Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
(Inheritance #3)
2 out of 5 stars

Published by Knopf Books
This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series

Dear Mister Paolini,

You are a very, very mean man. When you said you were writing a trilogy, I was a happy girl. It meant I would only have to buy your three books, and have a few weeks of fun and fast reading. You mislead me to believing that the story of Eragon would end after three books.

Now, you tell me you're writing four books. It's not the Inheritance Trilogy any more, we have to call it the Inheritance Cycle now. I would be okay with that, if you had such an intricate story to tell that it didn't fit in three normal books. But it turns out, this isn't the case. You wrote a 750 page monster called Brisingr.

And absolutely nothing happens in it.

No really. It's 700 pages of filler. All the stuff going on in this book can be reduced to fifty pages of true plot. Every little thing in the book is the same. Nothing changes. Galbatorix is still alive. Roran is still smashing people's heads in. Sapphira still eats sheep. And Nesuada is still the Varden queen. Everyone hates Urgalls and the Dwarves like to stay in their mountains.

You know, Eldest was pretty boring at times, but at least it got a big epic fight at the end. And where is Eragon in Brisingr in the last hundred pages? He's at the elves' place, hanging out with his elfish friends. Yes really. That is NOT how you write an engaging story. Isn't the first thing they teach in writing class that the exiting part should be at the END of the book? Apparently Mr Paolini skipped this class.

The thing is, I read this series because it has dragons in them. I like dragons. But I didn't get my dragon fix here at all. Eragon is just running around the world like a headless chicken, doing nothing at all. And the other 300 pages we follow Roran hitting people with a hammer. There is absolutely no character growth in this book. Arya is almost completely absent, Eragon doesn't learn a thing, and Roran is still boring. I just really can't care about him rising through the ranks of the Varden army. You could have just mentioned it. I don't have to see it.

But I do get why there are so many Roran chapters. If you take them all out, there is absolutely no action in this book. It's just a big bunch of politics, of waiting, of some more politics, and finally some travelling. That, mister Paolini, makes not for an engaging book.

I guess I'm just disappointed. I really liked Eragon. It was a nice coming of age story. But every book I read in this series is longer and less interesting.

I don't know if I will read the fourth book. I think I won't, to be really honest with you. Or maybe I'll just read the last hundred pages. I hope at least those will be interesting.

Blurb

OATHS SWORN . . . loyalties tested . . . forces collide.

Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength—as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices— choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once-simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Winter's Respite Readathon: Wrap Up

After a week of mini challenges and lurking on Twitter, A Winter's Respite Readathon hosted by Michelle over at The True Book Addict is over!

I remember posting a list of books that I would want to read during this week... And I didn't finish any of those. Oops! It's because something awesome came into my mail this week, and I read that instead.

My goal was to read at least 400 pages during this pretty busy week, and I'm proud that I actually went over that. In the end, this is what I read:
That makes a total of 677 pages during Winter's Respite!

I also won a book during the challenge:


I've seen this book around on some blogs, and would like to give it a try. Thank you Michelle for hosting the readathon and making it a fun week!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

In My Mailbox

It's time for In My Mailbox, a weekly meme by The Story Siren!

A teeny tiny mailbox this week, but one that makes me very happy! I won an ARC of one of my favourite authors...

Click on the covers to go to the Goodreads page.







Won: 


SQUEEEEEEE

Ahem.

This book is so super awesome! I finished it in two days, and I LOVED it. When it comes out in June I'll probably buy the finished version too.

If you've never heard of Diana Peterfreund, you should check out my review of Rampant!

So, that's it for me! What is in your mailbox this week? Leave a comment!
***

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Review: Blood Work by Kim Harrison

Blood Work by Kim Harrison
(The Hollows Graphic Novel #1)
5 out of 5 stars

Published by Random House

My first venture into the unknown world of the graphic novel! When I heard Kim Harrison was writing a graphic novel that described the conditions in which her Hollows main characters Rachel and Ivy meet, I know I had to read it. I was a bit scared that I wasn't going to like it, because to be honest I have never read in this format before.

Turns out, it was pretty awesome. I can't talk for the hardcore graphic novel readers out there. But as a fan of the Hollows series, I can say that Blood Work is definitely worth it. The art is easy on the eyes, and even though I didn't always pictured the character how they turned out. I liked the little background in Rachel and Ivy, and see Ivy and Kisten together.

If you haven't read the other Hollows books, I'm not sure how much you will like Blood Work. The plot is pretty much self-explanatory, and pretty exciting too, but it will probably be too short a book to truly appreciate the characters. But then again, maybe that is always so in a graphic novel?

I would definitely recommend Blood Work if you're curious how Rachel and Ivy met.

Blurb

When Ivy met Rachel, the result wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Sparks flew as the living vampire and the stubborn witch learned what it meant to be partners. Now Kim Harrison, the acclaimed author of Pale Demon and Black Magic Sanction, turns back the clock to tell the tale—in an original full-color graphic novel.

Hot-as-hell, tough-as-nails detective Ivy Tamwood has been demoted from homicide down to lowly street-crime detail. As if rousting trolls and policing pixies instead of catching killers wasn’t bad enough, she’s also been saddled with a newbie partner who’s an earth witch. It’s enough to make any living vampire bare her fangs. But when a coven of murderous witches begins preying on werewolves, Rachel Morgan quickly proves she’s a good witch who knows how to be a badass.

Together, Ivy and Rachel hit the mean streets to deal swift justice to the evil element among Cincinnati’s supernatural set. But there’s more to their partnership than they realize—and more blood and black magic in their future than they bargained for.

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

250 Followers!

So I have some great news to share with you guys... I reached 250 followers! I've been noticing a steady stream of new people on Nyx Book Reviews, and I think it's totally awesome.

To thank the old and the new alike I'll of course be hosting a giveaway. I already have it scheduled February 14th (because I hate Valentine's Day and would like to make that day a bit more enjoyable). It's going to be another choose your own Book Depository book kind of thing (:

If I reach 300 followers at any time between now and the end of the giveaway I will add another winner. Because I really like you guys. And I like giving people gifts.

Thank you all for making blogging a great experience <3
***

Friday, 27 January 2012

Guest Post: Emily Cale on Writing

Being a writer is such a mystical job. And the world usually thinks it must be easy, just write some words on paper and make money. Well, Emily is here today to disprove all of the writing myths!

The Guest Post

You might think working from home and writing is all fun and games. Who doesn't want to spend their day sitting at a fancy desk, typing, sipping coffee, and chatting with their author friends? I almost forgot to mention the fun of not having to deal with traffic, coworkers, or an angry boss. When I first imagined being an author, I figured it would be the most glamorous life possible. I forgot about a few things.

1. You actually have to write. Don't get me wrong, I love writing and adore my characters. The problem is that some days they don't love me. In an ideal world, I want to write 5000 words a day when I sit down. I fall short of that goal a lot. Sometimes it is because I'm goofing off on the internet or watching TV. Other times it's because the book simply won't behave and even though my hands have been on the keyboard all day, I have less than a page to show.

2. You have to do more than write books. Yeah, I never thought about that part either. There are multiple sets of edits that take up a huge chunk of time (self edits, content edits, line edits, proofreading). Then there is all the promotion after a book comes out. Writing blog posts (like this one) and dealing with email all take up a huge amount of time, but have to be done. Then there is all the social networking. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and whatever sites you are involved on are important ways to network and meet new friends, but they can also turn into a time suck.

3. It gets lonely. Sure, I have friends and a husband, but sometimes living in your head becomes a very solitary place. When I'm at the office for my day job, the other people in my office stop by to chat, my office mate and I complain to one another, and there is a general sense of shared suffering. When I'm in my office at home, it's just me and my cat.

Despite these things, I wouldn't change a thing. Being an author was a dream of mine since I was in elementary school and I am so lucky that I got to make my dreams come true. The truth is that if I was to make a list of the things I love it would take up more space than my general host would allow me.

Okay, question time. Ask me anything. I reserve the right not to answer if the question is too personal, but I'm pretty open.

Bio

Emily Cale spent the majority of her childhood as a visitor to the worlds of her favorite authors. With encouragement from her English teachers, she put pen to paper and began imagining her own stories. Preferring the fascinating lives of her characters, she majored in creative writing. When not lost in a manuscript or a good book, she enjoys crocheting, rock climbing, and playing board games. She
currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and a very spoiled cat. You can find her on her blog (http://www.emilycale.blogspot.com) or on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/emilycale).

Her Book

Emily's LGBT erotic short Public Display of Affection is out now through Decadent Publishing. Click on the image to read the blurb & to find information on buying it. (I decided not to post the blurb here as it contains content that might offend some of my readers ^^)

You can also find this book on Amazon and on All Romance.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Hunger Games Readalong


Are you wondering what all the hype is about with the Hunger Games? Or do you love the books and want to read them all again? Either way, you're perfect for Sharon (Obsession with Books) & Larissa's (Howling Turtle) The Hunger Games Read-Along!

Every two days you will read one chapter, and will discuss it with the other readers on that day's host. The readalong runs from January 29th to March 21st. Even if you can't commit to be on schedule every time, feel free to join! It's very low pressure (:

If you're interested, the sign up post is here. They're also looking for a few more hosts, so if you want to be a host, shoot Sharon or Larissa a message or a comment.

I'll be host February 26th, and will be talking about chapter 15. I hope you all will stop by then! (:
***

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Release Day: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...


> Read my review of Everneath
> Read my interview with Brodi Ashton

***

Interview: Brodi Ashton (Everneath)

Everneath is released today, and even though Brodi has a very busy schedule (with her being a debut author and all) she is here today with an interview! Make sure you visit her site too.

The Interview

Nyx Book Reviews: Hi Brodi, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews! Can you describe your book, Everneath, in one sentence?

Brodi: A girl, who has been stuck in the Underworld for a century, has six months to visit her family and her former boyfriend before disappearing forever.

Your book is closely connected to the myth of Persephone. Did you research Greek mythology before writing Everneath?

I didn't have to do much research, because my mom made sure I knew all about mythology when I was a kid. Also, I wanted Everneath to have elements and themes of mythology, but I didn't want it to be a strict retelling, and I didn't want the story to be handcuffed by sticking to the exact details of the myths. :)

Everneath has a stunning cover. Did you have any voice in how it was supposed to look, or was it all decided for you?

I wish I could say I had something to do with the cover, but all of that credit goes to the awesome design team at HarperCollins. But I did have a swirling smoke effect in mind when I pictured the cover. If you've read the book, you'll know why.

What do you like best about being a writer?

Working in my pajamas.

Many people think that ebooks will completely obliterate the physical books market. Do you think that will happen?

I can only guess based on my own actions, and I own a kindle, but I still buy a ton of books. So I think books will survive, no matter what the format!

Do you still find time to read yourself? If so, what books have you enjoyed lately?

I think every aspiring writer should be a good reader first. Recently, I've read and loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Under the Never Sky, and Incarnate. Oh, and the final installment in the Dark Divine trilogy The Savage Grace.

Everneath is the first part of a trilogy. Can you give us a little hint of what’s in store for Nikki, Jack and Cole next?

I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that if you've read the book, you'll have a pretty good idea of where Nikki needs to go next. :)

Thank you for answering my questions! (:

Thank you so much for having me!

Bio

Because of two parents who were Greek myth geeks, I grew up thinking the latest fashion trends were inspired by Aphrodite, and a good conversational opener was, “So, which mythological character do you most resemble?” Despite these social shortcomings, I found a great husband who’s always my first reader. We live in Utah with our two young boys, who still have no idea why I'm at the computer all the time.

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Utah and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

> Read my review of Everneath
***

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
(Everneath #1)
4.5 out of 5 stars

Published by Harper Collins
Review copy received through Netgalley

A great mix of mythology and young-adult romance, Everneath is definitely a debut you want to check out.

Last summer Nikki vanished into the Everneath. Now she is back in the mortal world again, a completely different person. But her days are numbered; only six more months until she will disappear to the Tunnels forever. Will she be able to make peace with her destiny?

Everneath easily slurps you in and doesn't let you go until the very end. Because of the way the novel is built up, you alternately get little parts of Nikki's past, and of her present. This way the story slowly unfolds, leaving the big secrets to hidden until the very end. Each chapter is numbered; the countdown of months Nikki still has here is unnerving, making for a quick and exciting read.

What I especially loved in this book is the romance. Nikki and her boyfriend Jack are best-friends-turned-lovers, something that barely happens in young-adult books lately. There is no instant-love here, there's no place for petty problems. They were and are an amazing couple, and I was totally rooting for them. What I also liked was that there was no love triangle here. There could have been; the immortal bad boy Cole would have been a perfect choice. But Nikki stays true to her one love Jack, even though Cole is definitely very attractive. I really appreciated this; it made their love even more convincing.

Everneath will break your heart. But it's so, so worth it.

Blurb

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Monday, 23 January 2012

A Winter's Respite Readathon: Sign Up

So I'm signing up for yet another readathon...

The True Book Addict is hosting the Winter's Respite readathon. It runs from January 23rd to 29th, with a big bunch of mini-challenges and giveaways. You can also converse with other readathoners using the #wintersrespite hashtag.

You can still sign up, so go over here and join in!

I might not have as much time to participate as I usually have when doing a readathon, because I have a bunch of things to do this week. But I have some books for review that I want to finish or at least get a big dent in, and a readathon might be the motivation I need!

So here's what I'll be reading this week (my goal being to read at least 400 pages in total):


If you are participating in the Winter's Respite readathon too, leave a comment! (:
***

Review: Feed by Mira Grant

Feed by Mira Grant
(Newsflesh Trilogy #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Published by Orbit

Not one for zombie books usually, I picked this one up because it came so highly recommended. The plot sounded like it had more to it than some shambling corpses moaning "braaaaiiins" while doing the zombie shuffle. I was expecting interesting zombie novel. I got blood-racing mystery, action and heart-wrenching drama.

Imagine a world where every single person is infected with a virus. This virus will turn you into a zombie when you die. Imagine more than seventy-five percent of the world population killed by the virus. This is the world Georgia and Shaun are born in. Adopted brother and sister form with their best friend Buffy the team of After the End Times, a blog dedicated to news. But blogging is a dangerous business in 2040...

Feed is a good book. It has a rock-steady foundation and lovable characters that inhabit its world. Even if you don't like the actual content, I don't think anyone can say this book was not thought through. Usually I find little plot holes in a book. They don't bother me much, but they're there. I couldn't find any in Feed. The characters stayed within their personality. If there was a computer in scene one, it's still there in scene two. I admire this extend of editing that goes into this book.

I loved that there was a good reason for the zombies to turn, you know.. into zombies. I hate lame excuses like, they just turned up this way! There was an extensive background that made it a whole lot more believable for me.

The extend of the details will put some people off. There is a lot of in-depth philosophy, info on the way viruses behave, and the inner workings in the blogging world. This book is VERY heavy on the blog mechanics. Because people don't leave their houses any more, except if they must, blogs are the new form of entertainment. They will be the first to tell you where a new outbreak is. There are a lot of different styles of blogging, and there is a lot of emphasis on the characteristics of each. As a blogger myself, I found this quite interesting, but I can totally understand why some people won't.

If you decide to give Feed a try, be prepared to invest a bit in the story. The plot doesn't always move along all that fast, but it will get there. And if it does, you will be amazed.

Blurb

In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as "Marburg Amberlee"—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed "The Rising," and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all:

When will you rise?

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Sunday, 22 January 2012

In My Mailbox

It's time for In My Mailbox, a weekly meme by The Story Siren!

I forgot to do one last week, so this In My Mailbox is a rather full one! I had a great week review-wise, and I have a lot of books to share with you (:

Thank you for all the authors & publishers that sent me their books!

Click on the covers to go to their Goodreads page.




Received for review: 


In the blurb of Dust Girl, Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series is mentioned, which is a series that I LOVE. So if it's anything like it, I think I will like Dust Girl too (:


It has Venice in it! And even though Venice looks a bit like shit nowadays (unless you like tourist-infested cities..) it's still a magical place that I love to read about. It seems to be a young-adult historical romance, which isn't usually my thing, but the plot seems interesting enough to keep my attention. Plus, it's written in verse. Which is strange. I like strange.


Even though mermaid books seem kind of trendy lately, I never read one. When I read the blurb for Lies Beneath, I knew I had to read this one though!


After reading Mira Grant's Feed I'm a bit hooked on zombie books. Insert a high-school and a near suicidal main character, put a nice cover on it. I won't be able to resist the temptation.


Well, talk about not in my comfort zone. The author of this book was so kind to send it to me. It's quite interesting actually, I'll have the review for it written up soon (:


Another one I was approached for by the author. I haven't started it yet, but my mother picked it up and started giggling after a few pages. I think I'll enjoy it!

So, that's it for me! What is in your mailbox this week? Leave a comment!
***

Guest Post: Shannon Mayer on KDP Select

Amazon has a new initiative called KDP Select. What is this and what will this mean for us as readers? And what will this mean for authors? Author Shannon Meyer is here today to explain this all for us.

The Guest Post

Amazon’s KDP Select and Prime- What this means for Readers and Authors

Mid December 2011, Amazon launched their new program, KDP Select alongside Amazon Prime. These two programs changed the face of the publishing industry AGAIN.

I was leery at first. The whole premise behind KDP select for authors was that you put your book EXCLUSIVELY through Amazon for a period of 3 months. During that time, READERS could choose to “borrow” your book through the lending library for FREE.

Amazon set aside $500,000 to be distributed between all the lends during the month of December (which ended up being $1.70 a lend). For authors who were only selling their book at .99 this is a great return as normally they would only get .34 profit per sale. But for any author selling at 2.99 or better, it was a loss in the profit department.

But how does Amazon keep up with this pot of money for their authors? Amazon Prime, a program you can try for FREE for 1 month, is where this question is answered. After your free month with Prime, unless you uncheck the subscription button (which I found with QUITE a bit of searching, they sure don’t make it easy to get out of the loop) you will be billed $80 for the year. You then can BORROW up to 1 book per month along with some other perks, which I’ll let you check out yourself.
Now, Amazon has announced that they have upped the “pot” for the authors to $700,000 for the month of January. Again, will encourage more authors to take part in the program, ultimately dropping the amount of money per lend, as well as how many of your books would be “borrowed”. IMO.

This also has opened a whole new can of worms because Amazon has set it up that every 3 months you are signed up with KDP Select as an author, you can put your book for FREE for up to 5 days. As you can imagine, this is causing quite a kafuffle in the Free Ranks.

Okay, but WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS ALL MEAN? It means that Amazon is going to push out their competitors unless they make a move in the subscription route REAL fast. It means that authors are going to have to figure out if it’s worth it for them and get on board fast if they’re going to.

My reaction? As an author, I signed up 2 of my 4 books with KDP Select. Sundered, A Zombie-ish Apocalypse and Dark Waters, Celtic Legacy Book 1, are available for lending for free to a reader who is signed up with Prime.

Will I put them up for free? Still weighing that out.

For readers, I think if you don’t have a Kindle or a device that you can read Kindle books on (like an iPad) you might just want to. A lot of authors are taking this route, which means that a number of books won’t be available anywhere else. Hell, I’ve seen BIG names signed up for Prime. Like Suzanne Collins, you know, of Hunger Games Fame?

Overall, this is a big shift, one that can benefit both readers and authors alike if they get the facts and read all the fine print. However this all falls out, will be fascinating, a ride that may make us all get a white knuckled grip going on. ;p

Bio

After a 2 year period waiting on her agent to actually do something, Ms. Mayer dropped the agent, and self published her first trilogy, A Zombie-ish Apocalypse which includes Sundered, Bound and Dauntless. Her latest book, Dark Waters: Celtic Legacy Book 1 centers on the bonds of sisters while delving into the world of nightmares and magic.

For more info on Shannon Mayer and her writing go to http://shannonmayer.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @TheShannonMayer.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Interview: Rod Tyson (Curse of Ancient Shadows)

Today's guest is Rod Tyson, the author of the young-adult book Curse of Ancient Shadows. Why should you read his book? Rod shares his writing process with his, and even realises something about himself when answering my questions! Make sure you visit his blog too.

The Interview

Nyx Book Reviews: Hi Rod, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Rod: Thanks Celine and hello planet Nyx. I am a new author behind 'Curse of Ancient Shadows'; a Young Adult fantasy/ adventure novel featuring Cat Celeste. I live in Norfolk in the United Kingdom with my wife, daughter and a cat with no name. During the day I am a humble computer engineer, but by night (after I've had my tea/dinner, and if I can avoid the fatal lure of Twitter) I write stuff that I hope people will find entertaining. 

During my life I've moved around a lot. I spent five years living and working in the USA running my own games company and before that I lived in a colourful bus while exploring the British Isles as a New Age traveller. These days I live in a real house that doesn't have wheels and like to think I've settled down.

Your book, Curse of Ancient Shadows is a young adult fantasy. Why should people pick up your book?

Because it's a magical story packed full of distinctive characters and page-turning action, in a highly detailed world that has a deep history. I like to think Curse
of Ancient Shadows will enchant readers and, because it's the first in a series, will keep them coming back for more. It took me fourteen months to write, but the ideas were percolating around in my head years before I got started. The story surrounding Cat Celeste and her struggle to find her parents draws upon this history and detail in a way that I hope imparts the world of 'Ancient Shadows' with a feeling of reality and authenticity.

The process of sculpting the ideas and writing them down was, at times, extremely hard, but I had so much fun, I loved writing this story and I think it shows. I have been gathering ideas for the sequel for a while now. I expect it won't take so long to write because now I'm a more experienced writer.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I walk. I try to do it every day, out in the countryside. The more remote the better. The oxygen stimulates my mind as I turn over characters and plot. As I walk I talk to myself. Sometimes quite loudly. I wave my arms a lot. When I walk along the river, now and again I surprise an angler, they sit upon the bank hiding among the reeds, fishing, pretending they haven't noticed. There's a local legend about a madman who walks the marshes nearby. It occurred to me that I might know who it is.

When I feel I've walked enough, I turn around. That's when the ideas start jumping into my head. As I walk back home I try to answer all the dilemmas posed by the outward journey. If something doesn't work, I chop it up and re-arrange, or throw bits out and try to add stuff that is at complete odds with what I've perceived as the way forward up until that point. It works for me - I get new perspective doing it that way. Then, if I'm not too busy with work commitments, I race home and zing my way through the next scene, on a cool zephyr of coffee and fresh air. That's the ideal. Sometimes I just zing through notes. This question helped me process all that, which is something I feel quite good about. Thanks Celine.

Do you still find time to read yourself? If so, what books have you read lately that you particularly recommend?

I have always been an avid reader. My reading preferences over the years have influenced my writing style - Tolkien, H.P Lovecraft, Dan Brown, Larry Niven, Simon Scarrow to name a few. At this point in time I haven't read a book for over a month because I'm working on my next novel, 'The Orphan Stone', which features Cat Celeste's best friend Hetty Ravensmith. I did read DarkHenge recently by Catherine Fisher, which I'd highly recommend, and Bad Things by Michael Marshall which was a great supernatural thriller. Both books I purchased from a charity shop.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Not sure I'm qualified to offer other authors tips or advice, but I'll do my best.
Get busy. No matter how bad it is, just make sure you write. When writing your story during the early drafts you are only talking to yourself, so embrace thatfreedom. Don't procrastinate too much during the early stages of writing a novel.

It might seem like an obvious point but having nothing written down means your creativity is draining away as you forget ideas. I keep a pen and notepad by my bed as ideas often hit me when I'm in that nebulous mental state right before you go to sleep (which can be problematic if you've got an early start). I make a point of waking myself and writing them down. Your brain will happily juggle ideas for the next blockbuster all day (and night) but that won't do you any good in a month when you've forgotten or switched interest because you didn't keep a record. 

Nurture resilience. On days when you feel the whole writing gig is a complete waste of time, train yourself to ignore the little voice in your head that's making you feel bad about your writing. What's it trying to achieve anyway? To make you give up? Forget it! You know if you gave up writing you'd be back at it in a few weeks with some new ideas.

Thank you for answering my questions! (:

Thank you too for giving me the opportunity to let people know about my work! And thanks to your readers for taking an interest :)
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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Cover Cravings: Rapture by Lauren Kate

Title: Rapture
Author: Lauren Kate
Published: June 12th 2012 (Delacorte Books)
Click photo to see it full sized

A long time ago I did a cover review of the Fallen series. I didn't like the last cover, the cover of Passion, and I just kind of forgot my whole fangirling towards these covers.

But as I was looking for some nice 2012 releases I came across the Rapture cover. It would be too subtle to say it blew me away. My mouth just fell open, and I might have made a "ohhhh" sound. The cover of Rapture is BEAUTIFUL. It's everything I could have wanted.

It's stunning at first glance, but even after seeing it a lot it doesn't lose its charm. I'm so glad the strange red accents from the Passion time are gone and that the cover has returned to its original grey-blue colour scheme. Still it doesn't feel as dark as the other covers in the Fallen series, and I'm glad for that. Doom and gloom is perfect, but if you're sticking with a series this long, you want them to get a bit of happiness too.

The first thing that stands out between the other Fallen covers is that the dress the Rapture girl wears is white. All the other dresses were black. Maybe it stands for something? Maybe that Luce finally comes to terms with her former selves, therefore being finally whole and pure again.

I am a big sucker for beautiful dresses, and this is definitely one. I love how the wind just subtly plays with the ruffles at the bottom, adding some more volume. The dress is pretty tight around the waist, which is necessary for this picture to work. I'm not really sure what that big patch of white cloth is under her right arm, but I guess most dresses just aren't made to raise your arms in.

