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Reading Goals and Changes for 2016

December 31, 2015 4 comments
awesomewolf

Source: yenn87 on DeviantArt

Hello my lovely readers!

As I mentioned in my 2015 reading stats wrap-up, I decided to break out my reading goals into a separate post this year because I also have some changes to announce.

As long-time readers know, I had two big life events in 2015. I married my best friend and my father passed away.  You may not know that in 2016 I’m turning 30.  These three personal events have combined to make me really evaluate my life, my time, and my goals.

I feel a real sense of both how fleeting time is and how important it is to me to build a good life and family with my husband.  I want to live with intention and forethought, while holding on to the new ability I’ve found with my husband to embrace the unexpected and do things that are not planned.  That’s a pretty wordy way of saying I want to live mindfully.

My sense of time passing has made me realize that I don’t have forever to write the books I want to write in my lifetime.  And that means I need to stop claiming all of my reading time is contributing to my writing. While it’s true that a writer must read, a writer must also consistently write.  A writer cannot simply read.  I have writer friends who have said before they had to dial back some of their reading to make time for writing, and I now understand why that is so.

This same sense of time passing has made me realize that I no longer wish to spend my time reading books I don’t enjoy.  My whole life I have almost always finished not just every single book I’ve started but most books I’ve acquired as well (with a few exceptions that I got rid of when my now husband moved in with me).  Since my father passed away, I realized life is too short for that.  I went through my books and got rid of any that didn’t make me feel the spark of a happy reader when looking at them or their description.  I’ve also started a few books that I simply stopped reading and got rid of.  I’ve also finally been honest with myself about certain types of books I enjoy that I was once a bit ashamed of.

What does all of this mean for Opinions of a Wolf? Well, many things, actually.

1) Expect there to be far fewer 2 and/or 1 star ratings.
With the exception of books I accept for review (ARCs), if I start a book and am not enjoying my time reading it at any point, I am going to put it down (for good). I am still not comfortable reviewing books that I haven’t read in their entirety.  So I will simply not be reviewing these books.  Don’t take the sudden lack of lower star ratings to mean that I am no longer being honest.  I am just choosing to spend my time in a different manner.  It is still possible for there to be low ratings, though, if a book disappoints me at the end (goes off the rails, as it were) or if I’m reading it because it’s akin to watching a train wreck, haha.  I will still finish any ARCs I accept, however.  To this end…..

2) Books submitted to me for the annual review were accepted in a different manner this year.
This year instead of setting a number I would accept, I only accepted however many books actually appealed to me.  I also required submissions with excerpts, so I could read the first few pages and see how I felt about the writing.  I am hoping the combination of these two means that my review of indie ARCs will serve both for me to find more obscure books I will enjoy and to offer good indie authors beneficial reviews.  Again, though, if a book winds up disappointing me, I will finish it (since it is an ARC), and I will give an honest review.

3) The genres I read are going to change. Some.
I’ve always had a secret thing for humorous (usually British) chick lit.  In fact, the last two books I read this year fit in this category perfectly.  I am not just done hiding this genre, I am also done hating on it.  I feel a lot of the hate comes from a culture-wide judgment of femme things (because of judging women).  I would rather build it up as the respected (albeit silly/not serious literature) genre it should be, rather than participate in ignoring it.  Similarly, before I started the book blog, I read quite a bit of self-help.  I still read it sometimes but I didn’t want to read it too much, worried about what people might think of me.  I’m not going to seek it out, but if one appeals to me, I am going to pick it up and not worry about what people might think.  One thing that won’t change is the love of scifi/fantasy, that will stay.  However, my husband noticed my growing collection of older scifi/fantasy paperbacks by women authors and commented on how cool that was.  I hope to feature these books more in some way yet to be determined on this blog.  I’m even going to be dedicating a whole bookshelf in our studio apartment to it.  I also will be doing more reading of nonfiction I need to read to research my writing, rather than reading things that I think will help make me look smart or that I think I *should* read.  Basically this whole section is saying: I’m done caring about what people think of me. I’m gonna be real. Fuck it.

4) I’m going to be spending more time writing.
Whether this will impact how much I read is yet to be seen, since I tend to read faster when I actually enjoy what I’m reading.  I am working on incorporating writing into being a daily habit and, if I have enough material, I may start publishing some shorts or flash on here.  Alternatively, there may just be a few more publication announcement posts.  Or, I might just do a recap of writing accomplishments in some fashion.

5) I’ve adjusted the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge to be more flexible.
You may now sign up for ongoing or annual versions of the challenge.  I realized for me personally reading books featuring characters with a mental illness in a positive light has become just something I seek out in my reading. It’s not a number I strive for annually.  I figured, why not add that as a more casual option for folks.  You can see more details on the dedicated page.

So that’s what to expect in 2016.
Expect things to be a bit more real around here and hopefully to see more of a mix of reading and writing.  I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.

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Announcement: I Am Open to Review Requests Now Through December 30th for Review in 2016

Image of confettiHooray!!

I am happy to announce that as of now I am open to review requests for books to be reviewed in 2016!!!

Now through December 30th, feel free to fill out the submission form if you are interested in being reviewed right here on Opinions of a Wolf at some point during 2016.

Here’s how it’s going to work:

  1. You lovely indie authors and indie publishers read my review policies to determine if your book is a good match for me.
  2. If it is, fill out the submission form.  I do NOT accept submissions via comments or emails.
  3. Between December 1st and 30th, I go over the submissions and determine which ones I will accept.  The number I accept will depend upon both the number that interest me, and the number I feel comfortable committing my time to in 2016.
  4. I send out acceptance emails to all the accepted authors/publishers anytime between December 1st and January 8th.
  5. By January 15th, accepted authors/publishers reply to this email either with a copy of the ebook or confirmation that they have sent out the print book to me.  If I do not hear back from accepted authors/publishers by January 15th, the review acceptance will be rescinded.
  6. By January 31st, I will write a post right here announcing the books I have accepted for review.  This means that if you are accepted for review, you have the potential for three instances of publicity: 1) the announcement 2) the review 3) a giveaway (if you request one AND your book receives 3 stars or more in the review).  You may view 2015’s announcement post here.  I highly recommend checking it out, as it reveals some interesting data on genres that have many versus few submissions.

I would like to note that I strongly encourage women writers and GLBTQA writers to submit to me, particularly in genres that do not normally publish works by these authors.  I was quite disappointed last year to get only 38% of my submissions from female authors.  I would like to get at least 50% of my submissions from women authors.  Although I received 14% of my submissions from authors who self-identified as GLBTQA, I would like to see this grow to at least 25%.  Please help me get the word out that I am actively seeking works by these authors.

If you are interested in the full breakdown of submissions I received last year and what was ultimately accepted, check out my 2015 accepted review copies post.

Thank you for your interest in submitting your books to Opinions of a Wolf!  I’m looking forward to reading through all of the submissions, and I can’t wait to see what review copies I’ll be reading in 2016!

Book Review: Succubus on Top by Richelle Mead (Series, #2)

April 22, 2012 4 comments

Woman in push-up vest against red background.Summary:
Georgina Kincaid, the succubus that wishes sex with hot men didn’t always steal their life energy, has held up her side of the bargain with her demon supervisor.  She’s been going after quality men in exchange for him not wiping the memory of her human boyfriend, the hot writer Seth.  Of course, they can’t have sex together without yanking some years off his life, so when they sleep together, it’s literal sleeping.  But life continues in spite of boyfriends and job accolades.  Georgina finds herself caught up in helping an old incubus friend, as well as trying to find out what has her coworker, Doug, so full of energy.

Review:
Ahhh, Georgina.  You are quite possibly my favorite urban fantasy heroine, although your fixation on Seth kinda bugs me.  Anyway, everything that made Succubus Blues so fun is back with a bang this time around.  We’ve got crazy sex scenes, paranormal mystery, and an every reluctant succubus.

The story itself is a bit more predictable than the first one, but that’s ok.  I may have known right away what was up with the incubus’s project as well as what was wrong with Doug, but it’s so much fun to be in Georgina’s world that I honestly didn’t care that I knew.  I mostly delighted in this new version of Seattle that Mead has created.

Georgina is complex and so well-rounded.  We constantly learn little snippets of her long life, this time around focusing in more on her succubus years than her human ones.  She may have sex down pat, but she still doesn’t have relationships figured out, which is part of what makes her character work.  Men can still surprise her sometimes. Especially Seth.

There is honestly not that much else to say about this book.  The world is delicious, the plot predictable, the heroine delightful.  It’s drizzled in intelligent wit and topped off with some red hot sex scenes.  This series is definitely remaining my go to for urban fantasy.  Fans of the first won’t be disappointed, and anyone with even an inclination toward the genre should definitely check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

Buy It

Previous Books in Series
Succubus Blues (review)

Book Review: Falling For Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love by Anna David

January 31, 2012 9 comments

Polka-dot book coverSummary:
Anna David is a successful writer in her mid 30s living in NYC when an overwhelming depression hits her.  She’s still single.  What’s wrong with her?  While fighting off tears in the self-help section, she finds a copy of Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown, which was a bestseller in the 1960s.  Essentially a guide to being happy single while still keeping an eye open for Mr. Right, Anna instantly connects with Helen Gurley Brown and decides to spend the next year challenging herself and taking advantage of everything being single has to offer.

Review:
It should really need no explaining why I picked this book up.  I’ve always been the relationship type (even when I tried not to be), but I also won’t settle for just anybody, and sometimes that combination leads to some ennui.  I was hoping I would find a connection to and insight from Anna, and I was certainly right about that.

The very first chapter has Anna breaking down in line for food in her head, basically saying, “I’m going to be alone forever,” and going on from there adding that she’ll be the crazy old maid cat lady and going further and further on into ridiculousness that really doesn’t seem that ridiculous when it’s your brain saying it to yourself.  I knew instantly that Anna and I would get along.

As opposed to a lot of other single gal memoirs, the focus is neither just love yourself the way you are nor fake everything to land a man.  It’s more like….Do you have any idea how lucky you are to even have this phase in your life?  You’re single!  You can do anything, go anywhere, decorate however you want, and etc…  Anna realizes that she hasn’t been taking full advantage of the things being single affords to her.  Things like deciding to house swap and live for a month in Seville (try doing that with a baby) or taking French classes in the evening or spending the day rollerblading and winding up in a park in the sun.  So Anna isn’t just trudging along being herself.  She’s pushing herself to try new things, go new places, and yes the future Mr. Anna may be there, but even if he’s not, she’s still having a fun time doing it.

The book also addresses another common issue among single women and, well, people in general–grass is always greener syndrome.  Anna eventually realizes that she seems to think all of her problems will just disappear if and when she gets married, when that is really not the case at all if you pay an iota of attention to married couples.

One specific line in S&SG that I keep thinking of—“I’ve never met a completely happy single girl or a completely happy married one”—and how it’s helped me to see that I’m somehow convinced that getting to the next stage will make me instantly joyous.  (page 36)

The other thing that is sooo relatable that Anna talks about is how it’s so easy to become so desperate for a partner that you start trying to change yourself for him or worry constantly about whether or not you’re good enough for him, when that’s not how dating is supposed to work!

You spend all your time trying to manipulate a guy into wanting you to be his girlfriend when what you should be doing is enjoying yourself and then later figuring out if you even want him as a boyfriend.  (page 205)

There are definitely things about Anna that I don’t like or I disagree with (for instance, she eats veal and foie gras, ahem, the book almost got thrown across the room at that point), but even though we’re different, we’re also the same.  We’re two single gals who are wondering why everyone else seems to be coupling up but me?  What Anna slowly realizes over her year-long experiment is that there is no timeline for love and marriage.  It’s not like it’s a game of musical chairs and she’ll be left the only one without one.  Maybe her music is just playing at a different speed.  I think that’s a really important thing to remember and touching to see someone else struggling with, because it’s far too easy to start pressuring ourselves and the men we date into situations that just aren’t right for either of us.  It’ll happen when it happens.

This is a rare instance when I feel the need to sort of reveal the ending.  I was worried the book would end with Anna abundantly happy in a relationship, kind of like Eat, Pray, Love, which honestly would only have made me more depressed.  Like the book was all about yay singlehood but I still landed a man, right?  But no.  Who Anna falls in love with is not a man, but herself.

Here’s what I’ve come to understand: I used to not really believe I deserved thick, gorgeous panels for my windows or to pull books from a bookshelf specifically selected for my apartment. It didn’t occur to me that I was worth cooking homemade chicken soup for or dressing in beautiful clothes. I thought I was half a person because I didn’t have a partner but that when I had one, I’d do those things for him. Now I see that I’m entirely whole so that if and when I find him, we can be two whole people together, not the person and a half we would have been.  (page 305)

Yes, yes, yes!  Finally.  A book about being single and loving yourself and taking care of yourself and being a whole person as just you.  Sure, the professionals tell us that, but it’s super-nice to get to hear it from a gal who could easily be somebody I have bimonthly cocktails with.

I highly recommend this book to any single ladies in their 20s and up.  It’s a nice reminder that we’re not the only ones learning to love ourselves and be patient for the right person.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

Buy It

Announcement: I Am Published!!

Hello my lovely readers!  So, the super-secret project that I’ve been working on is to finally get my own writing out where people can read it!  I’ve been writing since…..well, since I could put pencil to paper.  I am completely passionate about story-telling, and this is where I truly feel my talent lies.  Since I finished grad school in January, I’ve been cracking down and getting serious about my writing.

Well, I can finally announce that I have published the first entry in a new series to the Amazon Kindle store!  I started with my idea to reclaim the old format of serial books.  Every entry in the series is 99 cents and short enough to read in one sitting, such as on your commute, a plane ride, a bath, etc….  The storyline is complete in and of itself, but it will be continued in another entry in a few months.  Join Tova Gallagher in her paranormal world with the few moments you have to spare in your busy day!  It is ideal for the busy, modern, paranormal romance lover.

The first entry is entitled Ecstatic Evil.

Tova Gallagher isn’t just your average tough as nails, intelligent Bostonian. She also just so happens to be half-demon, and halvesies have an important role to play in the supe world. Whether they choose to go with the instincts of their demon or human half is supposed to predict the outcome of the endtimes, and now Tova has a deadline to choose sides. But all of that is hard to care about when she’s just met a sexy stranger on the edge of the Charles River.

Please do check it out!  I write because I have stories to tell and want to entertain.  At only 99 cents, it’s worth the shot, right?

Also, I started with the novella series so I could practice with the ebook publishing software before my first serious novel, which I plan to release in October for Halloween.  I am very excited about it and can’t wait to let you guys know more details!  In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on my new Publications page on this blog.  ❤

Check Out Ecstatic Evil