Saturday, December 31, 2022

December 2022 Wrap Up

December has been quite a month. Normally it is my favorite month, but it really got off to a rough start until closer to the end of the month. Mostly because of work. Because work is hard and frustrating and all-consuming. So that is all I will say about that.

December means Hanukkah, which I celebrated by getting new electric candles for my little menorah. That was lovely. December also means my birthday, which work almost ruined, but I managed some days off and had dinner with friends, went to see a play with Kevin, and some other fun things. 

Kevin and I went out to Connecticut to visit his family for Christmas. Our flights were some that got totally messed up so we were stranded out there longer than planned, but it was a nice time. We went to see Mark Twain's house, which was very cool. And we went to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience, which was awesome. I posted photos and videos of that on my Instagram if you are interested in looking.

The rats are getting along in years. Festus and Dion turned two in November. Eros turned two this month and Apollo turns two in January. Festus is having respiratory issues, but we have tried so many antibiotics and treatments and nebulizers. I think it is just a matter of keeping him happy until it gets to be too much and we need to put him to sleep. But he's doing OK. Dion is still on heart meds and not exactly healthy, but also fine. Eros might have some sort of autoimmune or genetic something? He has lost some fur in weird places and not grown it back and one of his feet occasionally swells for a day or two. Otherwise he seems happy and healthy. And Apollo has never had a health crisis and hopefully never will!

Mallow had his second Gotcha Day on New Year's Eve. Little demon. I guess he's OK mostly and we kinda like him. Sometimes. He's cute though, so there is that!

I did alright with reading this month. I am going to try to keep reviews very short so I can touch on goals for the coming year.

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Synopsis and thoughts: I don't need to review this one, right? It is one of my all-time favorites and yes, I read it more than once this December. I always love it so much.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: Magic Steps and Street Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis and thoughts: The first two Circle Opens books about Sandry and Briar becoming teachers. I have read these books many times over the years. These are comfort reads and I do enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
Synopsis and thoughts: This was a re-read for me. After I finished Under the Whispering Door, I wanted to revisit it. It is a lovely, sweet story and I definitely recommend it.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Eight Nights of Flirting
Author: Hannah Reynolds
Narrator: Emily Lawrence
Synopsis: Shira is determined to return from winter break with the perfect boyfriend. The only problem? She cannot, and I mean cannot, talk to boys without being totally awkward. Enter Tyler, her old crush and master flirt. They strike a deal where he will teach her to flirt and she will introduce him to her uncle for an internship. That will work, right?
Thoughts: A Hanukkah story! Yay! This was pretty cute actually. I didn't totally love everything (maybe because I am older than the target audience), but it was an enjoyable and easy read. And I am always interested in Hanukkah stories.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Matzah Ball
Author: Jean Meltzer
Narrator: Dara Rosenberg

Synopsis: Rachel, good Jewish girl and Rabbi's daughter has a secret: she ghost writes Christmas romance stories. She loves Christmas, the magic of it. But she is about to lose her job if she doesn't come up with a Hanukkah romance. In her search for inspiration, she gets in with Jacob who is running the biggest, fanciest Hanukkah event: the Matzah Ball. Rachel just needs to get in and she is sure she will find her story.

Thoughts: A Hanukkah story! I always get a bit excited when I find Hanukkah stories. This story was cute and fun and chaos happens. The ending was definitely cheese-y, but you have to know that is coming when you go in. It was a nice story and worth a read if Hanukkah romances might be your thing!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Synopsis and thoughts: Another one I read nearly every year that I probably don't need to really review. I still enjoy this every year, this is a great version, I still picture them as Mickey Mouse characters.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge
Author: Charlie Lovett
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Synopsis: What happened to Scrooge after his life-changing Christmas experience? Well here is an answer for you. And he sets out to save other people like himself.
Thoughts: I was worried this would be bad. It was maybe a bit cheese-y and I didn't think that him needing to save the first and third people were really true to the story, but that's OK. It very much keeps the style and tone of the original story. It was a fun, quick read.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: Landline? Always? I can't help it.
Least favorite book read this month: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, only due to it having the lowest rating.
I read a total of 91 books this year. My goal was 60.

Now for the new year!

My reading goal will be to read 75 books.

I also want to make a real effort to get through more of my Owlcrate books. They are almost always fantasy and I so rarely want to read fantasy these days, but I need to either read them or stop subscribing!

In non-reading goals:
  • I want to be better about saving money. I have already been good about contributing to my retirement (at Kevin's insistence). 
  • I want to cut down on the number of emails I am subscribed to. That sounds silly, but I am so tired of having to delete 50 ads in my email every day. I have already started this process. 
  • I haven't been great at keeping my journal the last few months, so I'd like to get back on that wagon. Part of my problem was adding book reviews into my journal. Doing them in there and on this blog got exhausting and then I didn't want to do it anymore. I just need to modify how I journal. 
  • I want to cut down on the number of stupid games that I play on my phone. 
  • Lastly, I want to go through things that I have and get rid of anything I am not using. It is something I have been working on and I sometimes do well and other times don't.

Anyone else have good goals for 2023?

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November 2022 Wrap Up

Another month flew by. I guess that will keep happening.

Things have been hectic for me, mostly due to work. I am almost the only person who can do any of my job which means a lot of work falls on me and I can't get help and support because no one is trained and the only one who can train them is me and I don't have time to train them... There are some big studies going on and a very big one coming up to prepare for.

In personal news, I have been missing Poseidon like crazy. The other boys are doing alright. Festus still battles respiratory issues and I recently started him on a steroid in a nebulizer which seems to help out. So we keep going along.

This might be weird, but I recently got into slime. I can't remember how I even found it at first, I think it was through a toy/asmr account that I follow on Instagram. And I loved listening to people playing with some of them, so I have ordered some! My first two were from Slime Obsidian. I got a fizz and an icee one. They smell amazing, first off. I took the icee one to work to play with when I feel anxious or while I am reading things. That has been nice. I have since gotten a few others from a couple other shops. I have enjoyed the ones I have ordered from BlushingBB Slimes, one cloud slime that drizzles and one that has beads so it sounds crunchy. I need to post some photos and/or videos on Instagram. I find the crunchy and sizzle-y ones very satisfying!

Anyway, enough of that. Lets do some quick book reviews and figure out what I should read for the holidays!

Titles: Daja's Book and Briar's Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis and thoughts: These are the third and fourth books in the Circle of Magic series where the four take on forest fires and a plague. I have read these books many times, they are comfort reads for me. I always enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Titles: Strange Practice, Dreadful Company, and Grave Importance
Author: Vivian Shaw
Narrator: Suzannah Hampton

Synopsis: This series follows Dr. Greta Helsing as she treats patients who, according to the rest of the world, don't exist.

Thoughts: I have read these books at least twice each. I just think they are fun and wonderful. I can't recommend them enough. And they have the cutest illustrations in the front of the books that I get a kick out of.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Synopsis and thoughts: This is the last book in the Percy Jackson series. Another one I feel like I don't need to say much about. I have read these books many times and I always enjoy them. They are more comfort reads for me.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: T. J. Klune
Narrator: Kirt Graves

Synopsis: Wallace is dead, there is no doubting that. Especially when a reaper appears to take his soul to Charon's Crossing and the ferryman and tea shop owner, Hugo. Not ready to cross yet, Wallace remains at Charon's crossing learning about life and death and what it means to be a good person.

Thoughts: This book was recommended by a friend and I already read and liked House in the Cerulean Sea. This story was wonderful and charming, occasionally funny and touching and sad. I did guess about the Manager before we saw him, but it didn't take away from the story. This book was so great and I definitely cried, sometimes when it made me sad and sometimes when it made me happy. The characters are so great. They are flawed and they learn and they feel more real.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: My Evil Mother
Author: Margaret Atwood
Synopsis: This short story follows a teenage girl in the 1950s and her tumultuous relationship with her mother. Her mother is single and, apparently, is a witch. As this teenager grows up and she has different thoughts about her mother, finding her more and more outlandish, until she understands her.
Thoughts: I have never read anything by Margaret Atwood. This story was interesting and I definitely enjoyed the way that it progresses. I wasn't sure if it counted as a book since it is a short story, but I have already surpassed my reading goal for the year so I am going to count it.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Under the Whispering Door
Least favorite book read this month: My Evil Mother, but only because it has the lowest rating, it was good.

I have read 83 books this year. My goal was 60.

And holiday reads. Here are some of the books I have that I will probably select from. I may not read all of them and I have a list of others that might grab my interest instead. I know I will read Landline at least once (maybe twice because I love it so much). And the Matzah Ball because it is rare and fun to find Hanukkah books.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday season! Let me know if you have any good holiday reads!

Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022 Wrap Up

October is usually the best month, right? I love autumn and Halloween. And of course, Kevin's and my 1st anniversary!

Kevin and I did some fun things. We did a haunted Halloween cookie house together while watching Halloween movies. We went to a local pumpkin patch that we have gone to the past few years. It is very cute and has games and things around. Of course we took home a couple of pumpkins.

Last Friday, we had a virtual Halloween party with my friends in Colorado. They set up on Zoom so the couple of us that live out of state could be part of it. It was fun and nice to see everyone. Then on Saturday we went to Boo at the Zoo. It is mostly for kids, but we still had a good time. They had some fun decorations and games and things.

The sad part about this month was that we lost Poseidon. We had an emergency vet visit earlier in the month and they found that he had pneumonia. We tried a couple of antibiotics with no luck, but he was still chipper and eating. Eventually, we were thinking we would need to take him in soon to have him put to sleep because he had mostly stopped eating and was having a harder time breathing and getting around. But that night he passed away on his own. I had spent a lot of time with him that evening because I felt like we were getting closer to the end. I hope that he didn't suffer much. I checked on him right before I went to bed around 11. When Kevin came to bed around 2:30am, I woke up and asked about Poseidon and he told me that he had passed. I wish I had been with him though. He was my oldest rat, nearly 3 1/2 years old. I miss him so much. Our vet kept saying that he was her favorite rat. When I took him over to be cremated, the front desk staff knew us and were very sweet and sympathetic. And they knew that our vet would be sad and they went to get her. She came out to see me and gave me the very best hug and cried with me. I miss my bright-eyed boy. I always called him my precious and my pill and he was so sweet and cute.

In other good news, I got my hair done. Kevin took me to see Moonage Daydream a while back and I was thinking that I really liked David Bowie's hair in his Thin White Duke and the Man Who Fell to Earth days. So I asked my hairstylist to use that for inspiration. I love it. I posted a photo on my Instagram if you haven't seen it.

I read more books this last month than I thought I would. I will keep my reviews very brief.

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Synopsis/Thoughts: I don't think I need to keep reviewing this book. I love it very much and I read it every year and I never fail to cry at the end.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places
Author: Colin Dickey
Narrator: Jon Lindstrom
Synopsis: A historical look at haunted places and what makes them haunted.
Thoughts: This was a good read if you like history, which I do. The author visits a few places so you get some first-hand view points. He also talks about what makes places haunted in the minds of people.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Dead Romantics
Author: Ashley Poston
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Synopsis: Florence is a ghost writer for a famous romance author, but after a terrible break up, she can't seem to find the romantic inspiration she needs to finish a series. Her (handsome) new editor demands the document ASAP, even as she is called away after the death of her father. Oh, and she can see ghosts.
Thoughts: I didn't really know what to expect and I definitely guessed what was happening early on. But I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It was a nice read and I plan to re-read it in the future.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: I Choose Darkness
Author: Jenny Lawson
Narrator: Jenny Lawson

Synopsis: A short essay about why Jenny Lawson loves Halloween and spooky things.

Thoughts: In general, I enjoy Jenny Lawson's books. This was a very short listen, only about 30 minutes or so. And it was enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Narrators: Greg Wise and others
Synopsis/Thoughts: I have read/listened to this several times. I don't think I need to say much about it. I always enjoy this book. I love that it is written in diary entries, letters, and such things. Great classic.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Gallant
Author: V. E. Schwab
Synopsis: Olivia never knew her parents, all she has is her mother's old journal. Until she gets a letter inviting her to her ancestral home. The one her mother warned her to stay away from.
Thoughts: This may not be my favorite of her books, but I did really enjoy it. The fact that Olivia couldn't speak and could see ghouls was interesting. There were a few parts that creeped me out, perfect for Halloween.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Titles: Sandry's Book and Tris's Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Synopsis/Thoughts: These are the first two books in the Circle of Magic series. They are comfort reads for me and I always enjoy them.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Author: Josephine Leslie (Pseudonym: R. A. Dick)
Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki

Synopsis/Thoughts: Another book I have read many times over. I love this book. Maybe not very spooky, but wonderful.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Title: All These Bodies
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: Matt Godfrey
Synopsis: A series of murders in the 1950s comes to a small town. The strange thing is that all the bodies found are drained of blood. In this small town, they have their first suspect. A girl found at the scene of the crime, drenched in the blood of the murdered family.
Thoughts: There were some parts of this book that spooked me. And I would like a sequel because of the ending. But I definitely enjoyed it and thought about it when I wasn't reading/listening.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Narrator: Samara MacLaren
Synopsis: Mika is part of a group (a very secret society, if you ask her) of witches. Being a witch means witches are not supposed to gather for too long and they must keep their magic separate. But Mika gets a job offer that breaks all the rules, but one that she is just right for.
Thoughts: This was a last minute addition to my spooky reads. It was very sweet and cute. I enjoyed it. If you like found families, it is worth a read.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Favorite book read this month: Besides the Graveyard Book and the Ghost and Mrs. Muir? I really enjoyed the Dead Romantics and the Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Least favorite book read this month: All These Bodies, only because it had the lowest rating. I did enjoy it.

I have now read 75 books and my goal was 60. So that's good.

I hope everyone had a lovely October and a great Halloween!

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.