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31st December 2023

Books read October-December

My goal was to read 120 books this year. I just finished number 129. (Some of these I reviewed as part of my WWW posts).

October:

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I had high expectations for this book, as it had been so praised, and I felt let down by it. Still enjoyable, but needed more octopus.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Read as part of Banned Books week.
The Romance Rx by Kathryn Riya. I wanted more medicine and medicine-related residency drama.
Unraveling: What I Learned about Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World’s Ugliest Sweater by Peggy Orenstein. Just a really lovely memoir about life changing and feeling present in the world.
The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall. Such a disappointing book.
Deerskin by Robin Mckinley. Reread. Not my favorite book of hers, but it’s still a great retelling.

November:

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel. A retelling of an old Hindu religious myth, a story I was only passingly familiar with. I enjoyed the world building, I had trouble with some of the motivations of the characters. And I think it’s hard to write a retelling of a story that a major religion is based on.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. This is such a wonderful book, with the mystery and characters slowly being revealed.
The Halcyon Fairy Book by T. Kingfisher. Just witty retellings of fairy tales with a lot of humor and grim.
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green. I really loved this collection of essays on our world.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Audiobook. A beautiful exploration of our connection with the world and how we can heal that relationship.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abby Waxman. Library find. Cute light book, (although if I had a boss who didn’t pay the rent for 6 months straight and I was threatened with losing my job because of it, I wouldn’t be all “oh she’s just that way”) but one that I probably won’t remember in a year or two.
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher. The atmosphere in this book is almost its own character. I loved the secondary characters, but the middle sagged a lot.
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I struggled so much with the beginning, because the set up was so ridiculous. It picked up after that and ended strongly. I don’t know how she’s going to write a 5 book series though.
The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh. NPR did a write up on her debut novel, but it wasn’t available at the library. It was a quick read but I found the writing to be confusing in places and lacking in emotional growth.
Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood. Charming, nerdy, engaging. Just a fun new adult book.
Sweet Like Jasmine: Finding Identity in a Culture of Loneliness by Bonnie Gray. This book was not for me. Ugh.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke. Audiobook. Just a lot of fun going back into the world of Jonathan Strange. I really want her to write a prequel with The Raven King.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I loved Rocky and the ending.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez. Still on the lookout for the perfect doctor romance. This one was enjoyable and mostly accurate.

December:

Mister Magic by Kiersten White.
Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher.
Paladin’s Grace, Paladin’s Strength, Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher. Reread these in anticipation of the release of her latest Saints of Steel’s book. Just excellent world building and romance and humor.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Book club book. Harrowing memoir, but what I really appreciated was the description of how the justice system is so awful for victims.
Paladin’s Faith by T. Kingfisher. I cannot wait for the other 3 books.
Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez, the sequel to Part of Your World. I liked this one better and it was almost the doctor romance that I’ve been craving.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. I’d read it if you like dystopian novels, but I’m still grousing about how the villains were single, childless women.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske. Reread. I liked it better than the first time, maybe because I skipped over a lot of the romance (it’s a trope that I just don’t like).
Carry on by Rainbow Rowell. Reread, audiobook. The audiobook was a lot of fun and I’ve forgotten a lot of details in the last 5+ years.
A Power Unbound by Freya Marske. A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, but the first book was definitely the best of them all.
Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree. The prequel to Legends & Lattes, which I adored last year, and I think I liked this one even better.

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31st December 2023

2023 in review

Milestones: 10 years since I completed fellowship and became an attending; 10 years since I moved to Oregon.

Places visited: Hawaii in February with my parents and sister; Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in July with my whole family, with a few days down in Utah; Iceland in September with J; Arizona a couple of times to see my niblings; Seattle for a few weekends.

Games played: Settlers of Catan, Dutch Blitz, Cover Your Assets, Codenames, Exploding Kittens, Zombie Kittens, Happy Salmon, Trails, and Dragonwood. Abandon All Artichokes was also very shortly abandoned and Tacocat was not as entertaining as hoped.

Puzzles completed: 2 (one Karin mostly did, and I just threw down a few pieces).

Movies watched: Wakanda Forever; Return of the King (in the theater in April); Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (terrible movie); Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (excellent movie); Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (stop making want to give up chicken!); Red, White, and Royal Blue.

TV shows watched: Battlestar Galactica (all but the last season because I don’t want it to end), Shadow and Bone season 2 (I am so mad that it was canceled), Doctor Who specials, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Great British Bake-Off, Heartstopper season 2 (and let’s be real, lots of season 1 again as well), Lockwood & Co (I think I still have the last episode to watch), Tom Jones (PBS), Good Omens season 2, Schmicago (so so good).

TV shows watched with K: The Mandalorian; Ted Lasso season 3; Star Trek: Picard; Star Trek: Strange New Worlds; Loki season 2; Fringe (we’re on season 4 and I love it so much). We started to watch the second season of Our Flag Means Death, but it was taking us away from Fringe, so it’s on the back burner.

Books read: 128 (!!!). Here’s a link to my storygraph account. I’ll do a separate sum up.

Audiobooks listened to: 13.5. My hope had been to do one per month, and Jonathan Strange took at least 3 months to finish, so I’m surprised I made it, but I did have a long road trip to Yellowstone, where I listened to 3 different books on the way there and back. (Carry On is the 0.5 – I listened to 2/3rd of it on the plane ride down and wanted to finish it by Christmas so switched over to the ebook).

Musicals/Plays watched: Moulin Rouge: the Musical (the movie is so much better); Ain’t Too Proud; My Fair Lady; Choir Boy; Hairspray; A Midsummer’s Night Dream; Six; Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; Les Miserables; Waitress (in the movie theater).

Concerts attended: Theo Katzman in April; Vienna Teng at The Triple Door in Seattle in August.

Music listened to: The Riversitter by Vienna Teng, Prayer for the Broken by Naya Rivera, multiple hours of classical music while visiting my parents.

Medical conferences attended: 2, one virtually, one in Phoenix, in August in 115 heat.

Medical conferences where I gave a presentation. 1 on a specific consideration on organ donation (the reason why I was in Phoenix in August).

Number of lectures given: 5 including to the NW Internal Medicine Society.

Nights spent in the hospital because my driveway too icy/snowy to get home: only 3!

Knitted projects: Wisteria scarf (a Christmas present that I finished in January); Anne, Diana, and Gilbert dolls were finished in the spring(only took me 2 years); Orchid and Gold Poppins scarf, Grandpa sweater (my first real sweater!), 3 scarves for Christmas (which are in various stages of finished and need to be mailed).

Number of skeins of yarn bought: … Just enough for a few more dolls and a sweater or two, and some Icelandic yarn and some yarn for my mom…

Notable fails: the annular solar eclipse (too cloudy), parenting succulent plants (3 needed the Plant Hospital, 1 is still in the Plant ICU), summer flirtations.

House repairs: every board on my 32×24 foot deck was replaced. I still have the two lower decks and the back stairs to tackle.

Visits to the beach: only once in June. Must be rectified in the new year.

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31st December 2023

2023 review – knitting

2023 review - knitting

Here’s some of the pics of my knitting projects for the year:

Anne/Diana/Gilbert dolls (from Anne of Green Gables):

These took me nearly two years to complete – I basically knit Anne twice because my knitting gauge had changed so much in that time. I have to redo Gilbert’s hair (the mohair I bought was poorly dyed and not all of it is black), but I love them so much. I knit all of the bodies and knit all of the clothes (except for the petticoats and the buttons).

I added a “petticoat” of lace to her dress because her dress was so short. Her hair has already lost the curls.

Aren’t those braids the sweetest? I’ve started making Kurt and Blaine dolls (from glee) and have visions of Mulder and Scully and all of the hobbits and ….

Orchid and Gold Poppins scarf:

This was knit from a yummy alpaca/tencel/linen blend and it’s so soft. I love how the colors migrated over the scarf. I gave this one to my mom for Mother’s Day. I’m tempted to buy more and make one for me because it is so lovely.

Grandpa sweater:

Super bulky, soft warm yarn – I’ve bought several skeins of it over the last few years when stores have gone out of business and decided to destash and make my first sweater – I used 8 skeins, plus some remnants. It knit up pretty quickly, because it was so bulky and it’s very warm. If I were to redo it, I would extend the sleeves a few more rows and shift the pockets over.

Christmas scarves:

I’ve been slowly making scarves for my Plethora girlfriends. Made again with Rasta, because it’s so soft and luxurious, and I’ve been trying out different stitches and patterns for each one.

The blue and purple ones have been blocked, I just need to sew in the ends; the red one has not. I have yarn for 2 more scarves.

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2nd November 2023

WWW Wednesday

1. What are you currently reading?

I’ve been listening to Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which a beautiful book written by an indigenous ecologist, examining how we interact with nature. I’m also reading Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel as a buddy read and a friend recommendation and The Halcyon Fairy Book by T. Kingfisher (which is a collection of weird fairy tales and her hilarious commentary).

2. What have you recently finished reading?

I did not read a lot of books in October – I’ve read a bunch of duds recently and it’s put me off of my reading streak. The most recent read was a reread of Deerskin by Robin McKinley (not my favorite book of hers).

3. What will you be reading next?

I got Project Hail Mary from the library and I’m hoping that it’s going to be a good one. I also got Sweet Like Jasmine, another friend recommendation.

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1st October 2023

Books read July-September

July
The Grace of Wild Things by Heather Fawcett. A completely enchanting Anne of Green Gables retelling. Utterly delightful and unique.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry. My first book that I’ve read of hers and it set high standards for the rest of them. I loved the characters, I loved the romance, and it just made me feel all the feelings.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh (audio). A retelling of a Korean fairytale that I knew nothing about. I loved the voice actor (she sounded a lot like Christina Chong from Strange New Worlds).
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune (audio). Drove to Yellowstone and back and this was one of my listens. I think it was even better as an audiobook – the voices were great.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I loved this book and I didn’t think I would, but it was written for my generation and dealt a lot with college and nostalgia and evolving friendships.
A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher. I don’t like her horror as much as I like her fairy tales and fantasy.
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland. A m/m romance set in a fictional Islamic-like world. The world building was fantastic, the magic building was disappointing, and the romance was sweet, if slow-building.
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley. I almost gave up on this entirely after the first chapter, because it felt pretentious and dull and “look how adult we are because we are talking about using drugs”, but I kept reading because I liked the premise and by about half way through, I realized that i really liked the story and most of the characters. College nostalgia seems to be my thing right now, and this really captured that friendship – they just all needed less reliance on substances when having conversations. It made me want to do something similar with my friends.

August:
Strange Planet by Nathan Pye. I really like his comics so this was a fun quick read from the library.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune (audio). The book on the drive back from Yellowstone. I didn’t really like the voice actor, which is surprising because I loved his voices in The House in the Cerulean Sea. The rhythm of his voice was off-putting.
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. Second book of the Arc of the Scythe series. A very solid second book.
Nottingham: The True Story of Robyn Hood by Anna Burke. A gender swapped Robin Hood story – fast read and fun.
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Friend recommendation. My first Brandon Sanderson read. This was a well developed little novella and an ending that surprised me and yet fit quite well.
The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran (audio). Truly depressing but important look at how systemic racism and blatant racism lead to the wealth gap.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Lovely book, with interwoven characters, and plenty of gray humor.
The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle. I had a hankering to reread this after my failed to launch summer romances. Definitely felt the age of this book (written in the 1960s) and the pacing is much different than I remembered, but still some sweet parts.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki. I don’t even know how to describe this book. Space opera meets Faust?
Foster by Claire Keegan. So much atmosphere packed in this short story.
Beach Read by Emily Henry. Not quite as good as Book Lovers, but a close second. They just never read on a beach…
Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land by Toni Jensen. Book club. This was unexpectedly powerful and the theme of gun violence through was subtle but important.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. This was definitely a “you are my story had I had done what I could not do” for me so it probably hit me a little differently than others. It worked well as a When Harry Meets Sally rewrite.
Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher. A short Sleeping Beauty retelling of a sort. I adored Toadling.
Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle. Went back to read book 1 since I felt like I had missed things with the Moon at Night. I don’t know if I’ll read the whole series again.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. I keep expecting really terrible things to happen to her characters so I’m on edge when reading, but it’s never as bad as I fear.

September:
Happy Place by Emily Henry. I was quite in my unhappy place by the end of this book and could grumble about it for hours.
The Toll by Neal Shusterman. I can understand why there was some disappointment with the ending of the trilogy but I thought it was quite fitting and I loved the last chapter.
Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships by Nina Totenberg. Made me really miss Ruth Bater Ginsberg, but I also liked the focus on how friendships enrich adults lives (I’m liking this theme of friendship much better than the problems with mothers of the first half of the year).
A Deadly Education, The Last Graduate, and The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik. Friend recommendation. I found the 1st person narrative to be claustrophobic as it was all stream of consciousness and the world-building a little too pretentious, but the story was still enjoyable.
Mortal Follies by Alexis Hall. His books are always hit or miss for me and this one fell into more of the miss bucket – the mystery solved itself halfway through, the next quarter was my least favorite romance trope, and then it was off for another mystery.

Currently reading: Firekeeper’s Daughter (tried this one on audio and it was too much teenager angst, so reading it instead, Braiding Sweetgrass (audio), The Romance Rx (I’m so determined to find a good doctors in training story. I’m a quarter of the way through and can tell you that this won’t be it).

Friend recommendations still to go: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, Sweet Like Jasmine by Bonnie Gray, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.

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17th July 2023

Thoughts that I am processing

1) One of my coworkers moved to San Francisco in February. I thought we were pretty good friends – she invited me to her wedding last year. But I haven’t heard a word from her since she moved. I found out that she’s been texting regularly with others and some of them have visited her within the last month. I hate always having this insecurity about what I mean to others.

2) I’m going to have to confront my boss about something that she is wrong about tomorrow. It’s something that is affecting the care that I provide my patients, so I have to do it, but I hate confrontation and I’m not looking forward to it.

3) I went camping with my family in Yellowstone last week. There was a man camped a couple of spots down and the two of us exchanged conversations every night that we were there. He was good-looking with a warm smile. I haven’t had a crush or an inkling of anything for more than 10 years on anybody. I blame reading The Moon At Night when I was 12 and impressionable for the lowering of my defenses because I always get romantic when camping. My dad ended up cock-blocking me from getting any contact information and he did not follow after me.

4) At the end of my vacation, I met up with my college friends for an evening – one of them was somebody that I hadn’t seen in person for nearly 20 years. We had been friendly in college, I thought he was cute, but he had a long-term girlfriend, whom he married two weeks after graduating. They got divorced several years ago, I’m facebook friends with him, and I find him funny. I invited him to this party. He accepted. He’s still cute. And divorced. And post-Mormon.

5) This old friend. His mom died last week, unexpectedly. I texted our group of friends (we call ourselves the Plethora) and arranged for succulents to be delivered to his house and a gift card to his favorite fast food place from college (I did not remember that this was his favorite. I’m not that creepy. I think.). None of this was under my name, it’s all labeled from the Pleth.

6) I’ve thought about sending something from just me. A box of cookies. Some soup and bread (dealing with death as a single person just sucks). Test the waters maybe.

7) I might have until I heard about my old coworker being friendly with everybody but me.

8) I haven’t had a crush in 10 years because hope devastates me.

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1st July 2023

Books read April-June

I read a lot these last few months. A bunch of the books were on the shorter side, but also, because I’ve been reading more, I’m reading faster.

I’ve stretched my goal to read 120 books this year (10 books per month). We’ll see if I make it.

April (10 books):

May (13 books):

  • Madison by Ngozi Ukazu. I’m not sure I should really count this, but it was a delightful little comic to close out the Check Please universe.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I struggled with the beginning, but there were some great little twists towards the middle.
  • Assassin of Reality by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko. The sequel to Vita Nostra which I haven’t stopped thinking about since I read it earlier this year. It was still off-balance and haunting, and I’m still left with questions. Sergey died this year, so it’s uncertain if there will be another book to finish.
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. A Sleeping Beauty/Snow White retelling with some absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Lots of twists in this short story.
  • *The Raven and The Reindeer by T. Kingfisher. Retelling of the Snow Queen. I really liked this one – I felt cold through the whole thing.
  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher. Very creepy in world building and the horror was a slow drawn-out dawning, but it sort of fell flat in the end.
  • Tastes Like War: A Memoir by Grace Cho. A half Korean woman recalls the relationship with her mother, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. This was a “Everybody Reads” book club book from my library. I found the writing quite engrossing. There’s a lot of controversy with it, with her brother calling the author a liar – but as he and his wife spend every moment of their free time replying to anybody who says anything positive about the book and they also have this “there isn’t any racism any more!” attitudes, I’ve had heaps of salt with their perspective.
  • *Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, but it weaves in several other fairy tales. This one is unique because there’s about a dozen 1st person perspectives (who aren’t identified, you figure them out from the context) who tell the story. Makes me want to read more of her books.
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar. I wanted to love this because everybody else is. And I didn’t. It was okay, it just wasn’t fantastic.
  • *Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow. Middle school novel about a kid who is the only survivor of a school shooter and then moves to the middle of nowhere to escape it all. The friendships were the best and it made me feel all the emotions.
  • The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill. Yes, May was my month of reading fairy tale retellings, this one of the Crane Wife. Weird and short. I’m looking forward to reading When Women Were Dragons.
  • The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher by E.M. Anderson. This was a book based on that tumblr post circulating around about the chosen one being an old woman instead of a teenager. It was enjoyable, mostly, but did feel like it was trying to check off all of the diversity boxes, and the ending was rushed.
  • The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner. Apparently it’s sort of a sequel to another book. Knowing that would have helped. The undead mouse character was the best.

June: It’s Pride Month! (12 books)

  • Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond. Once a bridesmaid, forever a fake bridesmaid? Some fun characters in this one.
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Read as part of my friends-recommendation challenge – I own this book and my sister has been trying to get me to read it for years. I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about it. The atmosphere was deliciously Gothic.
  • Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli. I related a lot to this book, of figuring out who you are, and how boxes and definitions may not fit you. I wish that Becky would start writing books about college students instead of high schoolers though.
  • Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram. A quick read.
  • Loveless by Alice Oseman. I was really disappointed by this book. The characters and plot weren’t well fleshed out.
  • *Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanne Clarke, audiobook. Shortly after this book came out (nearly 20 years ago), I started reading it and got about half way through before getting distracted and I never finished it. I started listening to this at the beginning of March. It was 32 hours long. It’s such a slow developing, meandering story, and I absolutely loved it. I felt completely immersed in the world.
  • Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun. “A Charmed Offensive” was better but it was a nice twist on the fake dating trope. Although for taking place in Portland, very little of it actually took place in Portland.
  • Lily and the Octopus by Steve Rowley. I loved “The Guncle” so much that I bought this when it went on sale and put away all of my other books to read it. It was … weird. I think part of it is that I don’t have a pet, but also the voice of his dog kept changing? It’s magical realism, part The Life with Pi and part Moby Dick.
  • Scythe by Neil Shusterman. Friend-recommendation. A dark utopia and a sort of fascinating exploration about death. I’m on the waiting list for the other books of the trilogy.
  • *What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. Audiobook. Friend recommendation. An Asian woman explores the relationship of her abusive mother and her recovery from complex PTSD. I listened to the audiobook, and while I don’t have PTSD or a history of abuse, it surprised me how much I related to her. The last chapters about love and connection were really healing to listen to.
  • *Above Ground by Clint Smith. Audiobook. His poetry about about parenting, but also about racism and connecting to the past. Really powerful and lyrical.
  • *The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I do love a Greek tragedy and this one was so good.

Currently reading:

  • The House Witch by Delemhach. The writing kinda sucks, but I like the idea and plot?
  • The Grace of Wild Things by Heather Fawcett. It’s an Anne of Green Gables-inspired book about a young orphan witch who seeks out a reclusive woman as her mentor. It’s utterly delightful.
  • The Celebrants by Steve Rowley. “The Guncle” may have been a one hit wonder for his writing for me, because I’m a couple of chapters in and I’m already annoyed.
  • A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland. I’ve heard lots of good things about this one.
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. Audiobook. I’m loving the narrator – for a while, I thought it was the actress who plays La’an on SNW as they have very similar cadences.

Next up: Book Lovers, When Women were Dragons, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Thunderhead, and A House of Good Bones. Still on my “friend recommendations for 2023” to-read list: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zavin, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson, Sweet Like Jasmine by Bonnie Gray, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg.

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1st April 2023

Quarter reads 2023

At the beginning of the year, I posted on facebook for book recommendations to read over the new year and had multiple friends comment with recommendations. So I’m reading books this year that I might not have otherwise.

January
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy. FB recommendation. I was really hesitant to read this book, as it sounded very much like “all things happen for a reason” and “God has a purpose for all suffering” which is one of the things that I left behind even before leaving my religion. I’m glad I read it, as it’s been one of my favorites of the year. Beautiful interweaving of story-telling and grief.
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. Friend recommendation. A story of a time in history that I knew little of (the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula). It started out so good – the first 3rd was fantastic, the second 3rd was mediocre, and the last 3rd painful. So disappointing.
The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women by Lecia Michelle. A finish up from last year. I was really hoping for an anti-racism 201 type book and this was not it. Still some good points.
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes. I saw this on a friend’s end of year list and thought it sounded good (plus I really love Linda Holmes’s writing for NPR). For being written by a happily single woman, there was a lot of emphasis placed on dating relationships.
Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko. Friend recommendation. I have never read a book like this. Creepy and mind blowing in a philosophical way. It’s so very Russian (or rather Ukranian) and the whole thing felt foreign. I’m on the waiting list for the sequel.
Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis. Jane Austen meets pet dragons. Recommended in one of my fantasy groups as cozy fantasy.
A Charmed Christmas by Alison Cochrun. A short-story epilogue to The Charmed Offensive. I could have done without it.
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr. Started reading this in November of 2022 for a book club that I couldn’t attend, so it kept getting bumped. It was a good thriller, but I didn’t buy the antagonist’s motivations.
Twitter Crush: A Gen-X Medical Romance by Em S A’Cor. I got this as an ARC from a physician writing group I’m part of. The writing was fine. There were several subplots that I had issues with, including the guy getting black out drunk on their first date, a “shrill” ex-wife, and a “romance” between the vixen chief fellow and the chair department, which was gross and lecherous and blamed entirely on the fellow. And while I really do appreciate writing from one’s own experiences, descriptions of vaginal dryness from menopause and impotence from antidepressants do not fit well with a romance novel.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston. Much better than One Last Stop.
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Andy Serkis. I’ve read the LOTR trilogy countless times – but I will admit to being guilty to skimming over Books 3 and 5 and getting to Sam and Frodo climb to Mount Doom. So there was a part in the beginning of Book 5 that I had to listen to twice because I’m pretty sure I’ve never registered it before. Anyway, Andy’s voice was amazing as always and I almost want to listen to the whole thing again. (He’s recording the Silmarillion right now, so maybe I’ll be finally about to get through that book).
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My first Christie. It was a good murder mystery and I hadn’t quite figured it out by the end.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells. An enjoyable read, although I think I need to read the rest of the series in order to properly judge it.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Pretty much as it advertises on the tin. The premise gave me anxiety.

February
Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. Friend recommendation. Read this on my way back from a vacation in Hawai’i. Lovely story of perseverance and a good picture into old Hawaiian culture and the perfect cap to a wonderful vacation.
Healer and Witch by Nancy Werlin. A young healer tries to find a teach while navigating investigations by the Inquisition. Reminded me of T Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. Not fond of romances between 15 and 24 year olds though.
-* Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett. Loved this one. Emily’s a professor in the study of fairies exploring a small village trying to figure out their secrets and she can’t get along with the villagers and her too charming colleague sweeps in. I can’t wait for the sequel.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Audiobook. Friend recommendation. This one has been circulating my social groups because she was raised Mormon. That ended up making up very little of her memoir, rather it was more focused on her eating disorder and her relationship with her mom. It was an abrupt ending though and felt incomplete. An easy listen – each chapter was ~ 2-5 minutes.
Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion by Gabrielle Stanley Blair. Like everyone else, I was completely taken by her viral twitter thread about how men bear all of the responsibility of unwanted pregnancies. This was a meatier exploration and well worth the read.

March
-* Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. Book club read. A beautiful book exploring mother-daughter relationships, grief, and culture. One of my favorites that I’ve read so far this year.
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent by Katharine Angel. Book club read. It’s been a while since I read a book where “feminism” was flung around like a dirty word (and yet, I think if you asked the author, she would tell you that she’s a feminist). The last part, exploring vulnerability, was great, but there was absolutely no discussion about how it was as unrealistic in sex as consent culture, which she chided for pages.
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Friend recommendation. Two boys fall in love in a high school in Provo, UT – the setting was so perfectly Provo that I was transported back there, but there were inconsistencies in the depiction of Mormonism that I’m pretty sure other fans wouldn’t have picked up on.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Friend recommendation. Also my first King book read. There was so much that I loved about it – the world setting was fantastic. It started to drag and become formulaic towards the middle end. I did nearly throw the book in disgust at the ending, because we couldn’t possibly have a 17 year old boy go back to the Real World without losing his virginity to a random character he never interacted with, right? Bah.
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley. Friend recommendation. I’m not sure that I am the right audience for this book as I no longer see myself as Christian or really believe in God or Christ at all anything, but, the storytelling was gorgeous and poetic, and some parts resonated deeply. It certainly is a brand of Christianity that I wish more would get behind.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. Very much enjoyed this story. Had a lot of the same charm as The House in the Cerulean Sea.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. I was expecting a weightier book, something like The Darkness Outside Us. It was okay for what it was.
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian. I walked into the book thinking it was a sapphic romance – nope! A fun little gay highwayman romantic romp, but was left a little unfinished.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian. The sequel to above. The questions were mostly answered here and it was a good conclusion to the series.
The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older. A friend and I tried out the “Buddy Read” function on StoryGraph for this and it was like a virtual book club where we could make comment and respond to each other. The mystery sort of fell apart for me, but it was an enjoyable novella.

Currently reading:
– The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Picked this one up in January and just haven’t gotten into it.
– Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. I’ve realized that I’ve read very little in terms of classic feminist works. It’s just a slog for me to get through nonfiction works.
– Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark (audiobook). I started to read JS shortly after it was published but I didn’t get more than half way through before it was due back to the library. It’s a slooooooow going book. Over 32 hours. It’ll be my commute book for the next 2 months at least.
– A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Book club read

Other friend recommendations for the year:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
What My Bones Knew: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
Frogs in A Pot by K.D. Kinz (written by a nurse I used to work with.)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zavin
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Sweet Like Jasmine by Bonnie Gray
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelk
(What would you all recommend? I’d like to round it out to 24 books).

Books picked up from the library: Glitterland by Alexis Hall, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, The Rose That Grew From Concrete: a collection of poetry by Tupac Shakur.

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4th December 2022

44th Birthday

On 11/22/22, I turned 44. As it was one of my magical “eleven” birthdays, I decided that I didn’t just want to have it home, with just my parents. I had asked for the week of my birthday off work, so I drove home.

I gathered together all of my Plethora friends for a surprise birthday celebration for me – for once, they knew I was coming into town, but they hadn’t remembered that it was my birthday. Liz made an apple cake, because I couldn’t find a last minute piñata, and had a candle left over from one of her kids’ birthdays.

We’ve been friends for over 20 years now and it was so great to be with them all. I stayed the night with Liz, talking until way too late, visited with AnnaJune who braided my hair:

I then stayed the night at Laura and James’s and helped their oldest daughter get ready for prom and listened to their youngest coax beautiful music from her violin before driving to Manila for the week.

My parents and sister and I celebrated my birthday on its actual day by having pumpkin pie.

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4th December 2022

Stonehenge

I drove home to Utah for Thanksgiving. The way there, the wind was gusting until to 70-100 mph in the gorge, so we detoured and went south across the Oregon high desert. But on the way back, we had a more leisurely drive and stopped at Maryhill, WA. It’s a Stonehenge replica, the same height as the one in England, made of stone and cement (the stone here isn’t sturdy enough), as a WWI memorial.

It’s pretty awesome. I would love to come back for a solstice celebration, but alas, it was oriented to the astronomical horizon, so it doesn’t line up.

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3rd November 2022

Tapestry

(A devotional I gave at a Mormon women’s retreat called Northwest Pilgrims in April, after which I promptly came down with Covid).

– – Thread – –

Like Mendel’s peas, I inherit a dominant gene passed on from my mother. Hereditary multiple exostoses. It causes bony growths on the edges of my bones, twists my wrist, shortens my finger. All because a single gene, EXT1 on chromosome 8, had a mutation that prevented it from placing a heparin sulfate complex on signaling proteins that direct bone growth.

When I am 15, I overhear my grandmother, one of my favorite people in the world, telling a neighbor how selfish my mother was to have children and pass on this disease; that she wishes her son had married another woman and given her healthy grandchildren.

Selfish. For having me.

Was this the beginning of her dementia that warped her brilliant mind and turned her brain into a psychological prison of torture? Did I inherit genes from her that will cause the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau proteins and break down my brilliant brain, turning me into a stranger to myself? 

– – Thread – –

By the time I’m 25, I realize that I won’t be able to have children. I have new pain in my hip, deep in my pelvis. My doctor finds a tumor the size of a grapefruit, arising off my iliac crest. He excises it, leaving me once again with scars. Imaging also reveals multiple small bone growths dotting my pelvis, shifting the way muscle tendons attach my back to my hips. I couldn’t carry a pregnancy without tremendous pain.

In many ways, I am relieved. I worried about passing on the dominant gene, of the surgeries and pain and disabilities my offspring would experience. 

My imaginary children won’t have my red hair and they won’t be diseased.

The realization of my childless future is a gradual one and I don’t mourn it. My friends have married and are having kids and I am their pseudo-aunt. My youngest sister, with her perfect EXT-1 genes, will have 4 perfect, healthy children, whom I will love and love and love. 

– – Thread – –

When I was 12, I discovered a place of pleasure between my legs.

When I was 12, I had my first interview with a bishop to determine my worthiness.

When I was 12, I stayed with my aunt for a summer. My aunt had left the church and had become a feminist who painted vulvas and hung them on her walls. She had a collection of books in her basement, and besides the guilt-reads of bodice rippers, there was another book collecting dust. The Miracle of Forgiveness.

Masturbation, I learned, was a sin next to murder, and if I didn’t repent, I wouldn’t be in heaven with my family for eternity. Worse, if I did repent and returned to my sin, my sins would multiply in their weight, because I would be rejecting the gift of Christ’s sacrifice. My words and actions and thoughts would be used to condemn me, the scriptures said, if I couldn’t master them.

When I was 12, I was suicidal and I was so petrified to die.

I confessed my sins to over a dozen bishops over two decades. Each time I got a temple recommend, having gone through repentance and fire, I never felt worthy.

– – Thread – –

I find myself in college and for the first time, I like myself. I make friends for the first time, since moving to my small, standoffish town at age 9. My high school years are a blur of bullying and unkind barbs because I was different and I’m all too glad to leave them all behind.

So I make friends, friends who will become family. We go to church together, worship together. I attend Institute where I study my inherited religion like I do other courses and I fall in love with my religion. My dad is a Mormon Democrat and like him, my faith influences my politics, and my political beliefs share my faith. I become Julia, Liberal, Feminist Mormon. 

When I leave my birth religion, after a decade of questioning and searching, when the identity of “Mormon” chafes as much as the elastic of the garment cuts into my legs, I don’t know who I am. I am lost and go to therapy to piece me, Julia, back together.

– – Thread – –

I went through the temple when I was 22 with my best friend by my side. I had completed temple prep and I hadn’t messed up for nearly a year. For the first time, I felt worthy. 

I loved the ritual and the symbolism. I loved the feel of the garments against my skin, holding and hiding my imperfections; loved how the sewn marks were tactile reminders that I was part of God’s family.

– – Thread – –

I had my first surgery when I was 12, followed by a half dozen more in high school. 

When I was a junior in high school, I pushed off the side of the swimming pool and a tendon caught on a bone growth like a crochet hook, leaving me unable to walk and in unbearable pain.

My grandmother, loving and desperate to help, visited an herbalist and sent me a package of dried alfalfa. If I took a capsule a day, all of the calcium would dissolve off my bone spurs.

I refused to take it. Science refuted that it would work.

My aunt demanded to know why I didn’t want to be healed. I guess, she said, you just like having surgery.

The blessings from my father, when he placed his hands on my head before every surgery, didn’t mention being healed.

– – Thread – –

I was supposed to get married by the time I graduated college.

I wanted romance, wanted somebody to see my flaws, see me and love me and want me.

It didn’t happen. 

My crushes were embarrassments kept deep inside. I longed for romance but couldn’t bear the thought of telling a righteous man that I hadn’t kept my virtue. I fell in love with my best friend from medical school and never told him. We made better friends anyway. (I never got a chance to find out). 

I never got a first kiss. I never got the sexual sacrament for which I tied my soul into knots. 

I’m happy and fulfilled being single. It suits me. 

Being unloved will always be a secret wound that sits deep in my heart.

– – Thread – –

A patient dies because of me. I didn’t put together the signs of their decline and two hours later, when the rest of the team arrives that morning, their low blood pressure that I had frantically tried to fix has caused end-organ damage and they never recover.

A patient lives because of me. For six hours, I stand by their bedside, taking them off the ventilator when it alarms that their oxygen is low, hand-bagging air into their lungs. I push meds of adrenaline and watch their blood pressure rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and .. stabilize. A week later, they walk out of the hospital.

I stop believing in a god of miracles long before I lose faith in the church.

– – Thread – –

I am 31. I have just placed my fingers on my clitoris, even though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t and I am crying after the orgasm. 

“Stop.” I hear in my head. “You are worthy. You are loved. And this. This is not a sin.”

I feel a wave of warmth that I associate with the spirit.

Was it an answer to prayer or just me, so tired of the endless guilt?

I buy my first vibrator that month and I feel whole. I stop being accountable to bishops and answer “yes” to any questions about my worthiness.

– – Thread – –

After I leave the church, I fall and injure my fingers. I can no longer bend them. I can’t shake hands with my patients, can’t place a central line, can’t intubate. I go through months of therapy with no improvement. I see a surgeon who diagnoses me with “an abnormal pain response” and dismisses my concerns.

I go to San Francisco Pilgrims and women from my faith background, women that I know and women that I don’t, lay hands on me – on my head and shoulders and broken fingers. I cry at their petitions. I am not cured. But I heal.

– – Thread – – 

I left my religion at 37 after hanging on by my fingertips for years. The infantalizing of singles, the treatment of women, the conservative beliefs – it rose to a blister on November 5, 2015 and I walked away.

The first few months after, I had panic attacks that I was throwing my life and my salvation away. My skin felt foreign without my garments. I didn’t like the sensation of the wind blowing through my jacket without that protective barrier.

I grieved the loss of my religion. I left behind my surety of my purpose in this life and the next. I separated myself from my community that welcomed me no matter where I moved. Relationships with my family and my friends altered – they couldn’t understand why, not entirely, and I was now outside the fold.

I also left behind shame. I no longer had to justify the actions of the church that I disagreed with, actions that hurt my loved ones. I discarded fears of not being worthy enough, of not being enough.

Leaving was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. It was also the best.

– – Thread – – 

The destruction of the natural world aches now without the promise of rebirth. I struggle for purpose. I don’t know about God. I don’t like the idea of God.

I like the idea of humans though, of human emotion and human connection. I like the idea of a human family, brought together by our 23 chromosomes that are more alike than different. 

I find meaning in books and poetry, in the repetitive crash of waves on the beach, in writing the love stories I never got to experience, in the smiles of friends. 

I find comfort in the study of the brain. All that I perceive: touch, sight, pain, arousal, the position of my joints, the pressure of the atmosphere; is processed and experienced in my brain. All that I am is here. 37 trillion cells working in coordination to make me human. 

It terrifies me, too, this electrical jelly of neurons and salt and proteins, that makes up all that I am. 

I don’t know about what happens after death, if this consciousness continues. I don’t have answers anymore. I just have me.

Now. 

Flawed.

And perfect.

And enough.

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2nd November 2022

Travel map

A few friends on facebook were posting this. I don’t want to do the arithmetic so I don’t know how many points I’ve earned. (ETA ooo, it calculates it for you!)

There weren’t really instructions so I made the following interpretations:

  • Lived Here: had a physical address OR (in the case of Wyoming), lived next to the state border and did half of my shopping/attended church, etc.
  • Stayed Here: stayed with friends or family at least overnight.
  • Visited Here: spent at least one day here.
  • Stopped Here: spent a few hours here. Delaware is on the cusp between visited and stopped.
  • Passed Here: at least crossed the state line.
  • Want to be Here: I want to be a lot of places, but then it would ruin the states that I’ve visited, so I’ve put the next place I want to visit. Puerto Rico, I am going to see you some day.
  • Never Been Here: so many islands.

You can fill out your own map here.

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1st November 2022

November writing goals

November always makes me itch to write. Nanowrimo contributes of course – I’ve always wanted to write a novel; I do not have the ideas or the time or the internal will to write an entire novel. In the past, I’ve done NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month – at least for the first week or so before I forgot and don’t post for a few days and give up.

I’ve done modified NaNoWriMos in the past, where I’ve made a writing goal (write every day, 100 words or more) and used their website to keep track. I’ve really liked that – there are rewards of badges when you meet goals and seeing the graph makes my happy – and plan to do something similar this month.

I have three glee fics and my gilmore girls fic to work on this month:

– Fic 1: a coffeeshop AU, where Kurt comes back to Ohio and now owns the Lima Bean and Blaine opens a coffee kiosk across the street. The prompt also called for a snarky “social media messages” between their businesses and that’s where I’ve really struggled to develop the story.

– Fic 2: Blaine feels like he is getting older and life is passing him by so he tries to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest cronut (the prompt said cookie) and Kurt owns the bakery that Blaine wants to use. I’ve written a few words of nonsense and have an opening scene, but haven’t made much more progress than that.

– Fic 3: an epistolary story where Blaine is chosen to go to space and Kurt’s back at home. I’m writing this one with a friend (her idea, I just jumped on it because I love letter novels) and it’s my turn to write back (and has been since June I think). This one is just for fun, and I love that there isn’t any pressure around it.

– Fic #4: My Gilmore Girls fic, Like Never Before, that stands perpetually in its unfinished state. I managed to write a couple of paragraphs for the WIP Big Bang, but then it wasn’t selected for an art piece and my summer was super busy, so I set it aside. I do so want to finish this as it’s been 20 years since I started working on (!!! no really !!!!). 

I also want to polish up the essay that I wrote for a devotional about my spiritual journey and see if I can get it published somewhere.

What writing goals do you have?

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1st October 2022

Books read (July-September)

July:
Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal. My last of Chris Colfer’s audiobooks and his first book. Not sure that a journal really was the best format, but I’m going to miss his voice.
The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA’s Double Helix. In honor of the 70 year anniversary coming up, I’ve been reading a lot of books on the discovery of DNA. There was some uncomfortable fixation of Rosalind’s sexuality (much like Brenda Maddox books but she came to a completely different conclusion), and I truly loath James Watson now.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher. Oooh. A short, dark fairy tale. Highly recommend.
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. The last book published (so far) of the Gishaverse. Definitely not a stand alone novel, but overall, a satisfying end to the series and leaving room for more books.
On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi. There really aren’t that many good fictional books about being a doctor, much less about going through medical school. This really captured the stress and drama of med school.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrows. Reimagined history, some strong characters (although maybe a wee bit too much of leaning into the maiden, mother, crone archetypes), beautiful story telling.
Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World by Nina Kraus. Audiobook. Fascinating insights into how our ears and brain receive and perceive sound, and how it influences our language and cognitive development, if a bit redundant at times.
Orphan Black: The Next Chapter. Maybe a little bit of a cheat, since it’s a  episodic podcast, but it was on goodreads. I rewatched Orphan Black this spring and was eager to listen. Tatiana’s voices were amazing and I loved the new characters (her male voices were the weakest. 

August:
Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries, #3) by TJ Klune. An excellent conclusion to the trilogy and so much familial love.
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher. I’m not a big horror person, but I adore T’s writing. A retelling of the Fall of the House of Usher, with some cool biological explanations.
A Middle-Earth Traveller: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor  by John Howe. I loved his work for the Lord of the Rings movies, so I thought this would be a good introduction to my next audio project. Lovely sketches, some lovely behind the scenes insights.
Orphan Black: The Next Chapter (Season 2). This time, Jordan, Kristian, and Evelyn returned to voice their roles. I hope there’s another.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall. A fun little regency romp involving a trans heroine. Lots of feelings.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall. The story opens with one of my least favorite tropes: lying outrageously and then getting caught and I almost didn’t finish it, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because it really had all of the charm of the Great British Bake Off in a novel.
Husband Material by Alexis Hall. (All of my library books became available at the same time, so I read three of Alexis’s books in a week period). I had been charmed by Boyfriend Material; it wasn’t the best fake dating book that I’ve ever read, but I was invested enough that I looked for the sequel and I liked it even better than the first one. Laugh out loud hysterical, following the plot of Four Weddings and Funeral while still giving it at twist. Looking forward to Father Material.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Andy Serkis. This will be my listening project for the next year probably. Andy Serkis’s voice is amazing – deep and rich in timbre. I haven’t reread this one since early in college, it was much darker than what I remembered.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. Terrible stories, presented in a light-hearted, easy to approach manner. I’m planning on introducing it to my family and friends because it’s a really great way to highlight the pervasiveness of racism.

September
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin. I really wanted to like this book as it was written by an emergency medicine doctor about a group of medical school friends. And I didn’t. There were parts that truly resonated, such as when one of the main characters loses a patient, but the drama was so over the top.
Ramón and Julieta by Alana Albertson. Just a sweet little Romeo and Juliet retelling. A fluffy, easy to read romance which was just want I was craving.
The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin. I checked out all three of her books at the same time, so I was really hopeful that this one would be better. And it was, but it still felt lacking. It also felt like the author was trying too hard to emphasize that “not all Christians” are homophobic, but there was still homophobic and transphobic views (one character was the definition of sassy gay friend) that belied that conclusion.
East by Edith Pattou. A reread because I found out that a sequel had been written and it had been literal years. Almost as good as I remembered, an excellent retelling of the fairy tale “East of the Sun West of the Moon.
West by Edith Pattou. I’m not sure that East really needed a sequel, but this one was well done and it completed the story.
Felix Silver, Teaspoons & Witches by Harry Cook. My god, did this book need better editors. So many sloppy mistakes.
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I started reading this 2 years ago and got distracted. A practical book, with some great real-time examples, but I’m not sure that it really made it easier to talk about race with some of my white relatives for example.
Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin. I almost didn’t read this because I had been so disappointed by her previous books, but I’m so glad that I did because it was the best of the 3. She started writing this book back in 2019, about a pandemic that affected the world, and it was a much deeper, emotional story than the other two (although many of the same characters were in it).
George (Melissa’s Story) by Alex Gore. Picked it up as part of Banned Books Week and you guys, I’m just tired of fake outrage. It was cute.
The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani. Sequel to Thorn, which I read earlier this year. Thorn was good, but this really developed the world. I’m excited for the 3rd book.

I may make it to a 100 books this year. *crosses fingers*

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9th September 2022

House progress

House progress

Last year, after I bought the house, I knew that I needed to do something about the deck as there were several rotting boards (the back deck saga I’ve written about previously). My house, if you’ll remember is all deck, and replacing it seemed daunting and very expensive, as lumber prices were astronomical. So I bought some pressure treated outdoor boards and my dad and I patched it up.

This summer, we found more rotting boards and started to replace them, but after doing that, we decided that it probably would be best to replace all of the boards with cedar boards so that it would last for years. This was our progress after nearly a week.

To say this project has felt daunting would be an understatement! Hours of hard work barely made a difference in the appearance.

My parents came out again this week and we tackled it again. And this time, finally, we’ve made obvious progress (we really hit a groove the last couple of days). The wood is gorgeous and cost $20 less than in July.

24 rows completed, 16 more to go for the next visit, plus more work on the stairs (I’m ignoring the two lower decks for now). I finally feel like I can see an end.

All of the wood we’ve pulled up in the last 4 days.

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1st July 2022

Books for 2022

I’ve had an unofficial goal to read 52 books this year – a book a week. Last year I read 49. For most of the past 20 years, since entering med school, I’ve read at most 5-10 books a year, so it felt like an ambitious goal.

I just hit 45 books so far. Some of them have been shorter books, but still. Reading had always been my escapism – is it a good thing that it’s becoming so again?

January:
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee (hated the first book due to the protagonist but liked the secondary characters and the overall premise. Much much more enjoyable).
A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1) by Freya Marske (reads exactly like a fanfic with lots of longing and emotions. A favorite.)
A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews (for a facebook book club). Victorian woman travels to India along with her not-quite-boyfriend. The descriptions were lovely, even if nothing happened the majority of the book.
Thorn (Dauntless Path #1) Intisar Khanani. A Muslim retelling of The Goose Girl. Really original and well told; the sequels are on my list for the year.

February:
The Last Cuentista by Donna Higuera (my friend recommended the day before the Newberry Medal was announced).
Dread Nation and Deathless Divide by Justine Ireland (I am such a squeamish person that the fact that I read a zombie book AND it’s sequel says something). The sequel was not as good as the first book, but it ended satisfactorily.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reed. I didn’t love it quite as much as everybody else has.

March:
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. A book of prose/almost poetry. Just lovely.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I watched Shadow and Bone on Netflix and really loved it, so I had to find the books. It’s a really enjoyable series, just different enough from the tv series to keep them exciting.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall (started it in February for Black History Month, finished in March).
A Tale of Magic read by Chris Colfer. A year ago, I started listening to Chris Colfer’s books on the way to and from work. My commute’s only 15 minutes away, so I don’t make a lot of progress. Chris is an excellent voice actor, and while his books aren’t high literature, they are engaging and his characters live.
Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall. I read Boyfriend Material last year which I liked. I didn’t like this one as much, but it ended better than it started.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. Sequel to Shadow and Bone. Definitely a middle book.

April:
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Conclusion to Shadow and Bone. I didn’t dislike the ending; I also thought that it was weak.
A Tale of Witchcraft read by Chris Colfer. Another middle book. His descriptions of teenage love are so hilariously earnest.
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox (again started for Women’s History Month in March…). Rosalind Franklin is a bit of an ideal of mine. This book frustratingly focused on answering whether or not she was pretty.
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. A random find and what a great one. A baker with a little bit of magic has to defend his city. It’s a younger adult book, but it doesn’t shy from hard topics, such a death and poverty.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn (facebook book club). Hunting down Nazis after the war – told both in flashbacks and current time, with the flashbacks getting closer and closer to current time.
So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens. I loved their Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic, so I couldn’t wait to read other books. This one was so delightfully tropey- happily ever afters, soulmates, misunderstandings. Perfect.
Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher. After A Wizard’s Guide, I had to read others of her books. This was the first book of a trilogy of related books. One of those where I couldn’t put it down from nearly the first page.
In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. Another charming story.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while – an epistolary story where every chapter loses a letter that the townspeople can use. It felt very fitting for this authoritarian world we’re getting into.

May: 
A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow – I love fractured fairytales and this one was a fun novella.
A Tale of Sorcery read by Chris Colfer (audiobook). The last book of his “Tale Of” series and it was a satisfying tie-up to the series.
Hyperbole and A Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh. I loved her blog back in the day and her comics would have me gasping for air. They weren’t quite as funny now, and I’m not sure why.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon. I still have complex feelings about this book.
Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Kaz my beloved. Inej my beloved. Nina my beloved. Jesper my beloved.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Jaigirdar Adiba. Sweet, if not very deep.
Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher. It took me way too long to figure out the twist. But it was worth it.
Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher. Hot. So hot.

June:
I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson. A great idea (exboyfriends fake-dating) and so poorly executed.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. A direct continuation of Six of Crows – so many twists I did not see coming.
Stranger Than Fanfiction read by Chris Colfer (audiobook). It’s not Shakespeare, but man, do I love hearing him make his characters come to life. I still have thoughts about the ending.
Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher. I love these stories about ordinary people with just a touch of magic.  
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. Nina my beloved.
The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer. I read this in a day – really absorbing while reading it, falls apart if you spend too long thinking about the premise.
Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher. I love this world. I love these complex, world-weary, broken women and men who come together to try to save their world.
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher. I had to wait for the Wonder Engine to be available from the library. I need the sequels now.
A Mirror Mended by Alix Harrow. A Spindle Splintered didn’t need a sequel and I’m not sure that this was the sequel that should have been written.
The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher. An excellent finish to the series.
Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. I really didn’t like What If It’s Us that much – the characters were too young and differentiating between their first person perspectives was iffy. This was much better. I still would have made them a touch older, but it works.
One Last Stop by Casy McQuiston. I liked Red, White, and Royal Blue better and I wasn’t expecting a time-travel story. Still there was a lot of atmosphere and sweetness to the story.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. I really liked this although I still have so many questions. But this captured the feel of the outer Sunset district of San Francisco and made me homesick.

Midyear book review:

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15th June 2022

A Fresh Look

10 days later (thanks rain!) my house is almost all painted (there’s a few more finishing touches).

Karin and I argued a lot about the color. She wanted a light blue; I wanted a sunny yellow and we compromised with a green. It’s called peacock plume and it changes hues depending on the sun. Every house around here hasn’t been painted in 20+ years, so it really pops.

I love it with the contrasting white.

As a reminder, this is what it looked like before, a putrid, faded orange-pink brown that might have been rose colored at some point.

I had asked them to paint my garage door purple too, but things got mixed up. It’s fine – it looks great in a solid color too. There’s a small area of siding that I’m a little concerned about, but you know what, I’m giving it more protection than what it had before.

Onward to the next project.

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9th June 2022

Anne-Doll

For my latest knitting project, I have been making a doll. I started knitting it a year ago in February and have been working on it in small bursts before setting it aside again. The instructions have not been the easiest to follow. I actually had to redo the head because the first version was too small and stretched too much with the stuffing. It’s much better, but now my dolly is top heavy and won’t stand.

I still have the face and hair to do. I’m deciding between a rag doll type of yarn or a mohair that would make more realistic looking hair. I’m probably going to make them both up and decide which one I like better. Stay tuned…

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8th May 2022

Better

It’s Day 6 since I was diagnosed/day 7 and a half since I first started getting the first hint of symptoms. I am feeling better, so much better. I started feeling dramatically better on Thursday, after I took the 3rd dose of Paxlovid. Fevers stopped, congestion improved. The sore throat has completely gone this morning and while I still have some congestion/post-nasal drip causing a cough once in a while, it’s also improved. My rapid antigen test is still positive, although less strongly, so I’m still in isolation.

I guess I’m getting used to the taste too, although I’m going to be so so so glad to be done after tonight and I’ve sucked on so many mints and cough drops in these last few days. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the terrible lingering taste, I’d be all taking these for other colds/flus.

I haven’t done anything productive really. I was going to use my time in isolation to write or catch up on books or TV and I’ve barely done any of that. I’ve watched The Big Family Cooking Showdown and Heartstopper, shows that take little mental energy to engage.

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4th May 2022

Day 2

A sore throat kept waking me through the night. Today I’ve been dealing with a sore throat, raspy voice, increasing sinus congestion, cough, and aching ears, but the low grade fever is a little better. I’m just wiped out. The oxygen sats are remaining high, which I’m checking twice a day. Along with getting up every hour or so so I don’t get blood clots.

I started Paxlovid today and as warned, I developed a really terrible metallic taste in my mouth about an hour or two afterwards. Drinking mint and lemon tea helps; the taste just comes back when I’m done. I just had my sister go and get some mints and see if that helps. It’s bearable: hospitalizations are increasing again and I’m not going to be that person who says “I’m going to be fine!” and then find myself in the ED.

I cancelled all of my meetings today that I could have attended since they were virtual and have just been lounging around. I’ve had colds and flus where I’ve felt sicker and dragged my body to work AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE SO. It’s 5 days off of work, somebody’s covering my weekend shifts, and I’m going to aggressively rest.

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    • Books read October-December 01/01/2024
      My goal was to read 120 books this year. I just finished number 129. (Some of these I reviewed as part of my WWW posts). October: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I had high expectations for this book, as it had been so praised, and I felt let down by it. Still enjoyable, […]