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.

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Looking Back at 2013

For the past two days I’ve been writing about my personal reading goals and the blogging goals I’ll be working on for 2014. Now, three days into the new year it’s time to take one last look back at 2013 and how things went. I sort of fell off the band wagon a bit in the second half of the year, really losing a lot of steam in regards to how often I was publishing new posts, especially book reviews. But, 2014 should be better.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the last few books I finished before the new year. The weeks of the year saw me driving my way through six pieces of literature, just narrowly surpassing my total pages read mark from last year. They were:

The Daedalus Incident was an absolutely spectacular debut for Michael J. Martinez, so much so that I’ve added him to my “must read” list already. He took some amazing chances with his storytelling and put together a tale that is unlike anything I’ve seen. Abaddon’s Gate was a wonderful installment to the continuing story that is The Expanse and I can’t wait for the next book in a few months.

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft gave me a lot of motivation and hope for my own fledgling writing dreams and I’m hoping I can incorporate some of the insights and lessons I took from it into my routines this year at some point. The other three items on the list were all short stories written by the authors to add a bit of depth to the universes they exist in between the most recently released books and the upcoming ones. I enjoyed all three of them immensely. It was a good month of reading for me in the realm of quality writing.

As far as reading statistics go, here are a couple that might be interesting:

  • Total Books Read: 84
  • Total Pages Read: 31,512
  • Average Book Length: 375 pages

I had sort of hoped I could get all the way to 100 books read, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I had to navigate my way through some unexpected circumstances during the middle of the year that took my focus away from blogging and put it elsewhere.

In the world of blogging statistics, 20four12 saw 7,600 unique visitors over the course of the year for an average of about 20-21 visitors per day. That’s not too bad, but I would like to see it be significantly higher by the time this new year is finished.

And, last but not least, let’s take a look at two lists. In reading 84 books and novellas over the course of the year it is inevitable that I would find some favorites and least favorites. Part of me thought I should only list my favorites, but then I decided I was interested in seeing if any of the ones on my least favorite list would incite some discussion. Maybe some of them are favorites to other people, or maybe even some of the books I considered my favorite from this year are hated by others. I always find that to be incredibly fascinating. In no particular order:

Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

Honorable Mention

Ten Least Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

I feel compelled to note that of the books listed in the least favorite category, I only find two of them to be absolutely atrocious, but I’m not going to tell you which ones. All of the others I just didn’t like as much as I wanted to, or they just simply were not my style when all was said and done. Take, The Great Gatsby for example. Widely considered to be a premier piece of fiction, I can’t stand it. It’s a matter of taste.

So, there you have it, a snapshot of my reading and blogging experiences from 2013. It was an interesting year for me as both a reader and as a blogger, but ultimately I feel like I did an okay job with both. Here’s to 2014 and making 20four12 really shine!

Looking Back at August 2013

Anyone who’s been paying attention has probably noticed a distinct lack of posting for the past month. The explanation is simple: I was burned out and didn’t want to post. All of the sudden I had found myself dreading the idea of reading a new book because it meant I had to write a new review. All the joy of reading was gone; it was suddenly an obligation for some reason, not something fun to do on the side. So, I stopped blogging for a little bit and just read a bunch of books instead.

Will I write any reviews for the books I read? I don’t know, but probably not. I needed a little time to recharge and take away the stress of blogging. I also did a lot of thinking about what I want 20four12 to be, but I’ll talk about that another day.

For now, in no particular order, here are the books I read in August:

As far as the books are concerned, by favorites were The Broken Empire trilogy (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns) along with Christian Cantrell’s Kingmaker. The trilogy was exceptionally written and I had to give serious credit to Mark Lawrence for having the guts to end his story where he did. It would have been so very easy for him to just keep the series going, but he made the tough decision to finish it off where it stood. As for Kingmaker, I just love Cantrell’s writing style. It’s hard science fiction that always manages to teach me something new. His books may not be for everyone, but I think they are a great change of pace from the science fiction norm these days.

I was not very impressed with the World of Warcraft novel, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King. It felt incredibly haphazard with its plot and like it was trying to do too many things at once and failing at all of them. For the time being I think I’ll just read the new novels attached to World of Warcraft rather than going backwards.

Moving forward into September I think I have a legitimate shot at finally finishing all the books on my Kindle right now. It includes a non-fiction book, another Stephen King novel, and the rest of the David Dalglish books I’ve yet to read as well as several others. If I can make it all the way through the stuff on my Kindle I’ll then be tackling the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan that I’ve borrowed from a friend. I’ve always wanted to read those and they should be fun.

Top 10 Tuesday: My Summer TBR List

I’m hoping that I have a lot more time to read this summer than I had this past spring. Life got a little crazy and left me with very little time to sit and read, especially since I don’t ride a train to and from work for an hour each direction anymore. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a list of books I desperately want to read before the leaves start to hit the pavement and the temperatures start to fall.

first-covers

Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
The second and third installments of The Expanse. I absolutely loved the first book because it was a breath of fresh air in a world full of very similar science fiction novels. The tag-team duo known as James S.A. Corey had me hanging on every word in the first book of the series, Leviathan Wakes. Besides, the titles are super-cool!

Empire State by Adam Christopher
I’ve had this book on my Kindle for months now and just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I’ve heard good things though, so I need to bite the bullet and get it done before long, otherwise I’ll just let it sit and wait forever.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
The first book in this trilogy, Prince of Thorns, both mesmerized and terrified me at the same time. I’m hoping that this follow-up does the same and more.

second-covers

Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde by Michael A. Stackpole
One of my favorite authors, mixed with my absolute favorite computer game, with the added bonus of focusing on my favorite in-game character? Oh yes, I’m definitely going to grab this one on release day.

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers
I’ve heard nothing but spectacular things about this book and I feel its time I finally got around to reading it to see what everyone is talking about.

Inferno by Dan Brown
The latest addition to the already popular franchise. I’ve read the previous three books that lead up to this one and at this point I don’t see a reason not to stay current when new additions are added to the pile.

third-covers

The Shadowdance Trilogy by David Dalglish
This is yet another prequel series to Dalglish’s Half-Orcs series that focuses on the backstory to one of the main characters from Half-Orcs. They should be quick and enjoyable for passing time during the summer months.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My Spring TBR List

It feels like I’ve always got about a million books sitting in the wings waiting for me to read them, but lately I’ve had to focus on a short list in order not to overwhelm myself trying to decide what I’m reading next. Here is my list of the next ten books I want to read as spring rolls around.

1. The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
The most recent installment in the series and so I figure I should make sure to stay current. This is one YA series that seems to do a fair number of things right in my opinion.

2. World War Z by Max Brooks
Lots of people have told me how good this book is and how far the movie is supposedly going to stray from the source material. I want to get it read before I go see the movie.

3. King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
The first book in the series, Prince of Thorns, was absolutely amazing and I’ve put off reading the sequel for far too long.

4. Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
Yet another sequel that I’m excited for as I really loved Leviathan Wakes. I expect it won’t disappoint.

5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Not that long ago I read my first Stephen King book and while it took me a little while to get on board it won me over in the end. For the office book club we chose 11/22/63 as our book for the month of March.

6. The Half-Orcs #6: The Prison of Angels by David Dalglish
The continuation of the Half-Orc series which I’ve enjoyed. It seems like David Dalglish has a very impressive idea in mind for where he wants to take all of his books. I’m certainly not going to get behind on the new pieces to the story if I can help it.

7. The Paladins #4: The Broken Pieces by David Dalglish
The first Dalglish books I read were The Paladins and I am excited to try the new installment which ties things into the other books really well from what I hear.

8. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
This is a book I want to read before the movie gets watched as well. The previews for the movie made me interested in the story but I am trying to read books before seeing their movies as much as possible nowadays.

9. The Dark Tower: Gunslinger by Stephen King
I’ve heard great things about The Dark Tower series and a co-worker lent me a copy of the first few books months ago. I need to get through a few of them at some point soon.

10. Breathe by Sarah Crossan
I honestly don’t know much about this book but it popped up on the Kindle Daily Deal a few weeks ago and looked interesting enough to take a chance on between some of the other stuff I’ve got on the list and see if it might be something I should stick with moving forward.