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Top Ten Series I Want to Start!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 Hey, everyone! The Obsessive Bookseller has rejoined the world… Have you missed me? And it looks like I chose the right moment to make comeback because I love talking about the books I am most looking forward to reading.

Top Ten Series I Want to Start!

You may recognize couple of these titles from this month’s Escape Reality Book Club Nominations, and that’s no coincidence –  I nominated them because I am dying to read them! Especially The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong because I’ve since discovered it ties into her urban fantasy “Women of the Otherworld” series (which I am loving). I am also excited to start shifting my reading attentions away from YA and more towards fantasy and science fiction. I’ve found I’ve lost a little patience with angsty teen love stories (as much as I love them) and am craving slightly more robust epic adventures. Not to mention I’ve now read most of the teen books I was excited to get my hands on, with the exception of the five series listed above. Of all the books on the list, I am probably most excited to read Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb. It’s the only series of hers I’ve yet to explore, and with the second Fool’s Assassin more than year away, I’m going to need something to keep me occupied! 

So, those are my top picks… What new series are you eager to discover? 

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

shifting shadowsTitle: Shifting Shadows

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson (Short Stories)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger… A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…

Includes the new stories… “Silver” / “Roses in Winter” / “Redemption” / “Hollow”

…and reader favorites “Fairy Gifts” / “Gray” / “Alpha and Omega” / “Seeing Eye” / “The Star of David” / “In Red, with Pearls”

shifting shadows 2

The Review:

Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers, and the fact that she usually only comes out with one novel per year has me feeling perpetually impatient. I completely devour her books as soon as they come out and am always left craving more. While that speaks volumes of Briggs’ talents, I’ll admit it hurts my heart a bit every time I realize I have a full year to wait before finding out what happens next. So, the release of Shifting Shadows – a compilation of short stories set in Mercy Thompson’s world – felt like the ultimate treat to this uber fan!

Every single story did one of two things (and in some cases both): 1) allowed us to delve a little deeper into the lives of some of my favorite secondary characters (we essentially got treated to their fascinating backstories while viewing the world from their perspectives) and/or 2) expanded on the world-building within this already brilliantly-conceived universe. It was amazing, and I now want to go totally fangirl and start blabbing about Bran and Samuel and how cool it was to see their origins, or perhaps Warren (my favorite member of the pack) and the chills I got while learning about his strength of character, or even Kara and Asil, the stars of my favorite short story of the collection, and the wolves I’m now most eager to read more about. And that’s just to name a few!

Patricia Briggs is such an amazing writer. This is something I already knew, but Shifting Shadows made me appreciate her even more. She is just so great at characterization that you always feel like you’re reading about real people. It probably helps matters that Briggs considers the characters her imaginary friends, to the point where these fully-formed people in her head are mostly responsible for driving their own stories. She gives them a problem and then sits back and watches how they all deal with it. At least, that’s what she said during the Q&A of one of her book signings, and I’m inclined to believe her. 

It’s one thing to fall in love with characters and get to know them over the course of a multi-book series, it’s a whole other ballgame to get to know them within the confines of a short story. I’m seriously going to go back and study these stories for tips on how to make my own characters stronger – it was that good. Writing aside, there wasn’t a single point in this entire book that I wasn’t highly entertained, which is saying something because I don’t usually have the patience to pick up short stories (yes, I realize how ironic that sounds). As I said before (but it warrants repeating) every story either gave me insights to characters I’d been curious about or made Mercy’s world more vibrant… in fact, many of them did both.

All I have to say is, if you’re a fan of Mercy Thompson, these short stories will knock your socks off! If you’re not yet a fan, you’ll probably enjoy them because the writing is that good, but I think already having a deep connection with most of these characters is what took the book from great to amazing. Along those lines, if you haven’t read them, I highly recommend picking up the book that started it all, Moon Called.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Escape Reality Book Club – October’s Selection!

Escape reality book club

Hosted by your’s truly and Charlotte at Apathy and Rhetoric

Your votes have been counted and the results are in! 

October 2014′s official book club book is:

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Title: Sabriel 

Author: Garth Nix

Overview: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

So what happens now?

If you missed the Escaped Reality Book Club launch post, click here for more details.

Otherwise, you are all invited to join in the fun!

We will be reading Sabriel throughout the rest of October and geeking out about it on our officiaFacebook page, followed by a meeting at Menchies Frozen Yogurt for those of you in the Southern Utah area.

This blog reaches a global audience, so we realize not everybody will be able to make it to the meetings. Because of that, if you read the book and want to be included in the discussions, I would love to host a Facebook conversation for anybody who shows interest (just send me a message through our Facebook group, or leave a comment).

Have fun! :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

miss mayhemTitle: Miss Mayhem

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Rebel Belle #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: April 7, 2015

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 best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to 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 connect her to David for life.

miss mayhem

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

 I absolutely adored Rebel Belle, and I don’t use the word “adored” very often. It was a charming, witty, and all around kick-butt novel that also happen to include one of my more recent favorite “book boyfriends,” David (swoon!). I have yet to read a book from this author that I didn’t absolutely love, so I feel like I can say with confidence that Miss Mayhem is going to be well worth waiting for!

 What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Escape Reality Book Club – October 2014 Nominations!

Escape reality book club

Hosted by The Obsessive Bookseller and Apathy and Rhetoric

The Escape Reality Book Club is monthly feature where members take turns nominating the Young Adult titles they most want to read. We started it because we love geeking out about books, and knew a lot of other people who liked to too. This is a very low-pressure book club where anybody is invited to join. All you have to do is click here to be directed to our official Facebook page and asked to join the group. We host meetings here in Southern Utah, but all of you out-of-towners are invited to participate in a facebook book club meeting (which consists of a Q&A and hopefully some discussion!).

 Behold! The Nominations (Via Niki):

heist society

Heist Society

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

raised by wolves

Raised by Wolves

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn’t mean that she’s averse to breaking a rule or two. 

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian’s basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents’ murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.  But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she’s shaped?

sabriel

Sabriel

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

awakening

The Awakening

Chloe Saunders is not your average supernatural teenager. Genetically altered at birth by a sinister team of scientists, she can barely control her terrifying powers. Now the team that created her has decided it’s time to end the experiment. Permanently.

Now Chloe is running for her life along with a charming sorcerer, a troubled werewolf and a temperamental young witch. Together they have a chance for freedom – but can Chloe trust her new friends?

Daughter of smoke and bone

 Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

The winner's curse

The Winner’s Curse

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

 Which book would you like to read? For the record, I want to read them ALL.

Voting has closed. Check back next month for more fun!

by Niki Hawkes

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September 2014: Review Recap!

Review Recap

 As usual, I read a lot more books this month than I actually posted about… This made me think that maybe I should include a separate category for “read” books to go alongside my “reviewed” books. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers do this, and I actually kind of like it, but have been hesitating to do it myself because of an irrational fear that no one will want to read the reviews if they already know what’s coming. The key word is “irrational” because I’m so far behind in reviewing the books that it really doesn’t matter. Although, there are a few books that I reviewed immediately, so then there’s the problem of “double dipping.”

 I think I’m putting far too much thought into this.

 Anyway, here’s a look at this fantastic month of reading and reviewing:

 Books Read:

 While I didn’t get a lot of reviewing done, I certainly got a lot of reading done. The two week vacation certainly didn’t hurt me on that front. I LOVED all of these books, so it’s really difficult to pick a favorite, but I think I’d have to go with Silver Shadows. Interestingly enough, my least favorite read this month was Heir of Fire (Gasp! Blasphemy!). It just goes to show the caliber of books I’ve been picking up lately.

 Books Reviewed:

Dualed by Elsie Chapman – 2.5/5 stars

Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine – 4/5 stars

Defy by Sara B. Larson – 4/5 stars

Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron – 4/5 stars

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey – 4.5/5 stars

Sadly, I didn’t review nearly as many books as I plan to, but with the release of the first issue of our magazine (The Creative), the amazing cruise to Alaska, and my commitment to my new office job, I’m cutting myself a little slack. As much as I love Rachel Aaron, my favorite book reviewed this month was Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

 Waiting on Wednesday Features:

 This is a no-brainer – I’m most excited for the conclusion to the Bloodline series! Although, Glenda Larke is easily a close second!

 Top Ten Tuesday Features:

Top Ten Underrated Fantasy Authors!

Top Ten Books I’m Taking on My Cruise!

Top Ten Fantastic Authors I Need to Read More From!

Top Ten Books on My Fall 2014 TBR!

Escape Reality Book Club:

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

 My Review

 Adventures Beyond the Book Blog:

 I went to Alaska, and it was amazing! I’m going to do a full post for this as soon as I can get through my 4000+ pictures, but here are a few teasers:

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Looks amazing, eh?

 Did you have a good month in reading? Did you like seeing the books I’ve read alongside with the ones I reviewed?

by Niki Hawkes

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Stacking the Shelves – September 2014 Edition!

Stacking the shelves

Hosted by Tinga’s Reviews

I have to admit, of all of the memes my fellow bloggers participate in, Stacking the Shelves is my favorite. I love seeing the books other readers are bringing home and especially love getting peeks at all of the ARCs floating around out there (I don’t get physical copies often, so it’s nice to live vicariously through those that do). Because I’m doing a self-imposed Read 4, Buy 1 challenge, I only participate in STS once a month – let’s face it, no one needs a play-by-play of the single titles I’m getting every couple of weeks. This month, however, could of been a different story because I broke my rule (*sort of) and I broke it in style!

New Hardcopies:

 Considering I only purchased a couple “new” books this month, I can think of many other authors I’d be THIS excited to add to my collection! And two of them are SIGNED!!!! The Kim Harrison one will have to wait until I’m caught up in the series (I’ve been savoring them), but I am ready and eager to devour this short story collection by Patricia Briggs! And, of course, I’ve already read and loved the Rothfuss. :)

“Used” Hardcopies:

haul3

 *You see, there is an addendum in my R4B1 challenge (which I added, of course) which states that I may break the rules and buy books if 1) I find them at a screaming deal or 2) they are among the half-dozen titles I’ve been searching for to complete certain series within my hardcover collection. Thank goodness for this amazing bookstore in Seattle, because I found almost ALL THE THINGS I have been looking for, and at a bargain to boot!! So, technically I cheated (from a financial standpoint), but technically all of these titles fall into that “addendum” category so I’m letting it slide…

It amazes me how us book-lovers can rationalize away potentially destructive behaviors… Books are definitely my drug of choice.

The Used Bookstore of All Things AWESOME:

And this is where I sold my soul. Seriously, this bookstore went on for miles! The photo on the right is ALL Science Fiction/ Fantasy, and there was even more behind me! I was in heaven. :-)

Library Books:

library

Four books really isn’t that many to have checked out at a time, so why have I been so stressed? Oh, yeah! It’s because I went to request-crazy and put another 10+ books on hold (which will be trickling in within the next month). Reading new books before I buy them is a part of my strategy to cut back on book buying (and it’s working), but I still occasionally feel like library books fall into that deadly “obligation” category, regardless of how awesome they are. In any case, I’m stoked to read anything by Ann Aguirre, and Shaheen over at Speculating on SpecFic has me all pumped about The Falcon Throne (read her review and you’ll see why), so I’m still excited about this month’s haul.

ARCs:

 Seriously, what would I do without Netgalley and Edelweiss? While these books may not be at the top of my priority list, I’m definitely excited that I have the opportunity to read them!

 Well, that just about does it for my adventures in book buying this month – I hope you enjoyed going on that mini journey with me. I just have one more question: what books stacked YOUR shelves this month? :-)

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

ruby circleTitle: The Ruby Circle

Author: Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #6

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Release Date: February 10, 2015

The Overview: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives. After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times 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, 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.

ruby circle

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Bloodlines is officially my all-time favorite YA Paranormal. For the longest time I wasn’t sure I was going to like it as much as VA, but Silver Shadows tipped Bloodlines over the edge for me into my most-awesome-paranormalYA-EVER category. And now I’m dying to get my hands on the conclusion! It’s no secret how much I love Richelle Mead, and I swear this amazing author one-ups herself with each new book. You better believe I will be breaking down the doors at my BN on February 10 to get a copy. Ooooh!! I bet I could even request the day off of work so I can have plenty of time to enjoy it!! Brilliant.

What book are you waiting on? Which series do you prefer – Bloodlines or VA? (“both” is an acceptable answer… I had the hardest time deciding up until just recently) ;)

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Books on My Fall 2014 TBR!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

These TBR posts are my favorites to compose because I get to go sit in front of my collection of books and decide which ones I’m looking forward to reading the most. Any time I have an excuse to go stare at my shelves is a good time. Since I got so much good reading done on my Alaskan cruise, I decided to designate a few spots to releases that haven’t quite hit the shelves yet (but ones I plan to pick up immediately). Here’s a look at my:

Top Ten Books on My Fall 2014 TBR!


 The one I’m probably most excited to read at the moment is Fortune’s Pawn, as it’s written by the same author who created the awesome Eli Monpress series (Rachel Aaron writing as Rachel Bach).

What books make the top of your TBR?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron

Spirit's endTitle: Spirit’s End

Author: Rachel Aaron

Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress #5

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Eli Monpress is clever, he’s determined, and he’s in way over his head. First rule of thievery: don’t be a hero. When Eli broke the rules and saved the Council Kingdoms, he thought he knew the price, but resuming his place as the Shepherdess’s favorite isn’t as simple as bowing his head. Now that she has her darling back, Benehime is setting in motion a plan that could destroy everything she was created to protect, and even Eli’s charm might not be enough to stop her. But Eli Monpress always has a plan, and with disaster rapidly approaching, he’s pulling in every favor he can think of to make it work, including the grudging help of the Spirit Court’s new Rector, Miranda Lyonette. But with the world in panic, the demon stirring, and the Lord of Storms back on the hunt, it’s going to take more than luck and charm to pull Eli through this time. He’s going to have to break a few more rules and work with some old enemies if he’s going to survive.

Spirit's end 2

The Review:

If you are a fantasy-lover and have not yet had the pleasure to read The Legend of Eli Monpress, you are missing out. This series has some of the best world-building of any series I’ve ever read. Combine that with great characters, a cool magic system, originality, an engaging plot, and a fantastic writing style, and you can begin to see why I hold this author and series in such high regard. Aaron is such a great writer that, in my opinion, there’s not a single element storytelling from a craft standpoint that she doesn’t do brilliantly.

With that said, you would think composing this review would be a walk in the park, however, I’ve stalled on writing it longer than any other book this year. I loved how it wrapped up all of the conflicts of the series. It was a beautifully epic series that deserved an epic ending, and that’s exactly what it got. I feel really guilty for saying this, but I think the ending may have been just a tad bit too drawn out. It essentially took up a full third of the book, making me hold my breath uncomfortably for a really long time. There was so much momentum going into this last book that I don’t know how Aaron could have done it any other way. I wanted to know what happened badly enough to devour it in one sitting, but definitely had one of those Lord of the Rings (film) moments where I wasn’t sure if it was actually ever going to end. As with the LOTR, although it felt drawn out, I couldn’t tell you which part I felt she should cut… it was all essential to completing the plot and everything needed time to fully flesh out (not to mention the dozen or so amazing characters that needed proper resolution). Anyway, I think you can see why I’ve had such conflict over this one. Let’s suffice to say, now that I’m finished with the series, I eventually loved where it ended. We ‘ll leave it at that.

I’m actually kind of sad it’s over – I thoroughly enjoyed these characters, some of which are now among my all-time favorites (Nico, I’m talking to you). This is one of those books I will definitely go back and reread, if for nothing else than to study the craft because, seriously, Aaron is brilliant. The good news is, I just found out she published a space opera trilogy under the name Rachel Bach, so you’d better believe I will be devouring those as soon as I can get my hands on them!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes