Monday, March 4, 2024

2024 Updates

Hello and welcome back to my blog.

Sorry for the super long delay. First, my husband needed to use my computer for over a month back in September/October. Then we didn't have internet for about another month or more. By then we were approaching the end of the year and the holidays. I was in the third trimester of pregnancy which brought back some of my nausea and left me generally exhausted. Work continued to kick my butt. We were trying to prepare for the baby. We took in a stray kitten in August and adopted two new rats in October (I was supposed to wait until after the baby, but they needed a home! I couldn't say no). It was just a crazy time.

Our son was due on January 17th 2024, but decided to come early. My water broke a little before 9am on December 24th, 2023 and Gabriel was born at 10:17am. And then we had this little baby to care for which was new and scary.

Being a parent is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I think I have started to get the hang of some of it, but it is exhausting and challenging. It is impossible to keep up with everything, but I am trying my best. And there are wonderful things about having this little one. And I love that he is a baby and mom is still able to fix everything and make him feel better. He's starting to smile and make intentional noises, which is adorable and makes me immensely happy.

My anxiety has been way up high. I want to make sure that Gabriel is getting cared for and that chores are getting done. I am also not getting much sleep, which always spikes my anxiety. And I am not back at work yet, but there have been changes made there that are very much against me and against my advancement. That has been discouraging, frustrating, and has also increased my anxiety. If I wasn't on anxiety medication, I would be having panic attacks about going back. I figure that isn't a great way to feel about my place of employment, which has been discouraging. I have been missing my work friends, though, and I am looking forward to seeing them and getting back in the lab.

I am trying to enjoy the rest of my time off. Obviously it is heavily spent on caring for Gabriel and doing the never ending dishes and laundry that come with that. Luckily for me, Kevin helps where he can and has kept up with many of the household chores so I don't have to worry so much about those.

I have been going to counseling for a while now, mostly to deal with work anxiety, but we have been covering a lot of things surrounding parenthood now, of course.

I fell off of the journaling bandwagon last year and decided I wanted to get back at it this year. I needed a way to simplify it to make it easier for me to keep up with. But I also wanted it to be more fun and interactive so it felt less like a chore. That has been really nice so far. And I have started including different things that I never did before, like vision boards, inspirations and aspirations, and other notes that come in handy. I am trying to keep track of things that are important and trying to help myself since I have all of these big things going on. It has been really nice so far and I may make a little blog post about what I am doing and why.

I have still been reading, but these days it is easier to get through audiobooks than physical ones. And because of my anxiety it has mostly been re-reading. But I did join a group read through the Owlcrate Nest app for the January book. That has helped me stay on track, even though I haven't participated in the discussions (I do still read through the questions and some of the things other people post). Between that and my journal, I have had something else to focus time and energy on in the times I get a break.

I haven't decided what this blog will look like moving forward. I'd like to still post about the books I read each month, but it can be very time-consuming. I will likely need to simplify what I have been doing. Maybe post two months at a time and stop reviewing re-reads. Which probably means it would be a good idea to go through my blog and update tags to include book titles in case anyone (or I) want to go back to those book reviews. That will be a bit of a long term project, but I will see if I can do that.

I have a couple other posts started, one is a disease post and one is sort of about Gabriel. I have made it a goal to pick back up on my blog, but it might take a little time for me to figure out what it will look like. I hope you will bear with me.

Meanwhile, here are the books I read in January and February this year:

The Lost Hero by 
Rick Riordan
4 stars out of 5 stars

Red White and Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston
4 stars out of 5 stars
 The Fablehaven Series
by Brandon Mull
5 stars out of 5 stars

Charmed Life and the Lives of Christopher Chant
by Diana Wynne Jones
4 stars out of 5 stars
The Foxhole Court and the Raven King
by Nora Sakavic
4 stars out of 5 stars

The Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling
Synopsis/Thoughts: This is the traditional Jungle Book that most people are familiar with. This version is a full cast podcast read of the Jungle Book stories. I had never read them before, so it was a fun, quick read. I won't lie though, I spent much of the time trying to figure out how all of the characters and stories were represented in the Graveyard Book.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
A Fragile Enchantment
by Allison Saft
Synopsis/Thoughts: This is a fairy tale of a girl, Niamh, brought to a palace as a royal tailor for the younger prince's upcoming wedding. And in normal fairy tale fashion, the two fall in love despite the prince's engagement and Niamh's common-born status. This was an enjoyable read. I liked a lot of the characters (and I liked Sinclair, but I don't feel that other people liked him as much) and I liked the magic (especially Niamh's). This was an Owlcrate book and I sort of participated in a read-a-long through the Owlcrate Nest app.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

I have read 13 books towards my goal of 75.

Friday, September 1, 2023

July/August 2023 Wrap Up

Hello all.

I had to do another combination post since I couldn't get my ducks in a row at the end of July. I am not even sure I kept good record of all the books I read? Can I blame pregnancy brain? I haven't really had many problems in that realm, but I should be able to milk this for something.

Pregnancy is weird, but so far so good. I'm 20 weeks in now.

We lost the last of our ratties. It is sad, but it is OK. I am going to take a little break before getting more rats (after we've moved and adjusted to life with baby, I think). I love rats so I miss having them. But we did get another kitten. She was a stray I'd been seeing around our building and started feeding. She eventually decided she liked me and I brought her in. Marshmallow has been getting along with her so here she is. We haven't named her yet, but that's OK. You can check out my Instagram for photos.

Work has basically been awful for the last couple of months. But that is all I am going to say about that. It's just been rough guys. Something needs to change, I am not sure how long I can keep going with the way things are. And that frustrates me because there is so much I love about my work, but the management is such a trial I think I am developing PTSD.

And then at the end of August, Kevin and I finally got COVID. After nearly four years of avoiding it, we both got it. It was a huge bummer. On the plus side, we were both fully vaccinated which helped us recover more quickly. I am still getting over mine though. It messed with my blood pressure and I haven't quite regained my equilibrium.

Anyway, here are the books I finished this month. Hopefully I remembered them all!

Titles: Mister Impossible and Greywaren
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Synopsis/Thoughts: I just read these a few months ago, so I am not really going to talk about them again. I read them again and I still enjoyed them.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis/Thoughts: I have probably reviewed this one before, too. I'm sure it has been several years, but it is a classic and I think most people know what the story is about. I just wanted a comfort read and I just really wanted to read this again. And it was a very nice read.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Divine Rivals
Author: Rebecca Ross
Narrators: Alex Wingfield and Rebecca Norfolk

Synopsis: Iris is an aspiring columnist at a local newspaper competing against equally driven Roman. With war waging and moving closer to home and her brother at the front with no news, life is a bit chaotic. When things shake out differently for Iris than she originally planned, she takes a job covering the war near the front and finds more than she bargained for. Especially when Roman joins her on the same assignment.
Thoughts: I did a combined reading/listening of this book. It is a fairly recent Owlcrate book, which I am trying to read more of. I enjoyed her last book, Dreams Lie Beneath, so I wanted to pick this one up. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I liked the characters and the overall story line. I am looking forward to the next book since this had a tiny cliffhanger and I need to know what happens next.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Titles: The Foxhole Court, The Raven King, and The King's Men (All for the Game series)
Author: Nora Sakavic
Narrator: Alexander Cendese

Synopsis: Neil Josten is on the run from his father and the mob he is associated with (and any rivals for that matter). In a series of odd events, he ends up playing Exy, a game he loves, and getting signed by a college Exy team. Palmetto State's Exy foxes have a reputation for being the broken people collected by Coach Wymack. Neil decides to stay and play for one year, becoming entrenched in other strange dealings and relationships. But through it all, he finds a family and people he can actually trust and count on to have his back and to accept him no matter what dark secrets he hides. And maybe they can even win the season!

Thoughts: I have very... mixed thoughts about these books. I had been hearing about them because of the title of the second book being the same title as the last in the Raven Cycle. Anyway, I decided to give it a try. I actually was very interested in the (fictional) game of Exy, even though I am super not a sports person. And I LOVED the found family aspect of the books. I liked Neil's character, even if I didn't always agree with him. Kevin was an asshole, but I think he meant well and I appreciated his development. And Andrew. I love and hate Andrew at the same time. There were a lot of things that happened in these books (some perpetuated by Andrew) that made me feel very conflicted. I distinctly hated the way Andrew's crowd tested Neil (for someone so insane about consent, non-consensual drugging seemed SOO messed up). But Andrew's protective streak makes me love him. But he's also an asshole. Despite all of that, I actually thought the development of Neil and Andrew's relationship was nice and sort of sweet. Anyway, there were things I didn't love and there are definitely triggers for people, but the found family aspect (especially with the older team members and Coach Wymack) made me really love them. And they must have held my interest because I have continued to think about them and about the story.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars for books one and two, 4 stars out of 5 stars for book three
Title: I Was Told it Would Get Easier
Author: Abbi Waxman
Narrators: Lisa Flanagan and Bailey Carr

Synopsis: Single, high-powered lawyer Jessica and her daughter, Emily, set out on a tour of colleges. Jessica is hoping that Emily will go to college, enjoy herself, and find her place. Emily has NO idea what any of that would look like. And spending so much time with her generally absent mother isn't her idea of a great time either.
Thoughts: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I really liked Jessica and the mother-daughter story and how their relationship grew throughout the book. Overall it was a nice, uplifting read for fans of contemporary stories.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 


Title: Thirteenth Child
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi

Synopsis/Thoughts: Another book I have read too many times and reviewed multiple times. These books are comfort reads and that's what I was looking for. I still love them so much.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read in July/August:  I'm not sure, there were so many good ones and it feels like cheating when so many of my comfort reads are in the mix
Least favorite book read in July/August: The Foxhole Court, since it got the lowest rating

I have now read 53 books towards my goal of 75. I only got one Owlcrate book read, but I am working on another one.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

May/June 2023 Wrap Up

And the delays continue. Life has been super hectic. I went to the wedding of a good friend at the beginning of May. Then Kevin and I had our Morocco trip starting in May into June. And once I got back, work has been utterly consuming most of my life (and not in good ways). I had lots of messes to clean up and nonsense to deal with. It's been, frankly, ugly. We had to put one of our rats, Eros, down right before we left for Morocco, which was sad but definitely the right choice. Then we lost Dion shortly after we got back and Apollo had a weird cancer that he needed pretty big surgery for. Then another friend's elopement that I was able to attend. Lots of good things and some bad things, too. But with all of that, I also have not had any energy to work on my blog. I have still been reading though. And there have been other things going on, which I do plan to share, just not quite yet.

I feel like I have some sort of excuses for being late every month (or every two months as the case may be). I want to keep my blog going and I have some other posts started (not finished). Life has just been crazy. Maybe that is just how life is now? Is this what it means to be a grown up??

I will try to give some quick reviews of the books I read in May and June here. Due to the tardiness of my post, I will keep them very breif.

Title: Dreams Lie Beneath
Author: Rebecca Ross
Narrator: Chloe Dolandis
Synopsis/Thoughts: This was an Owlcrate book and I listened to the audiobook some of the time and read the physical book the rest of the time. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, maybe more than I expected. Every new moon, nightmares stalk the streets in the kingdom of Azenor. The magical wardens are tasked with collecting information on nightmares and defeating them each new moon. Clementine is posed to take over her father's warden-ship when a couple of brothers take his position. To get revenge, Clem disguises herself and becomes the assistant to one of the brothers, Phelan. But the dreams they are fighting are more complicated than they realize and they may need to join forces to uncover the truth.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Raven Cycle series
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Synopsis/Thoughts: OK, I know I just read these back in March. But I just wasn't ready to leave this world. And I may have some Ronan obsession problems. I even have a character playlist. I don't know if I want to talk about it. But I just love these books.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Sun and the Star
Authors: Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
Narrator: A.J. Beckles

Synopsis/Thoughts: I really like Nico and Will and I was glad to see the story of Bob re-visited and completed. I was exciting for this book, but there were some things that I didn't love. There was some dragging and repetitiveness. Maybe a side effect of dual authors? I don't know. I did enjoy it overall and if you are a fan of Rick Riordan's books, this is worth the read. I'm sure I will re-read it in the future and maybe my thoughts will change.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Jay's Gay Agenda
Author: Jason June

Synopsis/Thoughts: This was a quick enjoyable read. Jay is the only gay teen (maybe gay person) in his tiny hometown. So when his parents announce they are moving to Seattle, he is ecstatic to experience life as a gay teen with other LBGTQ+ people around. He does a lot of growing up. It is sweet and funny and sometimes sad. But it is a good, happy story in the end.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Call Down the Hawk
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Synopsis/Thoughts: Another one I just read a few months ago... I just needed to re-read the Dreamer Trilogy, too. I still really enjoyed this book. I like seeing more of the Lynch brothers (and of Ronan, obviously). It holds up.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Least favorite book read in May/June: All of them were good, but the Sun and the Star has the lowest rating.
Favorite book read in May/June: the Raven Cycle books

As of the end of June, I have read 44 books toward my goal of 75.

I promise that I will try to be better in July. Thanks for sticking with me anyway!