Tag Archive | advice

77 Things You Absolutely Have to do Before You Finish College, by Halley Bondy (book review)

book cover of 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College by Halley Bondy published by Zest Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDuring college, you can:
try, host, produce, join,
find, create, and also graduate!

From the predictable (find and rent an apartment) to the less-common (get lost…in your town) to the downright unexpected (have a shameless junk food night), this clever and conversational advice book will get you out of your rut at college and help you make memorable experiences with some life-lessons along the way.

You should easily find this 2014 title at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, just ask them to order it for you (did you know that interlibrary loan services are usually free to library card holders?!

What’s your ‘must-do’ advice for a college student?
**kmm

Book info: 77 Things You Absolutely Have to do Before You Finish College / Halley Bondy. Zest Books, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Beyond study skills and resume-writing, college students can broaden their experiences and up their life-satisfaction score with ideas and advice from this slightly offbeat guide to life on and off campus.

Personalize your dorm/apartment room (without forfeiting the damage deposit) or politely ask your roommate to be gone for a time, connect to campus organizations or disconnect from distractions while studying, change your hair or volunteer at a shelter – so many things that can positively impact your college experience!

Whether you choose to have a real conversation with your favorite professor, talk to a local elder, speak up about an issue on campus – or all three – you’ll find plenty of good ideas for taking your college experience far beyond exams and exhausted studying with 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College.

Y is YA authors saying Break These Rules (book review) – speak up, stand out, be yourself!

book cover of Break These Rules:  35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself edited by Luke Reynolds published by Chicago Review Press“It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“Always know where you’re going.”
“Dress appropriately.”

No!

Here are 35 “life rules” to question, with the help of great YA authors from Lisa Schroeder (The Day Before – my review here) to Francisco X. Stork (The Last Summer of the Death Warriors – my review here) sharing their personal stories in essays calling us to Break These Rules.

If your favorite local library or independent bookstore doesn’t have Break These Rules  on the shelf, ask them to get it – advice from these 35 noted YA authors is priceless!

**kmm

Book info: Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself / edited by Luke Reynolds. Chicago Review Press, 2013. [editor’s blog]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Shelf Awareness.

My book talk: Trying to follow the many “life rules” stated by parents and society can get in the way of living, so 35 young adult authors share ways to Break These Rules  to let yourself speak up, stand out, and be yourself.

Sara Zarr says that “Never talk about religion” can keep us out of “the full range of cultural conversation about faith, which has shaped world history for millenia” (pg. 57), while Lisa Schroeder notes that family advice to “Follow the money, not your heart” for your profession reflects their worries about you taking chances.

Society may say “Pretend the dark stuff isn’t true” (Carol Lynch Williams), “Be normal” (Jen Neilsen), and “Always know where you’re going” (Brian Yansky), but bowing to the demands “Go to college after high school” (Chris Barton), “Don’t daydream” (Wendy Mass) or “Always sit in your assigned seat” (Lyn Miller-Lachman) can stifle your authentic self.

Thinking about which life rules to keep or to break is why this book was created. As editor Luke Reynolds puts it: “Here are 35 rules that you can start breaking right now in order to discover how different from everyone else you can be. And, you might just discover how good it feels to be exactly like you.”  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

G for Girl’s Guide to Fitting In Fitness, by Erin Whitehead and Jennipher Walters (book review) – exercise and relaxation for busy lives

book cover of Girls Guide to Fitting in Fitness by Erin Whitehead and Jennipher Walters published by Zest BooksClasses and homework.
Club meetings and time with friends.
Who has time for exercise?
You do!

Without fancy equipment, expensive gym memberships, or high-tech shoes, you can improve your overall health as you fit fitness into your daily routine without sacrificing everything else.

The authors of this March 2013 release are long-time fitness experts and started their Fit-Bottomed Girls website to share what they’ve learned. Grab this paperback and start some easy healthy fitness habits today.
**kmm

Book info: A Girl’s Guide to Fitting In Fitness / Erin Whitehead and Jennipher Walters. Zest Books, 2013. [authors’ website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Busy teens can’t spare time to spend hours in the gym, but anyone can find small chunks of time – at home, at school, on weekends, or during the summer – to improve their fitness and overall health.

After briefly assessing your energy level, sleep quality, stress level, and confidence as a starting point, you can choose exercise types and times that motivate you – from a solo dance party to your own rotation of warmup, cardio, strength, flexibility, and cooldown moves.

The authors offer several sample routines, plus good advice on avoiding injuries, easing your way into a wakeup workout, and different ways to make breakfast in a hurry. Proper hydration, the benefits of just plain walking, and how to fit your fitness plan into summer work or vacation are also covered.

If you want to pick up the pace with a 5K run or other competitive event, check out all the tips on training, goal-setting, and keeping yourself motivated as you prepare.

Round out your fitness with relaxation, from yoga to massage to restful sleep, so that your body has time to recover from exercise and your mind can let go of stress.

Young women will welcome the variety of exercise and relaxation routines collected here by Whitehead and Walters, along with reputable apps and websites relating to fitness and nutrition. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

On ARCs, review timing, and niches (reflective) – my blog = my choices & recommendations

sketch of black cat reading a sheet of paper
from OpenClipart.org

After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)

Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.

I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.

My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.

BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: 
I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.

Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.

Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.

I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all!
**kmm

Don’t Sit On the Baby! by Halley Bondy (book review) – babysitting skills and safety guide

book cover of Dont Sit on the Baby by Halley Bondy published by Zest BooksThinking about babysitting to make money?
Can you tolerate runny noses and poopy diapers?
Are you calm in emergency situations?
Ready to fold paper hats or read a bedtime story?

With the advice and skills in this book, you can become a better sitter as you advertise and run your own business providing an important service for parents and families in your community.

So update your infant and children CPR training, practice your pattycakes and freeze tag skills, and keep both eyes on the kiddos with your cellphone in your pocket for emergencies on the job.

As a mom, grandmother, and former babysitter, I think that Don’t Sit on the Baby  is a great addition to your sitter’s bag, along with the storybooks, washable markers, and origami paper. Get it today at your local independent bookstore and ask your library to get a copy so other sitters can be prepared, too.

**kmm

Book info: Don’t Sit On the Baby: The Ultimate Guide to Sane, Skilled, and and Safe Babysitting / Halley Bondy. Zest Books, 2012.  [author’s website]   [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Babysitting can be a great way for teens to earn money and gain skills for future jobs. Use the advice and fun hints in this guide to get ready for the unique challenges of caring for children while learning how to balance their fun and safety, too.

First off, take the quiz in chapter one to see if your personality is suited for being a sitter. The author is very honest about the messes and possible behaviors of newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and grade-school kids. Certification in infant and child CPR is a must for any potential sitter. Keeping parents up-to-date on possible concerns about kids’ health and behavior is part of the job, too.

Diapers and potties are part of any sitting job, as is safety in the house and outside. Important issues covered include being prepared for emergencies, creative playtime, feeding hungry kids, homework help, dealing with tantrums, bathing kids safely, and getting them to sleep.

Enjoy “Tales From the Crib” recounted by teen sitters, like the lengthy question-and-answer game to find something (anything!) that a toddler would eat, an unstoppable smoke alarm, and the four-year-old who discussed how her boyfriend proposed marriage on the playground.

Since sitting involves money, this book also includes advice on how to advertise, interviewing with parents, deciding how much to charge, your income tax obligations, and how to gracefully resign. An annotated list of websites about sitter training, emergency information, and kid-friendly entertainment ideas rounds out this great guide to a popular and important teen job. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Advice to Graduates & all of us (reflective) – in which Neil Gaiman is quoted, because he said it best

Dear friends who are graduating (and everyone else, too),
I hope you’ve already seen this video of author Neil Gaiman addressing the University of the Arts Class of 2012 at their graduation.

I hope you’ve listened to it more than once, especially if you’re finishing school (at any level) and are about to go out into the big wide world of work and responsibility and joy and distress and the chance to make a difference.

“Make. Good. Art,” says Gaiman. Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, those words are meant for you: whatever it is that you are passionate about, do it well, and keep on doing it – through good times or bad, whether it’s your vocation or avocation.

It may be your “day job” which fulfills you (like Maggie in Paper Daughter) or something after hours (like Haven in Illuminate).

It may be the first thing you try which makes the biggest impact in the lives of others (like Lex in Croak) or maybe the tenth (like Mercy).

It may be something that you’ve studied and trained for which turns out to be your best gift to those around you (like Sage in The False Prince) or perhaps not (like Ismae in Grave Mercy).

I hope you’ll listen to this talk again when you need a reminder of what you can do to make the world better – just one person, doing whatever it is that you love to do best, finding satisfaction in the doing, not just the result (like Mitch in Payback Time).

Listen well – Make good art, in whatever manner your talent for increasing the world’s happiness leads you.
Whether you’re a new graduate or older and worldly-wise, remember that every sunrise brings you a new chance to begin to make good art.
**kmm

If BooksYALove started today… (reflective) – blogging lessons learned in a year

old catalog drawing of manual typewriter

not my typewriter

Today, the 2012 WordCount Blogathon theme asks us to consider what we’d do differently with our blogs: “If I started blogging today I would….”

Hmmm… I’d compare WordPress and Blogger more closely before deciding which one to use. I started BooksYALove just hours before the 2011 Blogathon began, so I went with Blogger where I already had a personal blog for an online technology update course and it was a snap to add another blog.

From reading other bloggers’ experiences with plugins, going to self-hosted blog platform, etc., it sounds like WordPress has an edge over Blogger once it’s time to take off the blogging-training-wheels. But I have gotten used to Blogger’s interface (even when it changed right in the middle of a blog challenge for me) and really like the theme colors and layout that I selected, so I’m staying with Blogger for now.

I wish I’d had enough time and confidence to register my domain name from day one so that all my outreach, publicity, and business cards had pointed to that web address from the very start. I probably will go self-hosted soon to give me more control over my own writings, since BooksYALove is meant to be a searchable archive of great books for young adult book fans.

Some things that I wouldn’t change: I was immensely fortunate in finding my first choice of blog name available; the “YA” in the middle can mean “young adult” which is the book category that I cover or “ya” like the casual “you” since I’m writing recommendations directly to young adult book readers (rather than to librarians or those who purchase books for others).  And every book has to be one that a significant group of readers will love – I don’t review every YA book that I read – so only the books that would rank 4-5 stars get the nod for BooksYALove.

During my first month of blogging in May 2011, I settled on a blog format that suited my writing style, taking some of my YA recommendations posted on Barb Langridge’s www.abookandahug.com website and adding commentary with relevant subject links. Since I hate reading reviews that give away the ending or significant plot twists, I vowed to never do that to my readers – so, no spoilers, ever!

Longtime followers/subscribers have probably noticed some stylistic changes on BooksYALove in recent weeks, as I adjusted font sizes for better readability, added a new logo and blog background (courtesy of my talented daughter, the graphic designer), and started some easy-click book lists in tabs at the top of the page.

And I’ll continue to participate each May in WordCount Blogathons, where I’ve found community (some of us posted in the Blogathon GoogleGroup for an entire year, not just the month of May!), advice, support, and the spark that set me off on this blogging adventure in the first place. Thanks, Michelle & the whole Blogathon crew!
**kmm

(clipart of antique typewriter courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida)

Getting lost in the story (reflective) – why reading can make us better people

young man sitting on top of bookshelves reading a book

You’ve probably heard readers say things like “Reading that book was like being in that world myself” or

“I was so wrapped up in the story that I lost track of time” or

“That’s the last book in the series?
I want to know more about those characters!”

In the very best sort of books, we lose sight of ourselves, our surroundings, our own troubles, as we immerse ourselves in someone else’s world and struggles and victories. It can be a realistic book or the highest fantasy, a short story or a tome as thick as your leg – if the story and characters feel real to us, then we are transported away from our own existence without moving at all.

A recent research study also showed that reading a compelling story can also improve our own behavior and attitudes, even after our reading is done! “Feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own,” also known as “experience-taking” was studied by Ohio State University researchers in several reading experiments with college students.

OSU assistant professor Lisa Libby noted the difference between  experience-taking and perspective-taking, which is more like looking through a window at someone else’s situation. “Experience-taking is much more immersive — you’ve replaced yourself with the other,” she said. With the right story, readers don’t feel like they are manipulated into being inside the character’s head. “Experience-taking can be very powerful because people don’t even realize it is happening to them. It is an unconscious process,” Libby said.

As you choose to read books with characters who are different from you, you’re giving yourself more ways become a more empathic person, more understanding of differences, more able to see other viewpoints than your own.

And what about reading books filled with people much like you? Then you have opportunities to “try on” their reactions to situations you may not have faced, to take their experiences and learn from them – without having to live through the troubles, trials, and joys yourself.

Here’s to “getting lost in a good book” and to finding our better selves along the way!
**kmm

Ohio State University (2012, May 7). ‘Losing yourself’ in a fictional character can affect your real life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/05/120507131948.htm

Photo of man sitting on bookshelves reading a book: (c) Microsoft Office clipart.

Ask Elizabeth, by Elizabeth Berkley (book review) – advice on love, life, friends

book cover of Ask Elizabeth by Elizabeth Berkley published by GP PutnamGather up 30,000 teen girls in small group workshops all over the country.

Give each one a journal where she can write any question about relationships, worries, fears, dreams.

Throw all the anonymous questions into a pile and start discussing them.

Talk together. And talk some more. Bring in some advice from experts, but mainly allow the young women in each group to help one another deal with things.

Lay out everything – the good, the sad, the difficult – and share it with others to help them learn and hope and grow strong in this widely available book.

Elizabeth gives advice that matters, like action plans for learning to accept your imperfections, helping a friend who is hurting, and getting to a peaceful place when you and parents argue.

The book discusses the positive signs that you’re in a good romantic relationship, the healing steps for dealing with grief, and ways to discover your life-dream and keep growing as a person.

You’ll be glad that Ask Elizabeth is a nice, flexy paperback as it’s jammed in backpacks, passed from locker to locker, and shared again and again with friends. The Ask-Elizabeth website continues the conversations begun in the book.

Yes, this is the Elizabeth who starred in Saved by the Bell as a teen actress and has gone on to act in movies and television as an adult. Her passion for helping young women grow up with accurate answers and encouragement led her to start the nonprofit Ask-Elizabeth project in 2006.

Do you have any questions for Ask Elizabeth?
**kmm

Book info: Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body…and Life in General / Elizabeth Berkley. G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Every teen girl has questions about love, life, and herself – but who can you turn to for honest advice? It’s time to “Ask Elizabeth” and get answers you can trust.

How do you know if you have a real friend that cares about you?”
My parents are getting a divorce and I don’t know what to do…”
How do you get a guy (or gal) to know that you’re alive?”
My parents treat me like a baby! How do I get them to give me more freedom?”
“How do I know if I’m just in a bad mood or if I’m depressed?”

Drawing on the opinions shared by young women in her popular workshops and sharing straightforward information from health and relationship experts, former teen star Elizabeth Berkley presents real questions from teen girls with helpful and realistic answers that aren’t just one-size-fits-all.

The book looks like Elizabeth’s scrapbook, with handwritten notes from teens stuck onto pages with colored duct tape, her typewritten answers, and many photos, found objects, and heartfelt stories connecting all the chapters

Readers can dip into just the chapter that deals with an immediate need for answers or read through Ask Elizabeth from cover to cover as they meet high schoolers from many different situations who share their dreams, concerns, fears, and encouragement to help other teens grow into strong women. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)