Hello my lovely readers! Many book bloggers are familiar with Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings’ two big reading challenges he runs every year. I often participate in the fall challenge for reading horror/thriller/mystery/etc… but I have never participated in the spring challenge for reading fantasy, because I used to think I don’t like fantasy. I’ve discovered that I’m wrong. I do like fantasy, just mainly urban fantasy and fantasies that are not set in a Medieval Europe style setting. So I thought that this year I would participate in Once Upon a Time IX!
Once Upon a Time IX focuses on reading books that fit into the categories of fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, or mythology between March 21st and June 21st. I’m signing up for the level called “The Journey.” Read at least one book in any of those categories. I’m hoping to read more than one but I was worried if I signed up for a higher level it would feel like too much pressure to me. My personal goal right now is three books.
Books I already own that fit the challenge are listed below. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if there’s one you’d particularly like to recommend to me from my list!
- Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
- Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
- Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
- Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham
- Fated by S. G. Browne
- A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
- The Nonborn King by Julian May
- Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos by H. P. Lovecraft
- Unshapely Things by Mark Del Franco
- The Veiled Mirror by Christine Frost
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
- The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Tomorrow marks the official end of Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings’ RIP Challenge, and since I know that I will not be finishing another read for the challenge, I decided to post my wrap-up today.
I got really into the reading challenge this year, as I’m sure you could tell from the influx of creepy books on my blog! Most of the books I read over the last two months fit into the parameters of the challenge, which is to read something sufficiently creepy in any of the following genres to set the tone for Halloween:
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.
I read a total of 10 books for the challenge. I’ll break the list down by rating for you all.
5 star reads
- A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine (review)
- Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (review)
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review)
4 star reads
- I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead by E. A. Aymar (review)
- Beverly Hills Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (review)
3 star reads
2 star reads
- Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker (review)
- Barely Breathing by Michael J. Kolinski (review)
- The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part One by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (review)
- Favorite read: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review)
- Least favorite read: Barely Breathing by Michael J. Kolinski (review)
- Most disturbing: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (review)
- Most amusing: Beverly Hills Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (review)
- Most unique: A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine (review)
- Biggest gross-out: From a Buick 8 by Stephen King (review)
Of these 10 reads, 3 were review copies and 3 fit into my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge. As for format, 4 were print, 4 were ebooks, and 2 were audiobooks. A nice distribution, I think!
The challenge really put me in the mood for Halloween. It maybe did too good of a job! I’m ready for some light-hearted romances now, people. Lol. The focused selection of reading materials really helped me take a good chunk out of my TBR pile, which I appreciated. Stay tuned in November for a return to the wide variety of reading you’ve come to expect here at Opinions of a Wolf!
Did you enjoy seeing me participate in the challenge? Did you participate in the challenge too? What was your favorite review I wrote for the challenge?
Hello my lovely readers!
The Little Red Reviewer, a blog I’ve followed since I started my own, had the brilliant idea to do a blind date with a book giveaway a few weeks ago. For those of you who don’t know, a blind date with a book is when a library/bookstore/person wraps a book up and puts a few clues about what the book might be about on the cover. The idea is that you’re matched by concepts instead of cover or blurb. I hadn’t seen this in giveaway form before, and I thought it was super brilliant of Redhead to use it for a print book giveaway. Imagine my delight when I won one of the books!
It arrived still wrapped, just as it had been pictured on her blog.
Since I knew I had won before Redhead mailed out the books (obviously, as I had to provide her my mailing address), I’d had weeks to wonder what book, exactly I was getting! You guys are lucky I manged to be patient enough to take a picture of the wrapped book before unwrapping it. :-P
Anyway, I unwrapped the book to reveal my mystery book date!
The book I won is Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan! Here’s the blurb from GoodReads:
Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but when faced with a terminal illness, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.
I have to admit, I’m pretty darn excited to read it. A time machine built in a garage? What appears like it might possibly be a retro future world? Yes, please!
Thanks to Redhead for hosting such an awesome giveaway! I might have to steal the idea in the future for one of my own. ;-)
Hello my lovely readers!
My, it’s been quite a busy summer for me, and August is always the busiest, as anyone who works in post-secondary academia will tell you. On top of students coming back to campus and teaching orientations, I also started a new project at work and took on more responsibility in another one. In my personal life, my partner and I threw our first party together, which was a smashing success, and I finished out the month with some vacation time to get to go to the track with him again, something that I always really enjoy. It makes me so happy to get to see him race and also camp out and be in sunbeams all day on top of it!
Two things I’ve discovered this month that I’d like to tell you about. The first is something you may have heard of, MyYogaPro. Basically MyYogaPro features videos done by Erin Motz (one of my favorite online yoga instructors). The videos both break down poses step-by-step for you and also feature full-length programs, organized for various goals (flexibility, power yoga, backbends), progressing from easy to advanced. Even better, you earn badges for completing videos, which makes it like achievements in a videogame but for doing something physical. You can register for lifetime access for only $45 right now. I know this sounds a bit like an ad, but no one asked me to talk about MyYogaPro. I chose to sign up for the account, and I’ve found it really has enhanced my yoga practice. I’m learning and progressing in a way I never have before with yoga. I’m quite passionate about how the website enhances home practice. If you’re into yoga, if you’ve dabbled your toes but never got serious, or if you’re brand-new to the concept, there’s something for everyone.
The second thing I’ve discovered that I’m really enjoying is an app called Gratitude 365. It gives you a notebook page every day to put down however many things from that day you want to that you are grateful for. It also lets you attach a photo to that day. You can password protect the app if you want. You can both view a snapshot of your last few days and a calendar of all your pictures. It also keeps track of how many days you’ve journaled for and your average number of gratitudes. A lot of people talk about how taking a moment to be thankful each day enhances mood and reduces stress and anxiety, but even if that’s not your goal, it’s a great little journaling app that is easy to use in the day-to-day.
In spite of being so busy this month, I still managed to read 5 books. I currently have a back-log of three book reviews, so they should keep coming at a steady pace. I also created a new cross-stitch pattern. The test stitch is completed, I just need to hoop it for the recipient and create the pdf pattern. Keep your eye out for it. It’s geeky!
My partner is always wonderfully supportive during my most stressful month of the year, and I honestly think his support is part of why I handled this August with as much relaxation tossed in as I managed to grab, whether that was sneaking in 10 minutes of yoga, journaling gratitude, going for walks together, laughing at old Twilight Zone episodes, or reading outside flopped on a blanket together. When I think about my August, I don’t just think about the stress, and that’s quite the gift.
Happy reading, everyone!
It’s time for the sixth giveaway of 2014 here at Opinions of a Wolf. Lots of the indie authors whose books I accepted for review in 2014 also were interested in me hosting a giveaway at the time of my review, so there will be plenty more coming up in the future too.
What You’ll Win: One ebook copy of The Running Game by L. E. Fitzpatrick.
How to Enter: Leave a comment on this post stating what is the first thing you would do with your powers if you were telepathic.
Who Can Enter: INTERNATIONAL
Contest Ends: August 26th. Two weeks from today!
Disclaimer: The winners will have their ebook sent to them by the author. The blogger is not responsible for sending the book. Void where prohibited by law.
Hello my lovely readers!
After the busyness of May, I was incredibly grateful to have a whole week off in the month of June! My bf only had half the week off, so at the start of the week I spring cleaned (umm….in June), made my favorite pie (strawberry-rhubarb), and got ready for our camping trip at the races. My bf’s hobby is racing motorcycles, and when he goes to the track, he camps there. Since I had the time off, I was able to go with him. I’m not able to go every time, unfortunately. I was so excited to get to be there! I love getting to see him race! It’s so exciting, and I love that his hobby is so unique and requires such a complex skill set, from actually riding to maintaining the bike. I also love camping and camping at the track is a wonderful different kind of camping. The excitement of being at the track and hanging out with the racers and their families and pit crews around the campfire at night is so much fun. My dad bought us a grill, so I was finally able to cook most of our foods at the track. I took to pinterest and discovered lots of fun things you can grill. I made us grilled tofu tacos, grilled quesadillas, breakfast of course, and, our favorite, zucchini parmesan. I loved getting to spend so much time on one of my hobbies while supporting my boyfriend’s.
With my vacation in there, I’m pleased with how many book reviews I managed to write this month (eight). I had dubbed June the month of reading ARCs, and I managed to get through four of them this month, taking my total number of TBR ARCs down to 16. I finished designing a new cross-stitch pattern, but I have yet to post it since it is a present, and the recipient has yet to receive it! This month I’ll be working on my first commission. I’m excited to show it to you guys when I’m finished.
Hello my lovely readers! You may have noticed the blog was a bit quieter than usual this month. That’s because I had my annual conference for work, and I extended my Memorial Day three day weekend into a five day one. The month was so incredibly full of both good and stressful busyness, I’m kind of amazed I managed to blog at all!
Every year for work I attend the Medical Library Association’s annual conference. This year the conference was in Chicago. I’d never been to Chicago before, and I made sure to make the most of my limited free-time to see the city! I walked through Millennium Park and got a selfie in the bean, went to American Girl Place on the Magnificent Mile (and bought a mini version of the Native American doll, Kaya), and went to Navy Pier. I also checked out the Chicago History Museum and got to see items that were melted in the Chicago Fire, such as marbles. I walked through Lincoln Park and went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where I got to hang out in a butterfly conservatory room. None landed on me, but I got some great pictures! My partner’s sister and her husband live in Chicago, so I went and had dinner with them at a Chicago style hot dog restaurant that actually had vegetarian hot dogs. Score! They also took me to see Lake Michigan, and I was blown away by how soft the sand is and how the lake is so large it looks like the ocean. I guess they don’t call them the Great Lakes for nothing! I know that sounds like a lot to squeeze into the amount of time I wasn’t at the conference, but I am the queen of getting a lot of sightseeing done in a short amount of time. I pre-plan, using Pinterest and its great maps feature, and plot out routes and timing so I can get everything in. Plus, in museums, I only check out the exhibits of greatest interest to me.
Of course, the main reason I was in Chicago was for work. I attended the conference, listening to many excellent plenary speakers, as well as presentations by various librarians and library students on their projects and papers, and networked with vendors at the opening event. This year I was an official blogger for the poster sessions. You can see my blog posts here. Our library director also took us all out for Chicago style deep dish pizza. While I enjoyed the deep dish pizza, it was a lot like lasagna without the pasta, I can’t imagine eating it more than a few times in my lifetime. I still prefer the thin crust brick oven or thick crust New England styles! When I got back to Boston, I taught a library skills class and presented a poster at an education event on my work’s campus. After all of that work, I took my five day Memorial Day weekend!
The reason I took the long weekend was because my bf and I wanted very much to attend Boston Calling, Boston’s live music festival. My favorite band, The Decemberists, and his favorite band, Built to Spill, were both playing, as was the band that sings our song, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The festival was Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s held in the center of Boston, at Government Center, on two stages. The architecture there is very brutalist, and the entry to the festival had signs up denoting male and female. We figured out later the signs were just telling you if the person doing the wanding was a man or a woman, it wasn’t intended to split up the crowd along gender lines, but the whole thing felt quite dystopian when we arrived and lent the concert a pretty damn cool vibe. I had such an incredibly wonderful time at the festival, I can barely put it into words. Hearing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sing our song live was stellar. I had seen The Decemberists once before, but not as up close as I got at this concert. It was raining when they came out, which, if you know their music, gave the performance such a perfect atmosphere. They sang both old and new songs, and it was just amazing. I also really enjoyed watching my partner’s favorite band, Built to Spill. They have amazing guitar skills, and their fans are of the cool head bob variety, so it was the perfectly chill performance for the sunny, relaxing day. When we weren’t at the concert, we went a long motorcycle ride and grilled for the first time this season. It was a great vacation!
Just because I’ve been busy doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. I finished seven books this month, three more than usual, but only managed to review two of them so far. Definitely be prepared for an onslaught of reviews in the next couple of weeks!
I was also too busy for stitching most of the month. I would have stitched on my trip to Chicago, but fellow cross-stitchers and embroiderers stated that, even though the rules don’t say you can’t have a sewing needle, a lot of the times they get confiscated. I didn’t want to risk it. Once my vacation was over, I picked it back up again. I’m working on the second item for the Foraging New England line, and it is almost done!