Book Review: The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan + GIVEAWAY!

[June 27, 2017] Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan

Title: The Legion of Flame

Author: Anthony Ryan

Series: The Draconis Memoria #2

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Empires clash and a fell power stakes its claim in the second in a new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy. For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood—and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed—to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen—a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization. -Goodreads

The Review: 

If you start only one new fantasy series this year, make it Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan! I thought The Waking Fire was one of the best books I’d ever read, but Legion of Flame was even better!

Legion of Flame was the ultimate armchair adventure! Each chapter was so good, I had a difficult time finding decent stopping points (and as such, stayed up way too late on too many occasions to finish it). Ryan ended each of his chapters with an aggravatingly brilliant hook that just begged you to keep reading (so I did). There was always an abundance of action, adventure, exploration, steampunk, and, of course, dragons. Every element came together brilliantly for, I’ll say it again, one of the best books I’ve ever read.

In both of these books, Ryan takes you on an exploration of this world and allows you to discover its breathtaking histories/mysteries alongside some very memorable characters. This depth of discovery, combined with a very Indiana Jones adventure feel, is truly the magic of these novels and one of my favorite elements. There’s such a sense of wonder with his world-building – stuff that will truly dazzle you. I can’t even begin to guess what he has in store next!

Both books incorporate multiple POVs and they were all equally exciting to read about. Each character was perfectly placed to give us a grand picture of what’s transpiring, and I triple-dog-dare you to pick a favorite – they’re all deserving of the title. If forced, I’d say Lizanne struck a chord with me the most because her personality has a lot of duality, making her very interesting to read about.

Let’s talk about dragons for a minute. The dragons are incredibly well-conceived in this series. So far, their role has been much stronger than I’d dared hope – it truly is a dragon book. I love the varieties, their importance to the human populations, their significance in the story, and, most predominantly, how well they’re being represented. Ryan manages to keep all the things that I think comprise great dragons while simultaneously amping them up with his own twists. They’re brilliant! And if this wasn’t already one of my favorite books for story, characters, and world-building alone, it would be for the dragons.

So because of the amazing characters, seamless blend of fantasy and steampunk, exciting adventures, page-turning plot, and killer use of dragons, Legion of Flame is perfection. I plan to recommend it as often as I can!

I’d like to think Berkley Publishing Group, Anthony Ryan, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Legion of Flame!

The Waking Fire Giveaway!

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

The publisher has graciously offered up a paperback copy of The Waking Fire for me to give away to one lucky US resident (I’m very sorry to all of my international followers – you guys are important to me too!). To enter, just take a moment to fill out this rafflecopter giveaway form, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US Residents only, please.
The giveaway will run until Midnight on Thursday, July 6, 2017 MST.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz!

Mini Book Review Blitz!

I’m going to need a feature image… Anyway, even when posting three times a week, I found myself becoming increasingly behind in book reviews. Behold: my solution – the Mini Book Review Blitz! 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Book Info: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I couldn’t really come up with enough material to do a full review for this one – I liked it well enough, but it didn’t knock my socks off. What it had going for it were interesting characters and some cool ideas (most notably, overlapping dimensions of London and a dude who can travel between them). There were some sections that I thought were interesting, albeit a little dry (mostly near the beginning) and others that had me totally riveted. Overall, as the first in a series I’d heard so much about, I can definitely see the appeal. It had a very “Muggles” feel to me, like at the beginning of Deathly Hollows where the Prime Minister is trying to reconcile the paradigm of his world with the Wizarding world he know exists. If you liked those sections of HP, you’ll love this.

Captain's Furey by Jim Butcher

Book Info: Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Academ’s Fury and Cursor’s Fury were two of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read – I loved the snot out of them. They took me on a whirlwind of a ride and so, by comparison, Captain’s Fury was a slower burn, more on par with the first book (although the events that happened within this one still rocked my world). It seemed more like a set up novel for the last couple books in the series and it did a great job generating some momentum. I can’t wait to finish this series – almost everything about it has made me very upset that I didn’t start it ages ago (and that my library holds are taking sooo long to come in). I love it!

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4/5 stars

I now count myself among the Kate Daniels super fandom. Magic Slays was another great installment on what is shaping up to be an awesome series. Since I’ve gushed about it enough in other reviews, I’ll stick to specifics for this title. I especially loved how authentic the relationship was between the main character and her bff. They argued like real people, and it’s the kind of back-and-forth bickering that’s fun to read about. In fact, all the relationships are great, and I especially love how many interesting side characters get their own spotlights in some of the short stories (yup – it’s good enough to read all of the extra novellas that go along with it!). I’ll probably be doing a Kate Daniels short story blitz once I get through them all.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz! As you can see, I’ve been reading a lot of great titles lately. :-)

by Niki Hawkes


Chronicles of an Obsessive Bookseller: My Blog Snapshot!

My Blog Snapshot!

I tagged myself for this feature after enjoying it on the awesome Bookstooge‘s website (it was originally created by Stuart from Always Trust In Books).

I’m using this tag to express my blogging philosophies (and status quo), and found it very interesting to see how my style has evolved over the years. I wont be tagging anyone, but if you complete it, I’d love it if you’d leave me a link in the comments so I can come check it out. :) You may want to reference the original, as I made a lot of changes.

The Last 5 books you read:

All excellent titles. :)

Spoilers or Spoiler free?

I really, really hate spoilers. Even a minor one can wreck my enjoyment of a book. As a bookseller for all those years, I can’t tell you how many books were ruined for me by inconsiderate customers (things as blatant as – “oh, you’ll love this book! Although I was a total wreck at the end when the dragon died…”). My aversion is so bad, I won’t even read overviews if I can help it. They always seem to include major plot points I’d rather discover on my own. So it goes without saying, I keep my reviews spoiler free.

How long have you been book blogging?

I started blogging in 2012 to give myself a platform for the novels I was writing. However, by 2013 book blogging became a passion in itself and has brought me a lot more joy than writing ever did.

Your favorite genre?

Anything under the Speculative Fiction umbrella:

broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

Preferred book size? (novella, tome…etc).

It’s not the size that matters. ;P

Number of books on your TBR pile?

A million. Okay, not that many, but Goodreads tells me I have almost 1500 titles on my to-read shelf, and most are just first in series.

Books you have recently DNFed?

I gave myself permission to be picky lately – best decision I ever made! Life’s too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

Recent awards or milestones?

Reaching my 4th year blogging was a big milestone for me. I noticed most of the bloggers I started out with petered out after about 2 years (I miss all of you). Sustaining my blog for 4 years and to still be having a ball with it feels noteworthy.

Best interaction with an author?

Best: Easily my best author interaction was meeting Patricia Briggs. She was so nice – answering all of my questions and signing every hardback I brought along. She definitely made me feel like a valued fan. :)

Mindy McGinnis was another awesome experience. She’s such a funny gal, and I loved the answers she gave me for what lay beyond her Not a Drop to Drink duology.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes I met while working the Vegas Valley Book Festival a few years ago. I had fangirled to my DM about how much I loved “The Naturals” and she made a point to snag me when Barnes stopped by. I was so excited – I embarrassed myself a bit haha.

Brandon Mull is a Utah native, and it was a total delight to host him at the BN I used to work for. He did a fun Q&A beforehand and, despite having seen a couple hundred people before me, was every bit as enthusiastic about my comments as he was to the first in line. This was when I got the first hint of the now recently released Dragonwatch. Awesome!

I’d been wanting to meet Dan Wells for ages – having totally love his Partials Sequence. It was a delight to get to meet him and pick his brain a little bit about his writing process (I had done an e-interview with him before, but still had some questions). The only awkward this was that he was signing with a couple of family members (his wife and brother I think, but don’t quote me) who are also published authors. They made me feel a bit guilty about not being interested in their books at the time, as I’d traveled 4 hours just to see Dan Wells. Oh well, lol.

DJ Machale was also a delight to meet – we got lost on the way to the Vegas bookstore where he was signing, so I missed the Q&A, but we snuck in at the last moment and had a great one-on-one Q&A, so it worked out haha. He signed all of my Pendragon hardcovers and geeked out about that series in general. :)

Worst: Richelle Mead, and not because of anything she did. I was battling a huge headache, my row was near the last to meet her, even though I had been one of the first to arrive (poor moderating), and I was so nervous that I kept repeating myself. Overall, not a good impression lol.

