GEPL Teens Blog

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

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

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