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!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

December 2021 Wrap Up

We made it to the end of another year. But everything feels so different with covid, right? I feel like time passes differently. 

It's been a busy month: end of Hanukkah, birthday, Christmas, and the New Year. I thought a bit about New Year's resolutions, but I may forgo that this year and stick with a few personal goals with no pressure. I will set a reading goal. I managed to get through 58 books this year, even with wedding planning and so on. My 2022 goal will be 60. I will adjust it (up or down) if I feel like I need to.

My other reading goal was to finish/continue some series that I haven't gotten around to yet. I managed to read Silvered Serpents and the Obelisk Gate to continue those series (maybe I can finish them this year). I read the Night of the Dragon and finished that series. I started reading Winter at the beginning of the year and haven't managed to finish it... not because it isn't good, I just haven't been feeling it. I wanted to read Vengeful, which is still high on my list once the new year starts. And I seriously need to finish the Three Dark Crowns series. I love the books, I think I am just scared to read the last one.

And I decided I am actually going to put together some DIY wedding posts. I have remained part of a couple wedding planning groups on Facebook and I actually have helpful information, apparently. I will get to work on those in the new year, too.

Another goal will be to get at least a couple new disease posts up. It has been a while and I do so love infectious diseases!

And December is the time for holiday reads! And I have a whole list of ideas for holiday reads and I read none of the ones on my list because I just wasn't feeling them, but that's alright. I'm a big mood reader and this year it has been extra hard to read books I am not in the mood for. So here are the books I read this month.

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Synopsis: (Copied from last year's post.) Georgie loves her husband, Neal. And she know he loves her. She's pretty sure, anyway. At the last minute, her job requires her to stay in LA to work and Neal takes their daughters to Nebraska for Christmas. Georgie all but moves back in with her mother, who thinks Neal left Georgie, though Georgie argues that this is not true. Desperate to connect with her husband, she keeps calling but can never get through. Until she tries her old yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom to call Neal's landline. And she gets through! To Neal in the past, during the Christmas week he had broken up with her and gone to Nebraska alone. Georgie hadn't talked to him the whole week, but he showed up to propose on Christmas morning. But now she is talking to past Neal. Is she supposed to change something? Fix something?

Thoughts: I still love this book. It is one of my very favorites. I usually cry all the way through the last few chapters and it makes me hopeful, I think. I just love it so very much. After I finished listening to it, I read/listened to some other books and then turned around and listened to this one again... So technically, I read it twice this year. I did that last year, too. I'm not sure what that says about me, but oh well.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Synopsis: I don't think I need to describe this classic! Christmas ghost story. A bit spooky and otherwise lovely.
Thoughts: One of my annual re-reads. I still love it and I still imagine the characters as Disney mice and ducks. And Tim Curry's narration is just awesome, I highly recommend it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: If the Fates Allow
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Synopsis: In the midst of the Covid pandemic, Reagan prepares to spend Christmas with her grandpa. She is great at social distancing and has made sure she couldn't expose her grandpa. Maybe if they can spend Christmas together with grandma's traditional Jello salad, things will feel normal again.
Thoughts: This is a short story that Rainbow Rowell released this year. I enjoyed it (even if the idea of Jello salad horrifies me). It was a nice, short holiday read.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Title: Christmas Every Day
Author: Beth Moran
Narrator: Helen Keeley
Synopsis: Jenny's life has just taken an extreme turn for the worst so she decides to start over. She has inherited her grandmother's cottage in a remote village. And she certainly has a project on her hands to make the cottage livable. Meanwhile, she tries to make friends with the locals, including her handsome and cranky neighbor.
Thoughts: This was actually better than I thought it would be. And while I cared little for the main romantic story line, I did like Jenny's friendship with Mack and I enjoyed the side characters.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Title: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Author: Jessica Townsend
Narrator: Gemma Whelan

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

Thoughts: This was a re-read. I was going to try to wait until 2022 to re-read these books, but I was impatient. And I still loved it. It was unique and fun and kept me interested the whole time.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Fire Rose
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Synopsis: A twist on the Beauty and the Beast story. Rosalind Hawkins is a recently orphaned and destitute scholar recruited by reclusive rail baron Jason Cameron to read and translate obscure books for him. But then Rose starts to wonder if all this magic the books talk about might actually be real.

Thoughts: I loved this book when I was younger and had not read it for nearly 10 years. It is still not the best and a bit contrived. Once I get into the story it bothers me less. But it is still kind of a fun take on the beauty and the beast tale.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite read this month: Landline (always)
Least favorite read this month:  probably the Fire Rose

And now on to the new year. I hope it will only get better.