July Thoughts & Wrap Up

Well, July is over… where has the time gone?! I wanted to write a bit about the month since it was a pretty intense roller coaster.

I haven’t talked much about my life outside of this blog so here’s a bit of an introduction to what my life is right now. My name is Paulina, I am 32 years old, and I work as a scientist for a biotech company. I just bought a house with my parents so I live with them and my sister, who is currently in college. Since March 2020, due to the pandemic, my work is fully remote, so I am pretty much home all the time, which is great for reading! I also have a cat named Seiko who is my reading buddy and loves the fact that I’m sitting around reading and chilling when I’m not at my desk working.

Me! In my Cat PJs!

So this month there were a lot of changes at work and also a lot of deadlines. I am so grateful that my coworkers are such a great team to work with, even when facing a big deadline full of complex work. Because of all this I definitely had to be good about setting boundaries and setting time aside for basics like exercise, reading, good food, hydrating, etc. I can’t say I was completely successful everyday since I did have trouble sleeping some nights since my anxiety would bubble up some days.

My anxiety isn’t all about work of course, as a new homeowner (wow still feels weird saying that!) I am figuring out what it means to maintain a house, from the plumbing to the landscaping, it’s a lot! Of course, I get to do that with my family and, while we tend to agree on most of these decisions, it’s still a whole other part of my life that’s new to me so it brings me quite a bit of uncertainty at times.

Social interactions in person are very few right now. We are in a pandemic and, while my family is all vaccinated, we are still taking all precautions possible. This is not just for our own well-being, but we also recognize that there are people out there who can’t get vaccinated due to health reasons or because they are children who can’t get vaccinated yet. I also think of all the people in other countries where they don’t have enough vaccines, or where their governments haven’t been good about managing the distribution of the vaccines. I strongly believe that we can’t get past this era of pandemics if we don’t think of the rest of the world. (Add that to my mental stress!)

But not all is bad and anxiety inducing! I have been having a great time diving back into books and connecting with people online. There are now three book clubs that I participate in, and one long buddy read, that have definitely kept me happily reading. One is with friends I know in real life but live far away in Mexico and Canada and it has been great to chat with them every Sunday about books I never would have picked myself! We tend to pick books that are very interesting but could be either a hit or miss, which is great for this group. Another is with people I did not know previous to joining but we are all alumni who received the Questbridge scholarship. These are such great discussions of just excellent books and I’ve definitely made some new friends in this group. The third is much bigger with the Feminist Book Club subscription box and we get to join Q&As with authors of really diverse books as well as have zoom chats with other members of the club. While I don’t personally know all the members, it’s so great to meet with people online and chat about important topics like gender, social issues, activism, and life in general.

So, while July was stressful and busy, I had great ups to balance the stress. I managed to read 5 books:

  • Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: I finally finished the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy! I had a lot of fun with it and I look forward to reading more romance, it’s a genre that I need to explore more for sure.
  • Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morato: This was not a great book but it was so much fun discussing it with my friends. I learned a lot from our conversations but not enough from the actual book to make me love it. Too bad!
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This was a heartbreaking story that gave me a lot of history along with a beautiful story. I gotta check out more of Hosseini’s books.
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Another romance book! These have really surprised me because I feel like they are more about the men than the women, which is quite interesting. I am overall enjoying the Bridgerton series and I look forward to reading the other books.
  • Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: Poetry is not normally in my bookshelves so it was great to read these poems inspired by fairy tales! I am now following Gill on Instagram and want to read more poetry this year!

All in all, a busy, productive, stressful, fun month! August is looking to continue to be busy at work and also fun with the book clubs. How did your July go? Are you excited for August and the peak of summer?

Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Okay these books are like candy! The second installment in the Bridgerton series dives into Anthony’s journey as he decides that he will marry in the season of 1814. As with the first installment, this man has particular conditions when he finally decides he will get married. In the first one Simon did not want to have children and in this one Anthony does not want to fall in love. I am becoming more convinced that these books are not, at their core, about the women or the romance, they are about the men, their fears, how they attempt to overcome their illogical “rules” for marriage, and in the end grow up (do they? kinda!)

Anthony has a fear of death and has this idea that if he is going to die AND he is in love with his wife, he will suffer every day until he dies. And so, he looks for a wife who is pretty and with whom he can have conversations, and that’s it. He comes to the conclusion that he will marry Edwina Sheffield, a beautiful woman on her first season, who doesn’t have a lot of money and has the pressure of marrying well in order to provide for her mother and older sister. Her older sister is Katharine Sheffield, she’s not as pretty but she is very independent and always puts a strong front even though she is very self-conscious of her position and looks. Edwina loves her older sister so much that she tells the ton that she will only marry someone who Katharine approves of, which means that now Katharine is showered with attention from all of Edwina’s suitors.

Enter Anthony who is certain that Edwina will be his wife and, well, because of his position and his looks he sees zero chances of this not happening. However, he will have to win Katharine’s approval if he wishes to marry Edwina. Their interactions are funny, but also made me cringe at times. (Gosh Anthony, can you be more entitled?) It seemed like this plot was more driven by fate than the character’s decisions. I suppose that because it is set in regency times that is just the social contract that they are bound to. However, I did enjoy that Edwina wanted to marry a scholar, someone who loves books and learning and that that was something that was appreciated by her family.

All in all, a book to escape and forget about ALL.THE.THINGS. I did want more about the rest of the Bridgerton family, especially Eloise so I hope there’s more about them in the following books.

Have you read these books? What do you think these books are truly about?

July Reading Plans

So in June I read 6 books, among them a memoir, an essay collection, YA, and even some comics! What will July have in store for me?

So I took a look at my Goodreads reading challenge, which I had already increased from 12 to 30 back in March, and now that my reading pace has picked up I will increase it to 50 since I’m already at 25 books!

I’m not forcing myself to finish books before the end of the month or waiting until the next month to start others that were not listed in my previous TBR. Reading as the mood strikes, following the flow of my reading has been really working for me. The only ones that I do have a set schedule for are the ones that I’m buddy reading or with the two (and a half) book clubs I’m in.

Let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:

  • The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still reading this! hahaha It will be in these posts for the foreseeable future. As I previously mentioned, this book is about a flu pandemic, people are dying left and right and something supernatural is starting to happen now. There is the theme of dreaming now in the novel, which is super interesting, I’m on page 345.
  • Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: We are still reading about the various queens in this sort of gossipy style that Morató has (which I’m not a fan of…) So far the stories of each empress/queen have varied in writing quality so it’s a hit or miss. Right now I’m on page 306, reading about Eugénie de Montijo who is super interesting. I think that this one is my favorite story so far (even if it’s still TMZ-style).
  • Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and I just started it a few days ago but I’m so into it! Now this is full of gossip, satire, and so so fun! I expect to be done with this one pretty soon.
  • The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I juuuust started this last week and, while it is a comic collection, it is giant! I am on page 149 and I love the art style. I will share some of my favorite pages in my review once I finish it.

Then there are the books I’m planning on starting this month and reading in between the book club books:

  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Continuing my journey through the Bridgerton series I’ll be reading Anthony’s story next!
  • Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The complete short story collection that was selected as the book to read from my Want To Read list cleanup post last month. I’m excited about diving into these short stories! I might or might not finish these within the month, we’ll see how it goes.
  • Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: This was the pick of the month for the Feminist Book Club, it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s not pictured above. This is the half a book club I mentioned above since, while I do try to get to the book of the month each time I’m not pushing myself to finish it before the Q&A with the author as much since I normally can’t make the live chats. I’m excited about this book because it is a combination of poetry and prose about fairy tales. I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings so I’m looking forward to reading this book.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of July. I’ve previously read The Kite Runner and I really loved that book so I hope that this one is also as great! This book focuses on a story told over two generations about characters in Afghanistan. There’s friendship, heartbreak, and rich history throughout this book so it’s bound to be a great read for the book club.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: The second installment in the Legacy of Orïsha series has been on my bookshelves unread for far too long! In the first book, Children of Blood and Bone, we follow Zelie as she goes on a quest to return magic to people who have had their magic taken away. I really enjoyed the first book so I’m hoping that the second book lives up to my expectations.
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I wanted to add a non-fiction book to July and Just Mercy was just calling my name. This book is a memoir about Stevenson’s journey as he works on one of his first cases as a lawyer where Walter McMillan is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It promises to be a very compelling and emotional read, especially following The New Jim Crow, which I read in June. There is also a movie that came out in 2019 so I will probably watch that after I read the book.

Overall, July promises to be a fun month full of great reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to read outside a bit (not the Sandman Omnibus of course XD) and catch some sun this summer. Maybe I’ll even venture a trip to the park or the beach just for reading, as long as it’s not too hot here in SoCal. What are you reading in July? Have you read any of the books in my reading plans? If so, what did you think?