Around The Internet #33

Good morning!

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is over.  So far, it’s been the longest and shortest month, and January isn’t even over!  On the plus side, it’s not 2020 anymore, and I’m finding a lot of really cool things to share with all of you.  As usual, take a look at the links below, and hopefully, you’ll find something that you really like!

That’s all for today, and I’ll be back soon!

Book Review: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

Book: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

Published October 2020 by Wednesday Books|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve written any reviews…or even picked up a book!  I’m feeling a little rusty after so long, but A Golden Fury was a good book to get back into reading and reviewing.  I liked it, and I thought the concept was really cool!

The whole idea of the Philosopher’s Stone cursing people is really cool, and that was, hands down, my favorite thing about the book.  People lose their sanity if they get far enough along, and it was both frustrating and not at all surprising that no one believed Thea when she told everyone who wanted the Stone what would happen.  I don’t blame her for not wanting her loved ones die, and sacrificing your sanity is a terrible way to get them back.  If no one knew that her mom made it, had notes, and that Thea could make it, she’d be fine.  But we also wouldn’t have a book, so there is that.  Or, at least, it would be a very different book.

It’s scary to think that the Stone takes what it wants from you once you get to a certain step in the process of making it, but I also really liked that.  Yes, there’s immortality and turning metals into gold and silver but trying to get that comes at a price.  Cohoe does a great job at showing what that price is, and how some people are willing to sacrifice everything for their chance to have something so powerful.

I’d rather keep my sanity, thank you very much.

But for some reason, the Stone really likes Thea, and she ends up being fine.  She starts to have a relationship with the father she never knew, and her relationship with her mother changes drastically by the end of the book.  To live in her mother’s shadow must have been horrible, and not a great person to have as a mother.  Now that the Stone is not in the picture, maybe things will be better.  Maybe Thea just needs to be away from her mother, and they can write letters with the occasional visit.  They have a lot of things they need to work through, and it seems like doing that away from each other is a good move.

We don’t see much of Thea’s relationship with her father, and her going to Oxford was quite the surprise for him.  I do get his concern, at least initially, that saying she was his daughter could change things for him career-wise.  Though I understand why he’d say she was his niece, it was also frustrating that he wouldn’t acknowledge her.  He does change his mind about that, in the end, and I hope they end up having a good relationship.

I didn’t care for Will at all.  He ended up being pretty terrible, though, and in the end, I just didn’t get why she went to such lengths to protect him.  Granted, there was a lot about him that she didn’t know, but considering he told people she could make the Stone…that was the first of many things that he did that was absolutely terrible.

I haven’t really talked about Thea much.  I liked her, and she really was determined to do what she had to for the people she cared about- whether it was her mother, Will, or Dominic, she wanted to make sure they were okay.  She was willing to sacrifice so much for them, even when it wasn’t deserved.  In my opinion, anyway.  Still, I want things to be okay for her, and hopefully, they will be.

3 stars.  I liked A Golden Fury, and it was entertaining and interesting.  It was a good book to start of the year and get back into reviewing!

Around The Internet #32

Hi!  We’re back with another edition of Around The Internet, where I share the interesting things I find on the internet.  Enjoy!

That’s all for today, and have a great week!

Book Review: Something To Say by Lisa Moore Ramee

Book: Something To Say by Lisa Moore Ramee

Published July 2020 by Balzer + Bray|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

From the author of A Good Kind of Trouble, a Walter Dean Myers Honor Book, comes another unforgettable story about finding your voice—and finding your people. Perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds.

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. At home, Jenae has plenty of company, like her no-nonsense mama; her older brother, Malcolm, who is home from college after a basketball injury; and her beloved grandpa, Gee.

Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.

But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.

There’s just one problem: Jenae would do almost anything to avoid speaking up in front of an audience—including risking the first real friendship she’s ever had. 

Something To Say was really cute!  I really liked it, and I’m glad I read it.

I really liked Jenae, and she was very easy to relate to.  I always hated talking in front of an audience and I could relate to doing anything possible to not do it.  I never went to the lengths she did, but I completely understand why she’d do anything she could to not do it.

I loved her relationship with her family, but especially her grandpa.  It made me think of my grandparents, and how I grew up with them.  I really do love books where we see the characters have relationships with their grandparents.  When her grandpa has a stroke, I felt how much it affected her- I think a lot of it was because my grandma had a stroke when I was in high school, and I knew what she was going through.  I really was reminded of my own relationship with my grandparents when I read this book.

I liked that she did speak up at the meeting regarding the name change for her school.  I don’t think it was easy for her, but she did it anyway.  It was a pretty important part of the book, and it’s something I can see happening today.  If it’s not happening somewhere, I’d be really surprised.  But I am glad they changed the name of her school.  There are people who aren’t going to like it, but there are also people who are happy about it, and are glad the name of the school reflects the community that it’s a part of.

This book was great to read, and I not only liked the story but the characters!

4 stars.  I really liked Something To Say, and I’m glad we saw Jenae learn to speak up when she really needed to.  I loved the family relationships we saw in the book too!

Around The Internet #31

Hi!  Well, I didn’t think I’d be sharing some of the cool stuff I’ve found so soon, but here we are.  I hope you find something that catches your interest from the links below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you next time,

Around The Internet #30

Hi!  It’s been a while.  It’s like I’ve disappeared from this little corner of the internet I call home…because I have disappeared.  I just haven’t been in a blogging or reading mood the last few months.  It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve picked up a book, or thought about blogging.  Honestly?  I lost motivation and interest for a while.  That and school has kept me a little bit busy.  But here I am, looking at drafts of posts that have been hibernating for months, so my apologies that many of these links are months old at this point.  I still hope you find something interesting from the links below.

That’s all for today, and enjoy your week!

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Published July 2020 by Flatiron Books|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

I liked Girl, Serpent, Thorn!  It’s definitely different but in a good way.

I felt for Soraya, who lived hidden away from everything and everyone.  For a lot of the book, we get bits and pieces of the story, but it’s not until we get close to the end that we get the whole story.  I get why her mom did what she did, but at the same time, I think a lot of the book could have been avoided if Soraya knew the whole story from the beginning.  But that’s just how things go, I think.

I am glad things worked for Soraya, and it was definitely a journey.  I don’t blame her for doing what she did.  It makes a lot of sense, considering she didn’t have the whole story until it was too late.  It was pretty predictable at times, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.  I liked seeing her figure things out, and be okay with the fact that her touch can kill people.  Something about the fact that her touch is poisonous seemed really familiar, but I have no idea why.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out at some point, but that time is definitely not now.

I really liked the world, and there’s part of me that wants more books set in this world.  It feels like there are so many stories to tell.  At the same time, though, I thought that the story was contained in the book pretty well.  We don’t get every little detail, but that’s fine because it felt like we got enough of the world to know what’s going on.  I was reminded of Sleeping Beauty when I was reading it, and I think it’s because she’s hidden away for such a long time because of a prophecy.

I know this is completely random, but I can’t help but wonder how she was taken care of as a child.  She killed her nurse when she was a few days old, and I’m really curious how they manage to take care of someone who could kill them just by touching them.  It’s definitely not important in the grand scheme of things but it is something that I thought about a lot while reading the book.

3 stars.  I liked Girl, Serpent, Thorn and I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t love it.

School Is Back In Session

It’s something I’ve mentioned in my monthly wrap-up posts, but I wanted to do a post specifically about it.

I’m back in school!  My goal is get into a health information technology program, and once I graduate from that program, there is a test I can take which, assuming I pass, means I’ll be a registered health information technician.  So I’ll basically be certified to do the job I’m currently doing, plus a few other things.

That’s going to be a long ways off, because I’m doing all of the prerequisite stuff I need to get into the program and to graduate with an associate’s degree.

Let’s talk about summer classes!

Summer school was definitely interesting!  I took three classes, so I was really busy for a couple of months.  I took math (to get it out of the way), English (I needed it to take a lot of other classes) and medical terminology (to even get into the HIT program, and as a pre-req for another class to get into the HIT program).

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I ended up with an A in English.  I would have been annoyed with myself if I did.  After book blogging for so long, it was really fun to talk about books.  I felt like that actually made the class easier!  I liked the books we read- Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet and The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society, and the third book was a book we got to choose.  Of course I went with Illuminae, which was a very good decision on my part.

My other A was medical terminology, which wasn’t a surprise because I’ve worked in healthcare for over 8 years now.  Also, if I got anything lower, I would have been really disappointed in myself.  It really was a great class, and with the discussion posts, we got to apply what we were reading to a real life situation.  I learned a lot and I’m actually finding it’s making my job easier!

Math was the one I was worried about, and the first couple of weeks were rough.  I’ve never been a math person, and I’ve always struggled with it.  But I somehow got a B, and it was the one class where I didn’t particularly care what my grade was, as long as it was a grade that meant I didn’t have to take it again.

Math was definitely interesting.  I worked super-hard that first week, only to have a professor change one week in…and all of the homework I did that first week didn’t count for my grade.  It was super-frustrating, but at least I knew that material pretty well.  A different professor meant a completely different grading system and a completely different access code for My Math Lab because he used a different book.

On the plus side, though, we had unlimited attempts for the tests, so I could take it as many times as I wanted until I got the grade I wanted.  And it was the same for the homework- if we got a problem wrong, we could get similar problems until we got it right.  That helped a lot because for the stuff I struggled with, I could do it over and over until I got right and understood it.

I can honestly tell you I have not used trigonometry in over 10 years, when I was last in school.  And I’m pretty sure I will not actually need it in the future, but it was a requirement that is now done, and I will never have to worry about it again.

And now that the fall semester has started, let’s talk about that!

This part is going to be a lot shorter, because I’m only a couple weeks in.

History is really interesting.  I’m taking Native American history, since I’m not really familiar with their history.  It’s a lot of reading and discussion posts with a few tests.  Since I’ve always loved history, so I’m not super-worried about this class.  There is some supplementary material given to us every week, like movies or websites to check out.  But the workload isn’t too bad.

Astronomy is pretty similar to history in that it’s reading and a few participation exercises each week.  There are videos and links to extra material for both astronomy and history, and with both classes, there’s a lot of structure and support from the professors.  It really feels like they want us to do well.

Unfortunately, I don’t get that same feeling with human anatomy and physiology.  The material itself is fine, but a few weeks in, and I’m finding this class to be frustrating.  The tests are really strange- there is some repetition with the questions, in that some of the questions show up several times but with a slightly wording.  Some of the answers are bizarre- you see answers like brain, all of the above, heart, liver.  And some of the questions are worded really weird.

On top of that, with the tests I’ve taken so far, there are always a few questions that have nothing to do with the assigned material for the week.  It’s material that’s not in the book, or referenced anywhere in the class- no links to videos or things we need to read.  It’s frustrating, because it’s hard to study for a test when I don’t know what I need to study!  The workbook the teacher put together that we have to turn in at the end of the semester doesn’t completely match up with the textbook, so it’s hard to do that on a weekly basis.

Overall, my ultimate impression of this class is that the professor isn’t interested in engaging with us or the material.  I feel like we’re on our own, with no guidance from the professor at all.  Other than a few announcements the first day or two, there’s been radio silence from the professor.

This is a weird time to be in school.

I know teaching online is very different than teaching in-person, and that with COVID, a lot of people who aren’t used to teaching online/remotely now have to.  It would just be nice to feel like he’s putting in some effort, or interested in us learning the material.  I’ve gotten that from every other class, but unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.  I really am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, because it’s been a weird year but I am struggling with being understanding.

Still, I think I have some hope it will get better, but it is what is and in the end, I’m sure I’ll do just fine.

That’s all for today, and I hope today is a good one for you.

See you next time,

Currently Obsessed With: August 2020

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe we’re in September already!  I feel like this has been the longest year ever, but it’s also going by really fast which is very strange.  It really has been a weird year.  I can’t believe it’s time to do a wrap-up post for August, but here we are.  August was pretty busy, mostly because of school but some non-school stuff happened too, as you’ll see below.

Inspired By:

  • My freezer.  I’m in a period of using what I have, and so I’ve been trying to cook with what I have.  When I have the energy to cook, that is.  It’s been really hot- in the 80’s/90’s, and when it gets that hot, I have the energy to do absolutely nothing.  I’m really hoping it’ll be over soon, and I can get back to cooking up a storm.

  • Procreate.  I’ve had it on my iPad for ages, but I haven’t used it a lot.  But lately, I’ve been doing using the liquify option, and I really like it!  I found a marbling class on skillshare that I really like, and it gave me some really good techniques and options to try out.

Watching:

  • Locke & Key.  Honestly, I don’t remember a lot about this show at this point, but I do remember enjoying it, and getting a Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe feel from it.
  • Get Even.  I was pretty excited about this adaptation, even though I’ve never read the series it’s based on.  I’ve read a couple of other Gretchen McNeil books, though, and knew it would be entertaining to watch.  I wasn’t wrong, and it was a fun series to watch.
  • Warrior Nuns.  I really liked Warrior Nuns!  It’s an interesting idea, and I thought it worked pretty well.  I have no idea if there are going to be more seasons, but I hope so.  I really want to know what happens next.
  • My Neighbor Totoro: I finally watched it!  I’ve seen a lot of Studio Ghibli movies, but had never seen this one, for some reason.  I absolutely loved it, and think it’s a must watch!

Reading:

  • The Illuminae Files.  I really like this series so far, and even though I haven’t finished the last book yet, I’m really glad I picked this series up.

Thinking About:

  • Finals/Homework: August was the month where summer session came to an end, so I was busy with 3 finals and finishing everything up.  It was also the start of a new semester, and I only had a week off in between the two, so school has been on my mind a lot!
  • How hot it’s been.  I already talked about the weather, and as much as I love warm weather, I don’t particularly enjoy heat waves.  I have zero motivation and energy, and getting my homework done has been a struggle.

Listening To:

  • Lost Kids.  This podcast was really interesting to listen to.  It’s about the troubled kids industry, but focuses on one student who goes missing and what happened to him.
  • It Was Simple.  This is a relatively short podcast series about Betty Broderick.  There are only four episodes, but they are worth listening to, especially if you like true crime.
  • Uncover.  Another true crime podcast that’s an interesting listen.  It focuses on Canadian true crime and I’m currently on their satanic panic season.  The one about Sharmini was heartbreaking, the seasons about NXIVM and a plane bombing were interesting, and while I wasn’t a fan of the Cat Lady season, it was still sad to listen to.
  • Once Upon A Time…In The Valley.  I really like this one.  It’s about Traci Lords, an underage porn star from the 80’s.  I heard about it on another podcast, and I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I’m invested.

Dreamlife:

  • Going to Disneyland.  I’ve been watching a lot of Disney movies, and I think that’s why I had dreamed about going to Disneyland.
  • Jumping down waterfalls into pools of multi-colored water.  I have no idea where this dream came from but it was on a night that I took melatonin to help me sleep, and I always have really weird, vivid dream when I take it.

Researching:

  • Honestly, I didn’t look into anything in particular for August.

Eating + Drinking:

  • Enchiladas and Dan Dan Noodles.  I had some ground beef and ground pork I didn’t know what to do with, and found a couple of recipes to try.
  • The enchiladas were great, even though they fell apart and didn’t stay rolled up like they were supposed to.
  • I didn’t enjoy the dan dan noodles.  Well, I didn’t enjoy the particular recipe I used, so maybe it’s just me, and not the food.

Grateful For:

  • Good grades for summer school: A’s in medical terminology and English, and a B in math!
  • Having a job.
  • Meditation.  I’ve been using the Calm app before bed every night, and I’m just glad it helps me calm down.
  • Movie marathons.  I’ve been working my way through all of the Disney animated movies every weekend, and it’s quite the list for August.  Plus some non-Disney movies just to mix it up a little.

Good Things From August:

  • Honestly, it’s not a long list, because I didn’t really keep up with writing these things down for August.  And it’s all stuff I talked about already: summer school ended with good grades, fall semester started, and I watched a ton of movies.

That’s all for today!

Have a great weekend, and stay safe out there,

Book Review: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

Book: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

Published July 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Storm Crow #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

The thrilling conclusion to the epic Storm Crow duology that follows a fallen princess as she tries to bring back the magical elemental crows taken from her people.

Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’ show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’ magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be. 

I liked The Crow Rider!  After reading the first book for book club last year, I knew I wanted to read this book to see what happened next.

I didn’t like this book as much as The Storm Crow.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I read it.  I’m glad we got to see what happened to Thia and Res, and that Razel is no longer in the picture.  I’m glad we got to see the neighboring kingdoms, and that things are going to be better for everyone.

I think I just wanted more from the book, but I don’t know what.  We learn about an entirely new, mysterious group that no one thinks exists.  But not surprisingly, they really do exist.  It was even less of a surprise was that Thia was connected to them.  In this book, we see how special Thia and Res really are, and while it makes sense for this book, I wasn’t overly enthused about it.  If you hate the super-special chosen one trope, this is not the book for you.  I usually don’t mind it, but it really bothered me in this book, for some reason.

Everything with the crows and their magic felt really superficial, and I wanted more of that.  I wanted more of hatching the crow eggs and seeing them grow the way we saw it with Res.  It wasn’t going to happen until Razel was deal with, of course, and I know this series is about what happened to Rhodaire after they lost their crows.  But I felt like we barely got anything about them, which is weird considering the fact that they’re so important to Rhodaire and how Rhodaire functions.

With The Storm Crow, and with this book, I love how Josephson dealt with Thia’s depression.  It felt very real, and very natural, and I really liked seeing that over time.  I also really liked Res- though I didn’t love how he had all the powers, I thought Res was awesome, and he really had quite the personality.  He made it pretty clear what he thought and what he wanted.  And he does have a good bond with Thia.

In all honestly, this is a series that would have benefited from another book.  With two, things felt really rushed, and it would have been a really good bridge between The Storm Crow and a non-existent third book.  I think having some time to let things develop naturally would have been good.

Still, I’d recommend this duology for the depression representation and Res alone.

3 stars.  I liked The Crow Rider, but I also have some reservations about it.