Wednesday, June 1, 2022

April and May 2022 Wrap Up

April was a crazy month. I was very stressed leading up to our trip. And I was hoping to get the April 2022 Wrap Up post up after I got back at the beginning of May, but then I was sick for a couple of weeks after we got back and just didn't have the energy to do it. And lately our internet has been awful, so that was another hurdle. So for these two months, I am doing a combined post. 

Our trip to India and Nepal was incredible! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you have seen some of the photos. People ask me what my favorite part was and it is hard to choose. I liked Jaipur and the Taj Mahal was absolutely beautiful. Paragliding in Pokhara was a pretty unforgettable experience. It was just really great and we had a good group of people on our tour, which made it even better of course. And Kevin and I didn't even get sick of each other!

And then when I got back I was sick and working and that has been life for the most part. And I will be going to Colorado for a few days in June to see friends and family so I am really looking forward to that.

I figured with vacation I would not read many books, but I read more than I thought! Here are the books I managed to finish in April and May. Due to the number of books and doing two months, I am going to try to make them extra brief (aside from Vengeful which I typed up before I left).

Title: Vengeful
Author: V. E. Schwab
Narrator: Jeremy Arthur
 
Synopsis: Ever since Sydney brought Vincent back to life, Vincent has been experiencing problems with his powers and death episodes. He is desperately searching for a solution. Meanwhile, Marcella gains powers of destruction when her husband kills her. And she uses that power to gather some EO's to her and take control of the city. And Eli is locked away in the EON headquarters trying to figure out how EON can take down Marcella and Vincent.

Thoughts: I finally ended up doing a combined reading and listening to this book because I felt like I wasn't making enough progress on the physical book. This duology was intense. When I read Vicious I was surprised at how much I liked it because I would say these aren't my kind of stories. I have such mixed feelings about many of the characters. Each character is sort of good and evil in their own ways. I think I was not supposed to like Marcella, but I kind of did. I like Vincent most of the time. He is so unpredictable, sometimes he is good but sometimes he is awful. And then I hate Eli but hate Dr. Haverty even more for what he did to Eli. It is complicated and messy and much more amazing than it should be.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Ariadne
Author: Jennifer Saint
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik

Synopsis: Ariadne, famously associated with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, finally gets her own story. After falling in love with Perseus and his abandonment, her life takes a drastic turn.

Thoughts: This was neat, it was nice for Ariadne to have the spotlight and to see her story all in one place instead of in the background of the myths, which is what I am used to. If you enjoyed Circe, this is a good book for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Rosamund Pike

Synopsis: I hardly feel like this classic tale needs a synopsis. Briefly, this story follows two sisters as they navigate the land of romance and society.

Thoughts: I wanted more after I finished Pride and Prejudice, so I decided to pick this one up. I was a bit disappointed, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I did Pride and Prejudice. That being said, I still liked it alright and am glad I read it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Title: Heartstopper volumes 1 through 4
Author: Alice Oseman

Synopsis: These graphic novels follow the stories of Charlie and Nick as they become fast friends and their feelings develop into something more.

Thoughts: I had a couple of these on my Kindle, which was handy while I was traveling. These were pretty easy, enjoyable reads and definitely cute and fluffy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: The Extraordinaries
Author: TJ Klune

Synopsis: Nick is obsessed with the mysterious people in his city called the Extraordinaries. Motivated by his enormous crush on Shadow Star (the Extraordinary hero of the city) Nick decides to become an Extraordinary himself. His best friend (and maybe soulmate?) Seth, seems oddly on the fence about Nick's endeavors.

Thoughts: This had been sitting on my Kindle for a while and I read it while I was in Nepal. I LOVED this book. I swore I saw the plot coming and the twist surprised me. It was funny and clever and just so great. I can't wait to read the next book (whenever it comes out).

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Title: When Harry Met Harry
Author: Sydney Smyth
Narrators: Teddy Hamilton and Malcolm Young

Synopsis: When Harry first met Herryy (also called Henry by his friends), they couldn't stand one another. But their paths are fated to cross over and over again. Eventually they become friends but maybe they could be more.

Thoughts: I can't even remember how/when this book crossed my radar. But I have to say, I didn't love it. The first half to three quarters of the book was actually alright, but after that I seriously lost interest and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it just felt too drawn out and overdone.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars


Title: Pumpkin
Author: Julie Murphy
 
Synopsis: Waylon is not the most subtle of gay teenagers. And being a fat, fairly flamboyant guy in small town Texas has its drawbacks. Just when it feels like Waylon's life is maybe falling apart, he discovers drag and that is just the outlet he needs.
 
Thoughts: Another book that has been on my Kindle for a while. I enjoyed the first two books in the Dumplin' series, and it is probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one, too. Waylon is a great character to follow and it was a lovely story.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 to 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Pandava Series
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Soneela Nankani

Synopsis: Aru Shah is the reincarnation of Arjuna from the ancient Mahabharata. Aru doesn't feel much like the ancient hero though. Through a series of events, she releases the Sleeper from his prison and kicks off the next big war. Aru, along with her sisters (the other reincarnated Pandavas) and their friends, have to stop the Sleeper and end the war.

Thoughts: I had to re-read the first four books since the last book was just released and I wanted everything fresh in my memory. I love these books. I love the mythology and stories and the characters are great: funny, flawed, and heroic. It makes me want to read the Mahabharata (and maybe the Bhagvad Gita) to learn more about the stories and characters referenced throughout the series. But I definitely recommend this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars for each

 

Title: Wild Magic and Wolf-speaker
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: I'm sure I have reviewed these books before because I have read them countless times. But real quick, this series follows Daine who has lost her family and comes to Tortall. She finds that her "knack" with animals is actually wild magic. As she learns how to use her magic, Carthak is gearing up to go to war with Tortall.

Thoughts: These are comfort books for me. I'm not sure why, but I had the urge to read them. I seriously have read them more times than I could count since I discovered them in middle school. And I love Numair, so there is that, too.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars for each

 

Favorite book read in April/May: The Extraordinaries probably takes the cake. Also the Pandava series.
Least favorite book read this month: When Harry Met Harry

I have read 33 books towards my goal of 60. According to Goodreads, I am 9 books ahead of schedule, so that is pretty great!

I finished another series that I wanted to finish this year: the Villains duology!  I have completed most of the series I wanted to finish this year. The only other one I want to complete is the sequel to King of Scars.

Thanks for sticking with me, guys! Hopefully now that things are a bit more normal, I will get back into the blogging routine. And hopefully get up some other posts for real this time.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

March 2022 Wrap Up

The end of March sneaked up on me. I was not prepared for this blog post, so I am sorry about that.

March has felt insane. Work has been slower mostly, I don't have a lot of bench work right now, mostly paperwork and training some of our newer people. It is nice to be able to catch up on some things, but work goes by faster when you are busy!

Kevin and I have been trying to get ready for India. We still have some forms to fill out and submit and paperwork to print/copy, but it is coming together. And I think we have our pet care situation handled. That was stressing me out pretty badly for a while there. I'm so glad that I have made some friends here who are willing and able to help me. And I know that I can trust them.

I read quite a few books this month and they were all enjoyable! That was nice. Since I am running late on this blog post, I will try to keep them short.

 

Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart
Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
 
Synopsis: In a desperate attempt to keep her love from marrying another, Evangeline makes a deal with Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. But the price he asks may change everything.
 
Thoughts: When I finished the Caraval trilogy, all I really wanted was more about Jacks. I was thinking this would be more about Jacks' past, but it isn't, it follows the Caraval series. And I will take it. I will continue to read just for him.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 to 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Bennet Women
Author: Eden Appiah-Kubi
Narrator: L. Morgan Lee
 
Synopsis: A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling about three close friends at Longbourn University. EJ is an ambitious black engineering major who loves dance. Her best friend Jamie is a newly out trans woman studying French and theater. And Tessa is a Filipina astronomy student with boyfriend trouble. When Lee and Jamie start to fall for one another, EJ is stuck with Lee's best friend, Will and she could not be less thrilled.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot even though I had not actually read all of Pride and Prejudice. And while I didn't always love the story between EJ and Will, I did love the side story about Jamie and Lee!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars


Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Rosamund Pike
 
Synopsis: I think the classic story that is Pride and Prejudice needs no introduction.
 
Thoughts: I read about a quarter of this book many, many years ago but then my copy was destroyed by a leaking water bottle. But I finally read it and I absolutely loved it. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
 
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Five Dark Fates
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: Amy Landon
 
Synopsis: The conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series! What will finally happen to the three (four?) queens of Fennbirn? Arsinoe is helping lead the rebellion to put Jules on the throne. Mirabella and Arsinoe have become close, but she leaves to try to save Katharine from herself. And Katharine, as the Queen Crowned and host to the dead queens is trying to keep her country safe and under her control.
 
Thoughts: Admittedly, I put off reading this book for quite some time. I actually adore this series. Though I read them all really far apart from each other and really need to go back and re-read the whole series. I am just sort of obsessed with the Queens. And even though I should not like Katharine, I really do. The poisoners fascinate me as much as they repel me. And I love Braddock the bear. I'm glad that I finally read the conclusion. I am a little sad that it is over and that Fennbirn is forever changed. But Three Dark Crowns merchandise is always a favorite with me and I own an awful lot of it. I just can't help it!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Penelopiad
Author: Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Laural Merlington
 
Synopsis: This is the classic story of Odysseus as told from his wife, Penelope's point of view. Penelope reflects on her life and story as she wanders the fields of Asphodel.
 
Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by a friend who always recommends great books. And I really enjoyed this story and Penelope's perspective. It is creative and well-researched. Definitely worth the read.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Stone Sky
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Narrator: Robin Miles
 
Synopsis: The final installment of the Broken Earth trilogy. The fate of the world and humanity is in the hands of Essun and/or her daughter, Nassun. Both have mastered the Obelisk Gate and have some conflicting information and views of how the world should be.
 
Thoughts: This is a series I have been meaning to finish for a while. The first book was amazing and I have enjoyed following the stories. The characters are so imperfect and different and it makes them all feel more real, I suppose. I was a little shocked about the ending with Essun and Nassun, but oddly actually pleased in the very end. Very good series, definitely recommend it!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
 
Synopsis: Frances is a dressmaker who dreams of becoming a famous designer and dressmaker. Her unique designs gain the attention of Prince Sebastian who hires her. The prince secretly enjoys wearing dresses and Frances helps create his persona as Lady Crystallia. But the prince is afraid to let people know, which ends up keeping Frances from gaining the fame she deserves. But maybe these two friends can find a way to overcome all of the odds.
 
Thoughts: This graphic novel was recommended to me by a lady I used to work with and someone I follow on Instagram. I forgot my book when I had my hair appointment so I pulled this up on my phone Kindle app. It isn't very long and I finished it within a few hours. It was cute and gave me warm fuzzy feelings.
 
Rating:  4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Unravel the Dusk
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
 
Synopsis: This is the second book in the Spin the Dawn duology. Maia managed to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but at a terrible price. When one of the magical dresses lashes out at the emperor's wife-to-be, Maia is forced to take her place while she recovers. But the bride's father eventually sees through her disguise. With the peace of her country in tatters and her humanity slowly draining away by the demon that possesses her, Maia will do nearly anything to save her country and the people she loves.
 
Thoughts: In some ways I feel like each of these books had two separate parts and sometimes I forget the other parts. I can't describe it without giving things away, you will just have to believe me. Overall I enjoyed it, but for a while I felt like it was dragging and I just wanted to finish the book. But then something would take me by surprise and I would find myself tearing up at certain parts. I was more invested than I thought I was.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: There were a lot of great ones this month. If I have to choose one, probably Pride and Prejudice
Least favorite book read this month: They were all so good, but probably Unravel the Dusk.

I have read 15 books towards my goal of 60 books. According to Goodreads, I am one book ahead of schedule. Which is good since I don't know how much reading I will be able to do while we are on vacation. On that note, my next blog post will almost definitely be late. I apologize in advance.

There were several series that I wanted to finish this year. As of this month, I have completed almost all of them. The only series I have left to finish is the Vicious duology (and I am so close to finishing Vengeful). And I suppose the King of Scars duology. That was not originally on my list but I feel like I should add it. It feels good to have met some of my reading goals. I just have to figure out what I want to read next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

February 2022 Wrap Up

February is sort of a special month. Kevin's and my dating anniversary is in February, which we like to celebrate. So we started dating five years ago as of the 12th. And life has not been the same since. I'm so lucky to have him in my life.

One sad thing was that we lost Hermes suddenly and unexpectedly near the beginning of the month. He seemed OK that morning and when I got home he was unresponsive. I tried to get him in to an emergency vet and they were either closed or wouldn't see an exotic. So I tried to keep him comfortable and I kept him with me. He didn't seem to be suffering much, which was good. It was mostly like he wasn't really there. He did cuddle and sleep with me for many hours and even boggled several times, which helped make my sad heart a bit happier. He went pretty quickly and peacefully around 2 or 3 the next morning. I'm glad that he isn't suffering anymore, but I miss him (biter that he was). He was the smartest rat I think I have ever had and I think if we'd had more time, we could have had a great connection.

In other news, we are preparing for our India and Nepal trip. We leave in about a month and a half. Lots to do before then! I have never traveled so far for so long and I get anxious about what all needs to be done/packed/prepared. And leaving our home and fur babies is a whole thing, too. Luckily we have friends here to take care of things. That helps.

Work has been work. Sometimes it is great and I get to work with infectious diseases and I love that. Sometimes it is just rough. I can't figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The thought of going to med school still circles my head regularly, but it is such a huge, long commitment. I need someone to tell me what to do!

I didn't read as many books this month as I had hoped. I am still making progress on Vengeful (which is great but I have been lacking time/motivation to sit and read). I also managed to finish Winter after working on it on and off for about a year. I also listened to the Mysterious Island which was about 19 hours and some minutes long. I rarely listen to such long books, so that slowed me down. Anyway, lets focus on the books I managed to complete this month.


Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
 
Synopsis: This is the last installment of the Lunar Chronicles. Princess Winter joins the resistance against her stepmother, Queen Levana. Together, they infiltrate Luna to try and put Cinder on her rightful throne. Will Cinder, Winter, Cress, and Scarlet manage to find their happily ever afters?
 
Thoughts: Don't let the fact that it took me over a year to finish this book deter you. It was a good book and I did enjoy it. I read the first half and then finished with a combination of reading and listening to the audiobook. I was definitely anxious for our heroes and rooting for the happy endings. This is a great series for sure.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Author: Jules Verne
Narrator: David Linski

Synopsis: This is the classic tale of Captain Nemo and his legendary Nautilus. Aronnax along with his servant, Conseil, and fellow voyager Ned Land, find themselves aboard the almost magical submarine piloted by Captain Nemo. They spend months traveling the seas and seeing and learning new things. Despite the wonderful adventures, the three are determined to escape their captivity.

Thoughts: I wanted to read this after reading Rick Riordan's Daughter of the Deep. Because of that book, a few things were sort of spoiled, but it was still enjoyable to see where Rick Riordan got his ideas from. I enjoyed it. I did not like Ned Land (but didn't expect to after Daughter of the Deep). I was excited to learn that the name "Aronnax" came from this book.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 

Title: The Mysterious Island
Author: Jules Verne
Narrator: Berny Clark
 
Synopsis: Five men captured by the south during the Civil War escape via hot air balloon. They get so blown off course that they crash land on an island in the middle of no where and have to find a way to survive. Due to their innovations, intelligence, and cooperation, they manage to make a good home. But one thing doesn't sit right. No other people have been found on the island, but some events transpire that they cannot explain.
 
Thoughts: Again, reading Daughter of the Deep was a bit of a spoiler for this book. And despite its length and knowing how it (mostly) ultimately ended, I really enjoyed it. There were  a couple of small parts I skipped (hunting scenes namely). But I generally enjoy survivor tales, I think, but I forget that and I think I need to be in the mood. But it was great and I was so glad to "see" Captain Nemo again.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
Favorite book read this month: they were all good for different reasons. If I had to chose, probably the Mysterious Island
Least favorite book read this month: none!
 
I have now read seven books towards my goal of 60. Goodreads says that I am two books behind schedule. Oh well. I will try to catch up. But I have managed to finish two series that I wanted to finish this year and I am working on Vengeful. I have a couple more series that I want to finish this year, but I am happy with my progress so far.

And I wanted to share a new discovery with you all. I started using an app called Finch which is a self-care app. And you have a little finch that you name and interact with. It's really interesting actually and I have been enjoying using it. And I hope others will check it out and also find it useful! It is free (but you can pay to unlock more features). The free version has been great though and it makes me reflect on things differently than I think I would otherwise because I am "interacting" with my finch. It has shifted my perspective a bit. Very cool, try it out. Maybe we can be friends!

Thanks for reading! Here's to a happy March!