Looking Back at October 2014

At the beginning of October I wrote a post regarding whether or not I would actually manage to read 100 books this year like I wanted. I mention in that post about October needing to be the “make or break” month in the process because if I didn’t reach a certain threshold it would be very difficult to reach my goal. I took that thought to heart and really, really pushed myself hard to reach 85 books completed by the end of the month.

There was a stretch of October for about 10 days where I read a book a day, which is both amazing and disorienting at the same time. Over the course of the entire month I read 16 full-length novels as well as five issues of Bastion Magazine and two novellas. I suppose I could have traded the magazine issues and novellas for another two books, but I used the shorter works as a way to cleanse my palate between novels and as a way to bring the number of unread items on my Kindle back down to a reasonable level.

All in all, I managed to make up all the lost ground from earlier in the year when I had months where I didn’t meet my quota. I am not officially back on pace with 85 books completed, leaving me with 15 remaining to be read. That puts me in a very good place as I head into the last two months of the year. I’d like to get six or seven books finished before the World of Warcraft expansion on November 13th, and then another three or four finished in the last two weeks of the month. It would be wonderful if I could arrive at December 1st with only four or five books left to read and be stress free with the goal.

Here are the books I read in October:

Here is the list of short fiction I read in October:

As you can see, that list is enormous compared to the lists from all the previous months in 2014. It did help that I chose books I was almost guaranteed to enjoy for the entire month, which meant none of them turned into a big drag that lost me time. I also focused on catching up with and/or finishing series so I don’t have so many left open-ended.

I think my favorites for the month were the Shadow Ops books by Myke Cole, and the two books by Marko Kloos: Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure. Of course, I also very much enjoyed Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie as it’s a wonderful follow-up to the first book in that trilogy. And, while I have not “caught up” with the entire series of The Dresden Files, I am now at least halfway through after finishing all the books I had purchased via a Kindle Daily Deal a few months ago.

Steampunk is a sub-genre that fascinates me, but I haven’t found the time to read. The two Romulus Buckle books were wonderfully written and very vibrant in their world building and characters. I’ve had those books sitting on my Kindle for nearly a year and decided it was high time I got them read. I’m glad I did because they were spectacular. I hear the third book is due out sometime in the first few months of 2015. I’ll be sure to grab it.

For November I have some good stuff on deck. There is the second of the new Star Wars canon being released, as well as the final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, both of which I’ll be reading immediately when they load onto my Kindle. There is also the second book of a series about superheroes from a self-published author I’m looking forward to diving into and then I’ll be walking back into the Dragonlance books I exposed myself to earlier this year to try and make some progress on catching up.

Reading List: Ron Carter and George Mann

My reading list is a perpetual work in progress because there are so many books I’ve read in the past that I think others should know about and there are so many books I’ve always wanted to read but never have. Over time this list will continue to grow bit by bit in order to provide the widest range of options for someone looking to find something worth taking the time to read.

Today I’ve added the following to the Reading List:

RON CARTER – PRELUDE TO GLORY
Our Sacred Honor
Times That Try Men’s Souls
To Decide Our Destiny
Hand of Providence
A Cold Bleak Hill
The World Turned Upside Down
The Impending Storm
A More Perfect Union

GEORGE MANN – NEWBURY & HOBBES INVESTIGATIONS
The Affinity Bridge •
The Osiris Ritual
The Immortality Engine

I recently finished The Affinity Bridge by George Mann as my first foray into the steampunk genre and I was fairly impressed. I liked how the books were a fresh sort of spin on the traditional Sherlock Holmes story. So, it and the rest of the books set in the same world are now on the list to read in the future.

As for the Prelude to Glory books, I remember reading the very first one many, many years ago and thinking it was pretty cool. The books are historical fiction relating to the Revolutionary War and deal with the idea that there was some sort of divine power involved in all the things happening the way they did to bring America to its independence. I think the idea behind that is pretty interesting and the author writes them in a fashion that makes it clear he isn’t following any sort of specific religious tenet. It’s simply a generalized “something of a higher power may be influenced these events, and here’s how I think it might have gone down” sort of thing.

Historical fiction is a genre that I’m starting to find more interest in and since I had already read the first book I thought it might be a decent place to jump back in at some point if I need a change of pace.

Book Review: “The Affinity Bridge” by George Mann

Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.

Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his delectable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes, do battle with enemies of the crown, physical and supernatural. This time Newbury and Hobbes are called to investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot, while attempting to solve a string of strangulations attributed to a mysterious glowing policeman, and dealing with a zombie plague that is ravaging the slums of the capital.

Have you ever read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories? Did you like them?

Would you still like them if Sherlock Holmes was a morphine addict, Watson was actually an attractive young woman, and they traveled around on steam carriages? What about if they had to deal with killer robots and the occasional strange zombie attack while trying to solve their latest case?

Even more importantly, what if Watson might be some kind of governmental mole?

Yep, that’s The Affinity Bridge for you, and it was simply a lot of fun to read. George Mann writes in a very brisk, refreshing style and he moves the reader through the text very swiftly. While reading I could easily see the points where Mann probably made the decision to leave things to the imagination of the reader and while I found myself wishing there were more to read I also liked trying to figure things out in my own mind as well.

The Affinity Bridge is considered to be a steampunk novel, but I get the impression that it is steampunk in a very low-level sort of way; a great book for introducing someone to the idea of steampunk if they’ve never read it before.

The Holmes and Watson characters are played by Newbury and Hobbes in this book and Mann does an excellent job of keeping true to some of the traditional traits people have grown to love with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson alive in these new characters while at the same time adding a few new personality quirks as well.

I read The Affinity Bridge on the recommendation of a co-worker after we got talking about how I wasn’t sure where to start in the expansive steampunk genre and I’m glad I listened to the recommendation.

The Affinity Bridge does have a few plot holes and I do have a couple of concerns about the characters and their development, but I would still recommend this book to everyone. The story is fun, quick, and engaging and if you are looking to take a break and try a new genre this might be just the sort of book you are looking for.

There are at least two more books that George Mann has written with these characters and I think I’ll enjoy them quite a bit when I find the time to fit them into my reading schedule.

Grade: C
Length: 340 pages

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50/2012 July Update

July was the month where I decided to make my way through some trilogies instead of reading all stand-alone novels. I finished one trilogy and got two out of three from the second one, but I also snuck in a couple of other books as well. Namely I gave steampunk a try for the first time and then tried out a debut author in Ernest Cline. I have to say that July was a very enjoyable reading month for me, another solid one in terms of book quality across the board.

The books I finished in July:

Also, I did read one novella that I’m not counting towards the goal:

With the end of July I’m not at 76% of my goal to read 50 books. I can now say that I’m confident I’m going to shatter that goal by a very large margin. It’s starting to look like 50 was probably far too conservative and next year I’ll have to aim for something a little more challenging.

The books I enjoyed most in July were the Newsflesh books by Mira Grant. They kept me reading very late into the night on several occasions and I’m very glad that all three of them were available and I didn’t have to wait for the conclusion to be published. That would have been horrible. I even quite liked the prequel novella that the author added to the universe to give some more background on the virus that is featured so heavily in the books.

August is going to be my month to go back to reading bigger books. I’m currently about a fourth of the way through Leviathan Wakes and intend to finish it, plus its follow-up Caliban’s War in August. I also want to finish my re-read of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, another big book of over 1,000 pages. If I finish those three and find time for more I think I’ll take a look at Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and perhaps delve into a little more steampunk via the work of Scott Westerfield.

Up Next: “The Affinity Bridge” by George Mann

I was telling a co-worker a couple of days ago that I was thinking about giving the steampunk genre a try in the near future because it seemed like a good fit for someone who likes science fiction and fantasy books. He recommended that I give The Affinity Bridge a try because it isn’t too long and is pretty indicative of the genre.

So, here I am having decided to give it a quick go instead of jumping straight into the next N.K. Jemisin book in The Inheritance Trilogy. Also, look at the cover art, isn’t it amazing? I don’t pay a lot of attention to cover art these days because I read everything on my Kindle, but this art is pretty awesome if you ask me.