Weekly Writing Workshop: Finding Your Voice


What is/How do You Find Your Voice as a Writer?

Floating in some cosmic space between our brains and the realm of the muses lies each of our voices. Like some basterdised Disney patronous, they dance in the void waiting for us to “discover” them.

As great as that might sound to some people, it is—of course—utter and complete crap. Still, this is how most of my writing teachers up until grad school made it seem. In the seven years that I spent teaching college writing courses, I often saw colleagues—intentionally or unintentionally—propagate this idea.

I’d hear things like “It will just come to you the more that you do it” and “open up and let your personality fall onto the page.” This leaves the serious student and/or aspiring writer with no clue how to go about finding their voice or even what a writer’s voice is.

In reality (a lovely place of vivid images and concrete details) a writer’s voice doesn’t just come to them. It takes study and work to develop your voice as a writer.

But, before you can hunt for something, you first have to know what it is (unless you’re hunting for the inner story in a piece of creative nonfiction, but that’s a different post altogether).

A writer’s voice, in its simplest form, is their diction and syntax. That is, the words they choose (diction) and the order they choose to put them in on the page (syntax). It’s worth noting that diction is not the same thing as vocabulary. One (vocabulary) is the pool of words from which you can draw, the other (diction) is the words you choose to pull out of that pool. Having a large vocabulary doesn’t guarantee good diction, and someone with a small vocabulary may still have strong diction.

This same basic formula (Diction + Syntax = Voice) can be applied to our metaphorical speaking voices. Think of three people you know. Now, imagine that you’ve asked each of them to a movie which they have no interest in seeing. How would they each turn you down? My wife, the ever radiant Obsessive Bookseller, would probably say “Well, I’d love to do something with you, just not that.” While my friend Jared might say, “Oh, hell yeah! Then you can bash rusty nails into my eyes!” At its core, they are both saying basically the same thing but through vastly different voices.

So, how can a writer find their voice (actually a sophisticated and skilled writer can have multiple voices, but, again, that’s a future post)? Besides praying to the spirts of Tolkien and Fitzgerald for it to spontaneously appear inside your skull, you can follow former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins‘ advice. Speaking at the Whitehouse’s poetry day event, Collins said, “Your voice has an external source…It is lying in other peoples’ [writing]. It is lying on the shelves of the library. To find your voice you need to read deeply…you have to look outside yourself. Read widely. Read all the [writing] you can get your hands on.” He went on to add, “In your reading, you’re searching for something…You’re searching for [writers] that make you jealous.” Here, Collins is speaking about finding your voice as a poet, but it applies to any form of writing. I would add that you should search for writing that disgusts you as well. Find what turns you on and off, literarily (not literally) speaking of course.

As is often the case, the truth is that you have to knuckle down and do some hard work. Read a lot. Read diversely. Read like a writer, and by that I mean that you should analyze the writing as you read it. When you find something you like, something Collins would say makes you jealous, try to figure out why you like it. When you read a scene that blows you away, mark it, reread it, analyze why it blew you away. How is the writer doing that? What tools are they using and how are they using them?

That’s the way it seems to work across mediums. Your favorite musician went through it. It’s how they discovered their influences. Great visual artists in every age have gone through it. All of these people understood the importance of respecting the craft. They understood what it means to be a student of their art.

Because writing is second nature for most people today, aspiring writers often take craft for granted. Or, worse, they feel that studying how other writers did it well will rob them of their authenticity, of their voice (stop and think about how counterproductive that reasoning is). I’ve actually had, on multiple occasions, students sit across from me and claim that they want to be a writer because they read King or Rowling and thought “Gee that seems easy, I bet I can do that.”

So, here is your prompt for this week. Make a list of your five favorite scenes/moments from whatever you’ve read recently. Then, go reread those passages. Take notes! Figure out what the author has done to make those moments so powerful.

I’d love to hear how this prompt goes for you! Leave a comment letting me know.



