Staying Sane: A Grad School Update

I realize I’ve been neglecting my blog of late…  So hey, let’s chat.

In September, I started my first semester of graduate school.  I’m taking classes online through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to get a Masters in Library and Information Science.  Going into it, I knew that grad school would be a challenge.  But, of course, there’s a difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing it experientially.  As someone who has half a semester under their belt, I can attest that grad school is HARD.

It’s not the work itself that is challenging.  I mean, yeah, it’s hard.  But it’s grad school.  High standards are to be expected.  For the most part, I think I’m keeping up just fine.  I understand the coursework, participate in discussions with my classmates, and have pulled decent enough grades on my assignments thus far.

The most difficult part about grad school has been finding time to actually do the work and still maintain a shred of sanity.  I’ve already had two emotional breakdowns this semester, which is two more than my entire career as an undergraduate.

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What I’m Reading: YA Fall Releases

It’s Thursday night and I’ve managed to talk myself down from the “I should be studying” ledge.  So, since I’ve decided that grad school is no excuse to not read for fun, why not talk about all the books I’ve been cramming in my spare time?  Thanks to my library, I’ve been on the top of the list for many of this fall’s hottest YA releases.

My mini reviews are spoiler-free, so no worries if you haven’t read them.

Here’s my lineup:

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Meeting Leigh Bardugo

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Last night, I had the chance to meet Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows duology.  While I’ve only discovered her work this year, she’s quickly become one of my favorite authors.

Bardugo has been busy this fall, with two books released in September.  At the beginning of the month, Wonder Woman: Warbringer (the first of the D.C. Icons series) came out.  I just finished listening to it on audiobook and it was really fun.  This week, A Language of Thorns was released, which is a beautifully illustrated collection of folktales set in the Grishaverse world.

As part of my job as a librarian, I frequently host author talks, but this was my first time attending one that is part of a national tour.  I’m the kind of girl who gets nervous around people I admire and frequently feel like I make a total fool of myself.  (Seriously, it’s the worst when talking to attractive guys… I get sooo awkward.)  Thus, coming face to face with an author whose work I love was really intimidating.  But this was too good a chance to pass up. Continue reading

What I’m Reading 9/14/17

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about all the things I’ve been reading.  Some of these, I finished almost a month ago!  Holy cats, does time fly!  I’m glad I take notes on each book I finish, otherwise I wouldn’t remember what I thought about them.

Here are the books I’ll be discussing today:

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Let me know what you’ve read lately in the comments!

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Returning to Student Life: Hello, Grad School!

Goodbye, free time.  Hello, higher education.

Last week, I started grad school!  I’m pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  My classes are all online, which enables me to do school while continuing to work full time.

All week, people in my life have been asking how it’s been so far.  My reply has usually been a dubious expression and a weird, semi-coherent grunt. I knew that grad school would be a lot of work, but there’s intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge.  And, boy, am I learning experientially!

It’s not that my classes are anything I can’t handle.  The workload is large, but definitely doable.  The challenge is adjusting to new pressures and a new routine.  Significant portions of my weekends and days off are now spent hunched over my laptop and pouring through textbooks.

As I learn to be a student remotely, I have to learn to be intentional about taking care of daily business.  I’ve taken for granted having time to cook, shop, clean, do laundry, exercise, etc.  I now have to think about when I’m going to get those things accomplished. Continue reading

In Appreciation of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna Books

As a lifelong reader, there are many books I read when I was young that have shaped me into the person I am today.  Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables (which I didn’t actually read until high school… but it still shaped me), the list could go on.  I remember loving Julie Andrews’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and tearing through every Boxcar Children book I could get my hands on.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve returned to several of these books and have found them disappointing.  Whatever spark they ignited in me no longer connects with the person I am today.  They lose their savor and I can no longer remember why I returned to it again and again.

But that’s not always the case.  There are some books that, when I enter in with my grownup perspective, only get better–books that I can go years without and, upon opening the first page, feel the magic rise up in me once more.

Tamora Pierce is one of those writers for me.

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Weekend Coffee Share: Orchard Opening, Grad School, State Fair, and more!

If we were having coffee, we’d likely be sitting outside on picnic tables overlooking my family’s apple orchard.  Please excuse my cat, Pip, who has no concept of personal boundaries.  He has most likely climbed on your lap and is demanding snuggles.  While you pet him, we look over the orchard to the St. Croix River valley in the distance.  Isn’t the view great?

At the moment, I’m enjoying a few days of calm before the craziness that is fall hits.  The library was absolutely dead this week, which (while boring) was a nice break.  My patrons are all getting ready for school, going on last minute vacations, and harvesting their gardens.

This week, I DID get to go to the Minnesota State Fair for work!  It was Read & Ride Day, put on by the library system in the Twin Cities area.  Fairgoers could get discounted admission with their library cards.  As a worker, I got in for free!  My shift was three hours long and I ran the game Plinko.  My coworker for the day and I were given a massive amount of prizes (color changing cups, temporary tattoos, pens, bags, flashlights, etc.) and told that they needed to all be gone by five.  So we were VERY generous to all who played our game.  “Everyone’s a winner at the library!” we told everyone who stopped by.  It was a lot of fun!  After my shift, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the fair with library colleagues from my own system, who had worked earlier in the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I start graduate school this week!  I’m pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  I’m kind of nervous about being back in academia and balancing school and work.  It really helps that everything is online and I can fit it in with my schedule.  I think I’ll be fine… I’ve always been a bit of a Hermione Granger when it comes to school and started reading one of my textbooks already.

My family’s apple orchard is open for the season!  My parents and brother worked really hard to get everything together.  Dad has been overseeing the harvest and getting the outside presentable.  Mom organized the store and is training all our new seasonal employees.  I’ll be helping out on Sundays this fall during the peak of our season, but with grad school and having my own job, my involvement will be fairly minimal.

That’s enough chit chat from me.  How are you spending your last weekend of the summer?  Anything exciting going on this fall?  What would you share over coffee?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster. 

Be sure to check out the weekly Link Up to see what everyone has been up to.

Review: Monsters of Verity Duology by Victoria Schwab

Book Talk on Keep Your Feet

Format: eAudiobook from Overdrive / physical book

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars for both books


Over the past few months, I’ve read quite a bit of Schwab’s writing.  Recently, I finished her Shades of Magic series, which I adored.  Several of my friends on Goodreads were reading her YA Monsters of Verity duology, so I jumped on the bandwagon.  In this post, I discuss both books in a relatively spoiler-free fashion.

On the whole I was… underwhelmed by these books.  While there were aspects I really enjoyed, there was quite a bit that just didn’t capture my imagination.  I’m realizing more and more that dark dystopia might not be my thing.

A bit about the books: the series takes place in a dystopian America in which the states are split into territories named after virtues.  The main action takes place in the city of Verity, where monsters roam at night keeping everyone in terror.  Verity is a city split in two, held together by a tenuous agreement that is quickly fraying.  The north is lead by Callum Harker, who reigns through fear and uses the monsters to his advantage.  The south is held by Henry Flynn, an ex-surgeon who heads the military-like organization, FTF.

The series centers around Kate Harker and August Flynn, the children of these two leaders.  Kate is reckless, impulsive, and on a mission to prove her worth to her father.  August, quiet and sensitive, just wants to be human.  Pushed together by circumstances, they forge a deep friendship.

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Weekend Coffee Share 8/27/17

If we were having coffee, I’d be curled up in a heavy sweater drinking lemon ginger tea.  I’ve been fighting off a cold for the past few days and, today, it took a turn for the worse.  You might not want to get too close.

It’s crazy that we’re in the final gasps of summer!  Where did the time go?

I missed the coffee share last weekend due to being out of town.  My mom and I attended a retreat with a church we’ve been attending recently.  In a lot of ways, the retreat was really awkward.  We only knew a few people and neither of us are good in large groups of people.  In other ways, though, it was a really great experience.  It was really nice to get away from home–the retreat was held at a camp by a lake, which was lovely.  They brought in a Bible scholar from a university in Chicago do lead the teaching.  He talked a lot about the original Hebrew version of the texts, which was fascinating!  Through forced group games and breakout sessions, I did get to know a few people.  And, this past week, one of their pastors texted me and invited me out for lunch!  I’m meeting up with her tomorrow, which I’m looking forward to.

Work this week was busy.  On Tuesday, I had a programming double-header, which was absolutely exhausting.  In the afternoon, I hosted a class on genealogy research, which was taught by some of my library colleagues.  It was a full group–every computer was taken.  Then, I had about an hour to turn the room around for this month’s Lego Club. Continue reading

Firebrand by Kristen Britain

30688516Firebrand by Kristen Britain

Format: Kindle ebook

My Rating: 3.75 / 5 stars

Amazon / Goodreads

My Summary: The sixth installment of Britain’s Green Rider series, the book takes place where the previous one left off.  After her journey through the mysterious Blackveil Forest and adventures in the future, Karigan has returned home to the castle.  While resuming her duties as a messenger to the king, she struggles to find peace and healing after her long journey.  Eager to establish a sense of normalcy, she is sent on a mission to establish allies among a mythical moose-people in the North, near the territory of the Second Empire, who is trying to overthrow the crown.  Meanwhile, the castle is attacked by an ice elemental, who kidnaps and impersonates King Zachary.  This sets off a sequence of events that puts the future of the kingdom in jeopardy.

Karigan, as a protagonist, wears on me at times–she’s a fantastic Green Rider, an honorary Weapon and sword master, the avatar of the death god, has a magical mirror eye, is blessed by the elven race, loved by the king… and on and on and on.  How special can one person be?!!!

My favorite thing about this book is that we got a large amount of Zachary’s point of view, which was a breath of fresh air.

I’ve been reading this series on and off for years.  Britain writes so slowly that, by the time another book comes out, I’ve forgotten everything that has happened.  Thankfully, she sprinkles reminders of past events and plot details into her narrative–which helped me get my bearings.  While this is helpful, it simultaneously comes across as sloppy.  Actually, most of the book feels sloppy and gratuitous… but in an endearing way.  Britain tries to write epic fantasy, but the result is more campy than anything.  The writing may not be great, but when I read Britain’s work, I’m wholly engrossed and having fun.  I spent six days on this 700 page long read and enjoyed every minute.

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