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Helen Keller

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate
Hello Everyone!

Can you believe June is ending already? And what better way to welcome July than to celebrate one of the most resilient people in history. Helen Keller was born deaf and blind. Because of this, she had trouble communicating her thoughts and feelings to others. Through her courage, determination and life-long teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller was able to overcome several challenges. Throughout her lifetime, she learned how to read and to write, attended university and became a dedicated political activist.

Make sure you check out these titles the next time you’re in the library so you can read more about this extraordinary woman. Celebrate this day by encouraging your friends and family in all that they do!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Daughters Unto Devils Review

By: Elsa F-T., Teen Blogger

Check Out Daughters Unto Devils by Amy LukavicsLet me start out by saying that this book was incredibly well done. It terrified me and gave me chills even when I was reading in broad daylight or in class surrounded by people. I questioned my sanity at times, and I was kind of scared of other people as well.

The main character, Amanda, was relatable and had a strong development throughout the book. I loved her siblings and most of her family. There was a very noticeable contrast between all of the moods, between happiness when they find a cabin and terror closer to the end, and often there was no warning before it turned dark, which was a wonderful surprise. Amanda’s separation from the other characters and her own thoughts made it more eerie, as though you were trapped inside her mind next to her.

The author, Amy Lukavics, really knows how to write a horror book-it seems she cut nothing out for fear of it being too dark. It also was a fairly quick read-I remember my brother remarking that he thought I was less than halfway in a couple hours ago. I replied that I was, and I had finished the second half in the past half hour.

That said, I think the climax could have been brought to a much higher point of conflict and lasted for longer than it did. I also would have appreciated it if the parts with the post boy were shorter and had less focus. Finally, it was confusing to not know what happened “last winter” until later in the book. Neither of these things took too much away from my enjoyment of the book, however, so I would rate Daughters Unto Devils at eight and a half out of ten stars.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Middle School Reviews

Check Out Adrift by Paul GriffinWhat’s your name?: Claire

What school do you attend?: Hadley Jr. High

What grade are you in school?: 8th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Adrift

Did you like it?: Yes, I love this book so much! Paul Griffin depicted a compelling story about five teenagers lost at sea, and their only goal is to survive. I really like adventure/survival books, so this novel instantly made it to my top ten book list.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes survival books such as “Surrounded by Sharks” by Michael Northrop.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews – Muhammad Ali: King of the Ring

Check Out Muhammad Ali: King of the Ring bu Stephen TimblinWhat’s your name?: Henry

What school do you attend?: Hadley

What grade are you in school?: 7th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Muhammad Ali: King of the Ring

Did you like it?: I liked it because it gives a great story to the reader. I believe that if you want to make a story about an athlete, it can’t just be about the sport. The book does not only explain the history of Ali’s boxing career. It also talks about his family and religious life. They all tie together to make one incredible story. I’ll never think of Muhammad Ali the same way again!

Who would like this?: Someone who is interested in boxing and sports in general and enjoys history and inspiration.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews – I Funny: A Middle School Story

Check Out I Funny: A Middle School Story by James PattersonWhat’s your name?: Henry

What school do you attend?: Hadley

What grade are you in school?: 7th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: I Funny

Did you like it?: I liked it because the title pretty much explains the book for itself. The side splitting humor tied into a life changing story makes this book great for kids at middle school level. The book has many chapters but they are smaller than you think. Since I read the audiobook, I saw exactly how much time it took to read each chapter. Each chapter takes about two minutes to read. However, it is still a decent sized book and a wonderful, hilarious story.

Who would like this?: If anybody thinks they lack confidence in themselves, I would definitely suggest this book for you. Or, you might just want it because you are the class clown and are dry out of jokes like me!

How many stars would you rate this?: Four Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews – Counting by 7s

Check Out Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanWhat’s your name?: Katie Johnson 

What school do you attend?: Hadley

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Counting by 7s

Did you like it?: I loved the book Counting by 7s because it had many emotions to it. Some parts made me want to cry while other parts made me laugh like I never laughed before. I really enjoyed how the author worded most thing to make it sound like the main character was experiencing what is really happening.

Who would like this?: I think people who appreciate what they have and understand that they are very lucky will enjoy this book.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

YA Fiction for Pride Month

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

As you may know, June is LGBTQIA+ Pride month, home to parades, marches and other celebrations of the LGBTQIA+ community. We always like to celebrate with a good old fashioned book list, so today, we’d take advantage of a loooooong acronym, and pick one book for each of the letters – including one for the “+”.  It was hard to pick just one book for each letter, and the usual disclaimers apply – obviously we can’t cover all the wonderful books out there in just one blog post, and of course, none of these books will cover everyone’s experience. But this list, which covers a variety of genres and styles, is just the starting point. There is plenty more fantastic YA fiction out there, so don’t hesitate to ask for more! Descriptions are from goodreads.com.

Check Out If You Could Be Mine by Sara FarizanL – If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

Check Out More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraG – More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Check Out Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah MoskowitzB – Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

Check Out If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoT – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Check Out Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff GarvinQ – Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out and risk everything.

Check Out Pantomime by Laura LamI – Pantomime by Laura Lam

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Check Out This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura NowlinA – This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin

Bandmate, best friend or boyfriend? For Ramona, one choice could mean losing them all.

Ramona and Sam are best friends. She fell for him the moment they met, but their friendship is just too important for her to mess up. Sam loves April, but he would never expect her to feel the same way–she’s too quirky and cool for someone like him. Together, they have a band, and put all of their feelings for each other into music.

Then Ramona and Sam meet Tom. He’s their band’s missing piece, and before Ramona knows it, she’s falling for him. But she hasn’t fallen out of love with Sam either.

How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?

Check Out Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate+ – Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Reading Slumps

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Have you signed up for our Summer Reading Program yet? We have programs designed for babies to adults. Kids have started to come in and log their reading hours. It’s pretty impressive. So many readers have already reached their 10 hour prize. But there are also a handful of kids who have already read 35 or more hours. I’m so proud of every reader that I’m starting to feel guilty about my own reading habits.

Check Out Booked by Kwame AlexanderMy current reading habits are kind of pathetic. I’ve read two books since our summer reading program has started. Only two. One was The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin. The other was Booked by Kwame Alexander. And the fact that I haven’t been reading much has been bothering me. But it’s not just something that happens to me–it’s known as a reading slump. If you’ve ever found yourself not reading for a while, you might just be in a reading slump. Here’s a few ideas to help get you out of that evil slump.

Listen to an audiobook. You can listen to an audiobook while doing something else at the same time. Audiobooks are especially helpful if you’re busy or if you don’t have time to sit down and read.

Re-read an old favorite. Harry Potter, anyone? Enough said.

Check Out A Time to Dance by Padma VenkatramanAsk a librarian for a recommendation. A solid recommendation can even help you out of a book-mourning period. We also have plenty of book recommendations on our blogs. You could also check out a book from the Monarch, Bluestem and Caudill lists. I did that–I’m currently reading A Time to Dance.

Set goals. I hear a lot of kids talking about how they want to read at least an hour a day to help get them to their prize levels. I should follow their advice. Set aside a specific time, maybe right before bed, to read a little bit every day.

Put the book down. That’s right. Put the book down. If it’s taking you a really long time to finish a book, it might be causing a reading slump. One of the things librarians believe in is that it’s totally okay to abandon stop reading a book if you aren’t into it.

Check Out The Honest Truth by Dan GemeinhartSwitch genres. I tend to get frustrated with reading when I read a lot of one genre in a row–usually with fantasy. I read so many fantasy books in a row that I start to crave realistic fiction. I recently picked up The Honest Truth as a change from fantasy and I loved it.

Read with a friend. Talking about a book with a friend can help motivate you to read it. Or, if you’re ambitious, you could even try to start a book club!

Ultimately, it’s okay if you don’t want to read. It doesn’t hurt to take some time away from it. But I know that, eventually, you’ll find a book that’s perfect for you and pulls you out of your reading slump.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Blurryface Review

By: Hannah O., Teen Blogger

Check Out Blurryface by TwentyOne PilotsBlurryface is an interesting album by a musical duo that is quickly gaining popularity, twentyønepiløts. The album consists of 14 songs, each one different from the next. The album’s main idea is of the villain, Blurryface, who creates vibes of depression, anxiety and insecurities. When I listened to this album, there were a lot of emotions, such as happiness, emptiness, sadness and fear. The album really leaves an imprint on you after you listen, through the use of metaphors in lyrics and sound effects. The songs have interesting combinations of Tyler Joseph’s vocals, ukulele, piano and Josh Dun’s drum playing that is finished off with interesting electronic sounds. Blurryface is classified as alternative or “schizo-pop”, which is an unofficial subgenre of pop.

Some of the most popular songs on the album are “Tear in My Heart” and “Stressed Out.” “Tear in My Heart” is the most upbeat song on the album and probably the only romantic song as well. It’s very joyful and has a memorable intro with piano chords and drums that lead into the first verse. “Stressed Out” is more thought provoking and is centered around growing up. I feel that many people like this song because people of all ages can relate to how stressful it is to grow up and have responsibility. Personally, my favorite song on the album is “Goner,” which is very slow and deep. It starts very simple with vocals and piano and slowly adds drums and more sounds effects. It’s very meaningful and my favorite part is when everything dies out until Tyler Joseph screams “don’t let me be gone.”

I would recommend Blurryface to teenagers who like some darker music and themes but enjoy different music and thoughtful lyrics. Overall, this album is definitely worth the 52 minutes and 23 seconds it takes to listen to it.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Middle School Reviews –

Check Out Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysWhat’s your name?: Kylie

What school do you attend?: Saint Michael

What grade are you in school?: 8th Grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Salt to the Sea

Did you like it?: I LOVED THIS NOVEL! It was the perfect blend of Young Adult and Historical Fiction. I have been a fan of this author, Ruta Sepetys, for a while now, and her newest book did not fail to impress me. Told in four perspectives, Salt to the Sea is a thrilling tale of the virtually unknown ship sinking that occurred during Operation Hannibal. Lovers of history and mystery will be exhilarated while reading this spectacular book!

Who would like this?: Someone who like Holocaust books.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews