Thursday, August 20, 2015

High Schools We Wish We Could Attend

 As school starts back, I am reminded of the fictional schools I wish existed. Ones that only existed on the television screen or bound inside of a good book. Sometimes the characters are what made the school appealing, as if you were kindred spirits that understood each other. Other times it was because the school itself was far more interesting than the small town school you were attending in real life. This blog is an ode to those schools. Here is a collection of some great television shows (and books) who define the term "cool school!" And if you aren't familiar with these selections, then it's time to try them out!

Gilmore Girls -  Watch as Rory Gilmore transfers from Starts Hollow High School to the distinguished Chilton Prep. She must adjust to the fast paced education and high standards while dealing with the typical "mean girls". Since birth Rory has had her heart set on going to Harvard University, but will that be where she ends up?

My So-Called Life - If you were a '90s child like me, then you know how pivotal this show was for anyone in high school. At a time when after-school specials were the most popular, the show pushed boundaries in an effort to make a show that was relatable to teens. There was never a moral to the story or a group family hug at the end. Instead the episodes left one feeling validated for having emotions. Enjoy all the music from the this wonderful decade while drooling over the early years of Jared Leto's physique.

Harry Potter - This is probably the number one school I would want to attend. And while I would be happy with visiting Hogwarts, I would also want to experience the entire wizarding world. Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, The Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade; I think it's safe to say I could spend an entire month there. Rowling created a world and characters I will treasure in my heart forever. A world that not only children wish existed but adults as well and that is something truly magical. A story of friendship and loyalty that will last a lifetime for anyone who reads it. I will always love the books over the movies because I am a bookworm to my core, but the movies are pretty fantastic. Watching a beloved world come to life on screen is marvelous.
Smallville - I should just be able to say, "It's Superman! Who wouldn't want to go to that high school?!" But going to this particular school could be dangerous. Villains and superheroes fighting one another with teen angst could escalate pretty quickly. But with danger comes adventure and excitement, which is typically what we all wish had been more present in our schools. The show follows Clark Kent as he begins to accept and learn who/what he is.

Ender's Game Book and Movie - Battle School. Can you imagine coming home and telling your parents you had been accepted to Battle School? Or better yet putting something like that on a resume. Battle school is the place the government sends genetically modified child geniuses for training. They must learn to fight, protect, and lead in an effort to protect the world from invading an invading alien race. Then we meet Ender, who encompasses the importance of humanity in the face of war. Point of interest: the U.S. Marine Corps includes this book on their professional reading list  not just at entry level ranks but Office Candidate as well.

The Magicians - Brakebills is a college where magicians go  after high school. In order to join the school you have to pass a test of intelligence and skill. It is quite possibly my dream school. This is a trilogy that will satisfy any adult Harry Potter fan. The story follows Quinton as he learns to strengthen and prefect his craft, magic. As he grows and matures he learns what it means to be a hero and being a hero isn't always easy.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Go, go, go Sunnydale High School Razorbacks! Home to my favorite cheerleader and trendsetter (of the '90s), Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I must admit this is the high school I dreamed about. A librarian who researches and specializes in vampire hunting. A cheerleader with a mean sidekick. A team of friends bound together by their commitment to protect Buffy and their town. That is what I call an adventure! The graphic novels are available for checkout at our library, as well as the hit  TV series.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teen Reads About Mental Health

Mental disorders can be difficult to discuss, but it is important to be aware of them nonetheless. The following books are great jumping off points for teens to learn about the effect of mental illness on an individual, a family, or a community. These works of fiction provide young adults with a variety of perspectives on the importance of mental health, and can kickstart a discussion on how to handle issues like depression, anxiety, and other barriers to one's well-being.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Jay Asher’s debut novel follows Clay Jensen, a high school student who comes home to find a box of tapes on his doorstep. These tapes come from Hannah Baker, one of Clay’s classmates who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Through these tapes Hannah describes the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. In this thought-provoking novel, Asher encourages young readers to analyze their interactions with others and keep in mind that everyone is fighting their own private battles.

Charlie is a shy high school freshman just trying to find his place in a new school. Struggling with the suicide of his friend and the death of his beloved aunt, he is afraid to reach out to his fellow students. That is, until he befriends seniors Patrick and Samantha. Together they help him confront his past and learn that life is what you make of it. Structured as a series of letters to the reader, Chbosky’s debut novel deals with topics such as anxiety, sexual abuse, and suicide, and encourages young adults not to let their past prevent them from enjoying the present.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Annabel used to be the girl who had it all, but after being sexaully assaulted at a party, she enters her junior year ostracized and traumatized. It doesn’t help that her picture book family refuses to address the problems that haunt their home, including her sister’s anorexia. Despite her trouble, she finds a friend in Owen, the notorious outcast of the school. Together they learn how to confront their problems honestly and deal with their pain and anger. In this book, Dessen passes these lessons on to her readers, that they might use them to combat the struggles they may face.

Green’s debut novel follows Miles Halter, a teenager who convinces his parents to enroll him in Culver Creek Preparatory High School. There he meets his roommate, Chip Martin, who introduces him to his eclectic group of friends. This includes the wild and unstable Alaska Young, who immediately captures Miles’ affection. They introduce Miles to the underworld of Culver Creek, and spend their time causing trouble for their rivals, a group of students called the Weekday Warriors. Over the course of the novel, readers gain further insight into Alaska’s mental instability and the effect it has on those around her. Together these students suffer through grief, guilt, suicide, and growing up.
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
The Jarretts are your typical American family: Beth is the perfect, efficient housewife; Calvin is a determined, hardworking father; Conrad and Buck are ideal sons. But after Buck’s death, this perfect image of the Jarrett family shatters. Unable to cope with his brother’s death, Conrad attempts suicide. His mother retreats inward, trying even harder to portray the facade of perfection, and Conrad seems to be the only one interested trying to face what has happened to his family. Guest writes this classic tale of forgiveness and recovery in a stream-of-consciousness style that invites her audience into the minds of these characters and explore their grief from within.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins dealing with very dissimilar problems. Still coping with a car crash nearly ten years before, their mother has all but abandoned her family for the campaign trail, and their father has turned to Kaeleigh to fill the void of his wife’s absence. As a result she develops an eating disorder and turns to self-harm, while Raeanne seeks the comfort of drugs and alcohol to deal with her parent’s neglect. In this brutal narrative, told through a series of poems, Hopkins explores the fragility of identity and the impact trauma can have on one’s mental health.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Like Hopkins’ other novels, Impulse is written in verse and follows multiple perspectives. At Aspen Springs, a recovery center for those who have attempted suicide, readers meet Vanessa, Tony, and Connor. These three teenagers each tried to end their life, and must now face their demons in order to recover. This novel not only demonstrates three young adults exploring their identities, but also reveals the harsh reality of addiction, self-harm, suicide, and mental illness.

A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
Martin’s young adult classic is about eleven-year-old Hattie who helps her parents run the boarding house where they live. She spends most of her time reading, painting and enjoying the company of their eccentric guests passing through the small town. But this summer, Hattie’s uncle Adam has come to stay with her grandparents after his “school,” an institution for the mentally handicapped, closes temporarily. Hattie has never met Adam, but she takes to her uncle immediately, despite the fact that the rest of her family has trouble understanding him.
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
This novel is about a girl named Ruby. After her mother loses her battle with cancer, she moves from Boston to Beverly Hills to live with her father, famous movie star Whip Logan. Frustrated by this turn of events and unable to cope with her mother’s death, Ruby spends most of her time desperately trying to keep in touch with old friends and avoiding her father, who becomes the target of her anger and grief. Sones invites her readers to explore the boundaries of grief and the ways it manifests itself in this verse novel about coping with loss and personal change.
Craig Gilner is an ambitious teenager living in New York City. After months of nonstop work on his exams and application to the Manhattan Executive Pre-Professional High School, he is delighted when he receives his acceptance. However, he is unable to handle the high-pressure environment. He stops sleeping and eating, and nearly ends his own life. After his suicide attempt he is briefly institutionalized. Here, with the help of a few unlikely friends, he learns how to handle his anxiety and depression.

For additional resources, please visit If you or someone you know is at immediate risk, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teacher Appreciation: YA Author Edition


Teachers play a big role in our lives. They are the ones who help shape and mold us when we are away from home. They encourage us to be more than we believed we could. They open doors in our imagination by simply reading a book to us. The authors listed below are not only writers, but they have also shared their inspiration through teaching. The characters they created have been a part of our families for decades and their words have filled our hearts with a passion for reading. Let's celebrate their works and teaching!

