Top Ten Upcoming 2017 Book Releases!

I may have mentioned at some point that I write bi-weekly reviews for a local newspaper []. 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


Top 17 Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed The Hunger Games!

Almost as untouchable as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins sparked a love for dystopian and post-apocalyptic books in millions of readers, myself included. Hunger Games was definitely not the first of its kind, but it was the series that launched dystopian storytelling into the mainstream and led to an explosion of followers in the YA market. Even though the concepts had been told before, Collins reinterpreted them in a way that was exciting, accessible, and fun. After selling thousands of copies to customers every year, I quickly realized that I needed to be prepared for when they came back with “Ooooooh! I loved it so much! What can I read next?” From that question was born this list:

Top 17 Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Hunger Games!

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Info: The Testing by Joelle Charboneau

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: concept, character, atmosphere: The Testing series is one of my favorite recommends on this list. It reminds me of Hunger Games from a conceptual standpoint because both were stories that felt fresh and original (with a strong dystopic feel). I also love how the main character from the series compared to Katniss when it came to resourcefulness. Even thought the first book was fairly average compared to the rest of the series, the second book is one of my favorites ever. Overall, it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a Hunger Games fan.

red risingBook Info: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction [adult]

Reason for Recommending: story, atmosphere: even though this book is an adult science fiction, it still reminded me strongly of Hunger Games. It had the same elements of overcoming oppression, deadly competition, and overall intensity that made the Hunger Games so memorable. I even liked the last book (Morning Star) more than I liked Mockingjay, if you can imagine…

Not a drop to drinkBook Info: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: writing, character, atmosphere: even though this book is more of a post-apocalyptic than a dystopian, it’s one of my favorite survival stories, possibly because of how brilliantly it’s written. I’ve always appreciated Katniss for her ability to adapt and do what was necessary to survive. Lynn in this story was just as determined, and I found her added bit of snarkiness particularly endearing. The book also has the same feel of desperation and urgency that made Hunger Games such a page-turner. I loved this book and would probably recommend it even if you didn’t like Hunger Games.

partialsBook Info: Partials by Dan Wells

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: character, atmosphere, love story: The Partials Sequence has long been one of my favorite teen books to recommend (even though the third one felt a little rushed). I loved the main character for how clever she was, I loved the premise of the story and the excellent momentum it gained throughout each book, and I loved the world building for its creepy, post-apocalyptic feel. It also had a compelling Katniss-loves-Peeta type of romance that came about more organically than most teen books. All of these things add up to a no-brainer when trying to recommend titles. Read it.

angelfallBook Info: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: originality, relationship: To steal from what I said above, Hunger Games was definitely not the first of its kind, but it was the series that launched dystopian storytelling into the mainstream and led to an explosion of followers in the YA market. Even though the concepts have been told before, Collins reinterpreted them in a way that was exciting, accessible, and fun. In my opinion, if Angelfall had been a first-mover in the industry, I feel as though it’s unique twist on post-apocalyptical setting and excellent writing could have shaken up the market as well. Additionally, the main character and her younger sister reminded me strongly of Katniss’ relationship with Prim. That said, I only felt this way about the first book – the remaining two of the trilogy let me down a bit (but were still good).

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Book Info: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: character, writing, story: Ann Aguirre is one of my favorite writers. Her characters are phenomenal and, in my opinion, every bit as memorable and well-rounded as those in Hunger Games. This post-apocalyptic “zombie” story brings to mind the same savage fight for survival that made Hunger Games so intense. Overall, it’s a great trilogy with a new spinoff coming out in 2017.

Legend by Marie Lu

Book Info: Legend by Marie Lu

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: story, character, love story: Legend has the same rising-from-oppression appeal as Hunger Games, but offered POVs from both the oppressed and privileged ends of the spectrum. I especially appreciated how clever the main characters were, thought the love story was convincingly organic, and enjoyed all three books pretty equally. When ranking dystopians, Legend always lands in the upper half of my list.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Book Info: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: atmosphere, originality, character: The Darkest Minds was one of the more unique dystopians I’ve read and definitely gets an A+ for cool concept. Overall, it had the same gut-wrenching dystopic feel that satisfied that Hunger Games hangover for me. It also had fantastic characters and a fast-paced storyline.

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Book Info: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Genre: Teen Fantasy/Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: competition, action, character: Hunter is one of my favorite books from this list – I loved almost everything about it. It has a clever main character who always thought things through (hello, Katniss – no harebrained heroines here!), And a competitive storyline with loads of action. Add to that a dystopic society where viewers revel as these teens fight monsters, and you have a series that captures many of the things I loved about Hunger Games while standing solidly on its own. I loved it.

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Book Info: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian [adult]

Reason for Recommending: atmosphere, intensity: Pure is most definitely NOT a young adult series, but I think Hunger Games fans would like it just the same. It’s gritty and ugly and yet somehow beautiful all at once and definitely one of the coolest books I’ve ever read from the genre. It’s also a very odd book, one that will probably stick with you long after you put it down. Overall, if Mockingjay was your favorite of the trilogy and you loved that gut-wrenching intensity, this series might be the one for you!

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Book Info: Uglies

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: concept, genre appeal: Uglies was one of the first movers of the teen dystopian genre and one which has always been easy for me to recommend to customers. It has a great concept (even though it’s not totally original, it was executed well), a well-imagined society, and a storyline that’s incredibly memorable. I consider it a staple for the genre, so if you love dystopians and haven’t yet picked it up, do it – do it now!

The Fifth Wave by Ricky Yancey

Book Info: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: character, story, atmosphere: if you want a story with a heroine as convincingly kickass as Katniss, this is a great place to start. The 5th Wave also offers a similarly unique storyline with loads of action and moments of high intensity. I don’t think it built relationships quite as well as Hunger Games, nor did it maintain the same momentum throughout all three books, but it still definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

Book Info: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: competition, atmosphere: basically, if Hunger Games were watered down a smidge and geared towards a slightly younger audience, you’d have Fire and Flood. This is not my favorite book on the list, but still merits a spot because, despite a few shortcomings, it was still a fun read. It had that competitive atmosphere I loved so much in Hunger Games and even brought to life several fun “arenas” for the contestants to race through. The ending of the second book led me to believe there was going to be a third one, but it has been a long time coming and there’s still no news on the horizon…

The Bane by Keary Taylor

Book Info: The Bane by Keary Taylor

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: character, action, love story: The Bane is another post-apocalyptic story with an excellent and resourceful main character. It has a much more prominent love triangle than Hunger Games (likely because all three spent a lot more time together than they did in Collins’ novels), so if you wanted more romance admdst all the fighting, this is the series for you!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book Info: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: story, atmosphere: admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with this book (the first half was awesome, the second half not so much) but I seem to be in the minority, so it made the list. It has a similar caste system as Hunger Games (extravagantly rich vs. the dirt poor), but it’s determined by blood color (red vs. silver) rather than district, which is an interesting twist.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Book Info: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic

Reason for Recommending: atmosphere: Under the Never Sky is futuristic and post-apocalyptic and the characters go through a similar desperation for survival (albeit a tad watered down). It also had that “not everything is as it seems” vibe that made Hunger Games so interesting. This one may not fully satisfy your Hunger Games cravings completely, but I bet you’ll still enjoy it.


Book Info: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Genre: Teen Dystopian

Reason for Recommending: story, character – yes, I’m including this on the list even though, realistically, if you had any interest in it you’ve probably already picked it up by now. The Divergent Trilogy had a lot of good things going for it and is still worth a read if you liked Hunger Games because it will give you that same overall “feel.” It’s unfortunately not at the top of my recommendations. While I love to the first two, the third let me down enough to suck the wind out of my “series enthusiasm” sails.


I hope you find this list helpful and enjoy these titles as much as I did! I’ve added all of them to a shelf on my Goodreads page if you’d like to go read more about them. Happy reading! :-)

Have you read any good books similar to Hunger Games?

by Niki Hawkes


Niki’s Top Ten Goals of 2016!

top ten tuesdayI really like setting and achieving goals, and declaring them publicly always seems to give me that extra bit of motivation I need to make them happen. Last year, I managed to knock out 5 of my 10 goals (all the reading/blogging ones… the writing ones didn’t go so well). This year, I’m hoping for 10/10!

Goals Achieved in 2015:

1. Continue my 1500 for 1 reading challenge.

In which I keep track of the number of pages I read, and as soon as I hit 1500, I’m allowed to buy a book. The previous year I’d been trying a 4 for 1 method, but all that did was encourage me to read the shortest books first. This method has been working splendidly for me – not only does it completely moderate my book spending, but it also curbs that almost addictive need to buy new books, as I read enough to get a new package in the mail once every few weeks. I’ve also noticed that it makes me more selective on what I bring home – after all, I only have one book “credit” to spend at a time, and I want to make sure I spend it on something I’m going to love!

2. Get rid of all the books I didn’t like:

This goal involved getting rid of books that I’d already read, but kind of hated. This one was really difficult for me because each read book on my shelf represents a little badge of accomplishment. I tackled this goal in baby steps, starting out by removing all of these titles from my shelves. I soon discovered that having bookcases only filled with both books that I absolutely loved and ones that I am super excited to read made gazing at my library a lot more rewarding than when I was having to stop constantly to lament how much I didn’t like a particular title. It sounds weird, but hey, whatever works, right?

3. Only review the books I feel strongly about.

I achieved this goal, but in a different way than I’d intended. Initially, I was thinking to review only the extreme ends of the spectrums, you know, the loves and hates. I discovered that sometimes, the ones smack dab in the middle of those extremes are the ones I felt the most strongly about. In any case, I feel like my reviews in 2015 were stronger than they’ve ever been because I wasn’t just going through the motions to get my opinion of the titles down – I genuinely felt passionate about every review I shared. I will definitely be continuing this as I go forward.

4. Add a few more buttons to my social media taskbar.

Done! It took me six hours and a lot of hair-pulling, but I’m glad I finally sucked it up long enough to get it done. And you know what? I like them. :-)

5. Stop being a phantom follower.

I still don’t comment as often as I could, but I feel good enough about my progress towards this goal to call it a win for 2015. I probably commented (with thoughtful and sincere comments) more last year than I had in my previous three years of blogging combined. This year will probably be even better.

Like I said, all of my blogging/reading goals were achieved, but for various reasons, I didn’t complete any of my writing goals. This year, I decided to make all of my goals reading/blogging/creativity related.

Niki’s Top Ten Goals of 2016!

1. Be Creative!

2016 is the year of creativity! In which I plan to do some sort of creative expression every day. I’m ready, too. I have a fresh set of paints, gorgeous high-quality colored pencils (and a nifty adult coloring book), a beautiful crossstitch project, and an organized arsenal of countless other supplies and possibilities! My first focus is to finish a gorgeous Royce Frogs crossstitch project that I started during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

9 & 1/2 frogs down, 2 (and a ton of back stitching) to go!

2. Dance to the beat of my own drum!

From a reading/blogging standpoint, of course. I’ve been kind of doing this throughout 2015 anyway, but I’d like to make an official goal for 2016.

Notes to self: [1] don’t feel like blogging this week? Whatever. I doubt it will hurt anyone’s feelings (if they even notice. I’ve seen a few of those “I’m back” posts where I went “oh, yeah… Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen a post in a while – glad you’re back!” [2] feel like posting 10 times in 2 days to effectively burn yourself out? That’s cool, too, just apologize to your readers for BOMBING their inboxes. [3] miss posting/writing a weekly feature post (like Top Ten Tuesday) that you’d wanted to do? HOW ANNOYING!!! Find a way to cope with your OCD and post it anyway. I don’t care if it’s Friday.

It’s an oddly liberating thing to finally realize that this is MY blog and I don’t have any rules or constraints on my creativity other than what I place on myself. Although, ultimately, I would love to dance to my own drum AND make my readers happy at the same time. I think it’s possible.

3. Finish out priority series.

This was an unofficial goal last year, and I’ve made a lot of progress with it. It goes along nicely with my “Read the best books first” mantra and has helped me focus primarily on the authors I claim as favorites. I also feel weirdly compelled to finish these outstanding series before I dive fully into new ones. Like I won’t enjoy the new ones until I finish the old ones? It doesn’t make any sense, so it’s probably just my OCD trying to rationalize this compulsion from my subconscious. I’m choosing to indulge it.

4. Respond to comments ON MY OWN BLOG!

Ugh. How embarrassing. I mean, I managed to comment on other blogs this year while awkwardly neglecting my own. This is unacceptable behavior for me because of how much I appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their busy day to visit and interact with me. I feel ultimate shame. It’s one of those situations where I read the comment in the email WordPress sends me, formulate a reply in my head, then promptly forget to actually respond. #fail

5. Get my eyes healthy.

Really, this should be my first goal this year. ANY other goals I set for reading or blogging are absolutely pointless if I can’t focus long enough to achieve them. This stupid mofo injury has had me down and out for the past 6 months and it has been MISERABLE. Imagine your 3 or 4 most favorite things to do in the world. Do they require eyes? ALL of mine do! Woe is me. I miss reading, I miss blogging, I miss TV, I even miss driving. Okay, I’m done bitching.

6. Create templates for my posts.

Why haven’t I thought of doing this before? There must be some form of brain damage to blame because it would save me SO MUCH TIME! And it only took me 4 years of blogging to figure this out… Sheesh.

7. Host a MASSIVE giveaway.

Thus far, I have over 50 titles to give away that I’ve been hoarding for the last year. Some are new, some used, some are signed, and some lack SKUs (ARCs), and they all need a new home. More to come…

8. Figure out what to do with signed (and personalized) editions of books I didn’t like.

It’s what I get for not being brave enough to say “signature only, please,” fearing it might hurt the author’s feelings or something. Does anyone have some suggestions? Should I include them as options in the giveaway? Help, lol.

9. Rate titles on Goodreads.

This shouldn’t take me too long. I’ve been assigning “no rating” to all my 2015 titles so I could more easily remember which ones I hadn’t reviewed. The trouble is, I’m so far behind in reviewing that it’s getting ridiculous. Also, per last year’s completed goal of “Only review the books I feel strongly about,” there are more than a handful of meh titles that probably won’t get reviewed ever. My reviewing habits have clearly changed, it’s time my Goodreads account adapted with me.

10. Continue my Read 1500 for 1 challenge.

Because I love it and because it works.

What goals do you have for 2016?

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases in Early 2016!

top ten tuesday

Yeah, yeah – I know I missed Tuesday again. 2016 might be the year I dance to my own drum. In any case, here’s a look at the new releases in 2016 that I am just dying to get a hold of:

Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases in Early 2016!

With so many good options, how do I pick a favorite? It might come down to the new Mercy Thompson book against the new Selection book… thank goodness I don’t have to buy just one!

What books are you most excited for?

by Niki Hawkes


Niki’s Top Ten Favorite Books of 2015!

top ten tuesday

Okay, I know I missed Tuesday, but this is one of my favorite topics, so I’m doing it anyway:

Niki’s Top Ten Favorite Books of 2015!

I’m sure the caliber of authors doesn’t surprise anyone – they’re popular for a reason, after all. What surprises me is how difficult it was to narrow the list down to just ten titles. “Read the best books first, for you may not have the chance to read them all” really is a mantra worth having. It is really difficult to pick a favorite, but if push came to shove, I select Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb.

What were your favorite reads of 2015?

by Niki Hawkes


Niki’s Top Ten Favorite Audiobook Experiences!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This is a freebie week for the TTT feature, and since I’ve had this post up my sleeve for a few months now, I’m tickled to finally have an excuse to share it. When evaluating an audiobook, it seems like you have to consider more than just the basic writing, character, setting, etc. that you usually do with a book. You also have to consider the voice of the reader and their overall performance. I’ve listened to several books that came alive in a way that words on a page just couldn’t. Conversely, I’ve listened to many that seem to take all of the things I loved about the written version and poo all over it. I find myself on an endless hunt for new audiobook series that have the perfect mix of amazing story and performance, but here are the ones I’ve discovered so far:

Niki’s Top Ten Favorite Audiobook Experiences!

The Harry Potter Series – Jim Dale
The Kingkiller Chronicles – Nick Podehl
The Stormlight Archive – Michael Kramer & Kate Reading
The Gentleman Bastards – Michael Page
The Expanse – Jefferson Mays
The Red Rising Trilogy – Tim Gerard Reynolds
The Dresden Files – James Marsters
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Carolyn McCormick
The Game of Thrones Series – Roy Dotrice
The Riley Jensen Series – Justine Eyer

I think taking a chance on an audiobook is almost more risky than taking a chance on a new book – it certainly costs a lot more (generally) and there’s that extra performance-quality factor to consider. Thank goodness Audible offers guaranteed listens, that’s all I’m saying.

What are some of your favorite audiobook experiences?

by Niki Hawkes