Saturday, December 3, 2016

DIY Christmas Gifts

Christmas can be difficult--especially if you don't have a job and you have lots of friends you want to get gifts for. That was always me in school. These are some super easy and pretty cheap gifts I found while browsing the Internet. Most of them can be done cost free if you happen to have the supplies already. :)

Ear Bud Case
I will be real, I totally stole this image from an awesome blogger named "GigglesGalore" because I never eat mints and didn't have an empty container to use to make one myself. This is seriously so easy, though, and everyone in today's age can certainly use one.

All you need is an empty mint container (any will work just fine--including Altoids--but I think the Ice Breakers containers look the nicest), some paper or duct tape, Mod Podge and a brush for the Mod Podge.

Carefully remove the sticker from your container, if you are using one with a sticker label, and then cut out your paper or add your duct tape to your container. If you're use duct tape, you'll also need a knife to carefully (and slowly!) due the label to the right shape. If using paper, use Mod Podge to stick that to your container. When you're finished with either, paint Mod Podge on top to seal your design to the container.


Emoji Jar
This is something I'd love if someone made for me because I can always use jars. I have lots of make-up brushes, pencil liners and things that need homes so these are great for beauty or art lovers.

You can get mason jars at Pat Catans and other craft stores super cheap. From that point on, you just need to paint the inside whatever color you'd like and then paint a face on the front. You can also find faces online, print and cut them out, and use Mod Podge again to stick them on. I like this particular look with the cap on it but! If you take out the middle section of the cap, the middle part that is left is usually sharp. Make sure you file that down with some sandpaper, hot glue on it or use tape to cover that up. Those things can cut you up pretty badly.


Super Easy Stress Balls
Do you have friends that are mildly (or severly) stressed out all the time? I totally love this one. It's so stupidly easy to put together.

Get some baking soda and hair conditioner and put them in a bowl. You'll want a lot of baking soda and not a lot of conditioner. Now mix the two up well and use either a funnel or the top of a pop bottle that you've cut off to move that mixture into a balloon. Don't fill the balloon up very much. Then, tie it off! If you want it to look extra cool when squishing it, take a bag potatos and some times apples come in and put the balloon in that and tie it off. It'll look pretty sweet when you squeeze it then. Make sure you've tied the balloon off really well and bam. Easy, homemade gift!

Bam, easy Christmas mode active!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How to Balance School Reads with Fun Reads

One of the hardest parts of high school and middle school for me was trying to fit in reading books I wanted to read while reading the not-so-inspiring choices made by my teachers for required reading.

I'll be honest, there were a few books I ended up loving (Tuesdays with Morrie, for example, was fantastic), but I basically disliked everything else I had to read. The worst part was that, after reading the required books, I ended up uninspired to read anything else.

Here is a small list of tips and tricks I learned to keep myself reading for fun! :)

1. Always carry a book with you.
I used to only carry the books I had to read for class and it made me miserable. Every time I saw that book, I wanted to read it less and read anything else even less than that. Instead, carry a book that looks interesting so you see it and want to dive in.

2. Try a series
I find that, once I'm hooked on a series, I can't not finish it. Often times, I'll carry around the first book to a series that has an interesting cover. Before I know it, I've been reading this series for two months and never felt bogged down even while reading my required materials in between.

3. Read a book based off of a movie you enjoyed
A great way to get into reading, especially if reading for school has you too stressed to even look at written words, is to read something you've already seen the movie of. I wouldn't say every book to movie is good but most of the ones I've read were made into movies for good reasons: the books have a faster pace and you've finished reading it before you even realized how much you've read.

My last recommendation is definitely only for certain people but I would recommend picking up a manga series (or even comics!). They're much easier to read, as they consist of mostly images, and, because of that, you can read them quickly. If you need a break from Huckleberry Finn or Oliver Twist, grab the first volume of a manga series and read that to break up those longer (and dryly written, at least to me) books. It'll keep you energized to read more for school while keeping your spirits up with a great manga series.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book List: School Setting

The books on the list for this month utilize a school setting. If you like books that take place within a school, or at least use this setting for more than 10 pages, this is perfect for you!

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling (Harry Potter book 1)
2. Variant by Robison Wells (Variant book 1)
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
4. Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (Finishing School book 1)
5. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
6. Initiation by Imogen Rose (Bonfire Academy book 1)
7. Fallen by Lauren Kate (Fallen book 1)
8. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight book 1)
9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

(Please note that these will always be compilations from lists posted on GoodReads.com, which is an amazing resource for any reader wanting to keep track of what he or she has read, as well as anyone wanting book suggestions. Also, these are not all books I have personally read or, if I have read them, books I myself loved. This is a list meant to inspire anyone interested in this month's category into trying one of these his or herself. These are also not in any particular order.)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Reading Children's Books is OK Too

As we get older, there's a stigma often attached to reading books geared towards children. You can't go back and read Green Eggs and Ham any more because you're 15 and people may look at you funny. It doesn't matter that you love Judy Moody because you should be reading the Hunger Games at your age.

Should you though? Should you really? And who tells you what you should and should not enjoy reading? You do!

I'm here to tell you that picking up your old favorites when you were a kid is not only acceptable, it can give you that warm fuzzy feeling just like watching your favorite Disney movie. And reading your favorite Berenstein Bear book is going to take significantly less time than watching the Lion King (though I love the Lion King so you should still go and watch it again).


I'll tell you the truth--even before I became a librarian I was going back and rereading old classics. The Giver never gets boring and I love heading down the Rabbit Hole with Alice and you are allowed too.

Of course, I definitely recommend picking up chapter books over picture books (those super skinny oddly large books with 90% pictures, 10% words). They're more of a challenge and are much easier to carry around, but there's no reason why you can't love books you read when you were 5. It's part of what makes us who we are. We had to start somewhere, right?

Next time you're in the library, stop in the children's room and pick up a book you loved when you were younger. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face and brighten the rest of your week.

What we read does not determine our age! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

TV Show Review: Delirium (pilot episode)

One of the saddest parts about loving young adult fiction is when a book is set to be made into a movie or TV show and that project is dropped (especially if the book is part of a series and the project gets dropped after the first or second movie--looking at you Mortal Instruments!!!).

This is sadly a review (well really me just promoting it because I have nothing bad to say) about a TV show that was based off of a series that only made it as far as a pilot.

You may recognize the actress playing the main character in Scream Queens (I know lots of you teens out there are super into this series right now! :)), American Horror Story or Unfabulous. I personally loved her most in Nancy Drew back in 2007 but I digress.

This pilot was based off of the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. I found this book series quite randomly one day on the shelves here at McKinley and found the cover interesting, so I picked it up. Before I knew it, I had read the entire series.


The idea is that, in this dystopian world, love is not permitted. Love is so bad that it is considered to be a disease that will make you go crazy and die. This show takes the idea of this and runs straight into politics. This was an aspect not introduced in the series but one that I think would have added a great deal to Lena's world (Lena = main character = Emma Roberts).

In the TV show, you have the added idea of two politicians competing for a position in the government. One seems to be against the censorship of love while the other is all for it. Now, granted, we were only given one episode for this show so I could be totally wrong on a lot of this. I'm just going off of what I got from the episode. You are also introduced to numerous characters that don't even appear until the second book to add to the government plot.

The first episode hits hard taking you through almost the entirety of the first book. I'm guessing they planned to do a lot more regarding Lena's life in the Wilds (the area outside of the city where those against "curing love" live), as well as go much farther in depth with the DFA (Deliria-Free America organization) and the characters associated with it.


Sadly, as this was not picked up for a full series, we'll never know the direction it was to take. Regardless, the first episode had me hooked and I loved seeing these books in action. The casting choices were fantastic, in my opinion, and I wish we had more.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

TV Shows to Watch Out for

I'm not going to write too much of an intro for this. This is just a friendly reminder to check out some of these awesome TV shows this fall. This should be a great season for shows and these are all super appropriate for you so no worries about your parents questioning your taste in television!

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: Ghost Rider and DC's Legends of Tomorrow
I'm mashing these two together because, frankly, some people prefer Marvel, some prefer DC and some (like myself), love both.

Agents of SHIELD has been running for a few seasons now (3 going on 4!) and follows the storyline that's also currently running in the Marvel movies (Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, etc.). The cool thing about keeping up with this show is catching all the hidden bits and pieces in the show that match up with whatever movies have just been released or are about to be released. This is great for any superhero lover, especially those interested in Marvel. Agents has a great balance of lighthearted humor with action and feels like you're watching an hour long version of an Avengers movie.

Now, if you like Agents but you want a little less humor and a little more salty and gravely characters (think bad guys), give Legends of Tomorrow a shot! It stars a time traveler (Doctor Who fans, ironically, it's the actor who played our beloved Rory!) trying to save the world by assembling a team of "misfits," so to speak. He gathers Firestorm, Atom, White Canary, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Heat Wave and Captain Cold! You may actually recognize Captain Cold and Heat Wave from another show they did together.


Supernatural
Talk about an oldie but a goodie--I remember this show debuting while I was in high school and all of my friends being super into it. Somehow, I missed the boat on this show and never truly caught up. That said, if you're into anything spooky and, dare I say, "supernatural," this is perfect for you. There's a solid level of suspense that makes things just scary enough and there's enough seasons to keep your attention for quite a while (11 seasons already out and season 12 is starting up on October 13th!).

I think the best part about this show, though, is that, after ten years, the two main characters are the same actors. It's always been Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. They're both really great guys and do a fantastic job in this show.

The Librarians
I know, I know, it's super cliche for a librarian to recommend a show about librarians, but it's so much more than that. Have you ever seen the National Treasure movies? How about the Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. Think lots of puzzles, and all sorts of plot lines that deal with actual history and facts. If you enjoy learning and puzzles, this is a great show for you.

The TV show is actually a spin-off of the movie series of a similar name, the Librarian, starring Noah Wyle as the one and only...librarian. But the title of librarian is much more than helping people find books and put materials people returned back where they belong. This Librarian is in charge of all the world's treasures. It's his responsibility to find and keep items like Excaliber (the sword, and also his pet!), the Judas Chalice and Pandora's Box safe and sound in the library. The show is exactly that but with many more well-known objects.


The Crown
Now this is a brand new show so I can't actually give you a review for it but I can tell you that, if you enjoyed Downtown Abbey or historical shows at all, this is definitely for you. Oh, and did I mention it's basically a BBC show? I mean, it's technically a Netflix original but it stars Matt Smith (...former Doctor Who--I promise it wasn't intential for me to choose two shows with Doctor Who ties!) and Claire Foy (star of the BBS drama Wolf Hall). I'm not quite sure how interesting this is going to be but I do trust Matt Smith an awful lot! If you end up watching it, let me know your thoughts!

Stranger Things
Let's be real, isn't this all anyone's talking about right now?! Stranger Things is fantastic. Honestly, I feel like 2016 is a year full of suspense and supernatural TV shows and I'm okay with that. Now, as I'm writing this, I still have two episodes left of season 1 but I can't think of a single part of the show this far in that was bad.

I'm honestly afraid to give a synopsis of this show because you start out basically just knowing there's a group of young boys that play Dungeons and Dragons together and are best friends. After that, the plot moves quickly and has plenty of supernatural (and some times scary!) twists and turns. There is a definite 80s vibe to the whole show, which may bother some, but I thought it gave the show a more classic vibe and I enjoyed seeing the combination of current special effects with older film styles.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Banned Books Are Fun!

Did you know there's a list of books that are actually banned in some places? I'm sure you probably did but it's amazing to me the number of popular young adult fiction books I found on the list. The most amazing part to me was seeing books I actually had to read for school on these lists--books like the House on Mango Street and Kite Runner were quite popular requirements for class back in my day.

One set of books frequently challenged, or banned altogether, which shouldn't be surprising to you, are books written by John Green. Yep, every single one of them has been challenged or banned in the recent years. I find that, when a book becomes extremely popular, that is when most people tend to challenge its presence.

But how does a book become banned or what criteria does a book need to meet to even be challenged? There's no real set of reasons a book will be challenged but the most popular reasons are offensive language, sexuality, violence, drugs, racism and occult or satanic content. Of course, all of these are up to the eye of the beholder. Something you may find offensive may not be offensive to someone else.

That's where book banning becomes complicated and how, thankfully, lots of books that are challenged remain on our shelves today.

Of course, this blog entry wouldn't be complete without a lovely list compiled of frequently challenged (and awesome) books to read yourself!

1. the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
2. the Giver series by Lois Lowry
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
4. the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
5. the House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
7. the Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
8. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
9. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
10. Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle (ttyl is the first in the series!)