The pose is pretty weird when you start to think about it. With her right hand she's kind of scratching her head and with the left it looks like she's throwing a pebble. The only way to rectify this kind of pose is if she's stumbling out there in that barren landscape looking for something or someone she's lost. I kind of like to think of her like that. Like she her loved one has been stolen away from her and she's venturing into dangerous lands to find him back.

As always, the font of the cover title and author name look nice while not taking away any attention from the picture itself. The little swirl under the title has the kind of underestimated beauty that I love to have on a cover. If it's too much in your face, it won't look nice any more.

I'm very glad of the direction the covers have taken. With a little bad apple in Passion, the Fallen series are all stunning covers that tell a story that might even be better than the story they actually hold. I'm very glad to have these on my shelves.
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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Internet After SOPA Passes


As you all may know by now, today is the day big websites like Wikipedia and Reddit will black out to potest against the SOPA law. Countless blogs are participating too, and while I'm not blacking out my blog, I will post about this.

SOPA in a nutshell
Basically the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA in short) is a bill meant to stop copyright infringement on the internet. It says that if you use someone else's content, you can get imprisoned. Yes, that CD you downloaded? That can get you into jail. But the thing about SOPA that threatens us so much is that when a site is suspected of copyright infringement, the US government has the rights to shut that website down. An added bonus is also that the owners of big community sites are responsible for the content of their customers.

If you want to know more about what SOPA entails, I would recommend you to read the Wikipedia article.

So, if the SOPA law passes, what will happen?
This is the part I love. If SOPA really will be the law they pretend it will, this will happen to our internet.
  • Blogger will shut down. Cause you know, we use pictures that aren't ours. 
  • Wikipedia will shut down. They take away from encyclopaedia sales, down it goes!
  • Youtube will shut down. Youtubers love to use music that isn't theirs.
  • Facebook will shut down. You never know what someone is sharing over there.
  • Twitter will shut down. Linking to content that isn't yours? Boo!
  • *Insert all of your favourite sites* will shut down.
Man, this looks like some kind of dystopian novel, doesn't it?

Let's face reality guys
But, come on. You remember the last episode of the US government VS. Piracy drama? I'm talking about their fight against the Pirate Bay here. I bet this is a defeat they don't want to think about. Because, you know, the Pirate Bay is still up and running. And it's probably doing better than ever, with all of their media coverage. They can act like little children here, and think they can shut us all down, but to be honest, they never will.

First, because shutting down every social media site will cause an outrage. There are literally billions of people that use Facebook and/or Twitter every single day. Do you want to be that person that tells them they will lose their accounts?

But most of all, it's just impossible. If you can't shut down some little server with two guys keeping it running in Sweden, you can't shut down the friggin whole internet.

What will really happen
That depends on if it passes or not. I suspect everyone will chicken out on the last moment. This is just way too much for the USA to keep up with.

But if it does pass, I think Sweden will suddenly have a massive influx of immigration. A lot of geeky people carrying electronic devices. I wonder what they will do over there.


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Cover Challenge Winner



And the winner of the Guess the Cover Challenge is...

Amy of Bookgoonie!

Congratulations! I will contact you for your address (: Thank you all for participating!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Release Day: me@you.com by KE Payne

Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Imogen Summers thinks so – because it’s happened to her.

Immy is a normal 18 year old, with a normal life, a normal family and a normal boyfriend. But when she finds herself falling for a girl on an internet message board, a girl she knows only as the mysterious Fickle, her so-called normal life is suddenly turned on its head.

As her relationship with Fickle develops into more than just friendship, Immy finds another message board friend, the sweet and lovely Joey, the perfect person to confide in. But can Joey stay out of it when she starts to fall for Immy herself? Things are about to get complicated...



> Read my review of me@you.com
> Read my interview with KE Payne

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Interview: KE Payne (me@you.com)

To celebrate the release day of novel me@you.com by KE Payne, I asked her to have an interview here on Nyx Book Reviews! You can read my review of her book here, and of course check her site out too!

The Interview

Nyx Book Reviews: Hi KE, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

KE Payne: Hi Celine. Well, I started writing seriously in my late-thirties. I’ve written short stories and poems on and off since I was a teenager but working full-time for the British government (and believe me, that sounds far more exciting than it really was!) has never allowed me the time to do it properly.

When I hit 30, I gave up my job and went to university and got a degree in History and Linguistics. Although I did briefly go back to work after I graduated, all I really wanted to do was write. I started off by writing some short stories for UK women’s magazines, and it was also during this period that my first novel, “365 Days” was accepted for publication. That spurred me into leaving work for a second time, and to start writing full-time.

However, I didn’t actually think about getting “365 Days” published at first. I’d found some old diaries of mine during a visit home and after reading them all again, it reminded me of a period in my life when I was pretty unhappy and confused. So I starting writing some thoughts and anecdotes down, through the eyes of a character called Clemmie, but I never dreamt it would ever turn into a complete novel. But once I started writing, I found I couldn’t stop and I wanted to see it through to its conclusion. Friends and family that read it suggested that I send it to some publishers, and Bold Strokes Books accepted it.

It’s all just snow-balled from there, really. My second novel “me@you.com” was subsequently accepted by Bold Strokes Books, and I still continue to write short stories for women’s magazines.

I’m sure that my decision to try writing full-time has been the right one. I certainly get far more satisfaction from writing than I ever did from pushing bits of paper around my desk!

Can you describe your book, me@you.com , in one sentence?

