the archetype of young-adult zombie fiction with an intelligent background.What would you do when one of your schoolmates all of a sudden starts nomming your drama teacher? The world has turned upside down for Brian and his friends, when an infection gets on the loose inside their fenced-in school. It turns innocent drama geeks into hunched-over monsters with no concern for their own safety, and Brian is stuck in the middle, his sister and girlfriend on campus somewhere.When you've read one zombie book set in a high-school, you kind of know the drill. The kids can't rely on teachers (since they are usually the first to go down) and hole up somewhere, and eventually try to fight their way out, maybe trying to save some loved ones in the mean time. When the book is also suspenseful, you've got your standard zombie book. It takes originality and heart to make the book good, and Sick delivered that.Apart from the zombies in Mira Grant's Newsflesh series, I haven't come across a believable explanation for zombie-ism. Sick provides an interesting new angle - instead of zombies being the walking dead, they're humans in so much pain that they don't act as humans any more. Once the human is dead, the zombie won't get up. The monsters are still human, and I loved how Brian still sees them as human. It brought along a whole set of emotions for him; are you allowed to kill another human being to save your own life? This is usually glossed over in zombie fiction, where they see zombies as essentially dead humans, with no chance of rescuing them.Brian is of course part of the leaders of a small survivors pack. The power dynamics were quite realistic, but weren't much of interest to me. Neither was the discussion whether or not the army was coming. Everything from the extremely locked up school to that kind of political struggles are so thoroughly American and therefore alien to me that it kind of goes past me. My school had a gate that went to about your navel. It didn't have any security except for the school's assistants that also figured as concierge. There was no sneaking out, you just walked away if you wanted to skip class; the gates only closed at night. My personal experiences are so opposed from Brian's that the first few chapters didn't hook me.When disaster strikes though, I got engaged in the story of Brian looking for his sister and girlfriend. The book is the perfect length - long enough to get some feels in there, but short enough so the action isn't drawn out. Fans of zombie fiction will eat Sick up.
How to Bag a Jabberwock: A Practical Guide to Monster Huntin - Jack Union Gross and mean. I don't like reading about monsters just minding their own business and some dude chopping its wings off so it slowly and painfully bleeds to death. I'm not for hunting for sport, and How to Bag a Jabberwock is exactly that, only fantasy style.
The Scarlet Plague (Modern Voices) - Jack London;Tony Robinson (foreword) The Scarlet Plague is one of the first books in a now-saturated genre of post-apocalyptic fiction. First published in 1911, this book still has the power to make you think about what would happen if there was a plague that would wipe out the biggest part of humanity.Jack London has created a very readable novella that is interesting and easily accessible. I quite liked the story, the way an old grandfather (an original survivor of the Scarlet Plague) tells what happened sixty years ago to his grandchildren. My biggest problem with The Scarlet Plague is that I strongly disagree with Mr London's vision of the world. He believes in a scale of development, with primitive cultures at the bottom and modern Western society at the top. He assumes that after being "set back" down the ladder, mankind will go back to prehistoric forms of culture. Within two generations, even English language will have decayed into guttural groans. In my opinion this would take a LOT longer. I believe that children are formed by the education of their parents, so after two generations with their grandfather still alive, I think they'll speak English just fine. After a while their dialect might evolve into some other language, but it's completely unbelievable for me that American people would turn into "savages" so quickly.Anthropological issues aside, once the narrative turned to the final weeks of modern life, I was very engaged. The Scarlet Plague is a short read, and was perfect on a train ride home.