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Book Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Title: Kings of the Wyld

Author: Nicholas Eames

Series: The Band #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: GLORY NEVER GETS OLD. Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld. -Goodreads

The Review:

I read Kings of the Wyld as part of a Buddy Read with my favorite Goodreads group, Fantasy Buddy Reads (where the author even showed up to say a few gracious words – how cool is that?!). This is one of those unique books that got devoured as soon as it came across my radar. If you have any knowledge of my colossal TBR pile, you know that most things that land on it sit there for 5+ sometimes even 10+ years before it gets read. The premise for Kings of the Wyld sounded so interesting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it asap.

The book was hysterical.

And not just mildly amusing, but the kind of funny that still has me laughing at some of the moments several months later. To set the stage, a retired band of mercenaries (who have become old, fat, and in some cases drunk) pull themselves back together to go on a quest. The main character goes reluctantly, and his sardonic attitude towards everything is what gives this book such a strong voice. All of the characters were individualized and funny in their own way (my favorite of which being Arcandius Moog – the gay wizard who’s quite comfortable questing in a onesie, thank you very much), but they all had to put their differences and arguments aside to accomplish their goal. Add to that a ton of nerdy references, and you have one hella fun book!

What surprised me the most was not just the funny stuff, but how equal of an impact the more serious, deeper moments had on the story. They may have been far between, but the emotional investment I felt was just as strong as for a fantasy without all of the humor. It meant to me that Nicholas Eames was in it to write more than just a fun book – he also succeeded in producing one with substance.

I’ve discovered throughout the years that I am a somewhat inpatient reader. There are so many books on my TBR that it becomes increasingly difficult to stop everything and just enjoy each book for the journey it offers. Kings of the Wyld was mostly about the journey – the pacing focused more on character-building and humor than it did the destination (that is, until things got rolling near the end, then it didn’t let up). What I’m trying to say is, Kings of the Wyld reinvigorated my passion for discovering new authors, took me out of my carefully laid reading plans, and made me appreciate the journey for the first time in a long while.

Overall, this is going to be a very easy book for me to recommend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had customers ask me for a funny fantasy book and all I could do was point out two popular authors whose humor didn’t quite work for me (Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett… masters of their genre, but not works that I could personally stand behind based on my own experience… don’t be mad at me.) Finally, I have the start to a killer fantasy with tons of humor and substance – one that I can recommend with confidence. If you’re sick of the same old stuff, or are in the mood for a good laugh – Kings of the Wyld is my pick for you!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: A Kingdom Besieged by Raymond E. Feist [+ a series assessment]

A Kingdom Besieged by Raymond E. Feist

Title: A Kingdom Besieged

Author: Raymond E. Feist

Series: The Chaoswar Saga #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Midkemia’s fifth and final Riftwar—the devastating Chaoswar—explodes in the opening volume of Raymond E. Feist’s spectacular new epic fantasy trilogy of magic, conflict, and world-shattering peril. A Kingdom Besieged is a breathtaking adventure that brings back Pug—first introduced in Feist’s classic debut novel, Magician, and now Midkemia’s most powerful sorcerer—who faces a major magical cataclysm that forces him to question everything he’s ever held as true and dear…including the loyalty of his beloved son Magnus. -Goodreads

The Review:

The end of the Riftwar world is nigh, and I feel an odd mix of relief and elation. I think the series may be ending with a lot of repeating elements, having been dragged on a little too long… but at the same time, it has been nice to come “home” to the author that sparked my love of fantasy.

I already like the Chaoswar Saga better than the Demonwar Saga. It took a while for things to get going and for all the “players” to be reintroduced, but once it did, it had my interest. Feist included an interesting POV from a creature in one of the demon realms, adding a nice bit of perspective to the overall story, which I’m excited to see develop. Overall, A Kingdom Besieged was enjoyable, containing enough nostalgic elements to keep me interested, but not enough to knock my socks off.

I do have a few critical thoughts about these later works, especially concerning character development. Some of the text practically screams with Feist’s desperate desire to stay relevant and a live up to all the great characters he’s written in previous books. Unfortunately, I think he’s going about it the wrong way – instead of taking the time to develop strong new characters, he shamelessly name-drops. He’s trying to build them up by emphasizing how similar they are to their predecessors, but only succeeds in paling them by comparison, at least in my mind. Here’s a badly paraphrased example:

“Oh, you’re a son of the Duke of Crydee? And an archer to boot!! Look how amazing you are! Why, I’d say you have all the skill and bearings that your great Grandsire, Martin, had. Do you remember how amazing he was?? Splitting-image, I tell you!”

And he doesn’t do this just once, but with every new prominent character we meet. It doesn’t help matters that many of these characters are actually descendant from original characters. I admit I’m at the point where I no longer remember (or care) which generation we’re on.

So, despite a decided quality drop in these later books, I still think (at this point) the series is worth finishing, but the final verdict will be told with the last two Chaoswar books. If you haven’t started this series yet, here’s my recommended reading order:

Riftwar 1 & 2 [2] Loved #1!
The first 100 pages of #2 is a struggle – keep going!

Empire [3] Loved!
Riftwar 3 & 4 [2] Loved!
Krondor’s Sons [2] Loved!
Serpentwar Saga [4] Loved!
Riftwar Legacy [3] Didn’t like…
Conclave of Shadows [3] Loved!
Darkwar Saga [3] Liked.
Demonwar Saga [2] Hated!
Chaoswar Saga [3] The jury is still out…

The Riftwar Legacy is a side trilogy apparently based off of a video game. It lacked the sophistication of the other series and had no particular relevance to future books (that I can remember, anyway). I’d skip those. If the Chaoswar ends well, it MIGHT be worth suffering through Demonwar… I’ll let you know lol. ;)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [26]: August 2017

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

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

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

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

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2017 TBR Tackler Shelf:

This month my focus is on progressing and finishing series that I’m really enjoying. All of these titles are from the “high priority” section of my Incomplete Series list, so I know I am in for a lot of good reading. The one I am most excited to get into is the conclusion to Jemisin’s Fifth Season trilogy… It should be good!

Tackler Carry-Overs


Niki’s Incomplete Series Challenge [Via Fantasy Buddy Reads]

June 2017 Titles Tackled:

Niki’s July 2017 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 0

 Series Brought UTD: 4
Firebrand – A.J. Hartley
Obsidian and Stars – Julie Eshbaugh
The Operator & Waylaid – Kim Harrison
Midnight Jewel – Richelle Mead

Series Progressed: 4
A Kingdom Besieged – Raymond E. Feist
Gunmetal Magic Ilona Andrews
The Rose Society – Marie Lu
Drive – James S.A. Corey

New Series Started: 2
Traitor’s Blade – Sebastien de Castille [started in March, just finished]
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi

Abandoned: 0
The Young Elites – Marie Lu
The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken
Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 8
Up To Date Series: 16
Series Progressed: 32
New Series Started: 16
Abandoned: 4

Here’s my full Incomplete Series list, in case anyone is curious.


What books are you Tackling this month? Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile (and the links to your posts if applicable) in the comments. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz! [2]

Mini Book Review Blitz!


Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Book Info: Naamah’s Kiss [Moirin’s Trilogy #1] by Jacqueline Carey

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this trilogy. You see, it’s really difficult for anything to follow Kushiel’s and Imriel’s stories and, since this one took place a few hundred years in the future, I found myself mourning the fact that we’ve moved on (kind of like when Avatar ended and they brought back Legend of Korra – it’s really good, but I miss the old characters). I also thought the story was a bit inconsistent – the first half was a solid 5-star “I was totally enamored” rating. The second half was a conservative 2.5-star rating because the story elements sort of “jumped the shark” when it came to feasibility. Overall, the parts of this story I liked, I did so with the same ferocity as those which came before. The parts I didn’t amounted to my least favorite experiences with this author so far. The verdict? Worth reading if you’ve read the other trilogies, but moderate your expectations (and take what I say with a grain of salt – I’ve met a few people who claim this as their favorite of Carey’s trilogies). I’ll also add that I really adored Moirin, so there’s no shortage of beautifully written characters.


A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Book Info: A Gathering of Shadows  [A Darker Shade of Magic #2] by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 5/5 stars

I went into A Gathering of Shadows with extremely limited expectations, but was delighted to discover one of my favorite books of the year (so far). In contrast, my friend Petrik HATED it. And we usually line up with most of our reviews (you can check out his scathing review of this book on Goodreads). We’ve such a broad difference of opinion of the same book, which is really fascinating. I see most of his points, but had a very different reaction to them. Ultimately (I like that word today) I thought A Gathering of Shadows was a fantastic follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic. It had a lot more of the fun elements the first one was missing: an exploration of Red London, a magical dueling tournament, and some excellent insight into these already good characters. I especially loved Lila. It’s refreshing to read about a tough female character who actually backs up her bolstering with action. I can’t think of another female lead with such grit (cunning, bravery, and skill, maybe, but not grit). Overall, the trilogy is worth reading just for aGoS alone – I was completely engrossed from start to finish, and will probably add it to my List of All-Time Favorites (yeah, I liked it that much).


Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Book Info: Lady Renegades [Rebel Belle #3] by Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I’d been stalling on reading Lady Renegades because I was disappointed in Miss Mayhem – the second book in the trilogy (it had some good ideas, but didn’t live up to its potential). Ultimately, it was my memory of how much I loved her Hex Hall series that drew me back to finish this trilogy out of some odd sense of loyalty. Although it didn’t take me very long to get through, I can’t help but feel I wasted my time. I’m of the opinion that this story would’ve been better served as a duology. There just wasn’t enough substance to book 3, and it had a ton of repeating elements. It was essentially a drawn out segment that should’ve been the climax to Miss Mayhem and ended the story there. Usually in a YA trilogy, it’s the second book that feels like a filler novel, but in this case it was the third one. This might be harsh, but I’d say read the first two books, then skip to the final two chapters of Lady Renegades and call it a day. #harsh


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Title: Old Man’s  War

Author: John Scalzi

Series: Old Man’s War #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding... -Goodreads

The Review:

I’m so glad I finally started The Old Man’s War series – it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. Filled with humor, action, exploration, and a touch of sentimentality, if you’re looking for your next great sci-fi read, this may be it! The book is essentially about John Perry, a 75-year-old man who signs up for the Army to fight an intergalactic war. John’s POV was my favorite element of the book. His “wisened” outlook on life and general mannerisms were a delightful contrast to the hard-assed whippersnappers who usually star in good sci-fi. The POV definitely elevated an already good story to a fantastic one, but lord save me from old-man jokes (okay, fine. I laughed at all of them).

I also really love to the type of science fiction the book was: a perfect blend of technological advancement, alien interactions, and militaristic elements. The best part is, I think Scalzi has only just scratched the surface of it’s potential in this first book. The first half of the novel moved at a significantly slower pace than the second half, which was great because it felt more organic, giving the latter parts of the book higher impact by contrast. So rest assured, if you pick it up and wonder if it actually goes somewhere, the answer is an emphatic yes – and hang onto your seats when you get there. Incidentally, the slower sections were my favorites.

I mentioned a bit of sentimentality at the beginning of the review. There is a, shall we say “softer” element near the end of the book that I didn’t necessarily care for. It’s the only thing that pinged against my rating, even though it really wasn’t a big factor in the whole scheme of things. I liked the idea, but thought it was a bit too heavy-handed. I’m hoping it will smooth out a bit in the second book (which I will definitely be reading ASAP).

Overall, Old Man’s War was one of the most interesting science fiction I’ve read. I think it fits the bill as both a must-read for seasoned sci-fi lovers and a great introductory novel for new readers of the genre. If you loved Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game as a young adult (as I did), Old Man’s War is its perfect evolution.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

Title: Obsidian and Stars

Author: Julie Eshbaugh

Series: Ivory and Bone #2

Genre: Teen Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: After surviving the chaotic battle that erupted after Lo and the Bosha clan attacked, now Mya is looking ahead to her future with Kol. All the things that once felt so uncertain are finally falling into place. But the same night as Kol and Mya’s betrothal announcement, Mya’s brother Chev reveals his plan to marry his youngest sister Lees to his friend Morsk. The only way to avoid this terrible turn of events, Morsk informs Mya when he corners her later, is for Mya to take Lees’ place and marry him herself. Refusing to marry anyone other than her beloved, and in an effort to protect her sister, Mya runs away to a secret island with Lees. And though it seems like the safest place to hide until things back home blow over, Mya soon realizes she’s been followed. Lurking deep in the recesses of this dangerous place are rivals from Mya’s past whose thirst for revenge exceeds all reason. With the lives of her loved ones on the line, Mya must make a move before the enemies of her past become the undoing of her future. -Goodreads

The Review:

If you caught my recent review of Ivory and Bone, you’ll remember me saying I really enjoyed the book, but had a few issues with the logistics feeling a bit forced. Eshbaugh was modeling the story after Pride and Prejudice, trying to follow the same basic storyline. My hope going into Obsidian and Stars was that it would feel a little more organic and free-flowing – which it actually did. The trouble is, I found a different set of issues to complain about long the way…

Obsidian and Stars lost a bit of the magic that made Ivory and Bone so unique. The creative story construction in I&B around an atypical narrative was my favorite part – it was presented as recounting, where a boy told the girl his perspective from the point when they first met. It was so cool! In O&S, however, the POV switched to straightforward first-person. There was also very minimal cultural immersion, which took away the other element that set Ivory and Bone apart. The one consistency I can praise is Eshbaugh’s beautiful writing voice – if I finish the series, it might be for that alone.

My biggest issue, however, were the conflicts.

Most of the obstacles the character faced in Obsidian and Stars were caused by what I viewed as bad decision-making and a general lack of common sense… almost to an infuriating degree. Because of this, I felt very un-invested for most of the novel while they ran around fixing these self-induced problems (most of which also felt incredibly unfeasible – the juxtaposition between teen angst toleration and the harsh realities of prehistoric life are pretty laughable. I overlooked it in I&B, but I lost patience in the second). Furthermore, all of the remaining conflicts were so similar to what happened in the first book that I found myself losing interest even further to the point where it was a struggle to finish.

I’d really hoped the second book would’ve taken the story beyond the narrow framework of the first and really expanded on this cool setting. Despite my disappointment with Obsidian and Stars, I like Eshbaugh’s writing voice and the basic components to her story well enough that I might still pick up the third book when it comes out in 2018. I’m just really hoping when I do I’ll see stronger conflicts and a heavier focus on the things that make this series special.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes