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GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Heaven is for Real

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 108 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Description: When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed–a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back.

Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery-and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.

With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how “really, really big” God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton’s uniquely simple words, “Heaven Is for Real” offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

“Heaven Is for Real” will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child. (from Goodreads.com)

Review: Heaven is for Real is non fiction book about a four year old boy whose name is Colton, the youngest in the Burpo family. The Burpo family has an incredible relationship with God, and Todd, the father, is the pastor of the town church. The book talks about how years after Colton undergoes major surgery, he started talking about his experiences in heaven during his surgery when he was nearly dead. He started explaining and describing events and people that he had never even known about. Things and people that were never even mentioned to him and people he had never met in his life. Colton said that when he was in Heaven he met Jesus and other people that had died before he was born or when he was just a baby. He told his parents that he had left his own body during the surgery and saw exactly what his parents were doing beneath him. I think his family, friends, and the church community was really skeptical about Colton’s experience but I don’t think they have choice but to believe Colton’s innocence.

I think this book is incredibly and beautifully written. There are surprises throughout the whole book. Heaven is for Real is one of those books that will change the view for the people who don’t believe in a higher power. Anyone who reads this will have a little blessing in their life. It’s a really inspiring story and brings hope into peoples lives. I loved this book a lot and I would recommend it.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Memorable Thanksgivings

Teens Blog BannerIt’s almost Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday!  Next week we’ll all get to eat our body weight in Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, we’ll listen to football games play all day, and we’ll remember all the things we’re grateful for.  At least, that’s the hope.  Sometimes it works out that way, but sometimes, the Thanksgiving holidays can range from busy to bittersweet to just plain weird.  So in honor of this most food-filled of holidays, I put together a short list of some memorable Thanksgiving scenes from books, movies, and TV.  None of these works are about Thanksgiving, but they all feature some memorable Thanksgiving scenes.

Blog Entry 107 - Image 1Miracle on 34th Street – I know what you may be thinking: this is a Christmas movie Hannah, get it together!  But don’t forget that the entire plot swings into motion on Thanksgiving – at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade no less.  If it weren’t for an intoxicated actor trying to play Santa in the parade, the real Santa would never have entered the lives of Doris/Dorey (depending on what version you’re watching) and her precocious daughter Susan.  Plus, our introduction to all three characters also gives us a memorable glimpse at the behind-the-scenes of one of the most beloved Thanksgiving traditions.

Blog Entry 107 - Image 2Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Although the book takes place over the course of a whole school year, Anna’s Thanksgiving in Paris with Étienne St. Clair is definitely one of the more memorable sections of the book.  While the search for a Thanksgiving dinner in Paris is certainly entertaining to read, what really makes St. Clair and Anna’s Thanksgiving weekend memorable is that it takes their chemistry and their “will they, won’t they” status to a whole new level, particularly when it comes to a sparks-filled slumber party…


Blog Entry 107 - Image 3How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother actually features several Thanksgiving episodes, from the first season episode in which Ted and Robin discover the dark side of Thanksgiving volunteering to season three’s Slapsgiving episode featuring a slap countdown and Robin’s older boyfriend.  But to my mind, none are as memorable as Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slaps from the fifth season.  We get Marshall’s love for the perfect turkey, Lily’s “you’re dead to me” look, and the hilarity of watching an all-important slap first divide Ted and Robin, then bring the whole group together as it changes hands to the sounds of touching music.  And of course, the slap itself is delightful.  If this all seems a little wacky, well, I did warn you some of these Thanksgiving scenes were just plain weird!

Blog Entry 107 - Image 4Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl’s Thanksgiving definitely falls into the category of bittersweet.  Right before Thanksgiving really kicks into gear, main character Cath finds out that unbeknownst to her, her sister Wren has been talking to their estranged mother – and is planning on spending part of the holiday with her.  This leads to a fight between the sisters that has been building for most of the book so far.  And when Wren doesn’t make it back in time for Thanksgiving dinner, Cath and her father keep each other company, eating turkey and mashed potatoes on the couch, while the green bean casserole – Wren’s favorite – gets cold in the kitchen.

Those are just a few of the memorable Thanksgiving scenes from media featuring some not-so-traditional Thanksgiving dinners.  Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving is as memorable as these, and hopefully better than most of them!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – If I Stay Book-to-Movie Review

Teens Blog BannerAfter getting to meet the star of the movie If I Stay, Chloë Grace Moretz, and the author behind the story, Gayle Forman, in Chicago this summer, I’ve been meaning to see the movie for a long time. But even though it took until late October, it was most definitely worth the wait.

Blog Entry 106 - Image 1The book If I Stay revolves around Mia, an aspiring cellist who loses her family in a car crash. While in the hospital, Mia remains in a coma and has to decide whether to die and be with her beloved family, or whether to stay and be with her rock star boyfriend, Adam. She relives many of her life experiences with them while in a coma and watches in the hospital as her grandparents, best friend and boyfriend witness the girl they love most struggle to survive. The book is painfully heartbreaking to read and is impossible to put down, so needless to say, I had high expectations for the movie.

The movie, directed by RJ Cutler, stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia. I have to say, at the beginning of the movie, I was worried about how closely it would stick to the plot and how good it would be. The opening scenes with Mia at school and with her family were very cheesy and the acting seemed almost fake. I remember thinking; please not another book-to-movie adaption fail. There were just too many forced jokes and unrealistic relationships, but then the car crash happened.  And after that, everything changed.

From about the second half of the movie and Blog Entry 106 - Image 2forward, the entire movie flipped from its disappointing start to an emotional rollercoaster. The movie is full of heartbreak and will make you want to run home and hug your family and tell all your friends how much you love them. I’m not much of a crier at movies, but I can sincerely say that I cried not once, but 5 different times throughout this movie. Scenes with Mia, her parents, and her brother make you realize the importance of family, and a scene in which her Grandpa cries over her hospital bed will make you choke up. Scenes with Mia and Adam will make you wish you could have a relationship like theirs. Moretz does an incredible job as playing Mia as a girl who loves her family, her boyfriend and who has a passion for music. That’s another thing; the use of music in the movie was amazing, showcasing just how important it was to the story. The music added to the strong emotions of the movie and the sadness that comes with the beautiful story.  If you haven’t read the book before, the movie will make you question the entire time whether Mia will stay or will go, leaving you on the edge of your seat.

Overall, If I Stay was an excellent movie that stayed close to the book and had great acting. I promise, once you get past the not-so-great beginning, you will not stop crying for the rest of the movie. I highly recommend picking it up on DVD when it’s released. And even better news? Chloë Grace Moretz is starring in another YA adaption of Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave. Hopefully in this sci-fi thriller her acting will cause a lot fewer tears because, as for me, I’m still recovering from If I Stay.

-Amanda

Posted in GEPL Teens

The Lightning Thief

What’s your first name and school?:  Mary from hadley

What are you reviewing?: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : It has Greek mythology in it and a little mystery. Also it transports you into the story.

Who would like this? : People who like Harry Potter will definitely love this series because they’re very similar.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it? : BEST EVER

Posted in tweens, tweens books, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Rites of Passage

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 105 - ImageYes, I know that I am constantly talking about this, but once again, I decided to go outside my comfort zone a little recently. I picked up a book that didn’t seem like quite my “type,” and was completely blown away.  So thanks to the marketing team at HarperTeen, because without their work promoting the book, I probably never would have picked up Rites of Passage.  And I would definitely have been missing out if I hadn’t!

What I Just Read: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

Did I Like It: I loved it!

Thoughts: There were two parts of the synopsis of this book that made me think it might not be my “type” of book. The first was the over-emphasis on romance. I read the line about Sam’s attraction to her drill sergeant etc., and my first thought was “romance is all well and good, but it sounds like there are WAY more important things going on, and I sure hope this girl wouldn’t risk it all just for a boy.” More on that in a minute. The other thing that initially steered me away from this book was the military academy aspect. Something about that just didn’t gel with me. I love a good contemporary fiction book, I enjoy boarding school stories, and a huge chunk of the fantasy novels I read heavily feature a fictionalized and fantastical military, but I guess I just couldn’t get into the idea of those three worlds colliding.

How wrong I was. Rites of Passage brings military school to life in a completely absorbing way. I read this book so fast my head spun. I couldn’t help myself, even though by halfway through I knew I was going to be sad to leave Sam at the end of the book. Joy N. Hensley attended a military school, so she knows her stuff. From the crazy scary hazing-via-physical fitness (which simultaneously made me feel super weak and feel like working out all day) to the formal language for interactions with superiors to the camaraderie that being in such an intense situation can inspire, I was there.

Not only that, but Sam was a fantastic central character. She wasn’t flawless, but she was strong, stubborn, tough as nails, and determined to succeed not only for her own sake, but for the sake of her brother and the next class of female recruits as well. Having such a fantastic character at the heart of the book made it worth reading about the horrible abuse Sam suffers, because I was rooting for her so hard. And the romance was there, it was good, but it never detracted from the high stakes of Sam’s survival and success at the academy, and it never made Sam question her priorities. So in other words, the romance was perfect.

All in all, Rites of Passage was the kind of book that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Sam was an inspiring protagonist, the world of the military academy was enveloping, and the side plots and characters were interesting and realistic without ever detracting from the main character and plot. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Stuck in Love

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 104 - ImageWe all want a little bit of romance (or at least I do), whether it be in novels, TV shows, or movies. But not all forms of entertainment have it, or they go overboard with it. I for one have trouble finding movies with the right amount of romance, but now I believe I found one.

What I watched: Stuck in Love 

What is it about:  Three years past his divorce, veteran novelist Bill Borgens (Academy Award nominee Greg Kinnear) can’t stop obsessing over, let alone spying on, his ex-wife Erica (Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly), who ignominiously left him for another man. Even as his neighbor-with-benefits, Tricia (Kristen Bell) tries to push him back into the dating pool, he remains blind to anyone else’s charms. Meanwhile, his fiercely independent collegiate daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) is publishing her first novel while recoiling at the very thought of first love with a diehard romantic (Logan Lerman); and his teen son Rusty (Nat Wolff) is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of a dream girl with unsettlingly real problems. As each of these situations mounts into a tangled trio of romantic holiday crises, it brings the Borgens to surprising revelations about how endings become beginnings. (Summary from FilmJabber.com)

Did I like it: Yes absolutely

Thoughts: I thought this movie was cute, a little bit cheesy (in a good way) and a different style of portraying a romantic story. Each of the Borgens have their own personalities that are completely different from each other. The father is still in love with his ex-wife and may have become a stalker; the daughter, Samantha, doesn’t believe in love and has her guard up so she won’t get hurt; and the son, Rusty, just wants to be this one girl’s knight in shining armor. I also thought that this movie was different from other romantic movies because the romance, though a key part of the story wasn’t all that the movie was focusing on. Each character had challenges that they had to face throughout the film. What I thought was very relatable was the idea that they found love when facing these challenges and still had it when they overcame them.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to find a story with romance and other things in between.

-Ashley

Posted in GEPL Teens

Hurrah for Gamers!

tween-blog-bannerFootball isn’t the only “big game” around here. Test your gaming skills against the best in Glen Ellyn and sign up for our Super Smash Brothers competition! Participants will play Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Wii for a chance to win all the glory – and the big prize! The top three players will win gift cards to Gamestop.

Date: Saturday, November 15
Time: Noon-3pm
Place: Meeting Rooms by library entrance
Register online or at the youth desk

You’ve probably heard both sides of the debate on whether gaming is good for you or bad for you. Well, it turns out the verdict for a while has been that they ARE good for you! Games aren’t just a fun thing to waste some time with, but research shows that they have various benefits for people of all ages. These include improving early literacy, coping with pain, overcoming a fear, socializing with friends of family, and even challenging people to learn STEM concepts or get training that’s useful to their profession. Instead of ruining your eyesight, it’s been proven that gaming actually sharpens eyesight, precision tracking of multiple things going on at the same time, and making the optimal decision quickly.

Next time someone says video games are bad for you, have them take a look at the research-based information: Daphne Bavelier’s Ted Talk “Your Brain on Video Games”, one among many about video gaming, or check out this Gaming is Good For You infographic.

That being said, remember that there can be too much of a good thing and after a certain point, you do not reap further benefits from gaming. Everything in moderation.

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: How to Read Non-Fiction

Teens Blog BannerJust in case it’s not already super obvious, I want to share something with you all: I am an avid reader of fiction.  (I know: mind = blown, right?)  I practically breathe novels.  What I am not such an avid reader of is non-fiction.  It’s not exactly a choice – in fact, I often tell myself I ought to read non-fiction, and on the rare occasions I do, I usually enjoy it.  But I just can’t escape the seduction of a novel – of getting sucked in to a story about fictional characters, and stepping into what is ultimately someone else’s creation from start to finish.

Now, that’s not to say I never read non-fiction – I just rarely read it in book form.  I am a pretty bit reader of blogs, articles, essays, etc. online.  I follow a wide variety of blogs, professional and personal.  I am addicted to essay-style writing in news outlets.  Reading reviews after I finish a book is part of how I process my latest novel.  And yet, trying to convince myself to pick up a non-fiction book is like pulling teeth.

Until now.  I may have finally learned the necessary steps to bringing non-fiction into my reading sphere a little more.

Blog Entry 103 - Image 1

Step 1: Choose a non-fiction book I’m practically guaranteed to love.  In this case, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  Among other things, this book is an essay collection, so it kind of feels like reading a whole lot of blog entries and essays by a favorite online author, which I love to do!

Blog Entry 103 - Image 2

Step 2: Make sure the book is not in at the library.  If it is in and I try to go pick it up, I will end up picking up a novel instead.  Happens every time.

Blog Entry 103 - Image 3

Step 3: Put this non-fiction book on hold at the library.  This means it’s going to come and I’m going to get it without having a chance to be sidetracked by fiction.

Blog Entry 103 - Image 4

Step 4: Feel obligated to read the book before I have to return it for the next person on the hold list.

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Step 5: Enjoy!

I’m really loving Bad Feminist, and as I’m always saying, it’s good to occasionally step outside of our reading comfort zones and get into something a little different.  So if you’ve been trying to diversify your reading but having trouble, I can totally sympathize, and I strongly suggest the putting an item on hold method.  I’ll be back to novels once I finish these essays, but next time I think “gosh, I should really read some non-fiction, it’s been a while,” I now know how to do it!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – A Walk to Remember

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 102 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Description: Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he’d fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister.

A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it.

Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter’s life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood… (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: A Walk to Remember is a very beautiful story. It’s about a 17 year old boy named Landon who is popular, and it seems like he’s very close minded at the beginning of the story. There’s also a girl named Jamie who is a part of a very religious family, and she’s also a talented singer. A Walk to Remember is also a movie but they’re both a little different. The story is about how Landon falls in love with Jamie (a girl no one wants to be around) little by little. Fate made him her homecoming date and nothing in their lives were the same afterwards.  Jamie showed Landon other depths of life and changed his perspectives on life. Landon started to lose his bad boy image when he started to go out with Jamie.

This book shows a very valuable lesson and that is people with different statuses, wealth, age, gender, race or religion can have friendships or something even more valuable with each other. No one should base their friendship on physical and changeable things and this book shows that perfectly. I absolutely loved how Landon took a chance with Jamie even though it took a lot for him to do it. This book shredded my heart to pieces and tied it back together and shredded back to pieces again. This is such a heart-warming story and it kind of reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars. A Walk to Remember is so inspirational and I loved it! The characters in the book are complete opposites of each other yet they make an impact on each other that is so great. I couldn’t believe how well written this book was and it was a million times better than the movie. Jamie’s character was so always so nice and she had an ongoing spark that never dulled out even when she was at her worst, and I loved her character so much. I would really recommend this book!

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Creepy Reads

Teens Blog BannerHalloween is almost upon us, and if you’ve Blog Entry 101 - Image 1been following our Tumblr, you know I’m pretty excited about that.  Among the things I love about Halloween are candy, costumes, pumpkins, cute black cats, and creepy reading.  Now generally speaking, I don’t like being scared.  I avoid horror movies like the plague.  I even avoid trailers for horror movies.  But this time of year, I can usually deal with it a little and subject myself to a creepy read or two.  There’s something compelling and engrossing about scary books, and this is the perfect time of year to cozy up with a pumpkin flavored something or a few handfuls of candy corn, and get a good case of the shivers.  Here’s a few books you might check out to give yourself a scare!

Blog Entry 101 - Image 2Dracula by Bram Stoker – Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of spooky goodness in Dracula.  From the early pages carefully describing the creepy atmosphere in Transylvania, to the horrifying description of Dracula himself (spoiler: vampires were not always attractive; Dracula has blood red eyes and hairy palms, among other things,) to the gore of finally killing a vampire, Dracula has plenty spine-chilling scenes to go with its well-deserved literary classic status.  Bonus points for being able to tell people you’re reading a classic while you enjoy the horror monster goodness.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 3In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – One of last year’s Morris award (for best YA debut author) finalists, In the Shadow of Blackbirds was creepy enough that if it hadn’t been up for an award, I might not have read it.  Lucky for me it was a Morris nominee!  In the Shadow of Blackbirds was an engaging and exciting read, and although it definitely scared me, the creepiness is part of what made it so good.  In the Shadow of Blackbirds is historical fiction with a strong paranormal element.  Spiritualist photographers, ghosts, and a terrifying plague all come together to create a frightening, almost-real world, enhanced by real life black and white photos from around the fall of 1918 when the book is set.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 4Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Yes, Coraline is aimed at kids, but that didn’t stop it from scaring the pants off me the first time I read it.  I cannot overstate how eerie the other house and other mother and other world presented in Coraline are.  The fear of everything we know and love somehow becoming wrong is something I think anyone can understand and sympathize with, and Coraline plays on those fears.  And some images from Coraline I will never forget – buttons will never be the same for me, and sometimes I’m still kept awake at night by the thought of a sinister hand stalking me.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 5Scowler by Daniel Kraus – Main character Ry’s father has been in prison for the last eight years, but in Scowler, Ry is faced with the possibility of a monster returning – or being created.  I’ll admit: this one I haven’t read, because I’m just too darned scared of how terrifying it will be.  The audio version won an award, because apparently the narration intensifies the already intensely scary text.  Reading about the audio version was when I decided that I just couldn’t do this book.  But if you find real-world monsters to be scarier than made up ones, and psychological thrillers to be creepier than vampire attacks, then Scowler just might be the perfect frightening read for you this Halloween.

Posted in GEPL Teens