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Top Ten Upcoming 2017 Book Releases!

I may have mentioned at some point that I write bi-weekly reviews for a local newspaper [suindependent.com]. Recently they requested an upcoming releases feature and I was more than happy to oblige. Some of the text may look familiar from other posts I’ve done, but don’t let that distract from your excitement of these awesome new books!

Top Ten Upcoming 2017 Book Releases!


Book Info: Apex by Mercedes Lackey [Hunter #3]

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Mercedes Lackey strikes again!! Hunter and Elite are easily my favorite YA releases from the last couple of years. They have interesting characters, great action, awesome fantasy elements (with a slight dystopian twist), and a storyline revolving in no small part around competition. I totally devoured them, and have been waiting impatiently all year for the next book.


Book Info: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson [Stormlight Archive #3]

Release Date: November 14, 2017

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!!!


Book Info: Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson [Goldseer #3]

Release Date: October 10, 2017

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.


[May 16, 2017] Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

Book Info: Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb [Fitz and the Fool #3]

Release Date: May 9, 2017

I’m very passionate about Hobb’s epic Fitz and the Fool saga. There have been so many profound moments throughout it, and it only seems to get more poignant with each book. I’m especially excited for Assassin’s Fate because it’s likely going to incorporate characters from The Rain Wilds series (which focused heavily on dragons <3), so I couldn’t be more excited. This is the sort of armchair adventure series that’s guaranteed to be a good read every time. I can’t wait!


Book Info: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead [Glittering Court #2]

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Richelle Mead has long been one of my top authors. The Glittering Court was the perfect cure for my Selection (the series by Kiera Cass) hangover. It had smart writing, girls in pretty dresses, and a fun dynamic between all the characters. Even though the story took an odd turn (for my tastes, anyway), I’m still eager to see where things go in the Midnight Jewel.


Book Info: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown [Iron Gold #1]

Release Date: October 31, 2017

If you haven’t yet read Red Rising [check out my Trilogy Review], chances are good that you’ve at least heard of it. And let me assure you, it’s worth every bit of the hype it receives. Iron Gold is a next-generation continuation of the story, and you’d better believe I’m excited to read it. Brown created such a cool framework for his society, and I am most eager to see how it has evolved after Morning Star’s events. October can’t come too soon!


August 15, 2017

Book Info: Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Release Date: August 15, 2017

I raved about this series in my reviews of Fifth Season & Obelisk Gate, and can’t imagine Stone Sky being any less brilliant. It’s such a unique story. Maybe a little hokey on occasion, but I guarantee you’ve never read anything quite like it. I’m mostly looking forward to having all of my questions answered… there are so many layers of mystery in this series that will hopefully come together with a bang.


Book Info: Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey [The Expanse #7]

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Reason for Recommending: The Expanse series is easily my favorite space opera science fiction on the market. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every book so far and hope Persepolis Rising regains some of that awesome momentum that Babylon’s Ashes was missing. The series has a lot of action, great characters, and tons of memorable moments. If you haven’t picked it up yet, what are you waiting for? It’s awesome!


Book Info: Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan [Draconis Memoria #2]

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Reason for Recommending:  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! Sandrunners: A Draconis Memoria short story was pretty good, but it didn’t do much to hold me over. I’m so excited for Legion of Flame, I can hardly stand it. Is it June yet?


Book Info: Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh [Ivory and Bone #2]

Release Date: June 13, 2017

If you caught my recent review of Ivory and Bone, you’ll remember me saying I really enjoyed the book, but had a few issues with the logistics feeling a bit forced. Eshbaugh was modeling the story after Pride and Prejudice, trying to follow the same basic storyline. I am really hopeful that this sequel will feel a little more organic and free-flowing. I’m anticipating liking it even more. Ivory and Bone had such a cool prehistoric setting that I find myself already eager for more!


With so many great upcoming releases to look forward to, I feel I still have the best of 2017 to look forward to. I’ve added all of these amazing books (plus a few honorable mentions) to a shelf on my Goodreads page if you’d like to go read more about them. Please note that release dates are subject to change at any moment (and do), so don’t take my word as final. Happy reading! :-)

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Apex by Mercedes Lackey

Title: Apex

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Series: Hunter #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: September 5, 2017

The Overview: Joy has had to make a lot of adjustments since joining the Elite Command. Always being on call to Hunt monsters with her pack of magical Hounds is something she’s used to, but the politics of Apex City are harder to get a handle on–and may pose the bigger threat. Joy already lost Josh because she couldn’t be sure whether he was more her boyfriend or a potential Psimon spy. She couldn’t risk being the weak point that would allow the powerful and corrupt PsiCorps to take down the Hunters, their chief rivals for defenders of Apex City. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

Mercedes Lackey strikes again!! Hunter and Elite are easily my favorite YA releases from the last couple of years. They have interesting characters, great action, awesome fantasy elements (with a slight dystopian twist), and a storyline revolving in no small part around competition. I totally devoured them, and have been waiting impatiently all year for the next book. If you need me, I’ll be stalking the author and Netgalley for an ARC.

WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!!

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Elite by Mercedes Lackey

September 6, 2016

Title: Elite

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Series: Hunter #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Overview: Joy wants nothing more than to live and Hunt in Apex City without a target on her back. But a dangerous new mission assigned by her uncle, the city’s Prefect, may make that impossible. In addition to her new duties as one of the Elite, Joy is covertly running patrols in the abandoned tunnels and storm sewers under Apex Central. With her large pack of magical hounds, she can fight the monsters breaking through the barriers with the strength of three hunters. Her new assignment takes a dark turn when she finds a body in the sewers: a Psimon with no apparent injury or cause of death. Reporting the incident makes Joy the uncomfortable object of PsiCorp’s scrutiny—the organization appears more interested in keeping her quiet than investigating. With her old enemy Ace still active in Hunts and the appearance of a Folk Mage who seems to have a particular interest in her, Joy realizes that the Apex conspiracy she uncovered before her Elite trials is anything but gone. As the body count rises, she has no choice but to seek answers. Joy dives into the mysterious bowels of the city, uncovering secrets with far-reaching consequences for PsiCorp… and all of Apex City. -Goodreads

The Review:

“Elite,” the second book in the “Hunter” series, is about a teenage girl named Joyeaux who moved from her humble home in the mountains (where she’d learned to fight Otherworlders from a young age) to the city hub to become a Hunter. A Hunter’s job is to keep the land surrounding the city clear of invading Otherworlders. They are also filmed each step of the way for the civilians’ entertainment. “Elite” is an action-centric series that takes a few chapters to get going at the very beginning, but once it hits its stride, it doesn’t let up!

“Elite” was addicting. I read so continually that rarely do I feel the need to spend more time than I already do buried in a book. “Elite” kept compelling me back to see what happened next, which was a lot of fun because I hadn’t felt super drawn to a book in ages. I attribute that to a slew of positive attributes: great writing, excellent storytelling (which builds with each chapter), good pacing, a cool concept, and a memorable cast of characters. These are the reasons “Elite” is now one of my new favorites of the genre.

The “Hunter” series offers a plethora of interesting characters, none more so than Joyeaux, the heroine of the story. I love reading about her because 1) she’s a smart cookie, always thinking things through (which keeps me engaged as I try to figure out things along with her). 2) she’s resourceful, especially when dealing with the Otherworlders (which gives each action scene a little more variety). 3) she’s relatable. She has weak moments and makes mistakes like a real human (which makes her all the more realistic and endearing). 4) and finally, she’s independent, standing solidly on her own merit and convictions. I especially like that she’s interested in a romance but isn’t driven by it. It’s nice to see a YA heroine who realizes there’s more to life than cute boys. There’s still romance in the book, but it takes a comfortable backseat to all of the other conflicts. And because the love story is not what primarily drives the story, that leaves plenty of pages for Joy to build friendships, train hard, and get to the bottom of a few mysteries.

I’ve read a few of Mercedes Lackey’s high fantasy novels (with the “Dragon Jesters” series as my favorite) and I can see a slight simplification in her writing style for the YA market. She explained things a little more thoroughly than I think she needed to but I wouldn’t go as far as to say she dumbed it down, only that she made it a little more accessible. That said, the “Hunter” series is easily among the best of her works and I might even consider it my new favorite from her if the rest of the series goes as well as these first two books. Although “Elite” had a little less Hunter-to-Hunter competition, it still remained very action-centric, which went a long way towards making up for it. It also uped the complexity by focusing more on the dynamics between all of the different factions in this post-apocalyptic world and weaving them all into a compelling mystery. This book had a lot of layers to peel back and was a lot of fun because of it.

Overall and very impressed with “Elite” and the series so far and am super eager to read more. I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves the YA Fantasy genre, especially to those who are suffering from a Hunger Games hangover.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Coming soon: Elite by Mercedes Lackey

September 6, 2016

Title: Elite

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Series: Hunter #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: September 6, 2016

The Overview: Joy wants nothing more than to live and Hunt in Apex City without a target on her back. But a dangerous new mission assigned by her uncle, the city’s Prefect, may make that impossible. In addition to her new duties as one of the Elite, Joy is covertly running patrols in the abandoned tunnels and storm sewers under Apex Central. With her large pack of magical hounds, she can fight the monsters breaking through the barriers with the strength of three hunters. Her new assignment takes a dark turn when she finds a body in the sewers: a Psimon with no apparent injury or cause of death…Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Mercedes Lackey strikes again!! Hunter is easily one of my favorite YA releases from the last couple of years. It had interesting characters, great action, awesome fantasy elements (with a slight dystopian twist), and a storyline revolving in no small part around competition. I totally devoured it, and have been waiting impatiently all year for the next book. It has been a painful wait, but now Elite is coming out soon and I’m thrilled!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Title: Hunter

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Series: Hunter #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks. Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes. With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.  

The Review:

Just when I thought I was worn out on the YA genre, Hunter comes along and knocks my socks off! I’ve been a fan of Mercedes Lackey for years (with the Dragon Jousters series claiming the spot as my favorite), so I knew that, even though she was tackling a younger demographic, it was still going to be fantastic – and it was. She delivered a cool, creative book with dangerous monsters, memorable characters, and a (mostly) unpredictable (and exciting!) plot-line. The best compliment I can give this book is that it compelled me back to it almost obsessively all the way to the end. Most books, I’ve found, can wait… this one could not!

By far, my favorite element of the book were the Hunters and their kick-butt role in this futuristic society. They were essentially celebrities – all of their activities (everything from their epic hunts down to their most mundane activities) were recorded for public viewing, and each Hunter was given a rating based on popularity. It was a neat dynamic, and I loved the action, the comaraderie, and the element of competition this concept brought into play.

While the main draw of the book for me was the concept and loads of action and adventure, I also really liked the characters – especially Joyeaux, the main POV. She was smart, resourceful, compassionate, and perfectly capable of handling herself in dangerous situations. She also always THOUGHT THINGS THROUGH, and whenever I had suspicions about a character or situation, so did she. This may seem trivial, but I’ve read at least a dozen YA novels over the last year where the supposedly intelligent heroines proceed to make one harebrained decision after another simply so the author could advance the plot. Joyeaux was a breath of fresh air because she came across logical and, essentially, like a real person. I especially loved how she handled conflicts, specifically with the main bully in the story – superb!

Overall, I’m very pleased with Hunter and am lamenting the year I’ll have to wait to read the next one. There’s no doubt I’ll be recommending it as often as I can. The only thing I’ll disclaim is that it takes a few chapters to really get going, but once it does – magic!

*Thank you Disney Book Group, NetGalley, and Mercedes Lackey for the chance to read and review an early copy of Hunter!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Elvenbane by Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey

ElvenbaneTitle: Elvenbane

Authors: Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey

Series: Halfblood Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Two masters of epic fantasy have combined in this brilliant collaboration to create a rousing tale of the sort that becomes an instant favorite. This is the story of Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father and a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that the all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.

The Review:

The first half of this book is a perfect case study in how “telling” versus “showing” can be wildly entertaining. The authors took a lot of time to build this world and explain the dynamics between the races within it, and I found myself devouring the pages, eager to learn as much as I could. It was such a cool concept for a story – all-powerful elves who came to the world from another realm and basically took over, forcing the humans to cater to their every whim. Enter the shape-shifting dragons, also fleeing another world, who were trying to keep their existence secret from the elves but couldn’t resist dabbling in their affairs. Then put a halfbreed girl in the middle of all of this, and I’m on board.

It was unique, to say the least, and the best part was the spin on traditional race roles within fantasy novels. Not to mention the abundance of dragons! Sure, they behaved more like humans than dragons, but there was enough dragon lore involved that I didn’t mind it. Watching a small girl grow up among them was easily my favorite segment of the entire novel. It really is a shame it only lasted a couple of chapters…

The thing that knocked this book off of its five-star rating for me is that I got about 80% through it, then had to stop and figure out what the arc of the story was supposed to be. You see, the authors took a couple of weird tangents – ones I enjoyed reading, but I couldn’t figure out how they advance the plot or developed character. Now, I love tangents as much is the next girl, but to have them loaded near the end of the book? And to have them be so jarring? I kept thinking maybe I had missed something only to flip back a page and realize: nope… It really did just take a left turn. Had it been any other time during the novel, it would’ve been okay, but in this case it pulled me out of it when I felt I should’ve been the most engaged. I’m betting it had something to do with the difficulties of coordinating a book between two authors. This is the only time I’ve noticed a definite discord within a dual-authorship involving Mercedes Lackey, so it was probably a fluke.

Overall, I liked Elvenbane because I’ve never read anything quite like it. It had so many great ideas that, despite trouble with pacing near the end, I will be picking up the sequel. If you already read a ton of fantasy/dragon books, I’d recommend this one. However, if you’re new to the genre I’d have you read some of my favorites first.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes