Update: 12/5/18

Hey everybody. I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick update on what’s going on with me and the blog.

THANKS!

First, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who responded to my Rating Scale Update post. So many of you left a comment either here on the blog, or on Twitter and each of you gave me some great feedback and left me with things to consider. I really do appreciate it. I’m still contemplating what I want to do in terms of whether or not to continue giving a star rating, and I may do a trial run for a few reviews to see how it goes.

THE DREADED CERTIFICATION EXAM

On Tuesday night I took the “final” exam for the certification course I’ve been enrolled in this fall. I say “final” because it’s the only test we’ve taken and it isn’t for a grade. This is just one of those preparatory courses to help you take the real exam later. Tuesday was a 90 question test and I have no real idea how I did. I’ll find out next week. But the good thing is the class will be over after this Tuesday. Woohoo! The bad thing is I still have to study for the real exam which will be twice as long. Did I mention before it only has a 57% pass rate for first time test takers? Yeah…57%. This is gonna suck.

I’m scheduled to take the exam December 31st. Between now and then I have work (obviously), family coming into town, have to clean house before family comes into town, multiple ballet performances to attend (to watch my daughter), and Christmas. At some point during all that I’ll be studying for the exam. All that to say I won’t be publishing much here on the blog until January. I may do some quick easy stuff like Waiting On Wednesday posts and maybe even some year end stuff like best of’s and ideas for next year, but don’t expect a review. It may happen but don’t count on it. Reviews just take more bandwidth than they probably should. Continue reading

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Rating Scale Update

Stars

I’ve really been thinking about how I rate books lately. It’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while because I’ve noticed how most of the books I’ve reviewed have been 4 or 5 stars. I think so far on the blog I only have one 3 star review and one 2 star review. If I’d have started the blog a couple of months sooner I’d have a few more three star reviews, but most would still be 4’s and 5’s. It’s the “why” of this that keeps bugging me and the inevitable follow-up questions, of whether I’m being too generous with my reviews and ultimately do I want to keep giving a score?

The other day I came across a Twitter thread where another blogger was discussing her defensiveness after someone commented on one of her reviews saying it was “stupid” that she had so many 4 and 5 star reviews. I chimed into the discussion and it turns out a number of us are in the same boat and their response was much like mine.

The more I think about it the more I realize the following: Continue reading

October Update II: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

 

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This is just a quick update/addendum to my last October post – October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads where I discussed how I was procrastinating and not getting much studying for my certification exam done this month. Instead, I was doing something infinitely more enjoyable…reading. Well I’d be lying if I said I changed my ways. I did study a very little, but I mostly kept reading which is what this post is about. I’m coming down with a little head cold so I won’t be putting a lot into this post but I want to get it up before we get any further into November.

Btw it’s raining outside, it just isn’t cold. I can’t sing the song if it isn’t cold and raining… Continue reading

October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

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It’s been a while since I last posted anything and I thought I’d give everyone a quick update on what’s been going on.

If you read my last post you’ll remember I was all excited about Self-Pub Fantasy Month and then that kind of fell by the wayside. That’s because I started a class to help me prepare for a certification exam for work. I work in Human Resources and I’m studying for the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP exams(s). If I pass I’ll get some coveted letters after my name which in theory attests to the fact that I’m a professional in my career field. The exam (whichever I take) lasts 4 hours and costs like $400.00 and you can only attempt it twice a year. The CP exam only has a pass rate of about 67% and the SCP exam has a pass rate of about 57% so I need to take the class and all the reading (I’ve got four large books) pretty seriously. The class is three hours one night a week and then there’s all the reading and studying, the combination of which began to interfere with the latter half of Self-Pub Fantasy Month. I didn’t get to write the last two reviews I’d hoped to post or some of the additional things I wanted to do. I still plan on getting those reviews done…at some point.

This month though I’ve had a hard time focusing on the reading for the class. All I’ve wanted to do was read some fiction…which leads me to part two of this post… Continue reading

Self-Pub Fantasy Month In Review (And A Pause)

SelfPubFantasyMonth

Well September has come to a close and with it so has Self-Published Fantasy Month. It seems like it started with a bang and then finished with a whisper. That’s on me for some poor planning.

I only managed one review this month for The Great Restoration: A Tale of The Verin Empire by William Ray. I also posted my first ever author interview which you can read at Author Interview: William Ray.

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Continue reading

A Quick Update…

It’s been a crazy weekend here at Off The TBR. I’d hoped to get another review posted but alas it wasn’t to be. Friday afternoon we had some serious thunderstorms roll through the Bluegrass with wind over 70 mph. I was used to storms like that growing up in Florida but not here. The storms knocked down limbs and trees all over and here in Lexington alone there were over 70,000 customers without power starting around 4pm Friday afternoon. We didn’t get power back at my house until today (Sunday) at 2pm. It made for a long weary weekend with no AC, no way to charge my laptop, and kids complaining about no wifi. Well I was complaining too I won’t lie.

This came right when I was getting excited about starting to dig out of the hole I’d been in for months due to work. Last week I’d managed to finally get another review up for The Half Killed (I loved it, you should read it…the book, not the review…well maybe the review too). The storm set me back about a week but I’m still plucking along and I thought I’d give you a quick update on what I’m doing, and what to expect going forward. Continue reading

The 2018 #SPFBO (And Maybe A Self-Pub Fantasy Month)

Where Loyalties Lie

One gem of Sci-Fi/Fantasy book twitter and bloggosphere I discovered this year is self-published fantasy, and the #SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off). Prior to starting this blog I had what’s probably the typical opinion and response to self-published fiction; if it’s self-published it must be bad, otherwise a publisher would have picked it up.

At the beginning of 2018 I put together some goals for the year. One of those goals was to read more debut novels. I wanted to read one debut a month. What I originally meant by that was debuts published in 2018. To my surprise a few self-published authors contacted me asking if I’d be interested in reading their debut, some of which were written in prior years. At first I didn’t want to accept (see my comment above about self-published books), but I came around. Thank the literary gods I did because I discovered how wrong I was! See my love for Gedlund for just one example.

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Then, I discovered the #SPFBO. Continue reading

A Pause On Review Requests

I’M CURRENTLY NOT ACCEPTING REVIEW REQUESTS

It pains me to have to say this but I’m not accepting review requests for the time being. This really sucks because I’ve had some really good stuff come my way through review requests that have come through the blog and from requests I’ve put in to publishers myself.

Since February I’ve been swamped with work and family commitments which have kept me from completing any new reviews.  I’ve been putting in a lot of extra hours at work, staying later and working most weekends (which is when I prefer to write), and then there’s just been a lot of family events (kids’s extra curriculars, family time, Spring Break, family gatherings, etc). Later this week I’m off to Washington D.C. for the middle kid’s 5th grade field trip. It’s meant that when I do have free time my mind and/or body is too tired to sit down and write. I’ve been working on one review for a couple weeks, writing a paragraph here and there every so often. It sucks, but work pays the bills, and I won’t miss the family time – it’s too important.

Right now I’ve got at least four reviews to write on books I’ve already read, and three more books to read and review that I’ve already committed to. Until I knock these out I can’t really justify taking on any more. I’ve even changed up my reading list so I’m only reading books I don’t plan on reviewing until I get caught up. Hopefully work will ease up soon and I’ll find more time for reviews, and once summer comes along the kids won’t have as much going on. Once I’m caught up I’ll open the blog up to requests again.

Until then be on the lookout for some reviews to trickle out of here and let me know about all of your awesome new reads…because getting behind doesn’t mean I can’t add books to my WANT list.

Still Around…Still Reading…

In case you were wondering, yeah I’m still here. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my Is The Month Over Yet post things have gotten a little hectic around here. Between the kids’ extra-curricular activities and a crazy busy work schedule that hasn’t calmed down for nearly a month my average night lately has me sitting down to relax somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 PM. At that point I just don’t have it in me to blog. The weekends haven’t been much better. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not really complaining…well maybe a little…but seriously I enjoy the kids’ stuff and being busy at work is good job security (in theory) so I’m only partially complaining.

Now, I may be too tired to blog, but I’m not too tired to read! Which means I’m starting to get way behind on reviews, not just random posts about anything book related. And I feel really bad about this guys. Most of what I’ve been reading lately are books I’ve either requested, or that have been sent to me by a publisher/publicist (which I agreed to accept)…which means I kinda owe it to them to get the reviews done. The only problem is my best time to write is on the weekend and I will probably be working the next couple of weekends. This sucks. But whatever, it is what it is.

Anyway, below is what I’ve been reading and what I hope to get reviews up about soon.

img_3604Smoke Eaters by Sean Grigsby

Dragons VS Firefighters. Need I say anything else? I really enjoyed this one. Fun sci-fi/fantasy mash-up with hints of Ghostbusters. If you don’t want to wait for the review just know that I really liked it and think you will too. Unless you don’t like dragons or firefighters, or ghostbusters…but then you’d just be weird.

 

 

img_3605-1The Song Of All by Tina LeCount Myers

Fantasy in a Scandinavian setting. Have I ever told you how much I like snow? I kinda love it. This book actually hit on a bunch of my reading goals for the year. Debut author…check. Non-western European setting…check. Independent/small press or self-published author…check. Books with snow…check. OK that last one wasn’t on the list but c’mon. I even ended up with an extra copy of this one and held my first book giveaway. The problem was I didn’t really like it. I’m still trying to figure out why and how I want to review it. Like is it just not for me or something else? Stay tuned…

IMG_3798.jpgApex Magazine: February 2018 Issue

One of my goals this year is to read more short fiction. One solution to that has been to buy more short story collections in book format. The other solution I hit upon…crazy I know…was reading some sci-fi/fantasy magazines. Then two things happened. I discovered Apex is published right here in Lexington, and I read one of the short stories for the month and absolutely loved it. So I bought the issue. This will be my first review of a magazine and I’m kind of excited about the different format.

img_3599Gedlund: A Tale Of The Verin Empire by William Ray

This is my current read and I’m about half-way through. So far I’m loving it. It’s blackpowder fantasy (which I thoroughly enjoy) with goblins, elves, and the undead. yeah.

Ray has also done his homework when it comes to some of the details of 19th century army life and it gives me all the feels. In a previous life I was a re-enactor (story for another day) and as I read I’m like “that! exactly that!” Ah memories. Anyway I’m really looking forward to the second half of the book.

Well that’s it for now. I’m gonna try really hard to get a new review up sometime in the next week.  But then again I had said I wanted to get one posted last weekend and it didn’t happen. We’ll see. In the meantime happy reading, and let me know what you’ve been enjoying lately.

Is The Month Over Yet?

Sigh…here’s a quick update on what I’ve been doing…or rather not doing the past couple of weeks, and what’s to come. I’m a slacker – fine.

It’s been a long month. It’s been busy as hell at work and there’s always the family obligations (which I’m not complaining about, the fam comes before everything else…well I sometimes complain a little) and I’ve been worn out in the evenings and just too tired to do much. I’ve been reading but not at my normal pace. What that means for the blog is…well…not much has been written for the past couple of weeks in terms of reviews. I’m behind and I hate it, but this is supposed to be fun, not work so I’m not pushing it. Hopefully I’ll have at least one if not two reviews up sometime this weekend. Here’s what’s coming up…

IMG_3635.jpgBlood Of Assassins Review

Blood Of Assassins came out a couple of weeks ago now and I still haven’t go the review up and its ticking me off. Orbit sent me a review copy and I feel really crappy that I haven’t go this one done yet. I’ve started it but only have a few paragraphs written. My goal is to get this posted sometime Saturday if all goes well.

(I loved the book btw! Better than Age Of Assassins)

 

img_3605The Song Of All Review

This is the book I’m reading now. It was published on February 20th. My copy came a little late but I still feel bad I’m not done with it and haven’t finished a review. Hopefully I can finish reading it and post something by the end of the weekend. We’ll see. It’s got songs, and snow, and immortals, and well I’m almost half-way through with it so I’m not sure what else…I’ll let you know.

I actually received a second copy in the mail and ended up hosting a book give-a-way which was pretty cool, so yeah that happened. The winner was LeighAnn at MaMa’s Book Corner. Congrats LeighAnn! The book is on the way (mailed it today…cuz like I said crazy busy…sorry for the delay).

img_3604Smoke Eaters: Read and Review

My next read is Smoke Eaters. It’s got dragons and firefighters! I was hooked right there. I got this one from Net Galley but it came out this week so yet again I’m behind and it irks me. I probably won’t have this review up until next weekend sometime.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I know I’ve got to work at least one day this weekend and one of the kids has a school thing on Saturday but I promise to have that Blood Of Assassins review up at some point. I hope. ‘Till then happy reading.