Sunday, June 26, 2016

Let's Get Technical: Post 2

Since my last post about Midlands Technical College, we finished our week of training for orientation advising and have jumped into our sessions. During the day, we meet with somewhere between 3 and 8 students to discuss their first semester academic plan. Orientation and advising at MTC is required for all new students before they can enroll in classes. Sessions normally take between 10-15 minutes, though some can last much longer, and some fly by quickly. 

I've been able to meet with students of all age ranges, backgrounds, and majors. This is one huge draw to the community college field for me. No two days are the same, and no two students are the same. I may be working with a disabled veteran on a Monday, a straight-A 17-year-old on Thursday, and a middle-aged person switching careers on Friday. 

The diversity of the students and the crackle of energy in orientation brought me to a realization that made me stagger. 

As the orientation team, we may be a student's first impression of college. When we advise them on classes, we define the rest of their lives. Students trust our advice. They soak up our stories. We make or break them. 

I've known that I wanted to help individuals shape their lives into a better tomorrow. But I don't believe I realized the extent of my power until I started advising at MTC. This knowledge makes me want to work harder, to work better, to be better.

The pace at Midlands is incredibly quick and can be exhausting, especially for an introvert like me. However, I'm thankful for the opportunity to MTC to practice my skills, to work alongside an amazing team, and to hopefully make a difference for a better tomorrow in our community. 




Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review of THE GRACES by Laure Eve

It's been awhile, but I'M BACK with a young adult book review this month! I'm happy to announce that June's pick is THE GRACES by Laure Eve!

Without further ado, let's jump into it!



Synopsis:

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.


Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.


***

I picked up this advanced reader's copy because the description of the book immediately caught my attention. I loved the snippet in the synopsis. And it's true; Eve has an absolutely captivating writing style, and I'm a sucker for that. 

I'm also a sucker for anything even remotely supernatural. More and more books these days merely hint at magic (like Sarah Addison Allen's books), and I enjoy the thought that doses of magic exist in all of our lives...if we know how to notice them. 

I read most of THE GRACES on a plane (I know. What else is new?). I meant to write when I switched flights, but I couldn't put this book down! The same thing happened when I got home. I meant to go to sleep early, but by that time, I was 80% in and committed to seeing the read through. And now that it's over, I miss the world and the characters and hope I'll meet them again.

I left the story with mixed feelings...which I wonder if others mirrored my reaction, and that's why the book sits around a 3.75 on Goodreads right now. I won't lie. I had trouble with the ending. Unfortunately, I can't tell you why because I don't want to spoil the story. 

But let me emphasize--This story IS a thriller through and through. Don't go in expecting a soft paranormal romance like I did. You'll be sorely disappointed. 

I also have mixed feelings about the way LGB issues were handled in the book. While there is an LGB element, characters' general reactions remain ignorant and fearful. As a member of the community, I strive hard to normalize my LGB characters, their identities and struggles, and to show a side of the world that may be a bit kinder because I genuinely believe that is the direction in which we are moving. Writers have a huge voice for how young people interact with minorities. I find it to be the utmost importance for us to weave as many positive stories as we can to help be the change. So while I'm thankful the topic was broached, I'm hopeful that in Eve's next book, we'll see it handled differently!

 Finally, I'm not a huge fan of the cover, even though covers like this seem to be the new trend, and there is symbolism to it. Perhaps the print edition will have softer edges.

I do, however, want to see this main character in another book. If I were given the chance to read and review it, I certainly would. I haven't had nearly enough of River, her adventures, or her lyrical voice. When an author can write like Eve can, it's a crime to think there might not be another book.

All in all, I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, which, for me, is a high rating--one that I think Eve truly earned. 

If you're looking for YA thriller and want a book you won't be able to put down, then this book is for you. The book will be out September 1st, 2016, so be sure to grab a copy!

Did you like THE GRACES? Leave your comments below!

I'll see you next time!



 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Let's Get Technical: Post 1

Hi Everyone!

For the rest of the summer, I'll be diverging from my typical book reviews to focus on something else--my career (though don't worry; I also have book reviews coming out at the end of this month and next)!

As many of my readers probably do not know, I am currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. This summer, I am interning for Midlands Technical College with the hopes of hopefully working full-time in a community college once more after I finish my Master's. I guess you could say I'm a student affairs professional by day and a rogue writer, editor, and book reviewer by night.

But without further ado, let's jump into my experiences so far!




This past Friday, we finished our first week of training to be Orientation Advisors. As I reflected, I realized that, for me, community colleges will forever feel like home. I started my own higher education journey in a community college--both as a student and then an employee. Since then, I have worked in four community colleges, including Midlands. While I love four-year institutions as well, community colleges are home, and the people who work within them are family.

Less than a year from now, I'll be venturing out in the job search process, and I have to thank Midlands for reaffirming just how much the two-year sector means to be. From the student demographics served, to the mission statement, to the strategic plan, to the vital role that community colleges play in the country, I cannot see myself committing to working anywhere else. 

I look forward to what the rest of the summer has to offer. Please check back next week for a new post!

Until then, peace.