Saturday, August 1, 2020

July 2020 Wrap Up

Guys, July has been absolutely insane. I have been working almost every day nearly all month. And working strange shifts, as early as 5 or 6 am and as late as midnight. And working some 10, 11 hour days. I am glad that I have this position and that my work is so needed. But I am also tired. I will get a little break next weekend, thankfully. Well-earned if I do say so myself.

I have had next to no time to work on my next disease post, though I did start it in June. One day I will finish a post about Diphtheria!

I have also been comforting myself with book-related (mostly) retail therapy. I have bought lots of books and pins and washi tape and candles. Oops. Good thing I have been working so many extra hours. But I've bought several books and haven't had as much time to read them. And I haven't had it in me to read much. I re-read some books which helped. I did not finish my book club book for this month (in fact, I barely even started it).

Speaking of books, here is what I did read this month!

Title: The Near Witch
Author: V.E. Schwab
Narrator: Heather Wilds

Synopsis: The town of Near is small. No one visits or leaves. And the tales of the Near Witch are told to scare children. But one day a stranger shows up and then children start to disappear from their beds.

Thoughts: This was Victoria Schwab's debut novel. It felt a little like a first book and was occasionally repetitive. Overall, I liked the story alright, though it didn't stick out to me like most of her other books have.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Title: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
Author: Sandhya Menon

Synopsis: Pinky is a rebel always fighting for a cause. During the summer, feeling her mother's very critical eye on her, she told her parents that she had a boyfriend that even her mom would approve of. And then she needed a fake boyfriend. Samir's summer internship fell through and left his summer open. That works out perfectly for Pinky: Samir is proper and polite and can be her fake boyfriend. In return, she will line up another internship for him with her mother's law firm.

Thoughts: I'm so glad I got this book when I did. I picked it up immediately and ended up loving it. I read her book From Twinkle, With Love a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. So I read When Dimple Met Rishi, which I enjoyed less. The companion novel to that came out about a year ago: There's Something About Sweetie,  I liked much more. But this one tops them all. It was the perfect summer read.

Rating: 4 or 4 1/2 stars out of 5

Title: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and Lioness Rampant
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: Alanna has won her shield and revealed her true gender to the people of Tortall. Now a knight, she searches for adventure. Her travels take her to the Great Southern Desert and then to the Roof of the World.

Thoughts: Re-reads and comfort reads. I always love these books. The Song of the Lioness quartet will always hold a special place in my heart, I think.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: Aru Shah and the End of Time, Aru Shah and the Song of Death, and Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Soneela Nankani

Synopsis: These books follow the tale of twelve-year-old Aru Shah, reincarnated Pandava and tale spinner extraordinaire. After freeing the Sleeper from his prison, she must gather the other Pandavas and defeat him.

Thoughts: Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes came out recently so I listened to it. But it's been a while since I read the last two, so then I re-read Aru Shah and the End of Time and Aru Shah and the Song of Death. These are fun and informative. Rick Riordan-esque but with Hindu mythology. They are great!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
Least favorite book read this month: The Near Witch

And that's about it for this month. I have now read 60 books toward my goal of 80. And for the alphabet challenge, I completed N.

Thanks for reading! I hope my life will be a little less insane in August.

Friday, July 3, 2020

June 2020 Wrap Up

June felt like a long month to me, and I feel like I didn't do much/enough important things. The world is so crazy right now, it is hard to keep up with it.

I've been working a lot and putting in plenty of overtime hours. That's what I do most of the time. That and play with my pet rats!

All that aside, here are book reviews for June!

Title: Alanna the First Adventure and In the Hand of the Goddess
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: Alanna is determined to become a knight, so she disguises herself as a boy and heads to the palace for training. These two books follow her journey of becoming a page, squire, and finally a knight. She makes friends and defeats enemies and discovers more about who she is and who she wants to become.

Thoughts: These are re-reads. I needed comfort books and have wanted to re-read many of Tamora Pierce's books recently. I've read these books more times than I would like to count, but I always love them.

Rating: 4-5 out of 5 stars

Title: The Blood of Olympus
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Nick Chamian

Synopsis: The adventures of the crew aboard the Argo II and their allies comes to a head as they work to defeat the giants and Gaea once and for all. Octavian is on the brink of starting a war with Camp Half-Blood, while Reyna, Nico, and Hedge race to stop him. Meanwhile the seven demigods on the Argo II head towards Athens and the final battle with the giants.

Thoughts: I had to re-read this whole series and this book is probably the best in the series (or the House of Hades, I'm always torn). I always love Leo most. As a side note, it wasn't until re-listening to the series this time that I realized how much I dislike this narrator. The narrator for the first three books was much better. But I still love the book!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Title: The Keeper of Lost Things
Author: Ruth Hogan
Narrators: Jane Collingwood and Sandra Duncan

Synopsis: After Anthony looses his fiancee and the lucky charm she gave him in the same day, he spends the rest of his life collecting lost items and trying to find their homes. However, he is at the end of his life and ready to rejoin his love, Therese. He leaves his house and all the lost things to his personal assistant, Laura. Laura, like Anthony's other lost items, is also looking for her purpose in life and she sets out to complete Anthony's work.

Thoughts: This was a book club read. There were a few things that I found a bit repetitive and maybe a touch annoying. Despite these things, I did enjoy the story and how everything comes full circle in the end.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu

Synopsis: Marianne Mozart aka Nannerl is a musical prodigy and wants nothing more than to be remembered for her music. As a woman, she is not meant for such a life. But her prodigious brother Wolfgang is. A mysterious and magical being named Hyacinth finds her and offers to make her dreams come true. As the years pass and Nannerl approaches a marriageable age and her brother continues to outshine her, she begins to feel torn about the tasks that Hyacinth asks her to complete in trade for her wish. The cost might be too high.

Thoughts: This was an Owlcrate book from the March box and the book was so beautiful! It has silver edges and a pretty cover (both of which were chewed on by my rat, Hades--you can see a bit in the lower right corner... good thing he's such a cutie). It read like a historical fiction/fantasy novel. There was enough truth about the Mozart family to really keep me interested, though I did not love the whole story as much as I hoped to. I was still intrigued by the family and wanted to know Nannerl's real story.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Favorite book read this month: Is it cheating to say the Alanna books?
Least favorite book read this month: I didn't strongly dislike any of them, but I gave the Kingdom of Back and the Keeper of Lost Things the lowest ratings this month

Alphabet reading challenge completed: K (The Kingdom of Back and the Keeper of Lost Things).
I have read 53 books of my target 80 books for the year.

That's about it for this month. I have started working on a disease post about Diphtheria, but it still needs some work.

Sunday, June 7, 2020


Due to the current events (which, honestly, have been going on forever and feel like they will never stop), I wanted to make a little post.

I am a white woman and I benefit from the privileges of being a white person. This means that I will never really understand what Black people go through. It also means that I don't know enough and don't know how to help. I decided a while back that I needed to be a better Black ally. While I know that I still have so much to learn and so much more that I can do, we all have to start somewhere. I hope this post will help others begin the journey to being a better ally, too.

One thing we need to do as allies: educate ourselves.

I'm sure most of us have Black friends and/or family who we can talk to. Or other allies and activists. Some of them are very open to discussion and answering questions. Many of them know what kinds of things we can do to help. And if they are willing and able to do this, that's great. But we as white allies need to be able to find information ourselves. There are so many accounts in written and video formats that people have made to discuss the issues Black people face. Listen to what they have to say, listen to their stories and their needs. Mostly, they need us to use our white privilege to help.

A goal I have for myself is to read more books by Black authors and about the issues of race. I think that this will help me better understand and help me learn. As a book worm, this is something that is accessible to me and is a good starting point. I have seen many readers posting suggested reading lists and articles for this purpose. I will share some of the top books on my reading list in case you want to add them to your list, too.
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognize Your Privilege, Combat Racism, and Change the World by Layla F. Saad
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • The Hate U Give and On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
I know there are so many more. And if you have one that was really good or made a big impact on you, please share! I have read several, and here are a few that I personally recommend:
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hold in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Image credit: @jane_mount

We also need to speak up when we hear hurtful things from our friends and family. And, while I am not a parent, I think that teaching children about racial issues is important. Things won't get better unless the future generations are also on board. There are articles and books available to parents and children to help. I have included a short list to get started:
Another thing we can do: donate.

There are organizations that are doing great work that are in need of monetary donations. Depending on your location, there may be places or organizations that need volunteers. I have seen people going to protests to add their voice or even people offering up services (water, first aid, etc.) to protestors or even offering their homes as safe havens. Some places might be in need of supplies. All of these things are helpful.

I have found a (short) list of organizations that you can donate to if you are interested. I have donated to a couple myself either in the past or recently.
This is far from all of the organizations out there. If you have other good, reputable organizations to add to this list, please let me know. And inform me of specific places that might be in need of volunteers or supplies.

Take action: participate, sign petitions, and call government officials.

If you can, participate in peaceful protests or help those participating. There are so many petitions out there to try to bring people to justice for killing innocent, unarmed Black people.

Here are just a few petitions to start with:
Call mayors and officials. Tell them you want justice for these innocent people.

And here is a big one: register to vote and then go vote! We can help policies change and vote in officials who will support these movements.

Support Black people.

Listen, stand with them, support them. Support Black-owned businesses. I for one have been seeking out bookstores owned by Black people to order books from. We can help elevate them and draw attention to them. Read books by Black authors, support Black artists, Black podcasts. Seek them out and broaden your horizons. Find stores that are donating proceeds to organizations that are seeking justice. There are people on instagram and twitter you can follow. (One of my favorites on instagram is @theconsciouskid)

And Love.

Let this help bring us together. Together we can change our world for the better. Together we can demand justice. Reach out to people, check on them. Ask your Black friends and family how they are doing. Take care of each other. We are stronger united than divided. Don't let the names of the victims fade away.

Thank you for reading. I hope this will help other white allies start their journey to being better allies.