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Coming Soon: Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan

Title: Legion of Flame

Author: Anthony Ryan

Series: Draconis Memoria #2

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: June 27, 2017

The Overview: 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 all of civilization. -Goodreads 

Nik’s Notes:

 The Waking Fire is one of the best books I’ve ever read – it felt like it was written just for me! Dragons, adventure, steampunk, and so much more – it was awesome! The Sandrunner short story that goes along with it has also been really good, but it’s not doing much to hold me over. I’m so excited for Legion of Flame, I can hardly stand it. Is it June yet?

WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!!

by Niki Hawkes

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The Obsessive Bookseller Simplifies Life [3]: Goodreads

simplifies-life-2017

In case you missed my Introductory Post, my world was in such an upheaval that I was forced to take drastic measures by simplifying and organizing all the things that caused me stress. Each month, in 2017, I’m tackling different aspects of my life that are clutter-stressors by organizing and altering them into things that bring me joy.


March 2017: Goodreads

 I wanted to include Goodreads in my 2017 Simplifing Life journey because it’s my favorite book resource and I definitely hadn’t been using it to its fullest. I wanted to become more active in this amazing bookish community and make it easier to find information – both of which required a surprising amount of work. I started with too many lists, too many people, I was spending too much effort. Here are some things I simplified:

Note: as useful as I find the Goodreads app, it lacks a lot of functions essential
to this organizatioal process. All changes were made using the desktop version.

The Top Friends List:

Not all the people who “friend” me love the same books as I do. I love seeing that most of my Goodreads friends are reading as voraciously as I am, but I noticed as my friends list grew, I was no longer seeing as many things from my closest friends as I’d use to. Funny story, so I went as far as to write a suggestion to customer service saying something along the lines of “hey! It would be really awesome if Goodreads had this ‘see first’ option for you could make sure you’re not missing updates from certain people.” As it turns out, they already have this feature, I just wasn’t aware of it because it’s only available on the desktop version and I do practically everything on my phone. It’s called “Top Friend” and even though going through each of my 750 friends one by one took FOREVER, I now happily catch every update from my BFFs. I did it the hard way, so here’s a step-by-step to a way I think would be a little easier:

1. Click on your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner and select friends.
2. Next to the alphabet is a sort by box. Click that and select top friends. This will bring up everyone currently marked as a top friend first.
3. Select edit friend to the right of the sort box and the little top friend checkboxes should appear.
4. Go through one page at a time and deselect people at will. Be sure to hit “done editing” after every page. For some reason it doesn’t save your progress if you try to do multiple pages at once.
5. Now, you can search one person at a time and add more of your favorites to the list.Unfortunately, if you can’t remember everyone, you’ll have to go through alphabetically (the hard way) like I did.

Once the initial work is finished, the list is fairly easy to maintain. Either accept all friend requests on the desktop version where it allows you to designate “top friend” status, or periodically go in and repeat steps 1-4 (Note: any time you send a friend request, they automatically attain top friend status).

The Commenting Conundrum:

I noticed that when I comment on someone else’s status, I rarely get a notification when they respond (I thought people were just ignoring me haha). Here are a couple of ways to keep track of comments:

Method 1:
1. Actually click on the person status – you can’t do this by responding on just the homepage.

2. Click on advanced under the comment box.
3. Click notify me when people reply.

Method 2:
1. Click on your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner and select
my comments.
2. Click through and see what is new.

Neither method is a perfect solution, but they sure beat trying to remember where I commented, navigating to that person’s profile, and digging through their status updates until I find it.

The Fantasy Buddy Reads Group:

The point of all of this organizing is to make it easier for me to be involved in the Goodreads community. What better way to enhance the experience than to join an amazing group? I love the FBR Goodreads group because:

  • they love fantasy books! (duh)
  • they’re active – something bookish is always being discussed.
  • They keep me engaged with prompts.
  • They are supportive – especially with the many challenges were doing.
  • They have simple, yet excellent enforced rules which help avoid spoilers (my nemesis).
  • The moderators are amazing.
  • And finally, they make me feel like I belong. (Awwwww)

I’ve read a couple of books with them so far and had a ball. One of my favorite elements is their Incomplete Series subfolder where we track our reading progress. It’s a bonus organizing tool that allowed me to sort all the series I’ve read and am still working on into a convenient priority list. Love it!

The Bookshelves:

I’ve gone through a series of GR bookshelves over the years trying to find ones that I can refer to often and get a lot of use out of. Unfortunately, most often I spend a ton of energy on one and never refer to it again. My recent Book Journaling project also made a few bookshelves obsolete. Part of my organizing process goal with Goodreads was to delete useless shelves and polish up the keepers. Here’s a look at what I ended up with:

Arcs: to (obviously) keep track of ARCs. I find this shelf useful because I can easily decipher at a glance which books I still need to read based on the little red rating stars (on the app).

Books like Hunger games & Books Like Throne of Glass: these posts on my blog are by far my most popular as far as Google’s search engine is concerned. In them, I included a convenient link to these GR shelves so people can quickly add them to their to read lists. I love the idea of linking the two, so even though I never refer to them myself I’ve no problem keeping them.

DNFed: I only have a few titles on the shelf so far because it took me forever to find a way to put it together that I liked. I love having a record of my time and effort spent on these titles represented on my shelves. I write DNF Q&A posts which is my official assessment for these unfinished titles. I also now mark each book as “read” on Goodreads because you have to have some sort of status with it to upload a review (and it annoyed me to change it back to “want to read” when DNFing. It wasn’t accurate). The only thing I was afraid of was that marking it as read would skew up my yearly reading challenge, but all you have to do is go in and remove start/finish dates and voilà! I also don’t assign these titles ratings.

Favorites: of the 1090 books Goodreads says I’ve read, these 21 titles are the ultimate favorites. I’ve recently tried to go back and re-rate most of my other five star titles to 4.5 so that a solid five star rating for me carries some weight.

First Reads: like five years ago I won one giveaway and GR told me to make this shelf. I am now terrified that deleting it will jinx me from ever winning another lol.

Kids Collection: as I’m a new mom, I’m getting my kid’s books organized early. If I can offer only one thing (you know, beyond birthing, feeding, clothing, and nurturing him), it’s an organized library. XD

My Library Catalog/My library TBR: I’d been trying to find a way to catalog my personal collection for YEARS, but hadn’t managed to find anything that wouldn’t take several more years to put together. Then someone mentioned the Goodreads app had a barcode scanning feature and I. Went. Hogwild! As I was scanning, I put everything into the My Library Catalog (1088) and all the ones I still needed to read also into My Library TBR (716). I clearly have a lot of work to do, and this list doesn’t yet include all of my YA titles… I may do a separate one for those. I definitely would like to focus on getting through more of my owned titles, but alas that’ll have to wait until our new house is finished being built so I can pull all of my books out of boxes… I miss them.

Upcoming Releases/Upcoming Releases with Covers: I use these shelves to help me organize my “Coming Soon” posts. I have two separate lists because, when it was one shelf, I got tired of scrolling through all the titles trying to find new cover reveals. Now that they are separate, flipping through all of those generic tan placeholders trying to spot a single gorgeous new cover only takes a couple of seconds. It’s so much more gratifying!


Wow! That was lot. And here I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough for a post (perhaps I over-prepared). In any case, my goals with moderating Goodreads were to make it easier to get organized, keep track of favorite people, get more involved in the community, and have more fun. I think I have achieved every last one of them!

Project Status: Goodreads Simplified!

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

Title: The Warded Man

Author: Peter V. Brett

Series: The Demon Cycle #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night. -Goodreads

The Review:

This review is going to be a hodgepodge – The Warded Man was such an unusual read that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my thoughts organized on it. Here goes:

The Warded Man was a mixed bag of emotions for me (and for most of my fellow Buddy Reads Group on Goodreads). The consensus was that it had a really slow start. Even though I found myself invested as early as Chapter 3, many were struggling even as far and as the halfway point to find their enthusiasm (if they even made it that far). I happen to enjoy slower-paced (or “boring,” as my best friend calls them) books provided all the other elements are there to keep me interested. In that regard, TWM was a success.

I think we were all expecting it to be a straightforward high fantasy novel, but it was anything but conventional. Brett unapologetically broke storytelling rules left and right and it still somehow worked… for me, anyway.

For one thing, the he spent the entire first half of the book establishing character, showing the events that would eventually shape and send them on their long-term trajectory. Initially there was also a ton of focus on family drama, which although interesting, felt inconsequential (even though it ended up playing a big role). There was also no clear inciting “okay, this is where the point of the story is revealed” moment, but rather a collection of smaller ones. The great news is, it did all eventually come together, even though it took its sweet time getting there. What saved it for me was the strong concept revolving around demons and wards.

The demons were definitely the selling point of the novel. I loved learning about the different types, and especially loved that there’s still so much more to learn about them. I have that awesome feeling that not all is as it seems and there are several more surprises in store) Also, the art of warding was a fascinating craft – I always love feeling like I’m learning a non-real-world skill in a book, whether it be ward creation or dragon riding.

Unconventional and slow start aside, there was a touchy incident that happened near the end, the author’s treatment of which put me off a bit. How the characters reacted was plausible, I suppose, but not very realistic. I’m still going to continue on because the author sold its necessity just enough to suit my objections AND there were too many other things I enjoyed about the book to just up and stop now… but it still bugged me.

Overall, I really liked The Warded Man but think it would be very difficult to recommend: “Here, read this. It’ll take you halfway through before things really get going, and even then I had a couple of issues near the end, but I still really, really liked it.” Everything about it is contradictory, but I can say with full conviction that I’m eager for more.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

March 14, 2017

Title: Dragonwatch

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Fablehaven #6

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

Release Date: March 14, 2017

The Overview: In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities. How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it? -Goodreads

The Review:

I am a HUGE Fablehaven fan, considering it my all-time favorite middle grade series (aside from Harry Potter – the untouchable). I loved it for its fun storyline, boundless surprises, and sense of wonder. If you’d asked me which element of Fablehaven I’d wanted to read more about, the dragon sanctuary would have been my pick, hands down. Not only was it a magical place to visit, but I thought Mull had only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. I was thrilled when Dragonwatch was announced!

Before diving in, I’d been under the impression that Dragonwatch was going to be a true spinoff with new characters and everything. But it isn’t a spinoff… IT’S A CONTINUATION!!! Taking place right where Kendra and Seth left off their adventures in Keys to the Demon Prison (Book #5). Reading about these characters again felt like coming home. I remembered how sad I was when the original series ended, so Dragonwatch was a special treat for sure – and there’s more to come!

The best part of this novel for me were the dragons – I loved the different varieties and personalities, and think we’ll only get more detail as the series continues. There was also a fun adventure that included lots of creative obstacles for the characters to figure out and overcome. The plot was well constructed, but I don’t think that was completely evident from the beginning. The first third of the book, while immersed in Fablehaven awesomeness, took a long time to get to the selling point of the novel – the dragon sanctuary. While I enjoyed every moment, I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it a mite more had it moved along a bit quicker.

Overall, I’m excited for more adventures in this world and can’t wait for the next book!

I’d like to thank NetGalley, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Brandon Mull for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of Dragonwatch.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

into-the-bright-unknownTitle: Into the Bright Unknown

Author: Rae Carson

Series: Gold Seer Trilogy #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy / Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 10, 2017

The Overview: Leah Westfall, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have become rich in the California Territory, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense precious gold. But their fortune has made them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Lee and her friends decide they’ve had enough—they will fight back with all their power and talents. Lee’s magic is continuing to strengthen and grow, but someone is on to her—someone who might have a bit of magic herself. The stakes are higher than ever as Lee and her friends hatch a daring scheme that could alter the California landscape forever. With a distinctive young heroine and a unique interpretation of American history, Into the Bright Unknown strikes a rich vein of romance, magic, and adventure, bringing the Gold Seer Trilogy to its epic conclusion. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy is my all time favorite teen fantasy series, and I have to say, even though the Walk on Earth a Stranger and Like a River Glorious leaned more towards historical fiction than fantasy, I enjoyed them immensely. This author writes amazing characters, compelling plot lines, and completely immerses her readers into her stories. I have no doubt Into the Bright Unknown will be a stellar conclusion to this great series.

What book are you waiting on?

 by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Legion: Skin Deep

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: Legion #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

The Overview: Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices. -Goodreads

The Review:

Both Legion novellas were absolutely delightful. The concept was unique (a brilliant man whose “not crazy”, but harbors several human aspects who help him store information and solve crimes), the mysteries were interesting, and the writing was superb – yup! It’s definitely a Sanderson. What I especially loved about Skin Deep was the humor – I laughed so much through the first half I went back and read it again – you can tell Sanderson had a lot of fun writing it. The resolution to the mystery may have been wrapped up a little too conveniently for my tastes, but I still liked it. Overall, if you’re in the mood for something different – or if you’re mega Sanderson fan (like me <3) who hasn’t yet read it – Legion is the perfect pick!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes