Coming Soon: This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda

Title: This Gulf of Time and Stars

Author: Julie E. Czerneda

Series: Reunification #1 [A Clan Novel]

Genre: Science Fiction

Release Date: November 3, 2015

The Overview: First in a new science fiction trilogy, set in the same universe as the Clan Chronicles, by the Prix Aurora Award-winning Julie E. Czerneda. [I’m a little underwhelmed by this description… Basically, if you’ve read anything in the Clan world, or more specifically, the Trade Pact Universe Trilogy beginning with A Thousand Words for Stranger, this is a continuation of Sira and Morgan’s story.]

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Czerneda is my favorite sci-fi author, and I recently entered (and lost) her Beta Reader competition to have the chance to check out an early copy of this very book for consistencies. I “studied” for the competition for about two months, but in the end just missed the mark (but would totally do it again if the opportunity presented itself – how many people get to say they beta read for one of their favorite authors?). Anyway, I think it’s safe to say I know this series a lot better than the average reader and am tickled pink to finally get my hands on This Gulf of Time and Stars in November. It’s a continuation of Sira and Morgan’s story, so I’d recommend reading the Trade Pact Universe first at the very least and  the excellent prequel series, Stratification, at the most. I loved them all!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Breakout by Ann Aguirre

Breakout by Ann Aguirre

Title: Breakout

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: The Dred Chronicles #3

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost—who is their only chance at escape—the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station. If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom—a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp…

The Review:

I love Ann Aguirre’s work. She always manages to take me on an amazing adventure alongside quirky, memorable characters. The Dred Chronicles were no different, and I sit here in awe at how she managed to incorporate a tender love story amidst bloodly battles on a space station prison. And you know what? It totally worked, providing a stellar balance of action and romance. All I can say is, I thoroughly enjoyed this series and sincerely hope it’s not the last story she tells from this universe.

I think it’s important to note that Havoc, book 2 in this series, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was action-packed, fast-paced, and heart-wrenching, topped off with great characters, cool aliens, freaky enemies, and a killer setting (seriously – the overall atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever read – it was awesome!). Breakout had all of those same elements but, while I still appreciate it as a series ender, I’m sad to say I didn’t like it quite as much (but definitely think it’s still worth the read!!!). And my reasoning comes down to pacing:

The first half of the book, where I felt the most intensity and emotional investment, was kind of rushed. There were several major events illustrated by only a few paragraphs, and I don’t think either my brain or my emotions had enough time to process everything. Simultaneously, the end half of the book, where I felt the story had reached its climax and was already in its resolution phase, was unproportionately drawn out. Personally, I would’ve loved to see the pacing distribution more heavily weighted towards the front, but that’s just me.

All that said though, I still loved this series as a whole and consider Aguirre one of my favorite authors. Although this is a spinoff of her Sirantha Jax series, I think it stands solidly on its own (but you should still totally read about Jax if you can because her story is amazing). Space opera fans, hold onto your seats because The Dred Chronicles are nothing if not a wild ride!

*Thank you Penguin Group Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, NetGalley, and Ann Aguirre for the chance to read and review an early copy of Breakout!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Well, this post is embarrassingly late. I blame over ambition… And a horrifying eye strain issue that kept me from reading, writing, and essentially functioning for three days. :/ In any case, I initially tried to narrow my list down to ten authors, but felt guilty for every one I had to knock off. Long story short, enjoy ALL THE AUTHORS I’ve read the most books from (my favorites, anyway).

Top Ten Fifteen Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From!

1. Richelle Mead

I’ve read everything she’s published and for the longest time have considered her my favorite author. Thank goodness she’s so prolific!

2. R.A. Salvatore

I love this series and think the author is great at sparking a sense of adventure and excitement. Even though Salvatore made the list, I still have several non-Drizzt books on my shelves waiting to be read.

3. Brandon Sanderson

So many amazing stories – it’s difficult to believe they all came from one mind. I have not read a single Sanderson that got lower than 4 stars – in fact, most of them were solid 5s!

4. Kim Harrison/Dawn Cook

I actually read Kim Harrison first as Dawn Cook then got really bummed when four or five years went by where she didn’t publish anything new… Imagine my delight when I discovered her Rachel Morgan series (which is now my favorite urban fantasy series)!

5. Glenda Larke

I love Glenda Larke with a passion, so much so that I was even willing to pay astronomical shipping to buy her Mirage series from overseas. Her world building is phenomenal and her stories are unforgettable – I recommend all of them!

6. Raymond E. Feist

This is the author/series that really ignited my love of fantasy. I’ve been slowly making my way through all the books, savoring each one as I go, for the last fifteen years and am finally getting close to having read them all.

7. Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs is such a cool author – she’s made a huge fan out of me with her Mercy Thompson series, and I have also thoroughly enjoyed her fantasy novels (although I admit I still have a few of those to read). I like her. :-)

8. Daniel Abraham

Daniel Abraham is an author who does not get enough credit for his vast array of works (although, some of that might be due to his many pen names). Regardless, I’ve read most of his works and appreciate all of them.

9. Julie E. Czerneda

Czerneda is my favorite science fiction author, and I have to thank Luis Royo for putting them on my radar with his gorgeous cover art. I am super excited for This Gulf of Time and Stars coming out within the next couple of months!

10. Robin Hobb

It is so difficult for me to declare which author is my all-time favorite, but with every new book by Robin Hobb, that decision becomes easier and easier. She is a remarkable author, and her books stay with me years after I’ve read them.

11. Brian Jacques

I didn’t start taking reading seriously until my eleventh year, when I came across The Outcast of Redwall in my middle school library and decided I wanted to get good enough at reading to tackle a novel of that size. It was a major revelation in my life, and I have enjoyed each of these books countless times throughout the years.

12. Ann Aguirre

Aguirre might not be my favorite author, but she sure as hell makes my top five. I have completely enjoyed everything I’ve read by her and am impressed that she can brilliantly write stories from so many different genres.

13. Jacqueline Carey

I love this series with a passion and have not even made my way through all of them, but only because I take several weeks to savor each one. I am super eager to read her new urban fantasy series, but I’m equally terrified to run out of Carey books to read.

14. Keri Arthur

As many books as I’ve read from this fantastic urban fantasy author, I still have about double that amount before I’ve read everything she’s published. I like her newer stuff better than the older, and her Riley Jensen series is still among my all-time favorites.

15. Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

This was arguably one of the earliest series that I read to completion (not counting all of the spinoff novels, although I did read a bunch of those as well). I think these are an excellent introduction to the realm of fantasy and recommend it often to young readers wanting to tackle the genre without getting into anything too heavy.

I love all of the authors on this list, and would like to pay an honorable mention to Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Mindy McGinnis, Rae Carson, Rachel Aaron, and Melissa Landers. All of these authors would have made the list if they’d had more books out – I completely devour anything new that gets published! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my really long, really late list!

What authors have you read the most books from?

by Niki Hawkes


Mini Book Review: The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

cloud roadsTitle: The Cloud Roads

Author: Martha Wells

Series: The Books of the Raksura #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself… someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn’t tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power… that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony’s survival… and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself… and his newfound kin.

The Mini Review:

I can say with absolute confidence that I’ve never read anything quite like The Cloud Roads. My initial reaction after finishing it was “what a cool book!” and that can largely be attributed to the author’s expansive world-building. I feel like I’m pretty well-read in fantasy and, while authors dazzled me all the time with their interpretations of familiar concepts, I very rarely come across anything that strikes me as truly original. The Cloud Roads oozed with originality, everything from the sentient inhabitants (including the main protagonist, himself) down to even the most minute flora and fauna. All were unique (and fabulous). All of these creative elements created a strong atmosphere that was easily my favorite component to the book.

Moon, the POV character, was a lot of fun to read about – I can’t think of very many books that boast a nonhuman as a main character. He and those of his race revealed a complete, foreign culture that was as believable as it was alien. As fascinated as I was with his species, I found Moon a little difficult to relate to. Not because he was alien, but because the conflicts he faced didn’t grab me (not to mention they were drawn out a little too long for my tastes… which could also have been a pacing issue). Overall, I’m left feeling a bit torn – I would like to pick up the next novel if for nothing else than to re-immerse myself in the creativity, but don’t feel emotionally attached to the character enough to pick it up anytime soon. Overall, I enjoyed the story and would still definitely recommend it to people in the mood for something different – it was a cool experience.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Coming Soon: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

calamityTitle: Calamity

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Reckoners #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: February 16, 2016

The Overview: When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy. David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . . But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I am a HUGE Brandon Sanderson fan, having loved everything I’ve read by him so far (which at this point is almost everything he has published). The Reckoners series has been a lot of fun – easily one of his most charming/cheeky works to date – and I simply can’t get enough of David and his awful metaphors. The more I learned about how the magic works in this world, the more I want to know, and I am just dying to have my questions answered in this final book! This series is a lot of fun (did I say that already?) And it’s one of the few that I feel comfortable recommending to a wide spectrum of people. Basically, if you like superheroes and supervillains, humor, and great writing, you should probably add Steelheart to your TBR. ;)

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb

August 11, 2015

Title: Fool’s Quest

Author: Robin Hobb

Series: The Fitz and The Fool #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivarly Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose…

The Book Review:

After loving Robin Hobb for so long, I kept thinking there’d come a point where her work would stop dazzling me at every turn. That maybe I’d get used to it or something. What I didn’t expect was to love her more and more with every book, and Fool’s Quest was one of her best yet!

After following Fitz’ journey for eight books now, I am at the point in the story where every minute revelation about the characters or the world (and the history and magic within it) strikes me as profound. I find myself completely immersed in the pages, eagerly seeking my next discovery – discoveries that percolate in my brain and keep me thinking about them months, even years later. But that’s just the kind of brilliant storyteller Robin Hobb is. I remember with the same vivid clarity things that happened in the first trilogy as I do those that happened within the last book. The ending of Fool’s Fate rocked my world so much, it’s partially responsible for why I started a book blog (I just HAD to talk about it).

I think part of the reason these books have such an impact is the culmination of story. What made Fool’s Quest so profound is that it finally converged Fitz’ tale with Hobb’s other stories (Liveship & Rain Wild) that were only on the periphery up until this point – and it was AWESOME in the truest sense of the word. It’s as if all that came before was one long buildup to this brilliant moment where everything finally converges… AND THEN THE BOOK ENDED!!! And I’m on the floor sobbing because I have to wait another year to experience the final book in the trilogy.

What makes these books hard to wait for is what also makes them so special to me. They evoke real emotion and a sense of love and loss that is almost unparalleled by anything else I’ve ever read. Hobb continues to make a very compelling case to claim the spot as my favorite author. When I think about my reading experience, I’m always grateful for her books and how they’ve shaped me as a reader, reviewer, and writer.

Overall, if you like fantasy, I consider Hobb a must-read. The slow pacing of her stories allows you to savor every moment and become completely immersed in this world and these characters. I always come away with a fulfilled sense of having lived another life. I can’t help but recommend them as often as I can start with Assassin’s Apprentice, you won’t regret it!

*Thank you Random House Publishing Group, NetGalley, and Robin Hobb for the chance to read and review an early copy of Fool’s Quest– you made my year!!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


ARC August: Goals & Updates!


This yearly feature hosted by Octavia and Shelly at Read. Sleep. Repeat. couldn’t have come around at a better time. It seems like my ARC requests double around this time of year thanks to all of the brilliant upcoming releases. Currently, I’m challenging myself to make my way through the following ARCs by the end of August (there are a couple more since my sign-up post):

I’m shooting for one a week, but I would love to read them all before the end of August.

Week 1 – 8/8/15:

I finished two ARCs this week – Fool’s Quest and Breakout!

Week 2 – 8/15/15:

I got halfway through Hunter by Mercedes Lackey and picked up two more ARCs! #Fail

Week 3 – 8/22/15:

Week 4 – 8/29/15:

Total – 8/31/15:

Wish me luck!

by Niki Hawkes


Tackling the TBR [4]: August 2015!

tackling the TBR

I don’t think I’ve ever met a book lover who didn’t have an endless TBR. There are just so many amazing books out there! And we all have different ways that we like to work our way through the ever-growing pile. I started this feature back in April with the hopes of building a hub where book lovers could support each other’s tackling of their TBR’s and share their progress. Alas, it hasn’t caught on yet (which surprises me because it is seriously my favorite topic to discuss with other readers) but I’m in love with it so much I’m going to keep posting it at the first of each month, regardless. Here are the feature’s mantras:

Read the best books first.
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

I live by these mantras and as a result of that the best two years of reading in my entire life. However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.

Over the last several Tackling the TBR posts, I’d been utilizing the following method:

1. At the beginning of each month, I select an author from each of my favorite genres
2. I compile all of their unread books onto my TBR Tackler shelves (physical & digital)
3. I pick from that pile throughout the month as the mood strikes me

This TBR strategy took away a lot of the stress I was feeling to get through all of my titles, but now that I have whittled away most of the books from my big series priority authors, it’s time for an adaptation. I also discovered that, while certain authors may be top priority, not necessarily every book they’ve written holds the same weight (authors who cross genres like Ann Aguirre is a great example). Because of this, I found my system needed to evolve to include slightly more variety, hence the new system.

I’m still focusing on the best books first, I’m just changing it to include more authors. My new system is a little less complicated:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2015 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Many of my all-time favorite authors are on this list, so I know there’s no shortage of good books on my TBR this month. I love officially putting them in the top priority, because it really bothers me having so many unread titles from authors I absolutely love.

Now, I can tell you from experience that this Tackling the TBR experiment is so much more fun and rewarding when there’s more than one person (me) participating. I will still be posting a linky on each post in case anybody wants to play along!

Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile!

Maybe we can help make each other’s systems even better. :)

What books are you Tackling this month?

^Yeah, you totally have to click on the frog to see everyone’s links… wish I had been smart enough to figure that out before now (especially since it says so right on it).

by Niki Hawkes


Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 5-7] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 5-7]
by Jim Butcher

I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.

Death Masks

I have the least to say about this book because admittedly I’ve read so many of them recently that it took me a couple of hours and some seriously strenuous brainpower to remember what Death Masks was about… That could be because I’m partially brain-damaged, or because this one didn’t stand out with the clear theme as much as all the other books have. I do remember the Fae being involved, which means there’s a chance I’m mentally combining this one with the book before it and actually remember more than I think I do (kapeesh?). In any case, I enjoyed this one at least as much, and especially loved the addition of Mouse. The best thing I can say is, up to this point the series doesn’t seem to be losing any of its momentum.

4/5 stars

Blood Rites

Just when I think the over-sexualization of every female character in sight might be finally starting to mellow a little bit, Butcher sets this novel in the middle of a freaking porno film studio. I don’t necessarily find the content offensive (although I probably should, but I’m really sick of hearing about people being offended about everything), but I do find it funny, so I sometimes have trouble taking any of these characters/villains seriously. Despite that, somewhere around the middle I found myself really engaged in the story and think Blood Rites might be one of my favorites yet (although that’s not saying much because all the books have been on pretty equal footing). What made the difference was Murphy, who was heavily involved in the plot – I especially loved learning tidbits about her background. Frankly, as much as I love Dresden, anytime I get to hear more about Karen Murphy makes me incredibly happy. I’ve read a few harsh reviews about this novel in specific accusing Harry of being too chauvinistic and annoying… I can see their point, but have yet to find myself at odds with the main character. Whatever his personality, he always makes me laugh. I will say, while I’m enjoying the series immensely, I’m not as emotionally invested in Harry as I could be and I often find myself more concerned with what’s happening to the people around him. Not being emotionally invested is usually a deal-breaker for me, but I’m still enjoying the series so much for all of its other factors (especially the humor) that it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Overall, Blood Rites was just as entertaining as all the books before it.

4.5/5 stars

Dead Beat

Dead Beat focused on necromancers and zombies and I thought they were sufficiently creepy. And can I just say how happy I am that finally the over-sexualization of every woman in sight was finally toned down in this novel – and for the first time, I felt like I could really take them (and the plot) seriously. Granted, a novel focused primarily on the undead was a lot less glamorous than the ones focused on Fae, vampires, or even werewolves, but the handful of female characters introduced were still gorgeous and sexy without the descriptions taking them to the ridiculous. But really, that issue is only been a minor criticism for me. I have to say, it’s a mark of a great author that his books have been consistently four star ratings for me and, if anything, getting stronger with each one. I’m as excited to continue the series now as I was near the beginning. Also, Butters rocked my world. Alas, my only lament is Dead Beat didn’t have much to do with Murphy…

4/5 stars

If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jampacked with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any fan of the genre.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Mini Book Review: Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

 Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Graduation Day

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Series: The Testing #3

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor Cia Vale vows to fight. But she can’t do it alone. This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves – and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

The Mini Review:

Since it has been a really long time since I posted my reviews for the first two books in The Testing Trilogy, I’ll give a little recap:

The Testing: I loved the concept and the actual “testing” these teens were put through, but I found the deaths in the story oddly placed, as if for shock value alone rather than any real plot advancement. I was also not sure what I thought about unique voice and writing style. [3/5 stars]

Independent Study: WHERE HAS THIS BOOK BEEN ALL MY LIFE??! I LOVED Independent Study, and it was one of my favorite books of 2014. Scratch that, it’s one of my favorite books ever. I can’t say what flipped, but everything from story (the tests in particular), to setting, to characters, to voice came together for one hell of a book! Loves. [5/5 stars!]

Graduation Day: was somewhere in between. I enjoyed it immensely and appreciated it as a trilogy ender, but it didn’t have the same X-factor as the second book. Although I will say I liked the ending better than a lot of other dystopians on the market. There was a really nice escalation of events and I felt the resolution was fulfilling and complex, fitting in well with the story as a whole. I also think I appreciated the characters a lot more in Graduation Day than in the previous two books. Cia had to do a lot of peer evaluation as she tried to figure out who she could trust, and I enjoyed trying to psychoanalyze them along with her. The best thing I can say is, by the end of the book I was genuinely worried about who would and wouldn’t make it to the end (gotta love those dystopians).

Overall, I consider this dystopian well worth your time if you like the genre. To me it’s worth it for book 2 alone. I loved them enough to buy them all in hardcover and will definitely be rereading them.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes