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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.

The First Star to Fall (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1.5) - Diana Peterfreund Another wonderful short story by Diana Peterfreund. The First Star to Fall is the prequel to her upcoming book, Across a Star-Swept Sea. It features the heroine Persis, and introduces us to the part of the world she lives. This short is fulled with promise for the full-length book. It seems that Across a Star-Swept Sea will be more science-fiction than romance, and I like everything I've seen so far.
Among the Nameless Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #0.5) - Diana Peterfreund A novella set before For Darkness Shows the Stars, Among the Nameless Stars follows Kai after he runs away from the North estate. It was great to spend some time in his head, especially since he is so cold towards Elliot in the first part of For Darkness Shows the Stars. This is the Kai Elliot fell in love with, the sweet but frustrated boy that yearns for freedom. At first I wanted to give this novella a lower rating, but I found myself thinking of Kai a day after finishing this, which deserves a higher rating on it's own.Recommended for fans of For Darkness Shows the Stars. This novella is better read after the novel, so you fully grasp the world and what's going on.
A Touch of Dead - Charlaine Harris A collection of five short stories featuring Sookie Stackhouse. Very entertaining if you're a fan of the series - but it doesn't bring anything new to it if you're not. There is one featuring Amelia, one with Cataliades, one with the fairies, one with Eric and one with some slight steaminess featuring an unknown guy. A Touch of Dead has a little bit of everything and is great reading when you're travelling.

The Austere Academy: Book the Fifth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The Austere Academy: Book the Fifth (A Series of Unfortunate Events) - Oh, the references! My favourite is when they meet the Quagmire triplets:"You write poetry?" Klaus asked. He had read a lot about poets but had never met one."Just a little bit," Isadora said modestly. "I write poems down in this notebook. It's an interest of mine.""Sappho!" Sunny shrieked, which meant something like "I'd be very pleased to hear a poem of yours!"The cultural and literary references are endless, including the name of the Vice Principal (Nero) and the name of the academy (Prufrock). Lovely to reread this series again now I'm older, since I couldn't pick up these when I was young.

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Series #1)

My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent My first encounter with Rachel Vincent a few years ago didn't go so well. I read her urban-fantasy book Stray which I kind of hated. People assured me her YA series was better, and with the memory of the catastrophe Stray fading, I decided to give her a second chance.In My Soul to Take Kaylee thinks she's going crazy. She can see dark shrouds around people that are going to die, and when teenage girls around her start dropping like flies she starts doubting her mental health. But Nash, the school's hottie, suddenly has interest in her, and he seems to know more about what's going on with her than he's willing to let on.Usually I start reviews pointing out the good. This time, however, I feel like starting with the bad. First off, the weird romance. I'm not sure what this was supposed to be. I'm glad Ms Vincent didn't make Nash the new kid at school (cause you know you've read THAT before) but once again, he's the popular kid that suddenly pays attention to Kaylee. Is it just me, or is being ignored for years and ALL of a sudden being the focal point of one's interest not romantic, and on top of that weird and suspicious. They almost instantly went into relationship mode without falling in love first, and they are terribly clingy. But hey, maybe that's just how teen romances are. I feel like I'm getting old.There's one thing about Ms Vincent's writing that I noticed in Stray, and saw again in My Soul to Take. Her writing is, I don't know how to say this more politely, immature. And not all that great. She can describe things, she can write scenes, but that's about it. She resorts to expressions like "it felt sooo good", and when this happens two pages in a row, that's just bad writing. Luckily, it's not all that annoying in a young-adult book. It's still not good writing, but it's less annoying than having to put up with that kind of language in an adult book.Now the good: there are different kinds of interesting supes! I enjoyed the plot, and the last part of the book was engaging and hard to put down. There is enough going on to keep you interested, but not too much that you're getting a headache from all the action. My Soul to Take isn't the best written book and it has some common young-adult faults, but it's definitely not a bad addition to the genre, and I'm looking forward to the second book.

Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion - Teri Brown Born of Illusion is a lovely mix of paranormal and historical with interesting character dynamics but a rather weak plot.Together with her mother Anna has a magic and spiritual act; only her mother doesn't know that Anna's powers are for real. She can feel people's emotions, see the future and converse with ghosts. She has to be careful with her secret, but it's getting harder since her powers are growing and they get harder to hide.Anna and her mother have a deliciously difficult relationship. Her mom is selfish, ambitious and a jealous person. She's not exactly the best mother around, but she still loves her daughter in her own way. Anna's relationship with her mom was realistic and interesting to read about. They both seemed very lifelike to me, and Anna's conflicting thoughts rung true to me, even though her ambivalence seemed to annoy some other reviewers. Born of Illusion is set in New York during the twenties. For me the time period was pretty convincing, with mentions of period clothing and the glitzy life-style, but I wasn't all that impressed with Ms Brown's New York. It could have been set in any US city as far as I was concerned; there are some mentions of restaurants and bars, but none of characteristic New York landmarks that are needed for authenticity. The weakest part of Born of Illusion is the plot. Before the real exciting part even got started, I knew what was going on and who the bad guy was. There is no amazing revelation, just a soft realisation on Anna's part who's after her. If you are used to pay attention to clues the twist is glaringly obvious from the start. Deflated plot aside, Born of Illusion is an enjoyable paranormal read. There are two love interests but the word "love" is never uttered (which is a good thing in my book) and there are plenty of juicy séances and flapper parties to keep you entertained.

Once (Eve Trilogy Series #2)

Once - Anna Carey It's been over a year ago since I read the first book in the series, Eve. After being quite disappointed by Eve because of the horrible man-hating nature of the books I wasn't expecting much from Once.Eve has now arrived in a women-only community where they won't even give her boyfriend medical care because OMG, he's a man. For some reason they all hate men, and all the men (called Strays) are rapists or murderers or both. There don't seem to be any normal guys in the Eve universe, they are either insane or hunky boyfriend material. There are tons of hurdles for Caleb and Eve to overcome, and Eve finally arrives in the famous City of Sand. I'm having a hard time writing this review because to be very honest nothing happens in Once. It suffers from severe second-book syndrome; it all seems to be a set-up for the third book in the series. It ends on an enormous cliffhanger, to make matters worse. I kept going back and forth on my Kindle, thinking I must be missing a chapter. Once is filled with dozens of secondary characters that we only meet for a few pages and then disappear again, without ever getting to know them or for them to have any other function than existing. The book is filled with Eve moping around in the City of Glass, feeling guilty for leaving her friends behind (gee, newsflash, maybe you should have told them about what you knew about the Schools), and fantasizing about lovey-dovey stuff with Caleb. Eve had some very sloppy writing in places and the story seemed to move too fast to really make sense. In Once the writing did seem better and more natural to me, and the pace was lowered till something a bit more tolerable. It felt as if Ms Carey had a word goal to hit, and she had to keep making stuff up to reach that goal though. The plot takes some small random detours, but there is no real forward movement. As the story progresses it becomes clearer that the background isn't complete, and inconsistencies in the backstory are showing. For example, what is up with all the burned out cars? The sun didn't explode, there was a plague. Why would a plague result in all cars in the world catching fire? If you leave a car outside for a few years, it might get a bit rusty, but there wouldn't be anything wrong with it. Details show the logic inconsistency the Eve universe is built on. Once is a mediocre YA dystopian at best. I'll read Rise to see if something finally changes for the New Americas, but I'm not holding my breath.

The Buddha of Suburbia

The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi Weird, dull and not funny. Turns out I really don't care about rebellious and unhappy teens trying to find themselves in the seventies.

Robinson Cruso

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe, John Richetti This book. I don't think I've ever disliked a classic this much. Even when I was reading Kafka, which made me feel terrible, I still had a lot of respect for the book because it blurs the line between fiction and reality to such an extend that you feel debased and uncomfortable. I don't really have any respect for Robinson Crusoe.The main thing that puzzles me is how this book turned into the thousands of survival adaptations. How?! Robinson doesn't have to fight to survive. He has a whole damn ship on his shore with enough supplies for years. He has a dog and a parrot and cats to keep him company, some bibles to read when he's bored, enough gunpowder to last him for thirty years, enough rum and other booze for about twenty years, tobacco to smoke... The only thing he's missing is some more clothes, but who cares about those in the Caribbean anyway.Now on to my greatest annoyance in the entire book of Robinson Crusoe, namely Robinson Crusoe. I wanted to take one of his guns and hit some sense into that guy. He is an ungrateful, rebellious, self-pitying, racist, imperialist, bigot fool that deserves every hardship he comes across. I was also very much annoyed by how he handled his religion. Basically he only remembers that he's in the hand of God when everything is well. The moment something goes wrong (he's also completely paranoid - one footprint throws him into a fit for two years) he forgets about God and Providence and everything he said to hold so dear. If it was just this personal problem, I would have been okay with it. But the moment he gets slaves (because of course he gets slaves) he has to "save their souls" and turn them into Christians. What?! He's the worst Christian ever himself, yet he feels like he has to turn everything that moves into a Christian? Ugh.And there are slaves. They all want to be his slaves of course. At one point near the end he mentions shipping off a few women for his men on the island. That was about the moment I knew I didn't want to read this book ever again.A quote wonderfully describing why I couldn't stand Robinson:My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection, which I frequently made, how like a king I looked. First of all, the whole country was my own property, so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly, my people were perfectly subjected - I was absolutely lord and lawgiver - they all owed their lives to me, and were ready to lay down their lives, if there had been occasion for it, for me. It was remarkable, too, I had but three subjects, and they were of three different religions - my man Friday was a Protestant, his father was a Pagan and a cannibal, and the Spaniard was a Papist. However, I allowed liberty of conscience throughout my dominions.Gee Robinson, how nice of you to allow different religions in the island you yourself decided is yours, over subjects that are stuck there with a gun wielding megalomaniac Englishman. Robinson Crusoe is probably a good example of how people thought during that particular time period - but if that's so, I don't care for that time period.

The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2)

The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket Read this one when I was little, so a huge part of it I couldn't remember very clearly any more. I love Snicket's style, and I feel the explanation of meanings of words is becoming a running joke. Really looking forward to rereading the next part of the series, The Wide Window, which was one of my favourites as a child.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket I first read this book when I was around 10. I completely loved it. As a child, I adored the darkness about it, because it was different.Now, years later, I still love it. Maybe it´s just sentimental, but I still really enjoy this cute little book. Also, it looks nice in my bookcase *grin*.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré My favorite HP-book of all. It has so much hope at the end of it. Sirius is my favorite side character of the series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  - J.K. Rowling I have arachnafobia, so this book was truly scary for me. I really emphasise with Ron.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  - J.K. Rowling Harry was kinda my childhood crush. Loved all the characters, from Hagrid to Prof. Dumbledore. 5 stars for the sentimental value.

Thin Ice

Thin Ice - Mikael Engstrom, Susan Beard It's hard for me to write a review of Thin Ice because I'm not familiar with the genre, and haven't read a book like it in years. I'll just stick to my thoughts while reading it, and hope that it gives you an idea of what the book is like.Mik has a Snake inside him with wrong-way scales. They grate against his insides when he sees his father passed out from liquor again, when his older brother leaves to go sleep at a friend's house, when he has to tell his friend Ploppy that no, they can't play at Mik's house. Thin Ice is the story of Mik trying to find a home.There are two things that influence the writing in this book. First, Thin Ice is a translated work. That means sometimes a joke will sound better in Swedish than it does in English, and sometimes a sentence will come across a bit choppy. I'm used to reading works in translation myself, but for someone that has read original English for their entire life it might feel different. Secondly, Thin Ice is a children's book. It has short sentences and short scenes, that make them readable for kids that don't have that high a reading level yet. If you're used to the flowery adult kind of writing, it might seem extra choppy and short to you.Personally I thought the writing in Thin Ice was a perfect fit for the book. The descriptions were endearing and sounded exactly like a child would make them. It added a realistic atmosphere and prevented the book from turning preachy or condescending. Mik's situation is often bleak and horrifying. He doesn't have an easy life at all, and it rubs off on him. The way Thin Ice is written made me connect with him and feel for him.Sometimes nerve-wrecking and constantly engaging, I very much enjoyed Thin Ice. The author kept us in suspense whether or not Mik would find a safe and loving home until the very end. Thin Ice is a lovely contemporary book about issues as alcoholism, abuse and the foster system, without it being depressing or offensive. Mr Engström handles all sensitive subject in an honest but non-graphic way. I think children will enjoy Mik's adventures as well as adults.

Touched by an Alien

Touched by an Alien - Touched by an Alien is my first encounter with science-fiction romance. Basically it's paranormal romance, only instead of a gang of hunky vampires, we have hunky aliens. When Kitty walks out of the courthouse on a sunny day, she doesn't expect to see a man turn into an alien and shred his wife into pieces. Neither did she expect to kill said alien with an expensive Mont Blanc pen. Within moments she is led away by a gorgeous man in an Armani suit that claims to be part of an organisation trying to save the world from an alien invasion.Touched by an Alien immediately hooked me. The story starts with immediate action, and it doesn't slow down after that. It's one long string of revelations, plot developments and snarky come-backs. Especially the snarkiness seems to be Kitty's speciality; I liked her for saying what was on her mind with no reserve. Too many books revolve around people keeping everything a secret - no such thing with Kitty. Even though she can get a bit annoying (she really likes to refer to big bad aliens as fuglies, and she seems to be incapable of being serious), I generally liked reading from her point of view.The book started solid for me, and I was expecting this to be a four, maybe five star read. The further along I came in the book, the more annoyed I got and the rating started dropping. We get reveal after reveal after reveal and after a while I just wanted things to STAY LIKE THEY WERE. There is only so much you can understand in a story. You can't first give us a ton of world-building to remember, then every ten pages say "but that's not what's really going on!" and come up with something new. Another thing that bothered me was that ALL the revelations were made by Kitty. She helps people that have been doing their jobs for half their lives, and Miss Snappy comes in and solves everything in two days. You know, it's fine to have someone else come up with something sometimes too.The worst thing about Touched by an Alien for me was the religious references and the sexism/slut-shaming. Basically, a group of good aliens has been exiled from their planet because of their religion. Kitty then makes the reference of them being like the Jews and the Holocaust. HOW?! Did they get chopped to pieces? Did they get experimented on as if they were even less than animals? Were they tortured, burnt, hit, starved, and denigrated? Did they put millions of aliens in ovens or gas chambers? No? THAN IT'S NOT LIKE THE FRIGGING HOLOCAUST. I think the word Ms Koch was looking for is "diaspora", which in this case means the shattering of the Jews across the world because they couldn't stay in their homeland. THAT'S the correct comparison. Comparing exile with the Holocaust is offensive and not a correct representation of what actually happened, which is that in a few years, six million Jews in Europe were systematically killed. So no, leaving a few thousand aliens on a different planet is not like that.Other than that massive blunder, the religious undertones were tiring and didn't fit at all in my opinion. I didn't get what point Ms Koch was trying to make, and I'm not sure I even want to know.Sometimes Touched by an Alien is downright contradictory. At one point, a human gay man says something in the lines of "oh, the aliens don't have the gender biases we humans do". Meaning in this case, that it's fine for him to have a relationship with an alien man. Then we find out that all agents in the field are male. Every single one of them. All the females are scientists and are in the base doing god knows what (we never actually see them doing anything useful). How is this not having gender bias? It annoyed me to no end that all the females except Kitty are being relegated to being breeding machines and tech peeps. Nothing wrong with being a scientist - but that's just frigging sexist. Also, Kitty calls herself a slut a lot during the middle part of the book - because she slept with some dudes throughout her twenty-seven years. And worst part is is that she acknowledges that it's a social construct and that it doesn't make any sense, yet she feels the same way and she still feels guilty for sleeping with another consenting adult. I think Touched by an Alien is best enjoyed with your braincells turned off or at least hibernating. The story is engaging and there is some erm... alternative fighting going on (for example, dropping salt on a giant slug-alien with a plane) and there are tons of characters all trying to best each other in verbal combat. Enjoyable, but not if you look below the surface. Will probably read the second book in the series, since my biggest problem was with the religious undertones and I expect that the subsequent books probably won't focus on that as much.