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Short Story Reviews: Brayan’s Gold and The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Reviews:

I hadn’t originally planned to write reviews for these short stories, but I have a few more opinions than anticipated lol. Here goes:


Brayan's Gold by Peter V. Brett

The Book Info: Brayan’s Gold by Peter V. Brett

The Overview: Arlen Bales 17, apprentice Messenger in brand new armor, is ready for the first time beside a trained Messenger on a simple overnight trip. Instead Arlen finds himself alone on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine, one of the furthest points in the duchy. And One Arm, giant rock demon, hunts him still. Novella. -Goodreads

[3 stars] Of these two, I liked Brayan’s Gold the most. It was a true tangent from the middle of The Warded Man and had nothing to do with the overall arc of the main story (more so than usual, anyway… this author definitely has his own unique way of getting to the point). But I did enjoy it, mostly because I thought the snow demon was pretty cool. While I feel it was worth my time, I can’t say the same about the next one.


The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Book Info: The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Overview: Humanity is nearly extinct after 300 years of hungry demon corelings. A handful of Messengers brave the night between the increasingly isolated populace behind protective wards. Arlen Bales will search anywhere, dare anything, to save the world. Maybe Abban, a merchant in the Great Bazaar of Krasia who purports to sell anything, has the answer. -Goodreads

Great Bazaar [1.5 stars]: I didn’t get a single thing out of this short story that wasn’t already presented in The Warded Man. The first few pages were promising, but it was all downhill from there. I was hoping for more cultural immersion or at the very least some character development, but all I got was an expansion of a minor plot element for which I’d already known the outcome. I’d say pass on this one and move right along to The Desert Spear – it’ll give you cultural immersion tenfold.


Overall, I’m really excited to read more from this author, despite the hit or miss with the short stories. I find his unconventional story construction oddly refreshing. I’ve been warned about the second and third books by multiple people, so we’ll see how it goes. XD

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Oathbringer

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Stormlight Archive #3

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: November 14, 2017

The Overview: Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified. Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

If you haven’t seen the cover for this yet, you’re not fangirling hard enough. ;) I imagine Oathbringer is number one on most people’s list of most anticipated releases of 2017. The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance are two of the best books I’ve ever read and I consider them must-reads for the genre. Having read everything Sanderson has on the market, I’m justifiably confident that this third Stormlight Archive book is going to be amazing! I CAN’T WAIT!!!

What book are you waiting on?

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Book Review: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Title: Swarm

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Series: Zeroes #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes. These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground. But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister. Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him. Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army? -Goodreads

The Review:

Zeroes was an interesting YA read – I liked the concept, the writing voice(s), and the characters (all but 1, anyway). What I didn’t like was that the events within it seemed a little inconsequential. In Swarm, I found that much needed substance in the second half of the book and, incidentally, liked it better.

It finally utilized that “good vs evil” vibe, diving further into each teen’s magical abilities, bringing in that fine distinction of moral boundaries. I thought it was quite creative, even if it is an old concept. The characters are definitely the selling points behind the series so far. The authors did an excellent job diversifying and representing minorities (and not in a “token” way, by any means). I’d love to see more such diversification in books, and was pleasantly surprised to discover it here.

All that said, it was still a good 75% in before I felt truly emotionally invested in the story. So here I sit, now fully invested after all that effort, looking out for the release of the final book (Nexus) which should be released sometime in September 2017. The trouble is, there’s not even a cover, much less a solid date. This is the epitome of my luck – as soon as I decide I want to know what happens next in a series, its outlook becomes shaky.

Overall, this wouldn’t be my first recommend of the genre, but at the end of the day I liked it and was kept interested the whole way through. For subject matter and language, I would only hand this to older teens (and adults like myself who refuse to grow up).

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [22]: April 2017

tackling the TBR

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

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

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


Here’s a look at how the system works:

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

Here’s what mine looks like:

April 2017 TBR Tackler Shelf:

The Rithmatist and The Dragonbone Chair are both Buddy Reads with my Goodreads group, which should be fun (come join us!). Quite a few short stories in this line up because I’m on a kick (and it seems like a good way to catch up with my Tackler Carry-Overs. The book I’m most excited to read this month is Captain’s Furey by Jim Butcher.

Tackler Carry-Overs:

I AM CLEARLY FALLING BEHIND lol. I don’t mind having so many amazing titles to choose from each month, but this carry-over thing is getting a little out of hand. Never fear! I have a catch-up a month coming up in June.

In my defense, at lease six of these are in “currently reading” status.


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

April 2017 Titles Tackled:

Finished Series: 0

Series Brought UTD: 1
Sandrunners: A Draconis Memoria Short Story – Anthony Ryan

Series Progressed: 5
Magic Bleeds – Ilona Andrews
Winter – Marissa Meyer
The Great Bazaar and Other Stories – Peter V. Brett
Brayan’s Gold – Peter V. Brett
Cursor’s Fury – Jim Butcher

New Series Started: 1
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

Abandoned: 0

Pathetic. I may have started too many books at once. April’s totals should offset this considerably.

2017 YTD Tracker:

Finished Series: 1
Up To Date Series: 8
Series Progressed: 5
New Series Started: 8
Abandoned: 1

I think my new goal going forward in 2017 will be to get more series marked “finished.” It sounds good in theory, but I have a ton I just started that have 5+ books or more, so this might take a while… I am quite proud of the number of series I brought up to date.


Now, I can tell you from experience that this Tackling the TBR experiment is so much more fun and rewarding when there’s more than one person (me) participating. Does anybody want to play along?

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!

Maybe we can help make each other’s systems even better. :)

What books are you Tackling this month?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Cress and Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Titles: Cress & Fairest

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: Lunar Chronicles #3 & 3.5

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has. -Goodreads

The Reviews:

Cress [4 stars]: Even though I liked Cinder and Scarlet, Cress took the series to the next level. It also happens to be one of the few rare YA books I’ve actually enjoyed lately (I’m going through a phase). Part of the reason I found it (and the series as a whole) so successful has to do with Meyer’s plot construction. Although each book focuses on a different title character, Meyer doesn’t push the others into the background, but continues their storylines with the same momentum. Cress was a convergence of stories which produced plenty of action, romantic tension, and plot progression. Many of my fellow blog buddies say it was the best of the series, and I can’t say I disagree (I’m almost finished with Winter – RTC). My favorite elements were the creativity and the organic semi-atypical love stories. Overall, this series makes itself easy to recommend – it’s a lot of fun.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest [3 stars]: Even though I didn’t particularly enjoy FAIREST, as the story components were a bit unsavory, I did think it essential to my enjoyment of the series as a whole. Before reading it, Queen Levana was an enigma, but a rather shallow one. I could never really take her seriously because her motives weren’t evident. Fairest provided that much-needed insight as to why Levana’s brain ticks the way it does. It also gave crucial information as to why she’s not just evil, but totally off her rocker (it was a really subtle drop-in that explained what’s wrong with her mind… Did you catch it?). In any case, after reading it, I then had the backstory I needed to fully enjoy Levana’s role in Winter. I believe Fairest is required reading to get the full experience out of the Lunar Chronicles.

Other books you might like:

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