Looking Back at December 2014

December was the capstone month of 2014 for me to actually meet my goal of reading 100 books for the year. After the big October push, a solid November, and being able to see the finish line clearly I did manage to read the full 100 books. As a matter of fact, I even managed to sneak one extra book into the year and finish with a 101 book total.

There wasn’t anything earth-shaking about my book choices in December; I really just tried to pick things that I felt were not going to take much effort to read in the hopes of not falling short of my goal.

Here are the books I read in December:

It was nice to wrap up the Fablehaven series on the whole even if I was a little disappointed with how repetitive the plot points became towards the end in the last two or three books. They are decent books though and I won’t be surprised if my children end up reading them in a few years when they reach the appropriate age.

My favorites of the month were the new Legion novella (really a double-length novella which makes it a full novel in the end), and a surprise discovery in Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I gave Red Rising a try because my boss at work is an avid reader as well and he had recently finished it. He kept telling me to give it a try, and when I had time for one extra book at the end of the month I decided to see what he kept raving about. In my opinion, Red Rising is the book that Hunger Games always should have been. I lucked out because the sequel, Golden Son has just been released and I’ve already bought a copy.

I have a distinct feeling that January is going to be a very light month for me when it comes to reading because I’ll be honest, I’m burnt out after the slog to 100 books (a separate post on that entire ordeal to come later). I need to take a break and evaluate what I want my reading priorities to be for 2015 after such an intense 2014.

Looking Back at November 2014

After such a successful October getting back on pace with my reading goal I had a very busy November with work and family obligations as well as the launch of the most recent World of Warcraft expansion. I went into the month knowing that the last two weeks were going to be a nightmare as far as reading was concerned, so I needed to load up on completed books in the first two weeks. I think I was rather successful all told.

I managed to finish November with 95 total books complete. My intent was to finish with 100 and take the entire month of December off from reading to decompress after the hard push over the last few months. That was a bit of a pipe dream though, and going into December with only five books remaining is absolutely wonderful at this point. Two months ago I feared I would need nearly 20 books in December alone to finish my goal.

As it stands, I can read my last few books without a lot of pressure and probably finish well before the end of the month, giving myself at least a little break before next year begins breathing down my neck.

Here are the books I read in November:

Along the way I also read a new novella:

I enjoyed everything I read this month, none of the books left me feeling unfulfilled or disappointed in any fashion. The one thing I did notice is that the Fablehaven series is really not well suited to being read back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I should have spaced those first four books out with others in between. I’ve made a point of not reading the fifth book until I read a few other things so that I can cleanse my reading palate a bit.

For December I will be reading the final Fablehaven book just to be sure I finish the series off and don’t leave myself hanging. I’ll also be reading the last two books in a trilogy from the Dragonlance universe I started a very long time ago. Then there is the final book of the His Fair Assassin trilogy and I’ll finish off my 100 books by reading the one my wife wrote even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Looking Back at November 2013

The year is drawing swiftly to a close and it won’t be much longer before I turn the page on 2013 and begin working on my 2014 reading goals. But, it’s still 2013 as of today, so it’s time to take a look at what I read during November. A quick glance at the list reveals I was a little bit wild in my reading selections for the month. I have some middle-grade fiction mixed in with young adult, sequels to books I read last year, and some recommendations I received from co-workers and friends. There was even one novel I read which had been on my Kindle for over a year waiting for me to get to it.

The books I read in November:

Of these eight books, I can easily divide them into two groups: ones I thought were fantastic, and ones that were just okay. The books from November that I thought were fantastic are Crown of Midnight, Caliban’s War, Lot Beta, and Storm Front. All four of these were everything I hoped for and more. In the “just okay” category fall Allegiant, The Eye of Minds, Year Zero: A Novel, and The Fall of Five.

Crown of Midnight was a magnificent example of how an author can learn from their writing and improve immensely. Everything I found lacking in the first book of its series was fixed in Crown of Midnight. The characters were more balanced, the story more grounded and believable, even the general quality of the writing. I went into reading Crown of Midnight thinking it would be similar to the first book, Throne of Glass, and that was okay because the first book was a good bit of fun. Instead I was blown away by the growth Sarah J. Maas demonstrated in her writing and her ability to tell a story. At this point I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment of the series.

Caliban’s War was simply a terrific sequel to an already very strong first book in a trilogy. I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed Leviathan Wakes, and I’m expecting the concluding volume, Abbadon’s Gate to keep the trend alive. As for Lot Beta and Storm Front, they were books recommended to me by my brother-in-law and co-worker. I realized they weren’t very long so I gave them a shot and wound up loving them.

As for the other four books, they were all decent enough, but they just didn’t impress me in particular. James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds was solid work, but in my opinion doesn’t live up to the same level as his first offering in the genre, The Maze Runner. The trouble I had with Allegiant isn’t that its a bad book, it’s actually the best of the trilogy it serves as the end for, but as a result of that, it sort of fails because the entire trilogy should have been written at that level, not just the final book.

With December already halfway done, and the holidays fast approaching I’m not sure how much more reading I’ll get through before the new year. I’m almost finished with The Daedalus Incident, and after that I’m hoping to get through the final four books in my “Waiting to be Read” pile: Abbadon’s Gate, On Writing, Promise of Blood, and Dragon Wing: The Death Gate Cycle. Two of those are quite short, the other two are around 500 pages in length. If I can get that list finished before New Year’s Day I’ll be sitting pretty having beaten last year’s books read and total pages read marks.

Looking Back at October 2013

October was a really, really good month for me in regards to getting books read. I may not have enjoyed all the books I read, but I finished 10 books in the month again for the first time in a long time, which makes me pretty happy. I read some older books, some long books, some short books, some bad books, and some brand new books that blew my mind. It feels really good to be back on the reading horse so-to-speak after having several months where I felt like it was a bit of a chore.

I even managed to reach 70 total books read for 2013 by having such a great month and now I get to see how far I can push that number by the end of the year. If I were to get 10 more books in November and December respectively I’d be at 90 which is a pretty big number if you ask me.

So, here are the books I read in October:

My favorite book of the month was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. She did some amazing things with gender assignments regarding the characters and told a very vibrant story that had me racing to finish the book. I’d heard lots of great things about Ancillary Justice for weeks before I started reading it and I’m a little disappointed I didn’t pick it up earlier because it was so good. Parasite, which I just finished last night, was also really good. I’m glad Mira Grant has a new novel out and I’m excited to see where she ultimately winds up taking things with this new story. Although, part of me wishes she would write another book in the same world as her Newsflesh trilogy again. I loved those books so much.

Getting a chance to finally see what Dragonlance was all about was a lot of fun. There are some fun characters in Dragons of Autumn Twilight and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting that world again soon. Shattered Soul left me with a really bad taste in my mouth, but I’m not going to discuss my issues with it in this post. There are a lot of things I want to say about it but I need to decide how I want to say them first. Suffice it to say that I don’t recommend the book to anyone.

Coming up in November I’ve got some really good books I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. A co-worker wants me to try my hand at a Dresden Files book or two, I’ve got Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate to read, and I’ve got the last few David Dalglish novels I haven’t read yet on deck as well. My goal is to get another 10 books read, but the holiday season is approaching fast so we’ll see if I can hit that goal or not. Ultimately, I’d like my Kindle to be 100% empty by January 1st if I can manage it just to say I did it.

February 2013 in Review

It’s been a busy year for me so far with reading. At the end of February I’ve reached 20 books completed so far for the year, 8 of those in February. I was really all over the place with my book selections this month for some reason. I had a couple by a favorite author, one for the work book club, a short one sent to me by an author, one I was anxiously awaiting to be released, and an old favorite.

Here’s the comprehensive list of the books I finished in February:

I think I was most impressed by The Unincorporated Man and by Scarlet as the two best ones that I read this month, but as always Starfighters of Adumar will continue to be one of my favorite books of all time. The concepts in The Unincorporated Man were really very interesting to me despite the fact that the writing was a bit stiff most of the time. Scarlet was simply a superb follow-up to Marissa Meyer’s great book, Cinder.

The book that gave me the most difficult time was Lotto’s Super-Awesome Unbelievable Park Adventure because I had a really hard time deciding if I liked it or not. To be honest I’m still not really sure my end decision on that and need to figure it out before I finish writing the review for later this month. I think the difficulty I had with that book comes from having a hard time getting into the right mindset to read it as it was meant to be interpreted by its intended audience.

Throne of Glass was more enjoyable than I felt I should have found it as a grown man. I have no problem admitting that I will likely read whatever sequel eventually arrives.