Eoin was born in Wexford on the SE coast of Ireland. He developed a love for writing during his time in primary (elementary) school. He got his first degree from Dublin University. He returned to Wexford, upon completion of his college schooling, as a primary school teacher. In 2001 the first of the Artemis Fowl series was published. It received great reception and became an international success. To date, over half of his works have held a spot on the New York Times' Bestseller's list.

Rowling's life begins in Yate, Gloucestershire. She developed a passion for writing early in life. Her sister was her audience, as she would write and read her fantasy stories. Rowling attended St. Michael's Primary school. She was encouraged to study French at the University of Exeter, by her parents. After graduating, she began working for Amnesty International, which campaigns against human rights abuse on a global spread. In 1991 Rowling began teaching English to students in Portugal, where she met her first husband. A few years later the couple divorced and Rowling was left to raise her daughter on her own. She started working on her first book in the Harry Potter series, The Sorcerer's Stone. After being rejected by 12 publishing companies, Bloomsbury Publishing made an offer. In 1996 it was published and the world was introduced to Harry Potter. Five months later the book won the Nestle Smarties Books Prize followed by the British Book Award for Children's Book of the year. In 1998 an auction was held in the US to gain publishing rights for the novel. Scolastic
  won with $150,000. Today, the series is considered to be
the bestselling series of all time worldwide.

Philip Pullman started out in Norwich England. Pullman received his third class BA from Exeter College. He taught middle school children at Bishop Kurk Middle School in Summertown, North Oxford while taking time to pursue his passion for writing. Count Karlstein, his first children's book was published in 1982 followed by the publication of The Ruby in the Smoke in 1986. His teaching career continued at Westminster College, Oxford. His work on His Dark Materials began in 1993. He still enjoys taking time to write today. He has also been known to lecture at Oxford for various events and classes.


Laura Ingles Wilder was born in Pepin WI with 4 siblings. Most of her childhood was spent in Kansas, which would become the setting for Little House on the Prairie. Due to her family, constantly, being on the move, she and her siblings taught themselves and each other. She decided to become a teacher later on to help with her family's income. She stopped teaching when she was married and began raising a family of her own. In the 1920's, Wilder began writing about her childhood experiences and 1932 marks the publishing date of Little House in the Big Woods, the first of the autobiographical series, Little House. The books would go on to become a TV series viewed in homes across the US and still are today.

C.S.Lewis's life started in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. He received his pre-college education from boarding schools and tutors. His college education came from Oxford with a focus in literature and classic philosophy. In 1925 he was awarded a fellowship teaching position at Magdalen College. Here, he joined a group called the Inklings, whose members included J.R.R.Tolkien and his brother, Warren Lewis. Through conversations he had with his peers, he found himself re-embracing spirituality and Christianity. He would become a renowned writer for his apologists-texts and philosophy on spirituality. During WWII Lewis began a series of radio broadcasts on Christianity and (later) were collected in the work Mere Christianity. In the 50's Lewis began working on the 7 books that would become The Chronicles of Narnia beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Although it received negative reviews, after first being published, it has become and international classic families have shared for decades.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Welcome to Prentisstown: Where everyone knows your secrets

The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. 


The story begins in Prentisstown where we meet Todd Hewitt and his dog, Manchee. Todd is on the brink of his 13th birthday which means he will become a man. Prentisstown is not your typical small town. There are no women. The town is full of Noise. What is Noise? Well, in this town, the men can hear each other's thoughts. There is no privacy, just Noise. Todd's world is turned upside down when he makes a discovery in the woods. A discovery that will send him and Manchee running for their lives. 
The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men

There are so many trilogies and series out in the YA genre right now but Chaos Walking is worth every word read. It's a story about flawed people, forgiveness, redemption, responsibility, revenge, and what it means to become a man/woman/enter adulthood. Every action has a reaction that leads to another reaction which leads to consequences. It is a vicious cycle that can create chaos, violence, and even war. These are real moral dilemmas and Ness tackles them with graceful writing. He takes the reader by the hand and begs them to ask, What if...? He shows us that change can be made no matter what our age, race, or sex is. We all have a voice and that voice speaks much louder than acts of violence. 

As each story progresses, the characters seek change in the world they live in. But everyone is different and so are their definitions of change. However, coming to a conclusion or compromise proves to be a more difficult task.

A warning to readers. This is a series that isn't easy to put down or forget. It sticks with you long after the last chapter has ended. The story, the characters...They become a part of you. And that, to me, is what a good story should be. Because if it's that good, you will not want to forget it. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celebrate Teen Literature Day with These Sci-Fi Titles!

Today is Celebrate Teen Literature Day, a part of the American Library Association’s National Library Week! The following titles are also nominees for this year's Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, an award that is presented each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) alongside the Nebula Awards. Previous nominees include J K Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Terry Pratchett, Holly Black, and Scott Westerfeld.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Born with the wings of a bird, Ava Lavender desires to learn of the wider world, naive to the motives of those who live within it. This is how she meets Nathaniel Sorrows, who becomes obsessed with her, believing that she is an angel. 

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
Ava is a young teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space salvage vessel Parastrata. Rather than face banishment and death, she escapes to an Earth ravaged by rising global temperatures and makes a home for herself on Gyre, a continent of scrap and trash in the Pacific Ocean.

After meeting Maia, a piano prodigy imprisoned in her own home, Cass must use her wits to help free her new friend. But even after they escape their trials are not over, as it appears Cass has mistakenly awakened an ancient evil that is threatening to take away everything. Dirty Wings follows All Our Pretty Songs in the Metamorphoses Trilogy.

The smuggler’s inn known as the Greenglass House is filled with mysterious occupants this winter, and it’s up to Milo, the innkeepers’ son, and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, to discover the secrets of the house, its visitors, and their families.

After Jared, the boy she loves, is presumed dead, Kami Glass must rely on the strength of her magical bond with her friend Ash to face the evil spreading around her and save her town and loved ones. This is the third book in Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy, a series that blends Nancy Drew-type detective tales with Gothic romance.

In merely a few days a deadly flu begins to sweep the country, forcing quarantines and martial law. Emily Bird may be the only one who knows how to stop it. Unfortunately, she has no memory of the past few days, and must team up an unlikely companion to uncover a government scandal.

Glory, a graduating high school student, has gained the power to see infinite pasts and futures. Bombarded by visions of tyranny, slavery, and civil war, it is up to her to stop this terrifying future from becoming a reality.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

YA Reads for National Women's History Month

March is National Women’s History Month, a time to explore women’s stories throughout history and to recognize their achievements.The NWHM theme for 2015 is Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives. The National Women's History Project website elaborates: "This year’s theme presents the opportunity to weave women’s stories – individually and collectively – into the essential fabric of our nation’s history."

In honor of NWHM, I've compiled this list of books about young women throughout history. Whether you want to dive into a true story or escape with historical fiction, LPLS has you covered! All of these titles are available through your local library.


A portrait of female wranglers, sharpshooters, and outlaws who helped to settle the American West.

This classic first-person account of living in hiding during the Holocaust is both an important historical document and a startlingly vivid depiction of growing up female.

Stone recounts the experiences of 13 women who underwent and excelled at rigorous NASA testing, but were denied membership in the space program because of their gender.

Colman's book is a rich depiction of what it's like to be a girl in the United States throughout the country's history. Its most remarkable feature is the wide variety of cultures, experiences, and perspectives included.

The memoir of a Pakistani teen who suffered--and survived--a horrible attack after insisting on pursuing her education. History isn't just a thing from the distant past. It's always happening, as this book demonstrates.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
During WWII, Ida Mae Jones hides her identity as a black girl and pretends to be white in order to join the WASP and become a pilot.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Louisa's life of scientific study is turned upside down when she is deposited at the gates of a mental asylum, called by a different name, and committed for treatment against her will. This novel has both intriguing mystery and harrowing depictions of Nineteenth Century psychiatric treatment.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein  
A British plane crashes over Nazi-occupied France, stranding its passengers:  a spy and a pilot. Captured by German forces, one of the young women is forced to write a confession that tells the story of how she met her
fellow passenger and came to be involved in the war.

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie is sent from her Ohio hometown to live with her occult-obsessed uncle in 1920s New York. A series of ritual murders and the hunt to catch a serial killer add even more excitement to the glitz and glamour Evie expected.

The Luxe by Anna Godberson
Five teenage girls lead lives of scandal and glamour in Manhattan, 1899. Sort of like Gossip Girl, but in fancy gowns.

It's 1918. Both Spanish influenza and spiritualist seances abound, and Mary Shelley Black does not believe in ghosts... At least until her lost first love, who died in war, comes back to her.

To escape a life of poverty on the streets of Eighteenth Century England, Mary Faber poses as a boy and becomes a crew member on the HMS Dolphin.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Isabel and her sister Ruth, slaves in Colonial America, are promised freedom when their owner dies. However, this promise is broken, and as revolution brews, Isabel takes on the dangerous role of Patriot spy.

A Bone from a Dry Sea by Peter Dickinson
A young prehistoric female and a girl on a dig with her paleontologist father are the main characters in this dual-perspective novel.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Fifteen-year-old Lina and her family endure being deported from their home in Lithuania to Siberia by Soviet forces in 1941. Although the WWII setting is a familiar one in historical fiction, Sepetys wrote this novel because its story is one that is rarely told.

Do you have a favorite female figure from history? Celebrate her in the comments!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

YA Recommendations From You!

Check out these YA suggestions from last year's Winter Reading Program at Linebaugh! Interested in winning prizes and maybe having your reviews featured on our blog? Sign up for the Winter Reading Program at the Smyrna or Linebaugh branch. The program ends on March 7, so hurry in!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
I really enjoyed this book. At first I was uncertain, because Frankie is a clever but overlooked girl who has newly acquired a popular boyfriend and is so pleased to be among him and the in crowd that she puts up with being cancelled on and being treated as little more than a charming, fluffy little "Bunny Rabbit," as her family calls her. If she had continued on with this non-reaction I was ready to give up on the book, but then I began to realize Frankie was merely waiting, observing. She was not a Bunny Rabbit--she was a mastermind. I won't go into the many and various ways that Frankie outwits and controls all the male Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, all without their knowledge, but it was immensely enjoyable. Reviews on this book seem pretty mixed, with people either loving or hating the main character, thinking her actions brilliant or obsessive. But she is definitely a unique creature among all the YA heroines. - Andrea M.

Abarat by Clive Barker
 This was my first Clive Barker book and I loved it! From the very beginning it captivated me and took me on a journey to a magical land. Through the Sea of Isabella to islands which depict certain times of the day. It was great and I loved the characters, especially John Mischief and his brothers. Can't wait to read the rest! - Lindsay B.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Loved it! Super easy read. A fun girl book! You get to meet Carrie and get to know her, her family, where she comes from, her original friends all before NYC. She's still in high school in this book. You get a glimpse of her wit and humor early on. You see her relationships before she moved off and is swallowed up by the big city. I love that you get to see her before she becomes a columnist. This book was so much fun to read!! Best part is at the end when a phone call leads to Samantha Jones. - Jennifer S.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I loved this book. Previous to reading this book I didn't know much about the treatment of the Lithuanians in WWII, or much about Stalin's gulags in Siberia. I was shocked at what I was reading, wondering why we haven't heard these stories before, and unable to put the book down till I finished it. "Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch." Elizabeth W.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Where do I even begin? I only heard of this book after watching the movie trailer for it. All I can say is that I am in love with this book and the way the story is expertly told through imagery, comparisons, and pure truth. To be honest I have never cheered for a thief like I have in The Book Thief. - Andrew M.

When I Was Joe by Keren David
I loved this book. The writing was possibly a little juvenile for the audience, but it was a complex and well-organized story that experimented with ideas that haven't been extensively explored--at least not in teen fiction. The main character, Ty, is placed in the Witness Protection Program after watching a teenager die at the hands of some of his acquaintances. He must become a new person and live a new life. It was also interested to read a teenage romance through a guy's perspective and to laugh at the British slang. (The book was set in England.) - Sarah A.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
One of the best books I have ever read. Every adolescent and adult needs to read this book. I read 213 pages in one day. I couldn't put it down. - Ginger L.

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
It was a fun, easy read, but also intelligent and relatively complex. Though I think the main character Gaia acted a little immature for her age and occupation, the story played with moral dilemmas in a futuristic world where civilizations couldn't afford the luxury of equality. - Sarah A.