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!

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