Middle Grade Recommendations

So Middle Grade May is coming! I personally have been leaning a little bit more towards middle grade during this hectic time in the world. Not only because I work a lot with kids who are readers and I like to have something to talk about but because the world is insane. I am feeling overwhelmed by work and life and all the pandemics. Middle Grade tends to be a lighter feeling while reading. They are easy to fly through, have familiar feelings, and often an element of whimsy.

If you like folklore/mythology and growing as a person, you may like…

  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
    • This is the story of Tristan Strong who is feeling weak and stuck after the death of his best friend, Eddie. He accidentally creates a portal into the world of Midpass while trying to keep the book he created with Eddie from being stolen. It is a wonderful story about myth, grief, and the power of storytelling. Fair warning: you will likely cry. Tristan Strong

If you like girl power and fighting smarter not harder, you may like…

  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    • As with every heir to the kingdom, when the prince comes of age to wed the priests select a realm of the land to find his bride. For the first time in history a small quarry town on-top of the highest peak of Mount Eskel is chosen. Miri and the other eligible young girls in town are taken to a princess academy to learn about life beyond the quarry for the first time. It is a wonderful story of female friendship and the power of education. Truly one of my favorites.

Princess_Academy

If you like animals and meeting new people, you make like…

  • Circles in the Stream by Rachel Roberts
    • Three very different girls, Emily, Adriane, and Kara, are all drawn to the same animal preserve. There they find magical creatures  seeking refuge from their homes. The girls must find a way to harness magic, keep the animals secret, and find a place where the animals can be safe from the evil that follows. This is the start to a 12 book series and every book is worth it. I’m sorry the covers aren’t great. Circles in the Stream

If you like mysteries and have dreamed of running away, you may like…

  • From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg
    • This one is a little bit more of a classic and one of my Mom’s favorites from her own childhood. Where a brother and a sister tired of their siblings and school decide to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While hiding in the museum they end of in the middle of a huge art mystery. mixed up files

If you like comics and are afraid of starting over, you may like…

  • Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley
    • This graphic novel series follows Amelia as she moves from Manhattan with her mom after her parents divorce. She makes weird friends and handles basically, real life from school to bullies to friends that get sick. Amelia doesn’t always handle things well but she always handles them. It is a wonderfully drawn as well, just looking at it will make you smile. 51REKK68GFL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

If you like fairy tales and coloring outside the lines, you may like…

  • School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
    • I don’t know that there will be a recommendations that I can’t slide this into. I LOVE this series. Every four years 2 children or  “readers” are brought into The Endless Woods to the School for Good and Evil to train to be the heroes and villains of the fairy tales we all know. Two best friends, Sophie and Agatha, are taken away to the schools and are horrified when they are both dropped into the “wrong” one. It is a wonderful story about binaries, fate, and friendship.the school for good and evil

 

 

Building a Kitchen: Essential Cookware

I know when I was just starting to live on my own I had no idea what I needed to get by in the kitchen. It’s been almost four years so I have compiled a list of necessities to get you through any day to day cooking/baking/food constructions.

  1. Cutting Board: silicon or wooden work but it is essential. You will destroy counters, pans, plates, etc. Silicon/rubber cutting boards are easier to clean and maintain.
  2. Colander: drain the water! Also can be useful for cleaning fruits and veggies. Can be combined with mixing bowl to create make-shift salad spinner.
  3. Mixing Bowl: you know for mixing and combining
  4. Chef’s knife: I would recommend 4 – 6 inch blade. Not so big that you feel unsafe wielding it but big enough to not have to put all your strength into dicing an onion.
  5. Saucepan (2 quarts) with lid: for boiling and simmering. You do need a lid. Don’t make my mistakes

    salsa
    You can live forever on fresh salsa and chips
  6. 10 inch frying pan: ideally it will also be oven safe. I don’t know what I would do without my copper pan
  7. Sheet pan: sizable enough to make at least 12 cookies.
  8. Wooden Spoon: for stirring and mixing. Also won’t scratch Teflon and can stop water from boiling over.
  9. Slotted Spatula/turner: for flipping
  10. Tongs: catch all tool for cooking and serving (don’t underestimate)
cookies
If you can’t make cookies, do you even have a kitchen?

Seven Season Theory

So I have this theory that the perfect show length is 7 seasons. Personally, I watch a lot of TV, like potentially too much. It is one of my favorite ways to get a story. Also, it is the easiest way to have something in common with people. That is getting off the point! Seven seasons is the perfect length.

