It’s the time again!

Being on contract working in Alaska at at sea most of the time, I haven’t been able to keep up with blogging as much as I would have liked to recently, so I don’t feel I have enough posts this month’s to select my top five posts, sorry! They’re all great.

Science, sustainability and veganism

Travel destinations

Lifestyle, blogging and entertainment

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

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I saw this post a few months ago from LaLa’s Book Reviews and was inspired to make one of my own so you guys don’t forget about me while I’m on assignment.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (memoir): My aunt got this for me as a Christmas gift and sounds right up my alley. Plus, there’s a Border collie on the cover!

Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The by John Boyne (historical fiction, young adult)

Columbine by Dave Cullen (non-fiction): It’s amazing (in the worst way possible) how nothing has changed with gun laws in 20 years. This book is known to be extremely accurate in debunking myths surrounding the events and it’s important to be knowledgeable on the subject as it’s often brought up in gun law debates.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (fiction)

Everything I Never Told You by Tara Celeste Ng (fiction)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (fiction, classics)

Guns, Germs and Steel… by Jared Diamond (non-fiction): I’ve read a few of his other books and really like his style.

Humans, The by Matt Haig (science fiction)

I am Legend by Richard Matheson (science fiction, horror)

Kite Runner, The by Khaled Hosseni

Library Book, The by Susan Orlean (non-fiction, true crime)

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen (memoir)

New Jim Crow, The… by Michelle Alexander (non-fiction)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (fiction, classic)

Prayer for Owen Meany, A by John Iriving (fiction): My grandma’s all-time favorite book.

Red Tent, The by Anita Diamant (historical fiction)

Salt to the Seaoke Gets in Your Eyes… by Ruta Sepetys (historical fiction)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (historical fiction): I think I bought this ages ago on a Kindle sale…

Under the Banner of Heaven… by John Krakauer (non-fiction)

Verity by Colleen Hoover (romance, thriller)

Wild… by Cheryl Strayed (memior)

You by Caroline Kepnes (thriller)

Photo by Cristina Gottardi.

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Time for another catch-up!

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

91twTG-CQ8LRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 4.12 / 5 (376,600 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 30/06 – 05/07

Summary: When a local family attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts single mother and artist Mia and (for lack of better words) tight-ass Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past.

Thoughts: I absolutely loved this. It was so well-written and kept me on my toes. Although it was written in a third person point of view, it did a magnificent job of portraying introspection in all the characters and their development. It gave so many different perspectives on the same storyline which is the actual reality of human experience.

Other adaptations: Let’s be honest, everything Reese Witherspoon touches turns into gold. I’m excited for the mini series coming out in 2020.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

61o7LypwE3L-695x1052Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.00 / 5 (114,700 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (purchased from The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, California)

Date started/ finished: 07/07 – 11/07

Summary: When a model becomes disfigured and incapable of speech, she earns the help  of beauty queen Brandy Alexander to reinvent herself.

Thoughts: Is it possible to have too many twists? The first one or two I was shocked, but for the rest, it became boring. Being shocking just for the purpose of being shocking isn’t always… well, shocking. Plus, I have some issues with the writing. First, he goes out of his way to be “fake deep”, which I’ve talked a bit about with John Green. I understand this is a fiction book, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to relate to the characters. The characters were completely unrealistic and left me thinking, “Who is actually like this?” For example, this one character got a complete sex change because they thought it was the thing that they wanted the least and doing so would build character. Say what? This was fine for edgy 16-year-old me who thought liking Fight Club made me interesting, but now, I want plausible character development.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

81iybqipDiLRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, death

GoodReads rating: 4.17 / 5 (38,000 ratings)

Medium used: Hardback (purchased from The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, California)

Date started/ finished: 13/07 – 21/07

Summary: Mortician Caitlin shares the story of her relationship with death from seeing a fatal fall at a young age to working at a famous funeral home to her own contemplation of suicide. This is a raw and informative yet humorous memoir of a woman I’ve come to admire a lot.

Thoughts: I seriously cannot get enough of Caitlin. I love her YouTube channel, I love her podcast and now I’m all caught up on her books. This was her first book (her second being From Here to Eternity…) and it was magnificent. I laughed, I cried and I am grateful Caitlin is so open about her experiences with death, it’s really inspiring.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

9780679755265_p0_v1_s1200x630Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, young adult, classic

GoodReads rating: 3.62 / 5 (107,800 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 22/07

Summary: “The story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.”

Thoughts: I thought this was okay. A quick read and you get to say you read it, but nothing that particularly stuck with me.

