End of First Term | The Road to Librarianship Pt. 2

I’ve fallen a little behind in updating on graduate school. I mean, let me be totally honest here… it’s actually A LOT more than I thought when I enrolled. Let’s break it down a little bit.

IST 511 or Intro to the Library Profession

This was a standard introductory course, but I actually loved it. I only had a few assignments, mostly thought pieces, so those were relatively easy. And most of the coursework was watching various videos (and TedTalks) and responding to the opinion and thought questions provided inside of the forums.

The real work was a group (read: partner) research project. This was actually really fun for me because I got to pick from a list of topics and my partner was actually incredible. During this research project I learned a lot about The Internet of Things (which is actually cool and so creepy) and it was really fun conducting the research and presenting to my classmates.

And then there was the absolute nerve-wrecking experience of giving a speech during the last class. The prompt? You’ve bumped into the hiring manager for your chosen workplace in the elevator. Pitch yourself within a minute to a minute and a half. This was awful for me for several reasons. I don’t like talking in front of people (even though I do it weekly) and I don’t like bragging about myself in front of people. Basically that was the assignment and I almost cried from relief when it was over.

Overall, this was my favorite class during first term. It was fun and my classmates were wonderful and the instructor is probably one of the most encouraging people I’ve ever met.

As far as grades go, I’m going to brag about myself (contradicting my previous sentiments) and tell you that I got a 99.25% in this class by missing 1 point total over the course of 11 weeks! I loved this one.

IST 605 or Reference and Information Literacy Services

Starting out with the good – I learned a lot in this class. It was interesting to see different kinds of inquiries I might encounter as the reference desk librarian. I enjoyed practicing reference interviews with my classmates and I enjoyed working on my massive portfolio that was the main focus of this course.

Here’s the problem – the whole class, in its entirety, was worth a grand total of 100 points. This left little room for error.

Basically, the class was broken down into different segments of the portfolio. Every week or so there was a draft of a specific section of the final portfolio due. For example, the first draft due was of the reference transaction transcript. It was nice to turn these drafts in because the instructor was able to provide feedback to help get you through to the final.

My favorite part of this class was the research. God, I sound like such a frickin nerd. It was fun researching because I knew that my husband – I based my reference scenario around him – would be able to use my research someday when he starts his business.

Anyway, my portfolio ended up being 53 pages. It was legitimately (no joke) single spaced too. I, again, almost cried from relief when I turned it in.

This class brought my GPA down from a 4.0. I didn’t do as well on the portfolio as I had hoped and I missed a love class because of an unexpected head cold. In all, I lost a total of 7 points in this class which brought my grade down to a 93%. This, unfortunately, is an A- by Syracuse’s grading scale.

First Term is finished though!

I was a nervous wreck my entire first term. I had major anxiety about all of my coursework, largely the portfolio for 605. I contemplated dropping out while waiting for my instructors to submit my final grades because I just didn’t feel smart enough to be among all of the smart people in my classes.

So I really beat myself up first quarter. For no reason really. This is a form of anxiety for me, but I’m pressing forward. It’s still too early in the game for me to find an internship or job in a library, but I’m hopeful that by the end of third term I can.

It’s now the end of the second week of second quarter for me. I’m in a Management class and another literacy class (this one focuses on children). So far, so good but I’ll be talking about these classes more in depth around week 8. 🙂

Let’s chat!

School anxiety is such a real thing for me. It’s cyclical too. I sit in my office and think nonstop about grades and classes and when the term ends I switch to new teachers and new classmates and spiral out of control. Is there anyone else out there in the same boat as me? How do you cope? I’m honestly trying everything I can think of, but it’s so hard sometimes to come out of that funk.

Thanks for reading!

PS – I am already UNBELIEVABLY busy and term is only two weeks in. Send help.

Book Review | More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I fell into a reading slump at the end of my first term of library school. I was stressed about my portfolio – which I’ll be writing about later this week – and worried that I wasn’t good enough to make it through my remaining 5 terms.

This is the vicious cycle my anxiety takes me through. I’m anxious because of school and I’m anxious without school because I’m anxious about grades and new terms and meeting new professors and classmates. It’s endlessly draining.

So when I fall into a slump like this, I always find it best to turn to an author I know I love.

When I discovered Mr. Silvera’s writing, it was not through his debut novel – it was, in fact, through the much raved about They Both Die at the End. I saw it on sale, picked it up, and discovered a new favorite author.

Until recently, Silvera’s other two novels have been sitting on my TBR cart – patiently waiting for my cycle of anxiety to bring me back.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx. 

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Delayed Flight = More Time to Read

This was one of two books I took on my weekend trip to DC to visit my bestie, her daughter, and her dog. The night I left, my flight was severely delayed. The flight was only two hours, but I was stuck at the airport for an extra hour while I waited for my flight to depart. Weather always takes its toll on my plans when I’m flying, haha.

I decided to make the most of this though. Knowing I wouldn’t get much reading done on the plane because the delay reset my departure for close to sunset in inclement weather, I sat my butt down by my gate and read about 75 pages in one sitting.

Yinz… I was hooked.

Character Development

You all know I love a good character description, but the thing I love most about Mr. Silvera’s writing is I don’t need to know what the characters look like to feel connected to them. Immediately, I felt a connection to Aaron that I can’t really explain. He’s just so damn likeable.

Even the characters you’re not meant to like (i.e. Brendan, Me-Crazy) are so well developed. The book is really character driven and I love that about Silvera’s writing. The plot is important, but all of his characters drive the plot along so well.

The Tough Stuff

Look, reading books that deal with suicide and depression are really hard for me – I’m sure they are for most people. But when I got to the third part of this book, I had to take a break from reading before I full on wept in front of a full plane of people. This book is heartbreakingly devastating and I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading for very long. Even through the tough parts of this book, I kept wanting a happy ending for Aaron, Gen, and Thomas.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it was devastating. This seems to be a running theme in Silvera’s writing.

A Mandatory Read

Yes, you read that right. I’m just going to come right out and say it – if I were teaching English today, I would make this book mandatory for sophomores to read. I don’t care if it’s curriculum or not – THIS WOULD be on my summer reading list for my students.

The thing about this is, I don’t care WHO or WHAT you are, this book teaches about acceptance. Not just of people who are different than you, but it teaches you the importance of accepting yourself for WHO YOU ARE and that is something I see a lack of in a lot of YA I’ve read.

But Did I Cry

No. It was close though. Had I been in the comfort of my own home, I would have straight up bawled my eyes out. I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to sob into a paperback on a plane quite yet.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was another great contemporary. I’m so happy to have finally read it and I can’t wait for the day I can discuss it with my children.

Let’s Chat!

When’s the last time you flew somewhere? Are you as unlucky as me when it comes to flights being delayed? Which of Adam Silvera’s books is your favorite? Leave me a comment so we can chat!

Book Review | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

There’s just something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing that makes me so happy. I loved Eleanor and Park (can’t believe we’re getting a movie) and that in itself prompted me to pick up more works from the author.

Fangirl was not high on my list of Rowell books to read though. Fanfiction really isn’t my thing – I’ve read one fanfiction series and cringed hard – so I wasn’t really tempted to pick this up.

But I found a copy of Fangirl for a really good price at Half Price Books and thought “why not?” I couldn’t find any other Rainbow Rowell books while shopping, so I grabbed a copy of this and put it on the backburner for months.

And then I read (and disliked) The Spectacular Now and knew I needed to pick something that would quickly engross me. Fangirl had been sitting in my book cart since I purchased it and something about the cover called out to me.

I finally read it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Levi + Cath

Since Cath’s relationships seem to be a forerunner of this novel, I wanted to talk about Cath and Levi first. From the moment we’re introduced to him, I suspected he would be a love interest. It was not an unexpected surprise that they ended up together to me.

Honestly, I felt like Levi was the perfect love interest for Cath from the moment we met him. He’s sweet and funny and so supportive of Cath. That she would believe he was dating her roommate was really funny to me because I thought it was so obvious he cared for Cath. I really, genuinely, loved Levi.

Cath + Wren

Ugh. Twins? Cool. Named Cather and Wren – WHY?

I didn’t mind the twin thing. Honestly, Cath and Wren might be my favorite twins since the Weasleys. I did mind that Wren was an absolute jerk to Cath for a large portion of the book. I get it, but I’m still mad about it.

Mental Health, Writing Relationships, and More!

As a young woman who has struggled with anxiety her whole life, it made me happy to read a book that centers around mental health – particularly mental health in college aged students. Mainly my anxiety started to manifest when I went away to college – change is especially difficult when managing my anxiety so reading about Cath and her issues with her mental health made her feel incredibly real to me.

Also, what the heck was the deal with Nick? I’m so confused about his character. He was developed and not important enough to get more about him, but I’m curious about why he is the way he is.

Regan was probably my favorite in how she dealt with Cath. Sometimes we all need an abrasive friend to get us out of our shells (Ryan, if you’re reading, you’re that friend!). I loved the dynamic between these two because the friendship seemed so unlikely – in the very best way.

Concluding Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell certainly is one of my favorite writers. Something about the way she writes helps the characters feel so real. She leaves me wanting more from the characters and I feel sad when her books are over and I know there’s no sequel. Honestly, I feel like as long as she publishes books, I’ll be over here devouring them. Her writing is so dang compelling to me.

In essence, I loved this. It was sweet, smart, and engaging. Relatable on a level I didn’t expect. Honestly, I am Cath, Cath is me.

I didn’t even mind the snippets of fanfiction…

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

Let’s Chat!

What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book? How about your favorite character from Rowell’s work? Let me know in a comment.

So far my favorite has been Eleanor and Park with Park as my favorite character. Cath is a close second!

Book Review | The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Books can often sit on my TBR for years before I reach for them. I decided to pick up The Spectacular Now when I saw the movie adaptation on Netflix. I wanted to go into my reading experience blind, so I did not watch the movie until after I finished the book (I still haven’t, actually).

I have some thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Miles Teller’s Voice

This is the weirdest part of the review – I promise. The whole time I was reading this book, I could hear Miles Teller’s voice. I know I kept picturing Miles as Sutter because I know he plays Sutter in the film adaptation. It’s weird because at time of writing this part of the review (and at time of reading the book and writing this review) I haven’t seen the movie….

What was the point?

Honestly, this is my biggest qualm with the book. I enjoyed the writing, but when I finished, I was a little confused about what the point the author was driving home was. It seemed… pointless. This is fine, but I take issue with it because this book was a National Book Award finalist. I’d like to understand why. I mean, I get it…

Normally, as a book draws nearer to the end, I feel sad – I couldn’t have been happier to finish this book. I legitimately DID NOT get the point the author was trying to drive home. All I could really see, surface level, was the teenage boy from high school who doesn’t care about anything but drinking and smoking weed. The book honestly made me super sad.

Body image

You might be thinking, “Brittany, why are you bringing up body image on a male narrated book?” Well, reader, I’m bringing it up because I HATED that Sutter kept pointing out that his (ex) girlfriend was fat. Like, he literally references the size of Cassidy almost every time he mentions her and it got on my last nerve.

I didn’t expect this to be such a trigger for me, to be frank. But I just can’t get on board with a male author and male narrator pointing out a woman’s weight every time she’s mentioned. I wanted more about Cassidy (hell, Aimee for that matter) than body or image types. I wanted more about their character – not their physical appearances. Personalities matter too, y’all!

Concluding thoughts

Remember #probablynotforme? This probably fits the bill for that. I think I hated this book. Not quite bane of my existence level hatred, but I did not enjoy this and can’t see myself reaching for another Tim Tharp novel anytime soon. I did enjoy the writing style, but found the characters SO damn annoying; I couldn’t look past this!

Rating: 🌟🌟

Let’s chat!

Did you read The Spectacular Now? Maybe you’ve seen the film… In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!

The Overwhelming Book Sale

As a bookfluencer(™) *cringes*, book lover, and overall hoarder of books, it is important to me that I get good deals on my collection. See, the thing is, I’m not just buying books for myself. I also like to buy books for my children, my husband, and I look for books to donate to a local veteran foundation. Obtaining a deal on books is an essential part of me maintaining my budget, too.

Recently, my mother-in-law and I decided to head up to Milwaukee for a huge Half Price Books blowout sale. Everything – literally everything, including vinyls – was $2.00 or less. Honestly, it would have been foolish NOT to go to this sale.

The thing is, it was actually really overwhelming. Let me paint a picture for you.

You walk into a big warehouse on the fairgrounds. There are hundreds of people swarming tables of books, flocking to sections with carts, baskets, bags, and strollers. There is limited room between each table; as you approach and get a closer look at the table, you notice there is no real organization to the tables. Books are scattered across every available surface and there are boxes filled with more books under every table. The closer you get to the section you want, the more you notice the lack of organization. You find a children’s chapter book mixed in with young adult novels. You start to wonder “how will I find what I’m looking for?”

The more you browse, the more foolish you feel for having brought a list with you, so you stuff your list into your pocket and just go for it.

Clear enough picture? Regardless, I’m still going to explain why exactly this book sale was overwhelming.

Alphabetization

Have you ever been to a HPB store? If you have, you no doubt know their books are organized alphabetically by author’s last name and also by genre. At this book sale, they tried to clump books together into categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fiction, History), but they did not attempt to group anything together. As I browsed through the YA section, I kept stumbling upon children’s chapter books (i.e. Junie B. Jones, Ramona and Beezus, etc) which was simultaneously frustrating and delightful.

It was frustrating because I was browsing YA for specific titles, but couldn’t find anything I was really looking for specifically because there was no sort of organization. I’m not looking for alphabetization, but I would have loved if books were actually grouped together by topic. For instance, I found several Cassie Clare books spread across 6 different tables. Just. Put. Them. All. Together.

The main reason I wasn’t furious about the children’s chapter books mixed in is that I was able to find some of my childhood favorites mixed into the bunch.

People, people, people

I am the type of person who is easily affected by others. Meaning, the actions of a few people can potentially ruin my day simply because I let them. There was two women at this book sale who had the potential to ruin my day. Let me explain why…

I had a cart, but I am the type of person who is courteous of others and aware of myself and others situationally. I kept my cart out of other people’s ways and I made sure I wasn’t blocking anyone’s paths constantly. However, there was one person who approached me, cart stacked to the brim with books. They looked me right in the eye and said, “Could you move, please?” I was pretty taken aback by the brusqueness of the question – why would they not just say “excuse me?” Of course, I moved, but I was really frustrated at that point.

The second encounter with a person was, yet again, odd. Like I said, I try to stay aware in situations like this – maybe that’s the military in me? – but when I noticed this woman, I knew I’d have to pay close attention. She was walking up and down the tables of books, not even paying attention to other people. This person very nearly walked directly into me. As a situationally aware person, I don’t ever understand how people can be so unaware of other people (or themselves for that matter) that they’d be able to almost knock into someone, but here we are.

The Haul

I will not be sharing my haul here. I will, however, let you in on how many books I bought and how much I spent. I ended up buying two reusable bags – which added to my total (they were $1.00 each) and I got one book for free because I donated a can of food to the event and received a coupon. In total, I spent $54 and some change – two books I bought were for my mother-in-law (to make up for her paying for parking) and one book was for my husband to decide what to do with (a history book on “great” battles). The rest of my haul, XX books in total, were books for myself and my children to enjoy.

A haul video will go up relatively soon if you’re interested in that, so stay tuned.

Overall…

I didn’t hate my time at this book sale, I just felt anxious and overwhelmed for most of the time. I could have found more books if I hadn’t felt so anxious and overwhelmed, but I’m happy with what I did find. We spent 2 hours at the sale and both walked away with hefty amounts of books.

Let’s chat!

Can you describe your worst book buying experience? Maybe it was at a sale similar to this one. Share a story in the comments!

Book Review | The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Yikes. That’s all I can say, y’all.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

Where the hell was Noah?

Hodkin lead us to believe for 95% of the final installment of Mara’s chapter that Noah was dead. I didn’t believe it, and (SPOILER) I was right, but seriously. Where the hell was he? She never really explains to us where he was the whole time – and maybe I’m mad out of turn and that’s the whole point of The Shaw Confessions – but seriously if that’s the case how is him being missing for Mara’s last book going to be drawn out into another trilogy?

I’m mad because I actually like Noah and I wanted to get more of his character to really hone my opinion of him! I get that this was necessary, but like, let a girl know WHAT he is doing while he is missing and HOW he ended up being missing in the first place. Like who took him? Does he remember anything?

Weird boning scenes

The sexual relationship between Noah and Mara built up over two books (Books 1 and 2 obviously) and then she finds him and we get a weird, weird bunch of scenes where they’re describing their encounter through colors. I hated it. It was just super weird.

Also, Daniel was in the house with their inconsiderate selves. Rude.

General Thoughts

It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t a thrilling conclusion. I wasn’t even that busy while reading this and I still took more than a week to finish this. I was bored for most of it because my favorite character was MIA for most of the book. I like Mara, but she wasn’t as interesting to me as Noah. It was just really hard for me to get through this one. Ultimately, I would read more by Michelle Hodkin though because the concept behind this story is actually something that interests me.

On another note, I liked the flashbacks Mara had. They were almost more interesting than Mara running around trying to kill people with her mind. It was interesting to read about her grandmother, but I am still a little confused. Was Mara’s grandmother’s name actually Mara or is this just her chosen name? If her name wasn’t actually Mara isn’t it weird that Mara’s name became Mara? I don’t know what this was all about, but some ‘splaining would be great!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

This was my least favorite in the trilogy. A SHOCKING TWIST. I liked this, but it wasn’t a good enough ending for Mara (despite my weird love/hate relationship with the character).

Let’s chat!

How do you feel about Noah? I understand he’s not perfect, but I honestly think he’s great. Maybe not the best boyfriend material, but I’d definitely befriend him. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think about Noah (or just the Mara Dyer trilogy in general).

Book Review | The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Sequels. You love them or you hate them and typically, there’s no middle ground. This sequel is definitely a middle of the road novel and I wanted to talk through some feelings I have about it today.

Mara Dyer is in the running with Emma Carstairs for most infuriating females leads, in my opinion. Let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead!

The Flashbacks?

The first thing I wanted to talk about today in regards to this book is the flashbacks. I understand the Ms. Hodkin is working on world-building with these, but it was hard for me to be on board with them because it’s explained away as “genetic memory” and there’s not really a clear explanation as to what exactly this is. I’m of average intelligence, but I wasn’t having this explanation. It felt… really made up, almost like the author was grasping at straws to explain why Mara was having these weird flashbacks. I thought they were interesting, but I wanted more of an explanation. I understand there is another whole book in Mara’s story so I’m sure it’s explained further in there, but the explanation in this book fell short for me.

The Jude of it all

I don’t know how to feel about Jude’s role in this book. Obviously he’s alive, but I didn’t think he was the sole terrorizer of Mara. He had to have been getting help from someone and I definitely saw it coming with who was helping him out. Phoebe didn’t seem to fit the bill as anything more than an assistant in Jude’s plan – or maybe an expendable resource is the better way to describe her. I didn’t like her character at all (no surprise) but I did feel bad about her really unrequited situation. Seriously, people complain about Noah being awful, but when we consider how damn atrocious Jude is… I don’t get this!

Essentially, I hate Jude and I hate that he played such a big role in this book. I guess he’s a good villain, but still!

Noah + Self Harm + Relationships

I firmly believe there is no good way to cover self harm. Noah harming himself just because he could was not a good look, like, at all. I hated this aspect of the story and I hated how adamant he was about Mara not being able to hurt him when CLEARLY she could. The relationship in this novel was entirely too frustrating for me – it’s like “Oh hi, my name is Mara and this is my boyfriend who I never kiss because I might kill him”. It felt too angsty for my adult self and so, yeah, I have some complaints about it. I wanted to scream at them to cut the crap and figure their life out already. It was insanely frustrating. And very Edward (Twilight) esque. (Re: “I could kill you” “That’s okay. I don’t mind”).

Redemptions

There are two distinct redeemers of this novel. One:  Jamie. I don’t care what anyone says, I love him. I love his friendship with Mara. I was sad to see him go in the first book and SO happy to see him return for this one. It felt gross that Mara only had Noah and her family as allies so I  was happy Ms. Hodkin brought Jamie back. Two: Daniel. The sweetness of his speech to Mara KILLED ME. I cried. I love his big-brotherness and it makes me want my own big brother.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It was almost as good as the first.

General Thoughts

Okay, okay. I didn’t love this as much as the first book, but I still thought it was good enough to continue the trilogy. I’m invested in the past that Mara’s experiencing and I want to know more about WHY she’s having these visions.

Let’s chat!

Are you a fan of flashbacks or visions in books? Why? Do you have a favorite book that encompasses these elements? Let me know in the comments!

A Balancing Act | The Road to Librarianship Pt. 1

It’s time for my monthly discussion of grad school aptly titled The Road to Librarianship! This is technically going to be my first post in this series so I wanted to spend time discussing how I manage my time in this one. It might be boring, it might be thrilling. Stay tuned!

The Work Week

My typical work week consists of working 40 hours in an office. Monday through Friday, I can be found at a desk on a base plugging away at my computer. I process a ton of paperwork, but there’s often downtime. During my downtime, I can be found reading articles for grad school (or even my textbook) but sometimes I manage to sneak in some pleasure reading time.

My boss is currently pretty awesome in that so long as you’re getting your work done, he doesn’t mind how you use your spare time (i.e. downtime waiting for more work!). Things are absolutely going to change because I did just get a promotion! I’ll definitely talk more about this after I take over my new role (likely in my next post in this series).

The School Week

My school week takes up a ton of extra time. Monday nights from 8-9:30, I log onto my computer to complete my synchronous work for the week for ONE of my classes. Synchronous work is, essentially, work completed alongside my classmates via video conference. It’s actually quite fun once you get over the initial weirdness. My other live synchronous session is on Thursday night from 8-9:30. In between these days, I work through my asynchronous (or video) material.

Homework (asynchronous work and assignments) for my Monday class is due Sunday evening – so 24 hours prior to my live session. Homework for my Thursday class is due on Thursday 1 hour before the live session starts. To avoid lateness, I work on my asynchronous material for Thursday on Tuesday after work. It might take me 2 hours to complete, but then I can focus on asynchronous work for Monday the next day. I tend to spend my weekends (sometimes a few hours on Saturday and Sunday both) working on additional assignments.

The one good thing about my classes is everything is clearly outlined, with due dates, in the syllabus and course schedule. Since I know what’s due and when, I work ahead on my assignments on the weekends that way I’m not stressing out during the week about written assignments.

If you want to know a little secret about how I stay ahead, let me fill you in… I keep a planner. As soon as I got my course schedules, I filled in my planner with every single assignment and asynchronous piece so I could check it off as I completed it. Nerdy? Probably. Have I turned anything in late? No.

A note: Until May 13th’s live session, I also was meeting with a classmate before each Monday class (and even a Thursday one) working on a group presentation. I got my grade – 99/100. Hard work pays off.

Life Balance

I don’t want you to think I’m all work, no play. Obviously I live my life too. I’ve managed to hit a few book sales and spend some time with my spouse over the course of the past 6 weeks. After work, I tend to cook dinner and hang out with my husband as I cook. After we eat, we watch an episode of a show and then I go read to the kids and tuck them in. Since my husband was also in class, I’d work on my work while he was at school so that we could spend our free time together with the kids. Now that his classes are over, he’s taking point on spending time I’m working with the kids so that we can have some time together after I finish my work.

I also still read every night before bed. It might only be a few chapters… but I’m not going to stop reading for fun. That’s a main aspect of my self-care routine. Obviously, a lot of my weekend time is spent with the children. I like to spend the few hours that they’re napping on weekends working on school and the rest of the time tidying up my house and playing with my sons.

Basically, my life is a balancing act. Sometimes school has to take point in my life, but a lot of my time is spent making sure my family is taken care of. It’s hard, but we’re making it work.

Honestly, if I didn’t have a solid support system around me, I don’t think I’d be able to juggle so well. Most importantly, in my opinion, is understanding when to step away. That’s why I read every night. It helps me relax my mind and take my thoughts away from my GPA. It’s hard work juggling three full time jobs, but I’m making it work.

Closing thoughts

To close, I said I was going to post these type of posts monthly. Instead I’m going to do a mid-term post and an end of term post for each of my six terms. It’s honestly overwhelming trying to juggle work, school, life, AND manage a booktube channel and blog. I’m still working on blog posts and booktube videos, I’m just finding it hard to manage time with my social media life. That’s why I’m not putting too much pressure on myself with these.

Let’s chat!

I keep a personal planner. I’m curious. Do you keep a planner? Is it digital? Do you use a bullet journal? How do you balance your life? Let’s talk about these questions in the comments!

Book Review | The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I like a lot of books that fall into a series. I think I’ve been pretty open about that. Anyway, the Mara Dyer trilogy has been sitting on my TBR for well over a year and I decided I wanted to read something… paranormal – which is the category this trio is most often sorted into on Goodreads.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. Sure I understood that Mara sudden developed powers over the course of the first book, but still… She just seemed so… normal, I guess. Or rather, as normal as a sufferer of PTSD can be.

Spoiler alert: I actually really liked this book, so let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 

She’s wrong.

Let’s talk about Mara

I went through a kind of tumultous relationship with Mara in this book – first I liked her, then I didn’t, then I did again. She annoyed me a lot – which isn’t unusual for a YA heroine, but at certain points I couldn’t bear how annoyed I felt with her. Honestly, I think one of the few redeeming qualities of Mara is that her family seems to keep her grounded.

Otherwise, she seemed like an average girl. There was nothing spectacular about her – other than the fact that she, you know, might have accidentally murdered some people.

Also, one thing I really didn’t like was the immediate hatred toward Mara simply because the “HoTtEsT bOy In ScHoOl” was instantly attracted to her. Jealousy isn’t cute – in real life or in fiction – so I could totally do without that. I get it. They’re teens, but I feel like the “I can only be friends with boys because there’s less drama” is so overdone and cliched. Give us some powerful girl on girl friendships, please.

Noah Shaw – The Bad Boy

Ask me if I know what Noah looks like – the answer is only kinda. He didn’t exactly leap off the page for me. Sure, I understand that he’s typical wonder bread and I guess that’s fine. I just can’t picture him in my head, but I sure can hear him.

Nearly every review I’ve read describes Noah as a jerk. It’s true. He is. But when it comes to Mara, it becomes very clear that he cares about her. A lot of reviews I read indicate a point in a restaurant where Noah orders for Mara. She seems annoyed then, but quickly changes her attitude when the food arrives and it’s actually delicious. It might be rude. It might be inconsiderate. All I’m saying is – I wouldn’t mind so long as the food was good.

I didn’t hate Noah and I actually refuse to hate Noah because he seems like a typical teenage boy. He’s an exciting love interest for a somewhat boring heroine. Nothing really stands out to me about Mara other than she may have a mind ability so it was at least nice to have someone interesting around.

General Thoughts

Overall, I thought Michelle Hodkin’s writing was addictive. Maybe a few mediocre points, but we all have those, right? The book had decent pacing and I was invested from the start. Like I said, I didn’t necessarily hate anyone in the book – except maybe Jude which is too bad because I like his name and Anna because I have no room for mean girls – and overall thought the concept of the story was interesting.

As I write this, I’m preparing to read the next book and if that’s as captivating I’ll continue binge reading the trilogy (and maybe even jump into the Shaw confessions!).

Rating: 4

It fit everything I was looking for when I decided to read it.

Let’s chat!

I know people either love these books or they hate them so I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you have a review that goes in either direction? Leave me a comment (and link your review if you have one!) so I can hear more from you!