Mini Book Review: Ever After by Kim Harrison

Ever After by Kim Harrison

Title: Ever After

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #11

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse. While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die. But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan…

The Mini Review:

Ever After wasn’t my favorite book of the genre, but it was still a dang good book. I’m fascinated with the ever after itself (where the demons live), and loved learning more about how the magic involving it and the Ley lines worked. It seems like this series is building towards an epic ending and I’m both excited and sad to see it finish. I currently have two more books to go before I get there… I’m savoring them. Ever after advanced the growing friendship between Rachel and Trent, but not as much as I was hoping for at this point. Although I did learn a little more about Trent’s Elvish heritage and even more about Al the demon, which always makes my day. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention gargoyles! The gargoyles, specifically Bis, got a greater role in the story and I loved every sequence involving him and his kin. Overall, aside from gushing about all the things I love about this series, that’s pretty much it. I enjoyed it as a continuation and am eager as ever to pick up the next one. The Hollows is my favorite urban fantasy series, and I recommend it strongly (although it did take a couple of books before I realize just how much I loved it).

Trouble on Reserve by Kim Harrison

I read this novella immediately after Ever After and have to say I was a bit disappointed. I think coming off of this amazing, slow burning story that provided a satisfying ending left me unprepared for a little ten page adventure without any real resolution. When I picked it up I was thinking it was going to be a seamless continuation from where Ever After left off… not so much. I almost wish I had read it with a bunch of other short stories because then maybe my focus would’ve been a bit different. I guess it just goes to show that expectations are everything. I’d recommend it, but not for the same feel-goods I recommend the main series for.


Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

miss mayhemTitle: Miss Mayhem

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Rebel Belle #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant. Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever.

The Review:

I want to start out by saying that I love Rachel Hawkins and think her writing is some of the most charming I’ve ever come across. Everything she writes is a lot of fun, and I can’t help but get a bunch of feel goods every time I read one of her books. That said, Miss Mayhem might be my least favorite thing I’ve read from her so far. I just didn’t think there was enough substance and plot advancement to really grab me. Perhaps if the trilogy were complete and I devoured it from start to finish I wouldn’t feel this way, but after waiting a full year for its release and looking at another full year before the conclusion, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.

Thing I love most about the first book was the developing love story, but this one just didn’t seem to have the same sweet, romantic flair. I’ve noticed a prevailing trend in YA that goes a little something like this: Book 1 – romance sparks and the characters fall for each other. Book 2 – they fight or break up because of situation “x” keeping them from being together. Book 3 – they figure out how to make it work anyway and live happily ever after. It’s so formulaic that it sucks all of the romantic tension out of a series. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but in this particular case it felt like the entire plot revolved around romantic struggles… I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was hoping for more.

And even the plot elements that were there weren’t developed as well as I thought they could’ve been. For example, at some point Harper had to go through several trials to prove she was a worthy Paladin. The trouble is, the trials did not come across in any sort of official capacity, but were almost incidental. I’m not really sure why she passed/failed because the rules were never established. What a wasted opportunity! I feel like if I had read about an epic, well-conceived testing of Harper’s skills, all of my other objections would have gone by the wayside in a heartbeat. Instead I’m left wondering what could’ve been…

One last thing I didn’t enjoy was the questionable decision-making within this book. Some of Harper’s choices just did not make any sense to me. Her decisions were irrational, erratic, and didn’t follow any sort of logical pattern… Frankly, her actions felt more like they were implemented to advance plot points, rather than because that’s what the character would actually do. I’m not saying the characters always have to make smart decisions, what I’m saying is I’d better be able to at least see the logic of those decisions over other options. Harper is a smart girl, but I don’t feel like her actions were consistent with her character in this book.

Sheesh, I feel like I’m really beating up on this book, which isn’t totally fair because it was not a bad book by any means – Hawkins has just set such a high standard up to this point that I’m really judging it against what I know she’s capable of. If you want to know all the things I really love about the series, check out my review of the first book, Rebel Belle. Overall, I wouldn’t necessarily dissuade anyone from picking up the series – the first one was good enough in my opinion to allow for forgiveness of the second one… I would just recommend waiting a little bit until the release date for the third one gets closer. I will definitely be finishing out the trilogy, so that’s gotta count for something, right?

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Series Review [So Far]: The Gentleman Bastards #1-3 by Scott Lynch

The Gentleman Bastards #1-3
by Scott Lynch
4.5/5 stars!

This is honestly one of the most unique fantasy series I’ve ever read. Everything from the characters to how each section of the story was organized felt like a fresh spin on the classic concept of thievery and how it’s usually presented in a fantasy world. I have to admit that this series had me on board from the very first chapter, mostly because I thought it was funny as shit (now seems like a good time to mention that the series contains a lot of profanity). The dialogue is incredibly witty, and I lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud; I even went back to reread some of the funnier passages once I was done. The series was totally infused with that great situational humor that really gave it a life of its own.

The plot was pretty clever – an Ocean’s 11-style framework with a lot of plans, sub plans, and countless moving parts that eventually lead to the big payoffs (or the big fails, as the case may be). I really enjoyed seeing what harebrained scheme the characters would concoct next and delighted whenever they managed to pull one off. Did I always know exactly what was going on? That’s a definite no – but the journey was so much fun that not knowing didn’t bother me.

So far, I’ve made it sound like this series is a lighthearted comedy with very little substance – but I assure you it also has its fair share of absolutely heart wrenching moments. Things definitely don’t always go according to plan, and it’s how the characters deal with the fallout from those failures is what made this series truly poignant in my mind (that, and it was funny… did I mention it was funny?). For me, The Gentleman Bastards series was unique in almost every writing category I can think of, and that’s part of the reason why it’s now among my favorites. I didn’t like all of the books equally, so I’m going to take a minute to talk a little more (spoiler free) specifics about each one.

The Lies of Locke Lamora:

As far as the humor goes, I think I laughed hardest during the first third of this one (which is understandable considering the plot gets more serious as it goes). I thought it offered an excellent introduction to the story, great character development, and great storytelling. As I mentioned before, the organization of each scene was different than I’ve read before because it kind of bounced back and forth between past and present. You get a glimpse in the past long enough for the “present” passages to have more meaning and context, which might be why I came away from it feeling satisfied from how rounded the story was. There was a section kind of near the middle where I wasn’t totally sure what the scheme was, let alone how what they were doing contributed to it, but that may just have been an attention problem on my end. In any case, it eventually made itself clear and I was just as enthralled near the end as I had been at the beginning. A strong first book, no doubt about it, but it’s the second one that really rocked my world.

4.5/5 stars

Red Seas Under Red Skies:

As you can probably tell from the title, this one takes the adventure to the high seas. Knowing that was the direction the second book was headed, I admit I wasn’t convinced I was going to like it as much. How much scheming can the characters really do in the middle of an ocean? Turns out, quite a bit more than you think. This book just struck a chord with me, and I think part of it might be because of how much depth of character was explored (as well as the addition of several fantastic new characters). I also think the pacing was incredibly strong – one event flowed seamlessly into the next, and there wasn’t a single boring part between them. I imagine that’s difficult to do when your characters are aboard a ship for a good portion of a novel. Kudos to the author, who produced my favorite installment of this series (so far) and quite possibly one of my favorite books ever. That’s serious stuff right there.

5/5 stars!

The Republic of Thieves:

While book #2 was my favorite so far, The Republic of Thieves was unfortunately my least favorite. Don’t panic though – it’s still a solid 4-star read. I think the reasons I didn’t like it quite as much are a bit odd, so that should be taken into account. For one thing, at some point in the novel the characters rehearse for a play… and I hate reading classic playwrighting, even creatively done within a high fantasy novel. Lynch did a great job actually bringing the play to life without letting it overtake what was going on in the real world, but I just couldn’t get into it. Even reading about the characters learning the play was a bit tedious, even though it was also kind of funny. See? I told you it was a weird reason. The other deterrent was the love story – I think the main conflict behind it was hashed back and forth just a little too often and I kind of wanted to smack the characters involved… move on already. Other than that, all of the attributes I mentioned in the first three paragraphs were strong as ever in The Republic of Thieves, and I liked the work as a whole so much that I’m basically down to splitting fine hairs to differentiate between the novels.

