Saturday, October 1, 2022

September 2022 Wrap Up

September was a blur. Anyone else feel that way?

Work has continued to be crazy. I have a lot going on that is all my responsibility including doing training. Which is great, but puts a lot more on my shoulders.

There were a couple hard, sad things that happened in September. But there were some good, happy things, too. One of my oldest friends got married at the end of the month, which was a very happy occasion.

I finished quite a few books this month so I will keep my reviews very brief.

Title: A Thousand Steps Into Night
Author: Traci Chee
Narrator: Grace Rolek
 
Synopsis: Miuko has always felt too big and too loud for the realm of Awara. A chance encounter one night with a demon changes everything. As she starts to turn into a demon herself, she goes through many adventures to save herself and her world.
 
Thoughts: I had heard some things about this book. It took a while for me to get into (may have just been me, I wasn't super focused), but I ended up really enjoying it. It was a good, creative story with a lot of Japanese influence.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

 

Title: Lady Knight
Author: Tamora Pierce
 
Synopsis: The last installment of the Protector of the Small series finds Kel, a full knight, leading a refugee camp during the war. But being stuck in one place makes her feel like she will never fulfill her destiny to take down the Nothing Man and his metal monsters.
 
Thoughts: I don't know that I need to say much. I love these books and I still think this is one of Tamora Pierce's best series. I love the Protector of the Small. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry while I read this, even after so many re-reads.
 
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Titles: Wow, No Thank You and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby
Narrator: Samantha Irby

Synopsis: These books are collections of essays by Samantha Irby about her real life. They tell stories from her childhood, party days, aging, marriage, and more. They are funny, awkward, and real.

Thoughts: I am not sure how, but Wow, No Thank You crossed my sight a while ago and I got the audiobook. Later, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life crossed my path so I got that audiobook, too. Then I had to listen to them. I listened to Wow, No Thank You first and it took a bit to get into (probably because I didn't actually know who she is), but I was startled into bursts of laughter a few times. She is hilarious and her writing is great and sometimes super relatable. I enjoyed Wow, No Thank You more, but both were good.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars for Wow, No Thank You, 3 stars out of 5 stars for We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
 

Title: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Author: Neil Patrick Harris
Narrator: Neil Patrick Harris
 
Synopsis: The life, times, and adventures of Neil Patrick Harris over the course of his life and career. Need I say more?
 
Thoughts: I love Barney in How I Met Your Mother (who doesn't?) and this was recommended to me by a friend. It may have been better as a physical book, but the audio adaptation was pretty good. I didn't actually know much about Neil Patrick Harris, so it was interesting to read. If you are a fan, it is worth a read.
 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, books 1-4
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein

Synopsis: Meet Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon and child of a great and terrible prophesy. Watch as he navigates the world of Greek gods and monsters while trying to be a sort-of-normal teen.

Thoughts: How many times have I read and reviewed these? Too many times. I love them. There is a show coming out in the near future that I can't wait for and I wanted to brush up. If you like Greek mythology, these are wonderful and fun.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 

Favorite book read this month: I always love Percy Jackson books and Lady Knight. Aside from those, probably Wow, No Thank You
Least favorite book read this month: None, I think.
 
I have now read 64 books this year. My goal was 60.
 
And now October is here! My favorite month! Spooky reads, Halloween, wedding anniversary, all the exciting things. I think we will get to do some fun, seasonal things and I can't wait! Maybe I can even get a couple of other posts up?
 
Here are books that I hope to read. I don't think I will get to all of them, but this is the selection. 

Anyone else have spooky reading lists planned? Please share, I am always looking for more spooky reads!

Happy spooky season everyone!

Monday, September 5, 2022

August 2022 Wrap Up

August was a blur. It feels simultaneously like it lasted forever and like it ended before it started.

I got to go up to Colorado a couple of times in August to go to a bridal shower and help throw a bachelorette weekend for a good friend of mine. We had some great times and I enjoyed spending so much time with some of my best friends. And while I was there, I got to see my parents at least and celebrate my niece's 8th birthday. We also celebrated Kevin's birthday in August and had a few fun outings, just the two of us.

My little rat Poseidon passed his third Gotcha day in August. He is my oldest rat and he is definitely starting to show his age, but he's still going! Maybe he really will live forever. Or whatever "forever" is in rat years.

Work has been nuts. My teammate has transitioned to another department (which is great for her and I think some good things will come of it) and that has been hard for me. Since I am the only other person in our department that can do her job (or parts of her job, anyway), I inherited her projects and am now leading a big, intense study coming up soon. I don't feel prepared for it and it has already been chaos (though the study doesn't technically start until October). And on that note, life might get really rough for me through the end of the year with work. I will need to be on call almost every day until the end of the year. So I want to apologize in advance for any delays you will see here. I still plan to read (audiobooks at least) and I will do my best to keep up and post. Or combine posts like I had to do a few times this year already. Though I may just re-read favorites and comfort books to get me through. Except for October of course, where I need to read all of the spooky reads! I promise work will not always consume my life...

And with that, lets do quick reviews of books I read in August.

Title: Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell
Author: Taj McCoy
Narrator: Adenrele Ojo
 
Synopsis: Savvy's long-term boyfriend breaks up with her, saying she never takes care of herself and her appearance. Heartbroken and bent on revenge, she starts working out, getting back to things she used to enjoy, changes her hair, and renovates her house. With the help of her friends and the handsome contractor working on her house, she finds new depths to herself and finds her way back to happiness.
 
Thoughts: There were some things that I really enjoyed about this book and somethings that I cared less for. I loved her friends and their relationship. I think Savvy was cool getting herself together for revenge but ended up finding contentment with herself. And while revenge was not actually the point, I still wish her ex had gotten more of a comeuppance than he did. 

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 

Title: Act Cool
Author: Tobly McSmith
Narrator: Shaan Desani
 
Synopsis: August, a transgender teen, has run away to New York city to live with his aunt and attend a prestigious performing arts high school. He wants to be an actor and shows great promise. Until he lands a role that hits a bit too close to home. To become the actor he really wants to be, he needs to confront his own life including his parents who refuse to accept August as he is.
 
Thoughts: I LOVE Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith, so I had to read this book, too. And while I love Stay Gold more, this book was very good. It was often very sad and many of the characters feel very real. And you can't help but root for August. It was sweet and sad and sometimes redeeming.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Squire
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: Kel's journey continues into her squire years. As the only girl squire, she fears that she will not be chosen by a knight master. Enter Lord Raoul of the King's Own who is willing to take her on and train her up. He sees potential in her that many others do not and she grows to meet his expectations.

Thoughts: Another of these books I have read so many times it is probably ridiculous. As you can see by the battered cover of my copy. While the Kel books don't stand out as much in my mind for favorite characters, I do think they are some of the best ones Tamora Pierce has written. And I still love these books. I probably will forever.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Titles: Boyfriend Material and Husband Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
 
Synopsis: Luc is in need of an appropriate boyfriend to be seen in public with to save his reputation and his job. Oliver needs a boyfriend to bring to his parents' wedding anniversary. Luc and Oliver appear to dislike each other, but enter into a mutually beneficial agreement to pretend to be dating until their events are finished. But surprisingly, the relationship actually works. A couple of years later, Luc and Oliver attend a series of weddings (and one funeral) and decide to get married themselves. 
 
Thoughts: I loved Boyfriend Material when I read it in the past (a year or two ago?) so I had to pick up Husband Material. So I listened to Husband Material and really enjoyed it. These books crack me up and I love all of the characters so much. I had mixed feelings at the end of Husband Material. But then I went back and re-read Boyfriend Material. Then re-read Husband Material. And then Boyfriend Material again (I needed comfort books, don't judge me). They are great, hilarious books. I definitely recommend them and eagerly await any other books that may be coming down the pipeline!
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June C. L. Tan
Narrators: Natalie Naudus and Kevin Shen

Synopsis: Ahn is a peasant girl in a poor village who sets out to save her grandmother. Meanwhile, Altan is trying to take his rightful place as emperor and needs to find the life stealer to do it. Ahn and Altan's paths cross and change when they discover that Ahn is the life stealer as well as the daughter to a high-ranking official in the court that overthrew Altan and his family. Altan meant to kill Ahn, but maybe this is a problem better solved by becoming allies.

Thoughts: This was an Owlcrate book that I alternated reading and listening to. First off, I thought it was a stand-alone book, but based on the ending, I am guessing that is not true. Aside from that, it was pretty good. Parts were interesting and it was nice to follow the characters and see the friends and enemies they made along the way. If you are interested in fantasy novels with Chinese influence, it is definitely worth a read.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Squire or Boyfriend Material and Husband Material
Least favorite book read this month: Probably Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell, but not because it was bad, just because it had my lowest rating.

I have read 55 books towards my goal of 60 books for the year. That is pretty good. I may or may not adjust the goal. Maybe I will just see how many I read and base next years goal on that.

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone is doing well and is getting ready for the spooky season! September is finally here!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

June and July 2022 Wrap Up

Sorry for the delayed post. I didn't get around to working on my June 2022 wrap up until half way though July. So I figured I might as well wait and post everything at once.

June was neat because I got to go up to Colorado and visit friends and family. I think I needed that more than I knew. It was a good trip and it was so nice to see so many of my people.

I didn't update at the end of June because I ended up working all weekend and was exhausted all week from the extra hours (including working on the fourth of July). And in between all of that I was dealing with rats being sick, vet appointments, doctors appointments for me, internet issues, and more. It was just busy and I was so tired. I hope this will be the last post that I need to combine. But you never know. I will do my best.

July was (obviously) a bit nuts at work for a while. More vet appointments and doctors/dentist appointments. We also lost the woman who was my daycare lady for many years of my life near the end of July. I think she started taking care of me when I was about 2 until I was nearly 12. She helped raise me and several of the kids in her care are still in touch. One of my best and oldest friends started daycare around the same time I did and my little brother met his two best friends there and they are still a great trio all these years later. It has been a sad week with her loss. She was such a big part of all of our lives. That has been on my mind a lot lately.

I will keep my book reviews short since it is late and two months worth of them.

Title: Playing With Myself
Author: Randy Rainbow
Narrator: Randy Rainbow
 
Synopsis: An autobiography/collection of memoirs by and about Randy Rainbow. 

Thoughts: I loved this book. It was great and often super funny. And one time I cried my eyes out. Listening to it being read by him made it more special. Absolutely recommend.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Narrator: Frazer Douglas
 
Synopsis: This is the story of Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, the man who best loved Achilles and was best loved by Achilles. Despite their differences, they become unlikely friends and eventually fall in love.
 
Thoughts: I feel like I'm behind on this one. And, oddly enough, I am not super familiar with Achilles' story. But this book was lovely and beautiful.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Other Man
Author: Farhad J. Dadyburjor
Narrator: Ariyan Kassam
 
Synopsis: Ved is living as a closeted gay man in India where being gay is not accepted. He agrees to an arranged marriage with the seemingly perfect Disha. And he thinks that will be all until he meets Carlos and falls head over heals for him.
 
Thoughts: There were some things that I loved about this book and some things that I didn't like much. But I sort of love Ved's parents and Disha. Overall it was a nice read.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 


Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Narrator: Trevor Noah
 
Synopsis: Trevor was born in South Africa to a Black mother and white father. Since this was illegal, it had to be hidden for much of his life. And it gave him a whole different life experience than most people would ever experience.
 
Thoughts: This was a great book. I honestly know little about apartheid. His life was so different from anything I could imagine. I found it very interesting and I thought it was a great read.
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: What if it's Us
Authors: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Narrators: Noah Galvin and Froy Gutierrez
 
Synopsis: A brief, chance meeting between Arthur and Ben leaves both of them desperate to find the other. When Arthur posts an ad at a local coffee shop, it feels like destiny that Ben found it. But Arthur is only in New York City for the summer.

Thoughts: This book was sweet and pretty cute. I think I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending mostly. Still a decent read though. Fun little meet-cute story.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 

Titles: Emperor Mage and The Realms of the Gods
Author: Tamora Pierce
 
Synopsis: Daine's adventures continue. First, she travels to Carthak with Tortall ambassadors to try and make peace with the Emperor and a goddess lends Daine the power to bring dead animals to life. Then, when she is in great danger, Daine (with Numair) is pulled into the realms of the gods by her parents. Once she recovers, she and Numair must find their way back to the mortal realms.

Thoughts: I have read these books too many times. These two were always my favorites when I was younger, but now that I am older, I actually like the first two better. But these are nostalgic, comfort reads for me and I think I will always love them.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 

Title: Lady Killers
Author: Tori Telfer
Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen
 
Synopsis: This book explores female serial killers in history. Women are generally seen as the victims of such crimes; society struggles when women are serial killers.
 
Thoughts: This book was great. My only wish was that more female serial killers were included in this book. Her exploration of the history and taking the fantasies out of the true story made it even more interesting. She also talks a lot about how female serial killers are viewed and downplayed by society.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Female Serial Killers
Author: Peter Vronsky
Narrator: Charles Constant
 
Synopsis: Vronsky takes a look at female serial killers and what makes them killers. He looks at many female serial killers and takes their histories and childhoods into account as well as some interesting psychological information and analysis.

Thoughts: I am not generally into serial killers, but the last book (see above) peaked my interest in female serial killers. This one looks at many more women, most much more modern than in the last book. Some of the information was very interesting and some was very disturbing (which is to be expected, I think). My only complaint is that, at times, his weird version of feminism got to me. He is occasionally very oddly harsh and opinionated in particular ways about feminist movements/thoughts/arguments. Sometimes I didn't even think he was wrong, but disliked how he brushed off other people/analysts without (in my opinion) much to stand on, seeing as he is a man.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women
Author: Elizabeth Norton
Narrator: Jennifer Dixon
 
Synopsis: This book follows the lives of women (from peasants to royalty) during the reign of the Tudors. Most historical records concern men more than women, so this is some insight into the lives of women who are so often hidden from historical records.
 
Thoughts: If you are into history, this is an interesting read. I enjoyed it.
 
 Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Stay Gold
Author: Tobly McSmith
Narrators: Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole

Synopsis: Pony is a transgender boy in rural Texas and he is transferred to a new school. Since no one knows he is transgender, he is living his dream of just being one of the guys. And then he falls for the beautiful cheerleader, Georgia who likes him back. But he is afraid to tell anyone his secret, though growing closer to Georgia he knows he really should.

Thoughts: I read this book last year and loved it so much. Reading it again this year did not at all change my feelings. I adore this book. It is hard and wonderful and redeeming and magic.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars


Title: Love and Other Disasters
Author: Anita Kelly
Narrator: Lindsey Dorcus
 
Synopsis: Dahlia loves to cook and enters as a contestant on a cooking show to win the money that would help turn her life around. Meanwhile, London, the first openly nonbinary contestant on the popular cooking show wants to pursue their dream of starting a non-profit for LBGTQ+ kids. Can Dahlia and London really compete as their feelings towards one another grow?
 
Thoughts: I liked the cooking show premise of this book and the characters were interesting and likable enough. It was good, overall, but I didn't love the sex scenes (as is usual for me). That aside, it was sweet and fun.
 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Conventionally Yours
Author: Annabeth Albert
Narrators: Kirt Graves and Joel Froomkin

Synopsis: Conrad and Alden are rivals maybe. They both play a card game called Odyssey and have gained some notoriety online. They are invited to an Odyssey convention and competition with a grand money prize and a chance to turn professional. Each needs to win for different reasons. As they travel to the convention as reluctant travel companions, they grow closer and their perspectives start to shift.
 
Thoughts: I liked some of the nerdy aspects of this book and there were a ton of LBGTQ characters, which is nice to see. As usual, I did not enjoy the sex scenes, but the book was a fun read and I liked the characters' and their connections and relationship.
 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Titles: First Test and Page
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: These are the first two books in the Protector of the Small quartet. The series follows Kel in her quest to become a female knight, the first known female knight in many decades. First Test follows her year as a probationary page and her adventures continue as she is accepted as a true page following the first year.
 
Thoughts: I have read these books many, many times. And while Alanna and Daine have always been favorite characters of mine, I really think that this series is probably the most well-written of her series. And they are still comfort reads for me. I always enjoy them.
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 


Favorite books read in June and July: Playing With Myself and Stay Gold
Least favorite books read in June and July: Not sure, maybe What if it's Us, Conventionally Yours, or Love and Other Disasters. Not because they were bad, just that they got the fewest stars.

I have read 49 books towards my goal of 60. I may increase my goal since I have been doing well lately.

Thanks for reading and for your patience! I appreciate you sticking with me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

April and May 2022 Wrap Up

April was a crazy month. I was very stressed leading up to our trip. And I was hoping to get the April 2022 Wrap Up post up after I got back at the beginning of May, but then I was sick for a couple of weeks after we got back and just didn't have the energy to do it. And lately our internet has been awful, so that was another hurdle. So for these two months, I am doing a combined post. 

Our trip to India and Nepal was incredible! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you have seen some of the photos. People ask me what my favorite part was and it is hard to choose. I liked Jaipur and the Taj Mahal was absolutely beautiful. Paragliding in Pokhara was a pretty unforgettable experience. It was just really great and we had a good group of people on our tour, which made it even better of course. And Kevin and I didn't even get sick of each other!

And then when I got back I was sick and working and that has been life for the most part. And I will be going to Colorado for a few days in June to see friends and family so I am really looking forward to that.

I figured with vacation I would not read many books, but I read more than I thought! Here are the books I managed to finish in April and May. Due to the number of books and doing two months, I am going to try to make them extra brief (aside from Vengeful which I typed up before I left).

Title: Vengeful
Author: V. E. Schwab
Narrator: Jeremy Arthur
 
Synopsis: Ever since Sydney brought Vincent back to life, Vincent has been experiencing problems with his powers and death episodes. He is desperately searching for a solution. Meanwhile, Marcella gains powers of destruction when her husband kills her. And she uses that power to gather some EO's to her and take control of the city. And Eli is locked away in the EON headquarters trying to figure out how EON can take down Marcella and Vincent.

Thoughts: I finally ended up doing a combined reading and listening to this book because I felt like I wasn't making enough progress on the physical book. This duology was intense. When I read Vicious I was surprised at how much I liked it because I would say these aren't my kind of stories. I have such mixed feelings about many of the characters. Each character is sort of good and evil in their own ways. I think I was not supposed to like Marcella, but I kind of did. I like Vincent most of the time. He is so unpredictable, sometimes he is good but sometimes he is awful. And then I hate Eli but hate Dr. Haverty even more for what he did to Eli. It is complicated and messy and much more amazing than it should be.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Ariadne
Author: Jennifer Saint
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik

Synopsis: Ariadne, famously associated with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, finally gets her own story. After falling in love with Perseus and his abandonment, her life takes a drastic turn.

Thoughts: This was neat, it was nice for Ariadne to have the spotlight and to see her story all in one place instead of in the background of the myths, which is what I am used to. If you enjoyed Circe, this is a good book for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Rosamund Pike

Synopsis: I hardly feel like this classic tale needs a synopsis. Briefly, this story follows two sisters as they navigate the land of romance and society.

Thoughts: I wanted more after I finished Pride and Prejudice, so I decided to pick this one up. I was a bit disappointed, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I did Pride and Prejudice. That being said, I still liked it alright and am glad I read it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Title: Heartstopper volumes 1 through 4
Author: Alice Oseman

Synopsis: These graphic novels follow the stories of Charlie and Nick as they become fast friends and their feelings develop into something more.

Thoughts: I had a couple of these on my Kindle, which was handy while I was traveling. These were pretty easy, enjoyable reads and definitely cute and fluffy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: The Extraordinaries
Author: TJ Klune

Synopsis: Nick is obsessed with the mysterious people in his city called the Extraordinaries. Motivated by his enormous crush on Shadow Star (the Extraordinary hero of the city) Nick decides to become an Extraordinary himself. His best friend (and maybe soulmate?) Seth, seems oddly on the fence about Nick's endeavors.

Thoughts: This had been sitting on my Kindle for a while and I read it while I was in Nepal. I LOVED this book. I swore I saw the plot coming and the twist surprised me. It was funny and clever and just so great. I can't wait to read the next book (whenever it comes out).

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Title: When Harry Met Harry
Author: Sydney Smyth
Narrators: Teddy Hamilton and Malcolm Young

Synopsis: When Harry first met Herryy (also called Henry by his friends), they couldn't stand one another. But their paths are fated to cross over and over again. Eventually they become friends but maybe they could be more.

Thoughts: I can't even remember how/when this book crossed my radar. But I have to say, I didn't love it. The first half to three quarters of the book was actually alright, but after that I seriously lost interest and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it just felt too drawn out and overdone.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars


Title: Pumpkin
Author: Julie Murphy
 
Synopsis: Waylon is not the most subtle of gay teenagers. And being a fat, fairly flamboyant guy in small town Texas has its drawbacks. Just when it feels like Waylon's life is maybe falling apart, he discovers drag and that is just the outlet he needs.
 
Thoughts: Another book that has been on my Kindle for a while. I enjoyed the first two books in the Dumplin' series, and it is probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one, too. Waylon is a great character to follow and it was a lovely story.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 to 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Pandava Series
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Soneela Nankani

Synopsis: Aru Shah is the reincarnation of Arjuna from the ancient Mahabharata. Aru doesn't feel much like the ancient hero though. Through a series of events, she releases the Sleeper from his prison and kicks off the next big war. Aru, along with her sisters (the other reincarnated Pandavas) and their friends, have to stop the Sleeper and end the war.

Thoughts: I had to re-read the first four books since the last book was just released and I wanted everything fresh in my memory. I love these books. I love the mythology and stories and the characters are great: funny, flawed, and heroic. It makes me want to read the Mahabharata (and maybe the Bhagvad Gita) to learn more about the stories and characters referenced throughout the series. But I definitely recommend this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars for each

 

Title: Wild Magic and Wolf-speaker
Author: Tamora Pierce

Synopsis: I'm sure I have reviewed these books before because I have read them countless times. But real quick, this series follows Daine who has lost her family and comes to Tortall. She finds that her "knack" with animals is actually wild magic. As she learns how to use her magic, Carthak is gearing up to go to war with Tortall.

Thoughts: These are comfort books for me. I'm not sure why, but I had the urge to read them. I seriously have read them more times than I could count since I discovered them in middle school. And I love Numair, so there is that, too.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars for each

 

Favorite book read in April/May: The Extraordinaries probably takes the cake. Also the Pandava series.
Least favorite book read this month: When Harry Met Harry

I have read 33 books towards my goal of 60. According to Goodreads, I am 9 books ahead of schedule, so that is pretty great!

I finished another series that I wanted to finish this year: the Villains duology!  I have completed most of the series I wanted to finish this year. The only other one I want to complete is the sequel to King of Scars.

Thanks for sticking with me, guys! Hopefully now that things are a bit more normal, I will get back into the blogging routine. And hopefully get up some other posts for real this time.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

March 2022 Wrap Up

The end of March sneaked up on me. I was not prepared for this blog post, so I am sorry about that.

March has felt insane. Work has been slower mostly, I don't have a lot of bench work right now, mostly paperwork and training some of our newer people. It is nice to be able to catch up on some things, but work goes by faster when you are busy!

Kevin and I have been trying to get ready for India. We still have some forms to fill out and submit and paperwork to print/copy, but it is coming together. And I think we have our pet care situation handled. That was stressing me out pretty badly for a while there. I'm so glad that I have made some friends here who are willing and able to help me. And I know that I can trust them.

I read quite a few books this month and they were all enjoyable! That was nice. Since I am running late on this blog post, I will try to keep them short.

 

Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart
Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
 
Synopsis: In a desperate attempt to keep her love from marrying another, Evangeline makes a deal with Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. But the price he asks may change everything.
 
Thoughts: When I finished the Caraval trilogy, all I really wanted was more about Jacks. I was thinking this would be more about Jacks' past, but it isn't, it follows the Caraval series. And I will take it. I will continue to read just for him.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 to 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Bennet Women
Author: Eden Appiah-Kubi
Narrator: L. Morgan Lee
 
Synopsis: A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling about three close friends at Longbourn University. EJ is an ambitious black engineering major who loves dance. Her best friend Jamie is a newly out trans woman studying French and theater. And Tessa is a Filipina astronomy student with boyfriend trouble. When Lee and Jamie start to fall for one another, EJ is stuck with Lee's best friend, Will and she could not be less thrilled.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot even though I had not actually read all of Pride and Prejudice. And while I didn't always love the story between EJ and Will, I did love the side story about Jamie and Lee!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars


Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Rosamund Pike
 
Synopsis: I think the classic story that is Pride and Prejudice needs no introduction.
 
Thoughts: I read about a quarter of this book many, many years ago but then my copy was destroyed by a leaking water bottle. But I finally read it and I absolutely loved it. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
 
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Five Dark Fates
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: Amy Landon
 
Synopsis: The conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series! What will finally happen to the three (four?) queens of Fennbirn? Arsinoe is helping lead the rebellion to put Jules on the throne. Mirabella and Arsinoe have become close, but she leaves to try to save Katharine from herself. And Katharine, as the Queen Crowned and host to the dead queens is trying to keep her country safe and under her control.
 
Thoughts: Admittedly, I put off reading this book for quite some time. I actually adore this series. Though I read them all really far apart from each other and really need to go back and re-read the whole series. I am just sort of obsessed with the Queens. And even though I should not like Katharine, I really do. The poisoners fascinate me as much as they repel me. And I love Braddock the bear. I'm glad that I finally read the conclusion. I am a little sad that it is over and that Fennbirn is forever changed. But Three Dark Crowns merchandise is always a favorite with me and I own an awful lot of it. I just can't help it!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Penelopiad
Author: Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Laural Merlington
 
Synopsis: This is the classic story of Odysseus as told from his wife, Penelope's point of view. Penelope reflects on her life and story as she wanders the fields of Asphodel.
 
Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by a friend who always recommends great books. And I really enjoyed this story and Penelope's perspective. It is creative and well-researched. Definitely worth the read.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Stone Sky
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Narrator: Robin Miles
 
Synopsis: The final installment of the Broken Earth trilogy. The fate of the world and humanity is in the hands of Essun and/or her daughter, Nassun. Both have mastered the Obelisk Gate and have some conflicting information and views of how the world should be.
 
Thoughts: This is a series I have been meaning to finish for a while. The first book was amazing and I have enjoyed following the stories. The characters are so imperfect and different and it makes them all feel more real, I suppose. I was a little shocked about the ending with Essun and Nassun, but oddly actually pleased in the very end. Very good series, definitely recommend it!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars


Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
 
Synopsis: Frances is a dressmaker who dreams of becoming a famous designer and dressmaker. Her unique designs gain the attention of Prince Sebastian who hires her. The prince secretly enjoys wearing dresses and Frances helps create his persona as Lady Crystallia. But the prince is afraid to let people know, which ends up keeping Frances from gaining the fame she deserves. But maybe these two friends can find a way to overcome all of the odds.
 
Thoughts: This graphic novel was recommended to me by a lady I used to work with and someone I follow on Instagram. I forgot my book when I had my hair appointment so I pulled this up on my phone Kindle app. It isn't very long and I finished it within a few hours. It was cute and gave me warm fuzzy feelings.
 
Rating:  4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Unravel the Dusk
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
 
Synopsis: This is the second book in the Spin the Dawn duology. Maia managed to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but at a terrible price. When one of the magical dresses lashes out at the emperor's wife-to-be, Maia is forced to take her place while she recovers. But the bride's father eventually sees through her disguise. With the peace of her country in tatters and her humanity slowly draining away by the demon that possesses her, Maia will do nearly anything to save her country and the people she loves.
 
Thoughts: In some ways I feel like each of these books had two separate parts and sometimes I forget the other parts. I can't describe it without giving things away, you will just have to believe me. Overall I enjoyed it, but for a while I felt like it was dragging and I just wanted to finish the book. But then something would take me by surprise and I would find myself tearing up at certain parts. I was more invested than I thought I was.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


Favorite book read this month: There were a lot of great ones this month. If I have to choose one, probably Pride and Prejudice
Least favorite book read this month: They were all so good, but probably Unravel the Dusk.

I have read 15 books towards my goal of 60 books. According to Goodreads, I am one book ahead of schedule. Which is good since I don't know how much reading I will be able to do while we are on vacation. On that note, my next blog post will almost definitely be late. I apologize in advance.

There were several series that I wanted to finish this year. As of this month, I have completed almost all of them. The only series I have left to finish is the Vicious duology (and I am so close to finishing Vengeful). And I suppose the King of Scars duology. That was not originally on my list but I feel like I should add it. It feels good to have met some of my reading goals. I just have to figure out what I want to read next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

February 2022 Wrap Up

February is sort of a special month. Kevin's and my dating anniversary is in February, which we like to celebrate. So we started dating five years ago as of the 12th. And life has not been the same since. I'm so lucky to have him in my life.

One sad thing was that we lost Hermes suddenly and unexpectedly near the beginning of the month. He seemed OK that morning and when I got home he was unresponsive. I tried to get him in to an emergency vet and they were either closed or wouldn't see an exotic. So I tried to keep him comfortable and I kept him with me. He didn't seem to be suffering much, which was good. It was mostly like he wasn't really there. He did cuddle and sleep with me for many hours and even boggled several times, which helped make my sad heart a bit happier. He went pretty quickly and peacefully around 2 or 3 the next morning. I'm glad that he isn't suffering anymore, but I miss him (biter that he was). He was the smartest rat I think I have ever had and I think if we'd had more time, we could have had a great connection.

In other news, we are preparing for our India and Nepal trip. We leave in about a month and a half. Lots to do before then! I have never traveled so far for so long and I get anxious about what all needs to be done/packed/prepared. And leaving our home and fur babies is a whole thing, too. Luckily we have friends here to take care of things. That helps.

Work has been work. Sometimes it is great and I get to work with infectious diseases and I love that. Sometimes it is just rough. I can't figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The thought of going to med school still circles my head regularly, but it is such a huge, long commitment. I need someone to tell me what to do!

I didn't read as many books this month as I had hoped. I am still making progress on Vengeful (which is great but I have been lacking time/motivation to sit and read). I also managed to finish Winter after working on it on and off for about a year. I also listened to the Mysterious Island which was about 19 hours and some minutes long. I rarely listen to such long books, so that slowed me down. Anyway, lets focus on the books I managed to complete this month.


Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
 
Synopsis: This is the last installment of the Lunar Chronicles. Princess Winter joins the resistance against her stepmother, Queen Levana. Together, they infiltrate Luna to try and put Cinder on her rightful throne. Will Cinder, Winter, Cress, and Scarlet manage to find their happily ever afters?
 
Thoughts: Don't let the fact that it took me over a year to finish this book deter you. It was a good book and I did enjoy it. I read the first half and then finished with a combination of reading and listening to the audiobook. I was definitely anxious for our heroes and rooting for the happy endings. This is a great series for sure.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Author: Jules Verne
Narrator: David Linski

Synopsis: This is the classic tale of Captain Nemo and his legendary Nautilus. Aronnax along with his servant, Conseil, and fellow voyager Ned Land, find themselves aboard the almost magical submarine piloted by Captain Nemo. They spend months traveling the seas and seeing and learning new things. Despite the wonderful adventures, the three are determined to escape their captivity.

Thoughts: I wanted to read this after reading Rick Riordan's Daughter of the Deep. Because of that book, a few things were sort of spoiled, but it was still enjoyable to see where Rick Riordan got his ideas from. I enjoyed it. I did not like Ned Land (but didn't expect to after Daughter of the Deep). I was excited to learn that the name "Aronnax" came from this book.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 

Title: The Mysterious Island
Author: Jules Verne
Narrator: Berny Clark
 
Synopsis: Five men captured by the south during the Civil War escape via hot air balloon. They get so blown off course that they crash land on an island in the middle of no where and have to find a way to survive. Due to their innovations, intelligence, and cooperation, they manage to make a good home. But one thing doesn't sit right. No other people have been found on the island, but some events transpire that they cannot explain.
 
Thoughts: Again, reading Daughter of the Deep was a bit of a spoiler for this book. And despite its length and knowing how it (mostly) ultimately ended, I really enjoyed it. There were  a couple of small parts I skipped (hunting scenes namely). But I generally enjoy survivor tales, I think, but I forget that and I think I need to be in the mood. But it was great and I was so glad to "see" Captain Nemo again.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
Favorite book read this month: they were all good for different reasons. If I had to chose, probably the Mysterious Island
Least favorite book read this month: none!
 
I have now read seven books towards my goal of 60. Goodreads says that I am two books behind schedule. Oh well. I will try to catch up. But I have managed to finish two series that I wanted to finish this year and I am working on Vengeful. I have a couple more series that I want to finish this year, but I am happy with my progress so far.

And I wanted to share a new discovery with you all. I started using an app called Finch which is a self-care app. And you have a little finch that you name and interact with. It's really interesting actually and I have been enjoying using it. And I hope others will check it out and also find it useful! It is free (but you can pay to unlock more features). The free version has been great though and it makes me reflect on things differently than I think I would otherwise because I am "interacting" with my finch. It has shifted my perspective a bit. Very cool, try it out. Maybe we can be friends!

Thanks for reading! Here's to a happy March!

Monday, January 31, 2022

January 2022 Wrap Up

It is 2022!

I realized a week or so ago that maybe it wasn't good that I didn't really set goals for the new year. Aside from my goal to read 60 books.

So I decided I want to finish the following books in order to finish the respective series:
  • Winter
  • The Bronzed Beasts
  • Five Dark Fates
  • Vengeful
  • The Stone Sky
I have already made some progress (as you will see). And while there aren't any formal goals aside from reading, I think it is better than nothing.
 
In the last couple of months I have started to see a counselor. It was determined several years ago that I have anxiety which has been pretty nicely under control due to my medication. Lately I have been experiencing pretty specific emotional issues and when I think about it, it sounds like a different manifestation of anxiety. And I think it was really triggered by my work/place of work. Unfortunately, I think it has changed me enough that this will continue to be a problem for the rest of my life, even after I leave this job (one day). So I started counseling. And that has been very good, I think. I still don't feel "better" per se, but I have learned more about myself and become a bit more aware of my thoughts and feelings. And my counselor recently suggested starting a vision board (or multiple, if that works). I have been looking into that, but haven't started anything concrete. I like the idea of them. And that is what made me think about setting goals and that maybe it was bad that I didn't set many.

I do still want to make some more disease posts. I haven't figured out which disease I want to cover yet, but I have a few top options. And I still have plans for some wedding posts that some people might appreciate. I will try to turn these into more concrete goals.

Lets look at the books I finished this month.

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: This was a re-read. And I still love these books. 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: The first book and this one are my favorites so far. I love the story and characters and I absolutely cannot wait for more!
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Title: Daughter of the Deep
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
 
Synopsis: Ana Dakkar is attending an elite school: Harding-Pencroft Acadamy. Their studies focus on the ocean, marine life, manning ships, exploration, and more. When she and the rest of her freshman class leave the school for their weekend trial at sea, something destroys her school and (likely) all of the other students including her older brother, Dev. With their one faculty member and rivals from Land Institute after them, they set course for the Mysterious Island and Ana's ideas of fact and fiction get turned upside-down.
 
Thoughts: I am not sure why I waited so long to read this. When have I NOT loved a Rick Riordan book? It was great, I loved it. I think it is a stand-alone book and I hope he will write more like it. And I have never read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or the Mysterious Island, but I want to now!
 
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Title: The Bronzed Beasts
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrators: Laurie Catherine Winkel and P.J. Ochlan
 
Synopsis: After Séverin seems to betray his friends and team, he is whisked away to Venice to find the temple in which he can play the lyre and grant Ruslan godhood. With only a few hints about where they need to meet Séverin, Enrique, Hypnos, Laila, and Zofia have to find him and the temple. And time is running out, especially for Laila who only has days left to live.
 
Thoughts: I'm glad I finally finished this trilogy. It was creative and interesting and I really enjoyed it. I couldn't help but love the characters and be invested in their stories. And it was a good conclusion to the series.
 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
 
 
Favorite book read this month: Daughter of the Deep
Least favorite book read this month: honestly none of them

I have now read four books towards my goal of 60. I have already started Vengeful (and am really enjoying it so far) and I am newly committed to finishing Winter. I've been in such a reading slump. Starting books and never finishing them, nothing holding my interest. Vengeful has been the first book in a very long time that I have just wanted to sit and read for hours.

And generally life is pretty good. I'm still working to better socialize our newer rats. Aside from Hermes (who bites), they are doing alright and are spoiled. Poseidon is still hanging in there with no medical issues that we have seen. He is now my oldest living rat. Sprite may have been about this old, but she had many, many health issues. Poseidon is still moving around and eating and being his adorable, sweet self.

The cat is a monster still. I call him the worst cat ever.

Married life has been good so far. We are only three months in, but it has been lovely.

And otherwise I work a lot, which is mostly good and sometimes less good. But I am glad that I have a job and I am glad that I am getting a lot of different experiences. I think this job has done wonders for my lab skills. And I am even more glad for my team of ladies who have also become friends. I love that I get to work with them and spend time with them.

One last thing. Can we talk about Encanto? It might be my new favorite. I adore it and watch it waaay too much. I listen to all of the songs and spend too much time thinking about the movie.
Image from Disney: Encanto
 
Anyone have thoughts about the colors the family wears? I noticed it on Pepa's side because they all wear yellow, but I couldn't figure out why that was. Until I finally realized that Julieta's family wears blue. Except for Isabela, which is what threw me. She wears pink (though it looks kind of blue in shadows). But who else wears pink? Abuela. Isabela is supposed to take over her role. But near the end when she gets her power back, she dyes her dress different colors, but mostly blue. 
Image from Slash Film: Encanto
 
And the triplets wear the same colors they wore as babies! That helped clue me in. I am not sure what the significance is, but I think it is interesting. And probably significant that Mirabel has different colored embroidery on her outfit. My guess is that her "gift" is bringing the family together and she will take over Abuela's spot. Technically, Abuela doesn't have a gift either; she was given the miracle, but not magic. So Mirabel is like her. And are her green glasses significant? Green is Bruno's color.

Also, I love Pepa. She is a bit nuts and I adore it as well as her husband! And I am very fond of Bruno. I'm sure that has nothing to do with all of the rats that he keeps around... Camilo is hilarious, I never get enough of his parts. I love that Dolores knew that Bruno and the rats were around. Kevin and I love all the capybaras (we call them capyboppys because of the book Capyboppy by Bill Peet). The characters are all so interesting, it's great. I don't know how you can NOT like them.

And did everyone notice Bruno (or Camilo disguised as Bruno??) in the background when Dolores sings her part in We Don't Talk About Bruno? I keep meaning to check if he is lurking any other time, but I keep forgetting and end up just watching the movie.

Anyway, random thoughts that I wanted to get down. Maybe others will weigh in and share thoughts, too.

Thanks for reading!