I picked the online school I am attending for a few reasons: it didn’t require GRE scores, it is all online, the classes are asynchronous, and there is a 3-hour time difference. The main selling points were that classes were asynchronous and that I have 3 hours of extra time to get my work done and turned in online. Recently, I used them both to my advantage.
What's up, everyone?
(The sky; airplanes)
I know, it's been a while! I'm sure I'm sounding like a broken record at this point. A lot has happened since my last post, which judging by the dates was Jan 2018. I was starting a review series (one of many which I said I was going to do), which I will get back to. However, this post is the start of a new series.
For those who may not know, I decided to go to school to get my Masters in Library and Information Science aka a MLIS. I've been working in libraries for about 4 years now, and I it helped me figure out what I want to do with my life: creating programming and a space for teens. My focus for my Master degree will be in Youth/Young Adult Services, however I like to learn and know about all the different roles in libraries so I will be taking various other courses to be more well rounded including management, grant writing, reference, etc.
This series of blog posts will be called M.L.I.S. to stand for "My Life in (Library) School". The biggest difference between grad school and college for me right now is that my program is entirely online. I'm working full time and going to school full time. I know, it sounds crazy but the program I am in is based out in CA so I get three extra hours to turn in assignments and its all online including office hours so it will work around my schedule. My other option would be to quit my job and move to a different state since there is no accredited MLIS program in my state, and moving wasn't an option for me. This way, I may be able to use my school work at work or vice versa. It's a win-win situation. Plus, I have the option to be on campus for my graduation or join a special ceremony online. Yeah, i think I'll take the chance to visit CA when the time comes! ;)
My classes officially started today but I had one class start before the semester. It started Aug st and I finished Aug 19th, when the overall finish date is Sept 18th. After doing the first class, I know I can handle grad school online. Confidence is the first step. I finished my first class with an A+. I am the last person to brag about themselves or talk about their accomplishments, but this is something I'm really proud of, so I wanted to share it.
So, check back from time to time to see how everything is going, if you'd like. I hope to keep this updated as I work through my program for the next two years.
Till next time!
I decided to start up book reviews once more, however this will be different. I don't do star ratings or book ratings. I just say what I like and don't like about the book and if I'll recommend it so someone. Of course, this is also because I haven't come up with a witty idea or a Steph System yet, so be on the lookout for that. I will also be going back and adding more reviews to my "Script + Screenplay" section as well, but these reviews will be different. I will be re-reading and reviewing all of the books I read when I was younger. I'm aiming for around Middle School to High School.
I've noticed that I've greatly disliked most YA books I've picked up as of late. I know why I dislike them now, and that will be a later post in the future because it would take me a long time to list/explain why I dislike them. However, it made me wonder if I would still like the YA books I read when I was younger.
To start us off, like the title suggestions, this post will be about The Clique series by Lisi Harrison. If the author's name is familiar it is because she wrote the Monster High series as well as The Pretenders, and The Dirty Book Club. The latter is her newest book and for adult readers, the first one she's written in that age group.
When I was in middle school, I first found The Clique series in a magazine that showed all of the top books for age groups, and, if my memory is still intact, I believe my mom gifted me the third book. I was a big reader growing up, and still am, so anytime someone handed me a book I would willingly read it. Around this time I also remember seeing a book on my mom's bookshelf titled Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. I believe The Clique book was written in relation to that book. I know Mean Girls was based off of Queen Bees and Wannabees but I didn't find that wonderfully quotable film until a few years later.
A positive thing about the books, I have to say, is that even if you start out of order, the books are written in away that they also feel standalone. So, even if you don't always have the facts from the first few books, new revelations aren't too jarring to take you out of the story.
Like I said, I started with the third book titled Revenge of the Wannabes. I was instantly drawn in. The series as a whole is about a group of four girls who are in a clique called "The Pretty Committee". They have the best hair, best clothes, and essentially get away with murder. Obviously, not actual murder, but with some of the story arcs in this book, that wouldn't have been too far off. Unintentional period piece mentions are dropped all throughout this story including cellphones going from Nokia and Motorola to iPhone, clothing brands and styles, and computers from desktops to iMacs. After reading the third book first, i bought the first and second books, and then every subsequent book there after until the series concluded a few years later.
What drew me in was how relatable the story was. You have a group of four girls (Massie, Alicia, Kristen, and Dylan) who are close friends, who then get into an argument and stop being friends and try to get revenge on one another, or act as if their life is better without that friend. There is also a fifth girl (Claire) who is bullied by the four girls for wearing the "wrong" clothes and acting like a loser (called Losers Beyond Repair or LBR for this series). Claire, while hurt by being bullied, just wants to be friends with them and eventually accomplishes this feat and is now part of The Pretty Committee but is still her down to earth self, with the exception of a better wardrobe thanks to her new friends.
Now I ask you, how many times in middle school have you broken off from your best friend or your friend group due to a silly argument, or that one controlling girl who was actually very insecure, and acted as if you were better off without them just to soon become friends again? Okay, maybe not everyone went through this, but in middle school it was a common topic. In middle school you just want to belong with a group of friends and this series highlighted this very well. Whenever there is a popular girl, everyone wants to be her or be friends with her. Like I said, relatable.
Or at least, when first written it was.
Now going back, I don't understand how I was obsessed with these books. Okay, the plots of the first five, maybe six books I can see actually happening, but anything after that is way too farfetched and took me out of the story one too many times.
Overall here are a list of a few things that went on in this series so spoiler alert to those who haven't read them:
Okay, i applaud you for getting this far. However, do you see where the story takes as shift from believable to way too far in the left field? Yeah, I'm not kidding, that's what actually happens in a nutshell. Of course, I'm missing details and plot points here and there. Plus, every girl is kicked out of The Pretty Committee at least once, but they all become friends again. I call bull!
These girls, with the exception of Claire are vindictive, shallow, and egotistical. The word bully doesn't even describe them. In fact, now that I'm older, I believe Massie may be a sociopath with how little regard she has to others whom she hurts, just because she's that insecure.
Don't worry, there are things I do like about the book. The awkwardness of your first date/boyfriend/kiss is described very well. The feelings of a new girl moving into town and trying to make new friends is very true and pure. Without putting it into the foreground, Lisi actually touches on important topics like poverty, potential eating disorders, acceptance, changing oneself to fit in, insecurity, self esteem, and many others. The series could have been so much more, and that's what I takes me out of the story about now that I'm older. Well, there's also the fact that character's appearances and small details change from book to book, and Claire is so obsessed and clingy with her boyfriend that it amazes me how they're even together. It makes it seem at times that Lisi had a ghost writer for some of these books.
In all, if you are in your early twenties and come across this book, I would suggest not reading it, but if you do, read the first five, maybe six. After that, pretend the next few don't happen. If you want to give your tween/teen children a book on how not to act in middle school, then go ahead and gift these books! Good luck finding them in bookstores though. What once was a NY Bestseller is now probably super hard to come by.
Although, if you want to read these books after the lightning fast plot descriptions I gave above to see if it actually happens or your intrigued, go for it. No judgements here.
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to review each book in the series, there is 14 in total. Do these books stand up against time? Not really, but if you want something to read or to have some fun follow this TV Tropes Drinking Game while reading the books. I am not responsible if you actually participate in the drinking game.
I may not enjoy reading these books as much as I used to (I do admit they are still on my bookshelf), they have become more fun to rag on. However, because they're more fun to rag on it tends to make me go back and re-read it, which will then lead me on a vicious cycle of reading the books and disliking it, venting out what i don't like about it, and then going back and re-reading it. Maybe Lisi knows what she's doing.
Hope you stick around as I review each book one by one and some numerous other books I read while I was in middle school. Don't worry, not all the books feature in these review will be like this one. I greatly enjoyed some!
Until next time!
