Asian Inspired Salad

It doesn’t get any easier than this and you can find variations of this salad just about anywhere on the web. But this version is my family’s favorite. After a few days of Thanksgiving leftovers we needed something green and crunchy. I make this when we need something fast that requires little preparation. You can make this as big or as small as you need.

Asian Inspired Salad

  • Chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • Sliced cabbage (I often cheat and buy a packaged chop salad kit and discard the dressing)
  • carrot shreds (I buy them already shredded)
  • chopped green onions
  • diced red pepper
  • can of mandarin oranges
  • sliced or slivered almonds
  • won tons
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • favorite asian dressing (We like Girard’s Toasted Sesame)

Combine all into a bowl and enjoy!

Top 10 Graphic Novels

Our school opened in 2019 and not counting being closed for the pandemic or summer months, we have been open for 10 months total. The checkout numbers may not be considered high to some, but take into account we’ve only been open 10 months.

Graphic novels have become sooo popular over the last few years. In our library, graphic novels only represent 20% of our collection, yet they count for 41% of all our checkouts. A lot of parents are unhappy when their teens only checkout graphic novels, but I call them gateway books. They are fast to read and highly entertaining. Once a person, or a reluctant reader, has learn that a book can be a great source of entertainment they are eventually willing to branch out and read traditional books. A big portion of graphic novels are manga – Japanese graphic novels that are read from back to front, left to right. There are also many classics and popular novels that have been turned into graphic novels. The Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables, Maximum Ride, and the Percy Jackson series to name a few. I finessed this list a bit. If it was a true top 10 there would be 8 My Hero Academia books and 2 others, so I chose to combine all of those into one slot so I could highlight some more really popular books.


By far and away, these are our number one checkouts. Hugely popular, we have two sets of these and they are constantly put on hold. The 1st book in the series has been checked out 54 times.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks” at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny… 


This book has won many awards. The kids really liked this one and couldn’t wait for us to order the sequel. Checked out 35 times.

The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!


Raina Telgemeier’s books resonate with many of our readers. This one is a popular re-read. Checked out 33 times.

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

#4 – The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home

A cute cat comic book, this one is constantly being put on hold. Checked out 31 times.

A multiple New York Times Best Seller and two-time winner of the Manga.Ask.Com Awards for Best Children’s Manga, Konami Kanata’s tale of a lost kitten has been acclaimed by readers worldwide as an excellent example of a comic that has truly been accepted by readers of all-ages.

Chi is a mischievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Separated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

#5 – CRUSH

#3 in the Berrybrook Middle School series. I don’t know much about, except I’m always shelving them. Checked out 26 times.

Jorge seems to have it all together. He’s big enough that nobody really messes with him, but he’s also a genuinely sweet guy with a solid, reliable group of friends. The only time he ever really feels off his game is when he crosses paths with a certain girl… But when the group dynamic among the boys starts to shift, will Jorge be able to balance what his friends expect of him versus what he actually wants?

#6 – DRAMA

Another popular Raina Telgemeier book. Checked out 26 times.


Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!


#1 in the Berrybrook Middle School series. Checked out 24 times.

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

#8 – SMILE

Raina Telgemeier wins again! Checked out 24 times.

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.


The kids always told us how much they liked this book when they brought it back. It is one of our most worn out books. Checked out 22 times.

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.


This is another series I am constantly re-shelving. The first 3-in-1 book has been checked out 21 times.

Twelve years ago the Village Hidden in the Leaves was attacked by a fearsome threat. A nine-tailed fox spirit claimed the life of the village leader, the Hokage, and many others. Today, the village is at peace and a troublemaking kid named Naruto is struggling to graduate from Ninja Academy. His goal may be to become the next Hokage, but his true destiny will be much more complicated. The adventure begins now!


The Calm I Seek


Christina Lourens

Christian Fiction, Romance

Published November 26, 2020

After the violent death of her husband, Rebecca Holmes is content leading a quiet life spending time with her sisters and niece. When her younger sister Hannah asks her to plan her wedding, Rebecca discovers her friends and family all think her life is empty. Determined to prove them wrong, Rebecca takes up salsa lessons where she meets the charismatic salsa teacher, Gabriel Rodriguez.

Falling in love is the last thing Rebecca wanted to do, but she is inexplicably drawn to Gabriel. Opening her heart again is terrifying, especially after what happened with her late husband. With the help of the local vicar, Rebecca starts to believe that maybe she deserves a happy ending after all.

Just when she’s decided to give her heart to Gabriel, a betrayal brings back demons from the past. Heartbroken, Rebecca closes herself off again, but when disaster strikes her family, she is forced to confront her past actions. Can there be redemption for her and can she forgive those who betrayed her?

The Calm I Seek is a heartbreaking novel about forgiveness and redemption.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. It got off to a bit of a slow start but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Rebecca is so hurt and lonely, but she thinks loneliness is the only option for her. She is angry with God, and ultimately with herself. The theme of forgiveness that is woven through the book is especially touching. It can be a lot easier to forgive someone else than to forgive ourselves. As she worked through those feelings, her relationship with herself and others around her began to change – she could feel the peace and love we find when we stop fighting against God. The book was engaging, emotionally satisfying and exactly what I needed at the time. 

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Blueberry Muffins

Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog where you have to wade through a bunch of whimsical memories before you get to the recipe. I’ll keep it short and sweet! These are awesome. Everyone who has had them raves about them. They are easy and so worth it!



1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

3/4 Cup white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 Cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 Cup milk

1 Cup fresh blueberries


1/2 Cup white sugar

1/3 Cup all-purpose flour

1/4 Cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. 

Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups about 2/3rds full and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. 

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Love in Lockdown


Chloe James

General Fiction, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Published November 23, 2020 by Avon Books UK

Sophia is afraid lockdown will put her life on pause – just as she was she was going to put herself out there and meet someone. When the first clap for the keyworkers rings out around her courtyard, she’s moved to tears for all kinds of reasons.

Jack is used to living life to the fullest, and is going stir-crazy after just days isolating. Until that night he hears a woman crying from the balcony beneath his. He strikes up a conversation with the stranger and puts a smile back on her face.

Soon their balcony meetings are the highlight of Jack and Sophia’s days. But even as they grow closer together, they’re always kept apart.

My Thoughts:

Throughout the first 40% of the book I kept thinking “too soon.” Where I am, we are dealing with skyrocketing cases and currently two of my kids schools, and the school I work at, have been shut down for 2 weeks due to a high number of cases. I kept putting the book down, shaking my head, thinking I just lived this, I don’t want to read about it. But then I would pick it up so I could find out what happened next. But I’m glad I kept going. The pacing is fairly slow the first half (I think that was part of my struggles as well) but then it picks up and gets going. Once that happened I was able to set aside my “too soon” feelings and really enjoy the story. I liked the community that came together through Jack and Sophia’s efforts and how they all learned to appreciate parts of the lockdown. Didn’t we all experience that as well this year? It was a relatable and charming story and I’m glad I stuck with it.

Easy Breadsticks

I got this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and they are my go-to when I need something fast and easy. I’ve made them twice this week. Once to go with Caesar Salads and once to go with Lasagna. The instructions call for twisting them, (hers are BEAUTIFUL) but when I do, it looks like a toddler has done it, so I leave mine alone. The only other change I make it to halve the butter that goes on the baking sheet. Enjoy these with a yummy bowl of soup and a good book!



1 1/2 Cups warm water

1 tablespoon instant yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 cups flour, about 15-20 ounces (see note)

Butter and topping

3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Dried herbs, garlic salt and grated Parmesan cheese


In an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl by hand), mix together the water, yeast, sugar, salt and one cup of the flour.

Continue adding the flour until the dough just clears the sides of the bowl; knead for about three minutes. It should be soft and slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers.

Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.

While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the melted butter onto large, rimmed baking sheet (about 11X17-inches).

On a lightly greased countertop, pat the dough into a long rectangle, about 16-inches by 7-inches or so. 

Cut the dough every 1-inch (more or less) into strips with a pizza cutter.

Twist each strip slightly and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with dried herbs of choice, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.

Let rise for 20 minutes (you can cover with greased plastic wrap, if desired, I usually go without). Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Honeymoon for One


Jennifer Peel

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Published 2017, 2019

Is there room for two on this honeymoon for one?

Piper Wyatt’s Christmas wish is to get promoted to manager at Blackstock Hotel and Resort. Not only does the promotion mean more money, but it means more time with her son and proof that she’s not such a disappointment after all.

Jace Petersen, successful owner of a national chain of sporting goods stores, finds himself alone and miserable on what should have been his honeymoon. That is until he literally falls onto the lovely Piper Wyatt. He’s intrigued with this woman who can fix a car in high heels. Too bad for him, he makes a horrible first impression, and Piper’s not allowed to mingle with the guests.

While Piper tries her best to steer clear of Jace during his stay, she can’t help but notice he’s not the man from their first meeting. But is he worth risking her promotion? Or is Jace right, Piper deserves more than she ever thought possible for herself?

Find out in this charming Christmas tale about finding love in the most unexpected place, a honeymoon.

My Thoughts:

I liked this one and I was immediately drawn into Piper’s world, but I felt like something was missing. I feel the length of the book (147 pages) greatly impacted the character development. Piper was a bit repetitive as she always rehashed “people expected more of me, I’m a mom now, I can’t take chances, etc.” I didn’t feel like there was that much dialog between those two so I couldn’t see why their relationship moved so fast. He never talked about his “left at the alter” situation beyond a few sentences and she never talked about her marriage and divorce beyond a few surface details. You get one tiny paragraph about Jace’s background (job, parents) but I never felt like I knew him.

All of these complaints aside, I really did like the book. Finn was cute, Piper was interesting and I cared whether or not she got the promotion she wanted. If you are looking for happily-ever-after entertainment without delving into nitty, gritty emotions, you will enjoy this book.


I work in the library in a middle school with grades 7-9. Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting the books/series that have been checked out the most by our students. The kids are the best judge of what is popular and what is not!

A little background……

Our school opened in the fall of 2019. Students attended for 7 months before we were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a new library we are working on growing our collection and currently we have 3,834 books. We organized our library by genre, so kids (and reluctant readers) who gravitate only to certain genre’s would easily be able to find the books they enjoy.

In my opinion it’s the best job I’ve ever had! Stay tuned for the first post….. Graphic Novels!

In Name Only


Jennifer Peel

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Published October 26, 2020

Dani Kramer used to think growing up in foster homes was the most difficult thing she would ever have to do until all her dreams come true. Married to the love of her life, Dr. Brock Holland, and running a foundation that specializes in finding jobs for kids out of foster care, Dani seems to have it all. What no one knows is that it could all go away tomorrow if anyone finds out about the precious secret she carries.

For Brock Holland, military doctor, life has always been about duty to his career and country. But when he’s captured during a joint allied training mission, thoughts of Dani, his best friend, the woman he’s tried for years not to fall in love with, help him not only survive but reevaluate his priorities. However, when he returns home, he finds Dani is pregnant. In a cruel twist, duty calls again. He must marry Dani to save her from becoming a political pawn in a dangerous game she didn’t know she had signed up to play.

But who will protect Dani’s and Brock’s hearts from each other? Or will they discover their marriage is more than only sharing a last name?

Content warning: This book contains sensitive material related to PTSD, brief military violence, and pregnancy. For more detailed descriptions that include spoiler alerts see the authors blog on her website.

My Thoughts:

First off, I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It caught my eye immediately and just drew me in. This is the 2nd book in a series and while I don’t think reading the first book is a must, I think it would give the reader a better idea of who everyone is and their backstory.

There are things I loved about this book and things I didn’t but it was still worth reading through to the end. I’ve been sitting here for more than 30 minutes trying to figure out my feelings. I loved the marriage of convenience plot and I was glued to the book until I finished. I loved Dani but didn’t like her passiveness when it came to how unhappy she was. I get her background and her feelings of guilt played into that but she just went along with everything and everyone. I wanted her to fight for herself a little harder. There were some other things I just didn’t buy. I didn’t buy the boys devotion to their dad and the fact they couldn’t see how he was orchestrating everything around him. I thought the messiness of the relationships (and boy were they messy and complicated) were too easily and too quickly resolved. Ms Peel did a good job with the emotions surrounding the pregnancy complications. I’ve been there, done that, 6 different times and I thought she handled that well.

I don’t think this book was as good as the first, but I’m still looking forward to reading the third one when it comes out.

Favorite Friday

I discovered Jennifer Peel’s books during the first weeks of the pandemic when the public libraries closed down. Schools were closed and since I worked in a school, my job was shut down too. I needed books to take my mind off of everything that was happening around me. I signed up for Kindle Unlimited and found this series. I liked the first book and LOVED the second and third. She deals with some pretty tough topics in ways that I thought were realistic and inspiring. I highly recommend this series.

Ms. Peel writes clean romances and she has a way of drawing you in to the story and getting you emotionally involved with her characters and their lives.