Sunday, August 1, 2021

July 2021 Wrap Up

I did not keep up with much this last month it seems. Work was kind of nuts and I had to work several weekends in a row which made me tired and irritable. It looks like I still got some things done though.

We managed to get most of our wedding invites out this month and have even gotten some RSVPs already (which I am not complaining about, the sooner I know, the better I feel). I still have some that need to go out though.

I made my petticoats. They didn't turn out quite the way I'd wanted, but I think they will be fine. I may add a bit more to them to make the dress more puffy. But then I found that the layers of the dress don't let allow as much "puffing" as I want. So I started altering my dress by adding extra panels of fabric into the seams in each layer so the petticoats can give the skirts more volume. It is a work in progress and I hope I don't mess it up too much.

Other wedding things are slowly falling in to place. We ordered our wedding bands so those will be here soon and I will need to get mine re-sized. My bridesmaids have had a couple of meetings and I am excited for the bridal shower and bachelorette party. They have all been amazing and their involvement and excitement make me very happy and excited, too. We met with my good friend who will also be our officiant for the first time to talk about the ceremony. Basically we have lots of homework to do. I wish I could just have everything done now so I don't have to worry about anything later, but that's just not how it works. That is OK though, I am still enjoying the process more than I am stressing about it.

My little Poseidon rat has been having some skin problems which we are trying to figure out. The vet can't get him in for a little bit unfortunately. The new boys are getting better socialized. Hephaestus has an appointment to be neutered because he picks on Eros. Admittedly, Eros is a bit of a drama queen and squeals like he's dying anytime Hephaestus gets close to him... But they are all really cute and Hermes hasn't bitten me in the last couple of weeks, so that is exciting.

And now on to books. Here is what I managed to read this month.

Title: A Happy Catastrophe
Author: Maddie Dawson
Narrator: Amy McFadden
 
Synopsis: This book follows Matchmaking for Beginners. Marnie is now the local matchmaker and is happy in her new life. Patrick doesn't care for her generally social, chaotic lifestyle and Marnie wants more from him and more for their relationship than he is prepared to give. Enter a series of crazy events that will propel their lives forward (and in different directions) whether they like it or not.
 
Thoughts: While I enjoyed Matchmaking for Beginners, I did not much care for this one. Not enough to bail, there were some things that I liked, but I sort of hated Patrick the whole time. 

Rating: 2 1/2 to 3 stars out of 5 stars


Title: A Thousand Ships
Author: Natalie Haynes
Narrator: Natalie Haynes
 
Synopsis: This book looks at various perspectives of women during the Trojan War. The story jumps around from woman to woman, occasionally returning to a few of them. What were they thinking and experiencing during the war? Was their home destroyed? Did they lose their families? Did they lose their own lives? Who waited for their men for so many years they may as well have been dead? Which women took their fates into their own hands? Finally, the ignored women are given their chance to be heard.
 
Thoughts: This was originally a book club book, but I had read the other selection that month. This one was on my "To Read" list, but after hearing about it during book club discussion, I wanted to read it even more. When I scored it on sale, I was very excited. I really liked this look at the women involved (directly or indirectly) in the Trojan War. Also, I really need to go back and re-read the Iliad, the Odyssey, and maybe the Aeneid as well. If you like the classic stories and myths, you will probably enjoy this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: The Great Mortality
Author: John Kelly
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies
 
Synopsis: The first major outbreak of plague happened in the mid-14th century and it decimated Europe and most of the known world. The consequences had long lasting affects.
 
Thoughts: As most of you probably know, I LOVE the plague (Yersinia pestis) and just about anything that has to do with it. So it probably goes without saying that I enjoyed this book. I did have a little trouble getting into it. It felt like the topics kind of jumped around too much, but I think I may not have been focusing enough. It was still informative and fascinating and enjoyable. And I learned a few things I didn't know before, so that is always exciting!

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


Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert
Narrator: Ione Butler
 
Synopsis: This is a romantic comedy about Danika Brown and her friend Zafir. When he rescues her and carries her out of the building they work in, videos of the event go viral. Zafir is trying to get his charity off the ground and the video of him carrying his "girlfriend" to safety starts gaining him and his work some attention. He asks Dani to go along with it and she agrees but her only goal is to make Zafir her regular fuck-buddy. The fact that both of them have a little crush on the other just complicates things.
 
Thoughts: I usually love the fake dating trope, but I liked it less in this book. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because the other ones I adored were also more enemies to lovers tropes, too. Also, I started with book two in the Brown Sisters books, which maybe isn't ideal, but not much from the first book was spoiled. And I was not prepared for all of the smut, which is definitely not up my alley. That aside (not a flaw of the book, just not my thing), it had very sweet and charming moments. I didn't love it per se, but I did like it enough to go back and read the first book.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: A Thousand Ships
Least favorite book read this month: A Happy Catastrophe

I have now read 25 books towards my goal of 50 books, which puts me about 4 books behind schedule. Oh well.

I think that is about it for the moment. I can't believe it is already August. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

June 2021 Wrap Up

And here we are at the end of June!

Our wedding is only four months away! My dress has been shortened (but not as much as I would have liked, but I'm trying to just get over it) and I just barely started my petticoat. The petticoat will also make it look a bit shorter, so it really might be fine. 

I finished be-dazzling my wedding shoes and I am excited to wear them! I will post pictures below. We have managed to figure out other details, too. Our save the dates went out this month and we started getting invitations ready. We want to get them out earlier in case they get held up in the mail. Our wedding website is done. I painted rat figurines to possibly use as a cake topper if they turn out cute and not too weird.


 

And here are the books I completed this month.

Title: Spoiler Alert
Author: Olivia Dade
Narrators: 

Synopsis: Marcus is a popular actor on a now famous TV series that was based on a series of books. Books that he, secretly, happens to love and he belongs to the fandom. Undercover of course. He exists on the fan forums under a tag name where he is friends with a ton of other like-minded fans. April is one of those fans. In fact, they are online friends, though they have never met in person and don't know each others' real names. April decides to post a cosplay photo of herself on Twitter. And because she is fat, the photo goes viral. When Marcus sees it he thinks two things: that she is absolutely gorgeous and that the people with the negative comments need to be brought down a few notches. So he asks her out, via Twitter.

Thoughts: I just... wanted to love this book so badly. And there were some parts of it that I really liked. But I was not so much a fan of a few things. And it was much more smutty than I was expecting which is just not really my thing. Nothing against the book itself. I loved that she was fat and beautiful and confident and that he was so in awe of her. Those parts were sweet and nice. But I ended up feeling like some things were way too drawn out and other parts too abrupt.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Title: An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
Author/Lecturer: Barry Fox
 
Synopsis: This isn't really a book, it is a Great Courses series of lectures all about different infectious diseases! It gives a pretty good overview of the field and includes bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. He tells good, relevant personal stories most lectures, which made it more interesting. He is an infectious diseases doctor and has loads of experience.

Thoughts: Most of this information was not new to me since I am a microbiologist. But I just wanted something fun to listen to (yes, infectious diseases are fun). So while I didn't necessarily learn much, it was a nice review and I just liked it!

 Rating: 3 1/2 to 4 stars out of 5


Title: Stay Gold
Author: Tobly McSmith
Narrators: Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole
 
Synopsis: Pony is a transgendered teen in Texas entering his senior year in a new high school. Having been known for his transgender status at his previous school, he decides to go undercover (so to speak) and not let anyone in on his secret. But then he starts to fall for Georgia--popular, cheerleader and a secret writer. And she starts to fall for him, too. But they both have lots of truths that they have to face, truths to find, and the biases of the people in a small Texas town to overcome.
 
Thoughts: I just loved this book. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it was lovely and amazing and redeeming. I cried a few times (mostly happy crying). I don't know much about the transgender experience, though I am an ally and supporter of LBGTQIA+ rights. But it was very well written. And when we finally learn Pony's dead name (and I will admit to being curious) it is just NOT him at all. It was kind of an amazing thing to feel after getting to know him and learning his story. I just had so many strong feelings throughout the story and the ending was, well, gold.
 
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: Stay Gold
Least favorite book read this month: Spoiler Alert
 
I have read 21 books towards by goal of 50 books for the year. I'm about three books behind... Oh well.

Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 Wrap Up

Alright, I was trying to be more prepared for the end of May than I was for the end of April. So lets see what happened this month.

On the wedding front, I am still waiting for my dress to come back. They were scheduling pretty far out so even though my alterations are simple (they are taking about 2 inches off of the length), I can't pick it up until June. But I want it back so I can make my petticoat! I did get my shoes though and got some ribbon shoe laces to dress them up some. They are swing dance wedge shoes. I am looking at decorating them, too. Maybe I will document and have a blog post about that in case other people want to see.

Our venue is booked and paid, as is our DJ and photographer. I have been practicing some makeup and hair on myself (I will be doing my own hair and makeup). Flowers are ordered (we are also making our own bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages).

I got to see some friends and family earlier in the month, which was great. And I picked up the new rats from Smol Beans Rat Rescue! I did not like the names they came with, so we changed them to match the Greek gods theme. Their names are Hephaestus (aka Festus), Eros, Hermes, Dionysus (aka Dion), and Apollo. They are still timid and getting used to being handled. It is a work in progress. They aren't biting as much or as hard now, so... small steps.

And now books! Here is what I read this month.

Title: The Silvered Serpents
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrators: Laurie Catherine Winkel and PJ Ochlan
 
Synopsis: Séverin is obsessed with finding the Divine Lyrics which will make him an immortal god and bring back his brother, Tristan. Laila, Zofia, and Enrique want to find it because they believe it will save Laila's life. Their search takes them to Russia where a series of muses or muse-like goddesses and girls must lead them to the answers. But it might not be the journey and savior that they expected.
 
Thoughts: I really liked Gilded Wolves, so I immediately wanted this book. I may have enjoyed it a little bit less, but not a lot. It was different and it's been a while since I read the first one. But I still love the characters and their stories. Especially Zofia, I think she is my favorite. I am looking forward to the next one!
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
 

Title: Night of the Dragon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Narrators: Joy Osmanski, Brian Nishii, and Emily Woo Zeller

Synopsis: Having lost the pieces of the Dragon Scroll, Yumeko and her friends have to travel to stop the Master of Demons from summoning the Great Dragon. Meanwhile Tatsumi has made a truce with Hakaimono, the demon sharing his body, but evidence of demon possession are evident in his features making it more difficult to travel among humans. And just when they think they might have it all worked out, another mysterious player enters the game and changes the stakes.

Thoughts: I mostly enjoyed this series. Admittedly there were a few things that I did not like about this book. I don't want to spoil anything. But I did cry at one part (and not during at least one other part that I thought I would/should cry at).

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Title: The Obelisk Gate
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Narrator: Robin Miles
 
Synopsis: This season appears to be one that will not end for another thousand years. Alabaster has returned to train Essun to succeed him. Meanwhile, Essun's daughter has been taken by her father to another com where she continues training and develops unique powers.
 
Thoughts: The first book was amazing, but I read it several years ago now. I probably should have brushed up on some things before reading this one. Despite that, the author managed to catch me up again pretty well. And this book may not have been quite as intense as the last book, but it was very good.
 
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: Probably the Obelisk Gate
Least favorite book read this month: Night of the Dragon

I have read 18 books towards my new goal of 50 books for the year. According to Goodreads, I am two books behind schedule... Such is life though. I'm enjoying the wedding planning instead!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

April 2021 Wrap Up

April went by way too quickly for me to keep up with. I was not remotely ready for May.

But! We ordered and received our wedding invitations and detail cards. I am very happy with them. I took my dress in to be altered a tiny bit and ordered our wedding flowers. Our venue is fully paid! Other things have started falling into place and that feels pretty good. We also had our first premarital counseling session, which I think went well. We meet again in a couple of weeks.

In a less encouraging area, reading. I have still not been reading physical books. But there are a few that I want to read and that I think I can stick with if I just get around to picking them up. So I am still waaay behind on my reading goal, but here are some short reviews anyway.

 

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
 
Synopsis: Linus has a very quiet, solitary, and routine life. But as a case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, he is tasked with assessing orphanages who care for magical children. But suddenly he is sent on a very special mission to assess an extremely secret orphanage where the most dangerous of children are sent to be cared for by Arthur who has his own secrets. As Linus spends time with the children and Arthur, he grows to care for them deeply and that could drastically change his whole life.
 
Thoughts: I kept seeing this book being recommended, so I finally decided to pick it up. I tried starting it on my Kindle, but didn't get very far before losing interest. So I tried the audiobook and I am so glad I did! It does start a bit slow, but it is so sweet and charming and wonderful! It made my heart very happy.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars 


Title: Broken (in the best possible way)
Author: Jenny Lawson
Narrator: Jenny Lawson
 
Synopsis: Jenny Lawson tells more stories of her life. From the hard parts of dealing with anxiety and depression to all of the crazy parts that make life better (or at least more interesting).
 
Thoughts: Her book Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) is one of my favorite books ever. I listen to it or parts of it fairly regularly because it can distract and cheer me up so well. I was excited for this book to be released. She is honest and funny. I appreciate her takes on mental illness. While I don't suffer from all of the things that she does, some of it is very relatable and actually helps me find words for my own problems. Its a great book!

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Title: Aru Shah and the City of Gold
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
 
Synopsis:  All of the Pandava sisters have been united (re-united?). And Kara, the Sleeper's daughter, joins their journey to find Lanka, the City of Gold. Aru recently made a wish on the tree of wishes (that she cannot remember because another deity cursed her to forget when it is most important for her to remember) and she discovered that Bu had betrayed them. And then Kubera, ruler of Lanka, sends them all on a perilous series of tests to earn the prize of his help against the Sleeper's army. 

Thoughts: I have been loving this series. I was very excited when this book was released and now I have to wait for the next one! They are very fun and interesting. I love learning about the Hindu stories and mythology.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 

And here was my book bail. I was sort of trying to get through it but I just couldn't bring myself to care enough to keep going. Maybe I just need to try again at a different point in my life.

I don't have a favorite and least favorite book read this month (unless you count Roseblood as my least favorite). I have only read 16 books towards my goal of 75 for the year. I am 8 books behind schedule... I won't be able to make that up, especially with wedding planning so I decided to reduce my goal to 50 for this year. I can pick it back up next year. So now I am on track for my reading goal! Yay!

I also binge watched Shadow and Bone on Netflix the weekend it came out. I really liked it and I can't wait for the next season! And can I share this clip that Leigh Bardugo posted on her Instagram? Because I love it and I totally cried tears of happiness. Leigh Bardugo and Shadow and Bone Cast. Also, I want to re-read the Six of Crows duology.

In other news, May should be pretty exciting. I will get to see some family and friends in person for the first time in a long time. I will also be picking up our new rats! I can't wait to meet them and I can't wait for Poseidon to have brothers again. I think he gets bored and lonely.

That's about it for me! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

March 2021 Wrap Up

Sorry this post is a bit late. On the evening of the 31st we had to put our rattie, Zeus, to sleep. He had been struggling for a while and it seemed like it was the right thing to do. But it made for a very rough, sad night. I miss him so much. 

Better late than never though. Lets move on.

March is over. It feels more like spring now. It went by so quickly I feel like I hardy got to catch my breath.

I haven't been reading a whole lot lately. Partially, not much has held my interest. But I also spend WAAAAY more time doing wedding planning research and such. Lurking on Facebook wedding groups looking for good advice. Scanning Etsy and Pinterest for ideas and fun things. All that good stuff.

On the plus side, some wedding things are falling into place! We have a date and a venue! We still have lots to do, but it's nice to make progress. In the future, I hope to do a couple of blog posts about my adventures in case they might help someone else. And just to share some of the fun. It can be stressful (and I am sure I will have my share of stress) but I am mostly happy and excited. Especially since the venue was booked, that was stressing me out.

But here are the (few) books I finished this month. All of them audiobooks...

Title: Tristan Strong Destroys the World
Author: Kwame Mbalia
Narrator: Amir Abdullah
 
Synopsis: Tristan is trying to adjust to regular life after his adventures in Alke. But when his grandmother is kidnapped, he has to return to Alke to save her. He reunites with his friends and meets new friends in his search. And saving all of Alke might be the only way for Tristan to save everyone he cares about.
 
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I feel like Gum Baby annoyed me in the first book, but I mostly found her hilarious in this one. It was fun to meet new characters and see some old favorites.
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
 

Title: Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Narrator: Chiwetel Ejiofor
 
Synopsis: Piranesi lives in a very unique house, which he studies relentlessly. There are infinite rooms and corridors, and some cannot be reached because they are in ruins or under water. No one understands the house like Piranesi does. His studies aid the Other who lives somewhere in the house and occasionally meets with Piranesi. When a new, mysterious person enters the house, Piranesi is warned away, but ends up discovering much more about himself and about the house than he could have imagined.
 
Thoughts: This was a book club read. I feel like it took a while for me to get what was going on, though there were a couple of things that I guessed along the way. It was really interesting and I enjoyed reading about the house.
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: A Love Hate Thing
Author: Whitney D. Grandison
Narrator: Adenrele Ojo and Barrie Buckner
 
Synopsis: Trice has just gone through some trauma and lost his whole family. So he is forced to move into the house of old family friends. Reuniting with his childhood friend and crush in his posh new life finally makes him feel again. Nandy has mixed feelings about having her first crush and childhood friend back in her meant-to-be-perfect life.
 
Thoughts: Let me say that there were some parts that I thought were good in about the first half of the book or so. I even cried when we got Trice's backstory. But I feel like the book was at least twice as long as it should have been. I just could not wait for it to finish and it felt like it dragged on forever. Hence the low rating.
 
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
 
Synopsis: Luc has to clean up his image fast or risk losing his job. He needs to be seen with a nice, normal, appropriate boyfriend. Enter Oliver, a serious, ethical barrister with a squeaky clean record. The two enter an agreement to be fake boyfriends as it will be mutually beneficial. And then real love happens.
 
Thoughts: I have a confession: I think I love the fake dating trope. I have only read one other in my recollection, but I also loved that one. So basically I loved this book. It broke my heart a couple of times and put it all back together again. I felt like I couldn't get enough.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
 
 
Least favorite book read this month: A Love Hate Thing
Favorite book read this month: Lots of good ones, but I have to say Boyfriend Material
 
I have read 12 books towards my goal of 75. I am about 6 books behind schedule... And I am thinking that I may need to reduce my goal to compensate for all the time I am spending doing wedding things.

And side note: send me all your fake dating book recs! I want more!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 2021 Wrap Up

February was a crazy, exhausting month. A study I was leading for my team began at the beginning of the month and kept me hopping and working crazy hours and late hours, and so on. I don't love everything about my job, but I still love the infectious diseases.

February also brought my fourth anniversary with Kevin. It has been four years since we first met for coffee. I hate to think about how different my life would be now if we hadn't met. 

We have continued casual wedding planning. Mostly trying to figure out a venue and rough time frame. It is kind of fun and interesting to research and look into things. And casually talk/plan with my momma, that's nice, too. I did order my wedding dress though and we made some decisions about where and when. Assuming we can get a venue. And we are trying not to spend an insane amount.

Poor little Zeusy got a case a pneumonia and has not really been responding to the antibiotics he's been on. He's still eating and moving around and defending the cage from the kitten, so he must sort of be OK. But I've been really worried about him. I think this is probably the beginning of the end for him. He's still rallying so we have some time with him. He's a good boy (except when he resists his nebulizer treatments).

I wish I had more to say about February, but I think I just worked really.

Well, lets get to the books I read this month then.

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: Seriously, how have I waited so long to read these books? I have been absolutely adoring them. 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: I am so sad this book is over because I don't know when the next one will be out. All I really want to do is re-read (re-listen) to them all again.
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Narrator: Dylan Moore
 
Synopsis: A huge, drawn out Ponzi scheme in New York City and a five-star hotel in the middle-of-nowhere Canada are where the stories of all of the characters converge. Vincent goes from the hotel bartender to pretend wife of elite, wealthy Jonathan in New York. The lives of her and her brother and Jonathan and some of his investors all cross and re-cross throughout the story.

Thoughts: This was a book club book for February. Sorry for the poor synopsis. It was more intricate than I could sum up well. It was a very interesting story and I liked the way everything was entwined and circled around and themes re-appeared.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Both of the Nevermoor books
Least favorite book read this month: None really. The Glass Hotel got less stars, but I still enjoyed it

I have read 8 towards my goal of 75 books for the year. I'm getting behind!

That's about it for this month. Maybe March will have more interesting things happening.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Wrap Up

Something I forgot to mention in my yearly wrap up and goals for this year was my intention to make sure I read books by diverse authors and especially Black authors and/or about Black people and other POC and women. Also books by/about LBGTQA+ authors/characters. It’s a small thing, but I want to take steps towards being a better ally. I think I did pretty well last year and I already have some good lists for this year. I saw other people tracking such things last year. If I can find a good way to do so, I will, but only so I can make sure that I am reading diversely.

January 2021. What a month. It has been kind of crazy.  But I am overjoyed by the administration changes and the steps that have been taken in the right directions. I feel more proud to be an American than I have during the last four years. I also have officially completed my Covid vaccination series, which is very exciting!

We lost handsome little Hades during the month, which was very sad. He probably had a brain tumor. He declined and left us very quickly and it seemed like he didn't suffer much if at all. On the plus side, I managed to finally get all three of them in the same cage without any problems or fighting! So Hades got to spend most of his last days with both of his brothers. When I was home to supervise him, that is, because I was afraid he would fall from the top levels of the cage that his brothers were occupying. Hades always wanted to be up there with them of course. He is very missed.

We took in a kitten on New Year's eve that we are nearly positive our neighbors dumped (they had a cat and suddenly they don't anymore). He is a handful. We haven't decided to keep him. Except we are buying him toys and food and litter and everything kittens need. I made vet appointments to have a check up/vaccines and also to get him neutered ASAP. He is a demon, but he is also very cute. So it seems that he is unofficially officially staying. I am thinking that he will be named Marshmallow.

It has been a bit over a month since Kevin and I got engaged. I have been doing a bunch of research. But mostly I have found that planning a wedding is difficult during a pandemic and when our families live in different areas of the country. So we have not made any real plans, but we need to wait until life seems more normal so we can have all our friends and families present wherever and whenever the wedding happens. And I'm still a little in awe of the fact that he wants to marry me and I am very happy.

Work has been... kind of rough. There have been some things going on that have been great and I am working with one lady who is mentoring some of my team who is SO complimentary about my work and my abilities. It is satisfying and encouraging to be so well thought of. However, the work we are doing has made my work life very different and, in some ways, very hard and discouraging. All in all, I still get to work with infectious diseases and in high containment facilities and I still love doing those things.

And now we can look at books I read this month.

Title: His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope
Author: Jon Meacham
Narrator: JD Jackson
 
Synopsis: This book follows the early life of John Lewis. Raised into religion and a natural preacher and empath from a young age, it seemed natural for him to become so involved in civil rights. The story follows him through all of the early protests and marches that Lewis participated in and the overall impact he and his fellows had.
 
Thoughts: This was a book club selection for December to discuss at the beginning of January. I managed to finish it just in time. I'm so glad this book was chosen because I had wanted to read it. It was so good. One of those books that really should be required reading. The only disappointment was that I wanted more! Which I suppose means I should read an actual biography.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 

Title: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Author: Olga Tokarczuk
Translator: Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Narrator: Beata Pozniak
 
Synopsis: Janina is an aging Polish woman who lives in a remote village near the Polish border. She teaches English in the village part time, helps her friend and former pupil translate William Blake's poems, studies astrology, and loves animals more than people. Then one of her few neighbors winds up dead in his own home. After that, more people turn up dead under strange and sometimes suspicious circumstances. Janina feels that she has insight due to her study of astrology, but no one will listen to a reclusive old woman.

Thoughts: This was a book club selection for January which we are preparing to discuss. Part of what made me choose this book was this part of the synopsis: "[this book] is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? Who is worthy of a voice?" The main character was very interesting. She was unique in her thoughts and actions, but she has reasons for it all. We see it all from her eyes and it is hard not to sympathize with her concerns. Overall, it was strange but I rather enjoyed it.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Title: Among the Beasts and Briars
Author: Ashley Poston

Synopsis: Cerys is the daughter of the royal gardener in Aloriya and best friends with the soon-to-be-queen. Aloriya is kept safe from the evils and curses of the woods that surround the country by the crown the monarch wears. But Cerys had an encounter with the forest at a young age and has a touch of secret magic as a result. But then the woods comes for the people of Aloriya, turning people into monsters. Cerys, with her only companion--a fox--head into the woods to find a hidden city to ask for help.

Thoughts: This was an Owlcrate book and it is such a pretty book! I have read most of Ashley Poston's books, I believe. Her Heart of Iron duology is one of my favorites. And the Once Upon a Con series is just fun. I enjoyed this book, but I have to admit that it wasn't my favorite. I did like way the story ended mostly. And really, I mostly just loved the bear.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars


Title: City of the Plaque God
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Narrator: Vikas Adam
 
Synopsis: Sik wants nothing more than to have a normal life and help his parents run their family deli. But then Nergal, the ancient Mesopotamian god of plagues, comes looking for him. Luckily, he is saved by Belet, the obnoxious new girl from school who, it turns out, is the adopted daughter of Ishtar, goddess of war and love. Ishtar and Belet take Sik under their wings and go on quests to defeat Nergal.
 
Thoughts: A Rick Riordan presents book about a plague god and Mesopotamian mythology? Yes please! I knew nearly nothing about Mesopotamian culture and mythology when I started this book. Parts of it were sad and heartbreaking ("Heroes don't come in this shade, Sik." Ouch times a million). And some parts were fun and just interesting. If you like mythology, I think this is definitely worth the read!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Author: Jessica Townsend
Narrator: Gemma Whelan

Synopsis: Morrigan Crow is a cursed child, doomed to die by her twelfth birthday and blamed for any and all bad things that happen anywhere near her. Just before she is due to die, she is rescued by the eccentric Jupiter North who spirits her away to Nevermoor. Once she arrives, Jupiter enters her into a competition to enter the very prestigious Wonder Society. But she doesn't even know what her knack is. But she knows that if she doesn't get in, she is as good as dead.

Thoughts: I am so glad I finally read this. I finished it just in time to include it on my January reads. But I loved it. It was unique and fun and kept me interested the whole time. I can't wait to read the next one.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: Tough choice. His Truth is Marching On and City of the Plague God and the Trials of Morrigan Crow
Least favorite book read this month: None really. Lowest rating was Among the Beasts and Briars, but I still enjoyed it.

So far this year I have read 5 books towards my goal of 75 books.

I tried to participate in the bookish photo challenge on Instagram this month, with pretty mixed results. Some days were better than others, but I mostly did not have nearly as much time as I would have liked. But it was still fun to do the little bit that I did.

I have to say, February promises to be pretty insane for me. A big study starts on the first that I am leading for my team and it is all in the high containment facility. I am excited because I love the work and because I am happy to be leading it. But it will also be horribly exhausting because I the schedule will be rough for at least a week or two and I will have other responsibilities that I cannot hand off to anyone else. So I will have a lot on my plate and much of it will be unpredictable. But I will do my best to have something worth blogging about at the end of it all!