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Your Pick for Nik! – September’s Nominations!

bbbbYour Pick for Nik! is a monthly feature where I turn over control of my reading list to you!

Here’s how it works: I have nominated titles from my TBR list and YOU get to choose which one gets featured. It can be one you’ve already read and want to discuss, one you want to read but wish to see my feedback on first, or – and this is my favorite part – one you want to read along with me!

Depicted below are my 10 nominees for September. Simply vote for your favorites, and let the best book win! At 10:00 am (MST) on Monday the 19th I will announce the winner. Come the end of September, I will post a thorough review of the chosen title – and hopefully find out what you thought of it as well!

Voting starts today (August 12, 2013) and you’ll have all the way through the weekend to choose your favorites (Remember: YOU CAN VOTE FOR MORE THAN 1).

60510Title: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Series: Poison Study #1

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

Why It Nominated: having collected dust on my shelf for years, my interests in it was reignited when one of my favorite book bloggers (The Moonlight Library) included it in a couple of lists of her favorite books and characters of all time. I’ve already snuck a peek at the first couple of chapters, and it’s every bit as good as I was hoping it would be!

12394100Title: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman

Series: Seraphina #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Why It Nominated: it is a teen fantasy about dragons… I don’t know how I could’ve possibly neglected to pick this one up before now.

249633Title: Medalon

Author: Jennifer Fallon

Series: Hythrun Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: The small country of Medalon lies between the vast nation of Karien in the north and the nations of Fardohnya and Hythria in the south. For centuries the Medalonians co-existed peacefully with the Harshini, a magical race that abhors killing. But now they are gone and in their place the Sisters of the Blade rule Medalon from the Citadel. An elite army of Defenders enforces the Sisterhood’s oppressive rule. The Harshini and their demons are believed to be extinct and Medalon has an uneasy peace with its northern and southern neighbours. R’shiel Tenragan, daughter of the First Sister, and her half-brother Tarja find themselves caught up in the political infighting amongst the Sisters of the Blade. When their mother’s scheming becomes too much to bear, R’shiel and Tarja are determined to follow their own path and they flee the Citadel. Their lives take a turn neither could ever have imagined and the Defenders of Medalon hunt them as traitors.

Why It Nominated: I first read this series in my late teens and liked it so much I devoured it in a couple of days. Because I read it so fast, I remember practically nothing except that I loved it. I’ve been dying to pick this one up again.

375802Title: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Series: Ender’s Saga #1

Genre: Science Fiction

The Overview: In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Why It’s Nominated: This one was nominated by one of my favorite followers who has exceptional taste in books. Even though I’ve already read this one, it was outstanding and I can’t think of a better time to reread it since the movie is right around the corner.

10194494Title: False Memory

Author: Dan Krokos

Series: False Memory#1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving. Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter… when there may not be a future.

Why It’s Nominated: I read and reviewed The Planet Thieves by this author and quite liked it. I’ve heard this series is even better, so that’s why I’m so eager to read it.

186689Title: Orphans of Chaos

Author: John C. Wright

Series: Chronicles of Chaos #1

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: For Amelia and her friends, the strict English boarding school she lives in is all she has ever known.  The sprawling estate, bordered by unknown territory on all four sides, is both orphanage, academy, and prison.  The school has a large staff, but only five students, none of whom know what their real names are, or even how old they are. Precocious and rebellious, all five teenagers are more than just prodigies.  Amelia can see in four dimensions.  Victor can control the molecular arrangement of matter.  Vanity can find secret passageways where none existed before.  Colin is a psychic.  Quentin is a warlock. And, as time goes by, they’re starting to suspect that none of them are entirely human . . .

Why It Nominated: Of all the books I’ve nominated over the last six months, I think this might be the one I’m most interested in reading. Despite all of the excellent books on the lists, this one gets my vote.

673025Title: Reap the Wild Wind

Author: Julie Czerneda

Series: Stratification #1

Genre: Science Fiction

The Overview: In the first book of the Stratification series, set in an earlier time in Czerneda’s Trade Pact Universe, the Clan has not yet learned how to manipulate the M’hir to travel between worlds. Instead, they are a people divided into small tribes, scattered over a fraction of their world, and prevented from advancing by two other powerful races who control both technology and terrain. Aliens begin exploring the Clan’s home planet, upsetting the delicate balance between the three intelligent races. It is a time, too, when one young woman is on the verge of mastering the forbidden power of the M’hir-a power that could prove to be the salvation or ruin of her entire species…

Why It’s Nominated: as my favorite science fiction author, is the only series I haven’t yet read from her.… It’s guaranteed to be amazing, though.

8306745Title: Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Beyonders #1

Genre: Young Reader

The Overview: Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail. In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

Why It’s Nominated: this is not the first time I’ve put this one up for votes, and it tends to win either second or third place. I’ve read everything else by this author and consider him my favorite young reader writer – aside from J.K. Rowling, of course. He says the third book in this series is his favorite one he’s ever written, and that gets me excited.

13421230Title: Perdition

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: The Dred Chronicles #1

Genre: Science Fiction

The Overview: The prison ship Perdition, a floating city where the Conglomerate’s most dangerous criminals are confined for life, orbits endlessly around a barren asteroid. Life inside is even more bleak. Hailed as the Dread Queen, inmate Dresdemona “Dred” Devos controls one of Perdition’s six territories, bordered on both sides by would-be kings eager to challenge her claim. Keeping them at bay requires constant vigilance, as well as a steady influx of new recruits to replace the fallen. Survival is a constant battle, and death is the only escape. Of the newest convicts, only one is worth Dred’s attention. The mercenary Jael, with his deadly gaze and attitude, may be the most dangerous criminal onboard. His combat skill could give her the edge she needs, if he doesn’t betray her first. Unfortunately, that’s what he does best. Winning Jael’s allegiance will be a challenge, but failure could be worse than death…

Why It Nominated: author of the Grimspace series, it’s no secret how much I love this writer. This is a spinoff series that revisits that world and I sincerely hope this one is just as good!

8752885Title: The Dragon’s Path

Author: Daniel Abraham

Series: The Dagger and the Coin #1

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: All paths lead to war…
Marcus’ hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody’s death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps. Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation’s wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords. Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become. Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon’s Path-the path to war.

Why It’s Nominated: I consider Abraham to be one of the absolute best of the new generation of fantasy writers. His Long Price Quartet had me riveted from start to finish and I have vowed to read anything else he publishes… this one included.

Your votes are all appreciated!

If you want to participate officially, all you have to do is answer the questionnaire at the end of the book review when it posts (which will hopefully generate some awesome discussion). If you post your own review of the book, send me the URL and I will include a personalized link at the end of the review.

Feel free to steal this button for your sidebar:

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Happy reading everyone! :-)

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Your Pick for Nik! – July’s Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

#1 Pure by Julianna Baggott

#1 Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure

Author: Julianna Baggott

Series: Pure #1

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

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The Review:

World-Building: the world building was actually pretty creative. Baggott essentially re-created the parameters for our world and, as a result, had to come up with new rules for how people were forced to interact with one another and the unforgiving environment around them. Her evolution of the world was raw, gritty, and filled with the unexpected. She essentially changed the biological aspects by which people are composed and backed it up with some feasible science – I love it when authors do that.

Character: There are multiple viewpoint characters in this book. I’ve mentioned before that the only way for many viewpoints to work for me is if they are each contributing towards the story’s progression. Every scene where we switch perspectives must add something to the overall arc of the story. It was handled quite well in this case, and I liked how each scene gave us a little more information about what was going on.

Story: The basic storyline was a major strength for me, mostly because it included what I’m going to call a “rose-petal” plot. Important things were revealed in layers (which is normally called a layered or “onion” plot) which is not an uncommon tool, but in this case the layers were pulled back quite delicately, little by little – no onion around here. I liked how subtle it was, I liked how there was no false tension or people withholding information, and I genuinely enjoyed discovering what was going on with the characters. I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen writing tool used this well.

Writing: I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book written in third person present tense before. I found it a bit odd, to be honest. The voice didn’t blend into the background like most third person perspectives do (which was a bit distracting on occasion), but it also lacked the emotional involvement I usually feel with present tense writing. It’s almost as if combining these two writing styles negates all the benefits that, in theory, they should be enhancing. I think this was the main reason why I felt rather impartial to the characters through most of the story and couldn’t help but wonder how much more of an impact it would have had had she chosen a different style.

That’s not to say her writing was weak. She had many passages of beautiful and often gut-wrenching description. Her writing set a very distinct tone for the story, showcased some truly beautiful imagery, showed us what’s important to the characters without rubbing our noses in it, and wowed me with her ability to pull back the layers of the plot so delicately. I would love the chance to appreciate her voice in another format.

Pacing: Pacing was really difficult for me to discern in this book – and I think it had something to do with the odd writing style choice. It kept me so impartial that I couldn’t really feel the highs and lows that normally come from adventure, danger, wonder, and romance. It kept me at a distance to the point where everything sort of flat-lined for most of the book. Logically, I could see were things sped up and slowed down, but I couldn’t feel it. And that’s a problem.

Marketing: this book is officially categorized in the adult fiction section of the bookstore I work at. As fiction is not my usual forte, I might have overlooked this one entirely if I hadn’t stumbled upon the second book while doing research for my “upcoming releases” feature. All I have to say is, thank goodness for catchy covers.

The storyline initially sounded like a typical teen dystopian novel, so as I read I tried to keep an eye out for anything that would explain why it wasn’t marketed as a teen book. At first, I thought perhaps maybe it was going to be too violent – but then I considered how much more violent it can get than children slaughtering each other in an arena for the amusement of the Capitol. Then, I thought maybe the story was too gritty and frightening – but then I considered how much more disturbing and intense things got while reading about an alien invasion in a series of five waves. Okay then, maybe it has to do with language – but then I remembered a sarcastic,  blue haired girl from an upcoming sequel of a teen dystopian (about, ironically, genetically mutated teens) dropping the F-bomb every couple of pages, and I know that’s out.

Everything I thought might have at one point made publishers wary of introducing to a teen audience turned out to be unfounded. My point? Perhaps this one should of been marketed differently to better reach its ideal demographic – teens. Besides, we all know us “adults” are devouring more of these books then actual teens, anyway. :)

Recommendations: While not my favorite dystopian on the market, it definitely was an enjoyable addition to the genre. I don’t see any reason why teens can pick this one up but would probably recommend it to those who prefer “action” dystopians like Hunger Games and The Fifth Wave over “romance” dystopian’s like Matched and Delirium.

Other books you might like:

Discussion time! (May contain spoilers):

Who was your favorite character and why?

100% – Partridge. Of all the characters, I felt the most connected to him. I appreciated how brave he was and how love for his mother drove him unfalteringly, despite the sacrifices he had to make along the way.

Did anything surprise you in the story?

El Captain – when he was first introduced, I was actually a bit disappointed. I was expecting him to be a typical one-note villain that the author would keep bouncing to just to show us how “evil” yet “justified” he was. I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be a rather complex and totally human character. The author gained a lot of respect for me with this one.

What was your favorite/least favorite part of the book?

My favorite and least favorite parts of the book were actually the same thing: the atmosphere. I love how totally immersed into the setting I felt the entire time and the author did a great job setting the stakes in this world and showing us the dangers within it. It was incredibly well done, with pops of beauty that shone like beacons through the pages (i.e., the little mechanical creatures Pressia created). The reason it was my least favorite is that it was gloomy, gritty, and downright depressing. I stopped reading it right before bed because I think it was giving me bad dreams.

Where would you shelve this book? Adult fiction or teen dystopian?

As stated above, I don’t think this book would be out of place at all in the teen section.

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the review – I had a lot of fun composing it.

The questions are meant to generate conversation, so feel free to answer any or all in the comments area. :-)’s

Here’s a link to the world’s coolest librarian who read along with me and made this month my favorite Pick for Nik! ever! Check out her review at: 

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by Niki Hawkes

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Your Pick for Nik! – August’s Selection!

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Thank you all for your votes!

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold

This month’s winner is… The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold!

A thorough review and discussion for this book will take place on Monday, September 2nd, so there’s plenty of time to pick it up if you want to participate. For more information on the Your Pick for Nik! book club, click here

Here’s A look at what the book is about:

Troubled young Fawn Bluefield seeks a life beyond her family’s farm. Enroute to the city, she encounters a patrol of Lakewalkers. The necromancers armed with human bone knives fight “malices”, immortal entities that draw out life, enslaving humans and animals. Dag saves Fawn from a malice – at a devastating cost. Their fates are now bound in a remarkable journey.

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Your Pick for Nik – August’s Nominations!

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It’s been a while since I’ve run this feature, and I miss it. For those of you new to our book club, here’s how it works:

Your Pick for Nik! is a monthly feature where I turn over control of my reading list to you!

Here’s how it works: I will nominate titles from my TBR list and YOU will choose which one gets featured. It can be one you’ve already read and want to discuss, one you want to read but wish to see my feedback on first, or – and this is my favorite part – you can read it along with me!

Depicted below are my 10 nominees for August. Simply vote for your favorites, and let the best book win! At 10:00 am (MST) on Monday the 22nd I will announce the winner. Come the end of August, I will post a thorough review of the chosen title – and hopefully find out what you thought of it as well!

Voting starts today (July 17, 2013) and you’ll have all the way through the weekend to choose your favorites (Remember: YOU CAN VOTE FOR MORE THAN 1).

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Title: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

The Overview: Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceshipGodspeed. She expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed‘s scheduled landing, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed. Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense.Godspeed‘s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir. Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed‘s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

Leviathan Wakes by James Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James Corey

Title: Leviathan Wakes

Author: James Corey

Genre: Science Fiction

The Overview: Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, “The Scopuli,” they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why. Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to “The Scopuli” and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything. Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Leviathan

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.

13042002Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everneath

Author: Brodi Ashton

Genre: Teen Paranormal Fantasy

The Overview: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

16101054Title: Sylo

Author: D. J. MacHale

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late.

#8 Beyonders by Brandon Mull

#8 Beyonders by Brandon Mull

Title: Beyonders

Author: Brandon Mull

Genre: Young Reader

The Overview: Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold

Title: The Sharing Knife

Author: Lois McMaster Bujold

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: Troubled young Fawn Bluefield seeks a life beyond her family’s farm. Enroute to the city, she encounters a patrol of Lakewalkers. The necromancers armed with human bone knives fight “malices”, immortal entities that draw out life, enslaving humans and animals. Dag saves Fawn from a malice – at a devastating cost. Their fates are now bound in a remarkable journey.

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Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright

Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright

Title: Orphans of Chaos

Author: John C. Wright

Genre: Fantasy

The Overview: A bunch of smart kids at a boarding school discover that they aren’t human, nor are their teachers. A lot of magic happens.

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1134026Title: Faerie Wars

Author: Herbie Brennan

Genre: Teen Fantasy

The Overview: Henry Atherton thinks his life is spinning out of control. But nothing prepares him for the invisible portal in old man Fogarty’s backyard . . . and the unexpected stranger who comes through it.
Pyrgus Malvae, crown prince of the Faerie realm, is on the run. Too many people want the rebellious young heir dead: a scheming sorcerer, a powerful demon, the malignant leader of the Faeries of the Night, and maybe even a hidden traitor within his father’s court. Henry and Pyrgus come from very different worlds, but it may be up to Henry to save all of Faerie from being conquered by the Nightside, even if it means crossing over to a magical realm where nothing is ever what it seems . . . and no one can be trusted.

May the best book win! :)

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Your Pick for Nik! – June’s Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Series: The 5th Wave

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The OverviewAfter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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The Review:

This book was positively brilliant! I was sold from the one-page prologue (which by the way is the best prologue I think I’ve ever read) and it only got better and better from there.

Writing: As great as the story is, it’s how it was written that makes it such a killer novel. I’ve never read a writing style quite like it – he doesn’t describe characters or settings in the traditional manner, but rather provides tons of drop in details; especially details that are relevant to the POV character. He also phases in and out between the past and the present at first which gave the beginning of the novel a neat dynamic. All of it was told in a cheeky, in-your-face voice that was as relatable as it was jaded. It set the tone right away and let us get inside the main protagonist’s head.  I truly wish I have the chance to meet this author and learned from him some day – the level of masterful writing he showed while crafting this story blows my mind.

Story: This is the kind of story that makes me want to talk about it constantly. The plot was exciting and fresh, the conflicts of each character were raw and gritty, and the basic concept of the story was intricate and fascinating.  Just when I thought I had it figured out, Yancey surprised me; and did so in a way that made me close the book, reeling about what I just read, and resist the urge to call someone and talk about it. Y’all have to read this book… I’m just saying.

There seems to be a theme in this review of things I’ve never seen done before – in this case, it’s Yancey’s take on alien invasion’s.  It blows my mind. I particularly like the fact that I had no idea what the aliens’ motives were and was forced to discover it along with the characters. Nobody on earth knows what the hell is going on or why the aliens have decided to wipe them out, nor why they did so in a series of “waves.” It’s frightening because it’s so plausible – it scares the snot out of me because it’s a shocking look into people’s reactions to such an event – millions of speculations and theories but not one certainty… until the aliens attack, and then there’s just panic and ruthlessness. This book is definitely not an “upper,” lol, so don’t pick it up if you really need something to brighten your day. Not that it doesn’t lack hope, it’s just quite a bit more robust and thought-provoking than your average teen novel.

Setting: Yancey completely immerses you in this post-apocalyptic world. He gives earth a creepy foreboding atmosphere that raises the tension. It’s all subtle. Things like ransacked gas stations, vacant cities, and dead bodies always accompany this type of novel, but the author takes it a step further by reminding readers of the humanity lost with the main character’s outlook on all of these places. While I picture death and destruction all around, the character reminisces what it was like to eat a cheeseburger. While I imagine an empty school and feel despair it all the children that used to fill it, she remembers it as the only place she got to see the boy she has a crush on. While it seems given that everything has a memory, Yancey is the first writer I’ve read who really celebrates those memories to make the reader appreciate, well, everything. It also made the setting deeper, increased my emotional involvement (essential for me to love a book), and made me furious at those alien SOB’s for threatening it.

Characters: I am a huge fan of this main character. She manages to be both cynical and practical and compassionate and sentimental all at the same time. You get the impression that if not for the invasion she would have been a delightful person, but the hardships and necessity of surviving on her own has hardened her for survival. What’s more, she’s funny. There are a lot of sarcastic one-liners in here that made me love her even more. I would like to break down some of the elements I loved about the other characters, but I honestly don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone. Half of the profoundness of this book came from discovering whose perspective we’d be hearing from next. Suffice to say, I enjoyed them all and felt totally emotionally involved in each of their conflicts.

Pacing: Oh, the pacing! I have come to expect a fast-paced tension from dystopian’s and think this book had the same great momentum that made me fall in love with Wells’s Partials. It starts out with a bang and doesn’t let up until you finish the book at four in the morning and are utterly exhausted. The perspective switches took nothing away from the momentum of the story and, if anything, made it more pivotal to keep reading. Obligations had me reluctantly setting the book aside, but when I finally had an evening to pick it up, I was a goner. It had such a great flow with the writing and the story that I completely devoured it as fast as I could. I’d love to go back and reread it slower to fully appreciate its intricacies.

Overall, I spent the first half of the book dreading that the shoe would drop and all of the brilliance I had read so far would amount to nothing. I am so, so happy to report that the quality of this book never falters. I loved it and I plan on recommending it as often as I can.

Recommendations: This is perfect for dystopian fans who like “action” rather than “romantic” post-apocalyptic books. This is also a wonderful showcasing of how to write an exceptional book that grabs people, so I would recommend it to writers wanting to break into the teen market (especially those going for an edgier vibe). Finally, for those of us who haven’t read a really good alien invasion story in ages – our pleas have been answered!

Other books you might like:

Partials Review   •   The Bane Review   •  Divergent Review   •   The Darkest Minds Review

by Niki Hawkes

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Your Pick for Nik! – July’s Selection

fffEvery month I nominate titles from my TBR pile and you pick which one gets featured for our book club. This month, I’m doing things differently. you see, there is a title that has been the runner up since January and I figured this month would be a good month to feature it considering so many of you out there want to read it. So I’m skipping the voting process and going straight to the pick. Without further ado, July’s selection is: 

c3Title: Pure

Author: Julianna Baggott

Genre: Fiction

The Overview: We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

We won’t start reading this until July so there’s plenty of time to pick it up if you want to read along (for that matter, there’s still time to read June’s selection, The 5th Wave – it’s fabulous!).

For more information on how this feature works click here.