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Tackling the TBR [3]: July 2015!

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I started this feature in May as a possible solution to my desperate need for a good TBR system. And you know what? I’m LOVING it so far! It has allowed me to stop stressing about all the unread books in my life because it channels my focus onto the authors I deemed the highest priority. I rest assured that, despite the fact I’m not making my way through my collection as quickly as I’d like, I am at least focusing on the best books first. It also takes away a little bit of that “I’m overwhelmed” factor because there’s usually only twenty books at most in my shortlist (which also gives me a remarkable sense of achievement every time I get to check one off that list). Finally, I love it because I still feel like I get to follow my reading whims – there is a lot of variety within my smaller pool of choices. I think I’ll keep this feature around for a while!

If you missed the Introductory Post, here’s how Tackling the TBR works:

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

Here is my TBR Tackler Shelf for July 2015:

Science Fiction: Rachel Bach
Fantasy: Elizabeth Haydon
Middle Grade: Chad Morris
New Adult: Colleen Hoover
Young Adult: Ann Aguirre
Urban Fantasy: Jim Butcher
Book Club:
Michael J. Sullivan

Last month I made it through more than half the titles on my list. There’s definitely a lot of variety on my TBR tackler shelf this month, which should help keep me from getting bored. There are more unread Jim Butcher books than I included, but I figured six novels was a lofty enough goal. I don’t see any reason why I can’t read and enjoy all of these by the end of July! :-) I included a new “Book Club” category because in some ways it’s the most important TBR for the month, but I didn’t wanted to take the place of my other priority authors. As you can see, my system is still adapting… hopefully for the better.

I will be sharing this post on the first of each month at least until the end of the year (we will see how it goes). I am also going to include a linky on each post so we can support each other in Tackling our TBRs! 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 authors are you Tackling this month?

^ You actually have to click on the blue frog to enter and see links… It seems simple, but it took me a full three weeks before I finally figured that out. #fail

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Thanks to my “read the best books 1st” philosophy, I’ve had an amazing 6 months of reading so far. Here’s a look at some of my favorites:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015!

Some of these titles will definitely end up on my “Best of 2015″ list! I didn’t do this on purpose, but I’m happy to see there is a little bit of every genre I love on this list. Picking an absolute favorite is kind of like comparing apples to oranges, but I’m leaning towards Havoc by Ann Aguirre. Here’s to another six months of awesome reading!

What books made your list?

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

December 1, 2015

Title: Tarnished

Author: Kate Jarvik Birch

Series: Perfected #2

Genre: Teen Dystopian [sort of]

Release Date: December 1, 2015

The Overview: Ella may have escaped to Canada, but she’s hardly free. Stuck in refugee housing for liberated pets, she’s just as trapped as she was at the congressman’s house—only now she has to live without Penn. But she’s determined to get out. And to make matters worse, there are rumors circulating that pets like Ella are turning up dead all over the U.S., not to mention that she might be to blame. When her old acquaintance, Missy, shows up in Canada, the two of them set off together, thrusting them back into the dangerous life they just left behind. Now, they must navigate the seedy world of the black markets to uncover the dark secrets that the Kennels have been hiding, and rescue the boy she loves.

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Perfected was my favorite YA read of 2014, and I loved it so much that I haven’t even been able to compose a review for it yet. Have you ever enjoyed something so much that no matter how much you gush about it in a review it won’t do it justice? That’s how I feel about Perfected – it was such an experience! The best comparison I can make is to DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy – a slightly dystopic society with a lot of messed up, somewhat dark practices; fascinating female protagonists who find themselves at the center of it all; and beautiful, poetic writing that never seems flowery or overdone. Perfected was one of the few books I will definitely be rereading, and I hope to say the same about Tarnished. December can’t come too soon!

What book are you waiting on? :-)

by Niki Hawkes

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Series Review: The 2B Trilogy by Ann Aguirre

Series: The 2B Trilogy
Author: Ann Aguirre
 Rating: 4.25/5 stars

I’d like to start out by reiterating how much I love Ann Aguirre. Ever since I discovered her Sirantha Jax series a couple of years ago I have been eager to read anything she writes. My favorite thing about her has always been how well she writes relationships, so you can see why I was tickled pink to read her New Adult Romance novels. And you know what? The relationships were every bit as wonderful as I’d hoped they’d be.

I was chosen to receive a review copy of As Long as You Love Me after entering the Ann Aguirre’s Reviewer giveaway. I would just like to thank Ann Aguirre and Mel Jolly over at Author RX for selecting me as a winner. As it turns out, As Long as You Love Me ended up being my favorite book of the trilogy! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself…
                                                                                                                                                      

I Want it That Way

Of the three female leads in this series, I probably relate to Nadia’s personality the most. She’s a very determined and goal-oriented person, traits which helped her achieve her dreams and fight for what she wanted… Even if what she wanted was a studious/sexy single father who lived in the apartment below her. That’s a goal I can really get behind. :-) I thought the love story was really sweet, especially so because of the added element of Nadia’s relationship with Ty’s son (which was almost as fulfilling as the main romance itself). I’ll say it again: I love how Aguirre writes relationships, even the ones that aren’t amorous. I came away from this series loving the platonic relationships as much as the romantic ones.

I struggled with the rating of this one because I really enjoyed it, but at the end of the day there were a couple of things I wish had been done a tad differently. The pacing in certain places was a little off for me, dragging out conflicts a bit longer than I thought necessary. Because of that, I think it gave me more time to focus on my least favorite plot element. I tend to get a little frustrated with the “I love you, but I can’t be with you because of X,” where “X” is often a foolish reason fabricated in the character’s mind solely to keep the conflict drawn out. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, and it likely won’t be the last, but it wears on me a little bit. That said, I’ve never seen it handled quite as well as it was in I Want it That Way, so that’s something. I still came away from the novel with the feel goods and the satisfaction I’d hoped for.

4/5 stars
                                                                                                                                                      

As Long as You Love Me

While I related to Nadia in the first book personality-wise the most, the love story between Lauren and Rob was the one that really sang to me. Most of us have that person we crushed on throughout grade school – the one we would go out of our way to pass in the hallway, doodle his/her initials in our notebooks, and daydream about romantic possibilities with every spare moment (or was it just me?). Well, what if you got the chance to see what could have been with that person? That’s what Lauren got to do, and I got to live vicariously through her. It was awesome! All of the little moments she had with Rob were like little sparks of electricity flashing off the pages and I felt the emotional tingle of every last one of them. Perhaps this one appealed to me so much because of my specific ideal for a fantasy relationship, but the way it sits, As Long as You Love Me is now one of my favorite books ever. Okay, I’m done gushing.

…almost. I love this one so much it almost raises my ratings of the other two by extension – as I look back on the trilogy, I do so with a ton of affection and I think that’s in no small part due to book #2.

5/5 stars
                                                                                                                                                      

The Shape of My Heart

This one was my least favorite of the trilogy, but only because I found parts of it a tad depressing. The first third of the book focuses on Courtney and Max as they attend a funeral and, having suffered a loss in the family relatively recently, it made me a little sad. On top of that, we learned about all of the hardships Max went through as a kid and I basically just felt bad… until the romance started kicking in. I am confident, though, that the negative feels I had were specific to my circumstances, and I don’t think other readers will be similarly affected. Aguirre does a great job focusing on the relationship first, and on all of the peripheral events second, and if I hadn’t been so fixated, I would’ve enjoyed the story a lot more (although I enjoyed the love story from the very first moment). The awesome thing about Aguirre is, even when elements of the book made me sad, I still had that oddly addictive urge to keep reading. All of her books do that to me, though – she’s just such a great writer!

Fast forward to the last 2/3 of the book, and it was nothing but pure New Adult entertainment all the way through. Courtney was such a cool girl to read about, and I love that her personality stood out as distinct from the other two heroines. She is also one of the first bisexual characters I’ve ever seen as the main POV, so it’s nice to see a bit of diversity. I found her to be the least relatable of the three, and not because  she was bisexual, but because she approached life in a very “zen” way. It would drive me nuts not knowing what I was going to do next, yet she managed to tackle all of her problems without constantly stressing about them. She was always very true to herself, and getting to immerse myself in her perspective was easily my favorite element to the story.

3.5/5 stars
                                                                                                                                                      

Overall, if you’re a New Adult fan, I deem this series definitely worth your time. The romance is evoking, the characters are memorable, and the writing is superb! The 2B Trilogy will go down as three very compelling reasons why Ann Aguirre remains one of my all-time favorites!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

 The Heir by Kiera Cass

Title: The Heir

Author: Kiera Cass

Series: The Selection #4

Genre: Teen Dystopian [sort of]

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible. But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

The Review:

The Heir is one of the few titles that was a non-negotiable “I have to read it the day it comes out” type of book, as I’d been geeking out about it since it first cross my radar in late 2014. Thank goodness for nook digital downloads at midnight, because I was able to dive right in at 12:01 am (sleep be damned, it was SO worth it – The Heir was every bit as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be). It almost seems irrational to me how excited I was, but The Selection was such an experience, and it really hurt my heart to see it come to an end. I can’t describe the joy I felt when I realized I got to visit that world again, and with Maxon and America still around to boot! That might sound soooper cheesy, but I don’t care – I freaking love this series!

Can we talk for a minute about how incredibly appealing it is to watch one girl pick from a whole bunch of eligible bachelors? And how fundamentally more exciting that is than the other way around? Well, maybe not more exciting, but different, that’s for sure. I think it was really smart on the author’s part to give us a new twist on the story we all fell in love with (even though she didn’t have to stretch too far on the creative scale, I’m still impressed). The jury is out until I read all three books, but I’m already predicting I will like Eadlyn’s journey better than America’s. Here are a few reasons why:

In America’s journey, we only got to see her side of things, and I always wondered how the process was for Maxon (in fact, one of my favorite moments was in The Prince novella where we got to experience their first meeting through Maxon’s perspective). It had to be difficult for him to juggle all of those girls while trying to make a decision that’s best for both his country and his heart. Even though we got the best bits, we missed out on a lot of the details that I’m sure I would’ve found fascinating. What this new story did was allow me to become completely immersed in the process… and I ate up every page. It was so much fun seeing all of the boys interact with Eadlyn, and I had a blast trying to psychoanalyze all of them to figure out which boy would be the best match for her (which I didn’t get to do with America’s journey because, Duh! – she was totally the best match). The fact that Eadlyn didn’t want anything to do with the selection process bugged a few of my friends, but it didn’t bother me too much – I knew the boys would eventually start to win her over.

That’s another thing I liked – that Eadlyn was definitely her own person and a very distinct character from America (although you could see many similarities in their personalities – they are both stubborn and resilient people… the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). I also loved that America and Maxon were heavily involved in The Heir and maintained the same personalities we fell in love with in the first trilogy (it’s a pet peeve of mine when parent characters we met as children morph into a “parental” mode and lose all personality. That definitely did NOT happen here – Yay!). There was also a neat dynamics between Eadlyn and her siblings, who added a ton of depth and charm to the story – I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about them.

My biggest criticism of the first trilogy was the world building/external conflict. I thought it was nowhere near as well developed as it could have been (although the things the author did well were so awesome it almost didn’t matter), but am happy to report that I think this time around the world building was a little stronger. Similarly, I caught a few plot holes within the first few books, but all the ones I thought I caught in this one the author eventually addressed – awesome! 

Overall, if you love to the Selection Trilogy as much as I did, there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t love The Heir just as much. :-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Books on My Summer 2015 TBR

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

These seasonal TBR TTTs have always been my favorites to compose, as figuring which books to read next is one of my favorite pastimes (nerd-alert). That’s why I started a monthly feature called Tackling the TBR, where I prioritize which authors I most eager to read on a monthly basis. Because I’ve been so good at reading the best books first lately, coming up with titles for this list took a little more effort than normal – a sign that tells me I’m doing a good job reaching my goals. I didn’t include many titles from my most recent Tackling the TBR post because I’m hoping to have most, if not all of them read before the end of the month. Here are the other books I am most excited to read this summer:

Top Ten Books on My Summer 2015 TBR

Rachel Aaron and Rachel Bach are the same person, and I absolutely cannot get enough of her – she’s at the top of my list. I included a couple of ARCs, but most of the others are series continuations that I am eager to read (Jacqueline Carey being at the top of that list).

What awesome books made your list? Do we have any in common?

by Niki Hawkes

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Revision Hacks: Harnessing the Red Pen

Writing diaries

Once a month or so, my writing group gets together at Writer’s Ramble to share our individual experiences with the hope of inspiring other writers. This month’s topic focuses all on revision – specifically the tips and tricks we use to make the process less painful. I think every single person in my group has a different method, which is why it tickles me we’re sharing them all in one place. Even if you don’t find my Hacks helpful, you just might find your next revision epiphany in one of their posts. Just click the Writer’s Ramble link above and our world of revision will be at your fingertips…

Revision Hacks: Harnessing the Red Pen

Just as there are countless ways to write a book, so are there countless ways to revise it. There are so many different methods out there that it can be difficult for a writer to find the “best” ones. It’s all about trying as many as you can and developing your own hybrid technique for the ones that work best for you. I have had 3 major revision epiphanies within the last couple of years and I’d like to take a moment to share them with you. Who knows, maybe they will change your writing process dramatically, too. :-)

Hack #1: Prep-Work

I personally think good preparation takes out a big chunk of work in the revision process. I also think a major component of revision is cutting out the scenes that don’t either advance plot or developed character. To that end, it makes sense to have a good portion of your scenes mapped out before you begin writing. But how do you know how many scenes to plan for? Thanks to the LTUE writing conference I went to in February, I now have the answer, and it has been radically life-changing. John D. Brown and Larry Correia made it sound so simple that I almost feel stupid for not figuring it out for myself. Here’s their method:

1. Figure out how many words your novel’s genre usually requires (there are general standards in place that are pretty easy to find with a Google search).
2. Figure out the average length of your scenes (a great starting place is about 3000 words per scene).
3. Divide the genre standard by your average scene length:
65,000 ÷ 3000 = 21.6667 (approximately 22)

This means that my 65,000-words YA book should contain about 22 scenes.

Can you say EPIPHANY? I went home and played with this idea with a WIP that had at least 40 scenes, combined several of them and threw out others entirely, then brainstormed for about 10 minutes to get them into a working order (I wrote the name of each scene down on a flash card and rearrange them on the floor until I had something I liked – which is also a strategy that has worked well for me), and came away with the most concise plot structure of any book I’ve written so far. Now, I feel like it’s practically writing itself because I have such a strong guideline in place.

What’s cool about this approach is that takes away a bit of the intimidation factor. Instead of just writing endlessly until you feel like your book is finished, this structure gives you a finite number of scenes to fill. 22 scenes within which to tell a story is a lot less daunting to me than “however many scenes it takes.” There’s nothing saying you can’t either add or subtract from that number, but you’ll be able to make those decisions with more confidence because you’ll have a strong baseline.

Hack #2: Organizing

The other day I found myself in a disagreement with one of my scenes. No matter how many times I reworded it or changed what I said entirely, it just wasn’t sounding right. I had too many ideas in my head on how it could sound, but couldn’t figure out which ideas would work the best. So I typed them ALL into the document, got frustrated, and walked away. What’s worse, I picked up the latest Robin Hobb novel and was almost brought to tears over the injustice of how fricken beautiful her writing was and how easily it seemed to flow on paper… why can’t my stuff look like that? And why does it seem so much more difficult for me? After throwing a mini writer tantrum, I finally came to peace with the fact that, if I want my novels to be quality, I’m going to have to work at it until I figure out how to get it there my own way (which is, inevitably, the hard way).

So instead of tackling a writing project, I turned that scene into an organizing project:

1. I jotted down a few key things I wanted the scene to convey.
2. I highlighted key words from that list.
3. I went through the scene and highlighted only the passages that supported those keywords.
4. I cut everything else.

It gave me direction. It also gave me confidence that what was there was being kept for a definitive reason. The way I see it, there are two ways to implement this approach: write down everything you can think of first, like I’ve described above, then prioritize and organize it, OR you can start with identifying your keywords, brainstorm within each one of those, then go back and highlight the strongest bits. Either way, hopefully it will help give you clarity on the scene first or second time around. Of course, if the scene isn’t giving you trouble, then this method will probably make you overthink it. I recommend just using it for the ones that, for whatever reason, just aren’t flowing. Sometimes just being confident in what you want to say is all you need as a base to go back and make it sound pretty.

Hack #3: Change-it-up

I don’t know about you, but I find it really difficult to make major revisions within a word document. I lose my place constantly and it’s hard to see more than just a small portion of my work at once. Also, if I have any ideas on how I could reword things, I hesitate to type them in because it just makes everything more cluttered. So I print it out and write my new ideas and possible fixes right over where I think they should go. Handwritten vs. printed means it’s easy to see what your edits are while still allowing you to see how the work used to sound (does anybody else have a difficult time deleting stuff? I’m almost always afraid the new way of saying it will be worse than the old way, but if I change it in the document then I’ve lost record of the first version… might be just me though). Anyway, if I’m still not happy with it, I will grab a notebook and poor new thoughts into that.

This may not seem like a “Hack,” necessarily because I’m basically describing a typical revision process. The reason it’s a Hack for me is that I have found myself staring at the computer screen for hours, not sure how to fix something, but the minute I print it out or start to work on it in a different medium, progression suddenly starts moving forward again. Nowadays, the minute I can’t figure a solution on the computer, I immediately switch formats and have not had a “revision-block” since.

I hope you found some of these Hacks helpful. :-)

Are there any that you use that have totally changed your life? Let me know in the comments, and let’s turn this into a #WritingHackFest.

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Title: Elantris

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: N/A [Thus Far, Anyway]

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love… [continue reading]

The Mini Review:

I have been trying to write this review for well over a week now and I’m not quite sure why it has been so difficult (I mean, how hard can it be to compose a paragraph or two?). I really enjoyed Elantris, which is no surprise considering it’s a Sanderson. There’s something really nice about picking up a novel and knowing it’s going to be good. It contained everything I’ve come to expect from such a great author – fantastic and relatable characters, cool magic system/magical beings, and excellent writing. In the whole scheme of his works, I think Elantris falls somewhere in the middle (keep in mind everything I’ve read from him is 4-Stars or higher). I found countless similarities to his Mistborn trilogy, so if you liked that one there is an excellent chance you will like this one (and vice versa). In fact, there wasn’t anything I DIDN’T like about it… Sanderson strikes again!

Other books you might like:  

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [2]: June 2014

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(I’m still going to need a better banner)

I started this feature last month as a possible solution to my desperate need for a good TBR system. And you know what? I’m LOVING it so far! It has allowed me to stop stressing about all the unread books in my life because it channels my focus onto the authors I deemed the highest priority – I rest assured that, despite the fact I’m not making my way through my collection as quickly as I’d like, I am at least focusing on the best books first. It also takes away a little bit of that “I’m overwhelmed” factor because there’s usually only twenty books at most in my shortlist (which also gives me a remarkable sense of achievement every time I get to check one off that list). Finally, I love it because I still feel like I get to follow my reading whims – there is a lot of variety within my smaller pool of choices. I think I’ll keep this feature around for a while!

If you missed the Introductory Post, here’s how Tackling the TBR works:

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

Here is my TBR Tackler Shelf for June 2015:

Fantasy: Robin Hobb
Sci-Fi: James S.A. Corey
Urban Fantasy: Kim Harrison
Young Adult: Susan Ee
New Adult: Jamie McGuire

I am stoked. There are a lot of excellent titles here for me to choose from (with a large number of them sporting bird wings on the cover, oddly). I’m including Kim Harrison again this month because I just didn’t get a chance to pick her up last time and she is still my number one priority in the Urban Fantasy category. I can’t wait to get started on this list, and that is an awesome feeling!

This experimental system was so much more fun and rewarding because I didn’t do it alone – thank you to all my friends and blogging friends who tried it with me!

I will be sharing this post on the first of each month at least until the end of the year (we will see how it goes). I am also going to include a linky on each post so we can support each other in Tackling our TBRs! 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 authors 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

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DNF Q&A: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Killer Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #6

Genre: Teen Paranormal

Rating: 0 stars (DNF)

The Overview: I’ve battled the Reapers of Chaos before–and survived. But this time I have a Bad, Bad Feeling it’s going to be a fight to the death … most likely mine. Yeah, I’ve got my psychometry magic, my talking sword, Vic–and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at my side, in Logan freaking Quinn, but I’m no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. I may be Nike’s Champion, but at heart, I’m still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about. Then someone I love is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside me snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good … or I am.

The DNF Q&A:

This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name)  kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. Life’s too short to read books you’re just not enjoying. So let the Q&A begin!

Did you really give Killer Frost a chance?

Yes – especially when you consider it’s book 6, the final book in the series. The series took a nosedive around the fourth book, and I’ve been just trying to get it over with ever since (which is an awful sentiment – who wants to read anything “just to get it over with” like it’s a chore?). As harsh as that sounds, I did try, making it halfway through Killer Frost before putting it down.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?

You mean all of the YA Paranormal books that I can’t live without? Yes, I’ve enjoyed those. Here are some of my favorites:

Yes, Twilight is on there. Leave me alone.

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

Sadly, I think I expected exactly what I got – senseless rehashing of the same concepts over and over again; the random enemy attacks with no discernable strategy; and no real depth of character. Maybe that’s not totally true – maybe I expected more going into the finale of the series, so was even more disappointed when faced with the same issues I’d been noticing all along.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

Frustration that I had already invested so much time in this series and it STILL wasn’t showing any improvement. As I mentioned, I read more than half of this book before finally putting it down, and at least 75% of that half was dialogue and speculation about what the problem was… very little action. Then the bad guys would sporadically show up, gloat, take something, then leave. Same stuff, different day. I ended up taking five minutes and skimming, reading only the first and last paragraphs of each chapter until I got to the end. And you know what? I feel like I got the entire essence of how the story ended without any of the fluff.

Another colossal disappointment was the great concept that never lived up to its potential. All of the students at Mythos Academy are descendents of Spartans, Ninjas, Valkyries, and many other kickass entities throughout history. They all attend this school to learn how to harness their powers and use them to fight the bad guys. The trouble is, aside from a handful of sparring sessions in the gym, none of those great ideas are explored anywhere THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SERIES! I wanted to attend school with the characters and learn with them, kind of like what I got to do in the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, but instead all we got to do was hang out at the library… A lot. Don’t get me wrong, library was a cool setting, but there were no classes there and everything seemed to revolve around it. I can’t seem to find the exact words to describe how disappointed I am in what I feel is the promise of a school for magic-users unfulfilled. They might as well have been at a prep school that offered a few fencing classes rather than a school for gifted kids. Such a great idea completely unrealized.

Was there anything you liked about Killer Frost? 

This book specifically? No. The series in general? Yes – I really enjoyed the first two books and thought the concept behind the whole thing was really creative. It just failed on delivery. I honestly think it would’ve been a lot stronger condensed down to three books – I’m positive Estep could have included all of the main conflicts and cut out all of the endlessly repeating plot points and speculation. Maybe if she had made the school a bigger part of it… Bah – I’ll never get over that one.

Would you read anything else by this author? 

Honestly, I’m not too sure anymore. I read the first book in her Spider series and enjoyed it, but now I’m almost afraid to keep going. What if I invest all of that time and wind up just as disappointed in the end? Maybe if I allow myself to stop reading as soon as I see it going south… what a sad sentiment.

So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?

No… I don’t think so. Perhaps the first three are recommendable, but why encourage someone to read a series that doesn’t really go anywhere?

Overall, I’m bummed.

I’m also curious if I’m the only one who felt this way about the series… Did anybody else happen to finish it? What are your thoughts?

by Niki Hawkes