Over this past weekend, I went to Yogaville with my friend and co-worker Liz. I've wanted a vacation for the longest time, and after hearing about this place from Liz for a while, I thought I'd give it a try since I recently got into yoga and greatly enjoy it.
I'm sure you all are wondering what Yogaville is. No, it is not a cult. I thought the same thing after hearing about it and doing a bit of online research. It is a yoga retreat tucked away in the mountains in Buckingham, VA. You get to take yoga classes, do guiding or solo meditation, listen to guest speakers, and go to Saturday night programs. People can even join a program called Lyt aka Living Yoga Training, where you get to stay and live in Yogaville for at least a month. You can even work in the community, either on the farm or in the kitchens in trade of staying in the community.
2016 was a very, very hard year for me and I was looking for any excuse to go on a vacation; to be able to get out of the city I work in and not go home. So, I decided to go to Yogaville from Jan 13th-15th because it wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t far away, and it included an activity I enjoyed doing. Liz always talked positively about it, so I decided to go. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s been trying to get me to go for a few months seeing as she was super excited when I relented. She was originally going to go around Christmas, but pushed back her plans to come with me, so in short, she invited herself on my trip. I didn’t mind it, because I’d be able to have someone to go with who already knows everything about the community.
The drive up wasn’t too bad, there wasn’t any traffic, but I’m still not used to diving for that long. I was so happy to get out and stretch once we arrived. Liz and I stayed in the dorms with another roommate. In fact, she had warned me about possibly sharing a room with someone else. I didn’t mind – seeing as I’ve spent 24 years and 6 months of my life with my three sisters as roommates. We didn’t get to Yogaville till around 4:30, so we ended up missing a program Liz really wanted to do. Instead, for the first night we unpacked, had dinner (all meals vegetarian) and then Liz showed me around to see the lit up shrines. We also checked out the gift shops and boutiques.
On Saturday, we went to an early morning hatha yoga class, which focuses on general yoga poses and deep relaxation. It was a nice and steady pace for such an early class, especially after the little sleep I got the night before. You would think a super dark and quiet space would help someone get to sleep. I guess I’m used to the sounds of trucks and cars outside of my apartment window. We then had breakfast before listening to a “Yoga in Daily Life” talk by a Swami. It really put a lot of things into perspective. Afterwards, we decided to go on a hike in the surrounding areas. Liz was excited to show me the farm, the swimming area, and the Ashram Alcove. It’s a holed out rock face that has perfect acoustics.
After the hike we went to a deep relaxation class. This course helps you with meditation and in turn helps you learn coping techniques to deal with stress and how to relax in various settings. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep twice. It really helped. In fact, the minute we got into the community, I had felt the most relaxed in a long, long time. After the class Liz took some time to meditate while I took the time to get some journaling in. I really enjoy being outside, so even though it was cold, I felt the most at ease. We then had dinner before retreating back to our room for the rest of the night.
Sunday, instead of staying to take a few more yoga courses, we decided to checkout early and head to Rosslyn, VA to go to CrabTree Falls to go on another hike and to look at a waterfall. Sure, it took us an hour out of the way for our return trip, but it was worth it. The hike was great and the waterfall was breathtaking. After about 45 mins or so, we headed back. The entire time, I didn’t have cell service, but there was wi-fi. Aside from watching a few videos, I was essentially away from electronics the entire weekend and I really enjoyed it. I like to be unplugged from electronics every once in a while. It helped me clear my mind and fully be immersed in the community. Plus, it helped me be comfortable with how quiet I can actually be, and it gave me time to get to know Liz a bit more. We already have plans to go back during the summer so we can go swimming in the James River.
While I did feel a bit uncomfortable at first at Yogaville, I tried to be open to everything and it worked. It is a great way to relax and get away from it all. In fact, even though I overslept on Sunday and missed a class, and didn’t go to too many of the night programs, it still felt like the vacation I wanted. In fact, even if I didn’t do anything all weekend, it would have still been a great place to go.
For awhile now, I've wanted to review books, movies, and books to movie adaptations, so getting this opportunity to review an upcoming film as the launch pad, is exciting. So let's get started.
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a HUGE Facts of Life fan, even though I was born in the 90s. Thank god, for the internet and websites like Hulu an Youtube. The new Hallmark original film, "Hearts of Spring" stars Facts of Life alum Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair Warner, and Michael Shanks. However, the main focal point is that Lisa's on screen daughter is played by her own real-life daughter, Clancy Cauble, in her television debut. I was impressed to hear that Whelchel came up with the original story of the film, somewhat based off of her own life. Much props to Whelchel as she makes her way back to our television screens.
So, i ended up watching the film twice, once to enjoy the film, and the second time to write a review. To give a brief synopsis, Hearts of Spring is a film about a mother raising a teenage daughter who is about to go off to college, who runs a blog about parenting under the alias BestieMom. A frequent commenter, or some would see as a polite troll, named JugglingDad, is raising a teenage son and doesn't agree with her parenting views. Of course, you can see where this one is going: the two are attracted to each other, not knowing who each other is. Since it's Hallmark, I think you can guess how they tie up everything with a nice, neat bow. But, that's also what hooks us, its what gets us to return to Hallmark and watch their films. However, there were some twists and turns I didn't see, so Hallmark did surprise me in that aspect.
I was escited to see Whelchel's return to the screen after "For Better or For Worse" another Hallmark film, based off of the novel of the same name by Diann Hunt. Hunt is one of my favorite authors so I was excited to see the book being made into a film and to see that Lisa would star in it. After working in that film, with another Facts of Life alum Kim Fields, it was great to see her find a place she fit and create another film on the channel.
Overall, the film was nice. I felt the beginning was pretty slow and took forever to bring up the plot point of the film, whereas the trailer and released summaries of the film essentially give it away within 5 seconds. Whatever happened to trailers wanting to hook the viewers? But I'm digressing. Sticking true to Hallmark fashion, the film was sticky sweet, but that's not a bad thing. It had some good comedic points, some of which had me laughing, and some I felt would have been better even with the background music adding to it. Don't get me started on Awkward Date, or AD as I'll refer to him. On one hand I cringed at AD, and on the other hand I died laughing because it was so awkward it was funny. Although, he was a fairly better than Female Awkward Date aka FAD. Whelchel has stated that she likes comedic roles, she was on a sitcom for nine years, and you can tell she's grown a an actress by using her facial features to get the humor across instead of needing to use her body to do so.
The acting in the film is pretty good, could have been better in some places. What really got me was the casting of the film. You don't know how overjoyed I was to see that they actually cast young adults (who played the teens) to actually resemble their parents. However, in Whelchel's case, they just looked at her family. As mentioned above, her own daughter Clancy Cauble, plays her on-screen daughter. To be honest, there were some points in the film where I felt they could have just picked any blonde haired, green eyed actress and put her in Clancy's role, and then you'd have a mother/daughter pairing. However, there's something about Clancy that drew me to her. It's something about the energy or the way she portrays the character - its very easy to have someone like her character to come across as annoying or just following the crowd. Clancy made her standout and likeable. She's an actress I'll keep an eye on in the future.
Like previously stated, i ended up watching the film twice, once to enjoy the film, and the second time to write a review. Okay, so I also watched it a second time cause I was kind of blindsided at how good looking the actor playing teenage son was. :) All in all, if you want to watch a heartwarming film about parenting in the digital age, preparing yourself for your children to go off to school, and understanding the way relationships change then this is the film for you. Everything just felt believable, and being a young twenty-something, i really enjoyed that I could understand to the parents and the children. There's not much I would change about this film.
Well, okay, there is one thing: the title of the website Whelchel's character blogs on - Parenting for the Soul, and obvious play off of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I know it's Hallmark, but it could have been a more enticing title, like "Facts of Life - Lessons Parenting Taught Me". See what i did there? :)
"Hearts of Spring" will air on Hallamark on Saturday, April 9th at 9pm/8pm CT
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman