Friday, May 8, 2009

Reading Rants, Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists

Want to find more reviews and information on books for teens? Check out Reading Rants, Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists, one of my absolute favorite websites. Like this site, you can browse by category or check out the latest reviews on the homepage. Jen, a school librarian, has a very witty take on reviewing books and pulls few punches. You will find yourself reading her reviews just to see what she will say. Her categories all have creative, and sometimes funny names too. There are sections for guys, homosexuals (the Closet Club), vampire books, historical fiction, comforting books (Home Fries), drug related fiction (stoned), books about first romances (Virgin Run), and that is only about a quarter of the categories on the site. This website is so popular that the authors of it have compiled several of the titles from the website into a published book.

Website; 12+; Reading Rants, Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists,


HippoCampus has homework and study help for math, including algebra and calculus, science, including biology and physics, U.S. History, government, and a few other topics. This website is great because it teaches you what you need to know through text and video. It covers many, many topics in short, easy to handle snippets. There are also many subtopics under the main topics. It would be a great place to look for project or report topics for class.

I recommend this site for students from middle school all the way up to college. I have caught myself using it to refresh my memory on some history and math subjects. I also like that it does not look like a kiddie site. The website was created by the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). Their goal is to create and support an educational website that is no cost for its users (free). Want to impress a teacher? Share the site with him or her and your classmates.

Website; 12+; Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE);

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Command & Conquer Generals (computer game)

Command & Conquer Generals is a computer war game your parents won't mind you playing. It doesn't have the gore and realistic mayhem of other computer games, but it is still fun and addictive.

In this game, you can be or take on either the U.S., China, or the GLA (a terrorist group) to regain control of the world. Each country's military has its own advantages and disadvantages so you will want to try each out. I know its patriotic to be the U.S. military, but China lets you keep your distance with nukes and the GLA lets you get buy without electricity and plays a little dirty. Everybody seems to have their own favorite army to play with. Each game is begun with building up your base and military. You win by eliminating your enemy. You can choose visible maps and maps that force you to explore before finding your enemy. The game allows both skirmishes and campaign play. Skirmishes have many maps to choose from, and those who are more advanced can even create their own maps. The game also allows for online play with friends.

There are several expansion packs for C & C out there, but I highly recommend getting started with the basic pack then adding on from there. One drawback to the game I found is that there is a huge leap in experience between the beginner and intermediate settings.

Windows Me / 98 / 2000 / XP

computer game; 13+; ASIN: B00007LVJD ; Electronic Arts, 2003

Shmoop is another helpful education site. It has overviews of poetry, literature, and U.S. History topics plus a book club. Each topic is handled in neat, bite-size portions that allow you to go as in-depth as you need into your topic. I like that each topic has a brief overview and a "why should I care" section that is very helpful for those questions on why something is significant. For history, there is a timeline for each event and sections on how that event affected different minority groups and economics groups. Literature has sections for summary, quotes, and themes. Each topic has a study question guide which is great for making sure you really understand the material and are ready for that upcoming test.

Website; 14+ (high school +);

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spark Notes from Barnes & Noble

At you will find a wealth of study resources. Spark Notes, which is a resource provided by Barnes & Noble booksellers, has resources for almost all of your school subjects. They have history, literature, math, biology and science, physics, and a lot more. Don't have time to go buy Cliff's Notes? Check out Spark Notes for that book your teacher just assigned. They give plot summaries, background information, themes and symbols, and more. They have a huge list of books. The history section is also great as they break down historical events into easily digestible bits and pieces. Spark Notes also has college and test prep information. Most sections are appropriate for high school or college students. Tired of studying and need a break? Check out Spark Life (tab on far right) for community fun with others in the same boat as you. There are also lots of fun quizzes, movie, music and TV information, and more.