What. A. Week.
I expected January to be bleak, because it’s January, but in comes 2022, defying all expectations. To make a very long story short, we were put into quarantine after one of Sammy’s daycare teachers tested positive for COVID. When I tested Sammers the next morning, BAM. Blazing positive on the home test. (We had home tests because I am basically a Pandemic Preparedness Girl Scout.) We’ve spent the entire pandemic being among the most cautious people we know. The one risk we decided to take was to put Sam back into daycare (after 14 months of him being at home with me while I worked full time. Once the grown ups were vaccinated, we took the plunge.) Sam wore KF94 masks to school, and is a CHAMPION of keeping his mask on and over his nose. But- the kids had to eat and nap maskless, so we always knew there were risks. Sam promptly passed the bug on to me (yes, triple vaccinated moi), though it took several days of symptoms before my home test showed up positive (moral of that story? Right now, the sniffles are not just the sniffles. Stay home.) We were SO LUCKY that our symptoms were mild. Legitimately mild, not just “didn’t end up in the hospital” mild. But dang. We tried really hard to avoid this outcome. Alas. We’re now feeling better, we’re out of isolation, we stopped a chain of transmission in its tracks (suck it, OMICRON), and maybe we’ll be lucky enough for Sam’s natural immunity from this infection to last until he can get vaccinated. A GIRL CAN HOPE. Anyway. I read some books. Not as many as usual, but extenuating circumstances. Let’s talk about them.
Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau- I’ve mentioned before that I love my library right? I checked out the audio version of this book back in November, but didn’t get around to listening to it right away. Then it expired, and I had to put myself back on the waitlist so I could finish it (a pitfall of all library books, though usually I’m better about my timing.) Anyway. When I checked out the book again, it had saved EXACTLY where I left off so I didn’t have to go hunting for my place. A wonderful little perk. Anyway, I love Jackie Lau so much that I wasn’t even going to point out that the audio book narrators didn’t pronounce “Toronto” like native, uh, Torontans? Torontoites? Buuuuuuuut I’m proud of the fact that I noticed that despite being from Illinois so I’m just gonna be a pedant about it. The narrators both pronounced all the letters in “Toronto,” in this book, whereas the narrator of Blood Like Magic (review) said it like “Tronno” which is how the locals do it. (Authenticity points to Joniece Abbott-Pratt!) That said, this book was super cute! It had a celebrity baking competition and it’s relatively low-angst which is something I’ve come to love about Jackie Lau’s books. I mean, yes, there’s always some sort of obstacle to overcome, but there aren’t long drawn out chapters full of teeth gnashing and desperation, even though both main characters are dealing with their grief over lost parents. I don’t always want to have my soul pureed by the time I reach the HEA, OK? As with all of Lau’s work, this book is full of delicious food descriptions, many of which are prepared by our heroine as she runs a bakery. A movie star seeks baking lessons so he won’t look like a total banana head on his baking show, and love ensues. It’s very sweet. But if you’re not in the mood for sweet…
The Burning God by RF Kuang- OK y’all, I read this book specifically because I knew it was going to be a downer. When omicron rolled in and 2022 wasn’t looking too shiny I decided I’d lean into the sentiment and read something that matched my mood. I knew what to expect, of course, as this is the final installment of the series that kicked off with The Poppy War but whew. Rin saved her country from foreign invaders only to be betrayed by her allies and left for dead. As you can imagine, she’s not in the best mood about all that, and given that she can literally channel the God of Fire, that’s decidedly NOT GREAT for anyone in her path. She somehow cobbles together yet another army, ramshackle and half starved as it is so she can mete out vengeance. Honestly, this book needs just about every content warning that exists on planet earth, so if graphic violence, drug use, colonialism/foreign occupation, sexual assault, war, famine, starvation, cannibalism, or steampunk style airships disturb you deeply, this is not gonna be a series you want to tackle. Still, it feels like it was absolutely the right choice for my first book of 2022. If you’re in a place where you just want to wallow in the pits of despair, this is the series for you.
Alright my darlings, I’m off. I think I may just embrace the Lunar New Year for 2022 and pretend January was a part of 2021. Perhaps the Year of the Tiger has better things in store for us. Or it may rip our throats out. One never knows with tigers. Stay safe, wear good masks, and by golly if you’re not already vaccinated GO DO THAT RIGHT NOW.
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