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.

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!)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Feel Good Movies

Hi guys! Last post was all about exercising while relaxing and this post is all about relaxing with a good movie!

My first recommendation is brand new on DVD and is Zootopia. Despite the fact that I'm a grown adult, I love a good animated film, and this does not disappoint. I cried, I laughed so hard I cried, and I squeed quite regularly from how adorable the character are at times.

This movie tackles some important lessons in being different, following your dreams to become anything and changing your life at any moment to be a better person.

The second recommendation is a 3 part movie and it's a long one, but it's a great one: the Hobbit. If Lord of the Rings is a bit too dry for you, Harry Potter is too long and you aren't in the mood for Hunger Games--pick up the Hobbit movies. They have battles, of course, and fighting (and a minor love story!), but the movies themselves are just easy to watch. They honestly always put me in a good mood and make me feel relaxed. I'm sure it's partly because I adore Martin Freeman, the actor playing the main character, but still--give these a try!

If you like super hero movies, I can't not recommend Ant-Man. It wasn't as dark and suspenseful as what we are used to seeing in Batman or Avengers movies, but it was worth a watch. My favorite part is when a tiny Thomas the Train toy gets blown up to be the size of a house. My second favorite part is watching Ant-Man train a small hoard of ants. This one is full of comedy, sprinkled with romants (sorry, it was a great pun opportunity!) and still contained a good amount of suspense with fighting. Plus, how can you not love Paul Rudd? He's adorable and a genuinely nice dude.

Those are easily my top three when I want to sit down and relax. There are plenty of others to watch on a nice day free of school, including Disney classics like the Lion King, but these give a nice variety! :) Let me know if you check any of them out for the first time--I'd love to hear your review!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How To: Pokémon Go (Part 1)

Pokémon Go is the current topic all over from the news to just common conversations, but what is it and what's the hype all about?

Now, I grew up in the time where the Pokémon games were brand new and played one from every generation (some times two!), so I'm totally biased on this topic, but still. Let's chat about it.

This game was created by the same people that made Ingress, Niantic, Inc. Ingress is quite similar to Pokémon Go, as it is an augmented reality game where you are required to walk around to do better in the game.

The basics of Pok
émon Go are simple: you walk around to find Pokémon, gyms and PokéStops. In the process, you gain experience. You can also earn medals by collecting certain numbers of Pokémon, as well as a number of certain types of Pokémon (water, grass, bug, electric, etc.). The more you level, the stronger your Pokémon should become and then you can start taking gyms and such. I personally have no interest in taking gyms and just play for fun catching what I can and trying to get my Pokémon as strong as I can, which is another more casual way you can play this game.

For this game, only the first generation Pokémon are available (so Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Pidgey, Weedle, etc.--the first 151 in the Pokédex), but a lot of them are more difficult to find and to catch. There's no guide for this game out officially, but it seems there is a ranking of Pokémon rarities in the game, which I've put in the teen display here at the library for reference. The most basic Pokémon are everywhere and will be pretty easy to both catch and level up.

The most important part of this game is how to actually catch the Pokémon. It's quite simple. When walking around, you'll want to occasionally check your app (do not check it while walking!!!) to see if there are any appearing on your map. If there are, you simply click on that Pokémon and it'll open up on your screen to catch. You use Pokéballs to catch them and will just drag your finger on the Pokéball towards that Pokémon. Remember: you don't have unlimited Pokéballs so use them wisely! You can pick up more at a PokéStop, which I will talk about in another part of this blog series.

Another important aspect of this game is how you level up your "team," so to speak, or those currently kept in your Pokémon inventory (for lack of a better word). If you want to level or evolve your team, you will need to catch multiples of that Pokémon. Once you have caught some, you will want to send your lower levels of whoever you are leveling or trying to evolve back to Professor Oak. In order to do that, you will tap on whichever you'd like to send back, then scroll down to the bottom of that specific Pokémon's page and click Transfer. It'll inform you that, once you transfer, that specific Pokémon will be gone forever. Once gone, that Pokémon will give you candy for whatever Pokémon it was and you use those to level up and evolve.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stayin' Fit Doin' Little

I know. It's summer. We all want to relax and enjoy the sun, but sitting around the TV or computer all day isn't going to do anything for you but cause you back, shoulder and neck problems in the future (trust me, I know).

Aside from hopping in a swimming pool or walking around your house to get snacks or grab the remote, we need to stay active all year round. Especially now that school's out so you're not running from class to class.

Here are just a few ideas of what you can do while binge watching the latest show on Netflix or catching your favorite streamer on Twitch.

Commercial break or time for your advertisement while on Twitch?
Try and see how many crunches, push-ups or squats you can do during that time. It'll keep your mind sharp never really knowing when you'll have to jump up and do them and will keep your heart rate up.

Don't feel like getting up that quickly?
Lay down on a couch (or the floor!) so you're on your side facing the TV/iPad/laptop/etc. and rest your head on your elbow. Then do some leg lifts. All you have to do is lift your leg towards the ceiling, while keeping it straight, over and over. When you're done with one side, flip yourself so you're still facing the TV and do your other leg. Easy, right? You can even do this while enjoying a snack (sort of defeats the purpose but something is better than nothing!).

This is possibly the easiest exersize but, according to multiple websites, you can lose roughly 40 calories per hours by doing this. Get yourself an exercise ball. Sit on it for an hour. Bam, bye bye 40 calories and say sayonara to the snack you just consumed doing leg lifts.

Say this is all too much. You just want to be lying down watching TV and not moving at all. Easy, just put your feet on the couch and form a capital T by stretching yourself out in front of it (feet still on the couch!) while resting your head on your elbows. You're basically doing a plank and this is also a great exersize that requires little to no energy. Technically, you could even have a nice cold glass of lemonade in front of you with a straw so you can enjoy a cool beverage while you work out.

Summer may be the time to just chill and relax, but it doesn't mean you can't still stay in shape by doing very little!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book to Movie Review: the Fifth Wave

Before I get any farther into this, I'd like to say, yes I'm late to the party on this one, but I finally saw the Fifth Wave movie, based originally off of the book of the same name by Rick Yancey.

I was actually ridiculously sick with the flu earlier this week and finally decided to try and be somewhat productive while in bed. So I opened up my iPad and rented this on iTunes. I think it was like $4, which was worth it for how sick and miserable I was at the time.

If you have read the book, or the series, you'll know the writing in it is rather choppy. There's no clear direction and I honestly found it pretty messy to read at times making me walk away from the series in the end (I made it about halfway into the second book, the Infinite Sea). I was truly disappointed in the books. I found the concept of aliens wanting to take Earth without damaging it too much super unique and interesting in the world of Young Adult Literature, and I wanted to love it.

So when the movie came out, I was hopeful that it could fix some of the problems I had with the writing style in the books. I was happy to find that it did! That said, after already knowing what happened in the first book, I was a little less into the movie because the only major plot twist was one I already knew. To be honest, though, I think I'd have guessed it even without knowing already.

The acting was done well and the effects were super awesome. My favorite part, of course, was the fact that it all takes place relatively near where I live now and there are little mentions of places and things nearby, like Kent State University and, of course, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that's just a few hours away.

I appreciated the movie a lot more than I thought I would and I would recommend it to those interested in a sci-fy twist to dystopia. That said, the plot is predictable, I think, but the next one is less so. I hope they continue to make these movies, as I think the movies do a far better job at telling Cassie's story than the books.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is the McKinley House haunted?

We recently had a super cool event down at the McKinley Birthplace Home where we had the Collective Paranormal Research Society show our members of YAC (Youth Advisory Committee) what they do. What is that you may be asking? They look for evidence of ghostly activity and try and prove that the paranormal does exist.

This particular group is located right in Youngstown, Ohio, and travels around conducting various investigations.

We were lucky enough to have them not only perform a mini investigation with YAC, but they taught us about what they do and how they do it. We learned about devices like EMF detectors and EVP recorders, as well as what they have learned and seen in their travels. It was truly an amazing experience for our teens and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

They closed the evening walking around the home and trying to make contact with anyone who may be present but not exactly living among us. Everyone was surprised when that contact was made. All of the teens attending, as well as the leader of YAC, Miss Kim, announced who they were and asked various questions with the lights out. They had wanted anyone present to light it up any time his or her answer to the question was yes.

The question all the kids are talking about is whether or not the ghost (or ghosts!) likes Miss Kim being around and hosting programs for children and teens at the house. The flashlight, to everyone's surprise, light up brightly with no one remotely close to do it themselves. Our teens also insured that no one on the Research Society had a button that would trigger it on and off. The investigators would ask whoever was present to step away and turn the light back off before asking another question, which it did.

It was a wonderful experience for everyone and now myself and Miss Kim are a bit spooked down at the house, even if the presence there is a friendly one! It seems we have our very own Casper.

If this is the sort of thing you are into, hop onto Facebook and like their page. They are actually going to be live on Facebook this evening  at the Bissman Building, so please do check them out!