Great Historical Non-Fiction Reads 


Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

In January 1692 in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter and niece of the town’s minister, Reverend Parris, had fallen ill with strange symptoms. The young girls would speak in garbled words that no one could recognize, they would twitch and scratch and contort their bodies into abnormal shapes. The reverend and his wife were beside themselves as to how to care for the girls sudden disturbing symptoms, until an elderly town physician examined them and declared that the two were “under an evil hand” also known at the time as being bewitched.

Using startling facts, actual court transcripts, and striking black, white, and red scratch board illustrations, Witches: the absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem tells the story of the period of very dark days of the now infamous town of Salem. In the height of witch hysteria, over 100 individuals were accused of witchcraft and jailed. At least 20 were eventually executed. Brothers accused brothers, children accused parents, rich and poor alike were hauled off to jail to await trials that weren't based on any factual evidence but only on the dreams and visions of the accused.

This was a fascinating historical account that I recommend to anyone who has ever been curious about this dark period in history.



Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cleopatra. Just her name summons images of other-worldly beauty and ruthless power. Undoubtedly one of the most famous female rulers in history, Cleopatra’s life hasn't always been portrayed in the most flattering of lights given that most of what we know about her came from the Romans, who hated and feared her. However, in Cleopatra Rules! we are offered a fresh and funny look at her life that strives to show Cleopatra’s point of view.

Peppered throughout the book are fascinating facts on Cleopatra and Egyptian life in general. For instance, did you know that Cleo was a hardcore book worm spending many hours of her youth at the Great Library of Alexandria? For a wedding present, Mark Anthony, instead of showering her with the customary jewels, plundered the library in Ephesus, Turkey for her. How romantic!

The author also has a way with words that’s sure to keep you amused, Mark Anthony was a “Roman Redneck,” and Cleo’s competitive siblings were a "a nest of squirming, hissing reality-show stars,” and Cleo herself was “as compelling as a giant magnet in a room full of nails.”

Cleopatra Rules! is a fun but informative trip through the life and times of the original teen queen, check it out from your local LFPL branch!

-Claire, Teen Services, Jeffersontown Library

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A Fresh Start to Superhero Comics 
If you haven’t grown up reading superhero comics the hardest part is figuring out where to start. Trying to choose your first title can be daunting: so many characters, years of storylines, learning what is or isn’t canon, etc... As an aspiring superhero comics reader I was at a loss, until I discovered The New 52 from DC Comics. The New 52 cancelled all of DC’s existing storylines and began a “soft reboot” of popular series, starting over from issue #1. This allows you to start a series from the beginning but also offers a reference point for learning about older comics related to the new titles. Many of The New 52 titles are worth checking out, especially if you have a favorite character, but I’m going to tell you about two of my favorites and additional titles to read when you’re done.



Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52).
Barbara Gorden/Batgirl might be a protégé of Batman and the commissioner's daughter, but she can hold her own in Gotham City. She’s a master of karate and a genius to boot. The Darkest Reflection begins shortly after Gorden recovers from three years of paralysis. She is racked with survivor’s guilt and has flashbacks to the night she opened the door to find the Joker, who then shot her and left her to die. Gorden struggles to overcome posttraumatic stress disorder and regain her physical and psychological strength while reentering the crime fighting scene. You’ll learn about other members of the Bat Family and get a glimpse into Batman’s extended universe.

Further Reading


Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore.
The Killing Joke details the events following Barbara Gorden’s shooting. The open-ending will give you the creeps and send you searching for the sequel (spoiler, there isn’t one).

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds by Gail Simone.
After she is paralyzed by the Joker, Batgirl the crime-fighting librarian becomes Oracle the wheelchair bound computer genius and hacker extraordinaire. Oracle leads the Birds of Prey, a team of crime fighting women involved in global espionage.



Swamp Thing Vol 1: Raise Them Bones (The New 52) by Scott Snyder.
Swamp Thing plays homage to classic b-movie horror films and he is THE environmentalist super hero (move over Captain Planet). In some versions of Swamp Thing, the character is Alec Holland turned monster from the swamp but Snyder’s antihero sticks to the Alan Moore backstory of a plant creature with the memories of the deceased Alec Holland. In this story, he has regained his human form but cannot forget his time as Swamp Thing. This story is pure horror as Holland finds himself in an age old battle between the Green and the Rot.

Further Reading


Anything by Scott Snyder, he seems to be writing every new DC title and with his talent it’s clear why.

Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore.
This graphic novel should sway anyone who doesn’t believe comics can be high art, while remaining true to its roots in pulp horror. Read this Alan Moore masterpiece, then read everything else he’s written.

What was the first superhero comic you read? Do you have a suggestion for new comic readers? Have you enjoyed any of The New 52? Let us know in the comments.

-Ruth Houston, Teen Services, Teen Underground @ Main

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Discovering Hope: a Summer Book Review 

Shawn Goodman’s Something Like Hope is a beautifully sad story that captivates its readers. Its main character, Shavonne, can only be described as interesting. She is often conflicted by determining the better option: right or wrong. And she usually opts for wrong.

As a confused teen girl who is locked up in a mental institution, she feels as if wrong is the only option. She is close to being released and simply does not want to be. The hospital is all she knows. It is her comfort zone, and she has no desire to step out of it. That is until she meets Mr. Delpopolo. He’s her new therapist and the only one who does not hold her situation against her. He treats her like a person and not a patient.

Can Mr. Delpopolo get her to open up about the secret that is consuming her? Is he able to convince her that she deserves happiness? Freedom? Love?

-Alexis, Children and Teen Services, Okolona Branch

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Casting Call: Who Would You Cast in Your Favorite Book if It was Made into a Movie? 
I love books. And I love movies. Sometimes my two loves meet in a head on collision and something magical and amazing happens. Like when Jennifer Lawerence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson were all cast in The Hunger Games movies (way to go casting department). And again, maybe it’s just me, but sometimes when I’m reading I pause and wonder…if this were made into a movie who would be the cast?

I know I’m not alone in this.

Tell me I’m not alone in this.



I am currently obsessed with (and have been for some time) Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy as well as the recently finished companion series, Darkness Rising.

Personally, I think this series would make an amazing TV show. Think about it. The series is about a group consisting of a necromancer, a werewolf, a witch and a wizard who are on the run from a group of mad scientists’ intent on killing them. Here’s the summary taken from the library website: After fifteen-year-old Chloe starts seeing ghosts and is sent to Lyle House, a mysterious group home for mentally disturbed teenagers, she soon discovers that neither Lyle House nor its inhabitants are exactly what they seem, and that she and her new friends are in danger.

And to show the inordinate amount of time that I have spent thinking about the Darkest Powers, here is my dream cast list (click each name to view the actor's IMDB profile):

  • Bi Rain as Simon Bae
  • Derek Theler as Derek Souza (same first name. Its fate)
  • Britt Robertson as Chloe Suanders
  • Elizabeth Gillies as Tori Enrigh


  • Agree or disagree? What is your dream cast for your favorite series? And in case you couldn’t tell…I highly recommend Darkest Powers. I did mention the necromancer and the mad scientists didn’t I?

    -Tya Harlan, Children’s & Teen Services, Western Branch


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    For the Love of Nonfiction: Great Nonfiction Reads for Teens 
    I love fiction. I love the healthy dose of escapism that delving into a world created by imagination provides. However, I recently have come to love the world of nonfiction just as much. Nonfiction encompasses so many subjects; from sports to science, politics to poetry, and (my favorites) memoir and biography. Below are some nonfiction picks for teens that fascinated, inspired, and educated me on a variety of different subjects.



    Weird Kentucky by Jeffery Scott Holland
    The ghostly “Lady in Blue” of the Seelbach Hotel? A medieval castle in Lexington? A half-goat, half-man monster spotted on an abandoned train trestle off Taylorsville Rd? All these strange phenomena of the bluegrass state and many more can be found in Weird Kentucky. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.



    Women Heros of World War II by Kathryn J. Atwood contains twenty-six intriguing and suspense-filled stories about women and girls who refused to sit on the sidelines during WWII and who risked their lives to defeat the Nazis.



    The Look Book by Erika Stadler features the signature looks of beauty icons from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and gives step by step instruction on how to achieve any featured look. From Jackie Kennedy’s frosted pink lips to Kat Von D’s smoky eyes, this book covers any look you’ve ever wanted to try! A brief yet informative biography of each style icon is also included, so besides learning awesome new hair and makeup tricks, the reader can learn about the lives of these amazing women.



    Poetry Speaks who I am edited by Elisa Paschen
    With over 100 poems by a wide range of poets, Poetry Speaks who I am is a wonderful collection for already established lovers of poetry and those who are interested in learning more about the written art form. The anthology also includes an audio CD that features recordings of poets such as Robert Frost reading their original work.



    Scalpels, Stitches and Scars by John Townsend
    Squeamish readers beware! Scalpels, Stitches, and Scars highlight’s bizarre and gruesome medical practices throughout history. From ancient South American tribes using the jaws of army ants to stitch up wounds to “living bandages” created from patient’s own skin cells, this book is a fascinating ride through the history of surgery. There are many full color photos throughout the book as well which could be considered a good or bad thing depending on your gross-out tolerance.

    I hope you’ll be inspired to peruse the shelves of your local library for one of these gems! If you have any nonfiction reads that you would like to share please post in the comments section below.

    -Claire Cecil, Youth Services, Jeffersontown Branch

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