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Tackling the TBR [86]: December 2022

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:

December 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Apparently I’m in the mood for a bunch of big fantasy books this month! Which makes sense because the last few weeks have seen me reading mostly Urban Fantasy and YA titles. I need a break.

Last month I challenged myself to pick a series from my Incomplete Series Challenge and zero it out. It was a success! I finished both the Toll and Gleanings by Neal Schusterman, laying to rest a series I’ve had open for about two years. This month I have chosen Fury of a Demon, the third and final book in the Dragons of Terra series. This is going to be a bit more of a challenge because there isn’t an audio option for this book. Either way, I’m excited to see series start to drop off my list that have been on there for ages. I’m still starting more than I complete, but have slowly been shifting my focus to getting back to things in a more timely manner. Baby steps.

I’m really excited to continue with the sequel to Justice of Kings, but I think I’m most looking forward to The Coward by Aryan which was chosen for this month’s Patreon Book Club. All the good ones keep winning! :D

Note that I didn’t even mention House of Chains… we’re probably ignoring that book again this month.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [85]: November 2022

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:

November 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Look!! It’s still November and I’m posting my November TBR! Granted, it’s mid-November, which would normally render half of my TBR irrelevant because the books had already been read, but in this case I’m reading slow AF, so it’s fine.

You’ll notice a significantly more conservative lineup this month. Life has been a bit hectic and so I haven’t been able to concentrate on reading for about two weeks. The weird fringe-benefit of this is that I also haven’t been super stressed about all the books I’m not reading right now (something I often struggle with), but instead have found a certain zen at reading everything at a snail’s pace… I’m sure that will change, but for now I’m enjoying myself.

The loose focus this month is to continue/finish series, per my Incomplete Series Challenge. I picked one main one to put efforts towards: The Arc of the Scythe by Neal Schusterman. When I chose this one to wrap up in November, I thought I only had one book left (The Toll), but the joke is on me because Gleanings (a collection of short stories that come after the end of the trilogy) came out just this last Tuesday and I must, must read it as a completionist before I can consider the series wrapped up.

House of Chains made the lineup again. I’m about 30% of the way through, but between my general lack of concentration and how glacially I’m reading this one, I’ll be thrilled if the progress jumps higher than 35% by the end of the month. I’ll finish it eventually, damnit. But in the meantime, please enjoy seeing it in the lineup for the 1000th time.

The book I’m most looking forward to is Justice of Kings, which was chosen for this month’s Patreon Book Club… I’m due to start it tomorrow.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [84]: October 2022

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:

October 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

::sits down to compose this post::
Shit. Did I really miss posting a TBR for September?? That can’t be right…

I did it again!! And this time I didn’t even notice until this very moment. Obviously my current post organizing system is working splendidly… not.

Well, while August was a month dedicated towards tomes, September has been a delightful expedition into series novellas along with a whole bunch of other fun reading.

Around the beginning of the month I borrowed a reading system from Matt’s Fantasy Book Reviews (he’s a content creator on YT and GR) which entailed scheduling out reading based on the speed at which I usually consume content. I took a whole day and recreated my version of his spreadsheet and started tracking my daily reading pace. And it is AMAZING.

I’ve tried to do all of this before, but only with pen and paper, which doesn’t leave any room for rearranging or adapting and simple data tracking, so it has always been a major flop. But with the spreadsheet I’ve been able to completely customize my schedule to something dialed and wonderful while still being able to plop in mood reads here and there. I’m embracing my need to plan and leaning fully into this very structured new system. I ran it all last month and had SO MUCH FUN with books. It has effectively taken away my anxious need to read all the things right now, and allowed me to fully immerse into just the book in my hand. I love it.

So I’m continuing on into October with this new schedule, which has been constructed with my continual goal to complete series in mind. I do have a few new series starters planned for Patreon Book Club (Jade City) and my Read/Burn/Hoard series on Youtube (Howl’s Moving Castle), but otherwise everything is focused on advancing and completing series. And I must say, I’m particularly excited about the lineup in front of me! And because I have an accurate prediction of how long each one will take, this isn’t an ambitious list, it’s a realistic one given my time and reading habits. :D Curating my reading to this extent may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself with this hobby.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs

Title: Soul Taken

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #13

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The vampire Wulfe is missing. Since he’s deadly, possibly insane, and his current idea of “fun” is stalking me, some may see it as no great loss. But, warned that his disappearance might bring down the carefully constructed alliances that keep our pack safe, my mate and I must find Wulfe—and hope he’s still alive. As alive as a vampire can be, anyway. But Wulfe isn’t the only one who has disappeared. And now there are bodies, too. Has the Harvester returned to the Tri-Cities, reaping souls with his cursed sickle? Or is he just a character from a B horror movie and our enemy is someone else? The farther I follow Wulfe’s trail, the more twisted—and darker—the path becomes. I need to figure out what’s going on before the next body on the ground is mine. -Goodreads

The Review:

Briggs delivers yet another solid installment in the Mercy/A&O series.

It started out a bit slow, but I love spending time with these characters so much that they could be doing anything and I’d probably want to read about it. Werewolf pack dynamics continue to be one of my favorite elements to this series, and the beginning of the book focused on some changes brewing within it. Even though it took a while to get to the meat of the overall mystery, the time spent developing character was a huge highlight of the book for me. Briggs has this amazing ability to keep many characters enigmas while still providing satisfying discoveries for her readers. She withholds just enough to keep you wanting more without making it frustrating. Every reveal has an impact! It’s a testament to how rich this world is becoming.

This is a perfect mystery novel for the fall – complete with pumpkin patches and scythe-wielding villains. I loved the atmosphere and the lore. And even found the mystery page-turning. Overall, the book mostly worked to deepen character for me, as opposed to a few others which focused more on advancing the arc of the series. It was a delightful mystery full of action and humor and I can’t wait to read whatever she comes out with next!

Recommendations: Moon Called, the first book in this series, is one of the most accessible urban fantasies on the market and a great place to start in the genre. Beyond that, if you’re at this point in the series already, you definitely don’t need my encouragement to keep going! :)

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and Netgalley for the chance to read an early copy of Soul Taken!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews

Title: Ruby Fever

Authors: Ilona Andrews

Series: Hidden Legacy #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Ilona Andrews is back with the newest book in the exciting Hidden Legacy series—the thrilling conclusion to her trilogy featuring fierce and beautiful Prime magic user Catalina Baylor. An escaped spider, the unexpected arrival of an Imperial Russian Prince, the senseless assassination of a powerful figure, a shocking attack on the supposedly invincible Warden of Texas, Catalina’s boss… And it’s only Monday. Within hours, the fate of Houston—not to mention the House of Baylor—now rests on Catalina, who will have to harness her powers as never before. But even with her fellow Prime and fiancé Alessandro Sagredo by her side, she may not be able to expose who’s responsible before all hell really breaks loose. –Goodreads

The Review:

I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Baylor family.

This unlikely series has quickly jumped to one of my all-time favorites. To the point where the pending release for Ruby Fever was my most anticipated book of 2022. That’s crazy! But these authors have earned their place in my top spots by dazzling me again and again between their many series.


Two things about this series make it stand out to me: the cool structure for a magic system, where these competing houses pass magic down through their lineages, and said magic takes on all sorts of interesting forms. It’s everything you love about superhero powers, but in a much more accessible (and less cheesy) presentation. The wide variety of magics turns every book into a discovery process, and I lovelovelove the world building component.

The second thing is the characters themselves. This family is a hoot. Spending time with them reminds me of being included in the family festivities of my best friend growing up (who had 10 siblings… welcome to Utah), and the crazy sorts of dynamics and arguments that ensue with that many people under one roof. But at the end of the day, they support and love one another and work together to build their house into something to be proud of. Reading these books feels like tapping into the hopeful part of me I don’t see very often, and I love that. And considering how many fun family members there are to keep track of in this series, I’m impressed at how complete and well-developed most of them feel. The grandma is a riot.

Although these books are marketed as romances, they more closely resemble traditional urban fantasy than many others that I’ve read. The point of a paranormal romance is to see if the two are going to get together in the end (amidst some supernatural squabbling). The point of an urban fantasy is to see if they’re going to defeat the bad guy, with romance as a secondary arc. This last book had practically no romance development at all, but you wouldn’t know that from the covers. It’s why I have such a hard time recommending this amazing series to anyone, save those who have already read Ilona Andrews and know how brilliant they are. Take it from me, ignore the covers. This series is legit.

The only thing I found disappointing about the book was that it didn’t resolve a plot point I was most interested in seeing continued from the first two Catalina books. It kind of touched on it, but nowhere near where I think it could’ve gone given all the good setup. Given rumors on how annoying this book was to write for the authors (well, not really rumors considering I read it repeatedly on their blog), I wonder if at the end of the day they only had so much room to try to cram all the elements in and some things just didn’t make the cut.

The highlight of the book was actually the epilogue. I found in it the spark I love so much about the series and promises of more to come. I hope the writing duo do indeed continue the series, even if they go the self-pub route (I’ll be buying!).

Recommendations: as this is the second arc to the Hidden Legacy saga, I’d suggest starting back with Burn for Me (that title, though). And if you can’t get past the covers, I understand (although I actually really like the vibrant covers and pretty dresses of the newer ones, but you get my point). Start with the Kate Daniels series instead (the first book is meh, but then it grows into something amazing!) and maybe once you see how good they are, you’ll find your way back here. :)

I’d like to thank Avon and Harper Voyager, Ilona Andrews, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Ruby Fever!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [83]: August 2022

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:

August 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I didn’t post a Tackling the TBR for July… and I didn’t notice until about the 20th (Facepalm). That oversight is just one of the consequences I’m facing for having so much content to generate between three main platforms (here, Booktube, and Patreon). I do think it a testament to how much I’ve been doing that I didn’t even notice until the month was almost over. Me and my OCD have been working hard to not be too bothered by July’s missing post.

Last month I read so many books. Short books, but all the same it was a wonderful month with a momentum I hope to carry over into August. I’m FINALLY caught up from my snowball of too many books going at once (which started in March and had taken me this long to fix), and true to my theory, it has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in my reading life. I’m thrilled.

Books are fun again! They’re not taking me forever to read. And I can choose what I want next on the lineup without digging myself a deeper hole with current reads. It has been lovely.

Now that I’ve simplified my day to day reading life, I’m striving to do the same with my overall reading world. I’ve so many open series right now vying for my attention that it can sometimes take YEARS to get back to something I’ve started. My goal for the next few months is to focus on closing out as many started series as possible, and my TBR reflects that.

This month I’m mostly looking at tomes – the bigger books that take more of a time commitment – with hopes of progressing a lot of chunkier fantasy series. Next month I’ll probably turn my focus to reading outstanding series with only one or two books away from completion. I plan to document my progress with this on my YouTube channel.

Overall, reading is amazing again and I can’t wait to see what kind of dent I can make into this more conservative lineup. Wish me luck!


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes