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Read this!

Aurora, Teen Contributor

*Lets out a long, loud sigh, which contains several months’ worth of stress, as well as various dates, facts, and figures that I will never be required to know again* Summer. It is finally here. And if you are anything like me that means one thing: you have no idea what to read. Seriously, the entire school year you are probably making it by on a book a week, if you're lucky, and those are probably presets: sequels that have just been published, or favorite authors who have finally released a new book. (Shadow Scale and Hellhole, I am looking at you.) But now it is summer, and you are not constrained by tedious projects or dry textbooks. You are free!

So, now what?

I'll tell you: Kid's books. That's right, kid's books. Don't forget about all of those J Fiction books out there, just because you have technically, probably, aged out. (And we all know that secretly, at least some of the time, we are all still six. Or five. The point is, you never actually grow out of the J Fiction section.) So, if you are in that awkward phase where you look to old to be looking in the kid's section by yourself, but not quite old enough to have your own kids to be looking for, here are some recommendations.

1. Don't forget about your old favorites. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter, we all know you probably re-read that once every few years anyway. Well, most of you anyways. I'm talking about books that you read in single sittings, laughing, getting weirdly attached to characters, but for some reason you never picked them up again. For me, this brings to mind A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Seriously, these were great books as a kid, but now reading them after a few years, they are almost funnier. They are extremely dark, but with a sort of humor that I imagine was directed towards teenagers. I liked them as a kid, but now…I have to say that I am even more impressed. I might not be able to speak for all kid's books, but I guarantee that if you go back and read some old favorites, you are going to have a great time, not only in remembering why you loved them in the first place, but also likely in discovering some tidbits that make more sense in your older, wiser* brain. Definitely give these (or any of your old favorites) 5/5.

*Wiser, mostly in the sense that I am using it in a cliché phrase. I'm not sure that any of us should actually ever be considered wise.

2. Now, for some recent finds on the J fiction shelves. If you like fairy tales, especially those that seem to combine stories from all sorts of backgrounds, you might want to try The Sisters Grimm. And I do apologize if you have already read these. Sometimes I am behind on the times. Back when moving to the "New World" was a thing, the Grimm Brothers packed up all (most) fairy tale creatures and moved them to the East Coast, a town called Ferryport (formerly Fairyport, haha, so clever), which allows no one to leave its borders. (Holy cow, I never realized how much this sounded like the show Once Upon a Time before.) Now, I will warn you that the first book is not the best written, but the story intrigued me enough to read the second. The writing does seem to improve, and the story seems to get more interesting. My favorite part: Puck. Such a sassy little fairy, who believes he rules the world, but he is really still a child who, eventually, somehow gets talked into coming and living with Granny Grimm. How do you think that is going to work out: the trickster king being, for lack of a better word, domesticated? I certainly wouldn't want to live with him. So, pretty much an easy read with some rewritten fairy tale characters, who keep butting into each other's universes (also each other's business, but that's sort of obvious). This may not be my number one recommendation, but it only takes a couple of hours. I'd give these ones 3.5/5, though do note that the low score is lower because of the first book.

3. New find: The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. I'm not really sure about you, but I am willing to read this book just based off of its title, and the name of the author. I mean, how awesome is the name Pseudonymous for a pseudonym (or nom de plume, or penname, or alias, or whatever)?! Also, the back cover is written entirely in backwards words. Like, if weird word jumbles are not your favorite thing, you might actually need a mirror to read the cover of this book. So, apparently I am in fact, telling you to judge a book by its cover. Well, more specifically, all of the writing that appears on said cover. And if all of that isn't enough for you to want to read this awesome book, it has one of those narrators who aren't supposed to be telling the story. And (s)he keeps talking to you! I find those narrators the best. Fourth wall? What fourth wall! I feel like I should tell you more…but it's a secret, right? Nah, I'm not scared of any super-secret organization (well, maybe, we will get to that later). There is a missing magician, and a mysterious box called the Symphony of Smells. Mmm…synesthesia. One of my favorite literary thingy-mabobs. It just makes all the descriptions so much better. I mean, how can you taste the cold? How can you hear the color blue? Seriously, the next time you write, try to use some synesthesia. The style of this book probably fits right in there with anything written by Lemony Snicket. Less morbid, but still that same wit and great narrator. Definitely a 5/5.

4. Now…secret organizations. Imagine that there was a school that took the best and brightest of today's children. Geniuses who might be sabotaging Prime Minister's speeches, or who might be world class diamond thieves. Or maybe someone who was simply dared to hack into the government…and did it. These are the kind of people that go to H.I.V.E. The Higher Institute for Villainous Education. (I told you there was a secret organization I might be scared of. Wouldn't you be? All the little twelve year old geniuses in the world being trained to be super-villains?) Also, there is some pretty cool AI (artificial intelligence) going on here--and you know, every time an AI comes around, there are always weird existential questions (feel free to ignore those or not, depending on your mood). And…I actually don't think I need to say more. It is a secret school for SUPER VILLIAN CHILDREN! So, 5/5 for Mark Walden.

Okay, guys, that's all I've got for now! It should keep you busy for at least a couple of weeks (or days, or hours, depending on how fast you read…). Enjoy! There will be another post later this month so check back in!

Aurora, Belmar Teen Contributor

Welcome, all you avid readers, all you book-lovers, all you bibliophiles! Okay, so all of these words mean pretty much the same thing, but you get the point. Now, it is suddenly a new year, and if you are like me, you probably have this perpetual problem of not having anything to read. Literally, ANYTHING, even when you are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books! Okay, so I exaggerate. But, it can still be tough to find new, great books to read. So, out of all of the books that I've read in 2014, here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old.

1. First of all, there is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Of course, most of you have probably read this already, for I seem to have been late to the bandwagon. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation just came out in 2013 (it wasn't a complete, total disaster, anyway), so it is still probably pretty fresh on everyone's radar. It's a great sci-fi book, always worth a re-read. (Also, if you feel like looking at it from a new perspective, go do some research on the Cold War. It is really interesting how the conflict between the Buggers and the humans might actually resemble what was actually happening between the Americans and Soviets at the time the book was being published.) But, as amazing as Ender's Game is, that is not the point of this particular recommendation. Several years after his initial publication in the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card came out with another, parallel series, which starts with Ender's Shadow. This is exactly his first story told from Bean's point of view. You do not need any prior knowledge to read Ender's Shadow and it is just as good, and arguably better than the original series. If you loved Ender's Game, or really just sci-fi, you have to read Ender's Shadow.

2. The next book is probably not very well known. I found Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira by accident. But, the premise sounded interesting: a girl is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. So, the novel is told in these letters to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, and all of these other dead famous people while, really, Laurel is trying to cope with her own sister's death, which hadn't happened all that long ago. While this book is unlike anything that I've read before, if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, this should be the next thing you read.

3. On a lighter, and fluffier, note, the trilogy that begins with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins might have just been the most adorable thing I have read all year. Okay, so yes, it is definitely one of those sappy teen love stories. But the sap is minimal, the writing is good, and the characters are real. If you want a light read, basically comfort food, these are the books for you.

4. Now, on a much darker note, there is The Child Thief by Brom. Just Brom, only the one name. This is a darker retelling of Peter Pan, which essentially sprung from the idea that maybe the boys that Peter takes to Neverland don't want to stay forever. It is dark, and it is creepy and it has a few drawings, done by the author, which shows you what is happening in his own re-imagined Neverland. If you like retellings, especially ones that tend to take the stories to darker, more haunting places, or if you just want to see Peter Pan from a drastically different view, I would definitely try reading The Child Thief.

5. Now, I know that one of the most popular series that has been around in the last few years has been The City of Bones (well, it started out as a trilogy, then there were two trilogies in the same series, and a prequel series, and now there are more spinoffs being made, so...) universe. And one of the only (actually, the only) character to appear in all of the published books so far has been the mysterious High Warlock, Magnus Bane. Now, if you would like to know anything more about Magnus, like, perhaps, why he is not allowed in Peru, or what really happened to Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution, or even how characters like Raphael Santiago came to be, you might want to pick of The Bane Chronicles, an illustrious collection of short stories.

6. Okay, dragons. I can't not make a list of books that people should read without bringing up dragons at least once. Because, first of all, dragons are awesome. And, second, with Game of Thrones picking up speed, dragons are becoming more popular anyways. So, for a more unique take on dragons, try reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where the dragons are cold, logical, mathematical beings who can fold themselves into human form, with a few issues with the humans themselves. Also, the sequel is set to come out in early 2015, so what better way to start off the New Year? DRAGONS.

7. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief. Most of you have probably also read Markus Zusak's other book, I Am the Messenger, which is also several different kinds of amazing. If you haven't read the latter, and are expecting it to be like The Book Thief, don't. Ed Kennedy is just a cab driver, until one day he begins receiving mysterious instructions in the mail. It sounds like a bit of a trope, but I promise, it's worth the read.

8. Another book that I found to be unique and interesting is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Spoiler alert, the main character dies. Okay, that's not a spoiler; it's actually the premise of the book. The main character dies, and then relives her last die seven separate times. It definitely brings up a great question: if you knew it was your last day, what would you do?

9. Here is another supernatural book, where certain people get unique powers: The Diviners by Libba Bray. Also, the sequel comes out in April, so I am very excited for that. But this isn't really just another one of those supernatural books. This one is set in the 1920s, where Evie O'Neill is sent to live in New York City with her uncle, who happens to run a museum for the occult. So, maybe my summary makes it sound like a bit of a cliché. It's not! Also, it is totally the reason I have started to use the word 'copacetic' wherever possible.

10. This is the last book that I read in 2014, and without a doubt, it is also one of the best. I have read pretty much everything E. Lockhart has written in the past, and while I am not a huge fan of her Ruby Oliver series, I love her other standalones, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (note to self, reread that in 2015) but We Were Liars is its own kind of special. It's about a family that spends their summers on a private island, with a core cast of characters, the Liars. I would love to tell you more about this book, but I don't think I will. To borrow the words from the inside jacket: "Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." The advice is spot on.

So, while the list might not have ten books that you will like, I guarantee that there should be at least one book on the list that you will absolutely love. Here's to another year of reading!


If you are a book lover like Aurora, please send us a countdown of your favorite reads!

Cheyenne, Lakewood Teen Submission

I Am Malala is the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. Malala's story starts with her father's dream of starting a school, which shows that her passion for education is genetic. Malala also ventures in to talk about her life before the Taliban, which is shockingly challenging, much having to do with her father's school. She talks about the beginnings of the Taliban in Pakistan, and how even before she was shot, she had a powerful voice through her blog and copious speeches. She addresses the mistreatment of women as the Taliban's power grew. In the concluding chapters, she gives third person details of her shooting, mainly from her family's point of view. The book ends with her miraculous recovery and new life in Birmingham, England.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I highly recommend reading it  for book reports, however, it is a fun read all by itself.

Mykenna, Columbine Teen Submission

 Mykenna on her inspirtaion for her illustration...

"I wanted her to be a cute and spunky, shojo-styled girl.

If you love Mykenna's illustration you might check out the manga series, Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz. His name is Boris, and despite his human form and piercings and tattoos, he is not your typical punk teenager. For he is the Cheshire Cat, complete with cat ears and a tail, and a penchant for riddles. Boris is madly in love with Alice, and Alice is vulnerable and lonely. But will she fall for the Cheshire Cat? 


*story synopsis from goodreads.com


Kallie, Columbine Teen Submission

My Mad Hatter picture art style is inspired by the work of Katsura Hoshino, who illustrates the  D. Gray-man Series.  

Gray-Man is a manga series, a japanese style comic book.  The series follows Walker, a born exorcist, fighting the Akuma. Together with his fellow exorcists fighting under the command of the Black Order, Walker leads the battle against the Millenium Earl, the evil "being" out to destroy mankind.


Aurora, Belmar Teen Submission

For some strange reason, it seems like every little girl's favorite Disney princess is Cinderella. (Okay, for all of you shouting at me, not every little girl. But quite a majority.) Whether it is the classic rags-to-riches story or the lovable mice, there just seems to be something timeless about Disney's Cinderella. And, I am proud to say, I hate it. Wait, wait, hang on! Put down the pitchforks and let me explain why. 

First of all, most Disney movies from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves all the way to Frozen, are based off of fairy tales by either the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Andersen. Cinderella comes from the Grimm Brothers. Now, most of the original Grimms' fairy tales share rather grotesque elements. For example, in the original "Cinderella," the stepsisters get their eyes pecked out by birds. Naturally, this would never fly in a Disney movie. Nor does Quasimodo's necrophilia in Hunchback of Notre Dame, but that's another story. While most (all) children should not be reading/watching the scene where body parts are forcibly removed by birds, as a teenager, I cannot help but lament the lack of a more severe, more vivid punishment for the stepsisters. So, even if you are a diehard fan of Disney's Cinderella, I would recommend reading some of the original tales, be the Grimms or Hans Christian Andersen.

Now, my biggest, and longest lasting problem with Disney's Cinderella is the characters. Don't get me wrong, the mice are adorable, and I have been known to sing "Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo" on occasion, and Lady Tremaine can give me the shivers. But Cinderella and Prince Charming, you know, the two main characters of the story, are two of the most boring, unappealing characters that I have ever come across. First of all, Prince Charming. He doesn't even have A NAME. He is so uninteresting that they don't even bother giving him a name. He just sits around at the ball, yawning, until Cinderella shows up, and then poof, he's in love, story over. People make fun of Bella Swan (Twilight) for not having a lot of personality, but compared to Disney's Prince Charming, she seems like a delightfully dynamic character. Then there is Cinderella. She has more personality than the prince, I'll give you that. But, what I cannot stand about her is that she will not do anything for herself. She wants to go to the ball, great. But, notice, it is the mice and the birds that band together to make her dress. Then, when her stepsisters ruin her dress, does she take the initiative to find an alternative way to get to the ball? No, she cries in the garden until the Fairy Godmother shows up to make it all better. Then, after the ball, when Cinderella finds herself locked away, she doesn't try to get out herself, rather the mice risk being boiled by hot tea and climb up stairs at least twice their height to get Cinderella the key. It's not that I don't adore the cast of supporting characters. It's that the two leads are extremely lackluster and boring, and don't really take the initiative to do anything in the story. 

However, that does not mean that the Cinderella story should be ignored. The original is, of course, fantastic, and there are tons of rewrites that make Cinderella one of my favorite fairy tales. Just not the Disney version. Try reading Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Not only does Ella have no fairy godmother, so she completely takes control of her life, but it explores what happens after the happily ever after. If you like science fiction or fantasy, try Cinder by Marissa Meyer. In this one, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in a future where there is a race of people on the moon who can control people's thoughts. And finally, though it may be a kid's book, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine was one of my favorite books growing up. 


Auroara is a Belmar Teen who has served on the library's Teen Advisory Board for several years. This is her first Teen Page submission.

Violet, Standley Lake Teen Contributor



                                                                   Perfectly Me


                                                                                    There is no end

                                                                       To the soul within my being

                                                                   To the ideas, dreams, epiphanies

                                                                         That encompass my mind.


                                                                                           My soul

                                                                              Is not a cageable force;

                                                                             It runs free with the wind,

                                                                               Dances with the leaves,

                                                                                Refuses to be bound

                                                                                       By anything.


                                                                                            My soul

                                                                                         Sees wrong

                                                                                  Tries to make it right

                                                                                 Attempts to tell others

                                                                                        Teach them

                                                                                       Of my values

                                                                                      Of my wonder

                                                                      Of compassion, wisdom, and hope.


                                                                                            My soul- 

                                                                                      It dives off cliffs,

                                                                                      Rides waterfalls,

                                                                                Swims against the tide.


                                                                                                 I am




If you enjoy poetry, you might try checking out Tell The World: Teen Poems from WritersCorps.  This book shares the voices of teens who show the world how poetry can reflect who we are, where we are from, how we love, and why we hope.


Arra, Teen Services Coordinator

I just finished reading The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson and I was blown away (not literally thank goodness).  Laila's father, a dictator in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, has been killed and now she, her mom and brother have been relocated to the United States.  Coming from a life of privilege and also from a country with strict laws about how women may act, Laila has a hard time adjusting to her new life.  Luckily, Emmy steps in to show her the ropes of American culture.  However, a US government agent begins to complicate things by manipulating her family to try and gain more influence in her home country.  

Carleson is a former CIA operative who worked in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's rule.  She has an inside perspective on politics in the Middle East and how the US interacts with these countries.  Usually, I would skip the author's note and essay found in the back of the book but, in this case, I highly recommend reading them as they are well worth it!

If you like this book you may also enjoy Shabanu by Suzanne Staples.

Meghann Henry, Teen Outreach Librarian

Just in time for Teen Tech week, Sharon, a patron experience librarian from the Lakewood Library shared information about the Digital Comic Museum.  Graphic Novel fans can explore hundreds of pre-1959 comics that influenced the style of many graphic novels today (sorry no Batman, Superman or X-Men here).  These comics give interesting and sometimes eyebrow raising glimpse into 1950s pop culture. So, explore the site and see how things have changed - or in some cases haven't changed much at all!

Jessie, Columbine Library

Aimee Carter, author of the Goddess Test series, has a new book out!

Pawn takes place in a future United States where society is strictly structured into different social classes. Each person takes a test when they turn 17 that determines their class and the kind of life that they will lead. Kitty tests as a III, which means working in a sewer and never having enough food or money to truly be happy. When the Prime Minister gives her the opportunity to upgrade to a VII she agrees without even knowing what she will need to do. The next thing she knows she is waking up after weeks of being drugged, only to find that she has a whole new body—she now looks and sounds exactly like the Prime Minister’s niece.  Kitty learns that her world and the people who lead it are more gruesome and corrupt than she ever imagined, and she is now a pawn in their evil plots.

If you like dystopian books like The Hunger Games or Divergent you should definitely try Pawn.


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