Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 2021 Wrap Up

November felt so fast. Probably because the first part of the month was finishing wedding things and going on our honeymoon. And then my October wrap up being sooo late. I will try to be better from now on.

But our honeymoon to Hawaii was lovely! We got to see a ton of things on Oahu. Saw a bunch of different beaches and areas of the island, the Dole plantation, Disney Aulani resort, sea turtles, and so much more. It was great and coming back to real life was hard.

We have now been married for a month! Had our first married Thanksgiving together, just the two of us. That was also very nice. He's my favorite person and being married to him has made me very happy. We finally ordered and got our thank you cards so we need to work on getting those out soon.

I managed to read a fair number of books. I have felt a bit bummed because I just haven't found a book to read (a physical book) that I LOVED in a long time. It has made me feel discouraged. I have soooo many books that I haven't read and some of them seem good, but nothing has really sparked my interest. I have picked up several and none have held my interest. I guess I am in a rut. I hope I will find something to get me out of it soon.

Here are the books I managed to finish this month. All audio books.

Title: The Frontier Magic trilogy
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Synopsis: This series follows Eff, the unlucky thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is a lucky seventh son of a seventh son. Lan is a natural magician and powerful. Eff is afraid of her magic hurting someone when she "goes bad." So Eff's magic develops a little bit differently, but it gives her a unique perspective that, turns out, is just as important as Lan's.
Thoughts: I have read these books many, many times. They are old favorites, old friends. And comfort books. I can't explain it, but I just adore this series.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Narrators: Vikas Adam, Graham Halstead, and Cassandra Campbell
Synopsis: (Copied from my review in September) Charlie is a socially awkward, anxiety-riddled wealthy and eligible bachelor who agrees to be on a dating reality show to help improve his public image. Dev is a huge romantic and it has been his dream to work with the reality dating show Ever After. Despite his lack-luster romantic life, he really believes in true love. And then he is promoted to being Charlie's handler for the show. And Dev has his work cut out for him getting Charlie to be the prince he is expected to be. After spending some (awkward) time together, Charlie realizes that his chemistry with Dev feels like so much more than his chemistry with the 20 women on the show. Dev agrees, but his career and heart are on the line. Can they find happily ever after?

Thoughts: I just had to re-read this again. But I loved this book just as much the second time. And if you want to know more, you can read my review from September.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Synopsis: (Copied from my review in March) 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 generally love the fake dating trope. This was yet another re-read. And I still loved it and thought it was sweet and funny!
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Title: The Love Hypothesis
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Narrator: Callie Dalton
Synopsis: PhD candidate Olive is in a weird position. She needs a boyfriend, or a fake boyfriend, ASAP in order to convince her best friend, Anh, to date Olive's ex (who Anh really likes). The only man at hand, however, is Dr. Adam Carlsen, notoriously unapproachable and harsh. Luckily for Olive, Adam needs to convince the administration that he isn't going to leave Stanford any time soon and having a girlfriend will help him look more settled. So they fake date. And of course, real feelings happen.

Thoughts: Fake dating trope, need I say more? That's sort of my thing I guess. As a scientist myself, I enjoyed the science parts. I really enjoyed the book overall. My only complaint was that it felt like the ending fell really flat for me but I can't put my finger on why exactly. But it was happy and fluffy and definitely worth the read!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: geez... since I mostly re-read favorites, nearly all of them?
Least favorite book read this month: none, really. I guess the Love Hypothesis only because it has a slightly lower rating, but not because it was bad and I didn't enjoy it.

I have read 50 books towards my goal of 50! Yay! Maybe I didn't need to lower my goal as badly as I thought. So now I am ahead of schedule for my 2021 reading goal and I will see how many books I get in and plan next year accordingly.

And now it is December! Hanukkah has already started, but I always enjoy Hanukkah and "lighting" my menorah (they are electric tea lights...). Then my birthday and Christmas. Kevin and I will be going out to visit his family in Connecticut for a few days over Christmas, which will also be nice. I love December. And I love holiday reads. Especially Landline (which I believe I read twice in a row last year...). Anyone else have exciting holiday reads planned?

Sunday, November 14, 2021

October 2021 Wrap Up

I really had the best of intentions. This post was nearly finished before I went out of town for our wedding. I also hoped to finish it while I was out of town (which was so silly in retrospect). Then I even took my laptop on our honeymoon thinking I could do it then. And I didn't even look at my computer the whole time we were gone. And getting back into town threw me right back into a crazy work week. So I'm sorry this is so very late.
My main life updates were all wedding related. I think I will put together a short blog post to share a few things about that if I can.

But here are the books I read in October. Spooky reads are the best reads. Also, I read almost NONE of the spooky reads I posted in my last blog post. Oh well. I just wasn't feeling them I guess. But despite my busy month with wedding things, I read many more books than I have the rest of the year. I caught up with my reading goal and then some.

Title: The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
Author: Marie Benedict
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Synopsis: In early December, 1926, Agatha argued with her husband and disappeared the next day. Her car was found abandoned and there was a large manhunt in order to find her. But she did not appear until nearly two weeks later at a spa with, apparently, no recollection of what had happened. This story takes a spin on the true story. What if she did know what she was doing in order to expose her husband and maintain her reputation?
Thoughts: I found this book a bit ago and just thought it sounded interesting. And maybe a good way to get into spooky season: with a little mystery. I have not read anything by Agatha Christie, but I am hoping to do so. I also know next to nothing about her or about her life. But this was a great story and definitely makes you wonder about what really happened!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Night Shift Witch
Author: Cate Lawley
Narrator: April Doty

Synopsis: Star was just hired onto the night shift of a funeral home. But right when she starts, a body comes in and the man had been murdered. And he was not actually human. Star has to use her witch-y powers and friends to help solve the mystery.

Thoughts: This popped up in a audiobook sale notification I get, and it sounded good so I went for it. It was much shorter than I was expecting which made it feel a bit rushed and almost anti-climatic. And some parts were repetitive. However, I generally enjoyed the story.

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

Title: The World of Lore, Dreadful Places
Author: Aaron Mahnke
Narrator: Aaron Mahnke
Synopsis: Aaron Mahnke is the host of the podcast "Lore." In this book he explores a bunch of different haunted places. What happened to make them haunted and what have people experienced?
Thoughts: I have heard of the Lore podcast but it always sounded too scary for me. When I saw this book, I thought that maybe this would be OK. It was certainly interesting and enjoyable, but there were some parts that scared me. And some parts that horrified me and made me gasp and/or cover my mouth. Despite my not going for scary things, this one was alright.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

Title: Pumpkin Heads
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Synopsis: Deja and Josiah are best friends and now high school seniors. Which means this is their last year working at the pumpkin patch together. It is their last night and they set out on an adventure. Deja wants to try all of the foods she never has been able to eat and she is determined that Josiah finally talk to his long-time crush.
Thoughts: This was a cute, fun story. And an easy read. I love Deja's focus on food! And I thought it was funny every time Deja changed Fudge girl's name.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Not Your Average Hot Guy
Author: Gwenda Bond
Narrators: Graham Halstead and Karissa Vacker

Synopsis: Callie has been left in charge of her family's escape room for the weekend along with her brother and best friend. She is expecting a quiet weekend when cultists show up to use an escape room prop to summon a demon. Meanwhile, Luke is the heir to Hell and doesn't quite measure up. In an effort to raise his standing, he allows himself to be summoned in the place of a demon. 

Thoughts: This was the October selection for the Happy Endings Book Club from Nowhere Bookshop. Since I adored the last book, I decided to read this one, too. It was alright. I did not love it as much as the last book, but there were enjoyable parts. And I really liked how the escape rooms factored in because I love a good escape room!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Author: Josephine Leslie
Synopsis: Recently widowed, Mrs. Muir sets out to find an affordable house for herself and her family. And she finds the perfect house. Except it is haunted by the former owner, Captain Gregg. She makes a deal with him in order to live in the house, but they eventually become friends and companions through life's hardships.
Thoughts: I absolutely love this book. This is not the first time I have read it. And I'm sure I have reviewed it on my blog before. I love the movie, too, but the book is different and I love it at least as much.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Title: The Ex Hex
Author: Erin Sterling
Narrator: Caitlin Davies
Synopsis: After  young Rhys breaks 19-year-old Vivienne Jones' heart, Vivi and her cousin cast a drunken curse on him. But they are pretty sure it didn't actually work. Fast forward about a decade. Rhys has to return to Graves Glen to represent his family since his ancestor founded the town. But when everything seems to start going wrong, Vivi and Rhys have to figure out how to fix it.

Thoughts: This book was very hyped and I've sort of been in the mood for more romantic or romantic comedy stories. So I picked it up. I have to say, I did not love it. Some things felt too contrived for me mostly. It was fine as witchy romantic books go though, if that is what you are in for.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: August Ross
Synopsis: Cas inherited a special knife and a special profession from his father. He hunts and kills ghosts. Namely those ghosts who have legends about them and who have taken many lives themselves. His hunt leads him to a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood. But for the first time, Cas finds a ghost who is unlike many he has encountered. For one, she knows she is dead and he sees that she is not completely in control of her actions. She kills any person who enters her house. Except for Cas. So he sets out to figure out why.

Thoughts: I haven't quite finished Kendare Blake's Three Dark Crowns series, but I have enjoyed them so far, so I figured I would give this a try. It was interesting and occasionally very gruesome. I also had many suspicions, some of which were correct but many of which were not, so that made it intriguing. And I won't lie, there were a couple of parts that really got me. I was creeped out by a couple of things for sure. I think if you read it, you could probably guess the big ones. It was a good spooky read for the season though!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Jim Dale
Synopsis: The Night Circus is a completely unique, magical experience, like no circus you've ever seen. For one, it is only open at night. Second, it moves all over the world and you never know where it will be next. Behind the scenes of this amazing place is an intense competition going on between two magicians: Marco and Celia.
Thoughts: I have read this book a few times now and I'm sure I have other reviews lurking around on this blog. But I just adore this book and I would love nothing more than to visit the night circus! While Celia and (especially) Marco's stories are of less interest to me, I love just about everything else about this book. And I always cry at the death of one (rather minor) character. I love the magic and the story and the fun of this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Does the Ghost and Mrs. Muir count? Or The Night Circus?
Least favorite book read this month: Probably have to say Night Shift Witch or the Ex Hex

I have read 44 books this year towards my goal of 50. After being behind nearly all year, I managed to get about two books ahead of schedule in October despite wedding preparations.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

September 2021 Wrap Up

 September was a pretty exciting month.

I got to have my bachelorette party with all my bridesmaids who definitely spoiled me. On the Friday evening we all got in, we just hung out, had some snacks and drinks, and talked. On Saturday morning we had breakfast and most of the girls tried on their dresses. They all picked infinity dresses and were toying with different ways to tie and wear them. Then we grabbed lunch and did an escape room at Colorado Escape. We did the wizard themed room. It was very fun. We finished with seven minutes left on the clock and only had to get a few clues. After that we went to a wine tasting at Water 2 Wine and that was fun and we had some great wines! That evening we played MASH in the hotel room and then got ramen for dinner nearby.


Sunday was my bridal shower. My mom and bridesmaids arranged all of this. We had tea at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was lovely. Had some good tea and food. And almost everyone invited was able to come! I was so happy to see my friends and family and I felt very spoiled.


So that was a pretty great weekend. I was sorry for it to come to an end. Then Kevin and I got to go back to attend a friend's wedding, which was also great. It was nice to see a few of my old Idexx friends and it was just a nice time overall.

Kevin and I are starting to get down to the wire on wedding planning ourselves. Our venue needs our final headcount and we need to arrange the catering when we have that, too. Our music planner is due very soon so we have been working to get that done and submitted. After that, the photography planner and bar information are due. And I think that will be about it. I still have plenty to do though and am starting to feel a bit nervous. But I am excited for the wedding and the short honeymoon. I am excited to marry Kevin, who is the best guy I have ever met in my life.

Here are the books I managed to read in September.

Title: Yes No Maybe So
Authors: Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Narrators: Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch
Synopsis: Jamie is very interested and involved in politics. He would like to be a politician one day. If only public speaking and speaking to strangers didn't make him so awkward and nervous. Maya is having a rough time. It is Ramadan, but her best friend is slipping away from her and her parents are separating. Through a series of events, Maya and Jamie end up canvassing neighborhoods together to support a local politician. But they grow closer and the political climate starts to become more personal and important than ever before.
Thoughts: This had been on my TBR for a little while. And since I apparently only want to read contemporary rom-com books, I decided to listen to it. It was very cute and I enjoyed the political aspects of the story.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Narrators: Vikas Adam, Grahm Halstead, and Cassandra Campbell

 Synopsis: Charlie is a socially awkward, anxiety-riddled wealthy and eligible bachelor who agrees to be on a dating reality show to help improve his public image. Dev is a huge romantic and it has been his dream to work with the reality dating show Ever After. Despite his lack-luster romantic life, he really believes in true love. And then he is promoted to being Charlie's handler for the show. And Dev has his work cut out for him getting Charlie to be the prince he is expected to be. After spending some (awkward) time together, Charlie realizes that his chemistry with Dev feels like so much more than his chemistry with the 20 women on the show. Dev agrees, but his career and heart are on the line. Can they find happily ever after?

Thoughts: This was the book of the month for the Happy Endings Book Club that Jenny Lawson and her bookstore, Nowhere Bookshop, picked out. I was vaguely thinking about joining the book club but wasn't sure that romance books are really my jam so I just wanted to sort of participate. I saw this was the first pick and got the audio book to try it out. But I loved this book. It was cute, sweet, and so fluffy. I finished it and just wanted to turn around and read it all over again. But spooky season is coming so maybe it will be my first read after Halloween is over! But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. Even though the smut is still not really my thing, it was such a good book that I didn't even mind!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Author: Janae Marks
Narrator: Bahni Turpin

Synopsis: Zoe just turned 12, practically and adult, right? Her dream is to be a baker and she would love to go on a kids' baking show and show the world what she has to offer. But on her birthday, she receives a letter from her father in prison. She has never met him and her mom does not like to talk about it. But she is 12, and she decides she is old enough to know her father and she writes back. When he tells her that he is innocent, Zoe puts everything on the line to figure out the truth.
Thoughts: I know this was targeted toward a much younger audience, which may have made me enjoy it a bit less than I may have otherwise. But it was still a good book. I like the way it addressed systemic racism without it being the entire point of the story. It made it this problem obvious, relatable, and understandable because of the way this book was written, but the characters were very much their own, real people with real lives. And it was a very good and nice story. It makes me believe that good really can win.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman

Synopsis and thoughts: I am going to skip this for this book because I have read it every year for... well, many years. I adore this book, I re-read it every fall. This is what helps start my Halloween season. I can't get enough of this book and I cry like a baby at the end every single time. There is also a brief synopsis and review on my Goodreads if you are interested.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: The Charm Offensive or the Graveyard Book (obviously)
Least favorite book read this month: I suppose my least favorite was From the Desk of Zoe Washington, but it was a good book still. I read good books this month! I love it when that happens.

I have read 35 books towards my goal of 50 for this year. I will try to pick up more next month since it is Halloween month. Usually I can catch up to goals in October, but I'm not sure if I can with the wedding. And it is very possible that my October wrap up post will be quite late. You know, wedding and all. I apologize in advance. I will post a wrap up early if I can.

Happy spooky season everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

2021 Spooky Reads

 Alright! It is that time of the year! The best time of the year and the time for spooky reads!

Here are my goals for this spooky season. Or maybe not "goals," these are all audio books that I already own that are at least a bit spooky. I will just pick them as I feel like. I only really have time for audio books these days so those are the only ones I have included this year.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, of course, will be read. I actually am nearly finished with it already. I love it so much.

There will also be a spooky book coming in the September Owlcrate. I don't know what it is, but I want to read it! Last year's was pretty good so I have pretty high hopes. This is the only physical book I plan to read, but I do have a couple of others if I have time and the mood strikes me.

We have some Halloween decorations out. We might take it a bit easy this year since we are trying to finish up wedding planning.

Anyone else have spooky reads for this year? Any books to recommend to me? As long as it isn't very scary, I'm game!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

August 2021 Wrap Up

August went so fast. I was not at all prepared for this blog post. Which is why it is so late. Sorry about that.

The wedding is only two months away! We are trying to get everything squared away. I feel like there is so much to do, but I don't know what all those things are.

September has been exciting so far. I will tell about my bachelorette party and bridal shower in the September post! And we get to go to a friend's wedding this month. And maybe I will have a couple of good stories at the end of September.

This month I got to have tea with my lady scientist friends at work which is always lovely. We have done this a few times and its fun to get dressed up and hang out outside of work. And the tea and food is always delicious.

I took Poseidon to the vet for some skin issues he was having that seem to be doing better now. And Hephaestus was neutered this month. I hope that will help the new boys calm down. But I might need to have Eros neutered.

I actually got through quite a few books this month, so lets talk about those. Sorry for the not-so-great reviews. I decided to sacrifice some quality in order to get this post up sooner.

Title: Get a Life Chloe Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert
Narrator: Adoja Andoh
Synopsis: Chloe is chronically ill which makes having a life difficult. She decides to come up with a list of things she should do in order to feel as if she has really lived. And her apartment handyman, Red, gets enlisted to help her, though they seem to be complete opposites.
Thoughts: Chloe was my favorite of the Brown sisters and this book was my favorite of the three. I'm not big on reading the smut portions, but I really enjoyed everything else! It was sweet and cute and made me feel warm and fuzzy.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Act Your Age Eve Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert
Narrator: Ione Butler
Synopsis: Eve has had a difficult time finding her place in the world and her purpose in life. Faced with being disowned if she doesn't get her life together, she sets out to get a real job and decide what to do with herself. She ends up taking a job as a chef at a bed and breakfast owned by a prickly and finicky man named Jacob. But this job and place might just be the best fit.
Thoughts: I didn't love this one. I'm not entirely sure why. Again, the smut didn't appeal to me. But I was interested in the autism aspect of the story. It was alright overall, but this may have been my least favorite of the three books. But who doesn't love a happy ending?
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Celtic Mythology
Author: Philip Freeman
Narrator: Gerard Doyle
Synopsis: This is a collection of gods, myths, and heroes from Celtic mythology. But very little is actually known of their whole culture. This book pieces together some of the stories and characters from ancient Celtic times.
Thoughts: This book was just interesting and fun. I listened to it but I wish I had the physical book in front of me as the names were way beyond me. I wish I could have seen the spelling and the names as I listened. It was informative and neat to listen to. Definitely recommend if you are into mythology.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Narrators: Teddy Hamilton, Erin Mallon
Synopsis: Kristen is her best friend's maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. And Kristen is determined to make it memorable. And then the best man, Josh, moves into town and the two start to fall for one another. But Kristen has a secret that is a deal-breaker for Josh. Can love overcome such differences?
Thoughts: I started this book and then stopped. It took a while for me to get into. Parts of it were good and interesting and sad. Other parts I guess I just didn't care for. Some things felt a bit forced maybe? Or maybe this just wasn't meant to be a winner for me. Overall it was still a decent read.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Felix Ever After
Author: Kacen Callender
Narrator: Logan Rozos
Synopsis: There is one thing that Felix would like to experience more than just about anything: love. He wants to know what makes it so wonderful and so worth the risk of having your heart broken. But he has had a difficult time finding people to date. Being black, queer, and transgender makes the task seem impossible at times. Then a troll exposes his dead name and posts photos from before his transition. To make matters worse, the person starts sending hate messages on Instagram and Felix is obsessed with figuring out who it is. As he becomes more obsessed with finding the answer, he ends up falling in love with a couple of people. And he starts a quest to discover more about his own identity.
Thoughts: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. But it was very charming and definitely won me over. I was a bit nervous for Felix at times, but the good won out! Also, I love his friendship with Ezra soooo much.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
Author: Sandhya Menon
Synopsis: Pinky has always been a rebel with a cause. She is out to make the world a better place, no matter what anyone else (like her mom) thinks. But after being blamed for an accident that was not her fault, she makes up a story about having a boyfriend that even her mom would love. Enter Samir, whose summer internship tragically fell through. With nothing to look forward to, he plans to go home when Pinky texts him. If he will pretend to be her perfect boyfriend, Pinky can get him an internship with her mother's law firm. And Pinky's mother is a very prestigious lawyer. But he and Pinky can't stand one another, so how can this possibly work?
Thoughts: This book was a re-read. I wanted something easy and lighthearted to read because I am having problems getting through larger, heavier books at the moment. I adore this one. It is fun and sweet. And I love the fake dating and enemies to lovers tropes.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
Least favorite book read this month: Either Act Your Age Eve Brown or The Friend Zone
I have read 31 books towards my goal of 50. I am still about two or three books behind, but I made good progress this month! I usually read a bunch at the end of September and through October because it is time for spooky reads, but I don't know if that will be the case this year. Oh well. If I can fit it in, I will try to get up a post about spooky reads for this year.
That is all for August. I will see you all in September! And I will try to be more on top of the September wrap up post. Thanks for your patience!

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

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!