Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Rant Review: First Frost by Jennifer Estep

First Frost by Jennifer Estep
(Mythos Academy #0.5)
2 out of 5 stars

Published by Kensington

I'm doing this review a little differently - this is a rant I wrote on Goodreads some time ago. Don't take this too seriously, it's purely for entertaining purposes. No offence meant towards the author or her editor.

My dear god, I should have known this would end up as a rant. Even though First Frost is barely an hour's read, it left me sputtering and muttering for three times as long. My fingers are sore of making annotations on my Kindle. Behold, my opinion of this little piece of work.

Ms Estep is writing in dangerous territory. Writing about a school for special kids with magical powers is tricky business; it automatically reminds of other successful YA-series that follow this formula. Series like Harry Potter, House of Night, Vampire Academy, Fallen... Just to name a few. Because of this, an author's work, how original it might be, just looks like a fake. Like the author thought, hey, this is popular, let's write something like that!

I'm quite sure Ms Estep didn't think like that when she came up with the Mythos Academy. It's quite evident that she put some thought in it; the school inhabits all different kinds of mythological creatures. Even though myths (yes, that is my newly invented abbreviation of mythological creatures) seem to be the new angels (like angels were the new vampires... etcetera), it's still a fairly new sub-genre, so definitely nothing cliché there.

Now let's talk about what made my face go "No you didn't!". For educational purposes I will add some quotes from the book so you can see what I'm talking about.

We start our little story with our heroine in the locker room at school. We immediately get introduced to her special powers.

I was a Gypsy with psychometry magic. A fancy way of saying that I saw images in my head and got flashes of other people's memories and feelings off almost everything that I touched.

Well, that sounds pretty cool right? It definitely has a lot of mystery potential, where Gwen uncovers secrets using her powers. The Gypsy part makes me frown a bit. But we're still on the second page, I guess that we will get more info about that later.

We go through a bit of explanation of her powers, and I am still in happy YA land. Celine is content.

Yeah, I was just that kind of loser, a book-smart Gypsy girl who sucked at pretty much every sport you could think of and probably a couple that hadn't even been invented yet.

Huh. There is the Gypsy thing again. Still have no idea what all that's about, but I guess we'll see. I'm a bit annoyed though that we have another awkward and clumsy heroine here. Why can't they just be mediocre at sports? Do they always have to be get a ball in their face? Even though I personally am as clumsy as every awkward book geek, I don't find it an endearing trait in a main character. Let us continue.

Something bad and freaky happens. It actually had quite a shock-factor, which I enjoyed. Gwen's reaction to said bad thing:

And that's when I started screaming.

I screamed and screamed and screamed.

Okay that is pretty awful. I'm sorry, but I'm not one for repeating the same word over and over again. I'm a fan of synonyms. Or descriptions. I find this quite lame.

A few pages later we meet Gwen's mother.

Concern filled my mom's eyes. She was a Gypsy just like me, which meant that she had a gift like me.

Now this awkward. The logical conclusion of this sentence is that a person that is a Gypsy, must have a gift. I still don't get the definition of Gypsy here. Call me racist, but I always thought Gypsies were those people that live in trailers and travel around the world with their families. So isn't it quite obvious that Gwen's mother would be a Gypsy if Gwen herself was one? Seriously, at this point I feel like I'm missing out on some secret pact that Gypsy from now on is a code name for a supernatural person, like witch.

A little bit bewildered, I continue reading. Enter grandma. Guess what, she's a Gypsy.

...the same violet color as her eyes-as all our eyes were.

Now that is freaky. Grandmother, mother & daughter all have violet (?) eyes. First, I have never seen a person with eyes that could be considered violet, but even if we completely disregard the fact of people with purple eyecolor, I think it's disconcerting that three generations have EXACTLY the same eye colour. But oh well, this is urban-fantasy, so I'll go with it. For now.

There is some family talk, some "oh my god, my mother is so weird, she always talks about Greek gods and goddesses!". Yeah, yeah, we get that. Pretty standard stuff. Unless your mother talks about killer unicorns, I'm not that interested. We talk about volcanoes and quantum mechanics at dinner. Get over yourself please.

Now we arrive at the most offensive sentence of the whole story. (If you have arrived at this point in my review rant you probably don't care about the spoilers any more).

I didn't know then that this would be the last time I ever talked to her.

Oh COME ON! Seriously, this is not cool. You do not do something like this. This completely ruins the surprise in a horrible way. Really, I can't even begin to tell you how I feel about dropping such an important part of the story just seconds after an uneventful phone call. No dramatical build-up whatsoever. BOOM, hey, my mother will disappear/die! Ugh.

Let's examine dear Gwen's reaction when she finds out the bad news that she will never speak her mother again.

I had started screaming again.

Figures.

Insert some self guilt.

And cried and cried and cried some more.

Are you kidding me? There is really nothing more to say than "verb and verb and verb some more"?! Use it once, and I will be forgiving. Use it twice in a twenty page story and I will begin to doubt if you even put some effort into this. And if this story has ever seen an editor. Or a proof reader.

Now, we come to the Harry Potter-style part. A mysterious Professor arrives at the house.

