Hello my lovely readers!
I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who subscribe via RSS feed or email that my blog now officially has its own url. It is now opinionsofawolf.com not opinionsofawolf.wordpress.com. Don’t worry, all links to the old .wordpress.com address are set to automatically forward to opinionsofawolf.com. I’m excited to be taking this leap forward.
I have also decided to focus my free time more in on my writing. Long-time readers know I am also a writer (see my Publications page here). In light of this, I have decided to close up my Etsy shop. I enjoy cross-stitching and designing patterns, but I would like to revert it back to being a hobby. However, I have made all the patterns I designed available on my Cross-Stitch page, and I will add more as I design them. At my leisure.
I have also designed and synced an author’s twitter to this blog. There is a link in the sidebar, or you may follow it here. This is a public twitter that anyone may follow. I primarily focus on tweeting about writing, books, and links to things that interest me, as well as retweeting anything I find humorous.
I also hope to start doing a monthly reading and writing reflection post. We will all see how that goes!
Every year, I wrap up the old year and start the new one here on the blog with a look back at my reading stats. You can see my stats for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by clicking on the years.
Total books read: 66
Average books read per month: 5.5
Month most read: September with 9
Month least read: Tie between August, June, and April with 4 each
Longest book read: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King with 531 pages
Fiction: 57 (86%)
Nonfiction: 9 (14%) (I read slightly less nonfiction this year.)
Series: 32 (48%)
Standalone: 34 (52%) (This was an exact flip-flop from last year.)
–traditional print: 17 (26%) (Most of these were Bottom of the TBR Pile books.)
–ebook: 34 (52%) (This went up again.)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I really need to read the 3 graphic novels I have sitting on my shelf.)
–audiobook: 15 (22%)
–Fantasy: 23 (I was shocked by this win after 5 years in a row of scifi winning. I can only say that urban fantasy and non-medieval fantasy works for me, and I’m glad I’ve found the type of fantasy that does.)
–Scifi: 22 (A close second!)
–Urban fantasy: 8
–Historic fiction: 6
–Time travel: 5
–Contemporary fiction: 4
–Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge: 4
–Nonfiction history: 4
–Nonfiction lifestyle: 3
–Nonfiction diet: 2
–Nonfiction fitness: 2
–Nonfiction food: 2
–Nonfiction psych: 2
–American classics: 1
–Chinese lit: 1
–Middle grade: 1
–Nonfiction memoir: 1
–Nonfiction relationships: 1
–Paranormal romance: 1
–Short story collection: 1
Aliens vs. Demons vs. Vampires vs. Zombies
–demons: 8 (A tie between demons and aliens! Not really a surprise given that fantasy and scifi were numbers one and two in the genres I read.)
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 6 (9%)
–4 star reads: 28 (42%)
–3 star reads: 23 (35%)
–2 star reads: 9 (14%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
Glancing at my stats, I am happy to say I succeeded at my goal of getting to at least the lowest level of my Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge. I read four books for the challenge, which puts me at the Acquainted level. I am sorry to say that I totally failed to read a graphic novel again this year, which I find baffling since I have three of them on my bookshelf at the moment.
I am sad to see so few 5 star reads this year. They went down by 8%. Thankfully, my one star reads didn’t increase at all, but my 2 star reads went up by 9%. Looking at it, I can see that most of my 2 star reads were either ARCs or Bottom of the TBR Pile reads that disappointed me. I was working quite hard on getting through both of those piles, and while it’s sad to me that a number disappointed me, I’m still glad I got the piles smaller. By the middle of last year I had set up a cycle of reading one ARC, one Bottom of TBR Pile Book, then one book just for fun. I plan to continue this cycle, as I really need to get through my piles. My piles are smaller each year, thanks to purchasing and requesting fewer books, and I’m hopeful that by next year I will be back to mostly reading just for fun.
As for the genres, I’m glad I still had a wide variety, although I would like to see my nonfiction reads increase to 12 (one per month). Maybe I should enter nonfiction into the official rotation. ;-)
Other than my reading cycle, I have a couple areas of interest I would like to read more on. I’m going to keep these areas a secret for now so you can be surprised by the new genres and information working their way in. Suffice to say, it might have something to do with history and science.
Happy 2015 everyone! I hope you have found fun reading goals for yourself. Remember it doesn’t matter how much or what you read, just that you do!
It’s time for the second gift list here at Opinions of a Wolf (see the first, 10 Non-book Gifts for Book Lovers here). I thought with Hanukkah next week and some holiday parties already happening that it would be interesting to provide a list of cheap ebooks. Ebooks make great last-minute gifts, as you can purchase them literally on your phone on the way to the party and have them arrive in your recipient’s email with them none the wiser that you waited until the last minute. Since you can schedule when the gift email arrives, no one needs to know that you scheduled it only 5 minutes ago. Ebooks are also great because you can find them for very cheap but a reader who loves ebooks doesn’t care how much the ebook cost. A book is a book is a book! I’m not just going to tell you a list of cheap ebooks though. I’m also going to give you a little reader’s advisory–tell you who the book would be best for. Without further ado, here is the list, in order of cost from least to most.
For the lover of YA who enjoys a touch of fantasy:
Initiate by Tara Maya
Dindi is about to undergo her people’s initiation test and ceremony that not only welcomes her to adulthood but also will determine whether or not she is a member of the Tavaedi. The Tavaedi are a mix of religious leader, healer, and warrior who cast magic spells by dancing. Since Dindi can see the pixies and other fae, she thinks she has a chance. But no one in her clan has ever successfully become a Tavaedi. Meanwhile, an exiled warrior, Kavio, is attempting to shed his old life and the haunting of his father’s wars and his mother’s powers. But he slowly discovers a deadly plot that brings him directly to Dindi’s initiation ceremony.
This is a unique piece of YA fantasy set in a tribal world inspired by Polynesia. The romance is light and slow-building, and the focus is primarily on growing up and becoming an adult. See my full review here.
For the urban fantasy reader without a lot of time:
Cursed by S. A. Archer
London works for hire doing investigations mostly for parahumans, and her best friend is a vampire who keeps hoping she’ll consent to being turned. Her life isn’t run-of-the-mill, but it isn’t too bad either, until one day she gets Touched by a Sidhe and finds herself sucked into the Fey world bubbling just beneath the surface of the regular one.
This fast-paced novella is perfect for the reader without a lot of time who still wants to get some urban fantasy into their day. See my full review here.
For the lover of the style of classic scifi:
The Coin by Glen Cadigan
When Richard’s physicist professor uncle dies tragically in a plane crash and leaves him his coin collection, he is shocked to find a brand-new dime from 2012. The only thing is, it’s 1989. A note from his uncle states that the coin is important. Richard thinks the answer to the mystery might be in his uncle’s personal diaries he also left him, but he’s not a physicist and can’t decipher them. As the year 2012 approaches, Richard increasingly wonders what the coin is all about.
This novella is a fun new take on the storytelling methods of classic scifi. The science is strong enough to be interesting but not too challenging, and the result of the mystery is surprising. See my full review here.
For zombie fans who enjoy a touch of romance:
Hungry For You by A. M. Harte
A collection of zombie-themed short stories and poetry with the twist that they all have to do with romantic relationships in some way, shape, or form.
This short story collection is different and fun simultaneously. It will appeal to zombie pans, particularly women. See my full review here.
For the reader of lesbian romance who loves fairy tale retellings:
Braided: A Lesbian Rapunzel by Elora Bishop
A lesbian retelling of Rapunzel. Gray, a witch’s daughter, visits Zelda every day. The witch switched Gray’s fate into Zelda, so now Zelda is the one entwined with the spirit of the tree that the people worship. She must live on the platform and every day lower her hair for people to tie ribbons and prayers into. Gray feels horrible guilt over their switched fates, but she’s also falling in love with Zelda.
this is a fun retelling of Rapunzel, particularly if you’re looking for a non-heteronormative slant or enjoy a more magical feel. Note that this is part of a series entitled Sappho’s Fables, which consists of lesbian retellings of fairy tales. The novellas may be mixed and matched. See my full review here.
For the reader of women’s fiction with an interest in Scotland:
Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard
Rose is a textile artist with bipolar disorder who for years found her medication dulled her ability to work. After a stunning betrayal that landed her in a mental hospital, she has moved to a quiet, extraordinarily rural island in Scotland in an attempt to control her illness with as little medication as possible so she may still create her art. Her life isn’t quite as quiet as she imagined it would be, though, with a warm neighbor, Shona, who introduces her to her brother, a teacher and poet.
This is an emotional, challenging, touching read for fans of contemporary fiction with a heart. See my full review here.
For the horror fan:
Gargoyles by Alan Nayes
Amoreena is determined to be a doctor and help people. She’s a hard-working, scholarship student on the pre-med track in her third year of college. Unfortunately, her single mother just got diagnosed with metastatic cancer and lost her health insurance. With no time for a job and no money for the bills, Amoreena is grateful when she is approached by a surrogacy clinic to be a surrogate for $50,000 with payments upon successful insemination and each trimester. But after she’s successfully inseminated, Amoreena becomes increasingly concerned that something is not quite right with her baby.
If your horror fan loves Rosemary’s Baby and is particularly freaked out by evil pregnancies, they will love this book. See my full review here.
For the lover of noir and urban fantasy:
One Death at a Time by Thomas M. Hewlett
Jack Strayhorn is a private eye and a member of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Only, he’s not an alcoholic, he’s one of the vampires who meet in a secret vampire group that exists under the umbrella of AA to learn how to control their urges and feed on humans without killing them. He’s just returned to LA, his death site that he hasn’t been back to since he had to run in 1948 after becoming a vampire. When his current missing person case shows up dead next to a Fae politician, Jack gets dragged into a mixed-up underworld of Faes, werewolves, drugs, and a group of vampires determined to rule the world.
This is a delightful mix of urban fantasy and noir and is a strong first entry for a new series. See my full review here.
For the reader of thrillers and fans of Gone Girl:
I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead by E. A. Aymar
Tom Starks has not been the same since his wife, Renee, was brutally murdered with a baseball bat in a parking lot. He’s been struggling for the last three years to raise her daughter, who he adopted when he married Renee. When Renee’s killer is released after a retrial finds insufficient evidence to hold him, Tom becomes obsessed with dealing out justice himself.
This is a unique thriller, with its choice to cast the opposite of a bad-ass in the role of the main character. This grounds the typical revenge plot into reality, lends itself to more interesting, unique plot twists, and has the interesting aspect of a flawed, nearly anti-hero main character that the reader still roots for. See my full review here.
For readers of multi-generational family dramas and GLBTQ lit:
The Value Of Rain by Brandon Shire
Charles hasn’t been home since his mother and uncle sent him away to an insane asylum at the age of fourteen after he was found in the embrace of his first love–Robert. Now, ten years later, his mother, Charlotte, is dying, and he comes back to take his revenge.
This is one of those genre-defying books. Shire explores the devastating effects of prejudice, hate, secrets, and lies throughout family generations, and that is something that is simultaneously universal and tragic. See my full review here.
I hope this list helps you find a read for yourself or a gift for another. Feel free to ask questions about any of these books or ask for recommendations for books for particular recipients in the comments!
With the holiday season almost upon us, I thought it might be fun to put together some helpful gift idea lists for you all. First up is 10 Non-book Gifts for Book Lovers.
Maybe you have a reader in your life, but you’ve already picked out a couple of books for them and now are stumped. Or maybe you just want a stocking stuffer, and your reader loves chunksters that don’t exactly fit in a stocking. Or maybe your reader loves ebooks, and you want something physical to wrap along with a note about the impending ebooks they’re about to get. If any of these are you, read on for some gift ideas, in no particular order!
Book Lover Magnets
($5.67 plus shipping)
The perfect decoration for an office, dorm, or kitchen. And maybe the recipient will even hang up the holiday card from you with one. This shop also offers a cute bookworm magnet set, for the kawaii readers among your loved ones.
Passage From a Book Phone Case
($19 to $27, depending on type of phone, plus shipping)
The case in the picture features a passage from Frankenstein with the quote “Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful” highlighted. Empowering and literary! If Frankenstein isn’t your recipient’s style, there are many other classics to pick from, including Jane Eyre, Little Women, Dracula, and many more.
Mini Book Locket
($20.19 plus shipping)
Maybe your book lover also loves jewelery. This mini replica of a book that doubles as a locket necklace is an adorable piece that will surely brighten up their day. Other books are also available, including Les Miserables, Harry Potter, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Book Quote Throw Pillow Cover
($16.99 plus shipping)
Give your book lover a book quote themed cover for their favorite snuggly throw pillow. They’ll think of you every time they curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. This cover’s quote is from Louisa May Alcott, “She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” Other literary quotes are available too, however.
Handcrafted Literary Figurine
($48 plus shipping)
If you know a few of your book lover’s favorite books, you could get a handmade figurine of one of the characters. This is Inspector Javert from Les Miserables. Isn’t the detailing on him amazing? This shop has many literary characters available, all in exquisite detail, and at a very reasonable price considering all that work!
