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!

Monday, January 31, 2022

January 2022 Wrap Up

It is 2022!

I realized a week or so ago that maybe it wasn't good that I didn't really set goals for the new year. Aside from my goal to read 60 books.

So I decided I want to finish the following books in order to finish the respective series:
  • Winter
  • The Bronzed Beasts
  • Five Dark Fates
  • Vengeful
  • The Stone Sky
I have already made some progress (as you will see). And while there aren't any formal goals aside from reading, I think it is better than nothing.
In the last couple of months I have started to see a counselor. It was determined several years ago that I have anxiety which has been pretty nicely under control due to my medication. Lately I have been experiencing pretty specific emotional issues and when I think about it, it sounds like a different manifestation of anxiety. And I think it was really triggered by my work/place of work. Unfortunately, I think it has changed me enough that this will continue to be a problem for the rest of my life, even after I leave this job (one day). So I started counseling. And that has been very good, I think. I still don't feel "better" per se, but I have learned more about myself and become a bit more aware of my thoughts and feelings. And my counselor recently suggested starting a vision board (or multiple, if that works). I have been looking into that, but haven't started anything concrete. I like the idea of them. And that is what made me think about setting goals and that maybe it was bad that I didn't set many.

I do still want to make some more disease posts. I haven't figured out which disease I want to cover yet, but I have a few top options. And I still have plans for some wedding posts that some people might appreciate. I will try to turn these into more concrete goals.

Lets look at the books I finished this month.

Title: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow
Author: Jessica Townsend
Narrator: Gemma Whelan
Synopsis: Morrigan is now a scholar at the Wunderous Society. All the time she had been dreaming of her unit becoming her allies, like brothers and sisters. But life is not so easy. Someone is blackmailing her unit and the members of her unit resent Morrigan for it. Meanwhile, people are disappearing all around Nevermoor and the few that reappear are forever changed. Morrigan must unravel the mystery and try not to alienate her unit at the same time.
Thoughts: This was a re-read. And I still love these books. They are so good and fun and well-written. I absolutely adore Jupiter North, I think he is hilarious and wonderful.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow
Author: Jessica Townsend
Narrator: Gemma Whelan
Synopsis: Morrigan is finally training to be a real wundersmith. In the meantime, a mysterious disease is sweeping through Nevermoor that turns Wunimals into Unimals. No one is able to prevent or cure the disease that leaves the Wunimals hollow. Morrigan realizes that it might be up to her to stop it.
Thoughts: The first book and this one are my favorites so far. I love the story and characters and I absolutely cannot wait for more!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: Daughter of the Deep
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Synopsis: Ana Dakkar is attending an elite school: Harding-Pencroft Acadamy. Their studies focus on the ocean, marine life, manning ships, exploration, and more. When she and the rest of her freshman class leave the school for their weekend trial at sea, something destroys her school and (likely) all of the other students including her older brother, Dev. With their one faculty member and rivals from Land Institute after them, they set course for the Mysterious Island and Ana's ideas of fact and fiction get turned upside-down.
Thoughts: I am not sure why I waited so long to read this. When have I NOT loved a Rick Riordan book? It was great, I loved it. I think it is a stand-alone book and I hope he will write more like it. And I have never read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or the Mysterious Island, but I want to now!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Bronzed Beasts
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrators: Laurie Catherine Winkel and P.J. Ochlan
Synopsis: After Séverin seems to betray his friends and team, he is whisked away to Venice to find the temple in which he can play the lyre and grant Ruslan godhood. With only a few hints about where they need to meet Séverin, Enrique, Hypnos, Laila, and Zofia have to find him and the temple. And time is running out, especially for Laila who only has days left to live.
Thoughts: I'm glad I finally finished this trilogy. It was creative and interesting and I really enjoyed it. I couldn't help but love the characters and be invested in their stories. And it was a good conclusion to the series.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: Daughter of the Deep
Least favorite book read this month: honestly none of them

I have now read four books towards my goal of 60. I have already started Vengeful (and am really enjoying it so far) and I am newly committed to finishing Winter. I've been in such a reading slump. Starting books and never finishing them, nothing holding my interest. Vengeful has been the first book in a very long time that I have just wanted to sit and read for hours.

And generally life is pretty good. I'm still working to better socialize our newer rats. Aside from Hermes (who bites), they are doing alright and are spoiled. Poseidon is still hanging in there with no medical issues that we have seen. He is now my oldest living rat. Sprite may have been about this old, but she had many, many health issues. Poseidon is still moving around and eating and being his adorable, sweet self.

The cat is a monster still. I call him the worst cat ever.

Married life has been good so far. We are only three months in, but it has been lovely.

And otherwise I work a lot, which is mostly good and sometimes less good. But I am glad that I have a job and I am glad that I am getting a lot of different experiences. I think this job has done wonders for my lab skills. And I am even more glad for my team of ladies who have also become friends. I love that I get to work with them and spend time with them.

One last thing. Can we talk about Encanto? It might be my new favorite. I adore it and watch it waaay too much. I listen to all of the songs and spend too much time thinking about the movie.
Image from Disney: Encanto
Anyone have thoughts about the colors the family wears? I noticed it on Pepa's side because they all wear yellow, but I couldn't figure out why that was. Until I finally realized that Julieta's family wears blue. Except for Isabela, which is what threw me. She wears pink (though it looks kind of blue in shadows). But who else wears pink? Abuela. Isabela is supposed to take over her role. But near the end when she gets her power back, she dyes her dress different colors, but mostly blue. 
Image from Slash Film: Encanto
And the triplets wear the same colors they wore as babies! That helped clue me in. I am not sure what the significance is, but I think it is interesting. And probably significant that Mirabel has different colored embroidery on her outfit. My guess is that her "gift" is bringing the family together and she will take over Abuela's spot. Technically, Abuela doesn't have a gift either; she was given the miracle, but not magic. So Mirabel is like her. And are her green glasses significant? Green is Bruno's color.

Also, I love Pepa. She is a bit nuts and I adore it as well as her husband! And I am very fond of Bruno. I'm sure that has nothing to do with all of the rats that he keeps around... Camilo is hilarious, I never get enough of his parts. I love that Dolores knew that Bruno and the rats were around. Kevin and I love all the capybaras (we call them capyboppys because of the book Capyboppy by Bill Peet). The characters are all so interesting, it's great. I don't know how you can NOT like them.

And did everyone notice Bruno (or Camilo disguised as Bruno??) in the background when Dolores sings her part in We Don't Talk About Bruno? I keep meaning to check if he is lurking any other time, but I keep forgetting and end up just watching the movie.

Anyway, random thoughts that I wanted to get down. Maybe others will weigh in and share thoughts, too.

Thanks for reading!