Happy back to school season! School and education has always been such a major part of my life. For me there are a lot of aspects to an education, not just learning algebra and going to class. There is building a strong foundation to move forward, finding passion and deciding what you are excited about, and taking new opportunities through extra curriculars and chances provided to you. All the books below take place at a school, but focus in a different space of the education process.
Changing Your Life (Core Classes)
Princess Academy (series) by Shannon Hale – Middle Grade/Fantasy
We are Okay by Nina LaCour – Young Adult/Contemporary
Educated by Tara Westover – Adult/Autobiography
Following Passion (Field of Study)
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells – Adult/Autobiography
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – Young Adult/Contemporary
Truly Devious (series) by Maureen Johnson – Young Adult/Mystery
Taking Chances (Extracurriculars)
Again, but Better – New Adult/Contemporary
Check, Please! – Young Adult/Contemporary/Graphic Novel
Smash it! by Francina Simone – Young Adult/Contemporary
Welcome to the Arconia! This an apartment building with a stoic façade in New York where all our characters find themselves living. As three neighbors begin to connect over a love of true crime, specifically the same favorite podcast. After a suspicious death in the building they unite to investigate and live out their true crime fantasies. The jobless director (Short), the actor whose star is fading (Martin), and young renovator (Gomez) all have their own relationship to the crime and to the building.
This is such a comedic take on true crime culture. It is a quirky character study that is shows itself through a dark comedy. I really enjoy Steve Martin and Martin Short’s chemistry they have such an ease together. I was really impressed by Selena Gomez’s ability to keep up with that duo. As far as the mystery it self goes, we don’t know that there is one. The story could go so many ways, including pure paranoia especially given each individual’s motivations for solving the “case”. I would definitely recommend checking out. Three episodes of the season’s ten are out now. The rest to be released weekly.
What is a procedural? – A procedural is a show that follows typically the procedures of an occupation (typically creme, legal, or medical). These can be watched as a series but are made so that for the most part they can be watched independently (a story arc an episode). Due to this format it can get repetitive and formulaic. Below are some of my favorites of the genre. Do you like procedurals?
Rizzoli and Isles (7 Seasons)
This Boston-based show follows a homicide detective and the chief medical examiner. The show follows the crimes they work and the relationship between the two women. The crimes do tend to cover the gambit, but even when they do start to get repetitive because about a third of each episode focuses on the family and relationships of the leads it never feels boring or predictable. In general, it is just a very heartfelt show despite the genre.
Psych (8 Seasons)
This is the funniest of the shows. It follows a two best friends, one of which uses his observational skills and eidetic memory to pretend to psychic, as they start a detective agency. Gus and Shawn often are trying to figure out if there even is a case just so they can get paid. It is a super funny and fast show. The core cast is great and the relationship between all 6 (including Lassie, Henry, Jules, and the Chief) just grows over the seasons.
LA’s Finest (2 Seasons)
This Bad Boys spinoff lived up to the franchise. It was fun, brutal, and fast. All of the procedural episodes also took part in a large umbrellas case that each season revolves around. Fair warning this is a show you are going to want to binge as each episodes ends in a cliffhanger to lead into the next. However, any thing starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union is a must-watch. Their performance and chemistry is worth the commitment of at least the two existing seasons.
Veronica Mars (3 seasons; 1 spin-off movie and 1 spin-off season)
The mid-aughts show follows a teen P.I and her friends. Each season has an overall crime plot that is filled throughout the season with smaller mysteries. Often these are not major or violent crimes episode to episode, but the overall themes of the season can be quite brutal. This is mystery meets teen drama and it works.
Criminal Minds (tentative) – (15 Seasons)
This is tentative because there are FIFTEEN seasons and I am only partway through season 9 so I don’t feel that I can fully say 100% yes. This follows the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) from the FBI. They work on serial crimes throughout the country. This has a larger focus on psychology and sociology which is always fascinating. I do think they try really hard to balance recognition of negative police structures, mental illness, and socio-economic factors. Part of what keeps this show fresh is that we also follow the unsub or the victim for part of the episode while the team is trying to find them.
Today, I turn 25. I will have been through a quarter of a century on this planet and what a time to be alive. It has been a long and full couple of years. I have lived in 4 states, visited 22, been to 4 other countries across three continents. I have had roughly 13 places of residence, while going to 9 schools through my bachelors. This has led to meeting hundreds of people and being able to explore places my whole life.
However, it has been rough sometimes. I was in a severe car crash, 3 severe illness, and your run of the mill trauma of life. One time a toothpick went through my foot. My brother has been imprisoned in come capacity for the past four years. Family and friends have died. I have cried in public more than I want to count. I have been stranded in an airport lobby by myself overnight, lost on a mountain in Alaska for hours, and bullied throughout my school years.
Not to complain because I have also had quite a magical life. I have travelled, been on safari, and been safe and happy. I fell madly in love with my partner of the last 5 years. My friends are incredibly smart, funny, and the kindest humans you will ever meet. My family is full of some of the world’s best humans, even if some of them have left us too soon. I learned instruments and built sets. There were flash mobs, movie marathons, and all-nighters. My home growing up was full of movies, books, and dance parties.
I am hopeful that I get to keep going for another 25 years. My only goal is less weird injuries and Urgent Care visits. Overall, I will take it all in whole to keep the rest. Happy birthday to me!
So I recently finished a week of college visits with my younger sister (who is a rising senior). It was wild. One going anywhere that has started to open up in the past year is nuts. Second, driving in Boston is the worst. Third, on paper and going in-person are such different experiences that it can be jarring. We visited 3 major universities and drove through another. Personally there were three major things I noticed that changed my feelings about the schools.
One, how welcoming the school is when you arrive. Are they excited for you to start your journey with them? Are they selling the school to you? Are they being upfront about any inclusion or access policies they have, this may look like informing when buildings with ramps and elevators are, financial aid, housing policies, dietary support, etc.
Two, the other prospective students. Are they excited to be there? Do they seem anxious and nervous? Do they seem like feel they are entitled to a spot at the school (smug, legacy status, etc.)? These are the people you could potentially be spending your time with, living with, stuck in classes with, etc.
Three, all colleges of stated values and ideals, but what are they selling it as. We had one school sell it as a stepping stone to success, that it’s graduates were the most hireable. One school focus on the college experience and community. Another about the love of learning and all the ways they promote curiousity. Another, talked about the next step in education and figuring out yourself. There are no wrong answers but there are better fits and it’s important to pay intention to what they think you will get out of their institution.
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.
Laura Sebastian, Penguin Random House
I will pick up anything to do with Arthurian legend, but I really enjoyed this take on our Once and Future King. This story plays out in three times, the past when they (Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, Lancelot, and Elaine) come together on on Avalon, the present when they reach Albion and step into their respective roles, and the future when the tale and tragedy of King Arthur plays out. I really liked this as it turned the conflict into characters versus plot , as Elaine tries to circumvent the tragedy we have come to know so well in Western cannon.
As a retelling, I thought it was particularly strong. There was the thread of the Arthurian legend, especially in the future line from the novel. However, bolstered some of the same stories in new ways like the twists in the intention, word play, and expanding context. Some examples are Arthur and Lancelot’s respective tourneys, Merlin and Nimue’s conflict, and combining some of the Elaine’s (in my opinion: Shalott, Corbenic, and Garlot). You can tell there is a deep familiarity with the story and love for these characters. I did wish that there was a clearer or longer ending and that the past timelines were brought into the story a little more. I do wonder if this was avoided because it was the part that deviated most from accepted cannon.
Publication Date: July 2021
Read other reviews and potential content warnings here.
I recently completed the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn after fully boarding the Bridgeton train after watching Season one of the adaptation on Netflix. The Bridgeton series is a historical romance series where each book functions independent. They are connected as each protagonist is the member of the same family, it follows 8 siblings and their respective relationships.
I thought that this was a generally good romance series. I thought there was a good variety in the couples and each relationship was unique. In general I enjoyed this series but most of the books averaged out to about 3.75 stars. Of course, I am not including the main outlier in that of The Duke and I, which in general I didn’t enjoy due to the relative blandness but the blatant rape that occurs put me over the end. I do not recommend reading that installment, but I would recommend the rest of the series. For any additional content warnings I recommend checking out the series on Storygraph starting with the Duke and I here,
My favorite of the series was The Viscount Who Loved Me, but when talking about the series I found I had to make distinctions between the relationships I liked and the stories I like. If you have read the Bridgerton books, which one did you enjoy best?
The books were ranked on the following criteria was the book well-paced, was it engaging, and did things happen.
The Duke and I
Romancing Mister Bridgerton
An Offer From a Gentleman
On the Way to the Wedding
It’s In His Kiss
The Viscount Who Love Me
When He was Wicked
To Sir Phillip with Love
The books were ranked on the based on the main relationship in terms of: chemistry, spice, and healthiness.
Out of office emails are very helpful if they are put up at the right times. They tell people when they can expect to hear back from you and to assure others that you are not just ignoring them. This has happened a couple times and has unfortunately while nothing was technically done wrong, people’s feelings can get hurt and/or feel like you are bad at your job.
When I first started I was bad at evening remembering to set my out of office email. especially when I would only gone for a day at the top of the week. Once I got a hang of remembering to turn on the out of office… which took a minute ( I have been in this job for over two years). I was still have frustrated people trying to reach out to me while I was gone, even when my out of office email went on first thing (6:00 am) the days I was out.
What I learned is that you have to turn on your out of office (or at least for the people I work with), while you are still in the office. At least the last half hour you are actively working. My goodness the grace it gives people when they have received an out of office and you respond whenever, versus when they don’t and you just respond as soon as you can is astonishing. So that’s what I am going to keep doing for now. How do you approach your out of office?
I am not a morning person. Every person that has been with me before 9 am can tell you this, any roommate, sleepover friend from elementary school, family member, you name it. I am in every sense not a morning person. I do not wake up well, it takes me a long time and I fall immediately back to sleep at least once. Then once I am up I am groggy, forgetful, clumsy, and often grumpy as heck for a while. Because of this I need to wake up early.
Honestly, it feels really counter intuitive because I hate the morning, but the days I wake up early are my best days. It feels odd because I don’t do anything with my extra hour or so, but my regular hours feel better. Basically I started waking up at 6 or 5 totally on accident because I was falling asleep so early after work and was waking up accidentally after so many hours. Now I have started waiting up at 6 intentionally.
I still get to be groggy and have the time and space to fall back asleep, slowly drink coffee, check my phone, etc. The mornings aren’t better but I totally get to enjoy a large portion of my day. I also get to be less stressed about figuring out if I am able to start work and talk with others without feeling as overwhelmed or rushing into reboot mode for the day as the same time as work mode. I feel like the morning allows me now to become a person and wind-up for the day.
Can you tell I have been hyper fixating on this author? This is the sequel series to The Four Kingdoms that following some of our familiar characters to explore new lands and expand relationships beyond the Four Kingdoms after a storm clears to reveal a pass into a heavily populated continent. The books are a companion series of fantasy retellings. Similar to the prequel series, we rotate through the kingdoms and young royalty as they go through their individual tale.
My Review: This series is highly magical and the fairy tales are much more quest based with romance thrown in to the stories. Still enjoyable, but a very different reading experience, especially by book 2. I think that the retellings were more inventive but I really missed how much relationship building and politics were present in the first series. This series was very romantic with high stakes. Personally, this was less my taste than the original series. On average this series was about 3.8 stars! If you have read this series, let me know what you thought!
Genre: Fantasy Romance that all focus on a general quest or curse.
A Dance of Silver and Shadow (Twelve Dancing Princess)
A Tale of Beast and Beauty (Beauty and the Beast)
A Crown of Snow and Ice (Ice Queen)
A Dream of Ebony and White (Snow White)
A Captive of Wing and Feather (Swan Lake)
A Princess of Wind and Wave (Little Mermaid)
Favorite Retelling: One thing that I think was a bonus about this series was how inventive the retellings got. My personal favorite was Snow White or a Dream of Ebony and White. I don’t think I had ever experience a Snow White tale get this deep or political before. I liked how Snow White had to become a real political threat to the throne and a ruler in her own right. This was also the only retelling I have ever read that held the King accountable for some of the catastrophe that comes to kingdom and it was weirdly satisfying. The found family was a happy bonus.
Favorite Couple: Teddy and Isla (A Princess of Wind and Wave). This is my favorite version of a Little Mermaid couple I have experience so far. I like that they actively had to fall out of love with idea of each other and in love with the person they got to know. This was the couple that grew the most together throughout their story. Close second is Lily and Jonathan (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). They are so similar and dutiful. It lead to a fun back and forth of admiration and angst.
Favorite Kingdom: Eldon. I liked the more rigid and traditional kingdom more than I expected. Even though it ended up getting them more trapped in their curse than anything else I found the shift to be a nice change of pace.
Favorite Family: The Duchy of Marin (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). We didn’t spend as much time with them but the three sisters competed (and deserve a short story of their own) and the brother, Jonathan, is the featured love interest. The family is heavily featured as they are the ones who invited the Princesses from the Four Kingdoms to the new land. They are so sweet together and genuinely try to levy their roles as diplomat in every scene they are in.
Favorite Book: A Tale of Beast and Beauty. I think there was a great balance of the relationship and understanding the curse that was on the Kingdom of Palinar. There was a lot of misunderstanding when it came to the Beast (Dominic) and Sophie, but I loved how the relationship developed and that you got to see the type of rulers they would both be. Second place, A Dance of Silver and Shadow. I have loved Twelve Dancing Princess retellings since the Barbie Movie, but I thought the competition was a great introduction. I loved the balance between competition, getting to know a new land and new characters, and an incredibly tense romance.