For the record, I would still love to meet Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, Anthony Ryan, Ray Carson, Glenda Larke, Scott Lynch, and Kim Harrison, just to name a few in a very long line of favorites. :-)

Average number of books you read per month?

7. And no matter what I do, that number seldom changes.

Top three publishers?

TOR, Shadow Mountain, and Berkley!

They always have the best ARCs on Netgalley, but beyond that, they’re also the ones I’m considering sending my manuscripts to (I’m not even close yet).

Social media sites your blog uses?

I think my blog is linked to most social media sites, but I’m only active on Goodreads (are we friends on there yet? If not we should be – find me here).

Average amount of time you spend networking?

All f*cking day. Although I don’t look at it as “networking” so much as just spending time with my online reading friends. I was recently made a moderator for my favorite Goodreads group – Fantasy Buddy Reads – and I noticed my time spent on social media didn’t have to increase to accommodate it lol.

Sum up your blogging style in 5 words?

Recommending Brilliant Speculative Fiction Books.

Next time I’ll try for a Haiku.

18). A blog you looked up to starting out?

I had a few that dazzled me when I was just getting started, but I don’t follow them anymore. One I looked up to because she was a brilliant writer, had an amazing blogging concept, and had over 20,000 followers. She help me find my blogging “identity” as The Obsessive Bookseller because I appreciated how well branded her site was. However, due to infrequent posting and the fact that her and I did not enjoy the same type of books, I’ve since stopped following.

The other blog I’ll admit to unashamed blog-envy. She obviously spent a lot of time and money beyond what I was able to afford, and because of that her blog looks sooo professional. She also attended all of the big book conventions and was practically swimming in ARCs. I was jealous, lol. I eventually stopped following because her reviews always had a lot of negative undertones and I found her somewhat unfriendly.

The best book you have reviewed so far?

Just a few of my favorites from the last few months. Some awesome titles!  

Best piece of blogging advice?

Don’t try to limit yourself by what bloggers “should” and “shouldn’t” do. This is your creative space to express yourself however you please. Blog when it’s fun too. Stop when it’s not. Above all: make your own rules! You’ll gain and lose followers no matter what you do, so you might as well produce content that gives you joy. If I had stuck to what I thought should/shouldn’t be posted on a book blog, I never would have created my Simplifies Life series, which is definitely one of my favorite features I’ve ever done and it’s only partially book-related. I also never would have started doing mini book reviews… as stupid as it sounds, I thought anything short of a full review was against the “rules.” :)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my blogging snapshot. :-)

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

Title: The Desert Spear

Author: Peter V. Brett

Series: The Demon Cycle #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power. Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim. But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure. Once, the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances… -Goodreads

The Review:

With every passing week since finishing The Desert Spear, I find myself more and more dissatisfied with it. Something about many of the elements within the story just aren’t sitting right with me, and I’d be the first to state that I’m getting really tired of every other character having a backstory that includes rape, incestuous rape, and sodomy. I don’t know if Brett is trying to make a grander point on who the real “demons” are, or if it just gives him kicks to write about that stuff, but I think it’s too much. Furthermore, it’s not even the sheer volume alone that bothers me, but the forgiving attitude towards the rapists.

And here’s where you’re going to raise an eyebrow at me – I thought a good portion of the book (that following Jardir – whose POV I actually liked more than most) could’ve been a lot grittier. O_o? What Brett says happens in this hostile desert society and what he shows happening were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Not that I want to read about that stuff in detail, but from an analytical standpoint, the inconsistency drove me crazy.

So here I sit, complaining of an issue with subject-matter while also kind of saying that other parts weren’t as graphic as the story required. Do you get an idea of why it took me so long to compose this review? I think the crux of the matter is that, no matter which end of the spectrum I’m considering, I had issues with a lot of things.

That said, and to be even more contrary, I actually enjoyed the process of reading a lot of this book. I find the demons fascinating, and every scene that gave me a glimpse into their true nature provided me that spark I needed to keep reading. I am morbidly curious to see where all the human storylines are going and am hoping to come out of this series with a lot more satisfaction than I got out of The Desert Spear. Now that the story is finally starting to clip forward, I find myself somewhat reaching for the third book… but I may wait a few more weeks to give myself time to simmer down.

Overall, after this mess of a review, all I can say is: I’m enjoying the good elements of the story enough to continue on, but would be hard pressed to recommend it because of all the negative ones. ;P

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Chronicles of an Obsessive Bookseller: Too Many Hobbies!

Too Many Hobbies!

I have come to a terrible realization: I have too many hobbies.

Or maybe the issue is, I don’t have enough time. Someone asked me the other day, “How do you have time to read? Do you give up all of their hobbies or something?” My response was an emphatic: “No, I still do all the things I love.” But after assessing for a few days, I realized just how delusional I am.

I’ve only been on one hike in the last year, I haven’t walked my dog in months, my Prismacolor pencil set is packed in the back of my closet with all of my paints, I’ve only done a few stitches on my cross-stitch project in the last few weeks, and I haven’t touched my WIP novels in two years. O_o This is a problem.

Lately, I’ve been itching to do all of my favorite things, but just can’t seem to find the time. I work forty hours a week, have a baby at home, and what little time I do have I spend either reading or blogging. It’s not a bad life, and by all accounts I’m quite happy, but now that I’ve decided to get back to some of these other joys, I can’t seem to fit them into my schedule.

So what do I do? Since The Obsessive Bookseller’s theme of 2017 is Simplifying Life, the only thing I can do is simplify blogging by taking time away from it to work on other projects. Henceforth: I think I’m going to pull back from gung-ho blogging for a couple of months to see what other creative mischief I can get up to. It’s not a burnout or hiatus, it’s just a strategic step back. I’ll only be reducing my weekly posts by one, but I think it’ll go a long ways towards helping me allocate my time. I know I could have just made the change and probably no one would have noticed, but I thought I’d say something anyway and maybe generate a discussion.

Who else has this problem?? Not only would I love to hear what kind of hobbies you awesome people have outside of blogging and reading, but I’d also love to hear how you balance them all with life.

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Title: Red Sister

Author: Mark Lawrence

Series: Book of the Ancestor #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive… – Goodreads

The Review:

Red Sister surprised me in quite a few ways. I’d heard a lot about this author’s Broken Empire Trilogy, and much of the hearsay led me to believe I wouldn’t enjoy those books because of difficult subject-matter. However, when the author offered me a review copy of Red Sister, I decided to accept it… with reservations.

As it turns out, I didn’t need any. Red Sister was a really good first installment of The Ancestor series. What surprised me the most was how beautiful his writing and composition was. Very lyrical, but always careful not to overwhelm the story. The same could be said about his world building – it was a subtle integration of details that gradually described the interesting ailments of this world. There were a lot of cool ideas that I can’t wait to see expanded on in the next book.

My favorite part of the story was Nona, the main character. She was such an enigma! As with the world-building, Lawrence revealed bits and pieces about her past as the story went along, and I enjoyed diving into the mystery of it. She was a very compelling character. [Spoiler] highlight to reveal: Nona thought she was a monster, but found a home and friendship with these sisters even though, deep down, she didn’t believe she deserved it. Watching her find a place in this convent and become a cherished member was easily my favorite part of Red Sister – so profound! [End Spoiler]

Red Sister primarily takes place in a convent where the Sisters train on everything from spiritual focus (involving a bit of magic) to hand-to-hand combat. I love school settings as is, but it was cool to read about one in a dark and gritty context. But thankfully it wasn’t too dark, as some of his other works are rumored to be (which I’m sure are still good books, as lots of people really like them. I’m just too squeamish). Red Sister wasn’t nearly as gritty as I was prepared for, containing just enough to make the events realistic and intense without being off-putting.

Overall, Red Sister is a book I’ll be thinking about for a while. I’d recommend it to fantasy readers who don’t mind a little blood and gore. It’s definitely worth your time.

Thank you, Mark Lawrence, for the opportunity to read and review Red Sister. :)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes