GEPL Teens Blog

Teens Blog: The Winter Doldrums

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Guys, the winter doldrums have definitely set in.  Aside from the excitement of late night study – and it is exciting, I’ve enjoyed having you all here so much – I can’t seem to get enthused or inspired about much of anything.  I’m tired a lot, I’m bored of TV and movies and even less excited than usual about books, bored of doing adult chores like grocery shopping and cooking dinner, bored of tromping through snow to get to my car.

Which tells me I need something to spice things up (but not literally – see the above mentioned “bored of cooking” bit.)  So here’s a list of “break through the winter boredom” ideas I’m going to try over the next few days – hopefully something will work!

Winter Doldrums Image 11.) Lots more hot chocolate!  I’ve has some of course, but it certainly makes all those boring winter things seem almost worth it, because hot chocolate is so dang good.  And since I’m planning on having lots of it, I think I’ll try making it even better by adding things like peppermint extract, vanilla, marshmallows, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or whatever else I think of.  Not all at once, obviously.  I’m totally not judging if you like peppermint/vanilla/marshmallow/pepper/cinnamon flavored hot chocolate, but as far as I’m concerned – yuck!

Arkham cover D final 2.) Reading an old favorite.  Yes, I talk about comfort reads and old favorites a lot, but I have a confession to make: I don’t actually re-read all that much these days.  There’s so many great new books coming onto our shelves all the time that I get swept up in reading those.  But I’m starting to miss my go-to books.  Harry Potter and Tamora Pierce require complete re-reads, so those are out, but I’m thinking it’s about time to pick up some Robin McKinley, Philip Pullman, or Oscar Wilde and revisit places and people I haven’t connected with in a while.

 

Winter Doldrums Image 3 3.) Reading something I hope will be a new favorite!  For me, this almost always means something in speculative fiction.  There’s something about getting completely swept up into a whole new world and characters, into an exciting plot and events that – as much as they relate to our own world – could never happen in real life, that just really appeals to me.  I haven’t decided what book I’ll pick up yet.  Among the latest series that I got really swept up in were The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson and Graceling and the companion novels by Kristin Cashore.  I’ve heard good things about The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, but I am totally open to suggestions as well!

Winter Doldrums Image 4 4.) Watch a classic movie.  I don’t know why, but there’s something about the classics that peps me up in a way that modern movies, no matter how wonderful or hilarious, can do.  I’m not actually a big classic movies nerd (I’m not even a big movie nerd at all – there’s only so much time in a day, and it rarely seems to come to me in 2+ hour chunks.)  But give me Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, or especially Singin’ in the Rain and I am a HAPPY CAMPER.

 

 

Winter Doldrums Image 5-15.) Find ways to get outdoors and active more!  I exercise almost every day, but this weather has meant that I’ve wimped out and done indoor workouts a lot lately.  But every time I DO force myself out into the cold for a run, I come back feeling amazing.  I warm up quickly, and there’s nothing like being physically active in the fresh air to make me feel on top of the world.  So even if it’s too cold and/or slippery for a run, I can at least try ti get out for some long (careful, well-bundled) walks.

What are your tips and tricks for triumphing over winter cabin fever?

Posted in GEPL Teens

Swinging Thru the Stacks is Back and Better than Ever!

news-blog-bannerOn Friday, January 24, the Glen Ellyn Public Library will host Swinging Thru the Stacks, 18 holes of miniature golf stationed throughout the library. Library cardholders, community members, families, neighbors and friends of the Glen Ellyn community are encouraged to assemble teams of four and test their golfing skills through challenging holes themed after The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, the Winter Olympics and more!

All participants will be eligible to compete for one of two awards: the adult (ages 13 and up) who achieves the best score will be awarded the second annual Glen Ellyn Cup. This custom-made award measures over 14-inches high and is constructed out of solid metal. The child (ages 3-12) who achieves the best score will be awarded the Glen Ellyn Youth Cup (which shares identical measurements and construction as the Glen Ellyn Cup).

The Friends of the Library will also be hosting a special Used Book Sale in the library’s basement during the event, between 4 and 8 pm.

Swinging Thru the Stacks participants may golf anytime between 4:00 and 8:00 pm. Golfing requires a $5.00 donation to help fund special library events.

The Glen Ellyn Public Library will close from 3:00 to 4:00 pm to set up the event.

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Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

Late Night Study at the GEPL!

teens-blog-bannerWell, the relief of the snow days is over, the extra time before finals has almost evaporated, and you all start taking exams on Friday (ugh.)  But the bright side to all this is it means that Thursday night January 16, Tuesday night January 21, and Wednesday night January 22, you can come to late night study at GEPL and make cramming as bearable as humanly possible.  You might even find a little time to have fun while you’re here!

Don’t believe me?  Here are three of the many reasons you should come to GEPL to study for finals!

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1.) We’ll feed you and caffeinate you!  We’ll provide pizza starting at around 5:30 until it’s gone, each night of studying.  We’ll have coffee and other hot drinks for the whole night.  Studying on an uncaffeinated brain and empty stomach is pretty much impossible, so we’ve got you covered.

 

 

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2.) We have many of your textbooks available here so you don’t have to lug them, laptops so you don’t have to bring your own, plenty of distractions (mostly in book and internet form) for when you need a study break, and you can work with your friends or on your own, in a quiet environment.  It’s like we created this whole dang library just for studying.

 

 

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3.) The library is all yours from 9-10 p.m.  Seriously – only library staff and high school students allowed.  You’ll have all the space in the world to spread out your books and sit with your friends, without any adults or kids taking up space.

 

 

 

 

Good luck everyone!

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Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Teens

GEPL to Extend Hours to Accomodate High School Final Exam Schedules

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The Glen Ellyn Public Library will host Late Night Study from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on January 16, 21 and 22.

Late Night Study coincides with Glenbard West’s and Glenbard South’s final exam schedules and is designed to offer students a safe, quite and encouraging studying environment.

When in need of a study break, students can visit the Meeting Room on the library’s first floor, where free pizza and snacks will be provided. Students can also enjoy free coffee and other hot beverages.

The Glen Ellyn Public Library, which traditionally closes at 9:00 p.m. will remain open until 10:00 p.m. to provide students with the longest possible study window.

Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Teens

Teens Blog: Under-Appreciated Gems

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Alright, this is my last “looking back at 2013” post.  I think.  But the thing is, with so many great books coming out all the time, even some of the greatest can get lost in the shuffle.  So I wanted to highlight a few books from 2013 that are really wonderful but just haven’t been checked out much.  Hopefully you’ll all decide to try something new, and discover how great these under-appreciated gems are!

Image 1 Shadows by Robin McKinley – I’m a huge Robin McKinley fangirl all around, so of course I had to read Shadows right when it came out.  And I really think it’s one of her best.  Certainly Shadows is a little more mature than some of her earlier work, and the combination of world-building, critters, and a fantastic and unique narrative voice make it really stand out.  In a world that is both very like our own and completely different and weird, Maggie struggles with her hatred for her new stepfather Val and the creepy shadows that follow him around.  Add in a devastatingly handsome new friend, her lovable and hyperactive border collie, increasingly bizarre events being covered up by the government, and remedial math, and Maggie has her hands more than full.

Style: "Porcelain vivid"Over You by Amy Reed – I can’t even begin to explain all the reasons, but I really, really loved this book.  I picked it up because of a rave review on Stacked, a favorite blog of mine, and I fell in love.  Really you could just read the Stacked review to see why it’s great, but there are a few things I especially loved.  Like the fact that Max was an ancient mythology nerd.  Or how well written Sadie was, so that even when I wanted to smack her, I still understood why Max loved her.  Like getting to read a book that focused so much on female friendship (even if it was a toxic one.)  Or Max herself, a fascinating character to see develop.  And like the fact that even weeks after finishing it, I was still thinking about Over You.

Image 3The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson – This is a third in a trilogy (oh yes, that trilogy that I keep writing about – there’s a reason I obsess over it).  So obviously, if you haven’t read the first two this is probably not going to be one you check out.  But this book was so good.  It was probably my favorite of the series, and I love this series.  There’s adventure, travel, danger, romance, and a whole lot more of Elisa turning into the awesome and powerful queen she was meant to be.  Plus, if it’s your thing, a lot more of the history and politics of Elisa’s world.  So catch up on the Girls of Fire and Thorns series if you need to, and if you’ve read the first two but held off on The Bitter Kingdom, I highly recommend picking it up ASAP.

Image 4The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr – As a former piano player, I was of course intrigued by a book about a piano prodigy who quit playing, and how she handled her family and her love of music afterwards.  What I was not expecting was a quiet book focused on character that I still could not put down.  I found myself pulling out my Kindle while I waited in two minute lines just to read a little more of this book.  Lucy is a flawed but realistic character, one who I couldn’t help rooting for even when I saw where she was going wrong.  And her story is perfect for anyone trying to sift through all the outside influence and figure out what they love and why, who they love and why, and what they want their life to be.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Teens Blog: What I’m Reading Now

teens-blog-bannerAnother “What I’m Reading Now” take from my Morris Award nominees reading list!

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What I’m Reading Now: Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time. After an assault that leaves Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota—which, ironically, turns out to be the one place where Evan can’t escape other people. Including himself. It may also offer him his best shot at making sense of his life again.

Do I Like It: YES!

Thoughts: This is a book I probably would never have picked up without the Morris nomination, despite the provocative title.  Which is why I am so grateful for awards like this that draw my attention to books I might never read otherwise!

I’m only about a third of the way through Sex & Violence, but man is it fantastic.  Evan is an easy narrator to connect with.  His internal life is fascinating and believable, especially in the wake of his trauma.  It’s extra fun getting in his head because he’s not the kind of guy who says a lot, so the behind-the-scenes look is particularly meaningful and important for readers getting to know Evan.

Mesrobian does a wonderful job not only with Evan, but with all the people and places around him.  She creates a community so real that I feel like I could go there (and I kind of want to.)  Pearl Lake and the people Evan meets there, like teen neighbors Tom, Baker, Kelly, and others, as well as the adults he encounters through his work and his father, are as intriguing and realistic as Evan himself.

All this sounds really dry and reviewer-y when I type it all out, but trust me – this book sucks you in.  I was invested almost immediately, and I really feel like Evan is talking to me as I’m reading.  I’m so invested in Evan, in his problems and history, in his recovery, and in him figuring out who he is and what he wants.  I always end up reading just a little longer than I intend to when I open this book, because I’m desperate to find out what happens next.  By the time you read this I’ll be done, so Sex & Violence should be on our shelves with the new books.  I highly recommend picking it up!

Posted in GEPL Teens

New Year, New Series Part 2

teens-blog-bannerWelcome to part two of my “new year, new series” list!  By now you may be thinking I’m posting an awful lot of dystopia/fantasy/etc. kind of stuff, and it’s true.  There are three reasons for that.  One, I know a lot of you love these books, so I’m going with what seems to fly off the shelves.  And two, I like these books!  It’s the old “write what you know.”  But I do try and shake things up sometimes, I promise.  And three, speculative fiction (my favorite catch-all term for fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, paranormal, etc. etc. books) has a lot of series.  Anyways, on to part two of the list.  Let me know if you end up loving (or even hating, though I hope not!) any of these series!

Image 1 If you loved The Hunger Games try The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau – In the world of The Testing, the only chance a teenager has at a college education and a prosperous future is to compete in the Testing.  Those in the Testing must eliminate one another for a select few places (sound familiar?).  And as main character Cia navigates the deadly Testing, she must decide if her childhood friend and ally is trustworthy or not (sound familiar?)  Yes, the premise is similar The Hunger Games, but The Testing is its own book, featuring a unique post-apocalyptic society and a strong, engaging protagonist in Cia.

 

Image 2If you loved The Maze Runner try Incarceron by Catherine Fisher – Like Maze Runner, Incarceron feature large-scale imprisonment and a girl that acts as a catalyst for change.  Incarceron is a prison – a terrifying, gigantic prison that has its own personality and character, and this prison is where Finn has grown up.  But Finn believes that he has not always been inside Incarceron’s walls, though he cannot remember much of the world outside.  In the outside world, the warden’s daughter Claudia feels stifled by her life.  When Claudia and Finn simultaneously find a matching device that allows them to communicate, they begin to plot Finn’s escape.

Image 3If you loved Perfect Chemistry try Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry – The troubled girl and the bad boy meet, dislike each other, but eventually connect and fall in love.  It’s been done over and over, but much like Perfect Chemistry, Pushing the Limits does it really, really well.  Echo and Noah are both well-developed, likable characters.  And their initial reaction to each other, and the romance that follows, rings true.  Noah and Echo each have their own personal and emotional struggles which make them interesting separately.  And together, you might swoon for them as much as you did for Brittany and Alex.

Blog Entry 20 Image 4If you loved Graceling try Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.  Because no series list would be complete without me mentioning two of my absolute favorite series in one paragraph.  Admittedly, Girl of Fire and Thorns has more in common with Fire or especially Bitterblue than it does with Graceling, but like all three of Cashore’s books, it features rich world-building and fantastic characters – especially the women who are central to all these books.  In Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa relies not on her physical powers, but on her mental ones.  She must contend with being thrust into politics and leadership that she is not prepared for, and learn what she is truly capable of.

Honorable Mentions (aka other speculative fiction series starters I think are great but couldn’t quite fit in!): Antigoddess by Kendare Blake; The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima; Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta; Legend by Marie Lu; Seraphina by Rachel Hartman; Terrier (or really anything else) by Tamora Pierce.

Posted in GEPL Teens

New Year, New Series

It’s still early in this new year, with months and months of reading stretching out ahead of us.  And there are lots and lots of great new books coming out this year, which you’ll definitely be hearing about from me.  But for now, I want to suggest trying some great new-to-you series.  Once you’re hooked by the first book, you have this brand new year to read the rest!  Part one of the list is today, part two will be coming shortly.

enclave If you loved Divergent try Enclave by Ann Aguirre – Teens who must make important decisions about how to categorize themselves, check. Excitement and adventure, check.  Butt-kicking women, check.  Really, Kelly Jensen at Book Riot says it best: “This series is more post-apocalyptic than it is dystopian, but it features many of the same appealing elements as Divergent, including a complex female character who proves herself such within the limited confines of her world.”

 

 

demonsIf you loved City of Bones try The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan – You’ll have to get this out from one of the other libraries in our system, but it really will be worth the wait.  Nick and Alan are always on the run from their mother’s killers, who send demons after the boys to reclaim a charm their mother stole.  When siblings Mae and Jamie come to Nick and Alan looking for help, things get complicated.  Although there is less romance in The Demon’s Lexicon than City of Bones (there’s still some though!), the demons, the complex and fascinating magical systems in place and the exciting action definitely make the first book in this series a winner.

 

ShipIf you loved The Knife of Never Letting Go try Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi –  Like The Knife of Never Letting Go, the world of Ship Breaker is bleak, violent, and poor.  Nailer, the main character, must strip down ships and re-sell the parts to survive.  Like Todd, Nailer finds a girl mysteriously entering his brutal world, and must decide what to do with her and whether to protect her.  As harsh as both dystopian settings can be, I firmly believe if you can handle the absolute gut-wrenching-ness of The Knife of Never Letting Go, you’ll be able to handle whatever Ship Breaker throws at you.

 

entangledIf you loved Matched try Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta –  Entangled takes a concept similar to matching to an entirely new level.  Cade, who is totally alone in the world with only her guitar for affection or company, is shocked to find out that she was created in a lab to be entangled – intimately linked on a mental, spiritual, and atomic level – with Xan, a boy she has never met.  Cade must fight to save Xan and the only chance she’s ever had at real human connection, and figure out her own feelings about love and connection.

 

Honorable Mentions (aka some good humorous series starters that I couldn’t quite fit in): Bumped by Megan McCafferty; Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock; The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones; Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger; The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde; The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Bookish Surprises

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I read a lot of books reviews.  I also get a lot of book recommendations from people who know me well.  I know what genres I like and what authors I like.  So it’s rare for a book to really surprise me on a meaningful level.  Sure, some are pleasantly surprising by being better than I expected.  And occasionally there’s something I wasn’t prepared for in the plot.  But even with big twists, I usually know beforehand to expect a big twist, which does take away some of the surprise.  But I’m happy to say that in 2013, I did read a few books that surprised me!  I thought I’d share some of them here:

AllegiantAllegiant by Veronica Roth.  Yes yes, like everybody else, I knew before I read it to expect a major character death.  But I was not expecting what happened, or how it happened.  I have no other way to describe what reading this was like except that I had feelings.  Lots of feelings.  That took me a long time to sort out.  I’m still not honestly sure what I think of Veronica Roth’s decision to write the book this way.  But I do know that I was genuinely surprised by what she did.

 

pushing the limits Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.  I don’t read much romance.  Nothing against romances, I know there are some really good ones out there, but they don’t tend to grab me.  I like romance in my books, but generally if romance is the main theme, I’ll end up bored.  But when Pushing the Limits was voted by teens as a Teens’ Top Ten pick through the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) I decided to give it a chance.  Some of the book wasn’t surprising – the tortured boy, the damaged girl, their intense romance – but I was surprised by how gripping I found the book.  Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.  Even with extremely well-written romances that I genuinely like, I rarely get sucked into them as much as I did Pushing the Limits.  I read it in about a day and a half!

the knifeThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.  There’s not a lot to say about this one except that I never in my life expected a scene as devastating as one near the end of this book.  It featured a betrayal of trust so gut-wrenching and a death that, while almost inevitable at that point, was so heartbreaking I almost threw the book across the room.  Patrick Ness is brilliant, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to read the other books in this series because I was so emotionally wrecked by this one.

 

 

understanding  I said before I don’t read much romance.  But what I really don’t read much of is non-fiction.  I do occasionally, and I really try.  But especially books like this, the kind that are assigned for classes – I just can’t seem to get into them most of the time.  But Understanding Comics was actually pretty awesome.  I learned new things, I enjoyed reading it, and I barely had to force myself to keep reading.  I never expected that an assigned non-fiction book could be this interesting, and on top of that, it made me understand comics and graphic novels in a much deeper way than I ever did in the past.

 

The Girl ofGirl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.  This book surprised me in two ways.  First, by featuring an unconventional heroine.  At the start of the book, Elisa is fat, non-athletic, and pretty unsure of herself.  Some of this changes by the end of the book, but not all of it.  I love me some Katniss as much as the next person, but it was refreshing to read about a different type of strong woman.  And secondly, because when I picked up Girl of Fire and Thorns I definitely wasn’t expecting a book I would love this much, or a book that would become one of my favorites.  Not that I’m complaining – that’s the best kind of bookish surprise!

Posted in GEPL Teens

Teens Blog: What I’m Reading Now

This “What I’m Reading Now” is brought to you by the Morris Award nominations for best debut young adult book.  As it turns out, I haven’t read ANY of the books nominated, so I had lots to add to my to-be-read list!

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What I’m Reading Now: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

What’s It About (Jacket Description): When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Do I Like It: Very much!  I kind of wish I were reading the book instead of the ebook though, so I could show off the gorgeous cover.

Thoughts: I was immediately drawn to the concept of this book, and I haven’t been disappointed so far.  The concept of the repoussoir whose job is to use her ugliness to make other seem beautiful evokes so much, so immediately.  It makes me instantly think about class, gender, beauty ideals, money, and so much more.  And the book definitely tackles these issues, but without being preachy or overly “issue” driven, and never at the cost of character or plot.

Maude, of course, is at the center of the narrative.  She is idealistic and not immune to the appeals of high society life.  But she is also kind, friendly, and eager to do good work even at a job that is slowly chipping away at her self-esteem.  She has artistic sensibilities, which is where much of her attraction to high society comes from.  She is relatable and likable, despite the fact that so far her narrative voice is not particularly distinct.  And the effect her work has on her is so easy to understand, and so well-depicted.  Because of course she is affected by a job that hinges on her own unattractiveness.  But Maude is also unwilling to entirely give up on her self-esteem or her dreams, so she wavers between giving in to the harsh realities of her job and ignoring the bad in favor of enjoying the good.

The other key character is Isabelle, the young society woman who Maude must befriend without letting on about what her job really is.  Where I am at in the book, this friendship has only just begun to take wing, but already I am enjoying it.  It is obvious that Maude feels bad about her deception, and genuinely likes Isabelle.  Isabelle herself is a wonderfully charismatic, realistic and flawed character.  She is intelligent and capable of kindness and greatness of mind, but also moments of spite and pettiness.  I am already so drawn to the friendship between the two girls that I’m dreading what might happen if Maude’s real purpose is revealed or something else goes wrong (and of course, something will go wrong).

On top of everything else, I’m finding it a can’t-put-it-down read – it was hard to stop reading long enough to write this!  So for all these reasons (plus bragging rights for reading a fancy award-nominated novel) I highly recommend Belle Epoque!

Posted in GEPL Teens