Foreword Reviews

Here Come Exams—Chill Out About It

Exams are on the way. *cue Jaws theme music*, and we all know what that means. Panic, sleep deprivation, and our old friend stress. It sure would be nice to take a breather and let go of some of that anxiety right? Besides, you’ll do better on your exams if you can take a break and relax. Whatever you might need, from a book designed to help you calm down, a coloring book, a relatable character, a reminder that you’re perfect, or a guide to the perfect exam week, is listed below.

Project You

More than 50 Ways to Calm down, De-stress, and Feel Great

Book Cover
Aubre Andrus
Switch Press
Softcover $14.95 (160pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Project You is full of activities and projects designed to help teenagers let go of their stress. From healthy eating and exercise to shopping tips, its many multifaceted activities provide endless ways to release negative energy and relax.

This is an interactive book. It starts off with a quiz designed to gauge stress levels, with a reminder that those who experience anxiety and depression may need more than just this work to help them cope. Questions throughout are designed to engage critical thinking and are interesting to answer and explore. They function as guides to new discoveries about what each person finds enjoyable.

Activities are varied and fun. Project You embraces things that teens today enjoy, like making avocado toast, journaling, and experimenting with new looks. Each project is offered as a valuable and worthy endeavor; not once does the project condescend to its audience.

The book’s aesthetic is eye-catching. A mixture of drawings and photographs are a strong accompaniment to each activity, depicting a range of teens and topics. Drawings are whimsical and lovely, making a claw-foot tub or a mug of tea look particularly inviting. Pictures in pastel shades are calming.

Project You is an inviting, soothing book filled with lively activities and calming advice, perfect for teens who are experiencing stress.

HANNAH HOHMAN (June 29, 2017)

Coloring for Meditation

With Tibetan Buddhist Art

Book Cover
Tashi Dhargyal
Wisdom Publications
Softcover $12.95 (104pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Artwork is a meditative practice; Tibetan Buddhists have known that for ages. Moreover, Tibetan enlightenment imagery is highly symbolic for those on the path. Each of these fifty illustrations comes with a brief, contemplative description.

HANNAH HOHMAN (October 28, 2016)

Counting to D

Book Cover
Kate Scott
Elliot Books
Softcover $13.99 (228pp)
Buy: Amazon

Even certified geniuses have trouble in school now and then, especially if they have dyslexia.

Sam isn’t your ordinary genius. Sure, she’s been invited to join a so-called “Brain Trust” of brilliant teens, and she’s enrolled in a half-dozen AP-level courses. But when her fellow wunderkinds discover her big secret—that she’s hiding dyslexia so severe that she can’t read—she faces serious social and academic repercussions. Counting to D poses critical questions about the nature and scope of childhood learning disabilities and the limitations of our education system to manage or even discover them. Ultimately, the message is a positive one: author Kate Scott herself suffers from dyslexia, and she’s written a valuable contribution to YA fiction.

When Sam ends up in special ed despite extremely clever ruses, she is humiliated. After all, kids can be cruel. “You believe what you want to believe. You see what you expect to see. You think it’s impossible to be smart and dyslexic, so obviously, I can only be one,” she says to a friend who can’t reconcile Sam’s inability to read with her genius at math.

Sam’s life has been about proactivity, hard work, and problem solving, yet she is as normal a teenager as young readers will have met: she worries about boys, popularity, her clothes, and her distant friendships. An unlikely heroine who doesn’t use a bow and arrow or a magic wand, Sam solves her problems by thinking outside the proverbial box, even when she can’t read what’s in it. The content is simply written and moves along at a brisk pace. Sam’s story lacks thrills and chills, yet it is a believable, straightforward narrative that will be at home in any young person’s library.

LEIA MENLOVE (February 27, 2014)

Teen Goddess

How to Look Love & Live Like a Goddess

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Catherine Wishart
Llewellyn Publications
Unknown $14.95 (408pp)
Buy: Amazon

Every girl is a goddess. All a girl needs to realize this is to discover the “goddess within,” and tap the power resident in her. The author developed her system of combining spiritual practice and self-improvement using goddess power when life handed her difficult situations, such as overcoming an eating disorder or a getting through a rough time in her marriage.

Wishart presents the ways that girls can find and use their own goddess power through guided meditations and “goddess workouts.” One such workout asks the reader to construct and decorate a box where wishes will be kept, to be opened and updated as wishes do or do not come true. Another has the reader invoke “divine dieting” by creating a spiritual blueprint for a realistic ideal body, choosing actions and words that support that image, and calling on the goddess for help to sustain that blueprint every day.

Not all of these workouts are peaceful, however. Part of awakening the goddess within is taking a good, clear look at things most people don’t want to see about themselves. To do this, the reader is asked to make a map of her own personal wasteland, “the Celtic land where everything stagnates and rots,” drawing pictures depicting all the activities and habits that harm her, habits such as smoking, drinking, or procrastinating. The reader is instructed to keep the map of her wasteland where she can see it every day, as a reminder of the things that can make her life a wasteland.

The author is an award-winning make-up artist who grew up in New Zealand, where she studied journalism and then graduated with honors as an esthetician from the prestigious Aveda Horst Education Center. Her articles have appeared in many publications including The New Zealand Herald and The Albuquerque Journal. She has been teaching classes for over a decade, helping women all over the world to discover their own inner goddess.

Along with the goddess workouts, the author provides chapters on individual goddesses, from Bridget of Ireland to Kuan Yin of China, showing the challenges each goddess faced and how she overcame them. The reader can bring the qualities of these goddesses into her life by using “Goddess Glamours” (enchantments the author provides), as well as more goddess exercises, to manifest the goddesses in the physical realm.

For example, a girl can adopt the qualities of Scathach, the original “punk rock warrior goddess” when she feels she needs to complete a difficult task or combat bullies. Scathach trained warriors, so any girl who wants to adopt this goddess’s qualities needs to be willing to get into really good shape. The author recommends that the reader take up power walking or dancing at least twenty minutes a day in order to manifest the qualities of Scathach. The reader must also choose one task she has been putting off because she is too scared to do it-something hard, like taking a math test or confronting someone who hurt her. She should select a target date that the task will be completed, and visualize the task as successfully completed for ten minutes each day until it is truly done.

To embody the appearance of the goddess Scathach, the reader is instructed to apply fake tattoos and to spike her hair with maximum-hold gel. The author allows that the Celts used lime paste, but that a good hair gel will suffice. Even if the reader simply strides around her house in her newly toned body wearing the Celtic jewelry, tattoos, and spiked hair of the warrior goddess, the qualities of Scathach can manifest and aid her in her ultimate tasks.

The use of goddess power can enrich a girl’s life with real magic, the kind that often requires work and patience, but is always rewarding. As the author says, a girl can truly “conjure her destiny” by invoking the qualities of the ancient goddesses. (September

CAROL LYNN STEWART (August 16, 2003)

Make the Grade

Everything You Need to Study Better, Stress Less, and Succeed in School

Book Cover
Lesley Schwartz Martin
Zest Books
Softcover $14.99 (144pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Martin does not just tell students how to get better grades, but how to succeed in all aspects of school life.

Make the Grade combines a wealth of essential information and practical study skills most students will greatly benefit from. This comprehensive, yet concise guide recognizes and addresses the differences in students’ personalities and learning styles, and offers suggestions to help high school through college students hone their study skills.

Former high school educator Lesley Schwartz Martin offers solid, usable advice that encompasses diverse aspects of a student’s life—from study basics like goal-making, organizational skills, and effective note-taking, to valuable information on how to keep one’s brain performing at optimal levels, along with insight on recognizing and creating an optimal study environment.

Martin’s tone is practical and matter-of-fact, offering advice and suggestions. For example, some students find it distracting to listen to music with lyrics while studying, others do not. Martin notes: “The part of the brain that does word processing and is used for studying is the same part that listens to song lyrics.” Her advice is to find what works best to create “the ideal study atmosphere for each subject.” This is also an example of the book’s successful premise that guides students on finding the strategy that will “fit your life and your personality, and not the other way around.”

The author’s perceptive approach to studying acknowledges methods for students to wind down, be it with exercise, social time, or in front of the television. She also gives students insight on why parents and teachers might react negatively to them, and how to resolve these issues. Martin suggests, for example, that being “a little bit more forthcoming” about past, present, and future projects, tests and assignments will minimize parents’ anxiety and their perceived nagging or interrogating.

Martin also offers advice on how to interpret teachers’ personalities, and how to effectively work with their various styles of teaching. For example, it is suggested that the best way to respond to a teacher who is a “stickler” is to learn the rules and follow them, making sure to communicate with a teacher if you continually make the same error, so that she understands that it’s a legitimate error, not just made out of disrespect for her class or rules.

The book design and format display many of the ideas expressed in the book—including precise language, clear checklists, and easy-to-read writing layouts that stimulate the memory, full-page charts showing examples of study schedules and note-taking in addition to page coding, headings, and subheadings in bold blues and crisp black.

Though geared to high school through college students, Martin’s advice and information on topics such as understanding your learning style or discovering your prime time for focus and attention provides any age group with invaluable insight on basic learning skills.

Martin makes the grade with this positive and pragmatic tool for students to learn skills that utilize and improve their learning capabilities and allows them to be more successful in school and life.

MAYA FLEISCHMANN (August 14, 2013)

Hannah Hohman

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