She was short, with a body that looked stocky and strong inside her black pantsuit and white shirt. Her black hair was pulled back into a bun, and her eyes were a soft green behind her silver glasses.

Right. Give her robes and grey hair, and who have we gotten here?... That's right, Professor McGonagall! And there is more, look what she has to say!

"Because Mythos isn't just any school, Gwen," Metis said. "It's for kids like you. Kids with magic."

You're a wizard Harry!

Oops, wrong book.

Our ever eloquent heroine has some questions for McGonagall.

"What kinds of kids go there?" I asked. "What kind of magic do they have? Are they Gypsies like me?"

Well, DUH. Every kid with magic is a witch! Or wait, you call that Gypsy. Wait, now I am confused.

McGonagall vaguely answers

"It varies, depending on the student and her background. But the Vikings and Valkyries are very strong, while the Romans and Amazons are very quick."

Ahhh, that's how the Roman empire was so successful! They were QUICK! So when they were fighting Asterix and Obelix in France, they would just go like, oh-my-god-we-capture-your-land-so-quickly-it's-so-quick-you-didn't-even-see-us-coming! And the Vikings were just like ARRGG, I'm strong. I'm gonna hit you in the head with my big axe, I'm so strong. And Valkyries, that usually are pictured with wings, they're not quick! Nope, they're just strong. Like tanks. With wings.

How can you take this seriously.

Now, enter the super cool classes at Mythos.

"Myth-history?" I asked. "What kind of class is that?"

Well dear, supposedly "booksmart" girl, it's a CLASS in which you learn about MYTHS. It's a very hard to grasp concept. I wouldn't understand it either. I looked it up on Wikipedia.

McGonagall thinks it's still a mystery though.

Metis just smiled. "You'll see, Gwen. You'll see."

I guess she will see.

Almost like... she'd known my mom or something. But that just wasn't possible. I'd known all of my mom's friends, and Metis wasn't one of them.

It's absolutely IMPOSSIBLE that your mother knows someone you don't! You know every single person in her life, from the moment she was born up until now! I bet she has like, big photobooks with their pictures to keep track of them. Must be hard work to keep up with all the mail men.

Gonna skip a part here, otherwise this rant will last forever.

Mythos looks spooky, blah blah blah. They have Minotaur statues, big deal.

EVERY SINGLE KID HERE IS LIKE SUPER DUPER RICH AND THEY ALL WEAR LIKE DESIGNER CLOTHES AND PLATINUM WATCHES AND DIAMONDS.

I don't make that up. It's in there.

I hadn't quite believed Metis when she'd claimed there were other kids out there like me, kids who could do amazing things, but now I was seeing it for myself.

You have frigging magical grandma, and you don't believe someone else can have some powers too? No comment.

Then there is super awesome guy that fights with swords. And please sit down now because this might be shocking;

He noticed me staring at him and gave me a slow, suggestive wink. Was he... was he flirting with me? He didn't even know me.

No he DIDN'T! A guy that flirts with the new girl! That HAS NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE!

I'm going to skip to the last line though. There is some more mindless babbling that really isn't that interesting any more.

One thing was certain-my life was never, ever going to be the same.

I agree. Mine won't either.

Blurb

I am Gwen Frost, and I have a Gypsy gift. It's called psychometry - that's a fancy way of saying that I see images in my head and get flashes of other people's memories off almost everything I touch, even guys.

My gift makes me kind of nosy. Okay, okay, maybe a lot nosy--to the point of obsession sometimes. I want to know everything about everyone around me. But even I don't want to know the secrets my friend Paige is hiding or the terrible loss that will send me to a new school - Mythos Academy, where the teachers aren't preparing us for the SATs, but to battle Reapers of Chaos. Now I have no friends and no idea how my gift fits in with all these warrior whiz kids. The only thing I do know is that my life is never, ever going to be the same. . .

Other reviews you might be interested in
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Readathon: Challenge Winner

I've been really, really lazy with making this post.

Sorry guys.

But, I'm not going to be one of those people that promises a giveaway without actually giving something away, so here is the winner of my Bookish Confessions Challenge!

Congrats...

Rain Maiden!


Mr Randomizer choose quite right, I think. For your entertainment, here is her Bookish Confession again:

I want to say the funniest book story I have was reading my first book with a sex scene.  I was was like a deer in head lights.  It was a Gena Showlater story and I can't remember the book name.  I was thinking....I'm reading porn, what next...pole dancing.?!  I have not started my pole dancing lessons, but the hubs has high hopes. - See original

Monday, 28 May 2012

Interview: Lucy Felthouse (Off The Beaten Track)

Another interview for you guys today, this time I'm asking author Lucy Felthouse why she writes erotical romance and more! If you'd like to know more about her or her book, please visit her website.

The Interview

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

Lucy: I'll let my carefully crafted author bio do the job... [Note: which can be found below]

Can you tell us a bit more about your newest release, Off the Beaten Track?

It belongs to Resplendence Publishing's Erotic Gems line, which basically means it's a short and very hot story. It's the story of a workaholic who's forced by her friends and family to take a vacation. She's against the idea, but once there, she meets a totally hot tour guide and soon forgets all about work... ;)

What made you want to be a writer of erotic romance? Was it a conscious decision?

No, not at all. It actually started at University. I did a degree in Creative Writing, and while at lunch with my Uni friends one day, following a quite rude conversation, one of them suggested I should write an erotic story. I said no at first, but then I was dared, so I couldn't really say no then! I found that I enjoyed it, and that the stories went down very well with the people that read them, so I've never looked back.

Do you have a certain writing regime, or do you just write when you feel like it?

It depends on what deadlines I have coming up. I juggle my writing with my "day job" which is running my own business, Writer Marketing Services (http://www.writermarketing.co.uk), so I can move things around when I need more time to write, and vice versa. Though if I'm feeling particularly in the mood to write, I try to take advantage wherever possible so I can get as many words down on the page as possible!

What do you like best about being a writer?

Being published. There's no better feeling for me than seeing my work go on sale – except of course, people buying it and enjoying it. I love feedback, and check out my reviews quite often and take on board what's being said.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes. Read lots in your chosen genre, research the market, and learn to edit yourself. There's nothing worse than an editor receiving an error and typo ridden manuscript. At least do your best to give yourself more of a chance of being noticed

Thank you for answering my questions! (:

Thanks so much for having me!

Bio

Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, House of Erotica, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Summerhouse Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
(Hercule Poirot #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Published 1920 by Various Publishers

This was my very first venture into the world of Agatha Christie. I decided to read all of her books in the order they were published, instead of starting with the most known ones.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles introduces recurring characters Mr Hastings and Monsieur Poirot. Mr Hastings is staying with a friend of his at Styles, where during his stay suddenly the elderly step-mother gets murdered. He turns to retired detective Poirot for help. One in the household is a murderer, but who?

Agata Christie's book is very accessible. Books that are written more than fifty years ago can be sometimes hard to read, filled with archaic words that are hard to decipher for a foreigner like me. I was glad to find out this wasn't the case - The Mysterious Affair at Styles was an easy and quick read.

With its historical setting this is a cozy read. There are no gruesome details, there is no explicit violence. The murderer doesn't get chased but is unmasked by sheer intelligence. Not only does this make it readable for a younger audience, but sometimes for adults it's nice to have a break from all the violence and sex of contemporary books. This would be a perfect read for a gloomy winter's day.

I had no idea who the murderer was until everything got revealed. At some point in the story I kind of suspected everyone. I love how Ms Christie makes sure you don't exclude anyone from suspicion. Poirot was a slightly arrogant but funny little Belgian fellow, that made me think of Sherlock Holmes with a strange moustache.

I'm looking forward to read more Agatha Christie books. I very much enjoyed this one!

Blurb

The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Guest Post: Kelsey on Blogging

Hi guys, I got a very special guest over today. I had a call on Twitter a week ago to find some guest bloggers to stop by on Nyx Book Reviews, and fellow book blogger Kelsey decided to help me out! Kelsey is the mastermind behind Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf. Check out her blog too! (:

The Guest Post

What I've learned about myself from blogging

I've been blogging for almost a year now, and I feel like I've learned so much about it along the way, but here is a little list of the things blogging has taught me about myself.

I can't be forced to read anything. Back in high school they would give us books to read and write reports about, and I really sucked at it actually. I had trouble keeping interest and my book reports always had ok marks, because I had difficulty explaining anything, let alone remembering what I read. Not only were the books not what I enjoyed, but I've just never liked being forced to read anything. I didn't fully realized how much I liked reading and choosing my own books until I started blogging, and realized how many awesome books there are out there!

I need to write for myself. When I first started blogging, I was really worried about not sounding professional or not having anything well written, or people liking my content. But after visiting other blogs and keeping up with my own posts for almost a year now, I realized that it doesn't really matter. As long as I write what I care about, get my feelings out there and be as honest as I can, that's what's important. Otherwise it would get boring and be bland and I would most likely give up on it completely. After all, blogging isn't about impressing others, but sharing your experiences and having fun right?

I'm more confident and less shy than I thought I would be. All those book bloggers out there were the reason for this. When I first started out, of course I had a lot of questions, but I was a bit worried about bugging others constantly. But I did it anyway, and not only would I get many answers to help me out right away, all the comments on reviews and my posts cheering me on just made my day, and help me feel more a part of everything. I think this whole experience has changed me a bit, and I love all of it.

I think just being a part of something and doing what you love is a great thing, but if it can inspire you to change, adapt, or learn, then it's even more worthwhile to keep doing it. Sop hopefully I'm doing this for years to come! Have there been any ways in which blogging has changed you?

Bio

Hi! I’m Kelsey, and I’m a 24 year old Canadian girl.

I work in the printing industry with a small company, running digital machines, and doing a bit of design. I’m the manager of bindery, and shipping jobs to clients.

I originally started my blog because I wanted to test out WordPress so I could help with my work’s blog. I fell in love with the idea, played around with a few things, and eventually I decided to change it into a book blog August 2011, thanks to a read-a-thon.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Cover Cravings: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Published: February 7th 2012 (Razorbill)
Click photo to see it full sized


I'm currently listening to this one on audiobook, but I'd like to talk about that awesome cover for a bit too. It was the cover that drew me in to pick it up (yes I know, I pick books because of their covers) and the fact that it's about witches. We need more books about witches! Vampires and werewolves bore me sometimes, while magic is something that's always refreshing.

From the cover you can't really tell this is about witches. There are no cool swirly things or sparkles or wands, the only indication it has magic in it is the subtitle "The Cahill Witch Chronicles". I like the title and its font - it's simple and short, yet very mysterious and appealing. Born Wicked? How can you be born wicked? It has an instant attraction that makes you want to know more about this book.

The main focus of the cover is the upside-down face with the flowers. The rest of the body is slightly out of focus, making the eyes pop out. I absolutely adore the colour composition of this cover. The mossy green outside, the bright white dress and the red and pink of the flowers underneath her blue eyes. I love the fact that even though the main character is apparently "born wicked", she is wearing a white dress which is a sign of purity. I'm not sure how much I like the dress itself - it's slightly too ruffed for my taste.

The main reason I love this cover so much is because it stands out from other YA covers. Blue, red and black are colours that are very hip right now, usually with a girl standing or running. I think this one looks very beautiful and inviting, everything a cover should be. I would love to have this one in hardcover so I could put it on my shelves.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Book Favourites: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


In a perfect world, reviewers would be able to review every single book they read. But as most of you know, you can't. Sometimes it's because you simply don't have the time. Sometimes it's because you just can't find the inspiration. And sometimes the book you're reading is so awesome that you can't describe it without turning into a blubbering fangirl. Every week I will be highlighting one of such books in Book Favourites.

A friend of mine recommended this series, and I started reading it last year. I've finished the first two books, but I'm hoping to fit the rest of the series in with my reading schedule. I'm talking about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams! These little books are a science-fiction classic, and rightly so.


Why this series is awesome:
  • It's like the daydream of an astrophysicist on XTC. These books are completely crazy
  • You can say what you like, but they're definitely original
  • Did you know the name of the Babel Fish online translator comes from these books?
  • Brilliant writing style
  • Incredibly fast reads - these books are all about 200-250 pages
  • If you have a particular sense of humour, these books are very funny

I recommend this series if you like:
  • Science fiction
  • Short books
  • Daydreams of astrophysicists on XTC
  • Space-travel
  • Classics

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
4 out of 5 stars

Published May 1st 2012 by Amulet
ARC received through Netgalley

After reading all of the negative reviews on The Peculiars I wasn't expecting that much. I was happily surprised that although the book is rather slow-paced, the setting was definitely worth it.

Lena's dad was a goblin, a Peculiar. Now the government has decided that all Peculiars have to be sent to work in mines in Scree, a inhospitable and wild land. She has the strange triple-jointed hands and large feet that point to goblinism, and she is scared she has also inherited her father's wickedness. When she turns eighteen and receives a letter of her father, she decides to go to Scree to find him.

I think the blurb of The Peculiars is very misleading. It boasts a thrilling adventure, but to be honest the adventure part of this book is very little. It's mostly about Lena's insecurity about her identity and how to live with the stigma of being different. Big parts of the story are spent in libraries, in coaches and in tearooms. It reminds me of the slow but dark gait of Victorian fiction.

The steampunk aspect of the book is rather light - I think you could better classify The Peculiars as alternate history. There are some nifty inventions, but since Lena herself doesn't really have an interest in them, they are only in the background.

I was very interested in the mythology behind the Peculiars, but this book didn't answer all of my questions. I hope we learn more about them in the next book. Or isn't there going to be one? I can't find information on this being a series or not, but if it's a standalone I'm going to be very disappointed.

Even though the main character Lena is rather whiny, I very much enjoyed the story because of an interesting cast of secondary characters and the overall mood. Ms McQuerry does dark and foreboding very well, and that was mostly what kept me reading. I would like to read more about this world and find out which kind of Peculiars there are and how they came to be.

Blurb

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. 

Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. 

On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Interview: Ruth Warburton (A Witch in Winter)

It took a little while coming, but I'm super happy to introduce the wonderful Ruth Warburton today! I loved her first book, A Witch in Winter and can't wait for her second. Make sure to visit her site too!

The Interview

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

Ruth: I grew up in Lewes, which is a small town on the South coast of England. I loved reading and writing, and was always scribbling from the time I could write (or type). Now I live in London and write two days a week - I have a day job the rest of the time.

Can you describe your book, Witch in Winter, in one sentence?

It's about a girl who accidentally puts a love spell on a boy, and then can't take it off again.

Your spells are inspired by many different sources; how did you decide which to use?

I did a lot of online research and basically cherry picked the elements I liked best - the spells that captured my imagination and which fitted with the plot. Nothing is 100% real though, they are all altered to fit the plot and the practicalities of what Anna could/would have done. Plus I'm not sure I would have felt quite comfortable about including real black magic in the book.

Stories about witches are about as old as mankind itself. Why do you think we are obsessed with the supernatural, even now?

Wow - good question! I suppose they are a way of trying to understand the unexplainable aspects of our world. Even today, with all our scientific knowledge, there is so much we can't explain or control, and the more we discover, the more we find out how little we really know. Perhaps stories about the supernatural are a way of exploring that, and trying to control these elements with our imagination.

What do you like best about being a writer?

One, getting paid for doing something that's basically brilliant FUN. Two, meeting readers. I still can't get over the fact that so many people have read my imaginary friends - they spent so long inside my head and computer.

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

I read a lot but mainly for work (I work with adult literary fiction). However at the moment I'm reading CRACKS by Caroline Green which is just brilliant, it's about a boy (Cal) who finds his whole existence begins, literally, to crumble. And then he wakes up. It's really scary, and Cal is an unforgettable voice. She does "teen boy" just spookily perfectly.

The next part of the Winter Trilogy, Witch in Love, is scheduled to be published in July. Can you maybe give us a little hint at what is in store next for Anna?

Hmm... let me see! Well... Anna is left with some questions unanswered at the end of A Witch in Winter. Where did she get her powers? What exactly do the Ealdwitan want with her? What happened to her mother and why won't her dad talk about it? And, finally, does Seth really, truly love her? In A Witch in Love she sets about trying to find the answers for all these questions, but they aren't always the answers she was hoping for. Plus there's a new enemy watching from the shadows...

Thank you for answering my questions! (:

You're welcome - thanks for having me!

Bio

I was born and brought up in Sussex on the south coast of England, and I spent most of my childhood in the town of Lewes; a small town with a long history.

At university I studied English Language and Literature at the University of Manchester, and the course included Old English and Middle English texts. While I was researching A Witch in Winter I found myself returning to them, in particular to Beowulf and Le Morte D’Arthur. Seeds from these mixed with ancient Mesopotamian demons, Voodoo spells, Tudor superstitions and 15th century witch-hunting guides to create the Winter Trilogy.

Now I live in North London in a house full of boys, and I work as a publicist in the day, and a writer by night. A Witch in Winter is my first book.


Links

> Read my review of A Witch in Winter

> Buy A Witch in Winter

Monday, 21 May 2012

New Adult - The Next Best Thing or Completely Unnecessary

I'm coming across this phenomenon more often and I thought I'd share it with you all. Not everyone has heard about it yet, and I would love to have some more opinions on this.

The subject is the following:

Do we need another category of books between YA and adult books, called New Adult?

It's hard to find the source of this idea. It turns out the discussion has been raging for years. This article written by the wonderful Diana Peterfreund is very informative - without picking sides - on the subject. It tells how the genre originated. Here's the gist of it: in 2009 St. Martins Press kind of thought up the genre, and dared authors to write the books.

Let's take a closer look to what a "New Adult" book is. Basically it's older than YA but younger than adult. We're talking about 20-something characters. It contains topics that are too mature for YA books, but don't have the graphic sex or violence that adult books often contain.

It's 2012 now. The New Adult genre has been thought up three years ago and it still hasn't taken off. I talked about this to some people on Twitter, and most of them didn't even know there was such a genre. A few found it a good idea, saying they were looking for this exact kind of book. Others agree with me - we do not need this genre.

My first point is that there is no market for it. This idea has been there for a couple of years now yet I don't see any New Adult shelves anywhere. I don't see books carrying a New Adult label. The big publishers like making money. If there is something to earn they will do it. Young Adult is a very productive market and look at how fast the publishers jumped on that ship. I'm trusting their expertise in measuring up the market - if there was money to make with the New Adult genre, it would have been here already.

The second is that people that are advocating for the New Adult genre are mostly writers, not the readers. I came across this post, which boasts: "The New Adult category is a response to agents, editors and publishers". I find this rather ironic, since these publishers they're responding to have actually invented the genre. I completely get that it must be frustrating to hear that you have to "make the characters younger so they fit in YA" or "add more graphic sex so it's more adult". But to be honest these just probably aren't the right publishers for you.

There are countless books that should be categorised as New Adult but that are marketed as either YA or adult. These books are getting published - it's not like there is a massive void between YA and adult. On the top of my head I'm thinking of Grave Mercy, the Shifters series, the Newsflesh trilogy. There is so many cross-over these days genre-wise (adults reading YA, young adults reading adult) that to me it seems pointless to put another limiting label on these books.

That's my two cents, but I'd love to hear your opinion on this. Would you want a different genre for New Adult books?

Bout of Books 4.0 Readathon: Wrap-Up

The Bout of Books readathon is over again *sadface*. That week went by so quickly!

It was yet another amazing readathon. I participated in one of the Twitter chats, and it was absolutely brilliant! My fingers still slightly ache when I think about it...

 I hosted another challenge this readathon, this time a Book Confessions one! I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of people participating in it. I commented on a few of them, but I read them all. Thank you all for being a good sport <3

My original goal was to read four books. Because of some unexpected family visit I lost a whole day of reading. In the end I still did pretty good; I finished three books. Here's my goal list with the books I read crossed out:

I read a total of 760 pages this week. It's higher than my average, so I'm feeling pretty proud. The next readathon is probably around August. I can't wait!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

This Week's New Books

If you're wondering why I'm not having an IMM - read this post.

There are so many new "Look at my new books!" memes that I'm having troubles choosing. I know a few of the hosts personally and I don't feel like picking teams on this one. So, I introduce my own conglomeration of all the memes out there! If you're hosting a similar meme or if one of your friends hosts one, let me know and I'll add their graphic (:


Still on the book buying ban! I did get a very new and shiny non-fiction book from my mom that looks awesome. I'm still supposed to get two more books from the boyfriend, but we decided to go to the movies for our anniversary instead (: I'm forcing him to buy me Insurgent soon though!

Click on the covers to go to their Goodreads page.

Gifted:


I'm a total disaster with Photoshop. Like really, really bad. So I hope this book will help me make shiny pictures for my blog. My first project will be to make a new button. :D

So what do you have in your mailbox, on your shelf or to showcase? Leave a comment with your link so I can visit you back!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey
(Eve #1)
3 out of 5 stars

Published 2011 by HarperCollins

The first few pages of Eve got me completely hooked. School of misguided girls? Mysterious place where they go when they graduate? 98% of the population killed by the plague? Hell yes!

But then everything goes downhill. This is a very short book, and I was looking forward to a quick read. I got my quick read, but it was expense of the plot. Almost every single plot-point in the book was rushed. The love interest turned into insta-love. People get killed off and pretty much forgotten. Most characters are either shallow or completely unpredictable. The more I think about it, the less impressed I am by the plotline. Almost nothing is explained and there aren't any subplots.

Another thing that started to annoy me after a while are the mistakes. Several times there was talk of bare shoulders while they were wearing long-sleeved shirts. They walk on bare feet, but it never gets mentioned that their feet hurt. Try walking without shoes in a forest. It hurts, I can tell you!

I don't get why the guys in this book are so absolutely awful. In School, Eve gets learned that men are disgusting, manipulative and primitive, except for the King, who is all kinds of awesome. After she escapes from school, she meets men for the first time in her life. Of course she is afraid of them. Of course she views them as alien life forms. But why did the men themselves have to be that god-awful? Why should they run around in murderous pacts that rape every girly thing they see? Every man in this story is pictured as an abusive, traitorous, and overall disgusting person. Except for the love interest. And a few six year olds. The rest of them? Pigs. Another fun fact: every bad guy smells like alcohol. Good guy hero doesn't drink. Prejudice much?

I really liked the premise, and the story itself was enjoyable and quick, but the man hating nature of Eve put me off. If you're looking for a fast-paced story with a dystopian backdrop, you can give Eve a try.

Blurb

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust... and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Readathon: Book Confessions


Welcome everyone to the second day of the Bout of Books Readathon 4.0! For more info on the readathon, click on the nice picture at the top to go to the official Bout of Books website, where you can also find other challenges and awesome giveaways.

Today I am your challenge host! I hope you all got off a good start, and already got some reading done. Either way, it's now time to grab a cup of tea and a snack and share your Book Confessions!

The Book Confessions challenge consists of two parts. I know some of you have a lot of stories and love to tell them, but others need some more motivation. Therefore you can choose one of the two options. If you feel like doing them both, I won't stop you!

For one lucky participant I'm giving away a Mystery Book from The Book Depository. I'm not telling you which one, it's a surprise!

To be entered, answer one of the two questions on your blog, in the comments below, on Facebook. Pretty much where ever you want as long as I can find it. Leave directions or a link to your comment in the form below. The giveaway is open internationally, as long as you are signed up on the Bout of Books site! (This is a 24-hour challenge. If you fill in the form after that you're not entered for the giveaway)


PART ONE: Share your most shocking, embarrassing or funny book related story.

- Or -

PART TWO: Answer all of these "this or that" questions.

Physical book or eBook?
Paperback or Hardcover?
Reality or Make-believe?
Adult or Young-Adult?
Dog ears or Bookmarks?
Breaking the spine or Barely open the book?
Tea or Coffee?
Reading in bed or On the couch?
 Series or Standalone?
Original or TV Adaptation?
 Defy motion sickness or Audiobooks?
Author crushes or Who-was-that-guy-again?
Interview or Guest post?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Readathon: Updates

I decided to make one big post where I update my progress instead of cluttering the sidebar with all these different posts.

For more info on the readathon, visit the Bout of Books website. You find see my reading stack and goals here.

I'll also be using this post to participate in some challenges (:


As part of the Monday challenge, Sarah asks: “What do you like best about readathons? Do you have any readathon traditions or rituals? If this is your first readathon, what do you like so far?”

Readathons are made of awesome! Seriously, if you've never participated in one, you should try it! So far I've been liking the low-pressure ones best. It's more about the community feel than actually reading a lot. You will still read more than you usually do - but it's not a contest.
I don't have any real traditions. I guess talking way too much on Twitter and forgetting to read is a tradition? I always make a neat little stack of books that I want to read as a visual reminder that I'm doing a readathon. And I eat lots of snacks!

Monday 5/14
Pages I've read today: 300
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books: Ashfall by Mike Mullin & The Restaurant on the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Tuesday 5/15
Pages I've read today: 200
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books: Eve by Anna Carey

Wednesday 5/16
Pages I've read today: 120
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Books: Eve by Anna Carey

Thursday 5/17
Pages I've read today: 0
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Books: No books! I didn't read a single thing today! ):

Friday 5/18
Pages I've read today: 40
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Books: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry & The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

There's an awesome challenge today, hosted by The Reading Housewives of Indiana. It's about books AND shoes! I love shoes! Here are some book-shoe combos I made:


 I love these boots! I think Rachel would agree, even though they're not knee length.


Okay, these shoes have absolutely nothing to do with either zombies or unicorns, but they got such an awesome print that I had to put them next to something equally shiny.


Another Harrison book. The main character Madison loves colour and even has purple hair. I think she would like my new All Stars (:

Saturday 5/19
Pages I've read today: 0
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Books: 0

Sunday 5/20
Pages I've read today: 100
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 3
Books: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
(Ashfall #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Published 2011 by Tanglewood Press
Copy received through the publisher

Dystopians seem to be the new vampires. I loved the new trend - but after a while they started to blur together. I think Ashfall which has been published last year is a breath of fresh air in the young-adult genre.

Alex is home alone when the biggest natural disaster of the century happens. He doesn't know it yet, but the Yellowstone supervulcano has erupted, shrouding the sky in darkness and covering the ground with ash. Will Alex be able to find his family? Or will he become one of the many victims of the disaster?

Ashfall is a very realistic post-apocalyptic book with dystopian elements. It's one of those books that is so painfully real that it makes you uncomfortable. This could actually happen - there are some notes in the back about the facts that made up this book.

I loved how well-researched this book is. I watched Discovery Channel instead of Disney films when growing up, and a lot of details I encountered in the book made me think "ohh, good job incorporating that into the story!".

Young-adult books are very much dominated by girl point-of-view books. I was happy to see that Mr Mullin not only presented a likeable boy, but also one of the strongest girl love interests I've encountered so far. Darla is a wonderful character. She's literally stronger than Alex which I thought was brilliant, and she's a mechanic that can fix about everything. I'm impressed and a little sad at the same time that a male author writes a better female character than so many female writers.

I've read some complaints that Alex only thought about sex and that he just wanted to do Darla. I completely disagree. He truly cares for her, and sex is secondary to that. I found the relationship between Alex and Darla realistic. Which sixteen and eighteen year olds don't think about sex? In most YA girl point-of-view books sex takes a very background role. They don't think much about it, if at all. I'm not sure why. Is it (still) a taboo subject for girls? Are writers afraid they might come across as sluts? All I know is that the sex part was beautifully handled in Ashfall, and it's safe to read for a slightly younger audience, as the scene fades out before any naked stuff happens.

The dystopian elements is where it went a little bit down-hill for me. In fact, it's probably just a cultural difference between me, a girl from the Netherlands, and the intended audience over there in the States. I'm really not afraid that the government will restrict my movements and that the army kind of takes over the country. I'm not afraid that every person you meet has a gun, because to be honest nobody has a gun here. You would have to import it illegally, and I'm sure that's not going to happen if a volcano goes boom. I'm sure it might be scary for people from the USA, but it's one of those things that doesn't work so well for the people overseas.

I would recommend this book in a second for your son/brother or any other male in your family. About halfway into the book I started poking my boyfriend "Read this! You'll love it!". Girls that like their books dark and realistic, feel free to give it a try too.

Blurb

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Sunday, 13 May 2012

This Week's New Books

If you're wondering why I'm not having an IMM - read this post.

There are so many new "Look at my new books!" memes that I'm having troubles choosing. I know a few of the hosts personally and I don't feel like picking teams on this one. So, I introduce my own conglomeration of all the memes out there! If you're hosting a similar meme or if one of your friends hosts one, let me know and I'll add their graphic (:


I'm currently on a book-buying ban since I have a TBR Hill to get through. These are all of my new books of the last two weeks. I'm doing great, right? My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 1,5 year anniversary next Saturday (and I know he will buy me books :D) so next week I'll have a bit more to show you.

Click on the covers to go to their Goodreads page.

Review:


I heard awesome stuff about this book from its publisher on The London Book Fair, so when it was available on Netgalley for read-now I just had to request it. Haven't started it yet, but it looks really good.


I love the cover for this one. It's slightly cartoon-y but very mysterious at the same time. The blurb sounds absolutely amazing!


So what do you have in your mailbox, on your shelf or to showcase? Leave a comment with your link so I can visit you back!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Spring Fling Hop Winners!

Hi guys, it's time to announce the two winners of the Spring Fling Giveaway hop! It was quite a success this time, and as I reached 600 followers during the hop I'm giving away the Mystery Prize! Thank you so much for participating you all <3

One book from The Book Depository...

Congratulations Sheena-kay!

The Mystery Prize...

Congratulations DarkBloodyVamp!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Readathon: Goals

With the Bout of Books 4.0 readathon coming closer and closer (for more info and sign ups, click the image), it's time to post my reading goals!

I'm almost a Bout of Books veteran, having participated in Bout of Books 2.0 and 3.0, and I know that I will probably spend a lot less on reading than I'm planning to. Especially since I'm hosting a challenge again (yay!) and with all the socialising going on, both on Twitter and on other people's blogs. I'm going to try to finish four books. I hope I can get above that though!

Here's what's on my pile:

What are you reading for the readathon? Leave a comment!

Project And-Now-I'm-Gonna-Write-The-Damn-Thing

A lot of us readers are secretly admiring all of our favourite authors and think "I wish I could be an author someday"... I've been creating little stories in my head since I can remember and I've written a short story or two, but I never put one of my longer stories on paper. That was, until a week ago. I downloaded the free trial version of Scrivener (a writing software thing - for more info visit their site) and just got on with it.

I declare May the month where I will spend one hour every day to Project And-Now-I'm-Gonna-Write-The-Damn-Thing, or Project ANIGWTDT for short. Okay, I might have to work on the name for a bit.

For those of you who are curious about my writing endeavours, I made a separate blog for it. Visit me! I just posted a very cool excerpt, check it out (:

So what about you guys? Do you ever dream of becoming a published author? Or do you write yourself? (If so, leave me a link, I would love to add you to my little "Fellow Writers" list!)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Review: Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Anita Blake #8)
4 out of 5 stars

Published 1998 by Ace
This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series

There are so many characters in the Anita Blake series. Almost every book there are added more to Anita's group of sexy hunks. All these characters are both the strength and the weakness of Blue Moon.

Usually when I write a review, I add a little paragraph describing the main plot. The problem with this book is that there is so little plot that it almost seems useless to try to explain it. I'll give you a tiny summary instead: Richard is accused of rape, he'll turn furry soon, have to get him out of jail. And something with trolls.

Hamilton's heavy characterising is taking the toll on her plots. When this series started, the books were about a murder or an investigation, and you met some awesome people in between. Now the people are taking the stage, leaving almost no room for the plot. Seriously, there is so much talking, so much in depth flashes into the lives of about eight people of her sexy hunk group. The real plot could be described in just eighty pages.

The thing is, I really like character based books. So I don't get bored of all the interactions. But I know many of you are plot-lovers. I wouldn't recommend the Anita Blake books (the fifth and up) if you prefer plot-heavy books. In this one, there was a teeny tiny plot. From what I've heard, it'll only get smaller and smaller from now on.

Aside from the fact that I just detest Richard lately, this book was very enjoyable for me. It's like watching a horror paranormal soap series. Nothing very exciting, but definitely addicting.

On to the next one!

Blurb

When she chose master vampire Jean-Claude over her ex-fiancé, alpha werewolf Richard Zeeman, Anita learned that sometimes love is not enough. But though she and Richard won’t be walking down any aisles, she can’t turn her back on him when he’s arrested on a rape charge in Tennessee. Anita knows firsthand that Richard has the morals of a saint—or at least a boy scout. But his guilt or innocence is not the issue. He’s behind bars, and in five days a full moon will rise…

Other reviews you might be interested in
More links

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Mountain - I Sized It Up

Today I counted all the books that I own that I still have to read. Not ebook ones, I'm way to scared to count those, but just the books I have on my bookshelves. Guys, I was scared. I was afraid The Mountain would be like this:


I'm proud to say, it was more like this:


My TBR Mountain is more like a TBR Hill. You still don't want to climb it, but it doesn't scare you as much as its snow-topped big brother. As it turns out, I have 117 unread books. That's right, I passed the one-hundred mark. But I was fearing that I sneakily passed the two hundred too when I was looking the other way. I am so, so glad that it's just 117. That means that if I would stop blogging entirely, and I would continue reading as much as I do now, I would read through all of my books in just one year. That really doesn't feel like an endless supply, as I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong, it's way too much still.

But I'm not beyond saviour, and that's something I'm proud of. I'm not buried by unread books just yet. So right here, right now, I declare a challenge with myself. I am going to reduce the size of my pile this year. At the end of this year in December, I will count all of my TBR books again. And it will not be 117 or more. Let's make a goal.

At the end of this year, I will have reduced my TBR Hill to 80 books.

Because, let's be honest, I will still be buying new books. I'll still get books for review. But I'll try to keep up with my reading, and won't go on a book buying spree when I don't even have time to read. I'll add a "Size of the Hill" part to my Monthly Updates from now on, so you guys can all follow my progress. Wish me luck!

I would love to know how your TBR Mountains are doing. When was the last time you dared to count? Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences (:

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Page Count Contest

The Page Count Contest hosted by Reading Angel continues! After the success of the April Page Count Contest, the contest is now prolonged. Every week there is a top 20 posted, and a few of the fast readers can win some awesome prizes.

I'm a bit late with making my sign up post, as the submissions for this month are already closed (sorry!), but I just haven't finished a book this month. I'm reading three at a time, and they're all pretty long ones. The Bout of Books readathon starts the 14th, I hope that will be the week I will finally read all those review books.

Here is my tentative to be read list for May:
That would bring my total of read pages this month to 3,500 pages. Last month I did 3,400 so hopefully it will be doable. Let me know if you're participating in the contest too! If not, what is your to read goal this month?