Category: Stuff to Buy or Do

Hotel Transylvania & Hotel Transylvania 2 DVD Giveaway!

School’s out, summer is here, and we have the perfect giveaway for you! Grab your monster sized popcorn and get ready for the ultimate family night in because we have a double feature giveaway of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  2 on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Just in time for this summer’s highly anticipated release of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION you can catch up on all the fun and laughs in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  2, before seeing the all-new movie July 13th! Revisit your favorite monsters including Drac, Mavis, Frank and more!

 

About HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA:

Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. One special weekend, Dracula (Adam Sandler) has invited all his best friends – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more – to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. For Dracula, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem, but the party really starts when one ordinary guy stumbles into the hotel and changes everything.

DVD Bonus Features Include:

  • “Goodnight Mr. Foot” Mini-Movie: Directed and Animated by Genndy Tartakovsky
  • 3 Deleted Scenes
  • “Problem (Monster Remix)” Music Video by Becky G Featuring will.i.am
  • Behind the Scenes of “Problem (Monster Remix)”
  • Commentary with Director Genndy Tartakovsky, Producer Michelle Murdocca, and Visual Effects Supervisor Daniel Kramer

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA has a running time of 91 minutes and is rated PG for some rude humor, action and scary images.

About HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2:

In this monster comedy adventure, everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania! However, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is on vacation, things get batty as Drac enlists his monster friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp!

DVD Special Features:

  • Fifth Harmony Music Video: “I’m In Love With A Monster”
  • Character Sketch Gallery
  • Feature Commentary with Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert
  • Feature Commentary with Director Genndy Tartakovsky

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 has a running time of 89 minutes and is rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 TRAILER – OPENS JULY 13!

About HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION:

In Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.   It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation takes a dangerous turn when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the human captain of the ship, Ericka, who holds a mysterious secret that threatens them all.

GIVEAWAY!

Go to our Instagram page http://instagram.com/teenswannaknow and check our #HotelTransylvaniaGiveaway post for details on how to enter the giveaway of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 DVDs! Contest ends July 3rd, 2018.

10 cool new products for summer (and GIVEAWAY!)

You know what’s up? Summer’s up, dat’s what! Our favorite time of the year is upon us, and that means beaches, lakes, barbecues, and just generally sitting around chilling with our friends or our phones. Okay, mostly our phones.

But anyway, we rounded up a few cool products to make you summer even more awesome. And we are going to give a few away to one lucky TWK follower! So let’s get to it. (post includes some affiliate links, thanks for your support!)

HyperChiller ($28.99)

Now THIS is a summer must-have! The Hyper Chiller was made specifically to take hot coffee and turn it cold enough to make iced coffee in about a minute or so without touching ice and getting diluted. That being said, it works to cool down ANY liquid super fast – from iced tea to water to soda (although you might lose a little carbonation in the process).

It has a multichamber stainless steel design which has a surface area equivalent to 30 ice cubes. All you have to do is leave it in your freezer for a few hours (12 hours recommended) and pour up to 12.5 ounces of liquid inside. After waiting a minute or so, pour it out! Depending on how hot the liquid is, you can use it to cool down more than one drink one after the other. Making two iced coffees from hot coffee works…you just have to leave it in a little longer after the first one.

http://hyperchiller.com

Lush Lash Growth Serum ($69)

Thick, healthy eyelashes are definitely in, and Lush Lash by MeSkinLabs promises to help you achieve them with a physician-grade blend of 542 proteins, peptides and growth factors to nourish, fortify and restore hair follicles. According to the manufacturer, the key ingredients Redensyl®, Capixyl® and SymPeptide® “are clinically proven to increase the length and density of lashes, and botanicals add resilience and shine” in as little as 10 days (twice a day application to upper lash)

So, after several days of use…does it work? Definitely not as much as the promo pics which look like the girl applied fake lashes on the “after” pic, lol! But test subject reports that it did offer a bit of improvement due to a plumping, moisturizing effect.

LushLash is  made in the USA without parabens, sulfates or phthalates. In addition to eyelashes, you can also use the product on your eyebrows to thicken them as well!

BONUS: the product ships with a free container of MeSkin Age-Defying Moisturizer.

Want to try Lush Lash for yourself for free? Enter our giveaway at the bottom of this post and you could win a free bottle of the growth serum PLUS the moisturizer!

Kwilt Shoebox – Keep Your Personal iPhone/Android Photos and Videos Private ($59)

Summer means tons of Instagram shots. Are both your phone storage and iCloud account full? Are you paranoid about all your private stuff being stored on cloud servers, with who knows who at these big companies having access and doing who knows what with them? How would like to have 1 TB or more of space to back up all your pics and videos? The Kwilt Shoebox (strange name we must say) helps solve your storage woes by turning any USB hard drive into your own private cloud storage device. Your data is not stored by some big company but by you at home.

The product does not copy your private content to its own servers, but rather connects your own mobile devices from anywhere you are (using your data plan or public Wi-Fi) to your USB drive as long as the Kwilt Shoebox remains connected to your home’s Wi-Fi. All you have to do is set up the device once, download the Kwilt app to your Android or iPhone, pick what you want to be stored in your private cloud, and then delete the originals from your phone. You will still be able to see the photos from the Kwilt app after you delete them from your phone’s internal storage — similar to the Google Photos app.

Unlike Google Photos, you cannot delete photos from your storage directly from the app. You have to disconnect your USB drive from the Kwilt Shoebox and connect it to a computer in order to delete files. Maybe a future app update will allow this functionality. The cool thing is that if your private device (USB stick, for example) gets full, just get a larger or new one. NO monthly fees!

The Kwilt Shoebox comes with USB/USB Mini and HDMI/Mini HDMI adapters. The HDMI output is there so you can view your content on a big screen using a feature called KwiltCast — which is not yet available as of this writing.

One last benefit is that the device is pretty small…its just a bit longer than the included power adapter!

http://www.kwiltshoebox.com

SABRE RED Pepper Gel ($11.99)

Protect yourself, your family and your friends during summer travel with SABRE RED Pepper Gel. The gel comes with a flip-top which prevents accidental discharge and a keyring. Carry the comfort-grip case when in a sketchy situation, and deploy the gel with a quick flip of the lid.

Because its a gel instead of a spray, there is less chance of the spray blowing back into your face…and it sticks to your attacker’s face better. Spay reaches 12 feet. Check local regulations — some places ban pepper spray.

To see SABRE‘S full line go to https://www.sabrered.com/

Travel Tray ($15)

The Travel Tray is a simple invention ideal for long summer road trips. It fits right into your car’s existing cup holder and extends it, so you can put snacks, coins, or other small items in it instead of having these all over the place. It comes with a removable bottom cup in order to adapt the size to fit most cars. It also comes in wide variety of colors (11 of them).

Its a good idea…but it didn’t fit my car’s cup holder with the bottom cup — and removing it made it flop around uselessly. So, not for me, but perhaps its because my car is a 2001 SUV!

https://www.traveltray.us/

OMG! Accessories Hologram Cosmetic Cases ($24)

 

OMG! Accessories makes super cute bags, such as cosmetics bags, backpacks and even cases for your shades. OMG was founded by Anne Harper in 2009 out of her Chicago apartment with the goal of being ahead of the fashion curve while remaining within reach of today’s youth price-wise. Her design team’s products have found their way onto shelves of top retailers such as Nordtrom and Macy’s.

The Love So Much bag pictured above top features a glittery, shiny hologram cover, a lined vinyl construction, and OMG zipper pull. Great for carrying your necessities around this summer!

We are giving a cosmetic bag away courtesy of OMG! Accessories! (scroll down to the bottom for entry instructions)

https://omgaccessories.com/

The Water Pillow by Mediflow (starting at $49)

After playing hard at the beach or a park, you want a good night’s sleep. Enter the Water Pillow by Mediflow, a water-filled pillow which adjusts to your neck and head as you sleep for better comfort. John Hopkins University has stated water pillows improve sleep quality, so its not just the marketers behind the product who are touting its benefits. These pillows are also recommended by many chiropractors to help relieve neck and shoulder pain and to recover from surgery — so you know it is legit.

The pillow is very comfortable and stands up to normal use, although it is kind of heavy. The trick is to adjust the water level to your liking, because it gets firmer and heavier as you use more fluid. It comes with a spout to help fill it up.

If you are the type of person who likes to sleep with a pillow on their head…this cannot be your only pillow because you will probably suffocate! So get the Water Pillow for underneath and a normal pillow for your head/snuggling lol. Or if you are like me, one under head, one over head, one for snuggling, and one between your legs!

https://www.mediflow.com/

MOJO Aromatherapy/Color Therapy Slap Bracelet ($14.99)

Bring the MOJO aromatherapy/color therapy slap bracelet to your next summer festival and feel the Zen wash over you. Or at least look trendy and smell nice!

The slap bracelets come in several funky patterns, colors, and fragrances to suit your style and mood. Apply the supplied 100% natural essential oil to the super-absorbent microfiber bracelet and it will slowly release its aroma throughout the day.

The bracelet pictured above is the “RELAXED” model. According to the maker, “The color blue is associated with speech, communication, and self-expression. It invokes a feeling of peace and relaxation, can stimulate your imagination, enhance intuition, and is perfect for meditation sessions.”

The essential oil blend for RELAXED contains: Orange Sweet, Lemon Sicily, Tea Tree Australian, Rosemary Spanish, Frankincense (India), and Eucalyptus Globulus. “Characteristics: The citrus Orange Sweet and the Rosemary blended with hints of soft, woody Frankincense will soothe your senses and bring you a feeling of deep relaxation.”

Sounds (and smells) good to me!

https://aravinda.us/

AcneFree Maximum Strength Terminator 10 ($6.49)

Severe acne sufferers can get help by way of AcneFree’s newest product, Terminator 10 (show above with an earlier product, the Body Clearing Acne Spray). It has 10 percent Micro-Benzoyl Peroxide to reach deep to eliminate bacteria. According to AcneFree, “Micro-sized Benzoyl Peroxide minimizes the over-drying that can occur with ordinary benzoyl peroxide. Triple-action power of chamomile, ginger and sea whip soothes and reduces redness.”

We like the AcneFree line and recommend them in conjunction with care from a dermatologist.

https://www.acnefree.com/

Prep U for Boys Personal Care Products (start at $9.50)

Move beyond Axe with Prep U Personal Care Products for Boys. What sets this line of body sprays, foaming wash, active dry powder, deodorant, and more is the emphasis on all-natural products. The powder, for example, has no talc.

Prep U products can keep you smelling and feeling great even after a full day of activity without BPA, synthetic fragrances, or other artifical ingredients most personal care products are chock full of. We tried them and they smell nice. And here’s a secret– adults around here have been known to use the samples we received as much as the teens.

Giveaway!

We are giving away a set of the following to one lucky winner!

  • OMG Accessories “Makeup” Cosmetic Bag ($24 Value)
  • Lush Lash Growth Serum and MeSkin Moisturizer ($69 Value)
  • Travel Tray (blue) ($15 Value)

To enter:

  1. Follow us on Instagram
  2. Mention a friend who likes summer in the comments of our #summergiveaway” post on Instagram (it has the picture below).
  3. For each friend mentioned, you get one entry into our drawing. Enter an unlimited amount of times!
  4. We will pick and DM a random winner on Saturday, June 23rd, 2018!
  5. We will only ship to US addresses, no international entries please.

4 Fun Video Games That Actually Make You Smarter

Video games are no longer exclusively for entertainment. In recent years, some of the industry’s most popular games are those which challenge players to think outside of the box. At this point, most people agree that certain games can help you develop your capacity for learning. These are the four best games for building your brain.

1. The Sims

Of all important life skills, social awareness is near the top. The Sims is an approachable game franchise that features an art style perfect for children and teenagers. However, don’t let the game’s cartoon appearance fool you. The Sims provides an immense amount of depth and shows players glimpses of how life really works in the outside world.

Players will learn about buying houses, making friends, self-development and many other topics that appear in day-to-day life. Those teenagers who enjoy The Sims are put into a growth mindset, and that is an essential feature of a lifelong learner.

2. Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the most popular video games among all age groups. In a sandbox world with limitless opportunities, players are free to explore their wildest ideas. In contrast to the tedium of regular life, Minecraft exposes players to the hidden secrets of the world’s happiest people: creativity and spontaneity.

The sandbox nature of Minecraft helps build players’ brains because few parts of the game are straightforward. Players exercise their critical thinking capacity, and they are forced to create solutions to problems that have many possible solutions. These are the skills of the real world.

3. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a surprise hit from a few years ago, and it’s still one of the best games for brain development. Players are given total control over a farm, and they must forge their own path as the “new kid in town”. Players can choose from many divergent paths, but the core gameplay remains the same: specialize in something, build a reputation around town and watch as new opportunities unfold.

Above all, Stardew Valley teaches our brains to consider the compounding nature of responsibilities. When you grow and sell more crops, for example, people around town become more reliant on you. Over time, our brains will notice a similar pattern in all walks of life.

4. Tetris

Tetris is the oldest game on this list — and it’s the most classically brain-intensive. The fast-paced nature of Tetris helps players develop their on-the-fly decision making. This is an important skill in many areas of life, but it’s especially important in conversation. Those who can think quickly are always among the most influential people in the room.

More importantly, Tetris will help players develop trust in their intuitions. With only limited time to place blocks in their eventual landing place, players must develop a true sense of muscle memory. Such skills are important everywhere from the classroom to the workplace.

These are the four best games for building your brain, and they all have one thing in common: they force players to make creative decisions. Games that push your brain toward a growth mindset will always hold a special place in the world of entertainment. These are among the few games that educate as much as they entertain.

Resources:

Other Articles You Might Like:

The 10 Cool Free Games for Your iPhone

Disruptus – A Brain-Boosting Game for both Teens and Adults

Is MMO Toxicity Simply a Reflection of Real Life?

 

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?

 

Fashion-Forward But Budget Friendly: How to Save on Outfits

When your birthday money from grandma is burning a hole in your pocket, you may get the urge to update your wardrobe with some new threads. You do not have to spend a lot of cash to update your look on a dime. Here are some fashion-forward and budget-friendly places to pick up some new, or new-to-you, trendy pieces.

Consignment/Thrift Stores

Shopping for new-to-you pieces at thrift and consignment stores is an affordable and fun way to update your wardrobe. Bring along some friends and try on one-of-a-kind clothes that have been gently worn. Consignment stores hand pick the brands and items they carry, so you will easily find lots of top brand names and trendy pieces. Consignment stores may be priced a little higher than thrift shops, but all of the merchandise has been thoroughly inspected, and you will not have to spend hours sifting through the racks to find unique pieces and top brands.

Thrift stores are all about the thrill of the hunt. If you have a few hours to kill with friends, pop in to a thrift shop and let your imaginations run wild. Thrift stores have affordable prices, but you have to prepare to so some digging and sifting through the racks to find cool new pieces.

Online Discount Boutiques

Online discount boutiques and fashion apps are a fun way to shop for fashion. You order from a curated collection of hand-selected pieces, and the companies send your new duds right to your home. You can try them on in the comfort and convenience of your home and send back any pieces that you do not like for a refund. It offers a risk-free and affordable way to update your wardrobe.

Fast-Fashion Mall Shops

Fast-fashion stores offer a plethora of options for updating your wardrobe. From basics to lounge apparel, career attire and casual wear, fast-fashion stores in the mall showcase a wide range of styles and sizes in clothing from floor to ceiling. You will be inspired, and probably even a little overwhelmed, by the abundance of options. These stores have a fast turnover rate, marking down clothing often, so apparel is priced to sell fast.

 

Even if you are low on cash, you can still put together some fun new outfits that your friends will want to borrow. From online to thrift to fast-fashion stores, there are a plethora of inspiring places to shop to add new life to your closet.

How Can I Put a Great Wardrobe Together on a Budget?

You want to look good, you want to wear what’s in fashion, but your budget is stretched about as far as it can go. What’s a girl to do? Check out some unexpected sources of high-fashion finds that won’t have you breaking the piggy bank to get new clothes.

Local Treasures

If you’re tired of the prices at your local mall or the online stores, take a look around your own city and your own neighborhood. Chances are there shops near you that offer on-trend, unique items you won’t find anywhere else. You can get personalized service, and you’ll also be the first to get in on sales and clearance events.

If there’s a town near you that caters to tourists, hit those stores up during the off-season when you can often get steep discounts. When you shop boutiques for sales, you’ll get one-of-a-kind items that will give your wardrobe an instant upgrade while saving you money.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are where you can find rock-bottom prices, but if you’re looking for really fashionable items, you have to wade through a lot of regular stuff to find that one jewel in the junk pile. Thrift stores are a good place to find shoes, boots, and handbags, often from well-known brands. They’re especially great for Halloween costumes and basics like tee shirts, sweatshirts or jeans.

Consignment Shops

Consignment stores are thrift stores that specialize in high-end fashion items. While the prices are higher than a regular thrift store, the selection tends to be better, and the prices are still less than what the items would cost if they were new. Some consignment shops specialize in particular types of clothing, like baby clothes or plus-size fashions.

Discount Stores

If you hit them at the right time, discount and dollar stores can be a surprising source of cheap fashion finds. Most of them sell socks, handbags, tote bags, flip-flops, sandals, hats of all kinds, gloves, and scarves. You can also find slippers, headbands and clutch purses. The downside is that their selection changes every week, and the good stuff sells out fast. If you can spot them when they get in, be sure to stock up.

The best way to discover low-priced, high-fashion finds is to get out of the mall. You can find some good things there, and it can be fun to go, but you are probably going to spend more money than you want, and there is a high chance that someone else will have the same outfit. Instead, venture out to new places and look for great deals.

Photo Credit: Hope Ave Boutique

“Now is Everything” by Amy Giles Book Review

Amy Giles’ debut YA novel “Now is Everything” tackles the issue of parental abuse from a viewpoint many teens might relate to — alternating between wanting to speak out but being afraid to do so.

The protagonist, Hadley McCauley, is the eldest daughter in the richest family in town. Her mother drinks too much wine in an effort to dull the emotional and physical trauma inflicted by her controlling husband, a successful and ultra-competitive A-type personality. Her father expects the absolute best from Hadley, and flips his lid and beats her when he doesn’t get it. He over-reacts at the slightest provocation, leaving Hadley walking on eggshells all the time. She is willing to put up with the abuse, as long as her 10-year-old sister Lila remains untargeted. But once Hadley hooks up with her first boyfriend, Charlie Simmons, the carefully crafted facade she presents to the outside world begins to crack, leaving Lila in her father’s crosshairs. This forces Hadley to come up with a desperate plan to save Lila — one which will end up changing everyone’s lives forever.

The book does an adequate job buidling up the suspense of Hadley’s plan and its outcome and is an enjoyable read. The only problem I have with the book is that the characters are too shallow for me to really care about. Lila, precocious and energetic, is the best-developed character. But I feel like I know too little about Hadley and what really makes her tick. She doesn’t want to play LaCrosse or attend an Ivy League school as her father wishes…but I never get a sense of what she aspires to do or be instead. Granted, she’s a teen, and isn’t expected to really have her life figured out yet…but I would have loved for the author to reveal more about her protagonist’s dreams and ambitions besides hanging out with her boyfriend and two best friends.

The mother and father are also a bit one-dimensional. The mom is a typical upper-middle class, pretentious lush who will maintain the status quo to protect her privilege as a kept woman The father is just a tremendous jerk, with little redeeming qualities. People are not like this in real life. Most abusers also have decent qualities which gain their victims’ affection, at least until they explode. This is why victims give them so many chances. In this case, I would think Hadley would have reported him long ago, because there is not a lot of affinity between them whatsoever — especially knowing what’s in store for little Lila.

I also didn’t get a sense that the mental abuse was horrific. The physical abuse as described certainly crosses the line between discipline and criminality, but the mental aspect, for anyone growing up with tough parents, doesn’t seem to cross too far into the abuse category. Like I said earlier, the father is a completely aggressive jerk, but not sure his yelling and intimidation counts as child abuse as clearly as the physical abuse does.

Regardless, any teen with overbearing parents will relate (isn’t that all of you?), and hopefully any who read this novel that are experiencing actual physical harm will gain the courage to tell someone before things spiral as badly as they do in Hadley’s world.

Recommended.

“Now is Everything” was released on November 7th by Harper Teen. (AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK)

Visit Amy at: http://www.amygiles.net and follow her on Twitter: @AmySGiles; Instagram: @amysgiles; and Facebook: @amygilesauthor.

 

Watch the first 4 episodes of Step Up: High Water here

Step Up: High Water is a new series which just debuted on YouTube Red this week.

According to the press release:

“Starring NE-YONaya Rivera and Faizon Love, with music by four-time Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter Jason “PooBear” Boyd and “Jingle” Jared Gutstadt, Step Up: High Water focuses on several ambitious young dancers in a contemporary performing arts school in Atlanta. The edgy and authentic new series touches on real issues around diversity and complex relationships — and of course, boasts some serious dance moves. The series is based on the STEP UP film franchise that grossed $650 million at the global box office.

“Executive Producers Channing TatumJenna Dewan Tatum and Adam Shankman, join producers Jennifer Gibgot andMeredith Milton, to bring back the flashback feels to audiences nationwide, reuniting after 11 years for this new original drama series. Holly Sorensen (Recovery Road, Make It Or Break It) serves as series Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner.”

WATCH the first four episodes free (PG-13):

CAST:

  • NE-YO (The Wiz, World of Dance) – Sage Odom, the legendary founder of Atlanta’s famed High Water Performing Arts School
  • Naya Rivera (Glee) – Collette, a former dancer turned High Water administrator
  • Faizon Love (Couples Retreat, Elf) – Uncle Al
  • Lauryn McClain (Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little GirlsSpider-Man (animated series)  – Janelle Baker
  • Petrice Jones (iBoyPlay The Devil) – Tal Baker
  • Marcus Mitchell (High StrungOdious) – Dondre
  • Jade Chynoweth  (The Last Ship, 300: Rise of an Empire) – Odalie
  • Carlito Olivero (Bad SamaritanBlood Heist) – Davis
  • Terrence Green (Being Mary JaneAmerica’s Best Dance Crew) – Rigo
  • R. Marcos Taylor (Baby Driver, Straight Outta Compton) – East-O
  • Eric Graise – King
  • Kendra Oyesanya – Poppy

What do you think of this series? Comment below!

From Mandy Harvey:  5 most important tips for auditioning on AGT (America’s Got Talent)

You might remember Mandy Harvey, America’s Got Talent season 12 contestant who finished in fourth place despite being deaf. She made such an impression with her voice, story and her ukelele that the normally unfazeable Simon Cowell sent her to the live rounds fast track by pressing the Golden Buzzer.

With the final season 13 auditions coming up in Los Angeles, CA at the Pasadena Convention Center on Feb. 3 and Phoenix, AZ at the Phoenix Convention Center on Feb. 24, we asked Mandy to provide some quick tips for those about to audition. 

Here’s Mandy’s tips!:

  1. “Stay true to yourself!”
  2. “Put your heart into your performance.”
  3. “Let Go! Don’t worry about the audience/judges/competition… just focus on what you have control over which is you doing your best!”
  4. “Remember that showing up is the hardest part and you are already pushing past that barrier! That’s something to be proud of no matter what happens!”
  5. “You are not doing this alone! We are cheering for you! You got this!!!”

If you are auditioning for season 13: GOOD LUCK! And if you want to be featured on Teens Wanna Know, shoot us an email to info@teenswannaknow.com

Mandy’s Social Media Links:

Facebook: @mandyharveymusic

Instagram: @mandyharvey

Twitter: @mandyharvey

Watch Mandy’s Golden Buzzer moment here (full segment):