Author Names Clutch
($26.99 plus shipping)
For the more femme book lovers on your list, this clutch could be ideal. It features over 200 author’s names in a beautiful font. The shop also has clutches for all four Harry Potter houses, as well as clutches themed around individual works of literature.
Book Themed Candle
($15 plus shipping)
A slightly tongue-in-cheek gift that is sure to make a candle-loving reader smile. This candle is made of eco-friendly soy and is designed to smell like a bookstore, mixing the scents of timber, driftwood, hazelnut cappuccino, and leather. Other bookish scents can be found, such as “old book smell” or scents based on literature, such as what the butterbeer from Harry Potter or Sherlock’s study might smell like.
Book Excerpt Fingerless Gloves
($26.00 plus shipping)
If your reader is from a cold climate and works on computers a lot, some literary-themed fingerless gloves might be just the ticket. They feature excerpts from well-loved classics, such as Sherlock Holmes, Picture of Dorian Gray, or Wuthering Heights.
Entire Text of a Book Artistic Tshirt
($34.00 plus shipping)
If you know one of your recipient’s favorite books, you could get one of these awesome tshirts featuring the entire text of a book worked into an image that represents the book. The one in the image above is The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe but many many more are available, and there are many color options as well.
Reading Themed Mug
($13 plus shipping)
No reader likes to be bothered when they’re reading. Many readers sip a hot drink while they’re reading. This mug both tells folks to leave them alone and gives them a mug to sip from. It’s the ideal reading accessory.
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!
April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already! It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus. In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area. I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract. So busy! On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner. He was incredibly busy prepping for the races. Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready. Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track. I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it. I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!
In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves. One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday. It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather. I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend. We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.
My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England. The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.
I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week. I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories. The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.
Total books read: 54
Average books read per month: 4.5
Month most read: May with 7 (No idea what gave me so much momentum in May)
Month least read: November with 2 (A long cold and the holidays)
Longest book read: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey with 538 pages
Fiction: 45 (83%)
Nonfiction: 9 (17%)
Series: 28 (52%) (This went up by 11%. You can tell I found a couple of series I really like.)
Standalone: 26 (48%)
–traditional print: 13 (24%)
–ebook: 27 (50%)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I’m in shock that I somehow didn’t read a single graphic novel this year!)
–audiobook: 14 (26%)
–scifi: 20 (Winner the fifth year in a row. It’s clear what my favorite genre is.)
–YA: 7 (I dislike most YA, but when I find a well-done one, I read everything by the author I can find.)
–historic fiction: 6
–urban fantasy: 6
–short story collection: 4
–Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge: 3 (I really should at least get to the lowest level of the challenge that I run! Wish I’d completed one more book for this.)
–nonfiction history: 3 (As someone with a History BA, it surprises me not at all that this is my most read nonfiction.)
–nonfiction cookbook: 2
–nonfiction lifestyle: 2
–paranormal romance: 2
–African lit: 1
–Chinese lit: 1
–Cthulhu mythos: 1
–nonfiction environmentalism: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction memoir: 1
–nonfiction relationships: 1
–nonfiction social justice: 1
Aliens vs. Demons vs. Vampires vs. Zombies
–demons: 7 (Demons just barely beat aliens, who definitely got the extra attention I said I thought they deserved last year).
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 9 (17%)
–4 star reads: 26 (48%)
–3 star reads: 16 (30%)
–2 star reads: 3 (5%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
Glancing at my stats, I can see that I definitely achieved my main goal for 2013. I read more books I like and stopped forcing myself to read books I don’t enjoy. My percent of 5 star reads went up by 3%, and my number of 1 or 2 star reads went down by a whopping 11%. I’m really glad to have refocused myself on the joy of reading, instead of treating it as a responsibility.
Overall, my stats make me happy. There is still a variety for the well-roundedness I wanted to hold onto, but there is also a clear focus on the types of books I enjoy. The one thing that took me aback was my complete lack graphic novels. I can’t stop reading the new format I discovered just a few years ago! I also would like to see a bit more nonfiction and at least a couple more reads that count toward the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge. I do run it after all.
Beyond those two minor goals, I mostly just want to continue seeking out books that truly appeal to me, reading at a comfortable rate as one of many hobbies, and continue to expand my horizons a bit with a healthy sprinkling of variety.
Happy 2014, everyone! Any suggestions for my 2014 reading goals?