GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Tough Stuff Display, Take Two

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 139 - ImageAdolescence. Whether you don’t want it to end, or can’t wait for it to be over, it seems to us in the moment that it is the defining period of our lives. And regardless of popularity, economic status, and ethnicity, we all go through tough stuff. It feels like in society, major issues we face are ignored or pushed aside. But luckily there are books like Speak and Crank that focus on issues such as rape and drug abuse, and other books that focus on other tough subjects. They educate us and prove to us again and again that we are not alone in our struggle. This is why a tough stuff book display has been created, to show some of the books that focus on these subjects.

Both Suicide Notes and Thirteen Reasons Why focus on suicide. Through Jeff’s recovery in a psychiatric ward, and Clay’s influence and understanding of Hannah’s suicide, both novels show the causes and effects of suicide and act as cautionary tales to prevent these actions from the readers.

Though Cut and Willow focus on self-abuse, and Wintergirls and Skinny focus on eating disorders, all these titles enlighten about the nature of self-destructive behaviors. They educate about the misconceptions about insecurities that prevent ending obesity, and the fear that makes anorexia so difficult to overcome. Cut emphasizes how isolated people who cut themselves feel, and Willow shows how important support is for any person, especially those who have suffered from a tragedy. These books focus on these topics to better educate society by encouraging tolerance, and therefore inspire more support for people suffering due to self-abuse.

Books were created to spread knowledge, which is why it is so important that books focusing on prevalent issues for our age group are recognized and emphasized. Whether historical struggles such as surviving a concentration camp, shown in the book Night, or more recent issues, like school shootings depicted in Hate List, our book display covers them. It is pertinent that these topics are discussed because it is necessary to understand the problems we face now in order to fight for solutions in the future.

-Britta

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All the Rage

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 138 - ImageSome books I love because they’re fun.  Some because they’re exciting and adventurous.  Some books just make me happy.

Today’s What I Just Read is not any of those things, but I still loved it, and can’t wait to recommend it to as many people as possible.  It comes out on April 14 and we have it ordered already, so get your holds placed ASAP!

What I Just Read: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

What’s It About (Jacket Description): The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Did I Like It: “I loved it” and was “I was wrecked by it” would be more accurate phrases

Thoughts: I’m going to be honest – this book was really tough to read sometimes.  But I mean that in the best possible way.

All the Rage is not a happy book.  It’s not cheerful, or fun.  But it is real – real in a way that makes it difficult to read, because in its brutality, it so clearly reflects the world around us.  What Romy goes through is so recognizable, so beautifully and emotionally portrayed, that reading about it really did leave me a mess.  But it was worth it.

Like so many books I love, a strong, flawed, incredibly well-drawn character is at the heart of All the Rage.  Romy makes mistakes – a lot of them.  She has suffered and continues to suffer in ways that not only seem hard to bear, but are so blatantly nasty and unfair that it’s hard to read about them.  But she carries on, she finds joy in little things, and strength in herself.  She loves her family deeply, and cares for the people around her as well as she can.  This love and caring are some of the things that made me like her, even when she’s making her worst and most hurtful decisions.  She also has a strong sense of what is right, even if it’s hard for her to act on it sometimes.  And her strength is not the kind we sometimes see in young adult novels – she has no great physical prowess, nor the strength of will to change the world around her.  It’s a strength we see more often in our real world – the strength to endure, to see past the immediate despair and to a brighter future, and to try and do what’s right, even if it seems hopeless or pointless.

There is no magical happy ending to this book.  But there is hope, and there is courage, and there is Romy standing on her own two feet and facing the world.  And while that didn’t leave me feeling any less heartbroken at the end, it did allow some hope and positivity to co-exist with the heartbreak.

All the Rage is powerful, raw, real, and important, and I loved it.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Ender’s Game: A Book-to-Movie Analysis

Teens Blog BannerLibrarian note: One teen, a big fan of the Ender’s Game books, had some pretty strong opinions about the transition from book to movie.  Here he’s outlined his thoughts on what the movie got right – and what it got wrong!  -Hannah

Blog Entry 137 - Image 1 Blog Entry 137 - Image 2

So, what did the movie get right?

-Battle room physics
-Sloped floors
-The inside of command school

So, what did the movie get wrong?

In battle school:

-There were not enough battle rooms
-The audience never sees Ender train with his practice session or with Dragon army
-The barracks for the armies did not fit the book’s description
-The battle room is supposed to be a cube not a sphere, and the whole school be a bowl not a cylinder

In other areas:

-Ender only ever fights the Formicas over the home world and not any of their many colony planets; he finds the queen egg on a colony planet not Eros
-They go from modern fighter jets to giant space ships in a matter of 30 years
-They seemed to completely forget the other Wiggins
-Mazer Rackham is mostly just a space filler and didn’t do much in the movie, even though he is very important in the book
-They never developed what makes Ender such a great commander
-The movie makers also left a lot of key characters undeveloped
-Bean is on the shuttle with Ender instead of getting there after him

Final Thoughts?

I think it’s safe to say I recommend reading the book!

-Jack

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Women’s History Month – Part IV

Teens Blog BannerMarch is almost over, so this will be our final Women’s History Month book list.  This set of books all feature women in history…but with a little extra.  Whether it’s ghosts, steampunk, a death god, or something else, these books add elements of speculative fiction without sacrificing research and historical accuracy.  As always, descriptions are from Goodreads.com unless otherwise specified, and librarian notes are in italics.

Blog Entry 136 - Image 1The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Hannah’s Note: This book won’t be out until May 2015, but don’t worry, we’ll have it! With the combination of historical fiction and mythological re-telling, I already think it’s going to be an irresistible read. For drama lovers, there’s murder and revenge and love. For history lovers, there’s an ancient setting. And for mythology lovers like me, there’s a whole story built around the tale of A Thousand and One Nights. What’s not to love?

Blog Entry 136 - Image 2Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversWhy be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Hannah’s Note: This is a long book, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re reading it, because the action and intrigue are non-stop. Ismae is a strong, tough, and determined character. She’s devoted to her work, and to her country – a country I didn’t know much about until I read this book. Although St. Mortain, the god of Death, haunts the book, it is really a story of politics, assassination, faith, and love, with a fierce and powerful character at its center. And if you like it, there are two more in the series!

Blog Entry 136 - Image 3The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope – In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice. (Description from Goodreads.com)

In 1558 while imprisoned in a remote castle, a young girl becomes involved in a series of events that leads to an underground labyrinth peopled by the last practitioners of druidic magic. (Description from Worldcat.org)

Hannah’s Note: This book has been a favorite of mine for years. While the fantastical elements are light, they add depth and tension to an incredibly well-researched and well-depicted historical setting. Although the setting is historical, the story itself is timeless in its own way, because it is about the old vs. the new and innovation vs. tradition. But none of this – the research, the plot, even the Fair Folk themselves – would be as compelling if it weren’t for Kate, one of my all-time favorite main characters. Give The Perilous Gard a try and see if you agree!

Blog Entry 136 - Image 4Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger – Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Hannah’s Note: Is it possible for a book to be witty, fun, old-fashioned, modern, exciting, and dramatic all at once? Yes. Oh yes. Etiquette & Espionage is all this and more. There are werewolves, robots, petticoats, evil plots, catty arguments, strong friendships, boarding schools, dirigibles, and a mechanical dog named Bumbersnoot. Beyond that, I just want to say that this book is one of the most enormously entertaining books I’ve read in a long time, and it beautifully combines Victorian culture with Steampunk fun and Carriger’s own unique brand of humor. It’s wonderful.

Blog Entry 136 - Image 5In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Hannah’s Note: There’s a reason Cat Winters’ books have appeared on two of these lists. She writes fantastic, and fantastically well-researched, historical fiction featuring strong women characters. This book juxtaposes the frightening realities of World War I and the influenza epidemic against the frightening specters of ghosts and spirits. Equally as fascinating are Mary Shelley’s relationships – with her first love, told in flashbacks, with her aunt she barely knows and sometimes disagrees with, and with a world trying to tell her what women can and can’t do.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Tough Stuff Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 135 - Image      In a generation of self-destruction and abuse, teenagers are struggling to get through these years. Teenagers face a lot of uncertainty because of broken homes and divorces between loved ones. It is hard to find to stability during these tough times. Books can help to give a sense of stability because they help you fall into another world. A tough stuff book display was set up to help teens and other people who are going through hard times. Life is saturated with artificial hopes and promises and this book display will help teens realize they are not alone.

In the display, there are a variety of issues addressed. There are books addressing abuse including Room by Emma Donoghue, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Handling abuse is difficult and these books can help teens feel supported and understood.  Another issue this book display addresses are self-destructive behavior and some of the books that address this specific topic is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. The books from this topic might help you feel less lonely. There are also books that talk about substance abuse like Looking for Alaska by John Green and Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Hopefully this display will provide a type of security and hope to teens. Even though all of these things are hard to turn around and handle, books can provide a certain amount of help. Come check out this display to understand the issues teens are facing right now.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Women’s History Month – Part III

Teens Blog BannerWelcome back to Part III of Women’s History Month celebrations on the blog!  Once again, we’re focusing on women in world history for today’s list.  But this time, we’re looking at books set within the last two centuries.  And of course, the books on this list don’t even begin to cover all the amazing books out there, but at least it’s somewhere to start!  Like last time, librarian notes are in italics.

Blog Entry 134 - Image 1Wildthorn by Jane Eagland – Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove has never enjoyed the life of the pampered, protected life girls of wealth were expected to follow in nineteenth century England. It was too confining. She would have much rather been like her older brother, allowed to play marbles, go to school, become a doctor. But little does she know how far her family would go to kill her dreams and desires. Until one day she finds herself locked away in an insane asylum and everyone–the doctors and nurses–insist on calling her Lucy Childs, not Louisa Cosgrove.

Surely this is a mistake. Surely her family will rescue her from this horrible, disgusting place. But as she unravels the mystery, she discovers those are the very people she can’t trust. So who can she? There’s one person–Eliza. As their love grows, Louisa realizes treachery locked her away. Love is the key to freedom. (Description from Amazon.com)

Hannah’s Note: There’s something so gothic, so Wuthering Heights-ish about an asylum story.  Even in a book that is a realistic look at a terrifying and terrible system that went on in the nineteenth century, there is still something ghostly about asylums.  So whether you like gothic stories, romance, or well-researched historical fiction, this is a great pick.

Blog Entry 134 - Image 2Anahita’s Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres – When Anahita, a nomadic weaver in nineteenth-century Iran, learns that her father wants her to wed the leader of her tribe, a man she finds repulsive, she is determined to design her own fate. She devises a contest in which suitors must guess the meaning of a riddle woven into her wedding carpet. Her idea draws the attention of an extraordinary group of men and brings unexpected consequences for those around her.

Who will match Anahita is this game of wits? Or more important, win her heart? This enchanting tale set in an ancient land on the crest of change is enriched with details of Persian culture and Sufi poetry. (Description from the author’s website, www.meghansayres.com)

Hannah’s Note: It’s hard for me to resist a story about a girl avoiding a terrible suitor.  This is part of why I love Catherine, Called Birdy so much, for instance.  In this book, Anahita’s intelligence and wit anchor a story full of wonder and historical detail.  Not only that, but the author is a tapestry weaver, so her expertise lends authenticity to Anahita’s craft, making the world of this book even richer. 

Blog Entry 134 - Image 3Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang – In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity. (Descriptions from Goodreads.com)

Hannah’s Note: This is a two-part graphic novel set by a Printz-winning author.  The intertwined stories remind us that people involved in wars and conflicts aren’t usually heroes and villains – usually they are good people who are fighting for what they believe in and what they love.  That, along with the great characters and a chance to learn about a fascinating time in Chinese history, make this graphic novel set a winner!

Blog Entry 134 - Image 4Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed – Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name-but it would mean giving up her one true love … someone she could never persuade her father to accept. (Descriptions from Goodreads.com)

Hannah’s Note: Sometimes, you just want to read a good, dramatic story of love and friendship and family drama.  Cinders & Sapphires is all of that, and combine that with a lush pre-World War II aristocratic setting and some great “upstairs-downstairs” dynamics, and this is a perfect read for drama fans, Downton Abbey fans, history fans, and a whole lot of other readers in between.

Blog Entry 134 - Image 5Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys  – Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart. (Descriptions from Goodreads.com)

Hannah’s Note: When read about World War II, most of what we read tends to focus on the US involvement, or Nazi Germany, or England’s valiant defense efforts.  And obviously there are some incredible, fascinating stories told about those parts of the war.  But there are some other amazing World War II stories to be told as well, like this one about a girl suffering hardships under a crushing dictatorship…just not the dictatorship we’re used to hearing about in World War II. 

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Call of the Wild

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 133 - ImageReviewer: Elaine

Book Title: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Description: Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit…

First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: A tame and powerful dog named Buck lives on Judge Miller’s estate in California’s Santa Clara Valley. At that time, the sled dog is high demand; Buck has been kidnapped and sold to a ferocious dog trader who treats Buck badly. He beats Buck constantly to makes him obey his order.

After that, the dog trader sends him north to the Klondike which is a chilly place for a normal dog to live. After Buck sees Curly, another dog on the same ship as him, killed by a group of huskies, he feels he needs to be strong to gain his life. Later on he becomes a sled dog too and starts to learn to fight against other dogs, to scavenge for food, and to adapt the cold environment. Buck became stronger and stronger, he kills the leading dog, replaces him, and becomes the leader.

After his owner sells him to a new master, He wins 1600 dollar wagers for his new master and a sled for him. When his master search for the gold, Buck receives the call from the wild and befriends wolves but he still always comes back to see his master. But one day he finds out his master was killed, then he gets revenge for his master and returns to nature.

This book is pretty significant for me because this is first book I read that was written by Jack London, who is one of my favorite authors. Many of his books are about relationship of living things and nature, which makes people think deeply about human nature and wild instincts. From his writing, London reveals his adoration of nature and optimism about life. He used his entire life to explore what life is like and what life means. Whether in his life or his writing, we can find his pursuit of exploration, strong determination, and respect for life.

-Elaine

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Women’s History Month – Part II

Teens Blog BannerWomen’s History Month is still in full swing, so we’re here with another list of great historical fiction about women!  We’re going way back for this list, into Pre-Renaissance world history.  These books don’t even begin to cover all the amazing history that happened in ancient and medieval times, but they’re all great peeks into some fascinating cultures and eras!  All descriptions are from Goodreads.com unless otherwise noted, with librarian notes in italics.

Blog Entry 132 - Image 1Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little – In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

Hannah’s Note: This might be the only YA book I’ve ever heard of set in a Mesopotamian culture!  Combine that with the kind of star-crossed love story anyone can relate to, and there’s something for everyone.  Check it out for a fascinating look at a seldom-written about (in fiction, at least!) world.  

Blog Entry 132 - Image 2Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett – Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.

So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.

Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that “monster” is Ariadne’s brother . . .

Hannah’s Note: This re-telling of an ancient myth blends mythology with the real history of Crete.  And for my money, Ariadne is one of the most interesting characters from ancient Greek mythology, one who certainly deserves her own book!

Blog Entry 132 - Image 3Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter – The only daughter of the last queen of Egypt watches her beloved father–Mark Antony–fall on his sword in front of her. Then she hears the haunting wails of the priestesses of Isis on the island of Pharos and knows her mother died. It is the end of Cleopatra’s rule and the start of Selene’s nightmare. Her parent’s vicious enemy, the snake-like Octavianus, forces Cleopatra Selene to march through the streets of Rome in golden chains and then sentences her, along with her brothers, to live as political prisoners in his own home.

There she fights desperately to keep her brothers safe from poisonings and secret assassination attempts. Selene plots furiously to do what she knows her mother Cleopatra would want her to do–reclaim her destiny as the queen of Egypt. While plotting with her mother’s agents in Rome, Selene knows her best shot at retaking Egypt’s throne is to beguile her despised captor’s nephew, Marcellus, the beautiful, golden-haired heir to Octavanius. But Selene unexpectedly falls in love with a fellow political prisoner setting off a deeply personal crisis: Does Selene choose the man she loves over the man who could help her rule Egypt? (Description from Amazon.com)

Hannah’s Note: Everybody’s heard of Cleopatra, and probably a little something about her affairs with two of the most powerful men in the ancient Roman world.  But what is often forgotten are her children – children torn from their native country and brought to the center of one of the most powerful civilizations in history. 

Blog Entry 132 - Image 4Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang –  Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin’s determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the “manly arts” of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting ‘dragons’ and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

Hannah’s Note: It’s always fun to look at famous historical figures from the fictional point of view of those around them.  This is especially fun, since we do have Marco Polo’s own writings to tell us about him.  But what about the people he was writing about, in the distant (for him) worlds he was visiting?  

Blog Entry 132 - Image 5Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman – “Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life.”

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man–any rich man, no matter how awful.

But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call–by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all.

Unfortunately, he is also the richest.

Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father?

Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!

Hannah’s Note: Okay, I know this is aimed a bit younger than high school students, BUT!  This is, hands-down, one of my favorite historical fiction books I’ve ever read.  Catherine is sassy, relatable, funny, and someone it’s easy to care deeply about.  The research into the historical details is amazing – and it’s fun to read historical fiction that doesn’t shy away from the dirty, yucky aspects of the medieval world!  If you haven’t read Catherine, Called Birdy before, give it a try.  And if you have, it makes a quick and delightful re-read!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Pride & Prejudice

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 131 - ImageNow when I say the title Pride and Prejudice, you have probably heard of the classic bestseller, but you most likely are unaware of the characters or the plot itself. Well recently I have been introduced to this novel in my English class, and instantly fell in love with it.

