Saturday, December 31, 2022

December 2022 Wrap Up

December has been quite a month. Normally it is my favorite month, but it really got off to a rough start until closer to the end of the month. Mostly because of work. Because work is hard and frustrating and all-consuming. So that is all I will say about that.

December means Hanukkah, which I celebrated by getting new electric candles for my little menorah. That was lovely. December also means my birthday, which work almost ruined, but I managed some days off and had dinner with friends, went to see a play with Kevin, and some other fun things. 

Kevin and I went out to Connecticut to visit his family for Christmas. Our flights were some that got totally messed up so we were stranded out there longer than planned, but it was a nice time. We went to see Mark Twain's house, which was very cool. And we went to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience, which was awesome. I posted photos and videos of that on my Instagram if you are interested in looking.

The rats are getting along in years. Festus and Dion turned two in November. Eros turned two this month and Apollo turns two in January. Festus is having respiratory issues, but we have tried so many antibiotics and treatments and nebulizers. I think it is just a matter of keeping him happy until it gets to be too much and we need to put him to sleep. But he's doing OK. Dion is still on heart meds and not exactly healthy, but also fine. Eros might have some sort of autoimmune or genetic something? He has lost some fur in weird places and not grown it back and one of his feet occasionally swells for a day or two. Otherwise he seems happy and healthy. And Apollo has never had a health crisis and hopefully never will!

Mallow had his second Gotcha Day on New Year's Eve. Little demon. I guess he's OK mostly and we kinda like him. Sometimes. He's cute though, so there is that!

I did alright with reading this month. I am going to try to keep reviews very short so I can touch on goals for the coming year.

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Synopsis and thoughts: I don't need to review this one, right? It is one of my all-time favorites and yes, I read it more than once this December. I always love it so much.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: Magic Steps and Street Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis and thoughts: The first two Circle Opens books about Sandry and Briar becoming teachers. I have read these books many times over the years. These are comfort reads and I do enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
Synopsis and thoughts: This was a re-read for me. After I finished Under the Whispering Door, I wanted to revisit it. It is a lovely, sweet story and I definitely recommend it.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Eight Nights of Flirting
Author: Hannah Reynolds
Narrator: Emily Lawrence
Synopsis: Shira is determined to return from winter break with the perfect boyfriend. The only problem? She cannot, and I mean cannot, talk to boys without being totally awkward. Enter Tyler, her old crush and master flirt. They strike a deal where he will teach her to flirt and she will introduce him to her uncle for an internship. That will work, right?
Thoughts: A Hanukkah story! Yay! This was pretty cute actually. I didn't totally love everything (maybe because I am older than the target audience), but it was an enjoyable and easy read. And I am always interested in Hanukkah stories.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Matzah Ball
Author: Jean Meltzer
Narrator: Dara Rosenberg

Synopsis: Rachel, good Jewish girl and Rabbi's daughter has a secret: she ghost writes Christmas romance stories. She loves Christmas, the magic of it. But she is about to lose her job if she doesn't come up with a Hanukkah romance. In her search for inspiration, she gets in with Jacob who is running the biggest, fanciest Hanukkah event: the Matzah Ball. Rachel just needs to get in and she is sure she will find her story.

Thoughts: A Hanukkah story! I always get a bit excited when I find Hanukkah stories. This story was cute and fun and chaos happens. The ending was definitely cheese-y, but you have to know that is coming when you go in. It was a nice story and worth a read if Hanukkah romances might be your thing!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Synopsis and thoughts: Another one I read nearly every year that I probably don't need to really review. I still enjoy this every year, this is a great version, I still picture them as Mickey Mouse characters.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge
Author: Charlie Lovett
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Synopsis: What happened to Scrooge after his life-changing Christmas experience? Well here is an answer for you. And he sets out to save other people like himself.
Thoughts: I was worried this would be bad. It was maybe a bit cheese-y and I didn't think that him needing to save the first and third people were really true to the story, but that's OK. It very much keeps the style and tone of the original story. It was a fun, quick read.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: Landline? Always? I can't help it.
Least favorite book read this month: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, only due to it having the lowest rating.
I read a total of 91 books this year. My goal was 60.

Now for the new year!

My reading goal will be to read 75 books.

I also want to make a real effort to get through more of my Owlcrate books. They are almost always fantasy and I so rarely want to read fantasy these days, but I need to either read them or stop subscribing!

In non-reading goals:
  • I want to be better about saving money. I have already been good about contributing to my retirement (at Kevin's insistence). 
  • I want to cut down on the number of emails I am subscribed to. That sounds silly, but I am so tired of having to delete 50 ads in my email every day. I have already started this process. 
  • I haven't been great at keeping my journal the last few months, so I'd like to get back on that wagon. Part of my problem was adding book reviews into my journal. Doing them in there and on this blog got exhausting and then I didn't want to do it anymore. I just need to modify how I journal. 
  • I want to cut down on the number of stupid games that I play on my phone. 
  • Lastly, I want to go through things that I have and get rid of anything I am not using. It is something I have been working on and I sometimes do well and other times don't.

Anyone else have good goals for 2023?

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November 2022 Wrap Up

Another month flew by. I guess that will keep happening.

Things have been hectic for me, mostly due to work. I am almost the only person who can do any of my job which means a lot of work falls on me and I can't get help and support because no one is trained and the only one who can train them is me and I don't have time to train them... There are some big studies going on and a very big one coming up to prepare for.

In personal news, I have been missing Poseidon like crazy. The other boys are doing alright. Festus still battles respiratory issues and I recently started him on a steroid in a nebulizer which seems to help out. So we keep going along.

This might be weird, but I recently got into slime. I can't remember how I even found it at first, I think it was through a toy/asmr account that I follow on Instagram. And I loved listening to people playing with some of them, so I have ordered some! My first two were from Slime Obsidian. I got a fizz and an icee one. They smell amazing, first off. I took the icee one to work to play with when I feel anxious or while I am reading things. That has been nice. I have since gotten a few others from a couple other shops. I have enjoyed the ones I have ordered from BlushingBB Slimes, one cloud slime that drizzles and one that has beads so it sounds crunchy. I need to post some photos and/or videos on Instagram. I find the crunchy and sizzle-y ones very satisfying!

Anyway, enough of that. Lets do some quick book reviews and figure out what I should read for the holidays!

Titles: Daja's Book and Briar's Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis and thoughts: These are the third and fourth books in the Circle of Magic series where the four take on forest fires and a plague. I have read these books many times, they are comfort reads for me. I always enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Titles: Strange Practice, Dreadful Company, and Grave Importance
Author: Vivian Shaw
Narrator: Suzannah Hampton

Synopsis: This series follows Dr. Greta Helsing as she treats patients who, according to the rest of the world, don't exist.

Thoughts: I have read these books at least twice each. I just think they are fun and wonderful. I can't recommend them enough. And they have the cutest illustrations in the front of the books that I get a kick out of.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Synopsis and thoughts: This is the last book in the Percy Jackson series. Another one I feel like I don't need to say much about. I have read these books many times and I always enjoy them. They are more comfort reads for me.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: T. J. Klune
Narrator: Kirt Graves

Synopsis: Wallace is dead, there is no doubting that. Especially when a reaper appears to take his soul to Charon's Crossing and the ferryman and tea shop owner, Hugo. Not ready to cross yet, Wallace remains at Charon's crossing learning about life and death and what it means to be a good person.

Thoughts: This book was recommended by a friend and I already read and liked House in the Cerulean Sea. This story was wonderful and charming, occasionally funny and touching and sad. I did guess about the Manager before we saw him, but it didn't take away from the story. This book was so great and I definitely cried, sometimes when it made me sad and sometimes when it made me happy. The characters are so great. They are flawed and they learn and they feel more real.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: My Evil Mother
Author: Margaret Atwood
Synopsis: This short story follows a teenage girl in the 1950s and her tumultuous relationship with her mother. Her mother is single and, apparently, is a witch. As this teenager grows up and she has different thoughts about her mother, finding her more and more outlandish, until she understands her.
Thoughts: I have never read anything by Margaret Atwood. This story was interesting and I definitely enjoyed the way that it progresses. I wasn't sure if it counted as a book since it is a short story, but I have already surpassed my reading goal for the year so I am going to count it.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Under the Whispering Door
Least favorite book read this month: My Evil Mother, but only because it has the lowest rating, it was good.

I have read 83 books this year. My goal was 60.

And holiday reads. Here are some of the books I have that I will probably select from. I may not read all of them and I have a list of others that might grab my interest instead. I know I will read Landline at least once (maybe twice because I love it so much). And the Matzah Ball because it is rare and fun to find Hanukkah books.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday season! Let me know if you have any good holiday reads!

Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022 Wrap Up

October is usually the best month, right? I love autumn and Halloween. And of course, Kevin's and my 1st anniversary!

Kevin and I did some fun things. We did a haunted Halloween cookie house together while watching Halloween movies. We went to a local pumpkin patch that we have gone to the past few years. It is very cute and has games and things around. Of course we took home a couple of pumpkins.

Last Friday, we had a virtual Halloween party with my friends in Colorado. They set up on Zoom so the couple of us that live out of state could be part of it. It was fun and nice to see everyone. Then on Saturday we went to Boo at the Zoo. It is mostly for kids, but we still had a good time. They had some fun decorations and games and things.

The sad part about this month was that we lost Poseidon. We had an emergency vet visit earlier in the month and they found that he had pneumonia. We tried a couple of antibiotics with no luck, but he was still chipper and eating. Eventually, we were thinking we would need to take him in soon to have him put to sleep because he had mostly stopped eating and was having a harder time breathing and getting around. But that night he passed away on his own. I had spent a lot of time with him that evening because I felt like we were getting closer to the end. I hope that he didn't suffer much. I checked on him right before I went to bed around 11. When Kevin came to bed around 2:30am, I woke up and asked about Poseidon and he told me that he had passed. I wish I had been with him though. He was my oldest rat, nearly 3 1/2 years old. I miss him so much. Our vet kept saying that he was her favorite rat. When I took him over to be cremated, the front desk staff knew us and were very sweet and sympathetic. And they knew that our vet would be sad and they went to get her. She came out to see me and gave me the very best hug and cried with me. I miss my bright-eyed boy. I always called him my precious and my pill and he was so sweet and cute.

In other good news, I got my hair done. Kevin took me to see Moonage Daydream a while back and I was thinking that I really liked David Bowie's hair in his Thin White Duke and the Man Who Fell to Earth days. So I asked my hairstylist to use that for inspiration. I love it. I posted a photo on my Instagram if you haven't seen it.

I read more books this last month than I thought I would. I will keep my reviews very brief.

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Synopsis/Thoughts: I don't think I need to keep reviewing this book. I love it very much and I read it every year and I never fail to cry at the end.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places
Author: Colin Dickey
Narrator: Jon Lindstrom
Synopsis: A historical look at haunted places and what makes them haunted.
Thoughts: This was a good read if you like history, which I do. The author visits a few places so you get some first-hand view points. He also talks about what makes places haunted in the minds of people.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Dead Romantics
Author: Ashley Poston
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Synopsis: Florence is a ghost writer for a famous romance author, but after a terrible break up, she can't seem to find the romantic inspiration she needs to finish a series. Her (handsome) new editor demands the document ASAP, even as she is called away after the death of her father. Oh, and she can see ghosts.
Thoughts: I didn't really know what to expect and I definitely guessed what was happening early on. But I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It was a nice read and I plan to re-read it in the future.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: I Choose Darkness
Author: Jenny Lawson
Narrator: Jenny Lawson

Synopsis: A short essay about why Jenny Lawson loves Halloween and spooky things.

Thoughts: In general, I enjoy Jenny Lawson's books. This was a very short listen, only about 30 minutes or so. And it was enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Narrators: Greg Wise and others
Synopsis/Thoughts: I have read/listened to this several times. I don't think I need to say much about it. I always enjoy this book. I love that it is written in diary entries, letters, and such things. Great classic.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Gallant
Author: V. E. Schwab
Synopsis: Olivia never knew her parents, all she has is her mother's old journal. Until she gets a letter inviting her to her ancestral home. The one her mother warned her to stay away from.
Thoughts: This may not be my favorite of her books, but I did really enjoy it. The fact that Olivia couldn't speak and could see ghouls was interesting. There were a few parts that creeped me out, perfect for Halloween.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: Sandry's Book and Tris's Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis/Thoughts: These are the first two books in the Circle of Magic series. They are comfort reads for me and I always enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Author: Josephine Leslie (Pseudonym: R. A. Dick)
Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki

Synopsis/Thoughts: Another book I have read many times over. I love this book. Maybe not very spooky, but wonderful.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Title: All These Bodies
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: Matt Godfrey
Synopsis: A series of murders in the 1950s comes to a small town. The strange thing is that all the bodies found are drained of blood. In this small town, they have their first suspect. A girl found at the scene of the crime, drenched in the blood of the murdered family.
Thoughts: There were some parts of this book that spooked me. And I would like a sequel because of the ending. But I definitely enjoyed it and thought about it when I wasn't reading/listening.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Narrator: Samara MacLaren
Synopsis: Mika is part of a group (a very secret society, if you ask her) of witches. Being a witch means witches are not supposed to gather for too long and they must keep their magic separate. But Mika gets a job offer that breaks all the rules, but one that she is just right for.
Thoughts: This was a last minute addition to my spooky reads. It was very sweet and cute. I enjoyed it. If you like found families, it is worth a read.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: Besides the Graveyard Book and the Ghost and Mrs. Muir? I really enjoyed the Dead Romantics and the Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Least favorite book read this month: All These Bodies, only because it had the lowest rating. I did enjoy it.

I have now read 75 books and my goal was 60. So that's good.

I hope everyone had a lovely October and a great Halloween!