Looking Back at July 2014

I’m still playing a little bit of catch-up with the blog as I wind down my time at my current job (today is my last day) and prepare for my new job (Monday is my first day), but at least this time the monthly recap is only about a week late instead of an entire month late. Progress is progress I suppose.

July as an interesting month of reading for me. I read an entire trilogy from start to finish without anything in between, read the final two books of another trilogy, read what I believe to be a standalone novel (but I’m not entirely sure), and started a new series by an author I’ve heard lots of great things about over the past few months. On top of all that, I got to enjoy the latest installment of The Expanse, which I had been waiting a long time to pick up.

In no particular order, here are the books I read in July:

My interest in the books by Alex J. Cavanaugh came from a conversation with an editor friend of mine who said he had read the first one and wanted to know what I thought. CassaStar is not particularly long, so I gave it a shot over a Saturday afternoon and it grabbed me enough I went ahead and read the other two over the remainder of the weekend. I liked what the author was doing with the books, although they are still a little rough around the edges. I could see his improvement though, so I’d give another endeavor of his a fair shot in the future.

Born of Hatred and With Silent Screams are the second and third books of The Hellequin Chronicles, and I had read the first book a few months ago. I found that first book to be rather engaging and there was something about the main character that just kept eating at the back of my mind, so I read these two books to try to find the answer I was looking for. It took a while, but about three-quarters of the way through Born of Hatred I got the answer, and then continued on with my enjoyment of the trilogy. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if Steve McHugh has any new material forthcoming.

The books by Myke Cole and Michael R. Underwood came from following my favorite authors on Twitter and seeing them talk about those two authors an awful lot, so I went out and got a couple of books to try. Shadow Ops: Control Point was much different from I was expecting and had me hooked from the first page. Shield and Crocus can best be described as “The Avengers you never knew you wanted to read about.”

And, of course, I absolutely loved Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey. It was recently announced that The Expanse has been extended into at least three more books in the coming years, one per summer (which is perfect), and I’m hoping it doesn’t start there. I hope I’m still reading new books in The Expanse series when I’m 50 years old.

As for August, I’m blatantly focusing on books closer to 300 pages more than anything else. I’m starting a new job, moving into a new home, and in general still making a lot of adjustments to my everyday life, so reading time is going to be at a premium. I think if I focus on the shorter books I have available to myself I can still finish eight or nine before the end of the month and keep my pace for the 100 books read this year goal.

Looking Back at June 2014

I’m aware that this recap of the books I read during June is literally a month late as of right now, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I mentioned in my post at the beginning of July that things were going to be a little slow around here for a few months while some other things got sorted out and taken care of, so I suppose this is the verifiable proof.

However, I did read books in June, and some of them were magnificent. I did not quite get caught up all the way to 50 finished books by June 30th like I wanted, but I got to 47 for the halfway point of the year and I think I can make that up in the final six months. There is still hope for my goal of reading 100 books this year! There is still hope I say!

In no particular order, here are the books I read in June:

A couple of other shorter works I also read in June:

I really hit the jackpot in June because I was reading only 2 books I was confident were not going to let me down. The rest of them were all gambles to a certain extent, but only one of them left me feeling disappointed. City of Heavenly Fire is the concluding volume for The Mortal Instruments series and as such I was expecting some serious fireworks both from the characters and the plot. As it turns out, the book had a rather mopey feel to it and by the end of the much too long 725 pages I felt really unfulfilled. I’m glad I stuck with it so I can have finished the entire series and tie it off with a bow, but it wasn’t the same as the previous books, not by a long shot. I think the author was already mentally moving on to other projects before she finished City of Heavenly Fire.

My absolute favorite book of the month was The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir. I only grabbed a copy because other authors on my Twitter feed were raving about how good it is and I figured I should jump on that bandwagon sooner or later. The book is fantastic! I’ve been recommending it to anyone who will listen because while it might be a science fiction novel it appeals to a much broader audience than that. There is a little something for everyone.

Everything else from June was wonderful as well. Defenders was a wonderful discovery of mine that I’ve been recommending a lot as well. The Crimson Campaign left be desperate for the final volume of the Powder Mage trilogy. Prince of Fools was as good or better than Mark Lawrence’s award-winning Broken Empire books. Trilisk Ruins and Fool Moon were wonderful reads as well as they helped me break up the monotony of reading longer books. I heartily recommend basically everything on this list as something worth reading if you were on the fence about any of the titles previously. Give them all a shot, you won’t regret it.

In other news, I continue to do rather terribly at not starting new trilogies and/or series. I have been tying a few off as I either catch up to the current installments (and am now waiting for the next installment to be published) or finish them off entirely, but I’m also starting up new ones willy-nilly. I imagine it will never not be a problem for me to be honest.

For July I have another good lineup I think I’m going to enjoy. Some new authors, some established favorites, and a few choices I really have no idea what to expect from. July should be another quality month, I’m fairly certain of it.

Book Review: “The Enceladus Crisis” by Michael J. Martinez

The Enceladus CrisisTitle: The Enceladus Crisis
Author: Michael J. Martinez
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Length: 320 pages

Obtained: I bought my copy from Amazon.

The Plot: Shaila Jain is back once more, this time as a leading part of the first manned mission to Saturn in an attempt to secure control of the planet’s resource rich moon, Titan. Along the way she runs into complications due to a competing Chinese ship that makes a reckless approach to the moon, causing Jain’s ship to redirect a secondary objective, the moon Enceladus. It’s not surprising that when Jain and her crew arrive at Enceladus things start to get a little crazy and they uncover a number of strange things happening beneath the moon’s surface.

For Thomas Weatherby it has been nearly two decades since his adventures took him on a fateful trip to Mars where he crossed paths with Shaila Jain and her team of researchers, and now he’s in command of a front-line warship, the Fortitude. He assists the navy in destroying a French fleet at the Nile, but then must give chase to an escaping French vessel that leads him to Saturn and an encounter with the mysterious and powerful race known as the Xan, a race he has encountered before.

While everything else is going on Andrew Finch has found a way to embed himself in a small group of Napoleon’s forces and finds himself discovering a very startling reason for the French to be invading Egypt in the first place.

The Commentary: I’ll be honest, it was going to take a powerful act of ineptitude for me not to like this book. It’s predecessor, The Daedalus Incident was one of the best books I read last year and I waited very anxiously for The Enceladus Crisis to be released. Everything about what Michael J. Martinez is doing with these books delights me, and this second book in the series was no disappointment.

The depth of the characters, especially Finch, Weatherby, and Jain is expanded by a significant measure in The Enceladus Crisis. They have all been given a little more back story to flesh out their pasts, they have all been given some relationship entanglements that keep them believable and honest, and they have all been distinctly marked by what happened in the first book. Marked in ways that directly impacts the kind of decisions they make when presented with the challenges in this book. It was great to see that kind of growth as it’s not uncommon for authors to forget those subtleties sometimes.

To my disappointment, Weatherby and Jain are never in the same room together, although they do think of one another at times. I had hoped for some more banter between the two of them during the action scenes, but alas, it was not meant to be, for now at least. I’m still holding out hope that the two of them will cross paths in future books and get to banter once more.

Martinez is building a very large universe for these characters to explore. In the first book the menace was somewhat specific, they had a specific bad guy to fight off, with a specific resolution. In The Enceladus Crisis, that is not the case. There are entities on multiple fronts that can cause harm to space and time, all of which will need their own solutions. I like this. It speaks to the idea that there is much more going on that can be exposed to the reader in future books, and perhaps speaks to the idea that there are more than just one or two books left to be read.

Needs More: Crossover between the timelines. In the first book, The Daedalus Incident, several key characters wound up occupying the same space on Mars for a little while as their respective timelines merged into one. That doesn’t quite happen with The Enceladus Crisis, although it does come rather close in spots.

Needs Less: Nothing. I may be suffering from clouded judgment due to being a bit of a fanboy when it comes to these books, but at no time while reading did I think to myself, “Man, I wish this would stop happening so much.” Take that for what you will.

Worth It? Good heavens, yes! If you’ve read The Daedalus Incident then you obviously need to read The Enceladus Crisis to see where the story goes next. This is a fantastic book and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Audible   |   Goodreads

Looking Back at April 2014

Another month, another look back at how my last month of reading went. April was a pretty busy month for me personally as I made trips to Denver and Los Angeles to see family for various reasons, but thanks to a couple of plane rides, I still managed to stay on pace towards my 100 books read in the year goal. This month I had a book to read provided by a publisher, the chance to finally finish one of my incomplete series, a couple of unknown authors, and a couple novels by a favorite.

The list of books I finished in April:

Somewhat surprisingly, Fortune’s Pawn was probably my favorite book of the month. I love all of the books in The Seafort Saga, but Fortune’s Pawn was an awful fun time while I was reading it. I think I really had been starved for some light-hearted sci-fi action and didn’t really know it. The same could be said for Crimes Against Magic, it was good fun, exciting characters, and off the beaten path for me personally. Looking back on the month, I have to say none of the books were disappointing, which isn’t always the case. Usually I have one or maybe two that really didn’t do it for me, but not this time.

I was really happy that I managed to finish the final books of The Seafort Saga after so long of trying to get that series completed. Those books might not be for everyone, but I really liked them a lot, and now I can say I’ve read them, and that I’ve finished off one of the bigger uncompleted series on my list. It’s all smooth sailing from here now, right?

Up Next: “Fortune’s Pawn” by Rachel Bach

Fortune's PawnYou know what is a little bit funny? I really do not remember how I wound up owning a copy of this book. I am glad I do have a copy because I saw an article the other day about the book and it drew my interest enough to bump it into this month’s reading list, but I do not remember buying it. I guess it must have been a spur of the moment purchase on a Kindle Daily Deal or some other sale.

Regardless, I’m excited to give this book a try and if I like it I’ll have to add the other ones in its series to my list as well. I have not read a book with a good female lead in a few months so I’m hoping this one might be just the ticket to fill that void for a little bit. If so, then the other books will definitely get bought I think.

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle./blockquote>