Tag Archive | personal finance

Risking it all to earn a Full Ride scholarship, by Margaret Haddix (book review)

book cover of Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comHiding out in a new town,
new name, old worries,
if anyone ever finds out about Daddy…

After her dad is imprisoned for computer fraud, his lawyer helps Becca and her mom forge new identities in a faraway town. But it’s going to be so hard for the teen to keep their secret when her future after high school depends on her academic past.

You can find this suspenseful book about decisions and risks at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

How far should innocent family members suffer for a criminal’s actions?
**kmm

Book info: Full Ride / Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 (hardcover), 2014 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The certainty of college for Becca starts slipping away the moment her father is convicted of computer crimes, just before she starts high school. Racing far away from his Atlanta prison (ten years!?), she and Mom take their new identities (courtesy of Daddy’s lawyer) to an Ohio suburb and lay low.

Three staying-unremarkable years later, it’s time for SATs and college choices, and Becca decides to visit her dream school Vanderbilt (Daddy’s favorite) as her friends tour Southern universities.

How can she pay for any college without completing financial aid forms?
Could she win the Court Scholarship – a full ride?
But what if it’s one of Daddy’s scams that kept money in hiding?

Who to trust, how to live so that no one connects them with Daddy’s nationally reported crimes, how to think about a future past high school – Becca and Mom think they have it under control, but…

D for Heather Demetrios – I’ll Meet You There (book review) – choose love or escape from sad hometown?

book cover of I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios published by Henry HoltEndure dead-end hometown one last summer,
escape to art school and freedom…
if only it were that easy.

Skylar can’t leave her alcoholic mother now, doesn’t want Josh to face his PTSD alone, but how can she give up her dream of college?

This strong novel tackles questions of responsibility and abandonment, duty and fear, almost-good-enough and too-good-to-abandon as Sky’s narrative is punctuated with Josh’s often-anguished thoughts.

Don’t miss the author’s letter to the reader here and the book’s first chapters that she shares for free.

Have you known a serviceperson who returned from war-front duty unchanged?

**kmm

Book info: I’ll Meet You There / Heather Demetrios. Henry Holt, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As Skylar endures one last summer before college, her growing attraction to a young Marine disabled overseas and her mother’s inability to cope with life could strand the teen artist in her rural California hometown.

Math-genius Chris and artistic Sky have vowed to escape this agricultural backwater, heading for opposite coasts on big scholarships in just a few months. It’ll be hard leaving best friend Dylan (who’s never known that Chris adores her) and her baby, but it would be unbearable to stay in Creek View.

Sky and Chris drop by the as-usual-drunk weekend party to welcome home her former co-worker just returned from Afghanistan, but no one told her that brash, womanizing Josh had left his leg behind, as well as his self-confidence.

Counting down the days until she leaves for college, Sky is stunned when Mom loses her fast-food job and crawls back into the booze bottle where she’d retreated for so long when Dad died in a drunk-driving wreck.

Josh begins working at the Paradise hotel with Sky again, between therapy appointments, and they fall into an uneasy companionship that could become something more. Motel-owner Marge’s son died in the war before she moved here, so she understands when Josh suddenly freezes as a car backfires nearby.

The parts are coming together in the collage that Sky’s creating for Marge – more of the ‘California quirky’ that’s making the Paradise its own destination – but Sky can’t put her mom’s life back on track, can’t figure out where she and Josh fit into one another’s lives, and can’t see how she can give up her dreams or go after them either.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Undecided, by Genevieve Morgan (book review) – getting ready for life beyond high school

book cover of Undecided by Genevieve Morgan published Zest BooksSome time left in high school…
What about the future?
What are your choices?
How to decide?!

Figuring out now what you don’t want to do later can keep you from spending money, time, and your dreams on the wrong opportunities.

Even if you have your post-high-school track planned out as a freshman or sophomore, it’ll be worth your while to work through the options available with this clear and helpful guide.

While you can check out Undecided at your local library, better that you buy your own copy (choose an independent bookstore, please) because you will use it so much.

What path are you envisioning for life after high school?
**kmm

Book info: Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School / Genevieve Morgan. Zest Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [TEDx talk by author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Your required /exciting/ mind-numbing high school years will eventually end – what next? Time to dig into your personality, dreams, and motivations to determine what you should try after graduation day.

Before jumping into all the options available, first assess your temperament, personality traits, and operating mode, then work through some questions to help you solidify your own vision of what you might want to do and in what style – the big picture.

Along with the section which helps you clarify intentions and create plans, you’ll find ways to research the education/work pathways you might take, how to compare college programs, insight into civil service and military training, and tips on talking to your parents about your choices.

Profiles of successful folks are included in each chapter, as are reflections by people who have tried the different school and work paths noted.

Whether you expect life after high school to be entrepreneurship, traveling during a gap year, service to your country, or traditional college years, the questions to consider and resources included in this book will take you from Undecided to prepared and excited.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, by Laurie Ann Thompson (book review)

book cover of  Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson published by Beyond Words Simon PulseUnfair things bother you, a lot.
It’s time to do something about it!
But how to make it happen?

If you have an idea for fixing the world, jumpstart it by getting this book at your local library or favorite independent bookstore, and visit the Be a Changemaker website to share your stories and questions.

How are YOU going to change our world for the better?
**kmm

Book info: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters / Laurie Ann Thompson. Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Ever gotten so angry about something that you vowed to make it right? Started a great helping project, but run out of ideas or enthusiasm? Get good advice on making a difference in the world from those who’ve tried, failed, and then succeeded so that you can devote your energies to your cause.

Each chapter begins by profiling a youth-led nonprofit group along with their challenges and successes. Be sure that you think through your passions, skills, and the problem that’s bothering you before jumping into your venture. Learn how to work the media, plan a stellar event, and avoid burnout so that your idea goes the distance.

With good research, a dream team and adult mentor who share your vision, and savvy planning, you can truly Be a Changemaker  and make positive things happen with the tools and tips in this book.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt (book review) – Las Vegas, love, and rival families

book cover of The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt published by BloomsburyDrunken brides,
Elvis performing the ceremony,
must be Vegas!

Holly loves the wedding chapel that she inherits, but her late Grandpa’s hidden debts and his stipulation that she befriend the (so handsome) grandson of their arch-rival chapel owner… what’s a girl to do?

This novel is a twist on the expected Romeo and Juliet scenario, with the addition of divorced parents, teens concocting strategies to help the “wrong” chapel get more business, and all the wackiness of Las Vegas leading up to Valentine’s Day.

What’s the craziest wedding you’ve ever attended?

**kmm

Book info: The Chapel Wars / Lindsey Leavitt. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: It’s up to 16 year old Holly to save her family’s wedding chapel from the wrecking ball, with or without the help of their arch-rival’s adorable grandson – only in Vegas!

Holly has always loved the hopeful possibilities in a wedding – must be why Grandpa Jim willed the Rose of Sharon Chapel to her. But he also left her a huge debt which must be paid in full soon and a letter addressed to Dax, whose sneering granddad owns the rival wedding chapel next door!

Having Dax so near makes it hard for Holly to concentrate on what’s important – saving the chapel, getting her just-divorced parents back together, keeping the peace with her older sister and volatile younger brother.

As the loan payment day nears, Dax, Holly, and all her friends go all-out to get new business for the chapel. Maybe there’s hope after all. Maybe there’s hope for Holly and Dax, too! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Stuff Every College Student Should Know, by Blair Thornburgh (book review) – handy advice for living

book cover of Stuff Every College Student Should Know by Blair Thornburgh published by Quirk Books Do you know how to…
Cook without a microwave?
Take care of yourself when you’re sick?
Request a faculty recommendation letter?

No one gets to college knowing how to do everything, so Blair has compiled great hints and advice to get you through everything from roommates to homesickness.

Check out this handy, pocket-sized hardback book at your local library for your own personal education, or buy it at an independent bookstore for a graduation present or gift of encouragement to a current student.

What life skill tops your list of things to know?

**kmm

Book info: Stuff Every College Student Should Know / Blair Thornburgh. Quirk Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author interview podcast] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: College brings new challenges and opportunities, but how can you learn the best way to accomplish things? This pocket guide gives you concise information about all aspects of your campus experience – from dorm living and personal care to academics and social life to money and the real world.

You can be a better roommate, cook without a microwave (yes, it’s possible), form a useful study group, and pass a test that you forgot to study for.

Learn how to deal with a long-distance relationship, stress, or homesickness. Know how to be smart with your first credit card and why you should interview the landlord of any apartment that you’re considering renting.

Scan through all the many entries, including how to pack for Spring Break, avoid going broke on textbooks, and good verbs to use on your resume, and you’ll be ready for many of the new situations that college life brings.

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)

Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery, by Keren David (book review) – teens, money, fiscal mayhem

book cover of Lias Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David published by Frances LincolnOooh… winning 8 million pounds in the lottery at age 16!
That’s over 12 million US dollars – in a lump sum!
Lia has so many plans for that money…
too bad that everyone else seems to have plans for it, too.

Yes, in the U.K., 16-year-olds can buy lottery tickets (it’s 18 to 21 in US states which hold a lottery).
Yes, the winner’s proceeds are deposited in the bank all at once.
Yes, Lia is sure that everything will be wonderful now…

If you won a big lottery prize, would you hold a press conference as Lia did, or keep it quiet? Could you handle sudden wealth on your own, or would you hire impartial financial advisors?

On this Fun Friday, join Lia on a wild romp from her dreary London suburb to the top shops, as she learns some life-lessons about finance and friendship in this funny novel from Keren David, who brought us the more-serious story of Ty in When I Was Joe (my review) and Almost True (my review); book 3 in that series, Another Life, arrives in the USA in October 2012.
**kmm

Book info: Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery / Keren David. Frances Lincoln Books, 2012. [author’s website]   [book website]     [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: If her mum would just shut up, Lia could hear the lottery numbers announced. At the internet café, the teen learns that she did indeed win a huge jackpot! Now all her troubles are over…until the new problems begin.

And just who should revive her from her fainting spell at the internet café but the mysterious and handsome Raf, whom she’s been eyeing at school since he arrived at mid-term. Her best friend Shaz was in the middle of family dinner or Lia would have gone to her house to check that last lottery number. Eight million pounds! She dreams about what she’ll do with all that lovely money… move to her own apartment, travel away from their boring London suburb, start living life right away instead of wasting time in high school and university.

The lottery people assign her a financial adviser and a personal banker as her winnings are paid all at once, there’s a big press conference, and suddenly Lia is super-popular at school. Her parents keep saying “we won the lottery” – why don’t they understand that Lia won, not them? Of course some money would help bolster the family bakery business, competing with the new superstores, but it is Lia’s money, thankyouverymuch.

Her pal Jack bought her the lottery ticket as a birthday gift, so his mum thinks he’s entitled to half the money – Jack just wants a motorcycle, never mind that he can’t get a license until he’s 17. Lia spreads around the wealth a bit more, treating a limo full of school chums to a clothes shopping spree, funding vocal lessons for 14-year-old sister Natasha. More time with Raf would be nice, instead of him working two jobs after school.

When Shaz says that she can’t accept anything from Lia because her faith states that gambling is immoral, Lia is a bit shocked – can money change friendship so much?
Why is Raf trying to keep that suave gentleman from talking to Lia?
Can Jack’s mum really sue Lia for a share of the winnings?
Why isn’t Natasha home from that party yet and who’s the threatening voice on the phone?

Chapter headings of keen advice for lottery winners contrast vividly with Lia’s comical rush to make the most of her lottery experience, despite everyone’s efforts to help her. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

50 Jobs in 50 States, by Daniel Seddiqui (book review) – 1 year to find perfect job

Months of fruitless job-searching left USC grad Daniel exhausted and his parents unhappy that he’d had to move back home. But he decided to act on a seemingly wild idea to work in each of the 50 states, meeting their people as he tried out one of the jobs unique to each place. This Fun Friday feature is an autobiography that roves across America, in search of more than just a job.

You’ll want to read for yourself how he persevered in his dream, rising above his parents’ disapproval, the logistics of finding the right job in the right area during the right time, and the immense difficulties of funding travel all over the USA. Yes, Daniel wanted to do this challenge on his own terms, not bound to a corporate sponsor‘s restrictions on which jobs he could try or how many times he had to tout their product in his blog.

Along the way, he met more supportive people than naysayers, tried his hand at skills that he never knew existed, and learned more about himself than he ever imagined.

Coal miner? Did it. Amish woodworker? Satisfying work. Baseball scout? Lots of dreams and talent out there – like our roving pal, who shares the high points and lowest lows of his adventure with us, in a conversational way. I guess “Inspirational” should be Daniel’s new middle name!
**kmm

Book info: Fifty jobs in 50 states / Daniel Seddiqui. Berrett-Koehler, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher website] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After many interviews yield no job, Daniel decides to hit the road and work his way across the USA – one iconic job in each state – to find out what he truly wants to do with his life.

You’d think that good grades in college and a great resume would guarantee a job after graduation, but that’s not always true. But instead of giving into despair and taking a minimum-wage job, Daniel turns his back on the months-long, frustrating search for a position in economics and hatches the idea of traveling the United States to discover where he should really be and what career would use his talents best.

It took four months to set up his first short-term job and even longer to scrape together some funding to travel. His parents thought he was wasting his time; his on-again-off-again girlfriend thought he was crazy – Daniel knew that he had to do this to find his way in the work-world.

Rodeo announcer in South Dakota, corn farmer in Nebraska, landscape architect in New Mexico – he met helpful people, learned new skills, faced trials and setbacks. Meatpacker in Kansas winter (frozen fingers), bartender in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (lotsa kinds of crazy), peanut sheller in Georgia (allergic reaction) – Daniel never gave up.

Sharing his adventures through the media and his own blog, this young guy from California inspired many folks facing challenges and job losses to keep on trying. Enjoy this talking-to-your-buddy autobiographical travelogue through all 50 states as you root for Daniel to find his niche and to find someone to share his journey through life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Saraswati’s Way, by Monika Schroeder (book review) – fleeing poverty, seeking wisdom

book cover of Saraswati's Way by Monika Schroeder published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young ReadersAs a school librarian living in India, Monika is writing from the heart. She’s seen too many children who must work instead of go to school, no matter how intelligent they are, because the debts of their family are so overwhelming. The orphans scavenging recyclables from the railway station trash are still there, despite the info-tech revolution sweeping their country.

The author’s book trailer gives us a glimpse of the grim reality and many obstacles that Akash faces as he struggles to get schooling in this luminous story leavened with hope.
**kmm

Book info: Saraswati’s Way / by Monika Schroeder. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Book Talk: Akash’s talent for math can’t stop the drought in his village in India, can’t grow enough crops to pay back the money his family owes, can’t cure the fever that strikes his father. So he must leave school and the village at age 12 to work off their debt in the landlord’s stone quarry. Everything is fated, his family says – the heavens have control of earth, and we cannot change what is fated. But Akash prays to Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, that someday, somehow, he will return to school to learn more math and English.

Akash finds that his hard work at the quarry only nibbles at the family’s debt, so he could work there until he was an old man before he paid it off. Not content that fate will keep him at the quarry forever, he sneaks onto a train bound for the huge city of Delhi where he could earn money faster.

The New Delhi train station is like a city itself – huge and crowded and noisy. Akash falls in with a group of orphan boys who collect bottles and boxes for money. Soon he meets up with people who want to help him and people who want to use his talents only to earn money for themselves.

Can Akash keep himself safe in Delhi? Can he survive and earn money for his family in honest ways, as his father taught him? Will he ever get to school again, or will he remain homeless and poor like so many other youngsters in his crowded country?

A fascinating story with too-real situations, you’ll root for Akash as he strives for wisdom, trying to follow Saraswati’s Way in his fight for survival. (one of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.