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    Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley *****

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    It would seem this book is either a retelling/reimagining of another book called “Jamaica Inn,” or at least inspired by it. I’ve never heard of, or read, Jamaica Inn, but I can tell you that if it is half as good as Skyward Inn it is very good indeed.

    I haven’t read a really good sci-fi book in awhile (I’ve been stuck on mysteries as of late, so I haven’t read much sci-fi in general to be honest) and Skyward Inn hit the spot. It is one of those small stories that gives you tantalizing glimpses into a much, much bigger world the author has hidden away just around the corner.

    I didn’t see the end of the book coming, but I suppose I should warn folks that it does involve some “body horror” so if that’s not your cup of tea you should skip this book.

    Everyone else should pick it up and then open it to the first page and scan the words with your eyes… well, you know how to read!

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  • Sometimes I despair and think that civilization is collapsing…

    And then I remember that civilization is in a constant state of collapse.

    That makes me feel better.

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  • C.D.C. Eases Covid Guidelines, Noting Virus is ‘Here to Stay’

    But the pandemic was not over, they noted, and more stringent measures may be needed in the event of new variants or future surges.

    C.D.C. Eases Covid Guidelines, Noting Virus is ‘Here to Stay’ – The New York Times

    Here’s the problem: people aren’t willing to be sensible and take measures when cases are spiking. They want this to be over, which I understand, but it isn’t.

    Just stay 6 feet away from me. 😉

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    A Bitter Feast by S.J. Rozan ****

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I should start off by saying that I’m not Chinese, and neither is S.J. Rozan. However, S.J. Rozan writes a mystery series, of which Bitter Feast is the 5th entry, that features two narrators who switch off as the lead character in each book: a white guy named Bill Smith and a young Chinese American woman called Lydia Chin.

    Large chunks of these books deal with the Chinese American experience, and I can’t speak to the authenticity of that. I can, however, say that S.J. Rozan knows how to write, and Lydia and Bill are both great characters. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movie/tv series around them yet (perhaps something is in the works!).

    You could start reading the series with this entry, though it isn’t the easiest one to find… while the first book is pretty easy to pick up.

    Speaking of picking up, this book took a little bit to grab my attention, but once it did, I had to find out what was going to happen. And whether Lydia and Bill are going to accept their mutual attraction (not yet, but there are many more books in the series!).

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  • Post-pandemic?

    Ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses similar to COVID-19 which became pandemic. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under US law this image is copyright free, please credit the government department whenever you can”.

    Whenever I hear/read someone say “post-pandemic,” I resist the very strong urge to say, “We’re still in a pandemic; there’s no post about it!”

    Clearly, I’m in the minority in thinking the pandemic is still happening. The world is increasingly ready to move on, which is on top of my mind because my employer sent an email today about COVID-19 protocols for the coming semester, and they are… light.

    Frankly, I had been expecting this level of COVID precautions, I’m not foolish! When I’m out and about I’m seeing fewer and fewer people who are masked (correctly or incorrectly!). Even when I visit the office I’m one of the few (and sometimes the only person) still masking indoors (I use these masks, so I’m ok with folks not masking… though I marvel at how everyone has vastly different risk assessments). The writing has been on the wall for a while, but it did get me thinking: when does a pandemic end?

    Bob Grant, the editor-in-chief of The Scientist, had the same question and used it to pen an editorial wondering if there would be an exact end to the Pandemic. An email from the World Health Organization answered the question quite succinctly:

    “A pandemic is a characterization of a disease in view of its geographical spread,” one of its press officers wrote to me this week. “The term carries no recognition under international law and there is no general, formal mechanism for declaring the beginning or end of a pandemic.” 

    Editorial: When Will This Pandemic Officially End? – Bob Grant

    Writing in the Lancet, Christopher J L Murray defines the pandemic as ” the extraordinary societal efforts over the past 2 years to respond to a new pathogen that have changed how individuals live their lives and how policy responses have developed in governments around the world” and concludes:

    The era of extraordinary measures by government and societies to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission will be over. After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return but the pandemic will not.

    COVID-19 will continue but the end of the pandemic is near – Christopher J L Murray

    Good thing we have a robust healthcare system

    As the world decides COVID is just a thing we can live with our household has also been opening up a little bit. We’ve had a babysitter come and watch the boys, attended several family events (mostly outdoors), and even had some folks over to the house (and I didn’t make everyone take a COVID rapid test, even though I wanted to!).

    Has it been nice? Of course! And I don’t want to wear a mask forever, though I do think it is a pretty easy thing to do to avoid getting sick (I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing a mask from now on when riding in public transportation or on a plane!). That being said, I’m still not ready to toss my mask into the ocean and start licking lampposts… but the boys will be starting a few days in preschool in September. We’ll be tossing them into that roiling Petri dish and we’ll see what emerges!

    Though, by that time they will be fully vaccinated which will make me feel much better.

    Anyway, it seems like everyone can just decide if the pandemic is over for them or not. Just like our governmental and public institutions. Just figure it out yourselves, people. It is the American way!

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  • The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd ****

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I don’t recall how I heard about this book, but I put a hold on it at the library and promptly forgot all about it. Then it arrived on my Kindle and I really didn’t know anything at all about it. I generally trust past Scott’s actions when books are involved (in other areas past Scott isn’t as trustworthy), so I jumped into reading it.

    This book starts off as a straightforward mystery that gets less straightforward and more fantastical as the story continues. I will admit that, other than the central concept that is introduced towards the middle of the book, the “surprises” in the book were pretty obvious.

    Now, I don’t know if the author was expecting the reader to have their mind blown by several reveals or if they just wanted the reader to be along for the ride. I, as a reader, was along for the ride but not shocked in anyway.

    The book is well written, and I enjoyed the main character so I would recommend it to folks! But as a mystery it was a bit disappointing.

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  • There are people who stop worrying?

    I’m doing a little mental health screening from Healthy Minds Philly because why not, and the above question has me… well, questioning everything! I worry all the time. Are there people that don’t? Should I worry less? Maybe I worry just the right amount… but what is the right amount?

    This question is very worrisome.

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  • We’re at the “meh, just ask around and see what people tell you” stage of pandemic information

    Instead, experts recommend using other ways to stay informed of your community’s Covid-19 risks: Check local news and tap into your social networks.

    Omicron BA.5 Surge: 5 Ways to Stay Safe – The New York Times

    Sigh. Am I the only one who finds this very disappointing?

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  • Chris Pine in a Gelatinous Cube

    Watch out, it’s a Gelatinous Cube! This 6-inch-scale collectible is compatible with D&D 6-Inch figures that can be posed out inside with the “invisible” stand. It includes 14 snap-in accessories to add to the scene. This cubic collector figure will probably look cool in your display, looking menacingly over your other Golden Archive figures. Figures each sold separately. Subject to availability.

    Dungeons & Dragons Golden Archive Gelatinous Cube – Hasbro Pulse

    What a world we live in! You can preorder Chris Pine in a gelatinous cube! I mean, why wouldn’t you?

    Though I have to say as much as I love the illustration on the box the actual toy looks a little underwhelming.

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