Other adaptations: There is an independent movie I couldn’t find much information on.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

51F+e7mWnhLRating: ★★★½

Genre: Romance, historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.08 / 5 (1,256,600 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 24/07 – 30/07

Summary: Cornell veterinary student Jacob is orphaned and left penniless when he joins the circus as a menagerie man. Jacob falls madly in love with performer Marlena while trying to conceal it from her husband unstable, August. When the Benzini Bros. obtain an elephant, the pressure is on to make her perform or go belly up like many other productions during the Great Depression.

Thoughts: I hate instalove. That’s my main beef with this book. It seems more like lust than anything because they barely exchanged twenty words before they end up together. Marlena is a terribly boring character in the book and everything Jacob sacrifices for her just doesn’t add up. However, I loved the setting and the climax was gag-worthy. Any other animal lovers out there crease every time they called a female elephant a bull, or was it just me?

Other adaptations: Dare I say it? The movie is better. This has only been the case for one other book I’ve reviewed: Jurassic Park. Although it differs from the book a bit in the plot, the end result is the same and the characters are much more believable in the movie. Christoph Waltz is August through and through and does an amazing job portraying this charming yet chilling character. The interactions with Marlena and Jacob are much more meaningful in the movie and actually had me rooting for them to be together. Not to mention, the setting of the book is made even more spectacular on the screen.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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As I mentioned in my June In Review post, my boyfriend Diego visited before I set off to work. With the week we had left, we hung out with my family in Tucson, visited La Jolla beach in San Diego (so many sea lions!) and we took our last few days together to unwind.

On the 7th, we both left: him back to Brighton and me to Seattle. For three weeks, I trained for my new job and spent some time exploring Seattle. I love Seattle, I’d love to live there someday, perhaps still working for N.O.A.A.

I requested my contract be delayed a few days so I could see my dad and brother on their roadtrip and that worked out swimmingly, especially since my coworkers who left first were delayed several days in Anchorage anyway.

I arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska a few days ago and it is beautiful here. There are bald eagles everywhere you look and humpback whales are really active in the bay. I love enjoying a nice drink and looking out on the water.

Today, I got my boat assignment and crossed paths with the departing observer who gave me some good tips. Although it’s an easy assignment, there’s no Internet, ugh! Luckily, the trips are only a couple days at a time so I can still blog when we are docked.

July in Review 2018 || July in Review 2017 || July in Review 2016

What I’ve been listening to: Modern Ruin by Frank Carter, Balance, Not Symmetry by Biffy Clyro, It’s Not Me, It’s You by Lily Allen, Cold Case files podcast

What I’ve been watching: 13th, Abducted In Plain Sight, Zodiac

What I’ve been reading: Check out my most recent Reading Wrap Up post for the most recent (another post coming soon!)

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Saturday, 13 July: The first weekend after class, I spent the day exploring downtown. Naturally, my first stop was Pike Place Market and the nearby gum wall. The market was quieter than an average weekend, but still bustling. I got some really good Greek food and people-watched. Then, I went to the famous gum wall and made my contribution. Much to my surprise, it was more spectacular than disgusting. That night, my roommates and I had a night out in Capitol Hill hitting Unicorn and Chop Suey, a club I’m sure I’ll become more familiar with in the future.

Thursday, 18 July: To take a break, I visited Kerry Park and took in the views of the city. It’s called “postcard park” for a reason…

Saturday, 20 July: In the morning, our bunkhouse manager took us gear shopping in town to get the supplies we need for the job that we can’t check out from headquarters such as our own raingear, boots and good knives. She also took us around the harbor to see some boats similar to the ones we’ll be on and talk about her experience as an observer, it was really helpful! Later that night, my roommate Leone and I saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at an outdoor screening in the park complete with street food and drinks. It was such a lovely evening.

Saturday, 27 July: Luckily, I got my assignment delayed so I can spend time with my dad and brother Kyle who were passing through Seattle on a northwest roadtrip! That afternoon, we hit Pike Place Market (a lot busier than when I was there and I got to flex my newly acquired fish identification knowledge), The Space Needle and Chihuly glass gardens. It was all spectacular, but the best part was seeing (part of) my family one more time before I headed out.

Sunday, 28 July: First thing in the morning, we took an underground tour of Seattle. Way back when, Seattle used to be what is now underground until new regulations and erosion called for a whole new city plan, leaving bits and pieces of what used to be shops underground. It was amazing, who knew Seattle had such an interesting history?! While my dad and Kyle went to a Mariner’s game, I went to Lake Washington with some friends. Nothing like swimming in the hot sun, drinking White Claws and shooting the shit with people you’ve come to know and love (for the most post). After the baseball game, we met in town for harbor tour, learning even more about the city’s past and present.

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