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!

Monday, March 4, 2019

February 2019 Wrap Up

The shortest month of the year is over, here's what I've got.

First, sorry for the delay, I lost my little Jeki rat this month and then proceeded to get pretty sick for the last week of the month. My reading has definitely fallen off with me trying to get through the MCAT books, but here is what I did get through:

Books finished this month:
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang

Thoughts: This is a re-read for me. I wanted to read the Grisha trilogy again before diving into her new book, King of Scars. The universe that the author created is amazing and sometimes terrifying. I love the magic and different types of Grisha. I also enjoy the bit of foreshadowing that she does with the volcra in her dream. That part always sticks with me.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: MCAT General Chemistry Review
Author: Kaplan Test Prep

Thoughts: I'm not going to really give reviews on these books, but I am reading them cover to cover, so I am counting them toward my reading goals (at least the first time I read through them). But this was a good review of general chemistry and I found it helpful.

Rating: I'm not sure how to rate these, but 4 out of 5 stars



Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang

Thoughts: Another re-read to prepare for reading King of Scars and the continuation of Shadow and Bone. I do like this book because Nikolai is introduced and I do love him. This book is where I start to dislike Mal an awful lot. I'm on to re-reading the third one now and then I can move onto King of Scars!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: MCAT Behavioral Sciences Review
Author: Kaplan Test Prep

Thoughts: Another MCAT book and this one covers topics I am less familiar with. It contains mostly psychology and sociology as well as the biological aspects of the brain and how it works. I will definitely need to go back to this book and read it again.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Favorite book read this month: Shadow and Bone
Least favorite book read this month: None really. If forced, I might pick the MCAT Behavioral Sciences Review. I think I'm allowed to count those.

Other things that happened this month:
Google + has been taken down. I'm not sure yet how that will be affecting my blog, as it is a Google owned company. I may need to find a new host for my domain name, but for now I will be staying here until I figure everything out. I mostly need to make sure that people can still comment without the Google+ comments. It looks like it will be reverting back to blogger comments, but I'm not positive. I will keep you posted and look into alternatives.

Kevin and I had our two year anniversary, which was nice and we both acknowledged it and sent cards to each other. It's so nice to know that it's as important to him as it is for me. We are starting to plan our Disneyland trip (well, he has to attend conferences for parts of the day while we are there, so I am planning for the times he can join me in Disney). Of course I started reading The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2019. For research.

I was also sent to Sacramento for some work training and that all happened at the last minute. Besides that, it was a nice trip and cool to see another, larger lab. It was a good experience and I am all trained to use our new machine and to train my coworkers!

I guess February was busier than I thought. Hopefully I can get more reading done in March! Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 1, 2019

January 2019 Wrap Up

We have reached the end of January 2019!

Here are the books I finished and brief reviews:
Title: Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene

Thoughts: I never read these growing up and I obtained this copy for free so I decided to give it a shot. I think the audience needs to be much younger than I am. It had it's old-time-y charm, but wasn't the best thing I've ever read.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars


Title: One Day in December
Author: Josie Silver
Narrated by: Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson

Thoughts: Several people I follow started this book in December, so I did, too. I expected to love it and definitely didn't. I liked the friendship between the main character, Laurie and her roommate and best friend, Sarah, but I couldn't stand the lead male. Also, why were almost all of his sections about/during/following sex? Seems to be the only thing that was important to him and I had zero tolerance for it. He needed more depth and more redemption, in my opinion.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars, and those only because I loved Laurie and Sarah (and Oscar).


Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin and Robbie Daymond

Thoughts: Never saw the movie, but I knew the overall gist of the story. I wasn't sure I would like it, but I most definitely did. I like how Maddy came into her own and decided to take charge of her life.

     Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Title: Journal of the Plague Year
Author: Daniel Defoe
Narrated by: Andrew Cullum

Thoughts: I LOVE the plague. Yersinia pestis is my favorite microbe. This book was cool because it was written shortly after the plague in London in the 1600s. It was cool to see differing perspectives and what they knew and didn't know compared to what we know now.

     Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Title: Love Out of Order
Author: Ellie Spark

Thoughts: It is a sweet story about two women finding love. It was not super detailed and occasionally repetitive. I also found a couple of small errors. It was sweet, but not really well written which made it hard to be absorbed in the story. I don't plan to seek out more of her books.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars



Title: Matchmaking for Beginners
Author: Maddie Dawson

Thoughts: I thought this book was very charming and interesting. An eccentric lady leaves her house to Marnie and she has to meet the others who live there and nearby and decide what she wants for her life. I liked the "magical" aspect of the story and even though several of the characters weren't entirely likeable, I enjoyed it!
               
                                   Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Narrated by: Adam Grupper

Thoughts: Beautiful and heartbreaking. I almost cried several times. It was touching and sometimes redeeming and other times hopeless. Definitely worth a read.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars



Title: Dragon Pearl
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
Narrated by: Kim Mai Guest

Thoughts: Sci fi is not my go-to genre, but it's part of Rick Riordan Presents, so I had to read it (the others have been great, too, in case you are wondering). I know very little about Korean mythology, but I loved the magical creatures and the ghosts. It wasn't very heavy on the typical sci fi stuff and the other worlds were interesting. Would recommend and looking forward to more!

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
Author: Julie Andrews
Narrated by: Julie Andrews

Thoughts: I knew very little about Julie Andrews' life prior to Mary Poppins. I love her so much in Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. It was very interesting to see her family and the events that shaped her life. I enjoyed listening to her read it and there were plenty of emotional and amazing parts. If you like memoirs, I recommend it!

                                             Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Tough one! Matchmaking for Beginners or Dragon Pearl
Least favorite book read this month: One Day in December

What else can I report? I started looking a bit more into medical school and the requirements. I ordered MCAT study materials and applied to a community college to take the three classes that I am missing: Organic Chemistry II, and two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology. I also need to find a way to review OChem I because that class was very rough for me and I'm not feeling very prepared for OChem II (but I would really prefer to not re-take OChem I).

Otherwise, my three little rats got sick, but seem to be recovering, though Jeki is on a second antibiotic. They are super cute, so here is a picture:
Zosi on the left, Jeki on the right, and sleepy Pye laying on top of/between them

That's about it for January! I hope everyone had a good, productive month and we can continue into February!

Anyone else have favorite reads from January?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

YA Happy Hour

I just realized that I never posted this! This happened nearly a year and a half ago, but I'm going to go ahead and share it now. Here is the post originally written in November 2017.
                                                           

I recently attended a YA book signing/happy hour event hosted by the Tattered Cover. I went because Maggie Stiefvater was in town for her All the Crooked Saints Tour and I decided that I wanted to meet her.

I have a fair amount of reverence for Maggie Stiefvater and always felt a little intimidated by her because she's so talented. For a while, I was OK not ever meeting her. Plus I order most of her books through Fountain bookstore, so they arrive already signed, doodled in, and usually with her bookplate. As such, I didn't have many options for her autograph. But I do own her tarot card deck (which I love because they are beautiful and based on the Raven Cycle). I decided I would ask her to sign her favorite one.

When I got to meet Maggie Stiefvater, she wasn't scary at all. She was so nice and conversational. I told her that I tended to order her books already signed from the Fountain Bookstore, which she liked because she said that her fans help keep the shop afloat.

I asked if she had a favorite of her tarot cards she'd be willing to sign and she told me that her favorite was the Moon. Essentially, her explanation was that she likes the Moon because you can tell that you are approaching something in the dark, but you don't know if it's dangerous or not until you get close, but either way makes for an adventure. We talked a bit about her books and she said that the lady who inspired Persephone was also there, so I had to go meet her of course.


I also met Jeff Zetner, who I was also a bit intimidated to approach, but he was also very nice. I received his book, The Serpent King, in an Owlcrate and did not expect to like it as much as I did, so I asked him to sign my copy instead of his new book (which I did buy there). He did and he also signed his letter that he included with the Owlcrate book because I keep the author letters in the books. And he told me to watch out for the Serpent King reference in his new book.

Otherwise, I met plenty of other authors whose books I haven't read (yet). They were all nice and it was a very fun night!

Sorry for the Radio Silence...

Hello!

No, I haven't forgotten that I have a blog that needs work to keep running. My life got kind of silly and crazy for a while there. Most of it isn't super important, but I had several things that I needed to work on. Plus my old computer died and I didn't have the means to replace it for a while. It is really difficult to update this blog from my phone, so I had to wait a bit.

But I apparently was experiencing pretty bad anxiety. I didn't realize how much it was crippling me until I started seeing a doctor and got on some medication that works. It's an amazing relief to me that I feel able to handle life now.

Plus, I spent most of the time since my last update caring for Sprite, my heart rat. She was special needs and required lots of extra care, vet appointments, medications, and so forth closer to the end of her life. She lived a good long time, but I was heartbroken when it came time to put her down. She was very special to me and took up an awful lot of my time and energy (and an awful lot of space in my heart).

I also began a new relationship nearly two years ago and that has changed a bunch of things for me, definitely for the positive. In short, he treats me better than I ever thought I deserved to be treated and he makes me feel like a priority and never like a chore. It's been amazing and I have needed time to adjust to it and explore what a healthier relationship is supposed to be like.

And I have a lovely new computer! So it's time to get back on track.

New Years Resolutions:
  • Read at least 75 books
  • Figure out what I'm doing with my life (mainly if I want to go to medical school or not and start that process if so)
  • Get my blog running again

I would like this blog to get back to where it used to be. I am going to do some book reviews at the end of each month like I used to. Hopefully I will have it in me to do some more crafts and projects that I can share (but I haven't been doing much of that these days).

So that is my spiel. I will post this followed shortly by a post I wrote a year and a half ago and never shared (sorry)!

Happy New Year everyone! May this year be better for everyone!