Coming Soon: The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre

the-leopard-king-by-ann-aguirreTitle: The Leopard King

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Ars Numina #1

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 28, 2016 <-Today!!!!!

The Overview: Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die. Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war. At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it. -Goodreads 

Nik’s Notes:

 I know, I know – you’re all sick of hearing how much I love this author. Well too bad –  she has a new paranormal romance series and I am beyond excited! I found out about this new series just last week, composed this post, then realized the release date was for the day I wanted to schedule it lol. Not having to wait for a new title from one of my favorite authors has got to be one of the best things ever. Everything I’ve read from her (pretty much almost everything she has published) has been amazing. If I had to narrow her strengths down to just one thing it would be relationship development, and what better skill to have when tackling a romance? It’s an added bonus that it’s a paranormal. I’d pick it up anyway, but that extra bit of magic makes The Leopard King sound irresistible! I’m dropping everything today for this one. :-)

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes


The OCD Person’s Book Tag

chronicles of an obsessive bookblogger

The OCD Person’s Book Tag

I have had a couple of fun book tags cross my radar over the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d do the one that looked the most insightful. A lot of these tags sound the same, but I really love the questions from this one – they are totally relevant to the type of questions I’ve been asking myself lately. It was meant to be a Gif tag, but since I never liked the way those look in blog posts, I’m taking my own spin on it (the boring one). :-)

You have a million unread books on your shelf. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

tackling the TBRI used to use a shortlist, where I pulled out twenty or so titles that interested me then play the eeny meeny game for ten minutes until I was down to just one. Now, I’ve started a new system called Tackling the TBR which I absolutely LOVE. It involves identifying my top priority titles, compiling them onto my TBR Tackler Shelf, and then picking from that throughout the month as the mood strikes me. It’s a system that guarantees that I read the best books first!

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?

I used to be committed to finishing any book I started no matter how much I wasn’t enjoying it. Nowadays, I realize with frightening clarity that I may not have a chance to make my way through all of the books I want to read (it would take me 40 years alone to read all of their unread books currently in my house), so if I’m not enjoying something, I take five minutes to spot-read to the end and then put it down. Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying! Also, I discovered a DNF Q&A by Nikki over at ThereWereBooksInvolved (who kindly let me borrow the feature) which was the perfect solution to my dilemma on how to discuss these books fairly.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?

I’ve discovered during many failed readathons that I cannot possibly read any more than I already do. On one hand this is good because it means I’m maximizing my time, on the other hand I can’t simply push to get through books any faster. In November 2013 I noticed my goal of reading 100 books was 15 books behind schedule and climbing. I tried to pick up shorter books for a couple of weeks to catch up, but realized how stupid it was to push myself to read things I’m wasn’t in the mood for just to fix a number on a website. I adjusted my goal to 80 books and called it a day. :-)

The covers of a series you love do not match. How do you cope?

THIS is the worst thing ever – why would you do that? I can kind of understand why some books are available in paperback and others in hardcover (even though it’s still really annoying) but to change the style of the covering halfway through the series means there’s nothing I can do other than buy a second copy to fix it. I don’t cope. I cry. I avoid looking too long at those mismatch titles and cringe whenever my gaze lingers on them too long. It stresses me out. Hank Green has a really awesome book rant video that touches on this issue… I love it. Below are just a couple of examples of the titles that are ruining my shelves:

A sequel of a book you love just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?

This problem is the reason why I have not finished quite a few series that I was really liking. It’s often those authors who took more than five years to get a next book published (JoAnn Bertin, Elizabeth Haydon, Jennifer Roberson, E.E. Knight, I’m talking to all of you), and so I’m stuck with the conundrum of reading the entire series over again (who has time?) or picking it up anyway and risking being totally lost. I have pretty good recall, but it really annoys me to not remember tiny details or side characters because I feel like I’m missing elements of the big picture. If it’s because I’ve put a series down for too long, I can’t really complain about that, but when it circumstances revolving around the author of the publisher that really hurts my heart.

You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

I don’t go out in public unless I need more books… or food.

Everyone and their mothers love a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over their shared feelings?

I know this sounds weird, but if no one agrees with me, I’ll bond with myself. I’ll write a really thoughtful review detailing exactly why the really popular book didn’t work for me and then I’ll sit there and reread it 1000 times, agreeing with myself with every pass. “Yes, that’s precisely why I didn’t like it – well said! I conveyed that point exactly like I meant to – awesome!” And on it goes until it gets too far down in my feed for me to find. Every once in a while someone who follows my blog will agree with me and the world stops as I bounce with joy. Here are a couple of the titles that just didn’t work for me. Don’t yell at me.

You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people no when they ask?

Anyone who has ever lent out a book knows that, if you even get it back at all, chances are it’s going to be trashed. I’ve only lent out a handful of books in my life, and every time they come back like they’ve been run over by a car (and in one case, my book actually was run over by a car... thanks a lot BJ). One of the biggest fights I ever got in to with my best friend as a kid was when I lent her one of my Redwall books with specific instructions not to crack the spine. When it came back to me with a single, solitary crack right down the middle, I was livid. I can’t remember ever being as furious as I was at that moment, (and for the record, she was pretty mad at me for being mad over something so trivial). Looking back, I admit it was a total overreaction, but even now my blood pressure rises whenever I see that same mocking copy of Mossflower on my shelf, tarnished forever. Nowadays I’ve taken a chill pill – I totally crack the spines on my paperbacks (in exactly 50 page increments), so it shouldn’t still be a big deal, but it’s the principle of the matter, you know?

As for telling people no, I try to be polite, but I think the look pure horror on my face offends most of them anyway. My mom, in particular, knows how anal I can get about my books… I outright refused to lend her anything ever again after she viciously cracked the spines on a few of my paperbacks. Thank goodness we share a nook account now – I haven’t had a book casualty in several years. Love you, mom. ;-)

Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?

I have reading ADD in the sense that, no matter how good the book is that I’m reading, I’m always eyeballing my shelves wishing I was reading those books too. I have never been in a reading slump, but that might be because I often have more than a few books going at once. If I get bored, I just rotate. At any given time, I have a physical book, and audiobook, and ARC, and the book on my phone for waiting rooms and whatnot going at once.

After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long they sit on your shelf before you get to them?

10845984_10202966163624334_503165865379896020_nI have hundreds of books that I bought over ten years ago still sitting unread on my shelves. Since I’ve been more careful with what new books I’m adding to my collection, I don’t have very many unread books from the last couple of years (maybe 20 or so?). I would say the average wait time is about six months, even for books I’m dying to read. I just have so many! If it’s a book I know I want to read but it’s not a high priority, it will sit there for years.

There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

When I was a bookseller for those 11 years, I bought EVERYTHING, which is why my collection is ridiculous. Now though, I’m looking at all of those impulse purchases I made throughout the years (we are talking hundreds and hundreds of books) and thinking “man, I really don’t even want to read half of these now… what do I do with them?” Even worse, I spent a pretty penny on entire series only to have picked up the first book and totally hated it. The bottom line is, I’m sick of looking at books on my shelves that I don’t even like or want to read, but I can’t get rid of them because I spent money on them and I’m weird like that. Nowadays, the authors I know I love get purchased every time. The ones I’m not totally sure about get checked out from the library first and then purchased if I end up liking them. That way, eventually my bookshelf will consist of only the best books. That is, if I can figure out what to do with all the ones I’ve already invested in…

Also, I started a 1500 for 1 challenge a few years back that has been working great for me. It entails that I have to read 1500 pages before I let myself buy another book. It used to be 4 for 1 (meaning 4 books read for every 1 purchased) but all that did was encourage me to read nothing but young adult. This new method is more proportionate to effort.

Tag!!! You’re it if you want to play along. :) Feel free to share in the comments if you do, as I’d love to read your answers to these OCD questions!

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted-by-naomi-novikTitle: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Series: N/A

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. -Goodreads

The Review:

Uprooted was such a cool book! I picked it up on a total whim. I mean, I didn’t even know what it was about, only that the blogosphere was going nuts over it and that it had something to do with a dragon (Newsflash! The Dragon is actually a person, go figure). Anyway, I was prepared to commit to only a few chapters, but before I knew it I was halfway through it and completely enamored. I’m so used to reading series (in fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a standalone) that the pure awesomeness of experiencing a complete start to finish story in one well woven little package caught me off guard. I really liked it!

This is my first visit into Naomi Novik’s work, and I can tell you that after my experience with Uprooted, it definitely won’t be the last. Because the book was a standalone, it made it easier for me to appreciate how well the story was constructed. It had a lot of layers and dynamics which kept me glued to the pages the whole way through. Novik has a beautiful writing voice that was sophisticated without taking itself too seriously. I especially appreciated the bits of humor throughout.

And the characters! They really were the main reason I kept reading with such gusto. The story essentially revolves around an apprentice (a girl named Agnieszka) and her master (The Dragon). The two had an interesting dynamic together and both had great character arcs throughout the story. Agnieszka was one of the most endearing characters I’ve come across. Far from perfect (and having those imperfections thrown in her face constantly), she still somehow managed to grab hold of her inner confidence and stay unapologetically true to herself. Even going so far as to use those flaws to her advantage. I adored her and wish the book actually was a series so I could spend more time with her.

Overall, Uprooted was a breath of fresh air and one of the best books I’ve read this year. I find it very easy to recommend, with one disclaimer: the book has some sexual content.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Coming Soon: Starfall by Melissa Landers

February 7, 2017

Title: Starfall

Author: Melissa Landers

Series: Starflight #2

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

Release Date: February 7, 2017

The Overview: When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage to a bloodthirsty prince and prevent a coup, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a lowly ship hand, she finally has the chance to return home and make peace, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend… with occasional benefits. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

Okay, I admit I haven’t read Starflight yet… But I really, really want to! I’ve been sort of saving it for a rainy day. I was so impressed with Landers’ Alienated series that I’m certain I’m going to like it just as much. I’m loving how many YA authors are taking a crack at Science Fiction these days and know the subgenre is only going to grow with excellent authors like Melissa Landers showing us how it’s done.

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes


Novella Review: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson

perfect-state-by-brandon-sandersonTitle: Perfect State

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: N/A

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars!

The Overview: God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world. Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date. Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world? -Goodreads

The Review:

With a 3 star (I liked it but I didn’t love it) rating, Perfect State claims the spot as my least favorite Sanderson to date. In the whole scheme of books on the market, it was still a good read, I just happen to like all of Sanderson’s other works a bit better. What I liked most about the novella was that it made you think. It was very cleverly conceptualized and crafted (the concept for Perfect State – a permanent virtual reality experiment – was nifty). I even liked the characters, but unfortunately didn’t find the main one relatable. At all. Which is probably what kept me at arms-distance throughout the whole story. Overall, I’m glad I read it and will definitely recommend it, but only to those who have already read some of my favorite Sanderson works.

Normally, this is where I’d recommend comparable titles by other authors, but Perfect State only reminded me of a conceptual hodgepodge of Sanderson’s other works, specifically these ones:

by Niki Hawkes


Novella Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson

shadows-for-silenceTitle: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.” Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself. -Goodreads 

The Review:

If you only read one novella from Brandon Sanderson, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell would be my top pick (by a smidgen – they’re all awesome. And really, why would you limit yourself to just one?). It’s just one more example why Sanderson is one of my favorite authors – his novellas are every bit as good as his full-length novels. I loved this one because it had the perfect mix of characterization, setting, story, pacing, action, and resolution. It felt like a snippet out of a fully developed novel, but was self-contained enough to stand complete on its own. Silence, the main character, really struck a chord with me – her decision-making during the most intense scenes of the story still have me reeling months later. I want to get into the nitty-gritty details and geek out about all of them, but I can’t discuss it to my satisfaction without spoilers. So just take my word for it – this is definitely worth reading! :-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes