A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for stories to come
The Ghost Bride Author: Yangsze Choo Publication Date: August 2013 Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism Method: audiobook and hardcover borrowed from TPL
Review: I had high expectations starting The Ghost Bride given how much I loved The Night Tiger, Choo’s second novel. I began with the audiobook and was immediately enamored by the beautiful writing and setting, 1890s Malaya. I absolutely, without a doubt loved Part 1 as it introduced and explored Asian history, culture, and folklore surrounding death and the after life. Moving into Part 2 and 3 with the audiobook, I felt lost as the story transitioned into dream-like sequences. That’s when I switched over to the physical book and had a much easier time following the plot and storyline. Unfortunately the last half of the book just didn’t captivate me as much as the first half. I liked a lot of what this book had to offer: a large cast of characters, multiple ‘universes’, Asian folklore, little bit of romance, sprinkle of murder mystery, some gothic and magical realism vibes. I liked it, it was good! But it didn’t blow me away. I bought the book second hand and I’m glad to have it in my collection, to live alongside The Night Tiger. While listening to the audiobook I flagged passages with unfamiliar terms and plan to annotate my copy with the definitions.
Recursion Author: Blake Crouch Publication Date: June 2019 Genre: science fiction Method: hardcover, borrowed from TPL
Review: What a strong, impressive, and captivating first hundred pages – loved the two POVs, their different timelines, and the point at which they intersected and converged. Initially, the story was confusing in a good way, like I was a little bit lost but knew the more I read the more I’d understand. But then came book 5 which was just way too long and too repetitive. I understand Crouch was trying to convey the gravity and weight felt by main character Helena, having lived her life multiple times over, but I felt it detracted from the story overall. There are many plot holes to be bothered by, but the one that sticks out to me that I see very few reviewers mention is how Barry goes from NYC police office to part time physicist – or did I misunderstand? Because it seems in different variations of his life with Helena, he assists her with creation of the memory chair. Maybe that’s all there is to it, he is just an assistance whom contributes in no way scientifically. Even though this wasn’t the perfect book for me, I’m still very interested in reading Dark Matter (DM). It seems readers who felt ehh about this book sing the praises of DM.
Review: In her preface, author Alexis Coe speaks on the male skew both in the technical writing of the popular Washington biographies and the overwhelming appearance of male authors discussing the first president of the United States of America. In fact, Coe states ‘no woman has written an adult biography of George Washington in more than forty years.’ Color me intrigued. This book had such a strong start. A list of George Washington’s closest friends and frenemies? Love it, yes please. An entire section about his medical history and the diseases he survived? I’m into it. A page dedicated to his pets and farm animals? Incredible. I found Part 1 fascinating, learning about the different family dynamics Washington had with his mother, siblings, half siblings, step children, etc. But Parts 2 and 3 were just a snooze fest – someone had to say it. I’m sure it’s no small task to jazz up topics of revolutionary war and slavery, but this is the biography I would have expected some pizazz, given the whimsical and cheeky vibes of the introduction. Even then, Part 4 had a recipe for hoecakes, an unexpected addition to a biography, but I’m here for it. I will say, this book definitely led to some interesting discussions with my peers regarding land ownership, slavery, and war. At the least, I have some new useless knowledge to utilize when bar trivia is a thing again.
The House in the Cerulean Sea Author: TJ Klune Publication Date: March 2020 Genre: fantasy, fiction, LGBT Method: audiobook and hardcover, borrowed from TPL
Review: This book has gotten a lot of hype across social medias. Is it warranted? ONE HUNDRED MILLION TIMES, YES. There isn’t a more wholesome book on the earth, prove me wrong. I had high expectations and TJ Klune DELIVERED. Heart warming, charming, welcoming, lovely, whimsical, the list goes on. Klune’s use of imagery and symbolism had me dissecting every word choice like I was back in honors English class. The use of rain and storms to symbolize main character Linus’s depression was spectacular. My first instinct was to label Linus as lazy for repeatedly acknowledging the rain that casts down on him day after day, but then forgets his umbrella every morning. But as I understood the rain to symbolize depression, I saw the parallels Klune was making to mental health and how we can inherently know what to do to ‘fix’ our problems, but having the resources, courage, or energy to actually act on these solutions can be extremely difficult. That’s not laziness, it’s depression. Similarly, Linus’s anxiety at work is palpable in chapter 2 when his boss is approaching his desk and in what probably is less than 30 seconds, Linus has concocted no less than minutes and minutes of worry and assumptions regarding what he believes to be impending punishment from management. In this extremely short amount of time, Linus’s mind is running so wild with fear that he starts sweating, enough to stain his shirt. The subtle adult humor regarding the children was laugh out loud funny. The way in which Klune discusses isolation, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, hatred, bigotry in such discreet ways is incredible. Would read again, would recommend, would like to move to Marsyas to hang out with Helen and J-Bone. Buzzword Readathon: February selection
Review: Fantastic. This came highly recommended by Abby of Crime By The Book and I was not disappointed. This is the first book I’ve read this year where I was actively day dreaming and counting down the hours until I could get home from work and dive back into the story. What we have is a serial killer thriller set in the Basque region of Spain. I really enjoyed and appreciated the Spanish culture, history, folklore, and mythology. I spent some time looking up unfamiliar terms and days of celebrations which was interesting to learn about. I loved the various timelines, as I always do. When it comes to thrillers and mysteries, I really just immerse myself in the story and try not to guess the ending. So for me, the connecting point between the two timelines was very much a surprise. And the twist? Yeah, I literally gasped and had a jaw drop moment. I thought it was excellent for translated work. Very excited and interested to read the second and third books in the series once they are translated to English. Buzzword Readathon: February selection
To quit our jobs, move out of our apartment, road trip across the US for 4-6 weeks, and then move to Cleveland or Ann Arbor
Super Bowl LV Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated Kansas City Chiefs 31–9, Noelle Gallagher of booktube channel (link), Sabine’s Book Nook booktube channel (link), this tik tok on repeat:
Pork carnitas and homemade pico for the Super Bowl, Half Baked Harvest 4 cheese sun-dried tomato pasta bake, Half Baked Harvest kung pao chicken, spaghetti squash with meat and tomato sauce
Mike’s mac n’ cheese pizza (a little too often this month), big freakin’ donut from Holey Toledough, chicken nachos at Wolverine State Brewing Co
Sippin’ Pretty by Odell Brewing Co, HOMES Brewery in Ann Arbor, Wolverine State Brewing Co in Ann Arbor, Tiramisu Brown Ale by Maumee Bay Brewing Co, Grand Mimosa by Ciderboys, black iced coffee from Biggby, Starbucks pistachio latte
Beautiful home libraries and bookcases, bullet journal and book journal spreads, gallery wall inspiration, kitchen inspiration, white bean Greek salad, buckeye brownies
Finally finished lettering the addresses for my classmates save the dates and mailed them back to her, repotted my house plants
First house viewing in Westgate, second house viewing in Old Orchard, Ann Arbor to visit BFFs and pick up an item at REI, dinner at cheers with a coworkers, the library like 2-4 times a week
Blue skies and 40 degree plus weather, hammock stand, The House in the Cerulean Sea, compliments on my skill, integrity, and clinical reasoning and decision making, methodology in my career, mentoring and learning from my new grad PTA
Devastated with the unexpected news of losing the Wauseon building, pissed off having only been given 1 weeks notice, hopeful for the end of quarantine, excited for spring, euphoria running outside again, appreciated and seen by my colleague and mentor
It’s the middle of February and I am not feeling my original 2021 OLW. Let’s change it.
At the the end of 2020, I had picked what I thought was the perfect one little word (OLW) moving into the new, hopeful year of 2021 – maintenance. Despite the chaotic and unexpected year that was 2020, I worked hard to create healthy and suitable habits in many aspects of my life regarding physical, emotional, and financial health.
In January 2021, maintenance sounded like a great goal to have! Of course I wanted to keep exercising 5x/week and read everyday, because my biggest personal accomplishments in 2020 were a direct result of those habits. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t feel possible or sustainable at all right now to maintain these habits, at that’s okay. Because the fact of the matter is I’m not working out 5x/week, not even 3x/week, because I don’t have the motivation or desire to do so. What I want to do for myself and my mental health is run outside. But that’s also exactly the thing I am not willing to do in the middle of February when the average temp is mid to low 30s. So what’s the deal? Am I unmotivated? Lazy? No, I don’t think so. It’s just not the right time. I had the best of intentions for myself, but my lack of progress signals to me, this isn’t working. And instead of being upset with myself or engaging in negative self talk, I can just change my word. Simple as that.
That brings me right now, February 14th, 2021, at the time I’m writing. Yes, Valentine’s Day. I found myself standing in Kroger, waiting to order a Starbucks drink and sandwich [because #treatyoself] and as I looked around at all the people buying bouquets and chocolates, it hit me. I’d lost touch with reality. On the surface I knew it was Valentine’s Day; I’d seen the advertisements. The romance book recommendations. The cute red and pink heart decorations at work. Even enjoyed the heart shaped donut Kyle brought home from Dunkin’ for me the day before. But it wasn’t until I was standing in the grocery store that I realized I hadn’t made a single effort or attempt to celebrate or acknowledge the holiday.
From there, my mind began to spiral. Christmas effectively came and went with little to no lasting impression. No stockings. No wrapped presents. No family gatherings. And yes, obviously this was due to the pandemic. All to say this reminded me of the promise I made to myself that 2021 would be different. I’d be more present, despite how depressed I felt or how chaotic work became. No matter the excuses I made for myself. Then a new word hit me like a ton of bricks.
Intention noun 1: thing intended; an aim or plan 2: what one intends to do or bring about 3: a determination to act in a certain way, resolve
Intentional adjective 1: done on purpose; deliberate 2: done by intention or design, intended
What a cliché OLW, I know. But it feels right.
Here’s the ways in which I hope to be more deliberate moving forward in the year 2021, guided by my new OLWs, intention and/or intentional.
Environment Last year, I fell into the habit of sitting on the couch with my laptop, purely due to comfort. Less time sitting at my desk resulted in less journaling, less time spent being creative, and my desk became cluttered, unruly, and unmanageable. Definitely not a sight for sore eyes. 1 | sit at my desk to check emails, write blog posts, journal, engage in creativity
Similarly, Kyle and I fell into the habit of eating meals on the couch as our schedules got crazier and crazier as the year progressed. We used to set up the dinner table and enjoy dinner together, sometimes with candlelight, and I want to get back to that. 2 | eat more meals with Kyle at our dining room table
I had some initial success with working out at home when all the gyms closed, then really fell into a routine running outside which gave me such mental clarity and emotional stability in what would prove to be the hardest year of my life professionally. But anymore, my desire and motivation to exercise in the home is non-existent, even for a 20 minute work out. 3 | return to the gym (when safe to do so), walk and run outside when the weather allows
“A place for everything, everything in its place.” — Benjamin Franklin
Time I have dozens of ideas in my head of creative projects, some I think I should do, some I want to do. Also a handful of mundane tasks that have been on my to do list for 3+ years. It’s time I either buckle down and complete these projects or determine what the barriers are limiting me from completing these tasks. 1 | ditch the creative ideas and projects that aren’t sparking joy, alter expectations
In 2020, I lost sight of maintaining healthy boundaries with work. There was a point where I was working every weekend, feeling obligated to my employer to work 6 to 7 days per week because work was sparse at times in the middle of a pandemic. In December I realized the extra $120 on a paycheck wasn’t worth it. The bliss of having an entire day away from work did so much for my mental health than the extra hundred bucks a paycheck. 2 | prioritize time with and for myself aware from work without guilt or shame
I’m notoriously bad at maintaining a morning and nighttime routine. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of sleeping in on work days if I know my schedule is lighter than usually, which often back fires because things always pop up. I justify these actions by convincing myself I’m spending time with Kyle when in reality, his sleeping body is just next to my sleeping body. 3 | wake up at the same time every work day, despite having a ‘short work day’
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.“ — Theophrastus
No one can know what the future holds, but this is a good enough place to start.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed are for general informational purposes only and are not to be taken as financial advice
I have, by no means, any business writing a blogpost about investing, but here we go.
In March 2020, at the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, I started investing in the stock market. According to Wikipedia, the 2020 stock market crash, also referred to as the Coronavirus Crash and the Coronavirus Correction, was a major and sudden global stock market crash that began on Feb 20, 2020 and ended on April 7, 2020. Full disclosure, I am aware of my privilege in that I had a well established emergency fund and had retained my job throughout the pandemic in 2020, allowing me to start investing with little to no risk.
Now that I have been researching and investing for almost a year, I thought it was time to reflect on what I’ve learned. Also, I felt the need to name my investing strategy, because yes, I am an enneagram 4 and must identify myself to feel worthy and substantial.
I consider myself a personal pop culture investor. Let’s break this down:
Personal For me, this means that I purchase stock as it directly relates to my life, career, field of work, purchasing habits, hobbies, etc. For example, my career and livelihood is physical therapy, thus I have purchased stock in U. S. Physical Therapy Inc. (USPH) and have seen 71.07% growth since my initial investment. Another example is Planet Fitness (PLNT), the fitness center I utilize (pre-pandemic of course); growth 37.77%. Also, Masimo Corp (MASI), a California based company that manufactures and sells pulse oximeters; growth 17.41%. Along the same lines I have also purchased Subaru stock, but it hasn’t done as well as the others mentioned.
Pop culture These are investment purchases that I have been influenced to make through media, most notably Tik Tok, but also books and literature. This is just so hilarious to me because on whim I bought 50 shares of Aston Martin at $0.85/share, all because the book I was reading, Red, White, and Royal Blue, mentioned an Aston Martin vehicle. This completely random purchase has amassed me $67.85 and my stock with the most growth at 85.88%. My second best performing stock was a direct result of a Tik Tok video where the user recommended investing in clean and renewable energy sources, specifically mentioning Plug Power (PLUG). My 3 shares have generated $84.57 and 80.54% gain.
There you have it, the basics of my investment strategies where I let my personal affairs, Tik Tok, and popular books determine my personal portfolio. My dad is going to kill me.
A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come
Everything I Never Told You Author: Celeste Ng Publication Date: June 2014 Genre: fiction, contemporary Method: audiobook, borrowed from TPL
Review: Celeste Ng knows how to write about complex, family drama. Everything I Never Told You is an exploration of family dynamics and relationships of the Lee family, an Asian American family living in small town Ohio in the 1970s. A book about parental expectations, societal norms, prejudice, young love, heartache, identity, freedom, and self discovery. The storytelling was beautiful and poignant, in a subtle and quiet way. Wonderful character development and depth that had me on a roller coaster of emotion, at times hating these characters for their actions, but later empathizing and forgiving them by the conclusion. I listened to the audiobook during my commute to and from work and often times I found myself disappointed to have to pause in the middle of a chapter, but excited to jump right back in as soon as I could. Additional stand alone review linked here.
My Sister, The Serial Killer Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite Publication Date: November 2018 Genre: fiction, thriller, mystery Method: paperback, gift from a friend
Review: I was 100% ready to love this book but it really fell flat. As one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and a very much appreciated gift from a friend, I’m saddened to report I found this bland, dull, and predictable – I mean, the title alone gives the entire plot away. As Kayla of BooksandLala said, “That’s it! That’s the book!” Part of me wants to blame myself for expecting a thrilling, suspenseful story with twists and turns, but I can’t really because that is how the book is marketed, and it’s really not that. There was so much build up between main character Korede and Muhtar and what came of that dynamic was basically nothing. I liked the hospital setting and the power dynamics between Korede and her colleagues. Definitely not something I’d recommend to someone wanting a mystery thriller, but I can understand the appeal with different expectations.
Hank Aaron: Home Run Hero Author: Jessica Morrison Publication Date: August 2010 Genre: biography Method: hardback, borrowed from TPL
Review: A quick read about one of the greatest ball players of all time, Hank Aaron. Picked up this up after Hammerin’ Hank’s passing on January 22, 2021. Could I have just skimmed the Wikipedia page to learn about his life and legacy? Sure. But where is the fun in that?
Review: Oof, that sure was labor intensive to read. Well written, well researched, but dense. I found I could only read about 30 pages a day or so. As I got about a third of the way through, I started skimming or skipping the chapters on the Mexican drug cartels completely, those chapters felt the most repetitive. My favorite chapters focused in on pain science, health care, and big pharma. Definitely interested in reading more about John Bonica, pro wrestler turned anesthesiologist who opened America’s first pain clinic in 1960 at the University of Washington School of Medicine. It was his successors who expanded the clinic to include occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, and others to treat and manage pain with a multidisciplinary and bio-psycho-social approach. I conclude with a quote that perfectly sums up my frustrations working as a skilled nursing home physical therapist, “Nobody thinks those things are of value. Talk therapy is reimbursed at fifteen dollars an hour. But for me to stick a needle in you I can get eight hundred to five thousand dollars. The system values things that aren’t only not helpful but sometimes hurtful to patients. Science has shown things to have worked and the insurance companies won’t pay for them.” Buzzword Readathon: January selection
Big Dreams Daily Joys Author: Elise Blaha Cripe Publication Date: December 2019 Genre: nonfiction, self help Method: paperback, my collection
Review: As a long time fan of Elise’s Instagram presence and her many creative projects and endeavors, I’m not surprised in the slightest by the high quality and practicality of this book. Elise has a way of delivering advice, inspiration, and message in a way that is digestible, achievable, and actionable. Happy to have lots of highlighted paragraphs and underlined sentences to refer back to throughout the year! Buzzword Readathon: January selection
For the year of 2021, scheduling time off for weddings, weekend getaways, short trip to Nebraska in October, purchasing our first home, financial successes
News coverage regarding the attack on The Capitol, Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Booktube’s favorite books of 2020, beauty Youtube’s 2020 favorites, news regarding Reddit’s impact of GameStop stock
Romaine salads with weird toppings like green beans, hash browns, chicken sausage with ranch and/or barbeque sauce, various chilis and soups, taco salads, pork carnitas stuffed sweet potatoes, potato crusted frittata, hot cocoa cinnamon rolls with marshmallow icing
Afternoon appetizer’s at Manhattan’s Pub ‘n Cheer to celebrate coworker’s last day
MAAANGO! IPA and Azaccazilla Hazy IPA from Zipline Brewing Co., iced black coffee with occasional coconut milk from Biggby
Home interiors and inspiration, mid century modern design, ideas for book bullet journaling, chocolate, peanut butter, and coffee desserts, monthly habit trackers, beautiful home libraries
To the library 2-4 times/week to pick up new books, Kroger about once a week, Biggby like 2-3 times/week still sipping on that iced coffee, a few neighborhood walks (it’s still way too cold)
Listening to audiobooks during my daily work commute, Toledo Public Library, buddy reading sci fi with my brother, Bernie Sanders inauguration sensible mitten meme (linked here)
Embarrassed to be an American with the attacks against our Nation’s Capitol, pissed off by a 2% wage cut, empowered to negotiate a better rate, I thought I’d feel proud when I argued a higher rate but I felt kinda slime-y inside, but I also hate management of the companies I work for so screw you
Second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, Cleveland Brown’s winning season 12-6 and play off appearance, preliminary steps for getting pre-approved for a mortgage, successful negotiation for a $3/hour raise (“During a panny? A panorama? During a Patricia? In this ECONOMY” source here)
Online CEU: Imaging in Physical Therapy Practice: Medical Screening & Integration with Clinical Decision‐Making, about the life and legacy of Hank Aaron, how to purchase a home as a first time home buyer
My own mental health and well being, creating boundaries and upholding them, choosing not to overextend myself for a company that doesn’t outwardly express gratitude for my flexibility, dedication, skill, and reliability – we aren’t here for that in 2021 hunny
Board games and card games with Christmas money, domain name for this blog, candle from Handzy Shop + Studio and sent to California as a late Christmas gift, maid of honor dresses from Lulu’s for May wedding