Sunday, July 31, 2022

June and July 2022 Wrap Up

Sorry for the delayed post. I didn't get around to working on my June 2022 wrap up until half way though July. So I figured I might as well wait and post everything at once.

June was neat because I got to go up to Colorado and visit friends and family. I think I needed that more than I knew. It was a good trip and it was so nice to see so many of my people.

I didn't update at the end of June because I ended up working all weekend and was exhausted all week from the extra hours (including working on the fourth of July). And in between all of that I was dealing with rats being sick, vet appointments, doctors appointments for me, internet issues, and more. It was just busy and I was so tired. I hope this will be the last post that I need to combine. But you never know. I will do my best.

July was (obviously) a bit nuts at work for a while. More vet appointments and doctors/dentist appointments. We also lost the woman who was my daycare lady for many years of my life near the end of July. I think she started taking care of me when I was about 2 until I was nearly 12. She helped raise me and several of the kids in her care are still in touch. One of my best and oldest friends started daycare around the same time I did and my little brother met his two best friends there and they are still a great trio all these years later. It has been a sad week with her loss. She was such a big part of all of our lives. That has been on my mind a lot lately.

I will keep my book reviews short since it is late and two months worth of them.

Title: Playing With Myself
Author: Randy Rainbow
Narrator: Randy Rainbow
 
Synopsis: An autobiography/collection of memoirs by and about Randy Rainbow. 

Thoughts: I loved this book. It was great and often super funny. And one time I cried my eyes out. Listening to it being read by him made it more special. Absolutely recommend.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Narrator: Frazer Douglas
 
Synopsis: This is the story of Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, the man who best loved Achilles and was best loved by Achilles. Despite their differences, they become unlikely friends and eventually fall in love.
 
Thoughts: I feel like I'm behind on this one. And, oddly enough, I am not super familiar with Achilles' story. But this book was lovely and beautiful.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Other Man
Author: Farhad J. Dadyburjor
Narrator: Ariyan Kassam
 
Synopsis: Ved is living as a closeted gay man in India where being gay is not accepted. He agrees to an arranged marriage with the seemingly perfect Disha. And he thinks that will be all until he meets Carlos and falls head over heals for him.
 
Thoughts: There were some things that I loved about this book and some things that I didn't like much. But I sort of love Ved's parents and Disha. Overall it was a nice read.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 


Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Narrator: Trevor Noah
 
Synopsis: Trevor was born in South Africa to a Black mother and white father. Since this was illegal, it had to be hidden for much of his life. And it gave him a whole different life experience than most people would ever experience.
 
Thoughts: This was a great book. I honestly know little about apartheid. His life was so different from anything I could imagine. I found it very interesting and I thought it was a great read.
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: What if it's Us
Authors: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Narrators: Noah Galvin and Froy Gutierrez
 
Synopsis: A brief, chance meeting between Arthur and Ben leaves both of them desperate to find the other. When Arthur posts an ad at a local coffee shop, it feels like destiny that Ben found it. But Arthur is only in New York City for the summer.

Thoughts: This book was sweet and pretty cute. I think I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending mostly. Still a decent read though. Fun little meet-cute story.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 

Titles: Emperor Mage and The Realms of the Gods
Author: Tamora Pierce
 
Synopsis: Daine's adventures continue. First, she travels to Carthak with Tortall ambassadors to try and make peace with the Emperor and a goddess lends Daine the power to bring dead animals to life. Then, when she is in great danger, Daine (with Numair) is pulled into the realms of the gods by her parents. Once she recovers, she and Numair must find their way back to the mortal realms.

Thoughts: I have read these books too many times. These two were always my favorites when I was younger, but now that I am older, I actually like the first two better. But these are nostalgic, comfort reads for me and I think I will always love them.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 

Title: Lady Killers
Author: Tori Telfer
Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen
 
Synopsis: This book explores female serial killers in history. Women are generally seen as the victims of such crimes; society struggles when women are serial killers.
 
Thoughts: This book was great. My only wish was that more female serial killers were included in this book. Her exploration of the history and taking the fantasies out of the true story made it even more interesting. She also talks a lot about how female serial killers are viewed and downplayed by society.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Female Serial Killers
Author: Peter Vronsky
Narrator: Charles Constant
 
Synopsis: Vronsky takes a look at female serial killers and what makes them killers. He looks at many female serial killers and takes their histories and childhoods into account as well as some interesting psychological information and analysis.

Thoughts: I am not generally into serial killers, but the last book (see above) peaked my interest in female serial killers. This one looks at many more women, most much more modern than in the last book. Some of the information was very interesting and some was very disturbing (which is to be expected, I think). My only complaint is that, at times, his weird version of feminism got to me. He is occasionally very oddly harsh and opinionated in particular ways about feminist movements/thoughts/arguments. Sometimes I didn't even think he was wrong, but disliked how he brushed off other people/analysts without (in my opinion) much to stand on, seeing as he is a man.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women
Author: Elizabeth Norton
Narrator: Jennifer Dixon
 
Synopsis: This book follows the lives of women (from peasants to royalty) during the reign of the Tudors. Most historical records concern men more than women, so this is some insight into the lives of women who are so often hidden from historical records.
 
Thoughts: If you are into history, this is an interesting read. I enjoyed it.
 
 Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Stay Gold
Author: Tobly McSmith
Narrators: Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole

Synopsis: Pony is a transgender boy in rural Texas and he is transferred to a new school. Since no one knows he is transgender, he is living his dream of just being one of the guys. And then he falls for the beautiful cheerleader, Georgia who likes him back. But he is afraid to tell anyone his secret, though growing closer to Georgia he knows he really should.

Thoughts: I read this book last year and loved it so much. Reading it again this year did not at all change my feelings. I adore this book. It is hard and wonderful and redeeming and magic.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars


Title: Love and Other Disasters
Author: Anita Kelly
Narrator: Lindsey Dorcus
 
Synopsis: Dahlia loves to cook and enters as a contestant on a cooking show to win the money that would help turn her life around. Meanwhile, London, the first openly nonbinary contestant on the popular cooking show wants to pursue their dream of starting a non-profit for LBGTQ+ kids. Can Dahlia and London really compete as their feelings towards one another grow?
 
Thoughts: I liked the cooking show premise of this book and the characters were interesting and likable enough. It was good, overall, but I didn't love the sex scenes (as is usual for me). That aside, it was sweet and fun.
 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Conventionally Yours
Author: Annabeth Albert
Narrators: Kirt Graves and Joel Froomkin

Synopsis: Conrad and Alden are rivals maybe. They both play a card game called Odyssey and have gained some notoriety online. They are invited to an Odyssey convention and competition with a grand money prize and a chance to turn professional. Each needs to win for different reasons. As they travel to the convention as reluctant travel companions, they grow closer and their perspectives start to shift.
 
Thoughts: I liked some of the nerdy aspects of this book and there were a ton of LBGTQ characters, which is nice to see. As usual, I did not enjoy the sex scenes, but the book was a fun read and I liked the characters' and their connections and relationship.
 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Titles: First Test and Page
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: These are the first two books in the Protector of the Small quartet. The series follows Kel in her quest to become a female knight, the first known female knight in many decades. First Test follows her year as a probationary page and her adventures continue as she is accepted as a true page following the first year.
 
Thoughts: I have read these books many, many times. And while Alanna and Daine have always been favorite characters of mine, I really think that this series is probably the most well-written of her series. And they are still comfort reads for me. I always enjoy them.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 


Favorite books read in June and July: Playing With Myself and Stay Gold
Least favorite books read in June and July: Not sure, maybe What if it's Us, Conventionally Yours, or Love and Other Disasters. Not because they were bad, just that they got the fewest stars.

I have read 49 books towards my goal of 60. I may increase my goal since I have been doing well lately.

Thanks for reading and for your patience! I appreciate you sticking with me.

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.