Looking Back at August 2014

I knew going into August that it was going to be a very busy month outside of reading and blogging, so I have to say I’m rather proud of myself for still getting seven books read at the same time I was starting a new job with not nearly as much downtime during the day and moving into a new house. I really wish I could have gotten all ten books on my list for the month finished, but it just wasn’t meant to be I think. Without the new job and the move I probably would have pulled it off, but it is what it is and I’ll spread those three books into the remaining four months of the year.

Here are the things I read during August:

My favorite book of the month was Lock In, followed closely by The Circuit: Executor Rising. I also felt like Hounded was a really interesting book and I’m interested in continuing that series at some point in the future. I really feel like Lock In is doing something new and interesting with the genre while at the same time calling attention to some compelling social commentary that often goes unnoticed in the background of everything else society thinks to talk about. The Circuit: Executor Rising hearkens very closely to my love of The Expanse series, and so it hit me in just the right spot at the beginning of the month.

Anthem’s Fall was decent, but still a bit rough round the edges and a little too reliant on some typical cliches and plot tropes. I will likely read the sequel because I think the author has some potential and he gave a few glimpses into an interesting world he didn’t quite reveal with the first book. The Trilisk AI is the sequel to a book I read earlier this year and I also found it to be engaging and fun, if not anything overly unique. There is a special place in my heart for books that tell a fun tale without getting too fancy about things from time to time. I bought the remaining three books in the series to keep on hand for when I want something light and fun over an afternoon or lazy evening.

Blood Moon and Black Moon were the real curveballs for me this month. I was asked by the publisher to review Black Moon for it’s impending release in a couple of weeks, which meant I needed to read Blood Moon first so I wouldn’t be lost in the story by starting with the second book. These books fit into a relatively new genre space known as “new adult” and they definitely sit on the fringes of my reading habits. However, Teri Harman does a few interesting things with them and her characters are all very grounded and real, so I think I’ll probably read the final volume in the trilogy when it comes out.

At the moment I’ve completed 61 books out of my 100 book goal. I’m still behind pace by about six books, give or take, which means in order to hit the mark I’m really going to need to buckle down and make up some ground. I may even need to see if I can convince my wife to let me take a Saturday or two and shut myself off from the world to push my way through two or three shorter books all in one day and make up some ground accordingly. If I don’t make it all the way to 100 I still think I’ll easily beat last year’s mark of 84 books read, which is impressive in its own right.

Looking forward to September, I’ve got some good books on deck. One of the highlights is the first new book in the official Star Wars canon reboot, Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. I’m also excited to read Sarah J. Maas’ newest installment to the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire. There are a total of 9 books on my list for September, and now that I’m settled into the new job and the move is complete my hopes are high I can get all 9 finished and maybe sneak in an extra.

Blog Tour and Book Review: “Black Moon” by Teri Harman

Black Moon Tour BannerTitle: Black Moon
Author: Teri Harman
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Length: 416 pages

Obtained: The publisher provided me with an advance copy for review.

The Plot: Following the events of Blood Moon the characters of Willa and Simon are spending a lot of their free time training as hard as possible to pass the first test to becoming a True Witch. The Covenant they have joined have taken up residence in Twelve Acres so that they can all be close together as Willa and Simon continue realizing their full potential.

The trouble is that Simon is plagued by nightmares and other secrets he either doesn’t know the truth about or that he doesn’t want to share with Willa. On the other hand, Willa has been delving deeper and deeper into the mystery that is Simon and his multiple schools of magic when other witches are only gifted with a single school. The answers she uncovers are startling and reveal that Simon may have a destiny much more grand than anyone in the Covenant had dared to imagine in the short time they have all been together.

Meanwhile, Archard, the Dark witch from Blood Moon is not as dead as everyone had hoped and he’s delving into some twisted, dark, and intensely powerful magic from the old teachings of Bartholomew the Dark, the last Dark witch to successfully form a Dark Covenant, the same one that brought about what the common folk know as the Dark Ages.

The Commentary: After my reading of Blood Moon, the first book in The Moonlight Trilogy, I was on the fence about whether or not I really wanted to continue with the second book. These books are treading ground in the very new genre of “New Adult” and it sits far to the side of my usual reading habits. However, the publisher very kindly asked me to review the book and a longtime friend of mine happens to be the editor for these books as well. Thankfully, my friend was able to tell me my misgivings about Blood Moon were something that I would not have with Black Moon if I just sat down and got to reading.

As it turns out, he was completely right.

My biggest misgiving previously was feeling that the Light witches had no real sense of danger surrounding them. It felt like it was a forgone conclusion that they were going to win and none of them were going to come to any harm. In Black Moon all of that changes. The danger the Light Covenant faces is much more real and the consequences of their actions are not always immediately apparent. With that out of the way, the book really slid into place for me and I was able to get into the story much more thoroughly than before.

I was also very impressed with Black Moon’s treatment of the relationship between Simon and Willa. In the first book it was immediately established that they are soul mates, but relationships in real life are a lot more complicated than that even if you have found the person you want to be with for the rest of your life. Teri Harman does an amazing job making sure that Simon and Willa aren’t just love-struck, star-crossed lovers. They may only be around twenty years old, but they are mature enough to realize that they don’t actually know everything about each other; that they will actually have to sit down and talk about things instead of just taking each other’s actions for granted because they are in love.

Most authors aren’t willing to have their two characters have a big fight and let it simmer for a while. They all want an immediate makeup scene. Teri Harman is willing to let Simon and Willa be mad at each other. She’s willing to let them act like people do in real life where they get pissed off and have to leave the house for an hour or two to calm down before coming back and still being angry, but finally calm enough to talk about things. It’s a very fresh change of pace compared to most relationships in books.

There is a pretty big plot twist toward the end of Black Moon that I had figured out around the halfway point, but while I may have had the twist figured out, I absolutely did not have the person it was going to happen to figured out. That spun me for a loop and I have to give props to Teri Harman for taking me by surprise. I pride myself on my ability to pick up on foreshadowing and other similar things rather well, so pulling a fast one on me is always impressive.

Worth It? Yes. If you have read Blood Moon, the first book of the trilogy, you will certainly want to read this one because it continues the story in a very satisfying fashion. If you haven’t read the first book, you could probably still pick up Black Moon and not find yourself too lost because the author does a good job of keeping the reader up to speed. Black Moon is carving into new ground genre-wise, so it might be a little different from what the average YA reader is expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing, I promise.

Left Me Wanting… Just a little bit more action. The very fresh genre of “new adult” is something that sits on the fringes of my typical reading tastes, and I understand why Black Moon isn’t packed with action like my typical fare, but I felt the story lent itself to just a little bit more. Black Moon does have much more action than Blood Moon, and that made me happy, but it still fell just a tiny bit short of the perfect amount in my opinion.

The Book:   Amazon   |   Goodreads
The Author:   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Author’s Website

Want a chance at a free copy of Black Moon to read for yourself? Head on over to the Rafflecopter Giveaway the publisher is hosting and see if you can get lucky!