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Coming Soon: Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

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

Author: Rae Carson

Series: Gold Seer Trilogy #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy / Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 10, 2017

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

Nik’s Notes:

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

What book are you waiting on?

 by Niki Hawkes

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DNF Q&A: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Title: Firstlife

Author: Gena Showalter

Series: Everlife #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: DNF Rating

The OverviewTenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision… -Goodreads

The DNF Q&A:

This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name)  kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. Life’s too short to read books you’re just not enjoying. So let the Q&A begin!

Did you really give Firstlife a chance?

Yes – I made it about halfway through before setting it aside.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?

I’ve loved a lot of things from the YA genre, although I admit lately I’ve had less patience for teen angst in general. I haven’t read anything quite like Firstlife before, but it had vague similarities to these other titles, which I enjoyed (mostly):

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

Unfortunately I had low expectations going into Firstlife, but decided to pick it up despite a few negative reviews. Even more unfortunate was that it lived up to my low expectations.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

Two things: 1. It was just too bloody weird. Now, I’ve always appreciated Showalter for dancing to her own drum (a quality I’ve adored in other works of hers), but Firstlife was a bit too far-reaching even for me. The very beginning explains these “influencers” of the two philosophical groups venturing down to the “Firstlife” world to influence the main character to join their side. Both influencers are male, but one goes down in a girl’s body… it was weird. It, along with an odd sequence of events, was just too weird for me. Did I mention it was weird?

2. I did not like the main character, finding her decisions contradictory (which I hate). She was supposed to be this tough, somewhat stubborn girl who chose to undergo imprisonment and physical torture rather than stray from her convictions. But, as soon as the two “influencers” walked-in, she started waffling about everything before they’d even really made their pitch on why she should join their side. Especially the boy – all he had to do was ask her to jump and she’d say “how high?” It was a frustrating contradiction of character – she came across very weak minded when the framework of the story set her up as someone incredibly strong unswayable. I really, really hated that.

Was there anything you liked about Firstlife? 

I liked a lot of things at first, such as character, world building, and story, but quickly soured to all of them because of the issues listed above.

Would you read anything else by this author? 

Yes, although I’m now terrified to read her other YA trilogy – signed hardcovers I’ve had on my shelf for ages. If I ever need a delightfully cheesy paranormal romance, however, she’s still one of my first picks.

So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?

I don’t think so. There are too many other books I’d recommend first.

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

iron-goldTitle: Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

Series: Iron Gold #1 [Red Rising #4]

Genre: Science Fiction

Release Date: January 16, 2017

The Overview: When you break the chains, what do you unleash?

The new trilogy takes place after the end of Morning Star and will center on the consequences of the hero’s actions as well as on those folks now living and growing up in a landscape that’s had its ruling order shattered. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

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. August can’t come too soon!

Who else is excited for Iron Gold?!

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

 [July 25, 2017] Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

Title: Vanguard

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Enclave #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: July 25, 2017

The Overview: The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship’s doctor, she can’t wait. It’s past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth. Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn’t allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

I’m a huge fan of all things Ann Aguirre, and the first three Razorland books were additional shining examples in a long line of great things I’ve read from this author. I really liked where Horde ended things, but am excited to see what she has in store for us next in Vanguard (which is a spinoff of sorts following a different character). This series has a great post-apocalyptic feel, interesting characters, and zombie-like creatures who were creepy af. I may not read this one right away, but I’m definitely still looking forward to it.

What new releases are you excited for?

by Niki Hawkes

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2016 Reading Recap!

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 The end of the year is finally here! And I’m celebrating by putting together the post I’ve been most looking forward to: the annual book review recap!

 I started a book blog for a couple reasons, but one of them was because it is a great way to keep track of all the fantastic books I’ve read (one that didn’t involve a journal and printouts of the covers – the method I was using before I discovered the wonders of blogging).

Sharing my love of books has become a passion all its own, and I have discovered some profound things in my own reading habits that I may not have otherwise. Most notably, I have come to truly appreciate the idea that life is too short to read boring books. This epiphany hit me in early 2013. It was eye-opening because I realized the books I was most looking forward to reading were getting left on the shelf in favor of books I felt like I was obligated to read (does anybody else have that problem?). Anyway, I made the decision to read the books I was most excited for first rather than last and, as this post will illustrate, it has made for one of the best years of reading I have ever had!

So without further ado, here’s a look at The Obsessive Bookseller’s year of book love:

1 Star: didn’t like it at all [maybe even DNF]

1.5 Stars: didn’t like it, but it had some merit

Nothing this year… everything was pretty cut and dry

2 Stars: it was okay

2.5 Stars: it was a little better than okay, but I’m not sure if I liked it or not

3 Stars: I liked it

3.5 Stars: I liked it, but not quite as much as a 4 star book

4 Stars: I really liked it!

4.5 Stars: I really, really liked it!

5 Stars: I LOVED it!!!!

I read 60 books this year (27 books less than last year) totaling 25144 pages (12184 pages less than last year). And I enjoyed every minute of it! Considering I’ve been dealing with chronic dry eyes for the entire year, I’m happy to have read anything. In 2017, I hope to continue reading only high priority titles and wrapping up a few series.

I feel like I am fairly hypercritical of books, but that isn’t reflected accurately in this year’s lineup. I did a pretty good job picking up books from authors I already loved and not forcing myself to continue on with authors I didn’t. I also stopped requesting arcs from authors I hadn’t read before, and that when a long way towards increasing the average rating of all my titles this year.

Don’t be surprised if you see a title on this line up with the different rating then what I assigned it in my reviews. When comparing a single book to a whole year’s worth of reading, it tends to skew everything – I’m totally grading on a curve, lol. Stay tuned for my Top Ten Books of 2016 list on Friday, December 30th. The list might surprise you in how it differs from this line up – how I evaluated a book in the star system does not necessarily dictate which ones I still have warm fuzzy feelings about months later and which ones I am super excited to talk about with others.

What did your year of reading look like? :-)

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Lifeblood by Gena Showalter

lifebloodTitle: Lifeblood

Author: Gina Showalter

Series: Everlife #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: February 28, 2017

The Overview: With her last living breath, Tenley “Ten” Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences. Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right? But Ten’s competition is Killian, the boy she can’t forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she’s never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

Have you ever wanted to read a series solely because of the gorgeous covers??? Something about the upcoming release of Lifeblood has me itching to finally give this series a try. Admittedly, I’m not totally enamored by the covers alone. I’ve read a few paranormal romances by Gena Showalter and thought they were a lot of fun. If Firstlife is even half as good, then we’re in good shape. :-)

What books are you waiting for?

by Niki Hawkes