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GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Nyx Triskelion

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 77 - ImageWhile I’ve read a lot of books I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months, it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to write so much about a specific character (or in this case, since there’s an honorable mention, two characters) but it was worth the wait.  I was completely hooked by Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge from the first page, and it just got better as I got to know Nyx Triskelion better.

First off, here’s a description of the book (from the GEPL catalog): “Betrothed to the demon who rules her country and trained all her life to kill him, seventeen-year-old Nyx Triskelion must now fulfill her destiny and move to the castle to be his wife.”

Nyx is not a nice person.  To me, this is a huge part of what makes her so compelling.  She’s not a bad person, she’s just not very nice.  She is bitter about her fate, hateful towards the father and aunt who seem to feel no sorrow about sending her to it, and immensely resentful of her sister, Astraia, who will be safe.  She is angry and often cruel, and unable to keep all her rage and pain and nastiness inside her.

That said, she tries to do good.  She has been trained her whole life to defeat the demon she is being sent to marry, and she really does want to accomplish this for the sake of her country and especially her sister.  She really does love Astraia, despite the bitterness.  And she has compassion in her that makes her pity and care for one of her demon husband’s enslaved minions, and even at times pity the demon himself.

On top of all these complicated stuff, Nyx is strong.  Not in an action oriented way – don’t be fooled by the description.  Nyx is not a physical fighter.  But she is mentally tough, she is willing to try to be physical when she needs to be, and she is incredibly strong internally.  You’d have to be, to spend half your life knowing you were being sacrificed to a monster and would likely die attempting to defeat him.  And it is growing up with this fact that makes all of Nyx’s cruelty and nastiness so understandable – her anger, her bitterness, it all feels so real and realistic.  It all makes sense.  It would feel unreal, and boring, for her to be all sunshine and roses about her fate.  I think this blend of goodness and cruelty, of strength and fallibility, is what makes Nyx such a riveting, fascinating, and wonderful character.

Before I finish, I want to give an honorable mention to Nyx’s sister, Astraia.  Although she is a supporting character and we don’t get her viewpoint, I also found her to be fascinating.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but it turns out that Nyx and Astraia have some unexpected commonalities, and that Astraia is also a fascinating and captivating blend of seemingly non-compatible personality traits and very real emotions.

Thanks to these two incredible characters, especially Nyx, plus the darkness, magic, and entrancing qualities of the castle, the demon, and the world they all exist in, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite recent reads.  I can’t wait to see what Rosamund Hodge does next (and re-read Cruel Beauty in the meantime!)

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Not Everyone Loves The Hunger Games

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 76 - ImageUpon reading the negatively written article (you can read it here), “What’s Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed,” I was disgusted by how much hatred the author of this review has for The Hunger Games. Evidently, The Hunger Games Trilogy is well admired among teens and even older adults. The two Hunger Games movies (soon to be three), have soared in popularity and box office sales. According to http://www.boxofficemojo.com, the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, is ranked #10 in domestic gross in movie history and #1 out of 688 movies for top movie in the last 365 days (beating Frozen!)

Meanwhile, the author of the article I perused was clearly an antagonist of The Hunger Games. I respect people’s opinions on whether they liked a book/movie or not because really, even I don’t believe every book/movie I read or watch is fantastic. Opinions are created because not everyone agrees on the same thing and have divergent tastes. There will never be one book/movie that EVERYONE will love no matter how amazing people think it is. However, there’s a difference between having logical reasoning and just plain ignorant reasoning to back up an opinion.

The author states that Katniss is identical to the princess, Cinderella, and is not a powerful and independent female role model that numerous critics claim she is. “Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That’s weird, what does she do to win?  Take as much time as you want on this, it’s an open book test. The answer is nothing…Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence– but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions.” First of all, Katniss does kill four people in the first book; the murderer of Rue, the two when she dropped a wasps nest of them, and Cato for her own advantage. Secondly, Katniss also makes a multitude of decisions throughout the novel such as volunteering for the Games, becoming allies with Rue, staging attacks against other tributes, making a defiant gesture that targeted the Capital after Rue’s demise, and threating to destroy the purpose of the Games by deciding she and Peeta should kill themselves resulting in no winner. Katniss begins to completely rebel against the Capitol in the later books and stands up for what is moral. This woman is definitely one to look up to.

“So this is why we have a book about a post-apocalyptic killing game that spends zero pages describing how Katniss kills anyone but spends countless pages on how she is dressed, how everyone is dressed.  What will she wear? What kind of jewelry? Hair up?  Will the ‘sponsors’ like her better this way or that? Her chief weapon isn’t a bow, it’s her appearance.”

This excerpt taken from the article is quite invalid. It was not Katniss’s choice to dress up fancifully, but the Capitol’s. The reason why Katniss’s looks and clothes matter so much is because that’s how everyone else in the Capitol is dressed. Katniss doesn’t care for her appearance, it’s only for the entertainment of the Capitol. If it was her choice, she would be wearing her father’s worn out jacket and boots and would not bathe often. She may have an advantage in gaining sponsors and people rooting for her, but once Katniss steps into the arena, there is no one protecting her. She must manage to survive from the other tributes. Katniss’s chief weapon IS a bow. She has been a hunter all her life, and it makes sense for her to use her shooting talent.

Overall, I believe Katniss is nothing like the fairy tale princess, Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella, Katniss doesn’t search for her beloved Prince. She does have her love interests, Gale and Peeta, but the book indicates that the boy isn’t the most essential thing to Katniss. The most important thing that matters to Katniss in life is her family. She teaches young girls to be courageous, strong, and determined. Instead of putting on a girly dress and glass slippers, why not wear jeans, braid you hair, and explore nature? Katniss Everdeen is not like most women in the fiction world; she actually makes an impact in the story. Seriously, did the author of this article even read the book?

-Geraldine

Posted in GEPL Teens

First Tween Reaches 100 Summer Reading Hours!

tween-blog-bannerDylanDylan, 7th grader at Hadley Middle School

Current Summer Reading Hours: 127

This is Dylan, the first tween to reach 100 hours! While waiting for school to start, Dylan likes to make gaming videos for YouTube, learn more about web design, and of course- READING! He loves riding his bike through Glen Ellyn and is a frequent visitor of The Shack. He recommends getting a burger and a shake. In a few days, he’ll be going with his family to the RAGBRAI, an annual bike race across Iowa. He’ll bike long distance for two days before relaxing the rest of the week at a lake house. This isn’t even his only summer adventure. He just got back from a 3 week computer camp at Northwestern University.

Dylan loves Harry Potter, and is a self-proclaimed expert on the series. He’s read them yearly, but loves “The Order of the Phoenix” the most. A lot of his summer reading has been spent reading Harry Potter fan fiction online. He recently discovered “The Hobbit”. While it took him a while to get through, he definitely enjoyed it. An avid science fiction fan, Dylan has tried every book in the sci-fi section at Hadley.

Want to reach 100 hours of reading yourself? Dylan recommends planning your day efficiently. “There are 24 hours in a day, plenty of that time can be spent reading.” He suggests reading 2 hours daily.

Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Welcome Freshmen!

Teens Blog BannerToday, I’d like to take a moment from this blog’s busy “raving about great books” schedule to say hello to all the recently graduated eighth graders who are now officially part of GEPL’s Teen Scene and teen programming.  Hi freshmen!

I particularly want to invite anyone reading this who is about to start their freshman year to come to the library tomorrow, July 23, at 11:30 a.m., for a program called “So You’re Going to Be a Freshman.”  We have a great panel of teens who just finished their freshman year, along with a counselor from Glenbard West, who are ready and waiting to tell you about what to expect and answer your questions.  Plus, there will be pizza!

But of course, I can’t possibly make it through a whole blog post without talking about books a little. So after you come and get the scoop tomorrow, if you’re still looking for a way to prepare yourself for what’s coming, you can read one of the books below.  Some of these books are fun and light, some of them deal with some heavier topics, but all of them focus on characters navigating their freshman year of high school.  So good luck to all of you, and welcome to the Teen Scene!

Blog Entry 75 - Image 1The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 2Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 3The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to lead a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 4The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – A haunting coming of age novel told in a series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the life of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is a wallflower, shy and introspective, and very intelligent. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 5The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund-raising drive and arousing the wrath of school bullies. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 6Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon – In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself “Lola,” sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Posted in GEPL Teens

Tween Profile: Cheyenne

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UntitledCheyenne, 8th Grader at Glen Crest Middle School

Current summer reading hours: 112

Meet Cheyenne. You might find her in one of her favorite places: 2Toots Train Whistle Grill, or the Yorktown Mall. She loves tacos and pizza. At the library, she is a master at finding Dewey the cat. Cheyenne loves to read teen romances. Her favorite book, up until this summer was Kiss by Rachel Vail, but now is Keep Holding On by Suzanne Colasanti. She also enjoys the two graphic novel series Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino and The Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara. When she’s not reading, she enjoys creating portraits with pastels and using vivid color markers in contrast with colored pencils. During the school year, she spends her time in cross country and track, but hates to exercise outside of school.

Cheyenne is turning 13 this August, and plans to have a girl’s day out with her closest friends, maybe hanging out at the pool, getting their nails done – or both!

Still trying to get to 100 hours yourself? Cheyenne’s tips include reading 30 minutes before bed each night, and whenever you have free time. Try reading to others, too. It feels good to help others!

Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 74 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Description: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: The Fault in Our Stars: An emotional roller coaster that no reader will get tired of riding. The story starts off with a 16 year old girl named Hazel. She has Thyroid cancer and she’s basically alive because of a medicine the doctors are experimenting with on her. Even though she has a serious and a deathly situation, this story is about how she starts to live not die. As her cancer is getting to her, she starts to feel alone and isolated and that’s when her mom and doctor really encourage her to start going to a cancer support group. As she starts going to this group, she meets Augustus. When these two teens meet, sparks start to fly. Augustus is determined to get her even when she pushes him away.

Hazel and Augustus start to hang out and get to know each other, and the readers can tell how Augustus is a person who wants to leave the world with a mark. He’s determined to do something great and incredible, while Hazel doesn’t see much point in that because she thinks everyone is going to end up dead anyways. Augustus creates a tiny and new world for Hazel. He shows her dreams can come true here in this life but Hazel doesn’t want to hurt Augustus when she dies. He always tell her throughout the story that he wouldn’t mind being hurt by Hazel Grace. They have their own special love that every teenager would crave to have in their lives. They experience these intense emotions that we readers are able to feel though their characters. We can feel ourselves dying without really dying.

In 313 pages, you’ll feel a sense of happiness and warmth, a feeling of anger and frustration, a feeling of confusion and wondering why things turned out the way they did in their lives, and the feeling of loss and sadness. The characters will make you feel inspired to make your own mark in the world and let you be hopeful for yourself. Just these words and letters in The Fault in Our Stars have the ability to make us feel these powerful emotions. It touches you and changes your point of view on life completely. It’s beautiful and there is no other way to describe it. I would really recommend this book completely!

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

New SelfCheck Machine Added to Youth Department

news-blog-bannerScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 11.17.00 AM


For your convenience, a new SelfCheck machine has been added to the Youth Department!

Now, GEPL members can gather materials and check them out immediately using the SelfCheck machine.

Next time you visit the Youth Department, be sure to ask a staff member to provide a demonstration of how the SelfCheck machine works!

Posted in GEPL News

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Anna and the French Kiss

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 73 - ImageOnce again, I’m immersed in the joys of both trying new things and audiobooks, which have combined for today’s What I’m Reading Now post!

What I’m Reading Now: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Note: I personally think this jacket description is really bad.  Please give the book a chance, despite the terrible description!

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Do I Like It: Much, much more than I ever expected to!

Thoughts: I admit, I resisted this book for a long time.  I won’t say I judged the book by its cover, but I definitely judged it by its title, which I still maintain is terrible, and the concept, which I might have been mistaken in judging so harshly.  Clearly, I was wrong about this book.  So, so wrong.  Anna and the French Kiss is delightful.  I was not prepared for how much I am loving this book.

For starters, there’s Anna – easily the best part of the book.  She feels like a friend already.  I love her slightly germaphobic and hyper-neat quirks, her love of movies, her language difficulties (which, at least as far as modern languages go, I can totally sympathize with.)  I even love the bleached streak in her hair.  And Kim Mai Guest, the narrator of my audiobook, absolutely brings Anna to life.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think an actual teenager was narrating this book.  I know it comes up over and over again in my reviews, but in a book with a first person narrator, liking the narrator –or at least feeling like the narrator is a real, interesting person – is so important.  Luckily, Stephanie Perkins nails it with Anna.

I was also resistant to Anna and the French Kiss on the basis of the romance.  Now, I love a good romantic arc in a book as much as the next person, but the plot description made the love story sound super cheesy and melodramatic, and like romance would be all there was to the book.  But as it turns out, the plot description – like the title – is kind of terrible.  Yes, there’s a meet-cute, and St. Clair is impossibly dreamy, but this romance has some legs to it.  Anna and St. Clair are fully fleshed out, flawed, and fabulous characters.  The factors that separate them ring true, rather than feeling forced, and the sparks between them practically shoot off the page (or out of the speakers, in this case.)  So far, the swoons are increasing along with the frustration of their separation, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

But romance certainly isn’t the only thing going on in Anna’s life.  I’m loving getting to know her group of friends in France (and wishing I could see more of her Atlanta BFF Bridget!) and I’m desperately wishing I could be in Paris and getting to know the city at the same time as Anna.  Her whole world comes alive, and I’m finding myself dying to read more just to get into the setting.  I think I’d be happy to read a whole book just about Anna’s Parisian meals with her friends (which is good, because mealtimes are kind of a big thing so far in this book.)

I cannot tell you how happy I am that I grabbed Anna and the French Kiss.  Once again, taking a chance and trying something new has paid off in a big way.  If you like great characters, or stories about someone finding their way in a new place, or great romances, or great narration, or any combination of those things, I highly recommend ignoring the lousy title and the cheesy description, and picking up Anna and the French Kiss.  I myself can’t wait to get back in my car and hear more about Anna, St. Clair, their friends, and Paris.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Marshmallow Engineering For Kids!

 

marshmallow

Does your child like to build?  We have a program for that!  Children age 6-8 are invited to the Youth Department Thursday, July 17th from 4-4:30 for our Marshmallow Engineering program.

Using mini marshmallows and toothpicks, children will be combining engineering with art to design and build structures.  With a child’s imagination, the possibilities are endless!

To register your child for this program, click here.

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Epistolary Novels Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 72 - ImageWhether we’re on vacation, away at summer camp, or heading off to college in the fall, summer is the time when we are constantly texting, writing, and emailing our closest friends and family to keep in touch. Whether it’s a heartfelt letter from a pen-pal, a hilarious text from your parents, or a gossip-filled diary that you’re trying to hide from your siblings, each of these messages can hold so much meaning. A tear jerking breakup can be received from a ping on your phone, and so can that text from your friend that makes it all feel better.

So it makes sense that the stories told by these messages have been put into some amazing Young Adult novels! For July we are showcasing some of these great epistolary novels. Epistolary novels are books written from a collection of documents: such as emails, IM messages, letters, or diary entries.

Recently published was Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira about Laurel, who starts writing letters to people who have passed away after an assignment in English class. She gets a little carried away and soon these letters tell her life story and help her accept her sister May’s death.

Do you still fantasize about being the next Princess Kate? If so, then you can also follow the diary of a high school teenager turned royalty (Mia) in The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot, which was made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway. Or what about the amazing coming-of-age novel Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chobsky? These journal entries showcase Charlie experiencing the difficulties of his freshman year of high school (and it was also made into a movie starring the one and only Emma Watson).

In a more modern setting, you’ll fall in love with the friendship of “zoegirl”, “SnowAngel” and “madmaddie” simply through IM messages in Lauren Myracle’s TTYL. Or journey to the future in Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, where you can read the journal entries of Miranda as she watches the world end when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth.

So if you can relate to writing love letters to your crushes like Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, DJ’s love of football in Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, or if you love classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker then be sure to check out the Teen Scene’s display of epistolary books!

-Amanda

Posted in GEPL Teens