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 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.

Book Review: “The Trilisk Revolution” by Michael McCloskey

The Trilisk RevolutionI’ve had a really good time reading the first four books of the Parker Interstellar Travels series by Michael McCloskey. However, The Trilisk Revolution sort of fell apart at the seams for me. I understood what the author was trying to do with the book, especially with bringing all of the characters back home to Earth. It was inevitable that they had to return at some point and it might as well be because the Trilisks have managed to infiltrate the entire upper power structure of the ruling government.

The hardest thing for me to deal with in The Trilisk Revolution was how all of the characters are now officially duplicates of themselves using the Trilisk columns that Shiny has set up and I felt like that really took a lot of the gravity away from the situation. It felt a little like there was no cost for the group of them at this point because they were not really putting themselves at risk. There needs to be an appropriate amount of risk for me to believe that characters have something to lose.

I did enjoy how the crew of the Clacker, especially Telisa, had a plan to take down all of the Trilisk infiltrators in one fell swoop with a coordinated, well-timed attack across the entire planet in order to prevent any Trilisks from escaping. The book did still tell a decent enough story, but at just under 200 pages, it felt like the story was rushed and incomplete. None of the books in this series have been particularly long, but this one really would have benefited from another 75 pages or so of extra content.

Of more import than anything during the course of the book was how Shiny so suddenly turns his back on his human friends. Granted, I’m not sure he ever considered them his actual friends, and I was fairly certain that he was going to betray them at some point, but I wasn’t sure it would be so quickly after the end of the fourth book. I did hear from the author after writing my review of The Trilisk Hunt and discovered that The Trilisk Revolution is not actually the end of the series, but that it will be continuing with another book sometime in the next few months. That makes me happy because I don’t want my last experience with what has been a fun series to be a bit of a letdown.

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Book Review: “The Trilisk Hunt” by Michael McCloskey

The Trilisk HuntFollowing the events of The Trilisk Supersedure it becomes clear to Telisa and Magnus that if they want to properly track down the Trilisk that ran away from them that they are going to need a bigger team because just the two of them supplemented by Shiny just isn’t going to be enough firepower to make things happen. In The Trilisk Hunt, they use their cover corporation of Parker Interstellar Travels to recruit several new members to their team in hopes that the right complement of skills will let them take the Trilisk down once they have found it again.

The new crew members on board the Clacker (Magnus and Telisa’s ship) are Caden, a virtual combat champion; Imanol, a mercenary; Maxsym, a xenobiologist; and Siobhan, a mechanical engineer and adrenaline junkie. All of them are required to undergo a gamut of training at the hands of Magnus and Telisa, training specifically designed to help equip them in combatting the Trilisk if they do manage to confront it once more. One of the best part about the training is that none of them have any idea about Shiny until they reach a certain point, and once his involvement is revealed all of them accept it with varying degrees of comfort. Some of them have no problem with Shiny while some of them really aren’t so sure about him, much like Magnus continues to have his own doubts.

One thing that changes the dynamic of the mission is that Shiny has devised a way for the crew members to create enhanced versions of themselves they can use in combat without having to put their original bodies in harm’s way. They can be stronger, faster, anything they need, but then they have to sync their memories back up with their original selves so that they don’t become two separate consciousness. Once they manage to find the Trilisk they take these new bodies into combat and try to capture it, but that does not go well when they realize that the Trilisk tubes that Shiny uses to make their new bodies have a built-in failsafe so that a Trilisk can override the bodies at any time. That means the crew has to go after the Trilisk a second time, but without their enhancements.

The end result is the Trilisks still escaping and several members of the crew winding up dead from the mission. Telisa also discovers that the Trilisks are heading to Earth in order to use humanity as a tool to bring about the resurrection of the Trilisk race. The fallout from the mission leaves Telisa is a rather fragile place psychologically and some of the other crew members wondering if they really want to continue with what they were recruited to do.

The Trilisk Hunt was a fairly decent entry into this series, but I did feel a little bit like the ending tied itself off a little too fast. The development of the new characters was strong as they were added to the cast, but in the closing pages of the book I felt like something was missing and that things were left a little too open-ended. I have one more book to go to finish the series, so we’ll see how things shape up in the end.

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Book Review: “The Trilisk Supersedure” by Michael McCloskey

The Trilisk SupersedureIn the third book of the Parker Interstellar Travels series, Michael McCloskey keeps the action moving by having Magnus, Telisa, Shiny, and their newest recruit Cilreth moving on to the next world they’ve discovered with Trilisk artifacts and ruins to explore. The Trilisk Supersedure continues the trend of these books being short, compact, and well-paced so that the reader can pick them up, dive right in, and possibly even finish things all in one sitting. I continue to think that there are not enough books that fill that criteria in mainstream science fiction these days.

My biggest question about this book was how Cilreth was going to mesh with the already strong trio of Telisa, Magnus, and Shiny. It’s been established that Shiny has something of his own agenda but is willing to remain with the humans for the time being. Telisa and Magnus are involved both as business partners and emotional partners, and they have been through a lot as a team. Adding a new element, another female no less, had me wondering if some sort of love triangle was going to make an appearance. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and Cilreth had her moments to shine as she bails Telisa out of a couple tight spots and shows her usefulness to Shiny along the way as well.

Two very interesting things happen in this book that did not happen in the previous two books in the series. First, the group of explorers runs into another sizable human force which turns out to be a remnant group of the Unified Earth Defiance that the UN Space Force had defeated years earlier. This group of UED soldiers had been hiding out on the planet that Telisa, Magnus, and Shiny choose to explore next and they have been dealing with a very aggressive and dangerous alien life form that has slowly whittled the group down soldier by soldier over time. Telisa and Magnus know nothing about this alien when they land on the surface and that causes all sorts of problems.

The second big thing to happen in The Trilisk Supersedure is that Telisa, Magnus, and Shiny encounter a living Trilisk for the very first time. Nobody had any idea if they were still a living race, but it turns out they are still around and Telisa gets a first hand look at how the Trilisks “supercede” themselves into the bodies of other life forms in order to accomplish their goals. Telisa spends a bit of time with her consciousness transferred into one of the aliens and the Trilisks manage to escape the planet by transferring themselves into an escaping UED soldier that manages to make it off the planet when all is said and done, leaving Telisa, Magnus, and Shiny to give chase.

I liked how The Trilisk Supersedure took a few moments to dig a little deeper into the character development of Telisa, Magnus, and Cilreth. They become a little better as characters with each subsequent chapter. Shiny is his usual wonderful self whom I still wish had more actual screen time than he gets.

There are two books remaining for me to read in the Parker Interstellar Travels series and I intend to get to them sooner rather than later because I don’t want to leave the series unfinished long-term. I’d rather finish it up and see where things take me.

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