Goal for 2014 #16 – Start Grad School

This is a late post but I started working on my list of resolutions for 2014! Here we go, #16 – Start Grad School has been checked off the list. In December of 2015 I will have my Masters in Library and Information Science! So I drove down for orientation, and tried to take pictures, but this school doesn’t have signs everywhere like Clemson did so I didn’t get to take any pictures with Carolina signs. However, I did get a picture of a giant bird sculpture.

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Also, as I was leaving the city a drunk guy (beer in hand) ran into my car (on foot) and gave me a scary look, but I didn’t get pictures of that because I thought I was about to get mugged.  But that is neither here nor there. But since I am such a slacker, I actually have more to add to this post than just my near mugging and bird pictures.

Here we have it, the five things that I’ve learned (so far) in grad school!

1. I don’t play well with others. 

Trust no one

Group work is not my thing. I have no patience and am all about voting someone off the project island within a day of their first infraction. I don’t play when it comes to grades and I can’t really say the same for 99% of my classmates.

2. Experience is your friend.

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A lot of the people I’ve met have little or no library experience. So every time the professor asks people to tell about their experience processing materials, selecting materials, dealing with patrons, I get to be Hermione Granger in the front row with my hand up.

3. Career expectations, or “who thinks you’re going to read at work?” 

Hand Raise

They asked this question at orientation, and I almost spit out my drink that I wasn’t supposed to have in that auditorium in the first place. And just when I expected the others to burst out laughing with me, hands started going up around the room. It is true; I read more now that I work in a library. But that is on my own time. Advice to classmates—do your research!

4. I’m not as weird as I thought.

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Let’s face it—libraries attract a…special type of person. And I consider myself decently eccentric, but I’m nothing compared to some of the characters I’ve met. If you introduce yourself as Princess Moon Mushroom or Horsey (*names have been changed…but only a little) you definitely take the weird cake over me.

5. You have to be a time lord.

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For example, one assignment was posted ten days before it was due. And it turned to be a seventy page paper—on one of the most boring topics in the world. I really need the doctor to come help me out with these papers.

Stay in school kids!

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Book Review – …Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso (or, Hallelujah, That Boy Isn’t Annoying!)

8494435It’s not exactly easy living in a shrine to your dead sister. Since birth, I’ve known that everyone loved Shannon. She was perfect–beautiful, smart, talented. And me? Not so much. My parents always expected me to live up to her greatness. But I could never measure up to her, so why even try?

This summer, I’ve started reading the journal Shannon kept just before she died . . . and suddenly nothing is what I thought it was. The more secrets I learn about Shannon and our family, the more everything changes. And as it turns out, facing the truth is no cakewalk, either. -Goodreads Synopsis 

Who hasn’t been irritated by the standards set by their older siblings, really? It’s frustrating, but that’s just how it is. (Ignore that part Heather. Love you sista!) This story follows Summer, a teen muddling through life in the shadow of her deceased sister. She has a perfect image of her older sister, which is somewhat shattered when she starts reading the journal from her sister’s last few months.

This book was on the YABA list, which I am thankfully almost through with. Honestly, I can’t wait to be done with it. I am not a big fan of realistic fiction and I put off as much of it as I could until the very end. I had decently high expectations for this book, and I was a little disappointed. It was a good read, but when I read the description about Shannon keeping secrets, I expecting something juicy, or at least unusual. Something along the lines of, “Dear Diary, today I decided to change my name to Catman, get a Vera Bradley tattoo on my face, and live with the dolphins in the Port Royal Sound,” would have been refreshing. But it basically came down to the same issues that a lot of families have.

But wait, there is something I really liked!

How most YA relationships are handled:

Let spend every waking moment together the relationship becomes obsessive and unhealthy.

Lets spend every waking moment together until the relationship becomes obsessive and unhealthy.

How Summer’s relationship is handled:

Legit, her boyfriend is awesome. A. He's a genius. 2. They are super independent. And D. Hallelujah a non-annoying relationship.

Legit, her boyfriend is awesome. A. He’s a genius. 2. They are super independent. And D. Hallelujah a non-annoying relationship.

I really like how Deriso handles the relationship between Summer and her boyfriend. It is really refreshing to see a relationship in a YA book that isn’t super clingy/needy/overly-adult/dependent/irritating in general. I actually wanted to read more about him since the relationship isn’t thrown in my face every two seconds and he actually has a personality outside of being Summer’s boyfriend. Seriously, I don’t need a play by play of how his hair blows in the wind on the beach while he wears his great blue sandals and you look out over the ocean. So kudos on the not-annoying relationship front! I like the way you think!

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Overall Impression:

Whatever

Twenty-Two: Taylor Swift v. Reality

Today I decided to splurge and actually get takeout. (We are paleo-dieters and now I feel icky. Don’t eat chinese takeout if you haven’t had anything fried in a while. Just don’t. It isn’t fun. But I digress…) In the thirty minute drive to get dinner, the same song came on the radio twice–Twenty-Two by Taylor Swift. And by the end of the second time I realized that her version of twenty-two is way different than mine. Granted, I am not a tall, skinny, blonde millionaire. That being said, I thought now would be a good time to compare the expectations and realities of being twenty-two.

Getting a Job

Expectation: Piece of cake.

Jobs all around!

Jobs all around!

Reality: Don’t ever plan on sleeping. You’re going to work three jobs at a time. (Legit, when I graduated from college I worked at a pharmacy in the morning, a daycare in the afternoon, and in a scary parking lot as a security guard at night.)

True story.

True story.

Domestic Duties

Expectation: It’ll be just like college, but more fun! No one cares if your laundry is in the floor and that empty bag of Doritos is shoved under the bed. Live it up!

Cleaning, schmeaning.

Cleaning, schmeaning.

Reality: You actually have to clean. Unless you want your mom to come by and stare at the dirty floor, you’ve got to clean. Everything. Even your pets.

So. Much. Cleaning.

So. Much. Cleaning.

Money

Expectation: I’m finally out of college and I’m going to make money!

I'm jealous.

I’m jealous.

Reality: Student loans.

(If you have the means to buy a pink fluffy dress and twirl around while it rains money, come be my friend.)

Pretty much every time I get a call from an 800 number.

Pretty much.

Productivity

Expectation: Finish everything before lunch on Saturday!

Finish all the work!

Finish all the work!

Reality: Maybe finish one item on your to-do list before next month starts. Maybe.

Maybe later.

Maybe later.

Fitness

Expectation: I’m going to get into a regular routine and get fit!

Work it, work it!

Work it, work it!

Reality: You couldn’t even touch your toes if an elephant sat on your back.

Give me a push!

Give me a push!

Eating Healthy

Expectation: Eat all the vegetables!

Broccoli!

Broccoli!

Reality: Junk food is cheap. And yummy.

'Nuff said.

‘Nuff said.

Pets

Expectations: Now that you’ve got your own space, you need a cute little ball of fun to liven the place up!

Aw, what a cutie!

Aw, what a cutie!

Reality: One is never enough…you need all the fluffy things! And the cuter they are, they more destructive they are. But they are honestly one of the best things about being a grown-up. Still, say goodbye to your socks, hairbands, crown molding, lunch, coozies, shingles, landscaping timbers, and any garden that you ever dreamed of having. (Again, don’t let that discourage you. Pets are totally worth it and more addictive than Candy Crush. They’re like potato chips–you can’t have just one! I have tried to adopt at least fifteen animals so far this year.)

You just spent your entire paycheck on chew toys so Fido might stop chewing the wall. (It won't work.)

You just spent your entire paycheck on chew toys so Fido might stop chewing the wall. (It won’t work.)

Mornings

Expectations: All adults are morning people.

We love morning!

We love morning!

Reality: Mornings are 51,936,295,297 times harder. That’s just a rough estimate, mind you.

(Really, think about it. You can’t wear sweat pants and no-makeup to work as a grown up. And if that is your uniform, I am jealous.)

That's more like it.

That’s more like it.

All around, twenty-two wasn’t all that bad, it was just a time of a lot of changes. For example, when I was twenty two I:

Got in super good shape for the wedding.

Bought a house.

Got married.

Figured out what I wanted to do with my life. (Well, career wise anyway.)

More importantly, figured out what I didn’t want to do with my life.

Saw the mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium.

Bought a car.

Started chipping away at my student loans.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad year. Definitely not a Taylor Swift year, but really, who has those anyway?

Book Review – VIII by H.M. Castor (or, Hey Honey, check out my new sword!)

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Destined for greatness; tormented by demons… VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is tormented by the ghosts of his family’s violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination. In VIII, Henry is presented afresh for a new generation of teenage readers. – Goodreads Synopsis

Let me just say in advance, I feel guilty about this review. I hate giving bad reviews…it hurts my soul. When I say it hurts my soul, I mean it hurts my soul on a “Sound of Music Live” scale. It’s that bad. That being said, here we go.
I had a lot of issues with this book, but I’ll list the top three because I don’t want you to be Hal’s age by the time we finish here.

Issue #1 – Being 55 doesn’t make you a young adult.
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First off, we got it at our Media Center as a teen book. It starts with Hal, otherwise known as bats*** crazy King Henry VIII, around the age of maybe seven. And it progresses until the time of his death at age fifty-five. I personally classify young adult as happening between the ages of twelve to twenty-five, which is a pretty generous range. This book is really unrelatable for someone my age, much less teens. Seriously, what teen wants to read about the countless miscarriages of Hal’s five wives? It is sad, but it isn’t something teens care about. I feel like the book would have been a lot more interesting if we covered from the time his brother, Prince Arthur, died (1502) until he actually took the throne (1509). The story could’ve been totally made up for all I care. It would have been more interesting.

Issue #2 – If you’re going to be crazy, go all out.
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Throughout the whole book, Hal is followed around by some creepy blonde kid. Creepy blonde kids have unlimited scare your pants off potential. But I won’t spoil the end for you, in the event that you make it that far. Crazy characters are awesome. Everyone loves Bellatrix Lestrange, right? Hal’s kind of crazy was just kind of meh. I wasn’t afraid at all. If I met Brother Justin Crowe in a back alley, I’d be out of there faster than Honey Boo Boo can eat a chicken nugget. If I saw Hal in an alley, I would probably just hope his creepy little friend didn’t sneeze on my shoe.

Issue #3 – Henry’s Wives
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Oh my goodness, his wives. There were like six of them—none of which had a personality. Well that’s a little harsh. But really, I felt like he was married to an amazing ventriloquist that could whine in six different voices. They all had the same story—they were super supportive, and then they died. And I was really creeped out by the fact that his wives were all like teenagers. (Hey, that’s where all the young adults were!) I know that is probably true for that period, but yeesh. Hugh Hefner’s got nothing on Hal.

On a positive note… ignore the gif (that’s how I feel about Hal), read the part below it.
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Kudos to the author for historical accuracy. The book being so heavily based in reality allowed me to learn a lot about the real Henry VIII…and man was he annoying. Seriously, take the most whiney, self-righteous jerk you can find, add C-3PO, and you’ve got Hal.
On a side note: After killing six wives for not being able to have sons, he would’ve been pretty embarrassed to find out that they weren’t the problem. Oops!

Star Rating: 2/5

Overall Impression
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Book Review – Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (or, Don’t You Get that Tattoo)

Is This a Kissing Book?Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. -Goodreads Synopsis

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Let me start by answering this question…yes, this is a kissing book. (Don’t recommend it to young adults—I can guarantee their college experience will not be like the one in this book.) I have officially jumped into the wide world of adult fiction…and wow is it predictable. (That isn’t a slam on this book, I did like this book. Just saying.) This is the classic good girl meets bad boy story, except the girl isn’t so good. Travis is a bad boy, with a sad backstory. (But I want his family. Like if I could have a third family, I would steal his. I’ve always wanted herd of brothers.) And Abby’s father is a certifiably insane gambler with ties to the mob and a drunken ex-wife. So, welcome to the world of dysfunctional relationships.

This book takes place from Abby’s POV. (I prefer the second book—Walking Disaster. It is from Travis’s POV.) Honestly, Abby is really frustrating. I spent a majority of the book wanted to slap her. I only wanted to slap Travis a little, and usually I was over that in like five seconds. He is obviously trying to drop his bad-boy ways, and Abby is kind of a jerk. The book was a pretty quick read, and it flows well.

On a side note, this book has a lot of tattoos—including name tattoos. Sweet baby Jesus, do not get someone’s name tattooed in a visible place if you just met them! Unless you know their social security number, have six children, a life insurance policy on them, a joint bank account, and share a bathroom. You are not Nostradamus, you don’t know what’s going to be going on in five years. Don’t come crying when you can’t get a job as a kindergarten teacher because you have “I love Billy-Bob” on your face.

That’s enough ranting. I really did enjoy the book. The characters were relatable, and it took my back to college. Ah, the golden years before I paid on my student loans and had a real job. I would give it five stars, but I spend most of the book groaning at the irritating indecisiveness of Abby, that I am pretty sure I lost a few years of my life. For that reason—four stars!

Star Rating: 4/5

Overall Impression

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2014 – Year of the Horse Crazy Cat Lady

On New Years, I was sitting at home in my pajamas (like the party animal I am) and was watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve. According to Ryan Seacrest, the top five events (based off Facebook statistics) for 2013 were beginning a relationship, ending a relationship, moving, traveling, or graduating. Based on that, I have done absolutely nothing this year.

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^ Seriously, the story of my life.

Basically, if you took the top five events from my Facebook, it would be sleeping, working, cats, dogs, and books. So, in the spirit of actually doing something this year, I made a list!

I just turned 24, so that seemed  like a good number for my list.

Here we go!

  1. Complete a Zombie Run.
  2. Take a girls trip.
  3. Finish writing my first book.
  4. Read 50 books.
  5. Run a 5K.
  6. Take a honeymoon (since we missed it in 2012).
  7. Tour a plantation.
  8. Go to a theme park.
  9. Tailgate and attend a Clemson Football game.
  10. Splurge on clothes.
  11. Take more pictures.
  12. Finish my Clemson T-Shirt Quilt.
  13. Remodel the spare bedroom into a functional space.
  14. Get my mermaid tattoo.
  15. Dye my hair.
  16. Start Graduate school.
  17. Go to a fancy party/Go out dancing.
  18. Decorate a pair of canvas shoes.
  19. Dress up for Halloween.
  20. Grow my own food.
  21. Shop at Ikea.
  22. Finish decorating at least one room in my house.
  23. Dress like at least 5 different Disney Princesses.
  24. Take a trip outside of South Carolina.

Assuming I keep up the the goal of writing, I will try to actually update this when I actually finish things.

Happy New Year!

Book Review – The Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (or, “Please Punch Him in the Face Before I Pull My Hair Out”)

“When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her — she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. 

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her “true love” and herself.” -Goodreads Synopsis

I am reading my way through the YABA list, and this one was next in line. We follow the story of Alex and her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, Cole. Initially, we start with the story of Alex’s tragic childhood and the bond between her and her two best friends. Her mother died and she had never heard the true version so she lived in confusion with her bitter father. And then we meet Cole. He starts off as a sweet guy, but then we get into his back-story, and man is it depressing. Anyway, he pushes and pushes Alex through both mental and physical abuse. And I won’t ruin the story for you by saying much more about what actually happens.

Typically, I am not a huge fan of realistic fiction. This was well written, however, I don’t think I read it correctly. From my perspective, I grew to dislike Alex more so than Cole. Don’t get me wrong, abuse in any form is bad and no one should just tolerate it. And that is just what Alex did for most of the book, and I think that may have been my issue. Also I felt that Alex was a little generic and didn’t have any qualities that I latched onto and could relate too. I was horrified about the situation, but she had a million opportunities to reach out and accept help when it was offered. (Unfortunately, I do not think as many opportunities are present to some in real life to escape these situations. Sigh…)

To sum up this book in one word: FRUSTRATING! Which honestly porbably made the book very realistic. You are watching Alex’s downward spiral, and the whole time she knows she shouldn’t be there, but she is always pulled back in. I spent countless nights complaining to my husband about how Alex needed to kick Cole to the curb.

Side note—my husband is awesome. I stormed into the living room one night at like 11:30, stomped my foot and went into a fifteen minute tirade about Alex, and he never once asked who Alex was, he just went with it. After my tirade was over he agreed that Alex, which could have been a real person for all he knew, needed to get it together. He is so good. J

To wrap this up, my favorite part of this book was the end. Now before you think I am a heartless realistic fiction hater, just hold on! At the end of the book, the author presented some awesome information about abusive relationships and how to get out of them. For a teenage girl in this situation, I imagine this could be a great resource. So kudos to Jennifer Brown for ending on a super positive note.

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Overall Impression

Me for the last half of the book.