A confused and unhappy teenager finds answers to many of her questions about her sexuality through the people that she meets on an internet message board, finally leading to the happiness and understanding she craves.

What makes your book stand out in the quite extensive young-adult market?

To be honest, I don’t worry too much about the extensiveness of the YA market. I just write from the heart about things that matter to me, and have mattered to me in the past, and hope that it strikes a chord with the reader.

What message would you like people to get from your book?

That there are many ways to discover who you really are, and who is right for you. The main character, Immy, is, on the outside, just your average eighteen year-old college girl with a kind and loving boyfriend. But she finds her life turned upside down when she “meets” a girl called Fickle on the internet and then stresses about her growing feelings for her. She thinks it’s wrong to be attracted to another girl, and tries to ignore her feelings by focusing more on her boyfriend, which makes her feel unhappy and trapped.

I want people to read the book and realise that you can’t help who you fall in love with. Emily—who’s one of Immy’s friends at college—tells her just that; she tells Immy that she can’t help who she really is or who she may just happen to fall in love with, and that it’s not as if Immy woke up one day and decided to be gay just for the hell of it.

I wanted that to be the main message of the book – just follow your heart. There’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to love, and you should never be ashamed of who you really are.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

It’s exciting! I have ideas milling around in my head all the time and I can’t wait to switch the laptop on and get all those ideas down. I love that I get to “meet” all these characters, and mould them, and bring them alive, and then take them on a fantastic journey.

How much do experiences in real life influence your writing?

Both “365 Days” and “me@you.com” contain things that have happened to me in the past. Without wishing to sound too clich├ęd, I found it almost cathartic to write both books, as it allowed me to put some thoughts and questions that I’ve had in my own past into them.

I love writing comedy. Although “me@you.com” isn’t a comedy, my first novel “365 Days” definitely is. The character of Clemmie in “365” frequently says unintentionally funny things throughout the book, and most of the things she says are snippets of things I’ve heard people say. I’m a big eavesdropper! The best one-liners, double-entendres and malapropisms are always unintentional, and I love to keep an ear out for them while I’m out and about. It’s these anecdotes that go into my writing.

You write about quite a controversial topic; being gay. Do you fear negative reactions to this?

To me it’s not, and shouldn’t be seen as, controversial to be gay in 2011. It would be a shame if the book received negative reactions purely because it has gay characters in it, but I don’t fear it at all.

Anyone that’s likely to be offended by reading about a gay character would, I hope, know to find other fiction that’s more suitable for them.

What are your future plans? Any more books coming up?

I’ve already written a sequel to “365 Days” and am just coming to the closing stages of a stand-alone fourth, as yet untitled, YA novel. I’m also working on a couple of short stories, plus a humorous murder-mystery serial idea, so that’s all going to keep me busy writing for the foreseeable future.

Thank you so much for answering my questions! (:
***

Review: me@you.com by KE Payne

me@you.com by KE Payne
3 out of 5 stars

Published by Bold Strokes Books
Review copy received through Netgalley

This book being outside my comfort-zone, I wasn't sure what to expect. Now, after reading Me@you.com I'm not so sure what to think.

Imogen is your average 18 year-old girl. She has a cute boyfriend, two loyal best friends, an annoying little sister and a massive pile of homework. But when she discovers an internet board of her favourite series, Lovers & Sinners, she soon becomes addicted to talking to her digital friends. She is starting to get feelings for the mysterious Fickle... I she falling in love with a girl she doesn't even know?

I am accustomed to the weird and the paranormal. I feel comfortable talking about vampire brothers, worlds coming to an end, death-by-sex faerie people... But when it comes to stories taken from the "real" world I'm often at loss for words. This is exactly my problem with Me@you.com. This could be any girl, anywhere. This could be someone next door. The events in this book could have been real. It makes me wonder. Do we read to escape our own problems, or do we read to take a peek into someone else's problems?

Philosophical musings aside, Me@you.com is an interesting book. It is written like some kind of internal monologue. This also includes the occasional "wanna" and "gonna", and a "FFS" thrown in for good measure. I might also want to warn you that this book is filled with British slang. I was slightly confused when Immy was "eating her tea" (her dinner, it turns out) and other slightly unusual turns of phrase. It took me a while to get used to; but Immy has a pleasant voice, and after a while I didn't notice the quirks any more.

This definitely isn't a light read. It is captivating, urging you on to continue reading, but you won't read this book smiling. At least I know I didn't. Immy is a troubled girl. She has some pretty hard stuff to get through. It is not easy to accept that you are, and always have been gay. And that you have never had feelings for your boyfriend. That you've been keeping up appearances, just because that's how things go. Ms Payne did an excellent job in bringing all these conflicting thoughts to live. The confusion and denial were brilliantly done. Immy's thoughts could have come straight from some girl's diary.

This is where the big weakness of this book lies, though. Ms Payne will make you feel Immy's pain (no pun intended) and her confusion. This makes for a slightly... depressing read, so to say. Even though there are small light bulbs of hope, it just isn't enough to lighten up this novel. I would have liked some more comical relief, just enough to keep it going.

The three star rating is mainly caused by the ending of this book. I don't want to give anything away - so if you're interested you can read the very mild spoiler (highlight to read it): when Immy finally finds true love, I expected a big finale. Some good making out, or something equally passionate. But I was quite disappointed in that. I only got a small, hey, this will probably work out. It just wasn't enough to balance out the journey towards this true love.

Overall I think Me@you.com is an interesting book. If you like contemporary young-adult, are interested in lesbian relationships, or maybe dating through the internet, I certainly think you could give this a try.

Blurb

Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Imogen Summers thinks so – because it’s happened to her.

Immy is a normal 18 year old, with a normal life, a normal family and a normal boyfriend. But when she finds herself falling for a girl on an internet message board, a girl she knows only as the mysterious Fickle, her so-called normal life is suddenly turned on its head.

As her relationship with Fickle develops into more than just friendship, Immy finds another message board friend, the sweet and lovely Joey, the perfect person to confide in. But can Joey stay out of it when she starts to fall for Immy herself? Things are about to get complicated...

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
(Healer #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Published by Harlequin (MiraBooks)
Review copy received through Netgalley

I've always wanted to read on of Maria V. Snyder's books, so when I got the opportunity to read Touch of Power for review, I jumped on it. I wanted to know what I've been missing.

Touch of Power is the story of Avry, a healer in a world where healers are despised. They get the blame of causing the plague that has killed thousands of citizens. When she meets Kerrick and his gang of outcasts, she wants nothing to do with them. But what if she is the only person that can save someone that can save her country?

This is a solid fantasy read. It has an interesting magic system (consisting of healers, forest magic, earth magic, life magic, death magic, etcetera) that has a lot of potential, and there is an interesting conflict. I really liked the concept of this book, but I felt there was something missing.

It felt a bit like it was mixed with a bad paranormal romance. You know, the kind with an excuse of a plot and two characters that are nothing more but cardboard puppets. With a romance that seems unlikely and petty problems that keep them apart. Sometimes I felt a bit of this bad paranormal romance shining through. I didn't absolutely hate the love interest, but I didn't like him either. I guess I'm just not the person for hate-to-love kind of stories. I was rooting for the big teddy guy, but he never stood a chance.

I also feel like at times there are some plot holes. My main one annoys me quite a bit. When someone has the plague (which is highly contagious) they don't take any precautions to not attract the plague. They just act like nothing is wrong at all. I can't imagine that a person that has seen dozens of people die of the same illness can just stand next to someone that has that contagious disease. I don't know, doesn't seem plausible to me at all.

The reason I give Touch of Power a high rating even though I didn't really like the love interest and was a bit irritated by the holes in the story, is that it is a very engaging read. You just have to know what will happen next, because anything can happen. I also enjoyed as a person that has read her fair share of fantasy, that it offers a different take on something that has been done countless times.

The story doesn't end with a cliffhanger, but there are more than enough story lines to make a second book in this series. I'm looking forward to read that one, and to see if the problems I have with this book are just a one time thing, or something structural.

Blurb

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Bout of Books 3.0 Readathon: Wrap Up

It might not yet have for you, but for me the Bout of Books readathon has officially ended. With just minutes to spare to midnight, I have finished my final read!

I would like to thank everyone that participated in my Cover Challenge. Thirty of you did, and it totally made my week! I hope you all had fun this Bout of Books (:

Before starting the readathon I set a few goals for myself. Let's see how I did!

The goals:
  • Meet a lot of new people Okay, I didn't meet a lot of new people. But I did get to talk to some pretty awesome ones.
  • Have awesome Twitter conversations Done
  • Host a successful challenge *fingers crossed* Yay, totally succeeded on that one! Thank you all for the feedback (:
  • Read a big bunch of my owned to be read books I read two owned books and one for review
  • Have lots of fun Check!
Four books of the following:
  • Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
  • Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan
  • Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
  • Passion by Lauren Kate
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  • Added: Burnt Offerings by Laurell K Hamilton
And for old times sake, here are my two final updates!

Saturday Update
Number of pages I’ve read today: 169
Total number of pages I’ve read: 723
Total number of books read: 2
Books started/continued with/finished today: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Today #insixwords: Yay, I finally finally finished Shiver (okay, I'm sorry I cheated here, had a big lack of inspiration)

Sunday Update
Number of pages I’ve read today: 158
Total number of pages I’ve read: 881
Total number of books read: 3
Books started/continued with/finished today: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Today #insixwords: Readathon over, going to miss it!
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Friday, 13 January 2012

Bout of Books 3.0 Readathon: Picture Challenge

The Bout of Books readathon is over halfway! Today's co-host is Jacinda over at The Reading Housewives of Indiana. Her challenge is to share a picture of our current read, our snack and our drink! I'm glad that it's an easy one, I've been pretty busy these past two days. There's also a Twitter chat going on right now, if you're interested!

I wish I had something more exciting to show you than my Kindle and a glass of water, but that's pretty much all I'm living on right now. We just went to the Burger King, so I'm not really in the mood for a snack, hehe.

My read is Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder. It's really good, and I hope to finish it later today!

Thursday Update
Number of pages I’ve read today: 74
Total number of pages I’ve read: 519
Total number of books read: 1,5
Books started/continued with/finished today: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Today #insixwords: I think Shiver is pretty awesome

Friday Update
Number of pages I’ve read today: 35
Total number of pages I’ve read: 554
Total number of books read: 1,75
Books started/continued with/finished today: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Today #insixwords: Too much going on, didn't read
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