Wednesday, May 10, 2023

April 2023 Wrap Up

April was an interesting month.

Work has continued to be what it is, which is not real great right now. It's frustrating to basically have your dream job and have other people ruining that for you. Kevin has also been dealing with some very tough things at work, so basically work has put a lot of stress on us and altered our lives some. Hopefully some of it will be resolved soon.

But there have been good things in April. I still speak with many of my friends regularly. We are preparing for an elopement for a good friend of mine, which is exciting and fun. Kevin and I are still planning to go on a big trip at the end of May. And the end of this month was marked by a long weekend trip with a couple of my girlfriends to New Orleans.

I didn't get as many books read this month as I would have liked. Partially due to me continuing to listen to Boyfriend Material on a loop (it is comforting, I don't know what to say) and partially due to me re-reading/re-listening to the Raven Cycle books. It felt like cheating to count them again. But I did read a couple of books so here are some quick reviews.

Title: All the Crooked Saints
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Thom Rivera
Synopsis/Thoughts: I think I have reviewed this book before, but this book is about miracles. The Soria family performs miracles on pilgrims that visit them. But the miracle works by bringing out the darkness within the pilgrim which the pilgrim must conquer without interference from the Soria family members. I loved this book when I first read it many years ago, but did not remember it well. It was nice to revisit. I think it is an interesting idea and I very much enjoyed it.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Outbreaks and Epidemics
Author: Meera Senthilingham
Narrator: Deirdra Whelan

Synopsis/Thoughts: This was an overview of various viral infections and epidemics. Most of it was not new information to me, but I enjoyed reading and reviewing some virus information.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Sweet and Bitter Magic
Author: Adrienne Tooley
Synopsis: A witch cursed to never feel love and exiled from her home
teams up with a secret magical Source to end a plague started by a dark witch. Tamsin is a very powerful witch who cannot feel love or joy and was cast out of her home by the Coven after committing a magical crime. Meanwhile, Wren is hiding the fact that she is a magical Source who should have been training with the Coven as soon as she realized what she was. And a dark witch is destroying the land. When Wren's father falls ill, she approaches Tamsin and they agree to try to end the plague together.

Thoughts: It took me a little bit to get into this book, but I actually enjoyed it. It was a nice read and I liked the characters and the story.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Favorite book read this month: All the Crooked Saints
Least favorite book read this month: None. Sweet and Bitter Magic got the lowest rating, but it was a good book.
I have now read 36 books towards my goal of 75 books. 

Sorry for the late post. My trip at the end of April into May and then another trip right after May started put me behind. I can't promise for next month, either, since we will be in Morocco into June. But I can combine May and June into one if I need to.

In the meantime, I am working on some other posts and thank you for reading!

Sunday, April 2, 2023

March 2023 Wrap Up

Well, another month has gone by.

I think my March was less rough than my February, but I am still dealing with unpleasant things at work and in my personal life. That has been rather discouraging. Maybe one day I will discuss some things, but not right now.

I have been floating some other ideas for blog posts around my head lately. There are a couple of things that I'd like to write a little something about that aren't related to my monthly wrap ups and book reviews. My main problem is finding the time, motivation, and energy to do them. That is my problem a lot these days. I think work just takes it out of me. And my little ratties are getting older and having more health problems so they need more attention and care. So when I have time I just want to zone out or read a book or do a puzzle. At least I want to read, for a while there that was not the case. Also, if anyone has recommendations for smaller, book-ish puzzles, I want to hear them! I love the ones I have, but I can always use more.

I wish I had something amazing or profound to share, but I don't.

I did read some books though! Mostly I continued reading Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle and Dreamer Trilogy. I have still been listening to Boyfriend Material a lot because it is comforting and familiar, but not as much as I did in February, I think. And I don't really know what I will move onto reading next. Part of me just wants to go back to the Raven Boys and read the series all over again.

Here are some quick book reviews.

Titles: Blue Lily, Lily Blue and the Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Synopsis and thoughts: I finished my re-read of the Raven Cycle this month. I was surprised at how much I didn't remember. But I think I enjoyed them more the second time through. I did a mix of audiobooks and physical books. And can we talk about Ronan for a minute?? I greatly disliked him when I first read the Raven Boys. Then I felt like I understood him better (but didn't like him better) after reading the Dream Thieves. But then sometime during Blue Lily, Lily Blue, he suddenly became my favorite character. I have no idea why. But he still is. I love his story and I love that he is so full of emotions that he can't figure out how to express them so he's just angry. It was so much more obvious this time around how absolutely loyal and devoted he is to his friends, which I also love. I actually love all of the bonds and friendships between the characters in these books. I also think that Ronan and his pranks are often quite funny and I especially like it when Noah is involved in the pranks.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Opal
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton

Synopsis and thoughts: This is a short story that follows the Raven King. I read it on my Kindle a few years ago (but hadn't remembered the Raven Cycle very well at the time) and I am not sure if I reviewed it. But it is from the perspective of Opal, Ronan's hoofed dream girl who came to live with him in at the Barns. It is interesting to see things from a non-human, outsider point of view. Parts of it are sweet and parts are sad. It isn't crucial to read it before the Dreamer Trilogy, but it is a little stepping stone that has important information in it. You get that information eventually in the Dreamer Trilogy, too, so it isn't required. I think the sadness and oddness of this story makes it less of a favorite for me, but I'm still glad that I re-visted it.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: Call Down the Hawk, Mister Impossible, and Greywaren
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton

Synopsis: The Dreamer Trilogy primarily follows Ronan after the Raven Cycle ends. It also follows the stories of his brothers Declan and Matthew. Ronan starts to discover other dreamers, like him. And he discovers the people who are trying to destroy the dreamers in the name of saving the world. Declan is trying to protect his brothers: Ronan who is a rouge dreamer on the run, and Matthew who is having an existential crisis about being a dream-thing. Meanwhile, Hennessy and her "girls" (duplicates of herself that she has dreamed into existence) are art forgers trying to make it in the world, while keeping Hennessy secret. Her first duplicate, Jordan, loves Hennessy, but also longs for a life as an individual. All of their stories (and others) collide and intercept with those of other humans and dreamers. More discoveries are made about their world, about dreamers, and about the Lynch family.

Thoughts: These were intense books. I did a mixed audiobook and physical book reading of these, too. It took me a while to get into the first one, but once things were moving, they were really moving. I got so emotional a bunch of times, especially when Declan had his run-in with Mór Ó Corra and the new Fenian and learned about his parents. I had lots of strong feelings when I learned about the extent of Ronan's dreaming abilities and his history, especially with his father and Declan (side note, learning more about Niall just made his murder so much worse). And I just wanted everything to be OK. I ended up liking Declan (which I didn't before) and I really liked Jordan. I didn't always love Hennessy, but she was hilarious. And I just wanted Ronan and Adam to be in love and be together (though Ronan's emotional crisis when Adam didn't text him back did kind of crack me up). And the way they tell each other "I love you" is so them and I couldn't get enough of it ("Tamquam. Alter idem." Right in the heart every time). I will say, I kinda missed Ronan's pranks and the Murder Squash song. But that's alright. I really enjoyed these books. Sometimes I forget how much I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing. This was a good reminder. And the audiobooks were great. All of them have music written by Maggie Stiefvater and there is a little discussion at the end of Greywaren with Maggie Stiefvater and Will Patton, who narrated all of her books. Worth listening to, for sure.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: I can't choose. I loved them all.
Least favorite book read this month: Opal had the lowest rating, but I still liked it.

I have now read 33 books towards my goal of 75.

I didn't finish any Owlcrate books (unless you count Greywaren since I ordered it from them?). But I am working on one that is good so far and planning to start a second one.

...But I kind of just want to re-read the Raven Cycle again... I'm a big mood reader, so we will see what happens.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

February 2023 Wrap Up

February was… a month. We had some ups and downs, most of which I am not going to get into. Some has to do with work and some has been personal. Some possibly big things might be happening at work (some bad but some potentially very good) and I think I’m mixed up in it, for better or for worse, but probably better?

I’m also not going to get into all of my personal stuff. But Kevin and I had our sixth dating anniversary, which was lovely. I’ve gotten to spend time (in person, online, and via text) with friends. That has been a highlight for the month. Festus passed away sort of suddenly. I miss my dragon boy but it seems like he didn’t suffer too long, which I am glad for.

Books. It’s a good thing I read the rest of Fruits Basket this month or I would have fallen behind on my reading goals. My main problem was that parts of the month were hard and so I wanted to comfort read. Which I did in the form of listening to Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall over and over and over… I don’t even know (or want to know) how many times. But I find it so freaking funny and sweet. Then the characters all feel like friends I can’t get enough of so I start over again. Hopefully I will move past that within the next few weeks, but we will see. I'm only counting it once towards my reading goal.

I also casually participated in a read-a-long of the Raven Boys. This was a re-read, but it has probably been six or so years since I first read it. I forget how much I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and her characters. So that was great and kicked off a re-read of the series. And I plan to jump right into the Dreamer trilogy afterwards now that it is complete.

Since I read a few books, I will do some short reviews!

Title: Fruits Basket Volumes 4-12
Author:  Natsuki Takaya

Synopsis/Thoughts: Tohru's adventures with the Sohma family continue and conclude! I didn't know the whole story since I had only seen the anime, which doesn't go very far in the series. But it was so readable and I loved it. And the ending gave me warm fuzzies.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Synopsis: The Nomeolvides women have lived at and tended the grounds of La Pradera for generations. Each woman is bestowed with a gift to grow flowers. But the family is also haunted by a curse: if they fall in love too deeply, the object of their love will disappear.

Thoughts: This was an old Owlcrate book. I really liked it, maybe more than I expected to. I loved the Nomeolvides family and the book was sweet, sad, and lovely.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Synopsis/Thoughts: I have reviewed this book at least once before, possibly more. I love it. It is so funny and sweet (and occasionally so awkward in the most charming way). The narrator is great. And does anyone aside from me want more about Ben and Sophie and the James Royce-Royces? Because I would be 100% here for more of them.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: The Raven Boys and the Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Synopsis/Thoughts: I think I have reviewed this series before, too. I did a mix of reading the books and listening to them. It is the 10 year publishing anniversary of the Raven Boys so I participated in a read-a-long through Owlcrate. And of course, I love her writing and characters. I think I am liking them even better this time around. They have been holding my attention well so I am excited to finish this series and get into the Dreamer Trilogy.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: They were all really good!
Least favorite book read this month: Honestly, none of them. 

I have now read 27 books towards my goal of 75. And I completed one Owlcrate book. Can I also count the Raven Boys since I bought the special anniversary edition from them? No, I don't think so. I still need to do more Owlcrate catch up.