GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Moving Up

Teens Blog BannerYou may have noticed a conspicuous absence of raving about books, reviews and musings from teens, and photos (funny or otherwise) in this space in the last week.  That’s because in the midst of some chaos, the blog was on break for a bit.  If you’ve stopped by the library this week, you have certainly noticed some changes to the second floor, in the form of a large construction zone and sometimes a bit of noise.  This is because we’re doing construction to create more study rooms, a study lounge, and a soundproof media lab in the library.  Which will be awesome.  But in order to accommodate that, we’ve had to move the offices of adult department staff – like me – from our second floor to our third floor.  Even moving up one floor in the same building was hard, and anyone who has moved further than that knows it can be scary, exciting, difficult, terrible, wonderful, or most often, some combination of all those things.  So in honor of our very small move, I wanted to highlight a few books featuring some more large scale moves!

Blog Entry 87 - Image 1Across the Universe by Beth Revis – Amy is seventeen when she and her family decide to move to another planet.  They are frozen in preparation for a 300 years voyage, but something goes wrong, and Amy is unfrozen fifty years early.  She finds herself on a spaceship that might as well be another planet itself, populated by the descendants of the original crew. And once awake, she meets Elder, tapped as the next captain and to lead the ship to its final destination.  Together, Elder and Amy start to uncover the secrets of the ship as they travel through the endless space.

Style: "Porcelain vivid"Over You by Amy Reed – It is for her best friend Sadie that Max agrees to move to Nebraska for a summer on a commune.  There they find themselves surrounded by yurts and hippie farmers, and expected to work hard to earn their keep.  Max has always taken care of Sadie, but when Sadie gets sick and pushes her away, she is forced to spend more and more time alone in her new surroundings.  And when Dylan is added to the mix, the friendship between Max and Sadie is put to the test, and Max is left wondering what she is – or should be – willing to give up for her friend.

Blog Entry 87 - Image 3In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – Mary Shelley Black (yes, named after the author) is forced to move to San Diego with her aunt when her father is arrested for treason in the paranoia of the fall of 1918.  In this dark time, the war and a horrific epidemic are wreaking havoc on the American people.  Preying on fearful and grieving population are “spiritualists,” who falsify pictures of ghosts and séances for those missing loved ones.  But when Mary Shelley, a firm non-believer, starts seeing the spirit of her dead sweetheart, she must question everything she thought she knew about ghosts and the supernatural.

Blog Entry 87 - Image 4The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – In the wake of her father’s death in a coup, Laila, her mother, and her brother are moved by the CIA to a new life in the United States.  Laila must cope with a new country, a new school, and new friends.  But much worse, she must cope with the growing realization that everything she thought she knew might be false.  That her father, instead of being a beloved king, might have been a dictator and a tyrant.  Add to that the intrigue she sees her mother and a hovering CIA agent getting caught up in, and Laila has a lot to handle as she adjusts to her new home.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Watching Now – The Simpsons

teens-blog-bannerBlog Entry 86 - Image 1Today’s What I’m Watching Now, consisting largely of episodes I’ve already seen, is brought to you by the wonders of cable TV and a DVR.

What I’m Watching Now: The Simpsons

What’s It About: Honestly, do I really even need to fill this out? It’s The Simpsons!

Do I Like It: Duh.

Thoughts: So I realize that probably everyone is currently watching the Every Simpsons Ever marathon, but oh man, am I enjoying it!  Every time I turn on the TV, Simpsons!  Every time I’m not sure what to watch on my DVR, Simpsons!  Bad mood?  Simpsons.  Good mood?  Simpsons.  Sushi for dinner?  Simpsons, duh.  This has easily been one of the best TV watching weekends/weeks of my life, and I hope it has been for you.

And all this Simpsons-watching has gotten me thinking…what is it about this show that makes us love it so darn much? That keeps it on the air year after year after year, despite all the complaints about the show going downhill after the 10th season (of 25, mind you) and keeps us watching it?  Well honestly, much smarter more TV-critic minds than mine have already addressed that issue.  So I’m going to settle for just a small list of some of my own favorite things about The Simpsons.

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Lisa – If it were not already abundantly clear, I am a huge nerd.  And a bookworm.  And sometimes an armchair activist (and sometimes an effective one.)  And, although I hope this is slightly less obvious, a know-it-all.  In short, before I had Hermione Granger in my life, there was no fictional character I could relate to as much as Lisa Simpson, right down to the annoying brother (or brothers, in my case.)  As far as I’m concerned, everything about Lisa is perfection, and many of my favorite episodes center on her.

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Bart and Lisa’s Relationship – I know I just made a dig at annoying brothers, but here’s the thing:  My brothers are awesome.  They are among my best friends in the world.  They can make me laugh like nobody else, but they can push my buttons like nobody else too, because they know me better than almost anyone else in the world.  Growing up, we fought like cats and dogs sometimes, but we also had a ton of fun together, banded together when we needed to, and looked out for each other – just like Bart and Lisa.  Although they fight, they also enjoy making prank calls together, often work together against Sideshow Bob, watch Itchy & Scratchy together, and just get each other when no-one else does.  It’s such a great, realistic picture of so many sibling relationships, and it makes me happy.

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The Catchphrases – Though Bart’s in particular were mocked by Ned Flanders in the “Hurricane Neddy” episode, there’s no denying that the catchphrases are part of what makes The Simpsons so enduring.  I can’t even tell you how many times a day phrases like “d’oh” “woo-hoo!” “okily-dokily” “worst [blank] ever” and other catchphrases, even Marge’s signature disapproving “hmmm,” come out of my mouth.  And I love it.  I love the familiarity of the phrases, their recurrence episode after episode, and the fact that they are a shared language with most anyone in the millennial generation.

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All the Amazing Side Characters – I mean, is there really any need to elaborate on this?  Springfield is just chock full of amazing characters, and it’s awesome!\

What about you?  Have you been watching some of the Simpsons ultra-marathon?  What keeps you watching the show?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Every Day by David Levithan

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 85 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: Every Day by David Levithan

Description: There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day (Description from

Review: Every Day is an extremely unique book and has unique aspects that other books don’t have. It’s about this person who is named “A.” A wakes up in a new body each day; sometimes as a girl and sometimes as a boy. A doesn’t have a specific body, gender, look, and race. Each day, A has to wake up and live as a new person. This character doesn’t mind until he falls in love with Rhiannon, a girlfriend of one of the bodies A had been in.  No matter what body A is in, the love for Rhiannon never changes, it just gets more difficult to be around her. A secretly emails her from the computers of all the bodies A has been in, but always from A’s personal email account. When someone finds out that their computer has been used by a stranger everything gets tricky. And someone is on the hunt to find A.

Every Day is unlike anything out there because it’s so brilliant and beautiful. A is such an amazing character and I fell in love with this character just by everything that they did and how they reacted to each day and how their personality and internal characteristics never changed even when their outside persons did. I think that has some lessons written in there for us like even when life constantly changes and things don’t go how we would like them to, we should keep our morals the same. There so many more lessons in the book, if you really try to look for them. For readers who were in love with The Fault in Our Stars and Augustus Waters, I guarantee you all that you will love this book. A is just a beautifully complicated character and you can never judge this character because you don’t really know who they are but you feel like you’ve known them forever. I absolutely loved this book and I would recommend it for any age.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Summer Reading’s Big Winners


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Drawing Winner Rebekah

Summer reading is over, and most of you are about to dive back in to reading for classes.  But before we forget all about reading for fun, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate our summer reading winners and summer reading top readers!  In our drawing for two $200 Ticketmaster gift certificates, the winners were Rebekah (pictured left) and Jana.  Although it was a random drawing based on one entry for every five books read, Rebekah and Jana both managed multiple entries – Rebekah read 25 books this summer, and Jana read 16!

I also wanted to acknowledge our biggest readers, even if they didn’t luck out on the drawing.  Noelle (pictured below right) read 37 books this summer – more than I did! And Sabrina was our second biggest reader this summer with 31 books, but she was so involved in tweeting about what she read and writing books reviews that her grand total at the end of the summer came out to an equivalent of 51 books read!

Top Reader Noelle

I was so impressed with how much Noelle (a senior at St. Francis) and Sabrina (a sophomore at Glenbard West) read this summer that I sat down and asked them a few questions about themselves.  Turns out big readers have quite a bit in common – but a quite a few differences too.  Both Sabrina and Noelle said that they usually binge read in the summer, since they are too busy during the school year to read as much.  And both of them said their favorite place to read is curled up in bed in their own rooms.

But this summer’s biggest readers differed on what their favorite things to read were.  Noelle couldn’t decide on just one favorite type of book, but said she loves dystopias.  And Sabrina though that realistic fiction was her favorite type of book to read.  Interestingly enough though, when asked about their favorite book of the summer, they both went outside these genres.  Sabrina didn’t want to pick a favorite, but said that if she had to choose, probably What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang, a novel that falls more into the dystopia or sci-fi categories than realistic.  And Noelle was a big fan of the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout (starting with Obsidian), which features an alien love interest that puts it more into the sci-fi or paranormal category than her beloved dystopias.  It just goes to show that it’s always worth reading outside your preferred genre – you never know when you might find a new favorite.  Sabrina also said that tweeting and writing reviews made her really think about and engage more with what she read – which wasn’t necessarily better than reading on its own, but certainly affected her reading and made the experience different.

So now you know a little more about our top readers, and can congratulate Jana, Noelle, Rebekah or Sabrina if you ever see them in the library.  As for me, I want to congratulate everyone who participated in summer reading!  You read a lot of great books this summer, and I bet you had fun doing it.  Here at GEPL, we’re already looking forward to next summer’s reading challenge, and I hope you are too!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – What Makes a “Good” Reading List?

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Nearly every library runs summer reading programs and creates summer reading lists. Some libraries do this to maintain business when school isn’t in session. Others
compile lists to combat the loss of knowledge kids experience over the summer. Still others just want people to read! Whatever the reason, patrons expect a “good” list of Blog Entry 83 - Image 1literature. Of course, this begs the question:  what makes a book list “good”? Is it a quality inherent in the pieces chosen? Is it the wide variety suggested? Is a good list one that simply encourages reading? Teaches life lessons? Is it thought-provoking? Are the books classics? New books? I could go on, but the bottom line is that people not only have expectations but those ideals are all different. Personally, my idea of a reading list is one that has a lot of different books that are fun, challenging, and thought-provoking. Some might agree, but others want books that help pass the time or that reflect either their daily lives or what they want out of life. I’d venture to say that most like a mix between the two I outlined. So how should a library go about making this perfect summer reading list? Well, this has been a subject of hot debate surrounding the New York Public Library summer reading challenge.

An opinion piece written for the New York Post attacks Blog Entry 83 - Image 2the NYPL list, calling it silly and pathetic. The article claims that it is full of “fluff” books that don’t delve into real issues. Every piece is cookie-cutter and immature.  Angrily, the article points out that the list lacks any classic stories that move people and teach them about good literature. Everything is recent, and they show that the NYPL is desperately trying to feed kids any books, not bothering to go beyond limits of mean girls and high school drama. Somewhat controversially, the article also argues that the list is ridiculously politically correct, trying too hard to please people of every ethnicity.

On the other side of the argument, an article on Book Riot defends the NYPL, saying that the books are relatable to teen audiences. It also states that the idea of timeless literature is debatable; a book written recently could prove to be classic in its own right, and it’s a lot more relatable than old books. The Book Riot article also argues that the depth of literature is not important because the libraries who made the list simply want to encourage any reading that will stop kids from forgetting school material over the summer. Additionally, the article points out that YA literature tends to lack diversity, so the NYPL’s suggestions are warranted and helpful. Both articles have strong stands and support their claims, so who’s right?

Blog Entry 83 - Image 3As with every debate, there are two sides, and rarely is one entirely correct. The Post article makes a good point: the NYPL list lacks challenging books that sophisticatedly present mature themes. In my opinion, it is a pretty lame list. However, they are books that teens want to read. I’ve never met someone whose interest isn’t piqued by a bit of drama. Furthermore, why attack ethnic diversity in literature? Just because it’s more PC to represent cultural books doesn’t mean it’s bad.

However, these faults in the NY Post article don’t make the Book Riot post right either. It does defend the book choices fairly, stating that they’re books that encourage any and all reading for everyone, but most of this article attacks the NY Post article rather than defending the book list. It picks apart every NY Post point rather than forming a coherent argument for the NYPL.

Therefore, neither editorial clarifies the issue fairly, so it’s up to teen readers to decide whether or not the NYPL summer reading list is “good”.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – We Were Liars

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 82 - ImageHave you ever seen that movie or read that book that everyone was talking about, but nobody would actually say anything about?  I’m talking about books and movies with A Twist.  All you know is that there’s a twist coming, but nobody will say much because they don’t want to spoil it.  And then you read it, and despite knowing it’s coming, you’re still totally shocked by The Twist.  Well, I just read that book.

What I Just Read: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

What’s It About (Jacket Description): A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Did I Like It: I thought this was a really fantastic book, and it had an intense emotional and mental effect on me.  But I’m not sure that “liked” is exactly the right word, since it also kind of destroyed me.

Thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect going into this.  Initially, I avoided We Were Liars because I wasn’t sure how I felt about a private island full of over-privileged people.  But I kept hearing how great the book was, how it had this big twist, and since nobody was saying much beyond that, I got super curious.  So naturally, I spent most of the book trying to figure out the twist.  Wondering what it could be, what secrets the narrator Cadence’s faulty memory and migraines were hiding, what it was that nobody else in the book would talk about.

I did not figure it out.

I know some readers have, and I don’t know if that would have made a difference in how I felt about the book, but I had no idea what was coming.  Which made the big reveal impact me just that much more.  The best words I can come up with for it are “gut punch.”  Apparently when I got to that part of the book, my jaw literally dropped.  There was definitely an extreme emotional response.  This book, and this twist, definitely got to me in a big sort of way.

So that’s the twist.  But there is a little more to say about this book than that!  The characters are, yes, over-privileged and on a private island.  But all of them, especially the Liars, still manage to be interesting and complex.  The writing and story itself has almost a fairy tale quality, though a very dark fairy tale, and echoes of King Lear abound.  The fairy tale and King Lear qualities are helped along by the snippets of retellings that Cadence intersperses with her narration.  It lends everything an almost mythic quality, and keeps the mystery and tension from getting overwhelming, while still enhancing the story.  I don’t want to say more for fear of the dreaded spoiler, but I’ll finish with this: We Were Liars got under my skin in a very big way – and that’s not something I can say about every book I read.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Fantasy Series Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 81 - ImageAs we near the end of August, that can mean only one thing: it’s time to go back to school. Most of us want to leave the world of school, continue sleeping till noon and watching season marathons on Netflix. Unfortunately, that probably will not happen, and instead we can leave the world of school by taking a trip to the worlds of werewolves, vampires, demons, and magic. These fantasy book series will give you hours and hours in these magical worlds, dragging you into dangerous quests, dark secrets, and true love.

So whether you like action and adventure, romance, mysteries, or something else entirely, fantasy has something for everyone. Vampire fans should check out Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Those more interested in human and wolf hybrids, aka werewolves, should check out Grace and Sam’s heartwarming relationship in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. If dragons are your thing, you might like Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or Firelight by Sophie Jordan.  And magic is everywhere in books like Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. No matter what you’re interested in, come into the teen scene and meet some werewolves and witches, within books of course!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: “Guilty Pleasures”

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 80 - Image 1We’ve all done it.  Mumbled something about what we’ve been reading or watching while carefully looking down and away from the person we’re talking to.  Explained hurriedly that we know it’s silly, but it’s a guilty pleasure, a way to turn our brain off.  And admittedly, there’s plenty of things out there that a lot of people enjoy because they’re dumb, because they’re silly, because they don’t require a lot of intent thought.  But that’s no reason to be embarrassed about them, and goodness knows no reason to feel guilty about them.  On the grand scale of “things to feel guilty” about – a scale that includes tactless comments that hurt someone’s feelings, stealing from your parent’s wallet, murder, etc. – what you enjoy reading or watching doesn’t even rate.  And on top of that, you know what?  Liking Twilight, or Jersey Shore, or the latest Transformers/rom-com/kids movie out, is just fine.

Certainly this is something we hear about books all theBlog Entry 80 - Image 3 time – “it doesn’t matter what people are reading, as long as they’re reading.”  But it’s one thing to say it, and another to believe it, and I think a lot of us still feel bad about what we read (or watch, though I think the same thing applies to movies, music, etc.)  If you are immersing yourself in a story or characters, enjoying the drama of a reality show, or listening to something that makes you happy, then it does not matter what other people think.  Whatever your reason for liking something is – that you actually are invested in the characters, that you think it’s silly, that it makes you feel superior about life – it’s a good reason to watch, read, or listen.  That’s the beauty of personal taste – simply by enjoying something, you give it value.  So even if you’re watching cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model for the 3rd time – yes, this is me – don’t feel guilty.  Just enjoy yourself, be grateful that someone has made something so entertaining for you, and stop worrying.

Blog Entry 80 - Image 2In that spirit, here are some of the books, movies, shows, and music that I promise I will stop referring to as guilty pleasures, and simply enjoy: ANTM, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, my tenth re-read of Dealing with Dragons, Ke$ha, Two-Headed Shark Attack (and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, and Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators, etc. etc. etc.), Disney soundtracks, my 30th re-watch of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, romance novels by Jennifer Armentrout, and anything else I enjoy watching, reading, or listening to.

What about you?  What are some of your no-longer-guilty pleasures?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 79 - ImageSupernatural, it’s one of the main genres of books in teen fiction as well as one of my favorites, and having read a large amount about vampires, werewolves, witches and demi-gods I found a new  book series that is different than the typical werewolf vampire drama, the Shadow Falls series (containing 5 books). Though this review is going to be on book number 1!

What I’m reading: Born At Midnight by: C.C. Hunter

What it’s about (jacket description):  One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Do I like it?:  I’m OBSESSED with this book and the series

Thoughts: When I downloaded this on my kindle after reading the description I was excited to find a new supernatural book that wasn’t too Twilight for my taste. Even though there is a prominent love triangle throughout the book, it isn’t solely focused on whether Kylie ends up with Derek or Lucas but more on Kylies experience at the camp, making new friends like the witch Miranda and the vampire Della, and trying to find out whether she belongs in this supernatural world, and if she does, what supernatural she is.

I fell in love with Hunter’s character, Kylie, for multiple reasons, mainly because she is such a relatable character to me. Her parents are going through a hard divorce and she doesn’t have the best relationship with her mom. Kylie tends to avoid her problems by solving everyone else’s and she is trying to figure out who she is, also while being able to see ghosts….

I recommend reading this book because of the new friendships, romances, mystery and most of all the SUPERNATURAL aspect of it all.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 78 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Description: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. (Description from

Review: 13 Reasons Why is an amazing book about a girl named Hannah who records 7 audio tapes and sends them to 13 people who have somehow impacted her decision to commit suicide. The book is from the perspective of a shy boy, Clay. He comes home from school one day to find that there was a package with his name. Upon opening it, he finds several tapes recorded by Hannah. These tapes were given to the first person on Hannah’s list and after they listened to all the tapes they were to give it to next person on the list, and so on. The tapes were about the experiences Hannah had gone through that slowly built up till she overdosed on pills and died. This perfectly shows that someone committing suicide doesn’t just do it because of one event. It may be that one event that finally makes someone explode. It really informs people about the truth of suicide and not the stereotypical facts. The person who is narrating the tapes is Hannah, who talks about the pain she had experienced and the suffering she had when everything started going downhill. Her depression slowly built up until she gave up.

13 Reasons Why was very realistically written from the perspective of a depressed teen. There was so much suspense throughout the book and it kept readers eagerly flipping the pages. The book has so many intense and real emotions that are the emotions teens feel without exaggerating them. “You can hear rumors but you can’t know them,” and “no one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people,” and “you can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is now.” These quotes and more teach us so many things we probably never have much thought about and it really opens up our eyes to what’s happening around us. It teaches how fragile humans are and how we never treat each other with that type of respect everyone deserves. It’s sad, eye-opening, realistic, hopeful, and extraordinary, all in one book. After reading this book you will have no choice but to pay attention to the actions you make every day. Teens will be able to connect with this story in one way or another. Whether it’s small struggles or big, there will be some strength for everyone. This book would be highly recommended especially for high school students.


Posted in GEPL Teens