4/5 stars

A part of me wishes I had read the first book of this series when it first came out ages ago – I’ve had it sitting on my shelf since then. The other part of me is grateful I waited, however, because of how long the wait is between book releases. There is a lot going on in these novels, so many things to orchestrate, that I’m frankly just grateful the author had enough energy to give us at least three books in the series, but I would still appreciate a solid release date for the fourth book. I’m excited to see the series getting so much attention in both the blogosphere and the bookselling world, and I’m even more glad to have finally joined the ranks of fans eager to see what happens to Locke next. If you are sick of the same old thing, give this series a try, you (probably) won’t regret it! As a side note, I listened to bits of these on audio and it is an experience… I think it’s now my preferred format for the series.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Fantasy Books I Recommend the Most!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

There are so many fantasy titles that I absolutely love, but I found that only a few of them have a certain appeal that makes them recommendable to the masses. Whenever I used to hand a book to a customer, I’d always stress about whether they were going to like it as much as I did. I’d always say, “If I see you again, please let me know if you liked it because if you did I can recommend more like it, and if not we can go in a different direction.” More often than not, I would never see that person again and just had to hope that my assessment of their reading tastes was accurate. Over the course of the eleven years I sold books, there were enough repeat customers who came back with positive feedback on these titles I began trusting their recommendability to most people. Now having been a part of the book blogosphere for three years, that opinion has only been reinforced by great reviews from my fellow bloggers. I give you:

Top Ten Fantasy Books I Recommend the Most!

Every once in a while someone will throw me for a loop by saying they totally hated a book from this list, but those people are few and far between. I’m not saying I guarantee you’ll like everything on this list, but if you’re looking for something new to try, I feel like this is a really great place to start. :-)

by Niki Hawkes


Tackling the TBR [1]: An Introduction


Tackling the TBR: An Introduction
(I’m going to need a better banner)

I’ve always been envious of those people who are perfectly happy reading only one book/series at a time. I used to be like that – back in my adolescence where the closest bookstore was an hour and a half away – but that changed as soon as I became a bookseller. It got worse when I became a book blogger. My level of awareness of the sheer number of amazing titles on the market skyrocketed, and I suddenly found myself struggling to read ALL THE BOOKS.

My solution at the time was to purchase all of the titles I might want to read, resulting in a 4000+ book collection and a massive TBR. The books sit on my shelves, taunting me as I walk by, just begging to be read. I’m desperately trying to get through them all, but the math just doesn’t work: if I read 100 books a year, it will take me 40 years to get through my current collection. That doesn’t even take into account new titles coming out. I need to downsize, but that’s a topic for another post… In any case, it has led me to the following philosophy:

 The TBR pile is simultaneously a book-lovers best friend and worst enemy.

 So, no matter how much I’m enjoying a particular title, I always have one eye on my shelves, wishing I was reading those books too. If I spend too long on one series, I get impatient, and that sucks the fun out of the whole process. It also stresses me out to have unread books from favorite authors, especially since many of them reached their series-enders more than a year ago and I still haven’t managed to finish them. It’s reading ADD at its finest, and I’ve already implemented many different strategies to try and counter it and make my reading process as enjoyable as possible (such as the mantra “only read the best books first” and “life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying” – both of which have been life-changing), but it’s not quite there yet… I’m still stressed.

So what I need is a system that’s flexible, allowing me to bounce around between series and genres, but I also need one that helps me finish series I’ve started and keep my favorite authors at the top of my priority list. Today, I had an epiphany on how to make that happen… I’m calling it “Tackling the TBR” And it works like this: 

  At the beginning of each month, I will select an author from each of my favorite genres, compile all of their unread books onto my TBR Tackler shelf, and pick from that pile throughout the month as the mood strikes me.

 I think it’s brilliant.

 But then again, I haven’t actually tried it yet. :P

  I did try a version of this method where I devoted a month to a particular genre, but that didn’t give me enough flexibility to follow my moods. I also seem to feel more satisfied when I use TBR shortlists and can see it getting smaller as time goes by, so the fact that I’m compiling specific authors, but from a range of speculative genres into one place to pick from, is incredibly appealing.

 I know I’m starting a little late, but here is my TBR Tackler pile for the remainder of May 2015:

 Science Fiction: Rachel Bach
Urban Fantasy: Kim Harrison
 Fantasy: Sara Douglass
Romance/NA: Ann Aguirre
Young Adult: Rae Carson

These are all the unread titles from my chosen authors… So many good ones! Instead of posting updates, I will probably just keep using the same post to track my progress, kind of like what I do with my Bout of Books posts.

 I’m really excited to try out the system – I’m hoping it will help me focus my reading while giving me the excuse I needed to finally finish some of these series. Wish me luck!

 Anybody want to try out Tackling the TBR with me? Let me know in the comments – I could use all the help and support I can get. :P

by Niki Hawkes


Introducing the Weekly Writing Workshop!


Some of you may know that I am an aspiring writer, but what you may not know is that I am also married to an accomplished one. We have been wanting to team up for a couple years now to combine his vast experience with writing and teaching with my love of learning and improving my craft. It is my pleasure to share my blog space with this amazingly talented person (I wouldn’t share it with just anyone – this blog is my pride and joy), and I can say that with only a little biasedness because his work speaks for itself. The Weekly Writing Workshop will be featured here for the next several weeks, and our hope is that all of you aspiring authors out there find it helpful. -Niki

An Introduction to Your Host

Welcome to the first instalment of the Obsessive Bookseller’s Weekly Writing Workshop! My name is Darren M. Edwards, and I’m excited for this opportunity to discuss the craft of writing.

In about ten minutes anybody could create a writing blog and offer you their opinion as “expert” advice. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I have had a lot of experience writing and studying the craft of writing which I’d like to share with you.

I published my first essay in 2007 and have since published poetry and essays in dozens of places ranging from trade publications to University literary journals. In 2009 I received a master’s degree in literature and writing from Utah State University where I wrote a spiritual memoir for my master’s thesis. Between my time as an editorial assistant at Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing and serving as the editor in chief of both New Graffiti Publishing and The Creative magazine, I have over six years of publishing experience. For seven years, I taught college courses in composition, world literature, creative writing, and publication production. I’m currently writing a space opera, Rogue Noble, which I hope to start pitching in the fall, and I’m excited to announce that my first book, a creative nonfiction exploration of Utah’s sport climbing history, will be published by Arcadia Publishing & The History Press sometime in 2016.

Our world is full of great writing: Literary fiction, speculative fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction. You can spend a sunny afternoon sitting under a tree reading Annie Dillard’s beautifully reflective writing. A dark and stormy night could be the perfect time to delve into some H.P. Lovecraft or curl up in a blanket and drift off to J.K. Rowling’s vast world of witchcraft and wizardry. And, whether you’re watching a performance poem by Patricia Smith on YouTube or losing yourself in the imagery of T.S. Elliot, poetry is very much alive.

There is a false notion floating around that these genres have little to nothing to do with each other. Why would a novelist ever read or study poetry? Why read Pratchett if your genre of choice is creative nonfiction? Other than becoming a more well-rounded person, this kind of literary cross training can do a great deal to strengthen your writing in your genre of choice.

For example, if the characters in your space opera feel flat, studying the way Montaigne or Dody weave reflection into their imagery could help you fix that. Regardless of genre, it’s a good idea to visit Hemingway if your writing is too complex or Faulkner if it’s overly simple.

So, once a week, we’re going to dig into one element of writing to explore what these other genres can add to your speculative fiction. We’ll see how basic concepts like voice or setting can hold new insights when you come at them from another angle.

As you comment and ask questions at the end of each post, I hope that this column can serve as the introduction to a discussion on the craft of writing. And, while I have many topics which I look forward to covering, I’m always open to suggestions and look forward to hearing what elements of your writing you’d like to improve.

I’ll also throw out a prompt related to what we’ve discussed each week. So, here is your first prompt. Pick up something you might not usually read. You don’t have to read the whole thing (though that’s not a bad idea) but what you do read, read it like a writer. Then try to mimic that style for a paragraph or a page. Let me know about your experience in the comments.



Coming Soon: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

queen of shadowsTitle: Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #4

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: September 1, 2015

The Overview: Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . . She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return. Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by
Breaking the Spine

I realize I am probably the last person in the blogosphere to select Queen of Shadows for my WoW feature, but I’m kind of okay with that. Even though I enjoyed every book up to this point (and am intrigued where the story is headed – dragons!), it just has not been at the top of my radar compared to a handful of other titles coming out this fall that I’m DYING to read. Even so, I’ll probably pick this one up before the year is out, and look forward to listening to everyone around me geek out about it. If you haven’t read this series yet you are seriously behind the YA Fantasy times. ;)

If you can’t stand the wait until September 1st and need something to help hold you over, check out my Top Ten Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Throne of Glass! list.

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes


Bout of Books Read-a-thon! (3)

bout of books

I participated in my very first Read-a-thon back in August and had so much fun I decided to do it again in January. I came in shy of my ridiculously low goals both times, and I’m hoping that third time is a charm! I was incredibly busy during the last two events, so this time I feel like I have a fair shot to least do better than last time (books completed: a whole whopping 1, pages read: 754). Wish me luck!

Here’s a little more about the event:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Niki’s Goals:

– Finish at least 3 books

– Read at least 1000 pages

Here’s a look at the books on my immediate radar:
(subject to change if I see something shiny)

If I’m lucky I might finish more than one book this time, but since I’m just starting a 700 page fantasy, it’s not looking too good. Notice how pessimistic I am this time around? That’s to soften the blow if I have a repeat pathetic performance. :-) Best case scenario is that I get to complete my goals… Although I would be incredibly happy just to get my page count up.

Daily Updates:


Pages: 40  / Books Finished: 0

Whoa! This is off to a killer start.


Pages: 120  / Books Finished: 0


Pages: 187  / Books Finished: 0


Pages: 129 / Books Finished: 0


Pages: 164  / Books Finished: 1


Pages: 157  / Books Finished: 0


Pages:  / Books Finished:


Pages:  Books Finished:


Mini Book Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

the ruby circleTitle: The Ruby Circle

Author: Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #6

Genre: Teen Paranormal

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.

When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

The Mini Review:

I want to start out by saying Richelle Mead is my all-time favorite author… Although if you’ve been following for any length of time you probably already know that. I gush about her so much in my reviews that I’m going to make this one a mini review to help tone it down a little. :-)

Considering Silver Shadows was one of the best books I’ve read EVER, The Ruby Circle had a lot to live up to. It was a decent series ender – filled with all the things we love about the VA world – but I couldn’t help but come away thinking it felt a bit rushed (flash forward to the Richelle Mead signing I attended where she stated: with a newborn to deal with, “it’s a miracle this book got published it all,” and it all starts to make sense… I have a tendency to forget that authors are real people with busy lives of their own, which is ironic considering I am an aspiring author). Richelle did mention that she left a few things open because she wanted to give herself room to revisit this world in the future (we can hope). Even slightly rushed, it was still a great book – Sydney had a lot of obstacles to traverse with her magic, the romance was as sweet as ever, and there were a few surprises that practically knocked me out of my chair (you’ll see). As for the series as a whole, I wasn’t convinced I was going to like it at first, but I ended up loving it even more than VA and found Sydney to be the female character I identify most with from any series, so that’s kind of neat. Ooooh and something else cool – the characters visit my hometown at some point in the book – SHOUT OUT!!!! I feel famous. Anyway, if you like YA paranormal and haven’t read this author, you’re missing out on who I consider the best in the genre… just saying.

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by Niki Hawkes