GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Dove Arising

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 147 - ImageJust when I think I’m over the dystopian or futuristic totalitarian government thing, I read something that gets me excited all over again about these types of books, and today’s sci-fi/dystopia hybrid What I Just Read definitely got my psyched about the genre again!

What I Just Read: Dove Arising by Karen Bao

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

Did I Like It: I really, really did!

Thoughts: Okay, so yes, a lot of things about this book in theory remind me of a lot of other dystopian novels. But in practice, it just means that the things I know and love about other dystopias – the slowly growing awareness of the main character that something is wrong with her world, the intense fighting and training scenes, the deep love and ties that bind people together despite bad circumstances – are also present in this book. So I really think that if you loved Divergent or Legend or The Hunger Games, you will love Dove Arising. But of course, it’s not enough for a book to have things we love from other books, it has to have something special. And I think Dove Arising has something special – a lot of somethings special. If I’m totally honest, I liked it even better than Divergent, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

As always with me, a lot rides on the characters. And Phaet is a great main character. Her quiet and calm are something relatively rare in a genre featuring a lot of outspoken, impulsive, and (yes) awesome women. Phaet is as strong and powerful as any of them, but in her own way. She is crazy smart, and particularly drawn to math and science, knowledge that helps her in her military training as well. She loves growing things and the stars, almost as much as her family. She is exceptionally driven, and works extremely hard to achieve academic as well as physical success. She is much more interested in securing a future for herself and her family than she is in any kind of romance, but she maintains these priorities without dismissing the importance of love and affection.

I also thought the world building was an added element of awesomeness. Because of the nature of trying to survive on the moon, a lot of the more restrictive aspects of the government make sense, and it also makes sense that people would put up with it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of corruption and a lot of bad things happening, but it makes the whole world seem more believable and realistic. Between the world, a plot that moves quickly, and plenty of action and excitement, I couldn’t put Dove Arising down. I do have to add one negative to my thoughts, though: this book will leave you desperate for more, with no release date yet for the sequel! The agony!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Staying Motivated

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 146 - ImageSummer is right around the corner, which means school is finally coming to an end. After nine months of testing, homework, and studying, it is time to give yourself a break and spend the days sitting at the beach or watching Netflix till 1:00 a.m. Unfortunately there are still a few weeks left until you can completely relax and take time for yourself, and it can be difficult to motivate yourself to push through the little bit of school left. There are a few things you can do to inspire yourself to finish the year off strong though.

The first thing is to think about the fun things that will happen during summer break, like vacations or seeing your friends or spending time with family. This will help you remember that fun things are coming soon, but not until after you work hard and push yourself through school. The second thing to motivate yourself is to study or do homework outside. Spending time outside will allow you to enjoy spring/summer weather while getting your work done. A third tip is to reward yourself for the little things that you do like getting a good grade on a test or finishing another week of school. Rewards can be a simple pleasure like getting ice cream or going out with friends, and rewarding yourself will motivate you to do more and accomplish more while you are slipping into summer mode. My fourth tip is to give yourself “me time” to reflect on the school year and also to ground yourself in your surroundings. This will help you be more practical when it comes to finishing loads of homework and studying for difficult tests. My last tip is to set up goals you want to accomplish before the school year ends. Having goals will keep you on track throughout the last few weeks of school. Every student and teacher wants it to be summer and everyone wants to start relaxing, but you cannot forget that there are still tests and finals coming up shortly. These tips will help you stay engaged while school is winding down and summer is getting closer.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Game of Thrones Read-Alikes

Teens Blog BannerNow into its fifth season, Game of Thrones on HBO has brought high fantasy mainstream. Many of those who didn’t think they would be interested in ice zombies, dragons, magic, or crazy names like “Cersei” and “Melisandre” have been hooked. Between the drama, politics, backstabbing, mysteries, in-depth explorations of flawed characters, and (of course) a fascinating fantasy world, a wide variety of people have found something to love about the Game of Thrones TV series. But the show is only one for ten episodes once a year, and fans want ways to keep the excitement going! Whether you’re looking to complement a viewing of the TV series with some similar reading, or want to build up your to-be-read pile to tide you over between seasons, here’s a few books you might want to try:

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Just released this week, An Ember in the Ashes is set in a brutal and violent world based in part on ancient Rome. With battles, warriors, and spying, and chock full of political and social conflicts, An Ember in the Ashes is a great choice for those who appreciate how gritty and brutal GoT is, as well as its strong characters and world-building.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – If the combination of fantasy and politics is what you love about GoT, Rae Carson’s fantasy trilogy about a princess who has to learn to be a leader will definitely appeal to you. Bonus points for fantasy religious elements, if debating the Seven vs. the Red God is more your style.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – First of all, seven kingdoms. Second of all, main character with staggeringly awesome fighting prowess who is at the mercy of her cruel king. Katsa’s story in some ways is like if The Hound or The Mountain decided to fight for justice instead of the Lannisters. Third of all, a truly corrupt and sadistic antagonist who you will probably hate at least as much as Joffrey.

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Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – This series opener is mainly historical, with only the lightest elements of fantasy, so those of you who are less into swords and sorcery and more into the politics, intricate power alliances, and backstabbing of GoT, this book is for you! Not to mention it features assassin nuns – seriously!

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – Soldiers riding companion dragons into war, complete with military strategy? Dany fans rejoice. Oh, and did we mention the dragons? Because this series has LOTS of dragons.

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – The elder statesman of all fantasy, did anyone doubt this would make the list? While many parts of GoT actually break down fantasy tropes like the good vs. evil battles and the heroic actions of the Fellowship, Tolkien’s masterpiece does feature outstanding world-building and new languages, not to mention romance and action. If you love to immerse yourself in Westerosi cultures and languages, LoTR might be the right choice for you.

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Prophecy by Ellen Oh – The main character of Prophecy is the only female warrior in the king’s army, which probably reminds you of a certain lady knight we all know and love. With high fantasy and action, and yes, dragons, this book is perfect for all of you who kind of wish they’d make a whole show about Brienne.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – For those who really don’t want anything to do with fantasy outside of GoT, give The Tyrant’s Daughter a try. A girl coming to grips with the reality of her dictator father may remind you of Dany learning just how terrible the Targaryens could be, and the maneuvering between Laila’s mother and the CIA will satisfy your urge for politics and manipulation.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski – Fantasy without so much of the sorcery, but with plenty of other elements to recommend this fictional world. With politics galore, warring factions, slave rebellions, and a star-crossed friendship and love, The Winner’s Curse is perfect for anyone particularly invested in the actual game of thrones portion of GoT.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – This dark fantasy from the author of Legend features a deeply flawed main character with a lust for power, who will definitely remind you of some of the anti-heroes who we know and love (or hate) on GoT. And Lu is not afraid of some viciousness and violence in her world, which is something many will recognize from Westeros.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The House on Mango Street

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 144 - ImageBook: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Reviewer: Sabrina

Summary: Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a series of vignettes that teach the importance of writing and literature. The whole book has a theme about how writing will set you free. Esperanza is the main character in the book and experiences a life far from lavish. She continues to move from one place to another, not knowing where she is going to go next. She is uncomfortable in her own skin, and this is a problem that a lot of teens can relate to. Esperanza is a character who is clumsy and awkward but you can’t help but fall in love with her. All the characters string together to show the difficulties in life that prevent one from accomplishing dreams.

I would rate this book at an eight out of ten. I love how even if you aren’t a Latina teen girl, you can still relate to many of the struggles in this book. The author wonderfully illustrates what coming of age looks like for teens and the hardships teens have to go through. I do have to say though that the vignettes are sometimes unrelated to each other and you do have to dig deep to get a greater understanding of the themes. Overall, I feel like this is good short read but holds a lot of great literature.

-Sabrina

 

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – And We Stay

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Book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Reviewer: Elaine

Summary: A few days before Emily Beam’s 17 birthday she discovers that she is pregnant. Her parents’ insistence on her abortion leads to Emily breaking up with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, that causes her boyfriend to get frustrated and bring a gun to school. Emily’s boyfriend, Paul, ends up killing himself after they argue about their relationship. Emily then transfers to the Amherst School, which is a boarding school for girls, in the middle of her junior year. However, after she went to that boarding school she still feels guilty about her Paul’s death and her abortion. Throughout Emily’s experience in her new school her life and relationship that she had before with Paul are revealed. Even though she has friends to help her, including the spirit of the Amherst’s famous poet Emily Dickinson, Emily finds she needs writing poetry to express her feelings. So Emily composed poetry in the same style as Emily Dickinson’s.

Review: This book is a romantic tragedy from start, but that is one thing that attracted me to read this book. However, I discovered later on that this book is about more than Emily Beam’s relationship with her boyfriend and the new experiences she has in her boarding school. Furthermore, this book describes the internal feeling of a guilty teenager girl who is suffering in despair over her boyfriend’s death. The poems she writes to express herself reveal her mixed views on love and about being between teen and adult. I think And We Stay is an amazing book to read is because it not just about the tragic love that Emily had but also her hope and expectation of her new life.

-Elaine

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: National Poetry Month

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 142 - ImageYou may already know this (especially if you follow us on Tumblr!), but April is National Poetry Month.  Not surprisingly, this is often a popular month at libraries!  While we love to celebrate more than books, there’s no denying that libraries have a special connection to the written word.  And whether you’re a big fan of poetry or not, there’s also no denying that poems are often some of the best and most creative uses of those words.  From Homer to Rumi, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, poets and poetry have been part of human culture almost as long as language has.

Blog Entry 142 - Image 3It’s hard to say what draws us to poetry, but there does seem to be something that appeals to us on a totally different level than plain old prose.  I personally have always thought of myself as being not a big poetry person.  I certainly have never read a whole book of poetry, and have always preferred to discuss and analyze novels.  But as I sat down to write about National Poetry Month, I started really thinking about poetry and my experiences, and I realized something: I have read, recited, and enjoyed a lot of poetry in my life.  I have translated Sappho and Catullus and fallen in love with the beauty of their words in any language; I have memorized Tennyson and Dylan Thomas just to ensure their poems stayed fixed in my mind; I have sat rapt at performances of Shakespeare; I devoured The Ballad of Reading Gaol by my favorite author, Oscar Wilde; Blog Entry 142 - Image 2and I felt my heart swell the first time I read – and again the first time I listened to – Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.   When it comes down to it, poetry has been part of my life for years.

But for all I’ve discovered that maybe I am a poetry person, at least a little bit, I still don’t know entirely know why I or anyone else are drawn to poetry rather than prose.  I know for me it has something to do with the beauty of the words and the rhythm of meter, but I can get beauty and meter in songs or elegant prose (like anything Wilde has written, for instance!)  For other people, it might be the power of the imagery, the satisfaction of a rhyme, or the way certain disruptions of structure are so jarring.  It could be the mood or the meaning of the poem, or a memory it evokes.  Blog Entry 142 - Image 4But again, those are all things that can be found elsewhere.  Perhaps it is just the way poems bring all these elements together, or perhaps it is something more intangible.  I’m not even sure I wish I knew – maybe some of the power of poetry for me lies in the mystery of its appeal!

This National Poetry Month, I want to challenge you to read a poem or two, long or short.  But I also want to add to that challenge – think about poetry you have read and loved in the past (there must be some – Mother Goose or Shel Silverstein, if nothing else!)  What poetry have you loved?  What did you love about it?  And what draws you to poetry?  Poetry is worth celebrating, so I hope you’ll spend just a few minutes this month re-discovering why!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Back to the Future

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 141 - ImageRecently, the teen section in the library has organized a new book display. The theme is “Back to the Future,” Meaning that all the novels are set in the future. I have recently been very interested in the futuristic novels; they are exciting, unique, and adventurous.  There are over 50 novels, some are a part of a series and others are not. Some titles include the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Ruth; a novel about a young female lead who lives in Chicago in the future. The city is split into five factions, she must choose the faction she wants to live with, but her life takes a turn when her new so called home becomes a war machine. Another novel in the collection is Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This novel is about the effect that the moon has on the world after it moves closer to the Earth. The story focuses on how a female lead, her family, and town all react/cope with the new conditions of their world. The moon, being so close to the Earth, has affected the weather, daylight, and resources that human beings need to survive. This book is truly intriguing and I highly suggest it. Other novels include the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Acid by Emma Pass, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and many more. I have to admit before reading the Divergent series I was quite skeptical of the future set novels, but now I can’t get enough. All of them sound so interesting, and different. I have a huge list of books I want to read running through my head. The only bad part is that the list keeps growing and I can’t keep up. :-)

This collection of books truly gives any reader the opportunity to go outside your reading comfort zones, and to embrace some interesting ideas. I can assure you that none of these books are like anything you have read before. Each one is unique in their own way. The first book you grab may be about the world coming to its end; while the next could be about the battles of children fighting for their lives against a corrupted government. The beauty of these innovative narratives is that you will never get bored. The authors of these novels have some tremendously creative ideas, and by writing them down for us you are given the opportunity to go on an adventure without leaving your couch. Many people are forgetting the magic of reading a real page turner, and falling in love with their favorite characters. I feel that with a new perspective and interest we can stop that catastrophe from happening.  With this kind of collection you can be guaranteed a new outlook on the world and the norms that society follows. I encourage you to try something new, read a genre you have never read before.  You never know, you may just fall in love.  Happy reading!

-Ashley M.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – The Young Elites

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 140 - ImageToday I thought I’d take a break from talking about books I’ve already finished, and go back today to talking about a book I’m right in the middle of reading (or rather, of listening to.)

What I’m Reading Now: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

What’s It About (Jacket Description): I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Do I Like It: I’m really intrigued by it, and I like what I’ve read so far, but I can tell some big stuff is going to happen, so the jury is still out on my overall opinion.

Thoughts: First off, for all you Marie Lu fans out there, the world of The Young Elites is a far cry from the world of Legend, and the main characters are a far cry from Day and June, whatever the description might make you think. This is straight up fantasy, although the fantasy world in question is plenty dark enough to please dystopia fans. And Adelina, Enzo, and Teren are, to be perfectly honest, far nastier and less likeable than June or Day. Which is amazing, in my opinion.

I think the subversion of your typical fantasy/hero/villain tropes is easily my favorite part of this book so far. I haven’t had a chance to see as much of Teren or Enzo as I have of Adelina, but what I’ve seen of them is enough to convince me that they’re both deeply flawed, and devoted to their causes obsessively enough to be harmful to themselves and others. But Adelina – oh Adelina! She has suffered so much, and been treated cruelly and unfairly, so her rage is certainly understandable. And she does love her sister very much, despite her resentment of her. But she is also hateful, angry, ambitious, bitter, and power-hungry. She fights her more hurtful tendencies – sometimes – but they are also what make her a completely engaging character and a strong, powerful person. Adelina is an anti-hero in the best sense of the word (so far – I’ve heard some rumors that Marie Lu wrote this book about a villain’s journey, rather than a hero’s? So we’ll see.)

Compared to the characters, the plot has been relatively slow, but I don’t think that’s a bad sign. While there’s been some action and certainly the tension is rising, it’s also given me a chance to get to know the characters and the world, and see some of the pieces of a larger conflict falling into place. But it also means that I can’t fully embrace the book and say I love it until I see what happens when the action picks up, since that can hugely change my reading of any book. But it’s safe to say that I’m enjoying The Young Elites so far, especially Adelina Anti-Hero, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Posted in GEPL Teens

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