Category: s

Is Porn Addiction a Thing?

There’s no question that pornography consumption is up among teens. Research shows that pornography is increasingly seen as harmless and acceptable among younger consumers. That is certainly the common line in popular culture. But is it true? Is porn a harmless pastime, or is your southern Baptist Great Aunt on to something?

Most people associate addiction with substances such as alcohol and drugs. Surprisingly, porn affects the brain in many of the same ways as substances, making it a detriment on affected individual’s daily functioning. There may be more to the pornography story than Hollywood is letting on.

What Exactly is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease in which sufferers are unable to maintain comfortable brain function without getting their fix from a substance. A common misconception about addiction is that it requires consumption of substances that have “chemical hooks” that create a dependency in the addict’s biochemistry. While these hooks do exist, addiction is far more concerned with the addict’s neurochemistry – especially the presence of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain.

Because addiction is linked with this neurochemical activity, and because that activity can be caused by any number of stimuli, addiction can also be found in food, exercise, and yes – even porn. All of these things have one thing in common. They get the brain hooked on them by releasing that dopamine, which is responsible for pleasure. Addiction affects the brain by flooding it with dopamine and over time, the user must look at more pornographic images to get the rush. Because of that, addicts become trapped in a repetitive cycle of shame, compulsion, and betrayal.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Since porn doesn’t necessarily produce noticeable changes in your appearance like substances do, it can be difficult to tell if someone may be struggling with it. Once common sign is withdrawal from friends and family. Many porn addicts prefer to be alone and may avoid social outings that they once enjoyed. Sleep related issues such as insomnia or excessive over sleeping can also be a sign of a serious addiction.

These complications can result from feelings of depression, shame and even anxiety. Financial problems may also arise as a result of over spending on pornographic websites or forms of media. Another common characteristic of this addiction is irritability. This occurs when the feelings of pleasure dissipate in the brain, resulting in a low state of mind. Irritability can also trigger aggression and even mood swings which can hurt your relationship with loved ones.

Can I Quit?

Because of the serious consequences of pornography addiction, many young men are calling it quits. But like any addiction, quitting isn’t easy to do. LifeStar Therapy recommends anyone attempting to beat an addiction should gather a strong network of support. “If you’re hesitant to talk to someone about your addiction, remember addiction thrives in shame. By finding a group you can open up to, and where you can listen to others share their stories, the shame of the addiction decreases because you’ll be around people who understand and relate to your struggles. Support groups have people at various stages on the path of recovery, and those further along can offer insights and tips to help you. The benefits of groups are not only about the positive feedback and energy to succeed, but providing support to others as well.”

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to porn, professional treatment is widely available. Programs offer a variety of services that target different aspects of addiction. Things like therapy, one on one counseling and exploring new hobbies and interests may be used to tackle the problem at hand.

Porn may seem like an entertaining way to pass the time for many teens, but can quickly get out of hand for some people. If you feel like you or someone you loved may be addicted to porn, seek help immediately.

Does Bullying Cause Suicidality in Teens?

While there may never be a singular answer to why teens – or anyone else for that matter – commits suicide, there are certainly some common factors. Keep in mind, however, that two teens can face nearly identical circumstances and one will make it through while the other will not. Having said that, here are some common risk factors for teen suicide.

Lack of Parental Involvement and Support

Parental involvement is always a tricky issue, because not all parents are absentee parents and yet there is a difference between being present in a child’s life and being engaged in a child’s life. Just because a parent may not work and may be home all day does not mean they are necessarily actively engaged in their child’s life.

Conversely, a single parent may work long hours and still be actively engaged in their child’s life. The question is not whether the parent feels engaged, but whether the teen feels they are supported. And unfortunately, a teenager’s perception of care and support may not have much to do with the reality of the situation.

Bullying

While bullying is in and of itself rarely the singular cause of suicide, there is ample evidence suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. It is not clear whether bullying is causing teens to feel suicidal, whether bullies are targeting more vulnerable victims who already suffer from causal factors, or some combination of both. But there is no question that bullying and teen suicidality go hand in hand.

Nonconforming Gender Identity

According to Freedom Counseling, “Issues of sexual identity are hugely relevant to teen suicide. Trans teens in particular are vulnerable to mental illness and suicidality, independent of whether or not their peers and family identify them with the gender identity they express.” Again, however, struggling with LGBT issues is not in and of itself a lone indicator of suicidality. What it all comes back to is whether or not the teen feels loved, accepted and supported by someone or some group of people. They may not feel accepted or supported by their parents or peers, but if they find a supportive LGBT community to be a part of, that can help them safely weather the storms.

Depression or Other Mental Health Issues

As science discovers more about the power of neurotransmitters, it seems that in some cases the real cause of suicide might actually be the teen’s own brain chemistry. This is particularly exacerbated by extreme hormonal changes that take place during the pubescent years.

Ultimately, there are no sure-fire answers as to why individuals commit suicide and particularly not when it comes to teens. Signs of depression and suicide are difficult to see, and intervention does not have a perfect success rate. Still, the onus is on all of us to try and make a difference where we can in reaching out to vulnerable teens who are on the margins of society. Because one is too many.

Ava Cantrell from Lights Out and Haunted Hathaways Interview with Teens Wanna Know

If you have attended any Young Hollywood red carpet or charity events in the past few years, you no doubt have come across the very energetic, bubbly personality of Ava Cantrell. This teen actress, who turns 17 next month, has been in the biz since 2008, appearing on such hits as The Haunted Hathaways and Lights Out. She has also earned several industry awards, from the La Femme International Rising Star to a Young Artist Award to, this year, a Young Entertainer Award.

While we have interviewed Ava on the red carpet a couple of times in the past (check out our Youtube Channel for the vids), we wanted to get a little more in-depth. She is a well-spoken, creative person who is a perfect example of perserverance and hard work — two qualities which are sure to help her climb to the top and which will hopefully inspire you, the reader, to keep striving toward positive goals. Without further ado, let’s get into the Q&A!

photo: Alikay Photography

Hi Ava! Nice to chat with you again! Tell us a little bit about yourself for those who are unfamiliar.

I am so happy to be chatting with you! Love what you guys do.

Professionally, I am an actress and have been working in the industry since age 8. My career has definitely been slow and steady. I started working in the industry with short films, commercials and music videos. I booked Nickelodeon’s “Haunted Hathaways” then Warner Brothers’ “Lights Out” and most recently “Young Sheldon.” I have also been getting recognized for my work as Amelia Voss in the feature film “One Under The Sun” as the La Femme International 2017 Rising Star and a Young Entertainer Award for best actress in a feature film. I feel blessed to be able to work in Hollywood and live a pretty low key life in San Diego.

I am legal 18 and passed the CHSPE but I am staying in school and graduating early with honors. I danced for many years, love to surf, love photography and enjoy the really simple things in life like sunsets and hanging out with my family and dogs.

What sort of training have you done in the arts?

I was a trained dancer when I was young and spent many years competing. I have many overall titles and crowns in dance. I don’t spend much time in studios anymore dancing, but trust me if the right role comes along that has dance, I am so ready for it. Just like Natalie Portman stopped dancing at age 12 to focus on acting, then picked it up for Black Swan. I will always be able to incorporate dance into any role but now adding other things into my repertoire like being a better surfer, martial arts, boxing and more stunt-type training. As actors we need to have more than a few physical skills in our bag of tricks.

I have studied acting with many great people in Hollywood as well as took classes for many years. Now I coach one-on-one with my manager/coach Sharon Lane. We work on issues that I have, as well as scripts, which I love. It is not just about the audition you are going in for but who you are as an actor. Finding yourself in the character but always being able to switch it up fast when casting asks. I love Sharon because she is hard on me. I want to know the truth and I want to be my best self.

You recently appeared in Young Sheldon alongside Jason Alexander (Season 1, Episode 16). Tell me about that experience and what stands out most! 

It was so amazing working on Young Sheldon. That cast and crew is brilliant. Working on one of the top rated shows in Hollywood is incredible, but the people on that show made the experience. Iain Armitage is one of the most gifted young actors in Hollywood. It was a joy working with him. It is truly one of the nicest sets I have worked on.

My scenes were all with Jason Alexander and he is not only an incredible human being but also one of the most giving actors I have worked with. In one scene the camera was only on him, but he kept turning to me and pulling me in. I got an extra scene in the classroom, that turned into more lines, and that turned into Jason calling me Ava in the scene. It was really funny because people were asking me why I was called Ava in “Young Sheldon” but I am credited as Molly. Basically, that was Jason saying that my character is Molly in Annie, but in his class I am Ava. To make it simple, when Jason is doing his thing you go with it and I was so lucky to get to be able to improv with him. That scene was so fun to shoot and was not in script.

Filming the Annie scene with Jason is probably the hardest thing I have have had to do to date. I mean he is hilarious and kept changing it up each time and not laughing was almost impossible! At one point he stuck his rag in my face, so I just went along. We totally got each other, and the compliments he gave to me in between takes will forever be close to my heart.

What do you consider your biggest break so far and what made it so special?

Everyone still knows me as Penelope Pritchard on Nickelodeon’s “Haunted Hathaways.” It is still running all of the time and is what kids get excited about when they meet me. It was my first break-out role to be recurring on that show, but working on Warner Brother’s “Lights Out” was the break that made me realize that I could work in a big Hollywood movie. I hope I have a few more of those to come in my career.

Tell me about the time you were most nervous as an actress and how you got through it.

I know this sounds crazy but I am not a really nervous-type person. As an actress you have to give it your all and being nervous or hesitant would just hold me back. When I am auditioning I don’t get nervous because it is so out of my control. Either I am right for the part or I am not. When I am working the part is mine and I can’t let nerves get in my way or diminish my performance. You want to know what I get nervous about? It is speeches and going live! That is the scariest thing to me.

Most rewarding moment as a performer?

My role as Amelia Voss in “One Under The Sun” has been most rewarding. It was a lower budget feature, and I was so happy to accept the role. I knew that role would change me as an actress forever and it did.

Playing the role of a girl with terminal cancer was pretty heavy. To see myself on the final day of my life after battling cancer, as well as reunite with my mother after three years apart was so emotional. It was my last scene filming and I am really glad we filmed that last. It was authentic to my emotions.

The movie has a powerful message that we are all one under the sun. Why our world still struggles with this is so sad to me. I loved being able to accept the award for best actress for this at YEA Awards and address the topic in my speech about there needing to be more strong women roles in Hollywood. I said it WILL be our generation to change that, and I believe it.


photo: Alikay Photography

You were recently nominated for a Young Entertainer Award. What was it for…and what was the outcome?

I was recently nominated and won the YEA award for Best Actress in a Feature Film. It was surreal. I knew when I finished “One Under The Sun” that I was really proud of my work. I walked away knowing I left it all on the table and had no regrets. I feel really blessed that YEA recognized my work. Moments like that carry me through the difficult times that I question if this is actually something I can continue doing.

What was the best part about attending?

I loved being with all of my peers. I’ve been attending for three years. Some of the speeches had me in tears. It warmed my heart to have some younger actors and actresses come up to me and tell me that I’m their role model. One said “Nice girls win.” That really made my heart happy!

Looking back on what you have done in showbiz so far, if you could do one thing over again and change it, what would it be?

Looking back, I got caught up in normal teen stuff. I thought I needed friends or relationships in the biz. I would see groups of Hollywood kids and think, it would be great to have a group like that.

What I realized is that, first, when I am not working I hate to talk about auditions or work. I want to to talk about things outside that. If its always a topic of conversation it becomes reptive and boring. Second, Hollywood friendships don’t get you work. Talent and being right for the role gets you work. Last, actors and actresses staying professional is so important.

I think the usual teen drama when played out with celebrity friends on Instagram is just distracting and unnecessary. I have a few people I love to run into that are awesome people in the biz, but for the most part, my friends are all people I have known for years before all of this stuff took off.

photo: Alikay Photography

Most awkward experience IRL?

I am a pretty awkward person so on any given day you can catch me in an awkward experience. The important thing is to laugh those moments off and not take yourself too seriously.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve….Nosy people and gossips. Come on people, find something constructive to do with your lives rather then worry about others or talk about others.

Favorite musical artist?

I have a ton of favorites, but my all time favorite bands are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, and Cage the Elephant.

Dream role?

I want to film an action type movie because I haven’t done that yet. I want to show the world my fiesty and strong side. I have had limited stunt training and am training now in boxing. Oh yes, and can I surf in it as well? That would be a dream for sure.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Although I’m a huge Star Wars fan, I think I’m going to say Star Trek. I love watching the old classic episodes, and as a science nerd I love that everything is scientifically accurate. Star Trek even inspired a lot of real life technology, even the flip phone came from the show!

Chocolate or vanilla?

I love chocolate bars, but vanilla cakes, cupcakes, and ice cream for sure.

What do you find most attractive in a person?

I definitely look for humor in another person. I like people that are funny, and I can laugh with. We need to get each other’s sense of humor. If I am with someone and 4 hours feels like 10 minutes, I am attracted. I am not a hipster type girl so I am not looking for that. I like cute, sweet, classy, funny and smart guys.

What are you working on next?

I am super excited to be starring in a feature film called “The Fostered” the end of this summer. I also have two projects in development right now. One is a pilot/series and the other is a comedy spy movie. My Dad and I wrote both and both are optioned. You have to get out there and create your own work. At this point of my career and after 9 years it is just the progession of things.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I think people are surprised at how much I love science. I spend a lot of my time listening to science podcasts, reading books, and watching shows on science. I would rather discuss black holes, evolution or new palentology discoveries than my outfits.

Can we please get a selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment?

Why Play Ping Pong?

Ping Pong, or table tennis as it is often called, is a game which is loved by many. This is an easy to play game and a sport which offers many benefits. This is the second largest sport in the world. It is also known as life-time sport since it can be played for life, even when old. So get started now so you can beat your fellow senior citizens when you turn 90 haha.

Let’s have a glance at some reasons why you should play ping pong.

Bonding

Ping Pong is a sport which can be played anywhere. It can be played at home, in community centers and also in schools. It helps in developing a great bond of friendship – whether it is between family members, friends, or new people. People who play the game are known to socialize much better. When kids learn to play the game, they bond in a better way with their friends and members.

Physical Development

Ping pong is one great way of staying in shape. It helps in improving hand-eye coordination. Studies have revealed that a game of table tennis helps in strengthening bones, develops muscles and strengthens the body. The game is about repetitive and also multidirectional movements, so helps in building flexibility and agility.

Great for the Brain

Ping pong helps in improving motor functions. It builds energy and helps in long-term memory functions. Table tennis is one game which helps in improving the functioning of your brain the more you play.  

Inexpensive

Ping pong is is quite cheap. You do not have to buy a lot of equipment or gear to play the game. It can be played anywhere with a ping pong paddle, a ball and a table. You bareley even need a net. Thus, you can start off quickly without making a major investment.

Easy

Though you may not become a master at once, you can learn to play the game in about 10 seconds. This is one game which can be easily played by all – irrespective of gender, age and size. The rules are simple. Teens can start playing from an early age and can master the sport by the time they are adults.

 Great Exercise

Young people often do not feel motivated to exercise and it gets really difficult to get in a workout. If you start playing ping pong from an early stage, it works as a great exercise. You start losing extra fat. The body gets flexibleand you will start moving towards fitness.

 


Author:  Lisa J. Richie has spent a lot of time researching about Ping Pong. She helps people with her tips, suggestions and advice related to the game. You can find all her articles in Gosports reviews. This is the place to find the best ping pong equipment, according to Lisa.

 

Spring Book Roundup and Giveaway! YA books and more

Attention book lovers! We’ve got a bunch of titles to bring to your attention in our Spring Book Roundup, plus a giveaway! Check out our book reviews, and scroll down to the giveaway.

The following contains affiliate links. We receive a small percentage from Amazon with every purchase. If you buy anything, thank you for supporting us and the authors below!

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl
Paige McKenzie
Hachette Books
Softcover, 336 pages

YouTube sensation Paige McKenzie wraps up her New York Times Bestselling “Sunshine Girl” trilogy with her latest novel, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl. In this installment, teenager Sunshine Griffith returns from her training to wage war against the evil demon Dubu. She is accompanied by her family and friends, including her boyfriend Nolan and fellow luiseach (guardian angel-like protector of humans) Lucio.

Our hero really “shines” (ahem) in this climactic novel, which is action packed from the start. Lovers of action and all things wizardly will delight that the very first battle occurs within the first dozen pages or so. As the book progresses, she discovers more about the race of guardians she belongs to, her powers, and also learns some extremely suprising news about her birth mother (who happens to have wanted to kill her when she was a baby). As the world heads towards a demonic apocalypse, and she faces a terrible betrayal, Sunshine has to make a life or death decision…not only for herself but possibly the entire world. Good stuff.

The book is very well written and draws you in quickly. Its a fast, fun read, and it’s even funner if you have watched a few of the Haunted Sunshine episodes on YouTube, as McKenzie has sprinkled in a few Easter eggs here and there which die-hards will no doubt spot and appreciate. Highly recommended.

Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to the Dark Side of the Moon
Bill Kopp
Rowman & Littlefield
Hardcover, 260 pages

Most teens know Pink Floyd from playing Rock Band or from checking their parents’ old record collections. For those for whom Pink Floyd appreciation means more than wearing a trendy Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt, this new book by Bill Kopp is a treat. Its full of rather technical musical jargon, but still presents insights into the band that are found nowhere else.

While the book covers a bit of the Syd Barrett era, it doesn’t rehash all of the drama of that early period which has been well-documented elsewhere. Instead, it concentrates specifically on the period from Barrett’s departure up until the creation of the rock masterpiece the band is best known for (the aforementioned Moon). That time was difficult for the band, as the departure of their leader meant having to define their musical identity — and this was not an easy journey. The author does an excellent job highlighting the trauma and travails, including the numerous failures and dead-ends the band encountered while creating its new musical style.

Pink Floyd fans, and musicians inspired by their sound, should definitely appreciate this book.

The Tombs
Deborah Schaumberg
Harper Teen
Hardcover, 448 pages

The first thing that strikes you as when you take hold of The Tombs is its beautiful cover and the deckle (frayed) edges which evoke the story’s setting of late 19th century New York. Its a nice touch which perfectly sets you up for the world you will enter when you crack the book open.

The Tombs is told from the point of view of Avery Kohl, a sixteen year old girl with the ability to see auras. She embarks on a mission to rescue her mother, who was placed in the Tombs asylum (Temple of Mind Balance Studies) due to her extrasensory perceptions. Held captive by an evil scientist and his crow-masked cronies, her fate seems destined for Avery as well — unless the teenager learns to wield her power and thwart the scientist’s evil plot.

The book is easy to read and enjoyable, albeit a bit slow in some parts. The author creates a rich world with some steampunk-ish elements, aided no doubt by her background in architecture. She makes the obligatory nods towards diversity by including African and Romany companions, but it doesn’t seem forced because, well, New York always HAS been very diverse. She also throws in a love triangle which doesn’t really have too much bearing on anything, but I guess you have to have that in any YA book these days.

Overall, the book is an impressive debut, and sets up the story for a sequel — which will be a welcome read as well!

Becoming the Dragon (The Dragon Inside Book 1)
Alex Sapegin
Litworld, Ltd
Paperback, 178 pages

Becoming the Dragon is the first in a series of four books comprising The Dragon Inside tetralogy. It starts with, interestingly enough, a list of characters, which comes in handy when trying to figure out who is who as the plot gets going. Our protagonist is Andy, a teenager who develops the ability to freak out electronics after being hit by lightning. As if that weren’t enough, he later stumbles across an experiment in time travel and gets transported to a magical realm full of dragons, elves, orcs and the whole nine yards. Afer a few misadventures, he dies. That’s not a huge spoiler, as if he doesn’t die then there is no rest of the series because he, get this, becomes reincarnated as a bad-ass dragon! Becoming the dragon, get it?

Anyway, as a dragon, he of course becomes embroiled in war, as dragons are apt to do. Without spoiling too much (did I mention Andy dies and becomes a dragon?), much of the action is PG13 and the author does a good job with world-building and with his characters. Fantasy buffs will enjoy this series. the main issue I have is with some of the dialogue and the writing itself. The book was written by Russian Alex Sapegin, and was translated to English. Because of this, some of the language just seems a bit off. Also, the human characters have typical Russian names, such as Olga, Sergey, and Irina, which threw me off at first because those are very foreign-sounding to American ears. As I kep reading, these factors no longer mattered, however, and I simply enjoyed the story.

Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out
Edited by Erin Moulton
Zest Books
Paperback, 224 Pages

This book is very timely, what with the #metoo and #timesup movements at the forefront of society’s conversations these days. Its an anthology written by adult survivors of sexual abuse and violence during their childhood and teen years. Following each story or poem, there is a brief interview with the victim discussing their recovery. Any reader who has similar experiences will no doubt find this very valuable.

But let me be blunt…it is a very, very hard read. These are real stories, and what these now-adults endured when they were young was horrible. Innocence taken. Years of guilt and shame. Your blood will boil reading some of the stories, especially as you realize that this is still happening in our world right now.

However, I would also say that in some cases, the issue of rape or sexual abuse is not so clear when viewed from a lens different from the one we look at life through today. Is a self-loathing girl who angrily has sex with a loser druggie a rape victim, just because the experience disgusted her? Or what about a sexual encounter among teens, where there is no voiced dissent, but there is disappointment afterwards? Slippery slopes, and they show just how difficult sexual relations are becoming due to shifting norms and even definitions. Where are the lines drawn? I will leave it up to the reader to decide.

 

Food Sanity: How to eat in a world of fads and fiction
Dr. David Friedman
Turner Publishing
Paperback, 352 pages

Knowing what to eat and what to avoid as can be confusing. A lot of what we consider common sense has been contradicted by health experts…none of whom seem to agree with one another. One book might help clarify that and start you on a lifetime of sensible eating which doesn’t require giving up everything you like. Its jam-packed with practical information you can use!

Lifetime television’s morning show health expert and syndicated radio host, Dr. David Friedman (as seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, E!, Discovery Health, FOX, FitTV, The Food Network, Discovery Channel and more) has spent the last 15 years interviewing hundreds of health advocates, scientists, doctors and New York Times bestselling authors. Unfortunately, a lot of the nutrition advice given by some experts would invariably be contradicted by others, making knowing the truth difficult.

Dr. Friedman created a common science meets common sense approach that “finally puts an end to all the culinary conundrum.”

Some of the topics covered include (from official synopsis):

* Meats vs. Beets – Dr. Friedman weighs the paleo and vegetarian diets’ pros and cons and reveals forensic fossil evidence divulging what exactly our ancestors really ate.

* Seeing “all natural”, “hormone-free” and “organic” on the label isn’t synonymous with healthy. Dr. Friedman explains how to read labels for accuracy. Also, how do we buy safe and healthy fish, chicken, pork and eggs?

* Does your product contain GMOs? The 5- digit numbers on the stickers you find on produce indicate how the product was grown. If it begins with an 8 that means it’s a genetically modified food.

* Weight Loss – We have more weight loss plans than any time in history yet the obesity epidemic is getting worse. From Atkins, Paleo, Zone, Keto, Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers, Dr. Friedman discusses the two crucial missing elements to achieving permanent weight loss.

It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You: A Teenager’s Guide to Preventing Eating Disorders―and Loving Yourself
Shari Brady
Skyhorse Publishing
Paperback, 192 pages

Continuing the theme of healthy eating (wow, what a problem this has become!) is the last book in our roundup. The author used to suffer from anorexia nervosa, a psychological condition that leads sufferers to starve themselves. Now a licensed clinical therapist, she has put together a valuable guide for teenagers who might not have the healthiest relationship with food or their self-image.

The book is very easy to read and full of real-life case studies, so anyone suffering from eating disorders can relate. She includes exercises to help teens uncover their feelings and learn to deal with them in positive ways. Readers will discover a lot about themselves as a whole, not just learn to adopt better eating habits. There is also sound advice about dealing with society’s insistence on thinness, and the effects of social media. This book is recommended for anyone struggling with self-image and eating disorders — teens and beyond.

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forests of the Fae Book Three
K. Kibbee
Incorgnito Publishing Press
Paperpack, 294 pages

Thirteen-year-old Anne has quite a lot on her hands for such a young girl. She has discovered that Fae creatures, so lovingly represented by Disney and others, are actually bloodthirsty creatures hell-bent on taking over the human race. Entire cities have been emptied of children by Fae depredations over the course of decades, and the evil threatens to spread — putting Anne, her family and friends in danger. She embarks on a quest to find twelve original Fae books in order to untangle a magical spell and save humanity.

First of all, having never read the first two books, I appreciate the inclusion of complete summaries of the first two books in the front pages. That quickly brought me up to speed on the world created by Kibbee, the main characters, and the plot which leads up to this final volume. The book starts off a bit slow, with Anne seeking the twelve original Fae books, which had a cast spell on them by their author, Lang, which can defeat the fairies forever. She is accompanied by her friend Grace, who has taken over the body of her brother’s pet raven, and an old bookstore owner. While the pace picks up a bit as Anne gets closer to tracking down all the books, and she meets a mysterious loner on the way to the Fae forests, the book never really delivers on the action I expected. The world-building and description of the evil fairies could have been amplified…I left feeling like I knew little to nothing about the, their history, and their motivations beyond being jealous of the human experience. The ending has a good payoff, however, and I did like that our heroine is just a normal girl rather than some “chosen one.”

Through the Barbed Wire (Wild at Heart Mystery)
Isabella Allen
Brown Books Kids
Paperback, 224 pages

Through the Barbed Wire is the debut novel by teen author Isabella Allen. It tells the story of Isla, an 11-year-old girl who lives a very carefree life on her family’s 10 acre property despite suffering from dyslexia and a speech impediment. Isla has a special bond with nature due to her staying out all day and exploring the property. She plays with deer, squirrels, and even has a respectful bond with a rattlesnake.

One day, things begin to change. A compact disc wth construction plans mysteriously shows up on the property. Strange markings on trees. And then…destruction. How are these connected? Will they change Isla’s life? Read the book to find out!

The book is very easy to read, and is more suited for tweens and early teens. Older teens might find it too slow paced. I like the perspective of the protagonist, who reminds the reader that there are just as many entertaining things to explore in nature as on smartphones or TV.

Giveaway!

We are giving away a set of the following four books:

To enter:

  1. Follow us on Instagram
  2. Mention a friend who likes to read in the comments of our “#teenbookgiveaway” post (it has a picture of the four books).
  3. For each friend mentioned, you get one entry into our drawing.
  4. We will pick and DM a random winner on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018!
  5. We will only ship to US addresses, no international entries please.

 

AND THEN I GO’s Sawyer Barth Interview with Teens Wanna Know

AND THEN I GO, a new film about bullying and school violence has just been released this week, just in time for The National Student Walkout, being held on the 19th anniversary of Columbine, April 20, 2018. (Students will walk out of their classrooms in solidarity to protest gun violence, and show their leaders they want to see action.).

We got to the chance to do a Q&A with one of its teen stars, 16-year-old Sawyer Barth, who plays Flake. Sawyer is extremely intelligent, well-spoken, and does an incredible job in the film along with his teen co-star Arman Darbo. You can read our Q&A and a quick review of the film below. But first  let’s find out more about the film:

AND THEN I GO is based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, also features Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life).

“SYNOPSIS: In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

“AND THEN I GO is a character study that dives deep into the minds and lives of our alienated youth. The film presents audiences with an important and timely story touching on such issues as bullying, mental health, parenting and accessibility to weapons.

“The film asks the essential question – why is school violence a re-occurring incident?”

The Orchard released AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

QUICK REVIEW OF AND THEN I GO: This film is beautifully shot and the acting is superb. You really feel that the two main characters are just like any teens in America who feel isolated, useless, and angry because they simply do not fit in any more and life has gone from carefree to dark. The situations presented in the high school, with faculty and parents trying their best to try to help children when they act out, and not being able to do so effectively — as well as the bullying — are very real. You get the sense that, just as in actual life, a little more delving in and a little more communication and even discipline would turn things around and prevent tragedy. I hope this movie is watched by a lot of people, not as an “anti-gun” movie because it is not, but as a means of hopefully recognizing anti-social personalities and the damage they can do when left to their own devices. We can do a lot better to protect society and treat these people before they cause harm, and I hope this film gives some clues as to their characteristics and motivations — because AND THEN I GO was spot-on in this respect.

And now, let’s meet Sawyer Barth!

Hi Sawyer! Before we get into AND THEN I GO, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in West Long Branch, New Jersey which is a tiny town maybe an hour and 15 mins outside of New York. I go to a school called Communications High School. It’s this specialized technology school that has a radio and TV studio and teaches you how to code. It’s all sorts of visual and technical communications. I’ve played rec and travel soccer ever since I was a little kid. I’m an amateur at the ukulele and the guitar, but I like to pretend that I’m a professional musician [laughs]. My favorite color is orange, that’s a fun fact.

How did you get involved with AND THEN I GO?

Well, I auditioned for it in the spring of 2016. I auditioned for Edwin; I auditioned for the part of Edwin, now played by Arman Darbo. I went in to casting and I read for it and they gave me the Flake’s lines and told me to go out to the room and learn them and then wait until everyone else had read and left and I was the last one there. I went back in and I read for it and I was in there for like an hour working on it and trying to perfect it and then I left and I came back awhile later, maybe like three weeks or a month later, and I did a callback for Flake. It was another hour, I’m just working on it and what was really great about auditioning is I felt more like it was a workshop than an audition. I didn’t feel like I was being tested, but rather it was a collaborative effort to make this character as real as possible, which you get so rarely in auditions. Then I found out really soon after that, that I got the role and I was ecstatic about that.

Your character in the film has some pretty despicable characteristics, were you hesitant to take on a role of such a negative character?

I wasn’t so nervous about it because I think it’s fun. You know, they always say ‘it’s more fun to play villains than superheroes,’ and that’s because they’re so unlike ourselves and it’s kind of an exercise in character works. So yeah, I was excited about that. The other thing is the subject matter it’s sort of attracted me in a way because it’s so topical. I wanted to be in something that makes such a difference and it’s touching so many people who have been through situations like this. It’s just important is what really drew me to it.

You played Flake with a very raw, authenticity. What helped you get into this headspace?

Well, I think I saw a kind of no B.S. attitude in him. He does things without putting up a front and without acting for other people. He does things entirely for himself. So I thought the way his outlook on life kind of reflects the fact that he just does things to do them. He might have ulterior motives, but he knows what they are and you can kind of see this in him. He knows what he wants and he’s going to get it and he’s going to grab the future for himself. He’s very ambitious and he’ll do whatever he has to do, whatever field he’s pursuing. I definitely saw that.

Have you ever known anyone like Flake in real life? If so, how did this person affect you?

I’ve definitely known people who are as upfront about things as he is and have that kind of very straightforward, ‘I deserve this and so I shall retain it’ attitude. And the way that they affect you definitely depends on what they really want and if it’s a more malicious thing that they’re going for. They want to hurt people, which unfortunately, a lot of people like that do, then they could effect you negatively and you have to come out of it better as a person and realize the differences between you and that person. Sometimes they work for good, which is great and they can affect you definitely positively because they have such a rigorous attitude towards doing the right thing and it’s great when you see that as well.

What was the most rewarding part about working on this film and what was the most challenging?

Oh man, it’s the same thing! The most rewarding and the most challenging was getting inside his head and doing character work. Flake is such a three-dimensional character and the fact that he’s evil raises so many questions because he is still a person and why he does what he does that’s just one question that raises so many other questions that need answering to. So, I loved delving into that and I felt so good kind of diving into my own mind and doing additional research and kind of trying to personally understand you know, why this kid ticks the way that he does. It is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s definitely the most challenging part I’ve ever played, There’s always thing I feel like I can improve on, but I felt like I did a good job.

Most memorable moment on set?

There was a good scene, I think that got cut out, but there was a glass window. I picked up a rock from the ground and smashed it through the window and they had this glass panel, but it wasn’t really glass, it was crystalized sugar or something. I would take a rock from the ground and I threw it through, the whole thing shatters and then I stick my foot in there. Then I removed all the loose pieces. Arman and I wanted to see what the crystalize sugar tasted like afterwards, so we both had a little chunk of it. It was definitely worth it.

Have you ever experienced any bullying like the characters in the film and if so how did you handle it?

Yeah, I got bullied a lot when I was a little kid and I think everyone does. I think it’s a fundamental part of growing up and the way that I handled it was just by recognizing what’s wrong and what’s right, realizing these things that are being done to me aren’t how a person should be treated and learning that instead of laying down and take it, say ‘I deserve better than this. This is not how things should work.’

What would you recommend to teens out there who are feeling isolated or bullied and might want to do something rash – like get revenge?

I would say talk to someone. There’s so many people who are trained in this. If you feel ostracized or down in the dumps, or like nothing is going well in your life, talk to someone. Even if you don’t want to talk to an adult, talk to a friend. Talk to someone your age because chances are, they’ve gone through the same things that you have, or something similar. Even if they can’t give you the solution to your problems, it’s good to have someone to vent to.

What would you like to see to reduce school shootings?

I think honestly, I’m not educated enough on this subject to come up with any specific solution. All I want is for something to happen. I think it’s great that kids have more power today than they ever had. I think that’s definitely unarguable with all the national school walkouts. I think kids just need to keep staying firm about everything and form their own opinions so that we can decide as a collective unit what should be done.

What has been the best part about being an actor and the hardest part?

Best part about being an actor is the ladies. No, I’m just kidding [laughs]. The best part about being an actor, for me, is stepping into another person’s shoes and kind of being enlightened as to other ways of life tat exist and ways that people live that are unlike your own life and being able to play a character that’s nothing like you. The most difficult part is often times, staying grounded and doing your job and getting everything done efficiently, especially when being taken out by the world wind of set and show business. When you go on a set, you can have as much acting training as you want but nothing can prepare you for the amount of commotion that is occurring at any one moment on a TV or movie set. There’s dozens of people, especially when you’re a kid who are all older than you and you don’t have much experience with all these people who are older than you because you’re used to hanging around kids your age. So just staying the course and doing your job and being able to work things out on your own and learn how to work efficiently on a set is definitely not something that can be learned right away. It’s not just like a math equation where you know the answer. You need to work at it and keep getting parts and keep getting on sets and hanging out with people who know what they’re doing. You’ll figure out this really difficult aspect of the industry.

What’s you biggest pet peeve?

You know what’s a really big pet peeve? When you’re tying or untying your shoelaces, usually untying your shoelaces, and you pull a certain thread of the knot and it gets more caught so that you have no way of getting it undone. That’s the worst thing ever.

Biggest guilty pleasure?

Doritos. I love Doritos. I will munch on them all night. I’ll get a bag that’s big enough for like five people and I’ll eat it by myself in like an hour if you don’t stop me.

What do you find most attractive in another person?

I think a quality that I really appreciate in people is loyalty. There are so many great things that you can find in a person. They can be good at this, good at that, be accommodating in one way or another, but in reality, if they stayed the course with you in hard times, I think that’s definitely the thing that’s most attractive to me in a friend. I find myself gravitating towards people who will gravitate towards me when I need them.

Favorite movie?

Short Term 12 by Dustin Daniel Cretton.

Dream role?

James Bond, maybe.

Favorite musical act or band?

I really like Vampire Weekend, which is kind of hipstery. But I really like their music.

Favorite book?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. There’s a movie that came out about it about last year, which I haven’t seen yet.

What’re you working on next?

I was just in L.A. for a couple of weeks filming this pilot for ABC called “The Untitled Tim Doyle Project” which it’s not titled yet but whether or not it gets picked up in May, I could be working on that or I could have a lot of free time this summer.

Where can people follow you on social media?

I have an Instagram – it’s just @SawyerBarth. I don’t post much, but if you want to give me some support and if I get a couple more people paying attention, I might be more inclined to put some more stuff on there [laughs].

Can we get a quick selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment?

 

Ways to talk about sexual abuse and assault

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator and the recent scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, has reiterated how even “trusted” adults can manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate with a child. It’s important to know what sexual assault is and what to do if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

Below are some tips from Krav Maga Worldwide, a global leader in defense training, on how to approach this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject.

Start the conversation early. This may seem very early but children under 12 are most at risk at 4 years old. Even if they can’t speak well, children at this age are busy figuring out the world. And they certainly understand and remember a lot more than adults usually realize. Its never to early to talk about this subject with your parents and caregivers.

Understand the only instances when private parts can be seen and touched. Nobody – including a parent or caregiver – should see or touch your private parts (what a swimming suit covers up) – unless they’re keeping them clean, safe, or healthy.

Talk openly about sexuality and sexual abuse. Abusers will sometimes say that the abuse should be kept a secret. Know that if someone is touching or talking in ways that makes you uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.

Babysitters, coaches and teachers can all be perpetrators. Don’t assume all adults can be trusted. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator. It’s important to understand that just because the person is considered a “trusted” adult they can still manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate.

Inform yourself about the tricks used by sexual predators. Such as continued accidental touching, or where the predator tricks you into thinking there is an emergency and you must go with the predator.

Trust your inner voice. Especially that feeling we all have inside that tells us what feels right and what feels wrong or uncomfortable. Many who have been sexually abused describe a feeling of discomfort as having a “yucky” feeling inside. You must trust or honor your inner voice or that “yucky” feeling.

You have the right to say NO! As the majority of abuse is based on coercion rather than force, learning to say NO strongly and forcefully really can make a big difference in many situations.

 About Krav Maga Worldwide

Founded in 1997 to promote Krav Maga throughout the United States and around the world, Krav Maga Worldwide trains and certifies instructors and licenses over 150 authorized Krav Maga Worldwide training centers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America, and Europe, as well as over 800 law enforcement agencies and military units. Krav Maga offers the highest caliber of instruction to thousands of people, supporting the company’s core commitment to improving and saving lives. Krav Maga Worldwide continues to develop, promote and implement self-defense and fitness programs. For additional information, visit: www.kravmaga.com.

 

Don’t Want Braces? Talk to Your Parents About These Options

For the majority of teens and pre-teens, braces have become a rite of passage—a symbol that you’re growing up. These metal wires often stay on for years, resulting in straighter and more beautiful teeth than ever before. While there’s no doubt that the results of braces will guarantee you a beautiful and functional smile, many teens don’t like how braces look and find them embarrassing.

Fortunately, there are other orthodontic alternatives.

1. Clear Plastic Braces

For those who don’t like the look of metal braces, these nearly invisible alternatives are definitely worth considering. Each ‘tray’ or set of clear aligners is custom made for each patient, with adjustments made over the course of treatment. These are suitable for addressing a variety of dental issues, including overcrowding, crooked teeth, gaps, overbite, and underbite. According to Dentaly.org, clear aligners are used anywhere from 9-18 months. That’s much shorter than the usual treatment period for braces. Plus, you can take out clear aligners when you eat and to brush and floss, making your daily dental hygiene routine that much easier.

2. Lingual Braces

While traditional braces are attached to the front of the teeth, lingual braces are actually attached to the back. They function in the exact same way as regular metal braces, but just without the metal on the front of your smile. They correct all the same problems that regular metal braces do, but without the embarrassment. That being said, their location can sometimes feel uncomfortable or strange to the tongue. Also, their location and position may make them a challenge to keep clean, so you’ll have to be extra diligent at brushing and flossing. Many dentists recommend getting an oral irrigation device to help clear food debris from these kind of braces to help keep them clean.

3. Veneers

Northstar Dental explains that veneersare a cosmetic dental procedure in which a thin layer of porcelain or composite material is placed over the outside of the tooth.For those who are only looking to change the look of their teeth, but not to alter their position, veneers may be the best option. These are custom-made porcelain caps that are permanently attached to the teeth. The end result is a normal-looking set of teeth that are straight and perfectly aligned with all the others. This is generally a great option for broken, discolored, or cracked teeth that can’t otherwise be corrected.

4. Ceramic Braces

With ceramic braces, the brackets are made of porcelain so that they blend in with the teeth and are less noticeable. Tooth-colored wires are also available to further make the appearance less noticeable. Metamorphosis Dental says that “Although ceramic braces may not be recommendable for a few cases of misalignment and biting problems, it is suitable for treating crooked teeth, overbite or overjet and widely spaced teeth or crowded teeth. Ceramic braces are generally more expensive but with given advantages when compared to metal braces.” These are as effective as braces, but they tend to be less painful and to irritate the gums less.

Kissing Braces Goodbye!

Talk to your parents if you don’t want traditional metal braces, because there are good alternatives! From there, you can work with your dentist to determine which option is best for you and your teeth. You might be surprised by which choice can help make your teeth look beautiful without the need for metal wires.

What to Do if a Friend or Family Member Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem

In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration concluded that approximately 22 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder. In 2016, that number dropped by only 1 million. The same study found that 8.2 million of those people also suffer from a mental health disorder for both years. While living with addiction is hard, knowing someone with that addiction can be even harder. You want to help them, but feel that your voice will fall on deaf ears; especially, if they are your peers or family members. The right strategy will not only give you the confidence you need to speak up but will also save their life.

Be Well Informed

Before taking the plunge into a deep conversation, you should thoroughly know your topic. Many websites will give you in-depth information on the causes and effects of addiction. For example, the SAMHSA.gov website offers yearly data reports on substance abuse. The site also provides material on how to get help for someone who suffers from substance abuse and mental health disorders. In most cases, the addiction is used to hide depression, self-esteem disorders, and other mental health issues that are being suppressed by your friend or family member. You can also call a rehab facility and discuss your concerns with a professional without having to commit to anything. After you have studied on the subject, approach your loved one when they are not under the influence of their addiction. Explain to them how you feel and reassure them that they are not alone in the journey.

Be a Positive Support System

While the urge to take your friend or family member straight to a rehab center or AA/NA meeting is strong, sometimes the best therapy is knowing that you are there for them in their darkest hour. The most frustrating part of addiction for both you and your loved one is understanding the addiction recovery process. Recovering from addiction is different for each person. There will be times of anger, resentment, and withdrawal from your loved one. There will be times where they will mess up. Be patient with them and remember each day is a new day. Of course, if you do have to take them to a rehab center, be sure and maintain that same positivity. Their quality of life in the rehab center is just as important to their treatment as the therapy. Remember, addiction is just a disease, and you are just visiting a sick friend or family member.

When someone has an addiction, that person is not the only person who is affected by the habit. You have suffered the emotional rollercoaster of their addiction. While they are in a rehab center or meeting, take that time to go to Al-Anon meetings. These meetings are structured to help you understand their sufferings and help you learn how to deal with the recovery. Furthermore, plan events to distract your friend or family member during these hard times you know they are weak. The road to recovery might be a long journey, but in the end, their life is worth the trip.

Resources:

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/

https://www.samhsa.gov/

http://www.midwestinstituteforaddiction.org/

How Can I Create a Relaxing Study Environment?

As a student, studying is a big part of having success and getting your work done. You will spend a large amount of time studying for tests and homework assignments. To get your work done with high quality, it is necessary to have a good environment to study in. Trying to prepare for a test or focus on a difficult assignment becomes nearly impossible when your environment is distracting or noisy. Here are some of the best ways to set up a relaxing study environment.

Find a Quiet Place

As stated before, noise and distractions are going to make it very difficult to study. The best thing that you can do is find a quiet area. If you are a high school student and still live at home, find an area in your home that is calm, like a corner of the basement or your room. If you decide to designate your room to study in, don’t do it in your bed. Studying in your bed will make you more likely to fall asleep and possibly not get your work done. It will also make it harder for your brain to relax when it is actually time for you to sleep. If you are a college student and live on campus, there are tons of quiet places to study in. Libraries and study rooms are widely available on college campuses and make for a great environment to study in.

Make Yourself Comfortable

If you are in a public area, this may not work for you. However, if you are in your room or dorm, you can make your study area more relaxing with a few simple tricks. First of all, some people really enjoy playing soft music in the background. Studies have shown that calm music can help stimulate the brain and make remembering things easier. Another way to make your area more relaxing is to diffuse relaxing scents. The aroma in your room can greatly affect your productivity. Try using a diffuser along with a scent like lavender or sandalwood, which are both known for their relaxing properties. You should also try to let some natural light in. Natural light puts less stress on your eyes, which can help you relax more.

Block Out Distractions

As a student, we are often drawn to one specific distraction: our phone. Cell phones can make a study session much less productive, especially if you get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media. If you want to have a good study environment, the phone needs to go. The simple act of muting your phone and setting it aside can allow you to have a much better study environment. Resist the urge to check it, except on scheduled study breaks and make sure you give yourself a time limit.

As you can see, there are many quick and easy ways to create a relaxing study environment. Each method is pretty simple for students to perform. If you are having a hard time being productive in your current study environment, try a few of the things we discussed here.