Thursday, April 24, 2014

You're graduating high school, now what?

I stayed up all night last night reading an ARC of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A. S. King (dear lord people, so much glorious goodness coming this fall - make a note to read it!). This book is many amazing things, but it perfectly captures that moment when you graduate from high school and realize you have to figure out what comes next. For a lot of teens, the what next is college. For some, like Glory, it is a gap year. For others, it is straight to work.

Yesterday we talked about high school, but here are a couple of books from Zest Books that can help us all with the moments that come after high school.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College by Halley Bondy

I'm not going to lie, my favorite item in this book was number 23: Spend quality time in the library . . . without doing homework. I was lucky enough to go to college in a town with two colleges, and the other college - Kenyon College - had the most amazing bookstore ever. We used to go all the time and hang out there; you would find wondrous things that you never knew existed. If you ever find yourself in Mount Vernon Ohio, go there. Even if you are kinda maybe a little bit close, drive in for a visit.

Some other good tips include taking a class that has nothing to do with your major, learn a language you've never studied, try a sport you've never tried (intramurals can be a good way to do this), and join an a capella group (or at least watch the movie Pitch Perfect and do this vicariously). And as an aside, many of these will apply to those who choose an alternate, non-college plan after high school. You can even find alternate ways to do some of the education related ones - like study a language or take a class outside of your major - by using your local library resources or taking a local community class.

Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School by Genevieve Morgan

Duct Tape! Check out Sticky Fingers, plus learn from my mistakes - cool tips

I own no less than 20 rolls of Duck/Duct Tape. Okay, technically I bought them for the Tween. But you know, I get to play with them too! Plus, I have regular Duct Tape crafting days at the library. Suffice it to say at this point, I am an expert on Duct Tape crafts.

In fact, I have some important tips for you:

1. Don't use scissors! Buy an exacto knife and a cutting mat. So much easier to use. If you do use scissors, have lots of Goo Gone on hand to keep cleaning your scissors.

2. To make strips, you can in fact use a scrapbook paper cutter thingy. They look like this. They work wonders. I find this particularly useful to make strips to make a piece of "duct tape material" as it is sometimes called, which you can use, for example, as a duct tape wallet base.

3. You can save little pieces you cut off, like corners and such, on a removable surface, like the backside of your cutting mat, and use them to make picture collages on canvas. Or folders.

4. Once a piece of duct tape gets stuck to itself there is no saving it. Just throw it away and get a new piece.

5. Always make sure you have solid color options to balance the cool print options.

I have shared several posts of some of my favorite activities and books, but here is a new book coming out in July from Zest Books called Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects by Sophie Maletsky (ISBN: 978-1-936976-54-6)

I love the step-by-step instructions in full color! And how the activities are not the same ole', same ole' activities again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life Hacks with The How To Handbook (Plus, some of my favorite Life Hacks posts/resources)

noun: life hack 
1. a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one's time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
If you spend any time at Buzzfeed or Pinterest, you know that Life Hacks are a thing. Kitchen hacks, school hacks, craft hacks . . . you can always find fun posts that highlight fast and creative ways to solve a problem, re-use an item, etc. I am obsessed with finding fun and creative life hacks.
But here's the truth, I don't do very many of them because, well, I am not overly domestic. True story. So kitchen hacks? Cool, but not practical for me because I avoid the kitchen like the plague.

So then I was reading this story about how teens don't know how to do a lot of the basic skills that we used to take for granted because no one is teaching them.  Know how to sew on a button? Most teens don't. Know how to tie a knot or pitch a tent? Sadly, a lot of teens don't.

Every time I see the book The How-to-Handbook I keep thinking that I want to put together a program series called Life Hacks - perfect for a series of Throw Back Thursday themed programs - where we teach teens how to do these basic types of skills. Family Circle has a really good highlight of some of the things we need to make sure teens know, including money skills and clothing skills (there's that sewing on a button thing again).

Take 5: Your High School Survival Pack

Some people are busy preparing to survive the zombie apocalypse, but the truth is there is something much harder that we all have to survive - High School!

Don't get me wrong, there were some awesome things about high school. Friday night football games are fun. First love is fun (and terrifying). Watching scary movies with friends, also fun. But I would definitely not want to go back and do it again. Nope, not at all.

So here are some tools to help you - or someone you love - survive high school. While preppers are busy hoarding food and building underground tunnels, all you need is to throw a few good books in your survival pack. And I know just the books . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zest Books Week 2014

This week is once again Zest Books week here at TLT. Zest Books is one of my favorite nonfiction publishers for young adults. Here's a look at the various books we've talked about so far on TLT, including book reviews and program/party outlines. There's a little bit of something for everyone.

Rant: Because Faking It isn't Real, or Helpful


I admit, I have watched MTV for a long time. A LOOOONG time. I watched music videos and loved the VJs, and had my favorites. I watched the original Real World when it aired in 1992 (even though I had to hide it from my parents- they didn't think it was appropriate as it was a little too extreme for our area). I watched when Real World: San Francisco was lauded for AIDS activist Pedro being honest about his story and his life. I have watched numerous episodes of True Life, watching teens document their real stories, and Catfish: The TV Show, where the dangers of online dating are exposed. I even watched the short lived WWE Tough Enough, where contestants were trying to become wrestling stars. I've seen 16 & Pregnant, Teen Moms, and other shows, and seen MTV become more television than music. It's not on my favorite channel list on Roku, and I don't tune in that often. I admit that I haven't been able to get into Teen Wolf or Akward, but I haven't really tried.

Across my Twitter stream the other day came #BanMTVsFakingIt, listed by some people that I actively follow and some I just browse. I follwed the thread, and then got curious. Faking It is a new teen show launching this week. Accoring to the New York Times:
Katie Stevens and Rita Volk star as Karma and Amy, best friends desperate to crack their school’s inner social circle. (As usual, there’s no obvious reason — looks, charm, body mass — why they shouldn’t already be there.) Karma is the more desperate of the two, and the show opens with her latest scheme, to generate sympathy by pretending to have been blinded by a sudden-onset brain tumor.
Within a few minutes of screen time, a better solution falls into their laps: They’re mistaken for a lesbian couple, and Karma realizes that they should play along: Being a brave, public same-sex couple in liberal Austin makes them instant celebrities.
That’s enough of a hook to make the show stand out, but it takes a further step (spoiler alert here) by making one of the girls realize that maybe she’s not just playacting her new sexual orientation. It’s a slightly melodramatic twist, though it raises the stakes from teenage farce to something with a little more emotional resonance.

Book Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

In the future, Apple and Google are no more. Gnosis is the technology corporation that rules the day, in part with a device called Lux. Lux knows everything about you and helps you make optimal decisions. It keeps you on task and on time, it minimizes your need to be involved in very basic decision-making, and it helps you be the best you. At least that's what they want you to believe.

Rory has just been accepted to the elite Theden Academy. She soon learns that not everything is as it seems and finds herself involved in unraveling the pieces of not only her own past, but of the world's future as she learns just what lengths some people will go to in order to make money and take control. Along the way she doesn't know who to trust, though she does find herself needing the help of a hacker named North (a thrilling romance ensues).

Free to Fall is a very interesting look at a future in which people become overly reliant on their handheld technology and major corporations use that reliance to try and take over the world in what I can only describe as some pretty awesome conspiracy theories. There are secret societies with clandestine initiations, secret codes to break, and really a lot of very cool philosophical discussions thrown in. A little Da Vinci Code for teens mixed with some Michael Crichton techno thriller. It gets a little absurd, as these things tend to do, but it is a fun, high octane ride. In the end you feel like there is no way 3 teenagers can stand up against a conspiracy theory Goliath of this proportion and live, but Miller manages to handle the scenarios in ways that are plausible enough to make the book work. I would highly recommend the book for the fun factor alone, if I were not completely torn about one very problematic scene.

The Problematic Scene

Monday, April 21, 2014

Middle Grade Monday - Book Review - The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold

This is a beautifully written, quiet book that draws you in to the world of Iris, who is going through one of the most difficult experiences any of us can have - the loss of her best friend. Iris used to live in sunny California where she spent most of her free time in the company of her long term best friend, Sarah. One fateful day the girls are walking home from playing tennis when a car swerves off the road, instantly killing Sarah but narrowly missing Iris. The story begins after Iris's family (her mother, father, and their cat Charlie) have moved to perpetually rainy Oregon for a fresh start.

Iris's mother has a fantastic new position at a local university and her father is planning on turning their new, more rural, home into a self-sustaining entity - complete with wind power, gardens, chicken, etc. Iris starts out home schooling, but it's not long before she decides she'd rather be enrolled in the local school. While she's understandably reluctant to form new friendships, she really can't avoid the attentions of Boris, a boy in her grade who sits with her at lunch and is obsessed with the card game Magic.

Book Review: Scared Stiff, Everything you need to know about 50 famous phobias by Sara Latta

Crowds. I don't like being in a crowded place where people are pressed together wall to wall and you look around and think, if this place catches on fire there is no way I can get out. I always want to make sure there is a solid exit strategy. Apparently, this is claustrophobia which is not just a fear of tight, confined spaces, but a fear of no escape.

Have you read Coraline by Neil Gaiman? It taps into an interesting fear called Koumpounophobia: the fear of buttons (page 96).

And today's current zombie craze? A possible product of Kinemortophobia: a fear of zombies. Interestingly enough, people aren't so much afraid of being eaten by zombies (not high on my list), but of being turned in to a zombie (even lower on my list). And although there seems to be no such thing as zombies, there really are zombie ants. These ants are taken over by a fungus (page 92).

I imagine a lot of people have the newer phobia Nomophobia, a fear of being out of mobile phone contact. If you feel anxiety when you have to turn off your phone or get jittery or headaches if you're separated from your phone, you may have this (page 113). My cell phone dies all the time and I'm okay so I'm pretty sure that this one isn't an issue for me.

My daughter refused to read Doll Bones by Holly Black because she thought the cover was too scary - she may have Pediophobia: a fear of dolls.