Heather's books

Sarah's Key
The Help
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Lightning Thief
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Notebook
Eat, Pray, Love
The Time Traveler's Wife
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Heather's favorite books »

Friday, December 30, 2011

A STOLEN LIFE by Jaycee Dugard

A Stolen Life

Title: A Stolen Life : A Memoir
Author: Jaycee Dugard
Genre: Autobiography/ non fiction
# of pages:268
Edition: Hardcover
Stars: 4 out of 5
Time it took me to read: 1 day


The true story told my the victim herself, Jaycee Dugard of her 18 year kidnapping and captivation by a known sex offender, Phillip Garridos and his wife. She was taken at age 11 and had to endure physical, mental, and verbal abuse, plus probably the worst manipulation possible. Her name is Jaycee Dugard and this is her story...


------SPOILER ALERT ----

This book was a true eye opener. Jaycee was such a courageous young girl. I can't even imagine going through the things she had to endure. She became an extremely courageous and powerful women. She mentions several times how difficult it was to continue to write her story. again, I can't imagine how difficult it was to relive her past. I was very surprised it didn't make me cry. I completely expected to cry during the story. I think part of the reason was because of how strong Jaycee was through the telling of her story.

 It did surprise me how once she was allowed outside the secret back yard she was still so scared to tell someone who she was. There were a few opportunities for her. Yet I understand how scared and probably ashamed she was. The most touch part for me was reading her journal entries from the time she was held captive. It seemed she was able to explain more of what she truly felt during her time of growing up. In the retelling of her story, she almost seemed to like Phillip and Nancy and consider them her family. I'm sure that was because of the abuse and manipulation she endured. In her journal, she admitted how sad and angry she was. I can't stress enough I believe her to be a courageous and brave girl and women. I don't believe I could have survived what she endured. 

The one thing that seemed strange to me was not only how Phillip was able to manipulate Nancy, his wife and grown women. She never seemed to necessary agree with Phillip, but went along with his actions and manipulation of Jaycee and her two daughters. Nancy was an accomplice in my opinion, but also a victim to Phillip's abuse. Before her illness, I'm also surprised that Pat, Phillip's mother did not suspect anything wrong or was she afraid of Phillip as well. We will never know. If this wasn't a true story, straight from the true victim I don't believe I could believe the characters of Nancy and Pat. I was disappointed to not know what became of Nancy. I feel although a victim she was an accomplice and should serve prison time as well, just maybe not for life. Does anyone know the outcome of Nancy? 


Overall, I was glad I had a chance to read the story from Jaycee, the victim herself. I believe everyone should read this story. The only reason I gave it 4 stars versus 5 stars is because it is a tough read and not for everyone and I don't believe I would want to own the book or reread it. It is definitely a story that I need to sit and think about and contemplate for a while. It was the same way with the movie, 'The Passion of the Christ'.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I’m sitting in Panera with my coffee, laptop, Kindle Fire, hard cover library book (A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay) and my fiancé.  Yes, you read that right...I am ENGAGED!! I am still in shock, disbelief, giddy, wired, and on a high at once.  I am 36 years and this has been my third committed relationship. I don’t want to say long-term because the other two were 2 years or less.  I have always wanted to get married, but was starting to get the sense that my day would never come. I had never had a relationship last more than 2 years, in fact my last one ended on what would have been our 2 year anniversary!

I am so much in love and feel so loved – I still can’t believe this is happening. However, this is not to say we don’t have our disagreements, debates, and down- right ugly fights because we do and probably always will. The key is that we love each other, want to be together, grow old together and are willing to listen, compromise and laugh together.  I never thought I would see this day. I thought I would die an old maid.

I seriously was afraid I would never find my true love, my soul mate. I thought I was meant to be alone for the rest of my life.  Most of my friends are married and have or just starting to have kids.  I am one of the few left single. To all my friends, and others reading this whom are single…DON’T RUSH IT! You don’t want to, nor should you settle…give it time (and yes, I know you felt you have). It’s WORTH the wait.  You may be 36, 44, 48, or in your 50’s but when you do find your true love it is worth it all.  A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted “I can’t believe it took me 36 years to find my true love, but it was well worth it”. I can’t say it any better than that!

In our 2 year 4 month relationship, we have moved fast on some counts – bought a house together after only 10 months, making an instant family (my 16 year old daughter, his 13 year old daughter, his 5 year old son, my dog, and his 2 cats) – but, we never seriously discussed marriage – it was one thing neither of us wanted to rush.  He knew I wanted to someday get married and I knew that he may eventually want to as well. I did not realize that he was ready and I was not yet to the breaking point that I had to be AND am very glad that his proposal came before those two things were realized for me. It made the proposal so much more special and meaningful to me, to us.

Soon after we started dating we went on a camping trip and were joking on the drive up about how this camping trip could be a chapter in a book, “3 kids, 2 dogs, and a relationship”.  We were dog sitting, jam packed in a truck and going on our first trip with the kids.  We began to name other chapters too.  Our summer bowling team name was “Moving on up”, but usually events were just referred to as “The Next Chapter”.  We have used that phrase to signify the major stepping stones of our relationship, our family, and chapters of our life together.

The proposal itself was romantic and is very meaningful to me, to us. It was Christmas Eve night and we were at my parents.  It was a special year because my fiancé’s oldest daughter was spending the holidays with us. This was the first time since we have been together that she was with us on Christmas. So we had our entire “family of 6” together.  We had just finished playing some games and eating dinner.  We are huge Chicago Blackhawks fans, so we were going to watch the Blackhawk’s Christmas Special and then play more games and exchange the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas.

Everyone sat around in the living room, I in the middle seat of the couch. My parent’s couch reclines on both ends. My daughter was on one end reclining and LeeJay sat on the other side of me. My dad mentions that his seat reclines, not because LeeJay didn’t know this but because my dad does understand why one would want to sit there and not recline the seat.  Instead of reclining the seat, LeeJay gets up completely. I remember thinking that a little odd, but not so strange to even mention it.  He then asks that someone turns down the TV, this I found even stranger and did make a comment.  He always asks for the volume to be turned up, not down.   However, no one could find the remote and, of course, everyone was too lazy to just go over to the TV to turn it down.  LeeJay then announces he has something to ask.  At this point, I was still COMPLETELY clueless. That is UNTIL he came over by me and kneeled down on one knee.  I started crying, laughing and smiling all at the time. After he asked me, using my full name, to marry him I remember getting up and hugging and kissing him, but probably didn’t saw YES for a minute or so.  I remember vaguely my mom asking what she missed and someone coming out of the bathroom.  Nonetheless, we missed the Blackhawk’s Christmas Special as hugs, kisses, congratulations, and pictures were being taken. I don’t think too many people minded.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The Good, the Bad and the Hair - a Chick Dick Mystery

Title: The Good, the Bad, and the Hair – a Chick Dick Mystery
Author: Nancy Lauzon
Genre: Romance Mystery
# pages: 205
Edition: Ebook
Stars: 2.5 out of 5

Why I Read: Author requested review on Goodreads.com
Time it took me to read: 4 days

Summary from Goodreads.com:
Hannah Hailstone’s split ends are a divining rod for disaster.

Hannah just found a sexy man in the back seat of her car—semi-conscious and bleeding, but at least he has a pulse. Her father, a James Bond wannabe with a penchant for gambling, has disappeared. And there’s a man in a pink Cadillac tailing her hippy artist mother. Hannah’s plans to re-read her Nancy Drew Mysteries—the vintage, hard cover collection—have changed. Now she’s got a real mystery on her hands.

Cooper West is on a losing streak.

Robbed, beaten and on the run from thugs, Cooper is down on his luck. Somebody just tapped danced on his face and stole his precious motorcycle. Now he’s a drifter whose wings have been clipped, so he’s got a reason to stay in town a while. And he just found another one. Hannah’s funky hair and her talent for swan diving into hot water make a fascinating combination.

And bad news travels fast.

Someone is out to get Cooper, and Hannah’s a sucker for strays. But when his bad luck tangles with her bad hair, it jump-starts a bumpy ride through the tunnel of love.

“If you like dark and depressing reads, my books may not be for you. But if you like light-hearted, happily-ever-after entertainment…” quoted by Nancy Lauzon, author of The Good, the Bad, and the Hair – a Chick Dick Mystery.
This novel was a well-structured easy read, which I was expecting and I loved the tie in a references to Nancy Drew mysteries. It reminded me of Nancy Drew for adults. The storyline was predictable, but did not ruin the good plot since it was to be an easy read.  The main character is likeable and somewhat naïve.  There are few minor twist and turns throughout the novel providing just enough mystery to the romantic story line.
My main issue with the novel was that by the title, The Good, the Bad and the Hair and the author’s own comment about being a light entertaining read I was expecting a more humorous novel. There was not much humor in it.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Before I Go to Sleep

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S. J. Watson
Genre: Thriller
# Pages: 360
ED: Hardcover
STARS: 5 out of 5

Why I read: Bookworm Bitch’s discussion book of the month
Time it took me to read: 5 days
Inspired from: a nonfiction novel Forever Today: A True Story of Lost Memory and Never Ending Love by Deborah Wearing
If you liked; then you will love this novel:
        Books: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Still Alice
        Movies: 50 First Dates, Memento

Summary from Goodreads.com:
'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

 I LOVED the book. It kept me guessing and unlike some comments I have read on the book; I truly enjoyed the repeating and Christine's constant changing of her mind because it really made the reader understand what she was going through and at times I felt just like her - guessing how it would end and who did what.  It is a book that has some truly dramatic twists and turns and really gives the reader an emotional bond to the main character. The characters are well defined and the plot is quite gripping as it left me wanting more.


The only thing I was able to guess correctly from pretty much the beginning was that Adam was alive. The rest kept me guessing and I made several incorrect guesses along the way. I thought Dr. Nash may be Adam. That Ben was the really Ben and did the damage to Christine for some yet unknown reason; among other ideas. I also was a little disappointed in the last page as one more page would have closed the book better, but still gave 5 stars. Maybe it was left open for a sequel and I movie is coming out. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for the movie release.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I attended a retirement party last night for a Vice President for the company I work for. He is retiring after 30 years with the company, in which I have had the pleasure of working with him for the last 12. His speech was one of the most powerful and inspirational speeches I have heard in a long time.  Since so many people in attendance had asked him for a copy of his speech he emailed it to everyone this morning. As it is 12 pages long, I can’t post everything but want to pass along the highlights and share what I have learned from it.
He started out his speech with these words:
“Please just sit back …..relax …… and ALLOW me to try to engage BOTH your mind ….. and hopefully your HEART”.

He summarized at the end the following with these MOST important words/phrases to include it every day conversation:

Most important single word – any word, but “I” (ex: you, we, and us)
2 words - Thank you
3 words – I am sorry, I am wrong, I don’t know
4 words – What would you do?
5 words – I love being with you (not specifically in the romantic way)

He talked about how when tragedy hit his family at a young age (his mother passed away unexpected on Christmas Eve when he was 14; he decided he could follow 2 paths. And I quote:
“Eventually, the most important thing I learned from this experience was that I had the POWER to make a choice –

·         I could agonize over the experience and wallow in self-pity for the rest of my life …….. or
·         I could try to be optimistic and find a way to make some sense out of it”

He chose the latter and has done a wonderful job following this train of thought his entire life. He spoke about following his dreams - he is going into education. He is of early retirement age and will make an EXCELLENT teacher. He is kind, patient and has taught me personally so much over the years.
He talked about following your dreams, being virtuous and passionate in everything you do, living in and appreciate the moment, and my favorite and what I feel I need to put more in practice myself…

“It’s NOT what you PUT IN WRITING or SAY that is most important……..  Rather it is what the OTHER PERSON HEARS …….. AND what they SEE".

His speech really inspired me and reassured me that I am making the right decision for me to FOLLOW MY DREAMS and strive to become a YA reference librarian.  I also had a new found friend provide me with this quote that I love:
                   “Find a job you love and you'll never work another day”.  -  Confucius

That is what I am going to do and try to live my life follow some of Ralph’s philosophy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I recently recommended the novel, “Still Alice” to a co-worker. She told me she loved it, but cried all morning, so much that if she tried to explain to her husband she would start weeping again.  I had read the book before recommending it (my review is in previous post); while I thought it was sad I did not cry while reading it.  Does that make me unemotional??


I don’t think so….I did think it was a sad story, especially if you or someone you love has Alzheimer’s; however I also found Alice extremely strong and courageous.  She didn’t receive the best support from either her husband or eldest daughter, yet she became closer to her youngest daughter. She started a support system, not for the caregivers of Alzheimer victims, but for those suffering from the disease itself. I felt this story did have a positive side and although she most likely dies from the disease the book doesn’t end that way.


Believe me, I have definitely cried while reading books…maybe less than some people but probably more than some people too! Everyone has different emotional pulls and it also depends on your mood while reading and of course, the personal aspects of your life at the time you are reading.
Some criers for me are:
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
A Walk to Remember

Marley and Me by John Grogan
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

Rainwater by Sandra Brown

I also have some movies that make me sob. One in particular that no matter how many times I watch leaves me bawling…BEACHES! I have watched this movie just because I felt I needed a good cry and it has never failed me!

Just yesterday while at work I watched a video clip on Yahoo and tears started streaming. Different things make me cry and different moments and some don’t even make sense to me.

We all need a good cry sometime, right??

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Title: The Speed of Darkness
Author: Sarah Baethge
Genre: Sci- Fi
# Pages: 105
STARS: 1 out of 5

Why I read: The author asked me to review
Time it took me to read: 3 days
Where to buy: B&N, Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads: Eric Omlup, (computer teacher, web design consultant) tries to be seen as a normal, friendly guy. He is determined to hide the fact that he is a werewolf from everyone so he can just live a normal life.  Unfortunately, because he tries to be a good guy, he finds himself jumping in to try and save a man who looks to be helplessly under attack. Unexpectedly, the two villains that he wants to scare off may back down, but happily consider finding him to be a great asset. Eric is horrified to learn that he has exposed himself to a company of cruel scientists, called The Eclipse, that are capturing near-human 'supernatural' creatures for use in questionable medical experiments because no laws to protect them are in place. 
Now can he and Nigel Hunter (the man he saved) remain outside of the clutches of The Eclipse as their pursuers quietly, yet persistently tear bit by bit away from the safety and secrecy he has so endeavored to acquire?

Review:    While I think it is a promising storyline it had numerous spelling errors and was not developed well.  The entire novel is very choppy and I had a hard time following it. There were several characters that never really were introduced but were reflected in the story as though they were. It also seemed like the novel would flip between point of view’s with not really distinguish which character it was. Novels change point of views often, but not only a paragraph here and there. 

The other problems I had were the author used italics WAY too often that it lost the emphasis that I believe she was trying to place on those words and/or phrases.  I also found parentheses in places they were not needed or just didn’t make sense.  Like I said, the storyline was an interesting one, but it was very hard to follow.

I applaud Sarah for writing a novel – I have tried several times to write my own and can’t develop the story well – so I give her a lot of credit.  She is at a good starting point; great ideas are in her head. The best advice I can give her to have people proofread her novels, before putting them out there for others to read.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Well, volunteering has paid off for me. I was offered and accepted a job in the library field. It’s not the full-time position as I hoped, but a part-time position that is just enough hours that I can receive library experience and (hopefully) work my full-time accounting job, continue school part-time, raising a family, have a relationship and also ME time!!

Now, I am a little scared because this is still a lot to accomplish – even with only 30 hours a month.   I was only volunteering 8 -10 hours a month plus I start my month book club at the library in March. However, I need the experience and couldn’t pass the opportunity up.   I am glad to see it is only a few hours a month because I wouldn’t have been able to swing a 15-20 hr a week P/T position without quitting my F/T job (and that wouldn’t have flown over very well with the boyfriend).

Now ideally, I WANTED a F/T position so I can completely move into the library field. BUT I have to start somewhere and it wasn’t as though I was turned down for the position…they have enough current staff to only need a P/T person. I was also sent numerous resume to other libraries within openings since beginning this journey and never received one, NOT ONE phone call or inquiry. I need the experience.

And who knows, I may be the first to be asked when a F/T position opens…YAY!!

About the position - It’s basically a high school P/T position – P/T shelver with a little desk time.
Two week night evening for 3 hours each and the 2nd and 5th (when there is one) Saturday each month
Plus, my book club night and at-home hours to run the online forum book club discussion group
It may be basic, but I’m thrilled to enter the field before I graduate. I can’t wait!!!!  It is definitely more experience than what I was doing volunteering and I feel I will be able to contribute more life experience to my graduate classes discussions.

Hey, I also receive 40% discount on personal book purchases and a small tuition reimbursement.
I will actually be sad to see volunteering go away. Volunteering makes you feel so selfless and loved. It is so rewarding. I HIGHLY recommend everyone do it.  I have enough on my plate (I fear too much), so I won’t be able to volunteer my time elsewhere at the moment, but maybe someday!

STILL ALICE by Lisa Geneva

Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Genre: Women Fiction
# Pages: 272
ED: Hardcover
STARS: 4 out of 5

Why I read: My TBR pal, May, picked it for me to read J
Time it took me to read: 6 days
Website: www.lisagen0va.com

Summary: This novel is narrated by a 50 year old Harvard professor who gets diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. It details the next year and a half of her and her families struggle with the new reality of the deterioration of the disease.

Review:  This book was a very well written novel and although scary at how quickly in can deteriorate in such a young adult; it is a very powerful novel.  Also, it makes it a very appreciated book that the author leads an Alzheimer’s online column. She knows what she is taking about and not just making it up. In the back of the book there is an interview of the author and she states that the individuals that have read the book were overwhelming positive too.


She is a courageous women and I love that she fights and creates her own support group when none is to be found. It irritates me how her husband and eldest daughter seem very selfish in the book especially at the beginning, but it all makes a better story. I do enjoy when a story can evoke feelings, very not so good ones, throughout. It shows an emotional bonding to the story and characters.

Alice struggles so much because she is known as a prestigious professor at Harvard, a grand lecturer and a very intelligent woman.  She constantly tests herself and is hard on herself as she struggles to lose her herself.

As the story continued, the husband became more understanding and supportive, although not entirely, but I began to see his side of things. He stayed with the love of his life, but wanted/needed a life of his own too. Who can’t understand that?

The only reason I did not give it a 5 star rating is because I am very much into novels with multiple storylines and this one simple had one although it did show her own struggles and that of her family’s with the disease.

I look forward to reading Lisa Geneva’s next book, Left Neglected.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My LOVE for reading...

A friend of mine asked me recently how I developed my love for reading. I thought my answer would make a great blog post. So here is my story.  I always remember loving to read, but the first "novels" I loved were from author Beverly Cleary and her Ramona books. I also loved Anastasia Krupnik books by Lois Lowry, I wanted to name my daughter, Anastasia, at the time. I actually did consider it when I was pregnant, but ended up naming her Alyssa. My all-time favorite childhood novel was "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret." by Judy Blume. I read it for the first time in 4th grade, but read it several time after that.
By the time I was in Jr. High, I was hooked on Virginia Andrews series, especially the Flowers in the Attic series. However I read all her series.  During that time, I also read a lot of Stephen King books. My favorite was The Stand.  I was not very adventurous at the time, I did not venture out and read what I didn’t know. For the most part, I only read Virginia Andrews and Stephen King. I did enjoy Go ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks and even some class assigned books including Rascal by Sterling North and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

In high school I stopped reading because of reading books for school, very active social life, etc. I just didn’t have the time or at least thought I didn’t have the time.  I didn't read again until I was 19/20 and had my daughter. It was right when Oprah Winfrey introduced her Book Club. I decided to give it another shot, remembering how much I used to love reading. I was still going to school, but had a lot more spare time because I wasn’t working and was home a lot with my daughter. Oprah’s first book selection was The End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard and I was instantly re-hooked on reading. I haven't stopped since then. I started just reading the Oprah monthly selections and at the time you could write letters on your feelings of the books to her.  Sometimes she offered prizes or invites to be part of the audience.  I wrote a few letters and received a response on my letter for the novel, The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton.  I received a call saying I had 2 tickets to a taping in January when the next book would be announced.

I was very excited and yes, I realized tickets are free to a taping, however I still had never gone or have gone since. It was different that I had two tickets reserved from me. I was living with my Aunt at the time and took her with me to the taping.  It was a lot of fun and something I will always remember. At the end of the taping her next selection was announced and everyone in the audience received a free copy of She Comes Undone by Wally Lamb.  I ABSOLUTELY loved the book and he is still one of my favorite authors. I have read every one was his books.

I read about a book a week, but will not read more than one book at a time.  I don’t know how people can do that. I will get the stories confused and really like to focus on the book I’m reading so I can get all the emotion and enjoy it.  I still have my favorite authors, but I read a much bigger variety now and will give anything a shot, if recommended to me.  My ALL-TIME favorite author is Carol Goodman. I picked up her first novel, The Lake of Dead Languages as a bargain book at Barnes and haven’t stopped reading her since.  My book club I was in a couple years ago even had a phone book discussion with her. We were able to discuss all the books she had published at that time since the majority of the members had read her. I HIGHER recommend her. My favorites are The Lake of Dead Languages and Arcadia Falls.  He husband is a poet and just recently wrote a novel. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but plan to do soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

ONE PINK LINE by Dina Silver

Tiitle: One Pink Line
Author: Dina Silver
Genre: Chic Lit
# Pages: 259
ed: softcover
STARS: 3 out of 5

Why I read: I won off of www.goodreads.com
Time it took me to read: one day, but I was sick so it was basically all I did.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Pink-Line/235260919862358

Summary: This novel takes dual view of a college senior that discovers she is pregnant, just weeks before starting her new career and that of the child that results from the pregnancy. Switching between the stories and spanning generations, the characters learn a lot about themselves and each other.

This is Dina Silver's first novel and she is currently writing her next novel.

Review:  I  loved the overall story and saw that it was inspired by a true story. I am curious to know how much. Only because personally the story seems way to good to be real. Do Ethan's really exist? He was an amazing guy how he stuck by Sydney the whole time and even how his parents were so supportive. 

I loved it too because I am from the Chicago area (far North suburbs) and could relate to a lot of the areas in the book. I have always enjoyed that. The other reason is because I very much could relate to the story. I had my first and only child at 20 and was not married and not really in a relationship. I broke up with him after 2 weeks of dating him, got back together when I discovered I was PG, which didn't last long. He has not been in our life since she was 4 months old. I could relate to a lot of the story down to the denial Sydney faced and the groceries my mom dropped off at my house. I struggled for the first 10 years of her  life until I finally got a real job and could better support us. 

Now for the criticism...like I said some of it was too unbelievable for me and how could she not know you can't drink when pregnant. The first Bud light made sense I could see myself doing the same, but the continual drinking until her mom said something was annoying me. 

But the only reason I gave it 3 stars versus a higher rating was because it was way too predictable to me.


  I knew very early one that Ethan was her husband. Somewhat since her husband, Grace's dad's name was never mentioned - was that your intent or did you want the reader to be surprised they ended back together? I knew as soon as it was discovered that Ethan was not the father.

Other than that and the 2 misspellings (sorry but misspellings in published novels bother me ).I found the novel was a good uplifting novel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What volunteering can do for you

Once I started school to become a Librarian, I started applying for jobs within a library. All I have received was rejection letter after rejection letter. However, it wasn’t that unexpected. I was under-qualified for most positions. The ones that I “fit” perfectly were only part-time and paid $8/hour. Of course that would be great for a college student just starting out, but for a 36 year old with a family to raise and support that wasn’t going to cut it.
Most of my classmates already work in libraries and can bring “real life” experiences to discussions.   Not only due I want to contribute in the fashion, I would love to be in the field as soon as possible. My current career is wiping me out BIG time.  My first semester I had to interview a person in the field of Library Science that I was interested in for a research paper.  At the time, I wasn’t sure which path I was going to take, so I interviewed an Adult Reference Librarian at a local library. Her advice she gave me was to get a part-time job, volunteer, or join Friends of the Library to gain access. She said that would greatly improve chances of receiving employment because they want someone who has experience.
It took me a year to actually inquire about it, but I DID. I now volunteer at my community library about 2 Saturdays a month AND I joined the Friends of the Library. They meet almost once a month and run the bi-annual book club.  On my Saturdays, I primarily help weed through the children’s books to make room for all the new ones. Now this isn’t what I hope to do as a Librarian since there is no interaction with the patrons, but I learn the system and how the “back” of the library actually works and I LOVE IT.
Now, even more excited than this, I have only been volunteering for 3 mos and received an email from the library director and she wants me to lead a monthly book club and GET paid. Now it isn’t much, but it a start and something I can do while going to school, working full-time and raising my family. I went in and talked to her – I was able to help design the flyer, pick the books, and best of all I was able to help design the actually running of the club. Plus, she loved my ideas!!!
At the same time, I asked her if it was OK to use her on my resume as a reference. Her response, “Well, funny you should mention that!”,  she went on to tell me that she has a P/T employee leaving at the end of the year to go back to school. And would like to see if possible I get on board. Now before I get too excited this was just in discussion and nothing is officially on the table. I will probably (hopefully) hear more after Thanksgiving. Although, I did get a little inling from her that it’s not looking good now – another employee may pick up the hours.
This is NOT completely bad news..look at all 3 mos of volunteering has done for me – I’m learning my field, gaining references and friends, part-time book club leader, and already a possibility of a job at a library!!!

So my advice!!!  VOLUNTEER. Even if you are in a field you love…go after a hobby! Children in Need, pet shelters, abused adults, tutoring, whatever it may be. You may not be trying to gain employment, but the REWARDS are a benefit to all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning to Read….

So I have a 5yr. old stepson (well, kind of – I live with my boyfriend and our 3 kids) who is in kindergarden.  Jacob barely knew all his letters of the alphabet and none of the sounds each letter made when he started.  Two weeks into kindergarden and a new daycare, he was learning his sounds and doing great.
I, for the most part, have been the one to put him to bed every night for the last two years. We have been reading every night. After learning his sounds, he now is the one to read to ME. It is a great accomplishment that I am very proud of – both him for learning and me for teaching.  Don’t get me wrong I still read to him because who doesn’t like to be read to, but almost every night he reads a book or two as well.
His first book was THE NEW HAT. Now primarily he had memorized it since when I showed him the same words in different books he did not know them, but he was definitely learning. He now can read several words. Our normal series is the GREAT books, Bob series.
Ok, a side note – I also have a 16 year old daughter, Alyssa, who I taught to read with the Bob books. They are a great reading tool. I absolutely love them and highly recommend them. A personal note, I have been dating my boyfriend since August 21, 2009. We both owned our own houses. My daughter has lived with me full-time her entire life and I was the typical single mom. He shared custody of his 3 kids (the oldest was 18 at time – I didn’t meet her for a year ½ into a relationship, but that is a different story for another time). Anyway, we started shopping for a house together only 4 months into our relationship. It took a long time and I was ok with that since we REALLY were in a new relationship. However, we did end up buying a house together 3 months before our year anniversary. So now together, we only 3 houses with our individual’s houses being rented out.
At the same time, my boyfriend was trying to get primary custody of his 3 year old son, which after not much of a fight he received it. They still shared equal time with Jacob until he needed to start kindergarden. He now lives with us Monday through Friday and sees his mom on most weekends, but not every one.  His 11 year old daughter would also need to switch schools – her mom moved just 2 months before us – in with her boyfriend as well. So Lauryn had a lot of changes going on too. They visited both schools and both parents were fighting for her to live with them. Her mom had signed her up for school in her town, but 3 days before school was to start Lauryn decided to finally speak up and say she didn’t want to live with her mom and wanted to go to the school where we now live. So we have my daughter, his daughter and son living with us full-time (plus 2 cats and a dog)!!!
Now back to the reading – SO Jacob is now on his 5th Bob book and doing great and much to my great satisfaction he LOVES to read and is disappointed if on the few occasions we don’t have time usually due to being out too late. He will usually point out words he knows even in the books I read to him. I don’t necessary like that or think it is beneficial because when he is reading every 5th word or so it makes it difficult to follow the story, but again he loves it.
Another great learning to read too is the memory game with words of course. We have to find the matching words and he has to read every card that gets turned over. I always put the words he knows plus a few new ones in to challenge him. This is a great tool because he actually learns the words without them being in the context of a book (to avoid the memorization of the story).
It is a great feeling to share the love of reading with a 5 year old and every day see more progress!!! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CPA turned Librarian

Or at least that is my goal I’m working towards and this is my journey through it…follow it with you wish J
I knew I wanted to be an accountant since Sophomore year in high school when we received these little packets which were to represent a company and we had to record on the hypothetically transactions and then create the financial statements. I LOVED it. I wore blinders through the rest of my high school years and college. I made the mistake of never even considering any other career.
I became the typical nerdy accountant even before finishing high school. Although I do not regret those decisions to this day and am proud on my accomplishments. My senior year I finished 7th in Nationals (in San Antonio, Texas) for the Business Professionals of America.  However, I missed both Junior and Senior prom due to the competitions. Senior year I started my college career ahead of time, by taking community college for Accounting classes my high school didn’t offer.
Like I said, I do not regret these decisions. My only regret was NEVER looking at any other possible career path.
I have been an accountant/CPA for the past 12 ½ years ago for a great Int’l manufacturing company, however I have not enjoyed my job for about the past 5 1/2 years. Plus, the only reason I was happy for 7 years was because of a promotion to the Corporate office. After 5 years I was done!!
O.K.  Now to the exciting part, I decided if I was to change careers I was making sure I would TRULY enjoy it. So about 3 years ago, I began thinking and researching what I wanted to be when I grow up. At first I thought an editor, but the only place to get a good job was in Chicago and being a single mom I didn’t want to be that far from home in case something should happen or the long hours. Plus, it is hard to get into and I would end up reading a lot of books (yeah) that I was not really interested in (yuck!).
I thought about just doing magazine book reviews and keeping my full-time job, but sent numerous emails and received no responses and really was becoming to HATE my job – all aspects – so I continued to ponder my choices.
I don’t remember exactly when and how the light bulb turned on, but it did about 3 years ago….I wanted to be a librarian. I love reading, I love researching and I would love to assist others in recommendations and research…and I already knew I wanted to do something with books and reading.
Now I had to just figure out how to go about it….what was needed, how to afford it, and if it was even a possible.  So I again started researching. Found out I would need a Master’s degree – 2 more years of college full-time. Of course I couldn’t go full-time as I still needed to work and going away to school wasn’t an option, so researching again….I found several colleges that offered on-line classes for a Master’s in Information and Library Science, however not quite as many that allowed you to earn the entire degree on-line. However, more research led me to a website that listed all universities that offered complete Master’s degree for SOIS on-line. I also had to verify that they were great accredited college, not those cheesy on-line schools.
After more research, I decided on University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee for several reasons.
-         It was close enough if I choose to visit for any reason
-         Was a reputable university
-         Did not require any entry exams
-         And as sad as it is, no long entry essays

Now, I had to get accepted and see how to afford it financial. This all is pretty boring, but was completed in the End of Spring ’09. I was going to try and get started that summer as I was so excited!!! However, that didn’t work out since financial aid worked differently for summer  session.  So Fall ’10 here I come!!