Hello my lovely readers!
My what a busy month April was over here. I’m afraid that reflected some on the blog, with less posts (particularly reviews) than I would have liked. I’m hoping that May will be a bit better planned around here. I’ve been very busy with work; I even had a trip to Pittsburgh for a conference. (If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (username: opinionsofawolf), you saw some of the fun details of the trip and probably learned a few things about Pittsburgh!) But I still found the time to stumble upon a few new favorite things.
Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I had a small bit of free time from my conference, and when I googled what to do in Pittsburgh I found this. It’s an eclectic collection of various history exhibits to do with Pittsburgh, and one of the collections is all about Heinz the company, since the founder was from Pittsburgh. How cool is that? Part of the exhibit is this ketchup bottle made of ketchup bottles. I learned a lot about Pittsburgh from this history center, including: the liver transplant was invented there, Jehovah’s Witnesses started there, Andy Warhol and Heinz Ketchup were born there, and Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) lived and died there. I really enjoyed this quirky museum and have had a lot of fun telling people about it.
Seeing Wild Belle in Concert
A few months ago I was moderately obsessed with the Major Lazer song featuring Wild Belle called “Be Together.” My husband noticed the band was coming to a venue near us, so he surprised me by getting us some tickets. This particular venue is nice because it’s rather small, so even if you’re in the back of the crowd you still get a great view. Both of us thought that the back-up singer/tambourine player and the tom-tom player were particularly impressive. They could so easily start their own group.
Hanging out on our new porch
Our apartment didn’t come with a porch, but our landlord chose to install one starting last fall. This month the workers finally finished it! Which means we get to grill at times when we’re not camping. But also, we’ve discovered our cat is totally willing to put up with being in her come with me kitty harness in order to hang out in the sunshine. What this means for book blogger/author truly is that I can hang out in the sunshine with my husband and a purring cat while I read and write, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
After wanting one since I first heard of a Gameboy as a kid, I finally broke down and bought the newest 3DS, along with one game: Frogger 3D. I have some gaming systems, but I don’t use them much, because I like to hang out with my husband while he does things. I love how portable the 3DS is, and how easy it is to start and stop games. I don’t have to turn on a system and wait for things to boot up. I can just open and close it. On days when I really feel like I need to have a win in something, I’ll play a round of Frogger. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the XL has a larger screen, and I’m really glad I went for it over the regular sized screen.
And finally, my favorite book since the last episode.
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
This humorous chick lit with a surprising heart of gold and inspiring message really hit me where I needed it this month. Basically, a high-powered lawyer has a freak-out and winds up working as the help in a wealthy home and falling for the gardener. It was the exact stress relief and encouragement I needed, both giving me laughter and helping me to refocus my priorities.
That’s it for April. Be sure to tune in next month for episode 4 of Wolfy’s Favorites!
What were some of your favorite things in the month of April? Did you have a favorite read? What’s the most entertaining museum you’ve ever visited? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Happy Valentine’s Day my lovely readers!
I know, I know, it’s a made-up holiday. But I think there’s something lovely about celebrating romance in the middle of winter. Even if your version of celebrating it is delighting in the quirks of the genre and maybe not necessarily romance in real life.
(Personally I will be celebrating it in real life, but hey, I’m a newlywed.😉 )
So maybe you’re finding yourself at home with no plans for Valentine’s Day. Sure, you could watch re-runs of The Bachelor, but why not spend the wintry day curled up with a quick romance read? Not sure what to read? Here are three speed read romances, vastly different from each other. What makes them a speed read? They are all less than 200 pages. And don’t worry. All three of them got 4 stars or more here on Opinions of a Wolf.
Braided: A Lesbian Rapunzel
By: Elora Bishop
Mood: You believe in fairy tales and happy endings!
Length: 61 pages
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.
Listening to Dust
By: Brandon Shire
Mood: You like a tragic romance that makes you cry. Keep the tissues handy for this one!
Length: 142 pages
A chance meeting between orphaned British writer, Stephen, and American soldier, Dustin, leads to a passionate love affair in England. But when Dustin chooses to go back home to his small Southern town to care for his mentally challenged brother, Stephen is left behind, sending letters that are never answered. He finally decides to follow Dustin home and arrives only to discover that Dustin is no more.
Love Among the Chickens
By: P.G. Wodehouse
Mood: You enjoy slapstick and want to laugh. A lot!
Length: 176 pages
Jeremy Garnet, a novelist, is living a relatively quiet bachelor life in London when his old school friend Stanley Ukridge shows up. Ukridge is starting a chicken farm with his wife, Millie, and wants “Garnie old boy” to come stay with them. He’ll get to write in the country in exchange for a few hours of work a day. In spite of the fact that Ukridge is planning to run the chicken farm without any prior knowledge or studying “the better for innovation, my boy,” Garnie takes him up on it. Of course, life with the eccentric Ukridge surrounded by chickens isn’t quite the quiet writing environment Garnie was planning on. Not to mention the Irish professor neighbor’s lovely daughter that Garnie can’t quite get out of his head.
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, 2013, and 2014 by clicking on the years.
Total books read: 52
Average books read per month: 4.33
Month most read: July with 7
Month least read: September with 2. This is no big surprise, since that’s the month I got married!
Longest book read: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson with 763 pages
Fiction: 46 (88.5%)
Nonfiction: 6 (11.5%) (I read slightly less nonfiction this year.)
Series: 26 (50%)
Standalone: 26 (50%)
(I’m fascinated that this wound up exactly 50/50!)
–print: 13 (25%) (Almost the same as last year.)
–ebook: 27 (51.9%)
–graphic novel: 2 (3.8%) (I successfully read 2 of the graphic novels I already own. I believe I have 2 left.)
–audiobook: 10 (19.2%)
I decided to track a few new categories this year. The author’s gender, whether the book is indie or traditional, the publication year of the book, and the target age-range. Snazzy graphs for all of these!
I read more female than male authors. This isn’t a surprise, since I actively seek out scifi and fantasy by female authors.
You will definitely hear about some indie books if you follow this book blog!😉 Note that I only accepted 6 ARCs to read this year, so that means I read 7 indie books I sought out myself.
I mostly read books from the 2000s. I did solidly touch upon the 1970s and 1980s. I’d like to read a bit more from older books next year. Maybe up to more like 20% to 25% of my total.
I mostly read adult books.
–Scifi: 14 (26.9%)
The subgenre I read the most of in scifi was dystopian (28.6%).
–Fantasy: 13 (25%)
The subgenre I read the most of in fantasy was urban fantasy (46.2%)
–Historic Fiction: 5
–Nonfiction history: 4
–Nonfiction science: 3
–Chick lit: 2
–Alternate history: 1
–Nonfiction cookbook: 1
–Nonfiction self-help / psych: 1
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 3 (6%)
–4 star reads: 26 (50%)
–3 star reads: 20 (38%)
–2 star reads: 3 (6%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
This was a slower reading year than last year, but given everything that happened (my wedding and the loss of my father), I’m happy I was able to make my goal of one book a week. Honestly, next year I intend to keep the same goal and focus my energy on writing more. I think a book a week is a good amount for a writer to read.
My new stats I tracked this year show with hard data what I already know. I mostly read adult books and read more female than male authors, although I do still read a strong minority of male authors. I also read a strong minority of indie books. I’m interested to see how this changes with time, and with some of my new reading goals, which are such a big deal I’m going to be making a whole separate post about them.
I’m disappointed I only had three 5 star reads this year. Where were the heart-gripping life-changing books?
The other thing of note is that half of my reads were scifi or fantasy. This blog is half scifi/fantasy and half eclectic, lol. I noticed throughout the year I wasn’t wanting to read thrillers, but I didn’t realize I’d read none. I’ve definitely changed from a thriller reader to a mystery reader.
Normally I would talk a bit more about my future goals, but as I mentioned earlier, those are significant enough this year that they deserve their own future post. So keep an eye out for that!
I hope you all had a good reading year and found my reviews helpful in your pursuit of good books. Sending best wishes for everyone’s 2016!
It’s the sixth and final giveaway of 2015 here at Opinions of a Wolf. Woohoo!!
How to Enter:
- Leave a comment below stating the second-hand item you own that you think is most likely to maybe be evil.
- Copy/paste the following and tweet it from your public twitter:
Enter to win PORCELAIN: A NOVELETTE by @w0rdvirus, hosted by @McNeilAuthor http://buff.ly/1JAHQcP #giveaway #entertowin #horror #short
You may tweet one entry per day. The blog comment gets you one entry. Each tweet gets you one entry.
Who Can Enter: INTERNATIONAL
Contest Ends: December 29th at midnight!
Disclaimer: The winner will have their book sent to them by the author. The blogger is not responsible for sending the book. Void where prohibited by law.
I was looking forward to this week’s theme of Nonfiction November the most, because one of my favorite parts of being a librarian is “reader’s advisory.” Reader’s advisory is when you chat to a person about what they enjoy reading, what they’re interested in, what they’re looking for, and recommend a few books to them as books they might enjoy reading. (I don’t get to do this a ton as an academic medical librarian, but it does still come up sometimes). I view this as a book blogger version of that.
For this, I thought I would select out a few of my favorite fiction books and seek out nonfiction books that would pair well with them. If you read and enjoyed the fiction, consider checking out the nonfiction. Of course it will also work the other way around! If you’ve read the nonfiction book and enjoyed it, consider checking out the fiction.
First Pairing: Sled Dogs
The Call of the Wild
Buck is a spoiled southern dog enjoying a posh life when one of the family’s servants steals him and sells him away to be a sled dog for the Alaska gold rush. Buck soon goes from an easy life to one of trials and tribulations as the result of humans fawning over a golden metal, but it might not be all bad for him in the wild Alaskan north.
Gold Rush Dogs
Jane G. Haigh
Dog lovers and history buffs will delight in this collection celebrating the beloved canines that offered companionship, protection, and hard work to their masters in the Far North.
Why pair it?
Buck, the main character (and dog) in The Call of the Wild is trained to be a sled dog for the gold rush (not the Iditarod). This nonfiction book is about the gold rush dogs.
Second Pairing: Women in Ancient Japanese Court Life
An aging empress decides to fill her empty notebooks before she must get rid of them along with all of her belongings to retire to the convent, as is expected of her. She ends up telling the story of Kagaya-hime, a tortoiseshell cat who loses her cat family in a fire and is turned into a woman by the kami, the god of the road.
Diary of Lady Murasaki
The Diary recorded by Lady Murasaki (c. 973 c. 1020), author of The Tale of Genji, is an intimate picture of her life as tutor and companion to the young Empress Shoshi. Told in a series of vignettes, it offers revealing glimpses of the Japanese imperial palace the auspicious birth of a prince, rivalries between the Emperor’s consorts, with sharp criticism of Murasaki’s fellow ladies-in-waiting and drunken courtiers, and telling remarks about the timid Empress and her powerful father, Michinaga. The Diary is also a work of great subtlety and intense personal reflection, as Murasaki makes penetrating insights into human psychology her pragmatic observations always balanced by an exquisite and pensive melancholy.
Why pair it?
Fudoki features tales being told by an aging empress that illuminate women’s lives in ancient Japan. This nonfiction period piece is a diary by a real woman with an insider’s view of the same court life. Although not written by an empress, she was an empress’s companion.
Third Pairing: We’re Living in the Future the 1800s Scifi Imagined
The Time Machine
Nobody is quite sure whether to believe their eccentric scientist friend when he claims to have invented the ability to travel through time. But when he shows up late to a dinner party with a tale of traveling to the year 802,700 and meeting the human race, now divided into the child-like Eloi and the pale ape-like ground-dwelling Morlocks, they find themselves wanting to believe him.
In the Beginning…Was the Command Line
This is “the Word” — one man’s word, certainly — about the art (and artifice) of the state of our computer-centric existence. And considering that the “one man” is Neal Stephenson, “the hacker Hemingway” (Newsweek) — acclaimed novelist, pragmatist, seer, nerd-friendly philosopher, and nationally bestselling author of groundbreaking literary works (Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, etc., etc.) — the word is well worth hearing. Mostly well-reasoned examination and partial rant, Stephenson’s In the Beginning… was the Command Line is a thoughtful, irreverent, hilarious treatise on the cyber-culture past and present; on operating system tyrannies and downloaded popular revolutions; on the Internet, Disney World, Big Bangs, not to mention the meaning of life itself.
Why this pairing?
Wells and Stephenson are both considered masters of the scifi genre. In this nonfiction piece, Stephenson explicitly draws comparisons between modern culture and the one envisioned by Wells in The Time Machine.
Fourth Pairing: Scandinavia Is Perfect….Or Is It?!
In the Sweden of the near future women who reach the age of 50 and men who reach the age of 60 without having successfully acquired a partner or had children are deemed “dispensable” and sent to live in “a unit.” These units appear at first glance to be like a high-class retirement home, and indeed they have all the amenities. The residents, however, are required both to participate in medical experiments and to donate various organs and body parts up until their “final donation” of their heart anywhere from a year or a few years after their arrival in the unit. Dorrit arrives at the unit depressed, but accepting of her fate as the result of her independent nature, but when she falls in love, she starts to question everything.
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
The whole world wants to learn the secrets of Nordic exceptionalism: why are the Danes the happiest people in the world, despite having the highest taxes? If the Finns really have the best education system, how come they still think all Swedish men are gay? Are the Icelanders really feral? How are the Norwegians spending their fantastical oil wealth? And why do all of them hate the Swedes?
Michael Booth has lived among the Scandinavians, on and off, for over ten years, perplexed by their many strange paradoxes and character traits and equally bemused by the unquestioning enthusiasm for all things Nordic that has engulfed the rest of the world, whether it be for their food, television, social systems or chunky knitwear.
In this timely book he leaves his adopted home of Denmark and embarks on a journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover who these curious tribes are, the secrets of their success and, most intriguing of all, what they think of each other. Along the way a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of a region plagued by taboos, characterised by suffocating parochialism and populated by extremists of various shades.
They may very well be almost nearly perfect, but it isn’t easy being Scandinavian.
Why this pairing?
The Unit is a unique dystopia in that it is set in Sweden and takes various aspects of Swedish culture to their dystopic extremes. Since Scandinavia often comes across as idealistic, it was interesting to see a dystopia set there. This nonfiction work takes a long tough look at Scandinavia and exposes the minuses (in addition to the pluses) of living there.
That’s it for my pairings! I hope you all enjoyed them. I know that I certainly found a few new books for my wishlist!
This month I’m participating in Nonfiction November, a book blogger event cohosted by four different bloggers (not including myself) that brings our attention to our nonfiction reads. Each week has a different topic, and this week’s asks us to look back at our year in nonfiction.
So far in 2015, I’ve read 6 nonfiction books. They are, in order of when I read them:
- Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott (review)
- Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health by Joseph Dumit (review)
- Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw (review)
- Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (review)
- Garlic, an Edible Biography: The History, Politics, and Mythology behind the World’s Most Pungent Food–with over 100 Recipes by Robin Cherry (review)
genre: food, cooking, history
- Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (review still to come)
genre: science, public health, history
I think it’s interesting to note that exactly half of my nonfiction reads were by women and half by men.
Now, on to the discussion questions about my reads!
What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
I’d have to go with Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. Although I have a BA in History, I never had much interest in the Civil War. This book’s title intrigued me, and then the content more than lived up to it. It held my interest, was easy to read (without being dumbed-down), and I still learned a lot from it.
What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
Definitely Garlic, an Edible Biography: The History, Politics, and Mythology behind the World’s Most Pungent Food–with over 100 Recipes. I actually texted two of my friends while I was still reading it with snippets about garlic. Since a lot of my friends enjoy cooking and gardening, and this hit on both of those interests, it led to me recommending it more often than some of my other reads.
What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?
Usually I read at least one self-improvement nonfiction read a year. I am working on one, but have yet to finish it. I also haven’t touched a memoir this year, which kind of surprised me.
What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
I hope to meet other book bloggers who also read nonfiction! I’ve met a couple of my best book blogger buddies through niche events like this, and I’d like to add some more.
Hello my lovely readers!
I hope you didn’t mind too much the influx of wedding this month. It was so hard for me to not talk about it all in the months leading up to it, and I really enjoyed getting to finally talk about it. I also really hope my insight helps some future brides and/or grooms out! Thanks so much for your patience in the slow-down on the blog in the last few months and for all of your awesome congrats and support.
The book of the month for November will be:
How was my reading, reviewing, and writing this month?
October books read: 3 (1 scifi, 1 horror, 1 nonfiction) I was on my honeymoon for half the month, you guys.
October reviews: 4
Other October posts: 1 announcement (MY WEDDING), 2 wedding planning tips posts
Most popular post in October written in October: Announcement: I Am Married!!! Well, I would hope so!😉 Thanks so much for all the congrats and support, you guys!
My favorite post of October: It obviously has to be the post where I got to announce my marriage, so we agree this month! I also really enjoyed writing up my wedding planning tips for everyone. I really hope future wedding planning brides/grooms will find them useful.
Most popular post in October written at any time: Book Review: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
October writing: When I got back from my honeymoon, I started working on building writing back into my daily routine again. My goal for November is to finish up two parts of the multi-part miniseries I’m working on.
Coming up in November: I have 4 books to review, plus I plan on participating in Nonfiction November as much as possible. Also stay tuned for the promised post about my honeymoon!
Happy November and happy reading!