The setting of this novel is the early 19th century in a small town called Longbourn, England. The main character, Elizabeth Bennet (Lizzie), lives with her father, mother, and 4 sisters. This novel follows Lizzie and her sisters on their journey of finding love. In this age women could not inherit any money or land from their father, it rather goes to the next male relative, making it the job of every woman to find a man to marry. Getting married gave the women the confidence that they would have their necessities met such as: food, shelter, a husband to protect them, and a place to raise their future children.

Now the exciting part, when Elizabeth and her family attend a ball in town a visitor attends as well. His name is Mr. Bingley, he is a good looking, rich, and I should mention single man. During the ball Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane instantly fall in love. Also, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley’s friend and Elizabeth herself had this slight tension between them. Is the tension out of aggression? Disagreement? Or love? I don’t want to give anything away but things get pretty darn dramatic and compelling. One of the biggest things to remember is that people born into higher ranks or the higher class rarely ever marry lower than their class. This comes into play when Jane and Mr. Bingley start to fall in love. Bingley is of the higher class, and Jane is of the lower class. Bingley’s friends don’t agree with his decisions and try to persuade him out of his planned engagement. Will love prevail, or will pride get in the way of true happiness? You will most definitely be on your toes throughout this novel.

Pride and Prejudice includes love, drama, family problems, and hope for the future. I am going to warn you, that girls/women will love this book but most guys just don’t understand what the big deal is. This story is the ultimate chick flick in a novel. That is the only way I can explain this story. If you are interested in reading this novel you should pick up a copy at the library, or I bet your mom most likely has a copy lying around the house too! Happy Reading!

-Ashley M.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Women’s History Month – Part I

Teens Blog BannerMarch is Women’s History Month, which is a pretty awesome celebration of pretty awesome women.  But my favorite “history” has always been historical fiction, so in honor of Women’s History Month, I put together a list of some books featuring women at some important moments in 20th century American history.  If you’re more of a world history or earlier history fan, or prefer your history with a touch of the fantastic, don’t worry – I have more lists planned for this month!

Blog Entry 130 - Image 1The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters – Oregon is entering the 20th century, and Olivia is eager to move forward as well.  Unfortunately, her father believes that the women should be quiet and subservient.  He is furious to find out that Olivia has attended a suffragette rally.  In response, he finds Henri Reverie, a famous hypnotist, and pays him to hypnotize Olivia to see things as they really are. And she does.  She begins to see the ugliness that lurks below the surfaces of her world.  As Olivia struggles with the horrifying realities she now sees and the bonds imposed by her father, her personal struggle dovetails with the struggle of the suffragettes in this exciting and powerful book.

Blog Entry 130 - Image 2The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman – In 1920s America, immigrants were channeled through Ellis Island on the east coast – and Angel Island on the west coast.  After the charming Sterling Promise convinces them to embark on the long voyage from China, it is Angel Island where Jade Moon and her father are detained trying to immigrate to the US.  Despite the fact that she was born under the Fire Horse zodiac sign, an unlucky year, Jade Moon is determined to use her stubbornness and passion to find a way to get to the US.   Although less well-known than Ellis Island, Angel Island holds its own stories, and The Fire Horse Girl beautifully tells one of them.

Blog Entry 130 - Image 3Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith – During World War II, things were hard enough for a woman or black man who wanted to be a pilot.  But for a black woman, they were impossible.  So even though Ida has always dreamed of being a pilot like her father, and is thrilled to discover that the army has created the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), she finds her hopes crushed at every turn.  So to make her dreams a reality, Ida turns her back on her family heritage and “passes” as white to enter the WASP.  But lying about herself is tough, and eventually, Ida must decide if she can continue to do it.

Blog Entry 130 - Image 4Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – School integration was an important moment in our history, and the powerful Lies We Tell Ourselves tackles the issue from two sides.  Sarah is a black student, bullied by her white peers and teachers in a formerly all-white school, taken from honors courses to remedial classes, and forced to work together on a project with Linda.  Linda is angry at being made to work with Sarah, since she and her family are vocally in support of “separate but equal.”  But as the two girls are pushed together, they slowly get to know each other and learn more about race, love, and the power imbalances that divide them.

Blog Entry 130 - Image 5I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil – Set in that all-important decade, the 1960s, I’m Glad I Did tackles music, justice, romance, civil rights, and much more.  Songwriter JJ is desperate to pursue a music career, even though her parents want her to become a lawyer like them.  So the summer she is 16, she secretly takes a job (unpaid, so more like what we would call an internship today) at the Brill Building, where rock and roll songwriting is just taking off.  There she finds herself embroiled in mystery, money, and a possible murder.  This book is for anyone interested in the 60s music scene, the civil rights era, mysteries and intrigue, and more.

Posted in GEPL Teens