Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Where I've Been

My posts lately have been sporadic at best, but mostly non-existent.  I've still be reading, albeit at a much slower pace than usual.  There are a few reasons for this: the renovations on my house (which are now over - thank God), work, and my general state of mind.

While the renovations were being done I had no free time at home, I'd get home from work and entered a construction zone, which I had to navigate around, and pack up everything and move it from room to room depending on where they would be working the next day.  This made every evening awful and every weekend awful.  At one point I was sleeping in the dining room, and for a few months we didn't even have a kitchen - which made figuring out dinner a complete nightmare every night.

I've also been slammed with work, which I normally don't mind, but this particular workload has been frustrating to deal with.  The project that is causing most of the trouble was supposed to have been completed in January; my boss is hoping for an end of July release, which I'm seriously doubting.  On top of that project there are others that are not going well, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

Finally, I've been pretty depressed lately.  It's a general discontentment with my life, and I'm the type of person to shrug off my problems because I know others have it much worse, so why should I complain?  It's not a good frame of mind to have, I know, but I've gotten pretty good at dealing with it through the years as it comes and goes.  This is the worst it's been though, my coping mechanisms haven't been helping much.  I get pretty burnt out pretending everything is going well (this is my usual mechanism, fake it until you make it - act happy until you actually are), but I usually have evenings and weekends to recharge before I have to face the world again.  Not being able to decompress while home paired with the double stress of my work and trying to act like I'm okay has seriously been taking a toll on me and making it much harder to snap out of it.  

On top of all of this the past year I seem to be getting more bad news than good.  There's been quite a few deaths in my family that have been rough.  Then there's my pets, one of my cats died a year ago, she was pretty young when it happened.  My other cat is currently recovering from surgery (she's the youngest of my menagerie - and my favorite).  Figuring out what was wrong with her and getting her better has been an awful (and expensive) process which started back in February.  The other two I worry about too, the dog is aging and the last cat is losing a lot of weight (I'm being optimistic and saying it's a positive result of his diet change).  Then there's work - they announced back in April that our facility would be closing next year.  I'm one of the fortunate few that gets to keep my job since I can work remotely.  Quite a few of my friends will be losing their jobs, some coworkers have already found new jobs and left.  A few of my friends are also going remote, including two of my closest, one of which moving farther away - not too far thankfully, but it will still be a difficult adjustment not seeing everyone everyday. 

The trip to Europe helped a bit, it's been the only good thing that's happened to me so far this year.  While I was there I was actually happy for most of the time.  However, there were still some rough days.  Unfortunately my worst day was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to.  Coming home from the trip made everything else worse though, so the respite didn't last long and now it seems even more daunting to overcome this.

For a while my video game helped, but since the trip even that is losing its appeal.  One thing I did post trip was shift my work hours earlier (yay jet lag!) so now I'm home earlier and can relax for a bit outside with a book.  It seems to be helping.  I've even forced myself to sit and write some reviews (Flawed and The Serpent King will be coming soon!  And hopefully I build up the energy to actually finish writing the Alexander Hamilton review).  It will be a slow process, but I'll be back.  I'm going to start up Top Ten Tuesdays again - for real, I've had a few false starts - and put out at least one review a month, until I get back into the swing of writing reviews after reading the books.

Baby steps.  That with a few good things happening in my life should get me out of this funk.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday [36]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top Ten Reasons I Love Travel

I'm still alive! And back in the states!  This open top ten list coincided perfectly with my return from the trip (I got back late Sunday night).  A perfect way to kick start my blog again, I was able to read quite a few books while away (hooray long train rides and flights!) so I have some reviews lined up to write.

1 - Food - I'm a huge foodie, so to me nothing beats sitting in a restaurant ordering traditional local food and enjoying the meal

2 - Local Alcohol - There are so many different types of alcohol that you've never heard of all over the world.  Even the typical things, like beer, wine, vodka, etc. are so different when you have them locally.  My latest trip was all about the wine (France and Italy, how could it not be?) and I drank some of the best wine I've had in my life.  It's not just about what you're drinking though, it's also about the experience of drinking it, allowing it to enhance the experience, not become the experience.

3 - Learning Local History - Being a history nerd I love wandering cities and taking in the history of them.  Looking at old buildings and imagining what life was like 100, 200, 500, years ago.

4 - Seeing Amazing Works of Art - I'm not hugely into art, but I definitely do appreciate it.  I'm including architecture as works of art, just look at some of those old buildings, they're incredible!

5 - Shopping - I go a little shopping crazy, especially when I'm abroad.  I never buy the kitschy touristy stuff, I go for the good stuff.  It's a lot of fun to go into smaller local stores too, you get to see a different side of the cities.

6 - Scenery - Geography can be amazing, gorgeous mountains, sunsets over rivers and seas, turning a corner on the road and a beautiful view appears.  Windy streets in small towns, towns nestled in valleys, or perched on the side of a mountain.  There's always something amazing and picturesque to see.

7 - Learning New Languages - I love languages, and I try to learn as much as a can while I'm in a country (I can say 'thank you' in an absurd number of random languages).  

8 - Experiencing New Cultures - This goes along with the food and drink and shopping, it's all about the culture of the place, trying to meld into pace of the place you're visiting, trying not to be an annoying tourist.

9 - Arriving at the Destination - I absolutely love the anticipation of arriving, especially when I'm flying.  I love the window seat on planes, as we make our approach I'm glued to the window, watching my destination materialize beneath me, and get larger and larger until we bump onto the runway and we're there.  It's the best feeling.

10 - The People - The people I'm travelling with, when you travel with amazing people the overall experience of the trip is so much better.  The people you meet during your travels, it's so much fun to meet people and give advice and tips to them and they do the same to you, we found some really cool places this trip that way! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Wishing Boy

by Emma Maxwell McCone

Summary from GoodReads

Dublin, 1930s - political unrest between Republicans and the De Valera Government. An art exhibition takes place and contains an unusual painting entitled "The Wishing Boy". Catrin Kilpatrick, the daughter of a well-known business man, admires the unique painting and wants to buy it, but Devlin O'Farell the artist refuses to sell it. Determined to have her way, she travels to Galway where he lives, and plans to make the purchase. Little does she know, Devlin worked for Flan Maguire, the most powerful man in Galway, and Commander of the Galway IRA Brigade. She has walked into the Lion's Den, and will find herself in great danger. 

Thoughts on the Book

I got this one from BEA froAustin Macauley publishers.  I selected this one because I don't know much about Ireland and their fight for independence, and I really wanted to learn more.

My Review

This book didn't really seem to have a set plot, there were too many things going on.  There was Catrin's obsession with a painting, the artist, Devlin's struggle with his work and his past, as well as all sorts of other odd storylines.

Catrin, as a main character, was extremely unlikeable.  She was so self-entitled.  She would not take no for an answer and she pestered everyone she possibly could to get what she wanted.  I guess her strategy is to annoy everyone to the point where they just gave her what she wanted, so she could go home smug and relish in always getting her way.

Devlin on the other hand I liked very much.  He lived a hard life, but was kind and loyal.  I sympathized with him a lot, and of all characters to get a happy ending I wished it for him.

The fact that the heroine was unlikeable and the hero got the short end of the stick every single time made this difficult to get through, without a solid plot (other than Catrin trying to get what she wanted through any means necessary) the only one you had to root for was Devlin because the more you learned about him the more you pitied and rooted for him.  Even the 'character growth' moments I found to be lacking.  The whole bit with the soldier, what was the point?  To show that Catrin is unnecessarily lucky?  Her 'traumatizing' moments with him could have been so much worse.  Or was his point to show how awful the Galway IRA leader was?  We could have gotten that from a multitude of other ways.  The ending left a sour taste in my mouth because of this, reading the book was kind of pointless, Catrin got exactly what she set out for and the other characters?  Eh, nothing changed for them, they got the endings they were always going to get. 

Overall I give this book a 7/10.  It did hold my interest and it was cool to read about Ireland, but I just wish Catrin was a better character, it would have made the whole book so much better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday [35]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top Ten Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

1 - The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

Finished on March 12, 2016.  

This review will be coming shortly

2 - Winter by Marissa Meyer

Finished on November 21, 2015. 

3 - A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Finished November 4, 2015. 

4 - The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

Finished on October 27, 2015.

5 - Immersed by Katie Hayoz

Finished on October 25, 2015.

6 - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Finished on October 18, 2015.

7 - Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Finished on October 9, 2015.

8 - The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Katie Rorick and Rachel Kiley

Finished on October 6, 2015.

9 - Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Finished on September 29, 2015.

10 - Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Finished on September 22, 2015.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday [34]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven't Talked About Enough/In A While

1 - Burning City - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle  

This book is fantastic, such an amazing world and captivating story.  

2 - Watership Down - Richard Adams  

My all-time favorite book.  You really can't beat communist bunnies. 

3 - Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut 

My favorite Vonnegut book (and to put things in perspective, Vonnegut is in my top 5 favorite authors) although Cat's Cradle is a close second.  I haven't read either of them in a long time and I've been dying for a reread.

4 - Nightfall - Issac Asimov  

My favorite short story I've ever read.  This story is so amazing.  There are no words for this one, I get the feels every time I read it, every time I think about it.  Amazing stuff, Asimov is a literary genius.

5 - Martin the Warrior - Brian Jacques 

I grew up loving the Redwall series, but this book is by far my favorite.  Martin is so much more awesome than Matthias and Mattimeo, and the others are equally amazing: Gnoff, Grumm, Laterose 

6 - Timeline - Michael Crichton  

Another one of my top 5 favorite authors - and this is my favorite book by him.  Travelling back in time to medieval France with a bunch of medieval historians and archaeology students?  Yes please.  This book may have been my inspiration to get a degrees in history and French with a minor in archaeology.  You never know, they quantum foam just may make me roam.

7 - 1984 - George Orwell  

This is probably the book I reference the most in the real world (have you seen the state of the US lately?)  But on my blog I don't think I've ever mentioned it.  I really love this book, it's so amazing and I'm unhappy to say that his predictions are coming true, if a few decades off.

8 - Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen  

Of course this one would make the list.  I'm such a romantic and this is pretty much the greatest romance ever written.  Seriously, I've yet to meet a girl who didn't want a Mr. Darcy of her own.

9 - Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey 

Hey look! another of my top five favorite authors made the list!  And this one might be my favorite book by her, although some of her other stuff is pretty amazing too.  I love how she turned fairy tales into horrible things that people dread being a part of.  The world she created in this book is just fantastic.

10 - The Summer Prince - Alaya Dawn Johnson 

There's something about this book that I just love, I can't put words to it and so it usually goes without much mentioning.

And my three favorite series that I probably talk too much about:

1 - Red River - Lauraine Snelling  

I keep finding ways to bring up Thorliff, but hey, when you've been crushing on a character for almost your whole life and the series continues so he grows up with you, what else can you do?

2 - Anna/Lola/Isla - Stephanie Perkins 

It kind of bothers me that this series doesn't have a name...But I seriously love these books, and I've noticed, like Thorliff, I keep finding ways to mention them.

3 - His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman 

This is my all-time favorite series.  I went for a long time without mentioning it, but between the graphic novel coming out and getting my friend to read it I feel like I've been bringing it up a lot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday [32]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating

This week I am waiting on Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (April 19, 2016)

Summary From GoodReads

The first in a thrilling new four-book fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, set in the same world as her beloved Seven Realms series, a generation later
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

Why I'm Waiting

This story sounds so cool.  I love prophecies and magic and uprising against evil kings.  I've never read the Seven Realms series, but this sounds like a pretty solid story that doesn't need the previous series to appreciate.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday [33]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

1 - Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

I actually picked this one up over the weekend to start, but haven't actually opened it yet, so it will be the first book I read after this post.

2 - Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

I really really need to go and buy this book so I can read it, I saved a spot on my newly refilled bookshelves specifically for it.  Now I just have to get it

3 - Broken Crowns by Lauren DeStefano

So excited for this one to come out!

4 - Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

I swear I'll read this one this time!  This book has made an appearance in several of my TBR lists, but other books keep getting in the way.  Not this time! I hope...

5 - Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

I need to actually get this book so I can read it, but it will happen!  

6 - Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

I've been wanted to read this one for a while, but it came out during my reading slump AKA obsession with Hamilton and Density, but now that I'm on the upswing of that I'll finally get to it.

7 - Venom by Fiona Paul

I need to read some of my Italy books before I get there.

8 - Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier

Another book to read before my trip.  It's probably for the best because I'll have little else on my mind in the coming months.  I've already started a count down!

9 - Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

I'm hoping I can get to this one before I leave for my trip.

10 - Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins

I'm so excited for this collection! I will be reading it the day it comes out!