Monday, June 3, 2019

May 2019 Wrap Up

May has been a pretty crazy month for me. I got to go to Disneyland at the beginning, which was amazing. About a week ago (or so), I was in Pittsburgh which was another new place for me. Then June 1st was the anniversary of Sprite's death and the day that I left to visit New Mexico. That's why this post is a little bit late, sorry!

However, I read several great books last month!

Title: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Author: Kelly Harms

Thoughts: I believe this was from the Amazon Prime First Reads. While on vacation I was craving some contemporary fiction so I picked this one out of my Kindle library. It is about a woman who has been abandoned by her husband and forced to find a way to be a single mom. But when he comes back years later, she's not sure she wants to share her life. Her friends help encourage her to allow her ex to take care of the kids while she goes to a conference in New York and re-discovers herself on her "Momspringa."

I wasn't sure how much I would like this book, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable. It's always good to remember that there is more to life than just the hard stuff!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli

Thoughts: A young adult contemporary this time by an author I have loved in the past. This is the story of high school student Leah and how she navigates her way through trying to be a friend, drummer, daughter, student, artist, and maybe girlfriend? As high school is drawing to an end, she knows her life will be changing forever, whether she likes it or not.

I really enjoyed her book the Upside of Unrequited and I liked Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and I liked this one, too. I was so heartbroken for her when she found her prom dress and her mom was less than enthusiastic. But I liked the story and it was a great vacation read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: Aru Shah and the Song of Death
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Soneela Nankani

Thoughts: Book two of the Pandava Quartet and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. The adventures of Aru and Mini continue. They meet another Pandava sister, Brynne, and other allies and must recover the bow and arrow for the god of love before they are banned from the Otherworld forever.

I am generally a sucker for mythology and mythological re-tellings. While my knowledge of Hindu mythologies and the Pandava stories are not the strongest, this series has been great so far.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: There's Something About Sweetie
Author: Sandhya Menon

Thoughts: Another young adult contemporary that I ordered as soon as it came out. This is about Ashish who is still recovering from a bad breakup and allows his parents to arrange some dates with an Indian-American girl of their choosing. And they choose Sweetie who is an accomplished singer, great student, and a track star. And she is fat. She is ok with all of these things, but she is never sure if other people are. Like her mother. Despite everything, Sweetie and Ashish find love.

This was a sweet, feel-good book. I really liked her book From Twinkle, With Love (though I didn't enjoy When Dimple Met Rishi as much). I think Sandhya Menon's books just keep getting better. And this is a wonderful summer romantic read!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: I'm Fine and Neither Are You
Author: Camille Pagán

Thoughts: Penelope is left reeling from the death of her best friend, who seemed like she had the perfect life. As Penelope discovers that this is not the case, she decides it's time to fix things in her own hectic life. And she has a list and a husband who is willing to help work on their marriage and help encourage Penelope to be honest about what she needs and how she feels. While the tasks often seem insurmountable to her, she does start managing to make small changes and improvements to her life.

I got this for my Kindle on sale a while back and picked it up in the midst of my book hangover from The Overdue Life of Amy Byler (which was another book hangover pick from Matchmaking for Beginners that I read a few months ago and wanted more of). I'm starting to see weird patterns in my adult contemporary novel picks! But I did enjoy this one and I cried a few times. A lot of it felt like it could be very real and it made me think.

Rating: 3 1/2-4 stars out of 5


Did I give all of my reads this month 4 out of 5 stars (or nearly)? Yes. It was a good month for reading! Even if I didn't finish my Biology MCAT book like I promised myself. Sometimes that's just the way life goes. I didn't feel like studying while I was on my vacations and ultimately I am very happy with the books I got to read this month.

I also have an idea rolling around in my head for this blog. I am passionate about science and I have posted a couple little things in the past that are science related. I was listening to a podcast episode recently (the second half of the vaccine episode of This Podcast Will Kill You, which is an awesome podcast and you should totally listen to it). They talked some about science and how the general public doesn't understand science and how scientists make information inaccessible to people who aren't, well, scientists. It got me thinking that I might want to contribute to the science community. Maybe I can help make some of this knowledge more accessible? I wish I were an expert on all science (ie: global warming), but I'm not. I do know infectious diseases though. I'm not sure if there is much interest out there for this, but it is something I have been thinking about trying. I will try to start putting something together within the next month or two. Please let me know if you have questions or suggestions!

I can't recall any other big news or developments in my life. Except maybe that I got to see the new Aladdin movie and I recommend it!

Happy summer! Hope you read something amazing!

Friday, May 3, 2019

April 2019 Wrap Up

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I have been on vacation and lost track of my days!

I have to admit, April sort of got away from me. In many ways, it was a very rough month. Little family things and work being very demanding on my time and energies. Despite all of this, I did manage to get some books read. I also managed to participate in the Lol-a-thon reading challenge. Though I did not manage to post much about it. And I think I was the only one who participated (I'm not sure even the creator participated, to be honest). But that's ok. It was still fun and a way to get me to read things that I might not read normally.

Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills

Thoughts: This is a contemporary young adult book about a girl named Claudia whose life is going through some pretty big changes (as in many YA contemporary books). But she finds that, in the end, maybe some of those changes are good. She meets new people, makes new friends, and experiences new things by being forced to participate in the school's rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. And while her relationships with some of her family and friends also change, that doesn't mean she loses them.
This was a book I received in an Owlcrate box ages ago (it seems). I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it. I found it very charming and enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Author: Carlos Hernandez
Narrator: Anthony Rey Perez

Thoughts: A fun little story from Rick Riordan Presents (which all go on my must read, obviously). Admittedly, this one wasn't my favorite of the Rick Riordan Presents books, but I did like the Cuban spin and the magical aspects. Sal has a bad habit of breaking the universe (namely by bringing his dead mother back from alternate universes). He meets Gabi and together they find the ways that this power is bad and the ways it is good. Read to complete a Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a book with a fun cover.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars


Title: Gods Behaving Badly
Author: Marie Phillips
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor

Thoughts: There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and thought were funny, but there were portions that I distinctly disliked. The premise is that the Greek gods are still around, but exist in a weakened state and live in a horrible house in London. They find that they need the help of a couple of mortals to restore their powers. I enjoyed the different gods and their modern "jobs." I distinctly did not care for the unsavory sex scenes and discussions. And there was a funny part about how you have to learn to feel guilty in order to be a Christian (Eros becomes a devout Christian and lectures Apollo on how guilt feels). Overall fairly funny and silly. Read for the Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a book with a non-human main character (if gods count).

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Author: Cressida Cowell
Narrator: David Tennant

Thoughts: A re-read for me, but I do enjoy this book. It's almost nothing like the movie (which I love), but I like the things that are different. Hiccup is supposed to be the next leader of the Hairy Hooligans, after his father, but he can't train his tiny dragon as well as the other boys can. But he has the secret knowledge of the dragon language and finds a way to be a different kind of hero to his tribe. Also read for the Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a book with a non-human main character (in this case, Toothless who is a dragon).

Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Title: The Princess and the Fangirl
Author: Ashley Poston
Narrators: Eileen Stevens, Emily Lawrence, and Caitlin Davies

Thoughts: A re-telling of the Prince and the Pauper tale that takes place in the Geekarella universe. Actress Jess Stone rises to fame in a film re-enactment of a series (Starfield) with a huge nerd fan-base (think Star Trek and the new movie re-creations level). She is both loved and hated by a fandom that she doesn't understand nor care for. She runs into her doppelganger, Imogen, at a Starfield convention and they switch places so that Jess can try to save her career and Imogen can try to save Jess's character, Princess Amara (who Jess does not want saved). They find out how things are on the other side. I rather liked this story, it was sweet and redeeming. I will read any other Geekarella books that Ashley Poston writes! Read for the Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a re-telling.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Title: Gin Tama, Volume 1
Author: Hideaki Sorachi

Thoughts: I needed a comic book or manga for the reading challenge. I was searching for one that was supposed to be funny that I hadn't read before and this series came across my radar. It takes place in a distant future where the samurais have been pushed aside by civilizations from other planets. However, a few samurais remain, trying to scrape a living and change the world in their own small ways. It was generally a pretty silly manga. I enjoyed it alright, but don't plan to read more of the series. Read for the Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a graphic novel/manga.

Rating: 2.5-3 stars out of 5

Title: The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2019
Authors: Seth Kubersky and Bob Schlinger
Thoughts: I'm not sure I really need to review this book, but I read it so it counts toward my yearly reading goal! It's probably pretty obvious that I read this in preparation for my Disneyland vacation. And I did find some of the information very useful. I appreciated the maps, some of the food information, and definitely the ride information. I think I avoided some of the longer lines and less exciting rides by reading this book. I read one of their books before a Disney World trip, too, and thought it was a good reference. I didn't really use any of their trip plans because I had five days in the park and more than enough time to spend waiting in lines without rushing around, but there was still plenty of good stuff in here.

Rating: 3.5-4 stars out of 5



Title: A Question of Holmes
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Narrators: Julia Whelan and Graham Halstead

Thoughts: In the latest (and last?) installment of the Charlotte Holmes series, she and Jamie take on a case from the Oxford summer theater program. In the end, their story has its own wrap up. As far as the cases in this series went, the case itself was fairly tame in comparison to the other books, but it felt fitting to the end of Charlotte and Jamie's story. I enjoyed these books as fun, modern Sherlock Holmes re-tellings.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Title: The Barkshire Lady's Garland
Author: Unknown

Thoughts: So I found a strange post about this poem from the booklr community on Tumblr and it sounded really funny. The post aptly called it "Wife or Knife" as it is an old poem about a wealthy woman who falls in love with a poor lawyer and puts on a mask to challenge him to a dual if he will not marry her. He agrees to the marriage at his friend's prodding, but she will not remove her mask and continues to mess with him for a bit before giving in a revealing herself and her story. It was very entertaining and a very quick read. I highly recommend it! Read for the Lol-a-thon challenge: Read a book written in an atypical format (sort of a short epic poem, which I almost never read).

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Unfortunately, I did not manage to finish an MCAT review book this month either. I focused too much energy on the reading challenge and work, but I am almost finished with the Biology review.

Fortunately, I am spending the last few days of this month (and the beginning of May) in Disneyland with my boyfriend! I have been in desperate need of a vacation and this one has been amazing so far!

Thanks for bearing with me. Anyone else read anything fun in April?

Monday, April 1, 2019

March 2019 Wrap Up

The beginning of March feels like so long ago and like it was just yesterday. Let's start with book reviews!

Title: Frontier Magic Trilogy (Thirteenth Child, Across the Great Barrier, and The Far West)
Author: Patricia Wrede
Narrator: Amanda Ronconni

Thoughts: I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed so I decided to re-listen to this trilogy. This series is an old favorite and I love the narration. These books make me very happy and feel like old friends.

Set in an alternative early America, they follow the journey of a girl named Eff, who is an unlucky thirteenth child (so they say). Her twin brother, however, is the seventh son of a seventh son and blessed with luck and strong magic. Due to her fear of her magic and of being an unlucky thirteenth, the development of her own magical abilities is unique, but she eventually finds her strengths.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, 4 out of 5 stars, and 5 out of 5 stars, respectively.

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang

Thoughts: Another re-read in preparation of King of Scars. I had forgotten several things about this book, so returning to it was very beneficial. I still love Nikolai. I did manage to find more sympathy and a better liking for Mal this time around. The first time through, I sort of hated him by the end. I like the way the story wraps up and feel like most characters had good endings.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: The Tea Dragon Society
Author: Katie O'Neill

Thoughts: This is a graphic novel I received in an Owlcrate box. It was the first thing I read after my book bail. I don't read graphic novels very often, but this looked cute and it definitely was! It was a nice little story and I plan to read the next one when it comes out. The main idea is that there are different kinds of dragons for different kinds of tea and they develop relationships with their caretakers and said caretakers form a society and good friendships and relationships. It is on the simple side, but a nice, quick read that left me feeling good!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Title: The Steel Prince
Author: V.E. Schwab

Thoughts: Oddly enough, another graphic novel! But written by Victoria Schwab, who I love. This is a prequel to the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy which follows Maxim before he becomes king. I enjoyed it, though I thought some of the artwork was hard to follow. I did just fine reading the dialogue, though. I want to read more (partially because I want to know more about how he meets his wife and about her history and magic).

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars




Here is my book bail. I had been trying to read this book for nearly two months and was barely halfway through. I just wasn't interested and I didn't enjoy the writing much. Admittedly, it is below my reading level. I may have enjoyed it more if I'd read it at a younger age. As it was, it was really bogging down my reading progress because I felt so bad abandoning it and felt I couldn't start anything else until I finished this one. When I finally decided to stop and move on, I made much better progress and started feeling like reading was fun and not a chore. I almost never bail on a book, but it is a relief to feel like I can.


Least favorite book read this month: I am counting the Wind Singer, even though I didn't finish it.
Favorite book read this month: is it cheating to count the Frontier Magic trilogy?

I did not manage to complete a MCAT study guide. I stopped for a couple of weeks when I got sick at the end of last month and then for another week while I was still recovering. I am still working on it though and getting ready to (hopefully) take a class this summer.

I'm also still reading a Disneyland guide book in preparation for my trip next month! I'm very excited!

I don't have much other news this month. I've been applying for jobs down in New Mexico to prepare for moving this fall. I haven't heard back yet, but there are a few I've applied to that sound pretty great!

And lastly, next month I decided to try participating in a small reading challenge I found on Tumblr. It's all about finding fun and funny books in the month of April. Here is a link to the LOL-a-thon Challenge. I hope to post snippets and quotes on my Instagram and Tumblr, too. If anyone would like to get involved, please do! It should be fun!