Seven seasons is long enough for each main and side character get an independent character arcs, whether silly or not. It gives time to explore different character relationships. Introduce new scenarios. Allow the show to ebb and flow.  It is long enough that the world can grow beyond our little initial conflict or premise of the pilot. Whether that is the main character going to college, going to another planet, or the death of the planet.

Seven seasons gives the writers time to wrap up the story not end on a cliffhanger or midway through. I feel like when a show is seven seasons it feels like a true conclusion. Not time jumped in the last episode, it doesn’t rush but unravels. It’s long and winding. It doesn’t rush through. It is a long fun and immersive viewing experience. However, it doesn’t overwhelm in terms of amount to watch.

Seven Seasons is also the longest length a TV show can do without risking going round the bend. I will admit some shows didn’t need to pass this length to do this (Heroes & Glee).  However, shows 8 seasons or longer have full off seasons or story arcs and start the conversation even in fans that the show has gone on too long. I feel that shows that are good after more than seven seasons are not the norm but a rarity.

Often after 7 seasons there are larger changes in writing staff and main cast. It does in fact affect the viewing experience when this happens. For some shows, it does happen before season 7 and it works (West Wing). But for some shows (That 70’s Show) it is detrimental at that season 7 mark. Due to the successes of a long running show there are more likely to harder negotiations between writers/actors and production.

My main point to this theory is that most of my favorite shows are 7 seasons.

Examples:

  • West Wing
  • Gilmore Girls
  • New Girl
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch

These are just a few of my personal favorite shows of all time and also shows that are 7 seasons. There are of course quite a few more.

What do you think? Is there a more ideal length than 7 seasons, if so what?

20 Questions Book Tag

So, I  wasn’t sure what to write for this week and then I found this tag over at Fantastic Book Dragon. I  am not sure who the original creator is… But it seems really cool and fun and I thought I would give it a try.

1. How many books are too many books in a series?

This is a hard one cause I feel like the real answer is anything in the double digits but some of my favorite series reach into the double digits. So think it depends on the world and skill of the author but MAJORITY of the time if it has hit double digits it has lasted too long.

2. How do you feel about cliff hangers?

I really like them because it encourages me to pick up the next one and not forget to continue the series. What really bugs is when the next book doesn’t pick up at the cliffhanger or it resolves in a page.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Paperback 100% I often like the hardback covers better but I spend most of my time looking at the spines.

4. Favorite book?

This is the world’s most unfair question. So here are a couple: Terrier by Tamora Pierce, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

All the KingsMen

5. Your least favorite book?

I don’t really think I have a least favorite but the first one I remember disliking was Sarah Jane, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan in like 5th grade.

6. Love Triangles, yes or no?

Yes! As long as they are love triangle not love angles. I need for every character involved to have something to choose and lose in the stakes of this love. My best example is And I Darken by Kirsten White.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

The most recent would be Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I likely would have finished but the e-library loan was coming up and I just wasn’t vibing with the mystery.

8. A book you are currently reading?

I am currently reading The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. I really like it and also I knew basically nothing about Catherine of Aragon. I know how her story ends but basically nothing else. She is fascinating!

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

I believe the last book I recommended was Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao to my mom. I really think she’ll like it.

forest of a thousand lanters

10. The Oldest book you have read by publication date?

The oldest are the Odyssey, Illiad, Antigone in the B.C. but no exact publication date. The latest I can find with a specific publication year is The Account by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (1542) which was for my American Literature 1 class in college.

11. The newest book you have read by publication date?

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire (January 7th, 2020)

12. Favorite Author?

I truly don’t know like I have no idea. There are literally so many to name a few: Susan Dennard, Patricia C. Wrede, Rick Riordan, Lemony Snicket, etc. 

dealing with dragons

13Buying books or borrowing books?

I love buying books like nothing gives me such a calm in life. But I do borrow books more I wouldn’t being able to sustain my reading otherwise.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

It is not a dislike but I never totally understood the worship of the Raven Boys series. I liked them they were okay but I with all the fans of it I feel like there is some sort of disconnect.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Yes I am a terrible person who dog ears.

16. A book you can always reread?

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley. Over and over and over again since I was I think nine. It speaks to my tiny soul.

spindles en

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Yeah, I can read while doing anything except like walking or drive cause that is dangerous.

18. One POV or Multiple POV?

Totally depends on the story but I think my favorite is a two POV alternating narrative.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or multiple days?

I really like days where I don’t have to do anything but pour over a book and just finish story after story. Those days are few and far between, most of the time I read a little every day.

20. One book you read because of the cover?

Only one? Most Recently: A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy. And it was amazing!

A river of Royal blood