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Book Review: The Fall of the Dagger by Glenda Larke

The Fall of the Dagger by Glenda Larke

Title: The Fall of Dagger

Author: Glenda Larke

Series: The Forsaken Lands #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Sorcerers, pirates, and thieves collide in this thrilling conclusion to Glenda Larke’s epic fantasy adventure series, The Forsaken Lands. -Goodreads

I guess that sums it up.

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The Review:

There are a lot of reasons Glenda Larke is one of my favorite authors: 1. Her beautiful, seemingly effortless writing that lets me just sit back and immerse myself in the story, 2. Her exotic world-building that always takes me to the coolest places (all of you Sanderson fans clamoring for more in the Sixth of Dusk world should pick up a Glenda Lark series for the same encompassing atmospheres spread throughout her trilogies), 3. Her characters, who aren’t perfect, but are endearing in their humanity, and 4. Her infusion of nature (flora/fauna) into the stories. She’s one of my trusted guaranteed-good-read authors.

I can’t decide whether Fall of the Dagger or Dagger’s Path (book 2) is my favorite of the trilogy. Daggers Path had so many good moments (and my favorite setting of the trilogy), but Fall of the Dagger was a very satisfying trilogy-ender with more action. I especially like this series because of the characters. Each POV, while not terribly complex in motivation, always seemed earnest and realistic. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like them so much, suffice to say that I was always invested in their plight. The magic system in this series is also a selling point – there’s an avian-centric magic system that I’ve never come across before that appealed to me with its originality.

Compared to Glenda Larke’s other books, my favorite is still either the Isles of Glory Trilogy or the Watergivers Trilogy, but this one has definitely earned its keep among them. If I’m honest, it’s not a complete “knock-your-socks-off” fantasy read that will shred your soul (like Robin Hobb), but it’s still fun adventure to get absorbed in. I enjoyed them immensely.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz! [3]

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! 


Green Rider by Kristen Britian

Book Info: Green Rider [Green Rider #1] by Kristin Britain

Rating: 2/5 stars

I’ve had this series on my shelves for YEARS. It was one of the few I was incredibly excited to start, which makes it all the more disappointing that I didn’t like it. My 2-star “it was just okay” rating sums it up perfectly: it was just okay. The first chapter started off with the bang, then it proceeded to meander through one inconsequential event after another, and I could feel my enthusiasm dropping with every page. At one point, I was more than halfway through the book and still couldn’t see any purpose behind the scenes and kept wanting the story to get back to the inciting moment at the beginning. I’m really bummed I didn’t like Green Rider, especially since my cousins really loved it. I’m unfortunately abandoning the series from here.


Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: Magic Rises [Kate Daniels #6] by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4/5 stars

I was fully prepared not to like Magic Rises. Any time and urban fantasy ventures out of its “home” city, I tend to lose interest (a weird thing, I know, but I pick up urban fantasies for a specific atmosphere “feel”, and if I don’t get that pay off, I get cranky). So, despite my bad attitude and determination not to like it, I actually enjoyed Magic Rises immensely. Kate Daniels is such a compelling character, I seem to be riveted no matter what she’s doing. The authors are incredible at weaving together tight plot lines and fantastic interpersonal conflicts while still bringing forth an overall series story arc that gets more intense with each installment. I am now a HUGE fan of this series – so much so that I’m trying to moderate how fast I read them… I don’t know if I can handle having no more KD books to look forward to. Even the novellas are amazing. All I can say is, hold on tight to your top spots, Mercy Thompson and Rachel Morgan – Kate Daniels is coming for you with swords a-blazing (and lions roaring)! ;P


Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Book Info: The Ghost Brigades [Old Man’s War #2] by John Scalzi

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I read Ghost Brigades as a Buddy Read with some awesome people over at Fantasy Buddy Reads. While most of us still appreciate Scalzi as an author and wish to continue the series, there was an overwhelming consensus that book two lacked a little of the magic that made Old Man’s War so successful. Most notably, John Perry and his pervasive humor were absent from the story. It still had little moments of humor (which I appreciated), but was much more serious overall. Ghost Brigade read very much like a set up novel (having read on, it kind of was). All of that said, I still enjoyed reading it and look forward to seeing what happens next.


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

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Coming Soon: Burning Bright by Patricia Briggs

Title: Burning Bright

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #5

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: March 8, 2018 

The Overview: They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm. With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn… -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

I am totally in love with this series, which is saying something considering I wasn’t completely convinced until the third book. These are strong urban fantasies with interesting characters compelling mysteries. I think if Briggs is not careful the Alpha & Omega series is going to go toe to toe with Mercy Thompson herself (as far as amazingness is concerned). If you haven’t read the spinoff, I’d recommend starting with the Alpha & Omega short story.

Who else is excited for a new Patricia Briggs?!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [27]: September 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.
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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:

September 2017 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Just looking at my Tackler list this month makes me happy. It really highlights in my mind why it’s important for me to prioritize and read the best books first. I’m no longer wasting time on books I’m not enjoying, and that is a truly liberating feeling. :) I have been waiting on Apex for what feels like ages (though it’s only been a year since Elite), but the one that has me chomping at the bit most this month is the conclusion to the Memoirs of Lady Trent series.

Tackler Carry-Overs


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

August 2017 Titles Tackled:

Niki’s August 2017 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 4
First Lord’s Fury – Jim Butcher
The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemisin
Buried Heart – Kate Elliott
The Fall of the Dagger – Glenda Larke

 Series Brought UTD: 1
An Alchemy of Masques and MirrorsCurtis Craddock

Series Progressed: 8
The Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi
Magic Rises – Ilona Andrews
An Ill-Advised Rescue – Ilona Andrews
Rise of Empire – Michael J. Sullivan
The Churn – James S. A. Corey
The Last Colony – John Scalzi
In the Labyrinth of Drakes – Marie Brennan
The Butcher of Anderson Station – James S. A. Corey

New Series Started: 2
An Alchemy of Masques and MirrorsCurtis Craddock

Abandoned: 0

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 12
Up To Date Series: 17
Series Progressed: 40
New Series Started: 17
Abandoned: 4

Here’s my full Incomplete Series list, in case anyone is curious.
My Goal is to be under 20 series by July 1, 2018.


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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Book Review: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock [+Giveaway!]

Title: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

Author: Curtis Craddock

Series: The Risen Kingdoms #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: [Nik’s Note: I think this book is better if you DON’T read the summary first… it gives a lot of things away that were fun to discover on my own while reading.] A polymath princess and her faithful musketeer must unravel the plot of a thousand-year-old madman in order to save an a foreign kingdom from a disastrous civil war. Caelum is an uninhabitable gas giant like Jupiter. High above it are the Risen Kingdoms, occupying flying continents called cratons. Remnants of a shattered world, these vast disks of soaring stone may be a thousand miles across. Suspended by magic, they float in the upper layers of Caelum’s clouds. Born with a deformed hand and utter lack of the family’s blood magic, Isabelle is despised by her cruel father. She is happy to be neglected so she can secretly pursue her illicit passion for math and science. Then, a surprising offer of an arranged royal marriage blows her life wide open and launches her and Jeane-Claude on an adventure that will take them from the Isle des Zephyrs in l’Empire Céleste to the very different Kingdom of Aragoth, where magic deals not with blood, but with mirrors. -Goodreads

The Review:

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors was such a cool book! It had interesting character profiles, totally immersive world-building, and an abundance of drop-in details that I found totally original. When I first received the book for review and saw cover quotes from Brandon Sanderson and Lawrence Watt-Evans (two of my all-time favorites), I knew I was in for a good read, I just didn’t know how good. Curtis Craddock did not disappoint!

Right off the bat I was impressed with the unique setting for this story – a gas-giant planet where the only way to travel between floating rock “islands” is through use of airships. The author describes the science of how things stay aloft within the first few chapters as:

“A vast downward-pointing cone of rock bristling with an upside-down forest of salt-encrusted, aether-emitting cloud-choral stalactites that kept the Skyland aloft.”

A mouthful, for sure but technical jargon aside, his world-building goes well beyond setting. Craddock also infused multiple blood-inherent magics, a few carefully placed steampunk elements, and an elegant culture borrowing from French influences. I was truly dazzled by the combination of all of these components, and the unique atmosphere they created is easily my favorite aspect of the book. If you pick it up, you’re in for a bombardment of cool ideas. Left and right they’ll hit you, and the discovery process of so many minor aspects of this world is a lot of fun.

The book also offers an interesting plotline filled with court intrigue, intelligent characters, and an unravelling mystery. I enjoyed every aspect of the characters and thought their relationships and individual developments throughout the book were highly satisfying. Especially Isabelle. Her academic mindset and struggle to acclimate to situations well beyond what she ever thought she’d have to face were especially compelling. Compounding her already great character profile was a second POV from her faithful Musketeer, Jeane-Claude, who was every bit as interesting and savvy as Isabelle. I did wonder a few times if their insights were a tad unbelievable, but for the sake of plot advancement, it didn’t bother me too much. The constant intrigue in the book kept it a page-turner and even surprised me with a few twists. It astounded me how such a slowly paced book could still be totally immersive and exciting. It did take a bit for the book to find it’s stride, but once it did, I couldn’t put it down!

Overall, and Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is a delightfully original start to a series that has the potential to be among my favorites if it continues on with the same gusto. If it isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Especially if you love fantasy. And great world building. And Musketeers…

I want to thank the publicists at TOR/Forge and Curtis Craddock for a chance to read and review an early copy of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors – I enjoyed it thoroughly!

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors Giveaway!

Open to US and Canada Residents!
Click on the link to enter:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Winner has been chosen and notified – Congrats!

 I wish this went without saying, but please verify your GR friendship/blog-following status before claiming entries (all of your entries will be disqualified if you’re dishonest or mistaken). I’d rather you provided too much info than not enough. :)

This giveaway will run until midnight [MST] on Friday Sept 8, 2017. Good Luck! :)

Other  books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 13-15] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 13-15]
by Jim Butcher

I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.


Ghost Story

I’d been warned that Ghost Story was a “reset” novel of sorts and nowhere near as good as the rest of the series. I’d been dreading it, but found (to my surprise) that it was a decent read. It offered glimpses into many of the supporting characters that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise (the unusual circumstance of the book gave Harry an unique POV). It also was kind of funny – something I always enjoy about Butcher’s work. Load all that together with a couple of compelling mysteries, and you have yet another Dresden success. I think most of the objections come from Ghost Story feeling so different from the rest of the books, and the fact that not a lot really happens within it. I agree it’s not quite as strong as some of its predecessors, but it still gets a solid 3-star (I liked it) rating.

3/5 stars


Cold Days

There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that Ghost Story is the weakest of the Dresden Files, but I have to say I enjoyed Cold Days even less. My issues were twofold: I couldn’t figure out how certain side conflicts played into the plot as a whole (because they didn’t – they were just fillers), and I didn’t particularly like the way the author expanded the conflict. He didn’t quite “jump the shark,” but he expanded beyond the rules of the world he’d been developing up until this point in a way that felt forced – almost as if he’d been running out of ideas. Which, in all fairness, at 15 books published, was probably the case. All of the other factors such as character, humor, action, and mystery were consistent with his great storytelling, it was just the conflict construction that left me wanting a bit more. The good news? I accidentally started Skin Game before this one and loved what I’d read so far, which bodes well for what’s to come…

2/5 stars


Skin Game

Following my two least favorite books of the series, I went into Skin Game fearing Jim Butcher had lost his touch and had dragged the story on too long. What a delightful surprise when Skin Game turned out to be one of, if not my favorite Dresden book so far. It had a strong plot (complete with an interesting bad guy), a good integration of the many fantastic side characters, and, of course, a ton of that snarky humor. It quickly turned a novel I was determined to “get through” into a book I couldn’t put down. Skin Game reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the series and I am genuinely excited to see where the story goes next. I don’t know how I’m going to keep myself occupied now that I’m finally up to date with this series. It seems like I’ve been working on it for ages…

4.5/5 stars


If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jam-packed with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any urban fantasy fan.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes