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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 Reviews: Sideswiped and The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The Drafter by Kim Harrison

Title: The Drafter

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles #.5 & #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: Sideswiped [4.5/5 stars] The Drafter [2/5 stars]

The Overview: The Bourne Identity meets Minority Report in this first highly anticipated installment in number-one New York Times best-selling author Kim Harrison’s sexy new romantic suspense trilogy, featuring a brilliant special task agent at the top of her field and set in a futuristic Detroit.During a routine but dangerous Opti task, Peri Reed finds out her trusted partner has made her a corrupt agent. Her unique ability to jump back 40 seconds in time to correct a mistake leaves her vulnerable when her partner, who is responsible for replacing her memory of the event, gives her a false one. But Peri lives and dies on her intuition, and she begins to piece her twisted reality together as she flees her one-time secure situation at Opti and tries to find the truth with a sullen but talented psychologist named Silas who works for the very agency trying to bring the Opti corruption to light. -Goodreads

The Review:

I’d actually like to start out with an ultra-mini review of Sideswiped: It was a perfect introduction of the characters, magic system, and slightly futuristic/alternate society. I thought it was absolutely delightful, yet heart wrenching at the same time. I loved every moment and afterward was totally AMPED to pick up The Drafter. [4.5/5 stars]

Then I picked up The Drafter.

I read a few posts on Kim Harrison’s blog a few months ago where she conveyed how disappointed she was that The Drafter wasn’t being received as well as she’d hoped. She stated something along the lines of “people just aren’t getting what I’m trying to do.” After finally reading the book, I can definitely see why some readers may have had trouble with it and why someone new to Kim Harrison’s work might not have the trust needed to push through the harder patches. It wasn’t a lack of characterization, world building, or writing in general – it’s clear Kim Harrison is still a master of all these things (especially with my impressions of Sideswiped), but rather the result of some unfortunate choices she made while outlining.

Issue 1: the biggest problem I had with The Drafter was it’s repetitive use of dramatic irony.

dramatic irony: where the full significance of the character’s words or actions are clear to the reader but unknown to the character.

Using it was a risky move on Harrison’s part, and I don’t think it paid off. I was aware of the foul play from the very beginning and therefore was forced to sit patiently through 400 pages as the main character figured it out for herself. It was tedious and a little bit frustrating, but the biggest issue was that a storyline constructed entirely around dramatic irony gave me no opportunity to get emotionally invested in the plot or feel any kind of suspense. As this is supposed to be a thriller of sorts, that’s a problem.

Issue 2: I don’t think the book started at the best place. It began way too far into the story arc (which felt like a scene out of the second or third book where the framework for the world had already been established and all of the characters properly introduced). Instead, we were thrown into the middle of the controversy without any backing of the situation showing us why we should care. Betrayals of certain characters were no big deal because to me, the fact that they betrayed is literally the only thing presented thus far about them.

Where the story started also provided very little time to understand the art of drafting itself, so I was shoved at even more of an arms distance from the plot while trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I imagine had I not learned a basic understanding of it in Sideswiped, I would have been struggling even more.

Finally, it didn’t provide any time to get to know the characters, which brings me to…

Issue 3: all the characters came across very unlikable right from the beginning. In sideswiped, Peri was introduced as a spunky, ambitious, and intelligent woman who was destined to do great things. In Drafter, she immediately appeared arrogant and flippant to the point of recklessness (also as an insufferable know-it-all with no back story to substantiate it). I didn’t like her or any characters around her. Again I mentioned that if I hadn’t read Sideswiped, I might have been put off permanently then and there.


So you see, there are plethora of reasons I think The Drafter could’ve been better – all of them a result of construction choices rather than any flaw on the author’s writing ability. I think if the events and timelines of the prequel have been expanded on as the first book, Harrison would’ve had another hit on her hands (yes – it really was that good, containing the missing pieces that made The Drafter feel incomplete). Because of how much I liked Sideswiped how much I trust Kim Harrison as an author, I am cautiously optimistic to see what The Operator has in store for me next.

If there’s one takeaway with my experience with The Drafter, it’s that if you are planning to read the series, for the love of God – read the prequel first.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [21]: March 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:

March 2017 TBR Tackler Shelf:

The Demon King and Traitor’s Blade are both Buddy Reads with my Goodreads group, which should be fun (come join us!). You may  have noticed that instead of the usual hodgepodge, I have several books by Marissa Meyer and Peter Brett. I’ve been in the mood to really immerse myself in series lately, which to me is an all-or-nothing venture including short stories out the wazoo. Of all the things on my list this month, I’m most excited to start Winter (Cress was amazing!).

Tackler Carry-overs:

I decided to expand my TBR tackler selection list to include titles on previous Tackling the TBR posts that I either didn’t have a chance to get to or am currently part way through. It gives me a more accurate snapshot of my progress over time and more potential high-priority titles to choose from each month. Up until this point, there have only been about five or so carryover titles, but as I am trying to be conservative by relying on the library for a lot of these books, I fell victim to the endless waitlist in January and still haven’t caught up. That said, many of these books are in “currently reading” status.

So many books!!! So little time.


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

January 2017 Titles Tackled:

Finished Series: 0
 Series Brought UTD: 3
Series Progressed: 3
New Series Started: 2
Abandoned: 0

Overall I didn’t do too bad in February, but as I’m planning on starting a bunch of new series over the next couple of months, my numbers aren’t going to look that stellar going forward…

2017 YTD Tracker:

Finished Series: 1
Up To Date Series: 6
Series Progressed: 4
New Series Started: 7
Abandoned: 1

Last year I had a goal to finish a lot of high-priority series, and I did just that with 14 series finished (some of them with 10+ books that I’d been working on for ages) and 18 brought up to date. I wanted to keep the momentum going in 2017 with this nifty little tracker added on to my monthly TBR. I might make it it’s own feature, but for now, let’s go team for 2017!!!!


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: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

March 7, 2017

Title: Silence Fallen

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercedes Thompson #10

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: March 7, 2017

The Overview: Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe… Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…  -Goodreads

The Review:

Anything written by Patricia Briggs these days is pure gold. I always try to savor them (the year-long wait between books is brutal!), but always seem to find myself devouring pages like there’s no tomorrow! The Mercy Thompson series is the sort of guaranteed good read that leaves me no doubt I’m going to love every moment. Silence Fallen was another awesome book in a long line of killer novels.

Without giving anything important away, I think it’s safe to reveal that Silence Fallen takes place primarily in another country. It was a much-appreciated change of scenery. Briggs provided an immersive experience rich in history and vibrant and description. It was a lot of fun getting to explore new environments (notice I haven’t mentioned where? The discovery is part of the fun! You’ll have to read it to find out). My only hold up is that I thought historical facts could’ve been integrated a little bit smoother. Briggs utilized the character’s personal knowledge of the place a little too often to be believable. Seriously, are you really going to be able to recall tiny details about a place you learned about in passing years ago in college? I didn’t totally buy it, but that’s probably because I can’t remember what I did yesterday. :) Regardless of delivery, the description was incredibly well researched and made me feel like I was there. It was a new adventure filled with fun discoveries and interesting villains. 

Silence Fallen also offered multiple POVs, something I LOVED because I just can’t get enough of Adam Hauptman. His perspective adds so much richness to the story and I’m hoping it won’t be the last time he gets a moment in the spotlight.

Overall, Silence Fallen was packed with an awesome mix of supernatural, humor, romance, and action, topping itself off with one wallop of a surprise at the end that will knock you out of your armchair. If you haven’t given this series a try, you’re totally missing out!

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Silence Fallen.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Title: Blood Cross

Author: Faith Hunter

Series: Jane Yellowrock #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules — but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep…

With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries — and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her. -Goodreads
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The Review:

I’m not going to lie (as if I usually do) – I struggled with this book a bit, especially at the beginning. It was really slow and I kept waiting for something to make me care what was going on. The inciting moment came waaaaaay too far in for my tastes, and there were also a lot of needlessly repeating elements. The only thing that got me through was the memory of how much I liked Skinwalker.

Once things got going, however, I ended up liking it. Enough that I’ll definitely be picking up the third one at some point… with some reservations. I still wanted a bit more New Orleans culture infusion, which I thought gave the first book a cool understated atmosphere. I also don’t remember such a heavy focus on sex in Skinwalker, but Blood Cross felt amped up in that category. I admit part of my dissatisfaction with the first half was because I got tired of hearing how horny the main character was (in place of plot advancement, anyway. If the two were happening simultaneously I may not have noticed). This author also has a slightly annoying habit of writing in incomplete sentences. I get it that it’s just her writing style, but I feel at this point she’s sacrificing clarity for artistry.

Overall, I was split down the middle with Blood Cross, but at the end of the day enjoyed it enough to keep reading. It had good mystery, interesting characters, and decent supernatural elements. The next book will be critical in determining whether or not I invest in more of the series.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [20]: February 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:

February 2017 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I have a couple of novellas/short stories on this month’s line up to help me focus a little bit on last month’s carryovers (people were especially slow returning things to the library in January). I’m starting The Warded Man as a buddy read with my Goodreads group, so that should be fun, as it has been collecting dust on my shelves for ages. AND HOLY CRAP I GOT THE NEW ROBIN HOBB!!! I will be dropping everything to read that one first. :)

Tackler Carry-overs:

I decided to expand my TBR tackler selection list to include titles on previous Tackling the TBR posts that I either didn’t have a chance to get to or am currently part way through. It gives me a more accurate snapshot of my progress over time and more potential high-priority titles to choose from each month. Up until this point, there have only been about five or so carryover titles, but as I am trying to be conservative by relying on the library for a lot of these books, I fell victim to the endless waitlist in January. Many of these titles I put on hold at the beginning of December… something is not right here. I need the next Kate Daniels book, like, yesterday!


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

January 2017 Titles Tackled:

Finished Series: 1
 Series Brought UTD: 3
Series Progressed: 1
New Series Started: 5
Abandoned: 1

Overall I didn’t do too bad in January, but as I’m planning on starting a bunch of new series over the next couple of months, my numbers aren’t going to look that stellar going forward…

2017 YTD Tracker:

Finished Series: 1
 Series Brought UTD: 3
Series Progressed: 1
New Series Started: 5
Abandoned: 1

Last year I had a goal to finish a lot of high-priority series, and I did just that with 14 series finished (some of them with 10+ books that I’d been working on for ages) and 18 brought up to date. I wanted to keep the momentum going in 2017 with this nifty little tracker added on to my monthly TBR. I might make it it’s own feature, but for now, let’s go team for 2017!!!!


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