I love Young Adult Fantasy – I really do! But, sometimes it seems that those are the only Teen books we hear about. This blog is dedicated to all our YA readers who are longing for something different, maybe even something realistic.  The good news is that John Green is not the only YA author who is writing excellent contemporary fiction. Whether you like survival stories, mysteries, romances, or issue-driven novels, we have something for you! At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find some great historical fiction written for the Young Adult market. So dive in, and let us know what you enjoy.

Survival stories are a great choice for teens who are adventurous or love the outdoors! Bad Call and When I am Through With You are both books about camping trips gone bad and have been described as part survival story and part psychological thriller. Feral Youth was inspired by the format of Canterbury Tales and is written by multiple YA authors.

Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels When I am Through with You by Staphanie Kuehn   Feral Youth by multiple authors

The Amateurs is the beginning of a new mystery series by teen favorite Sara Shepard. The Amateurs and Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson both feature teenage detectives attempting to solve cold cases.  Corruption, a hunting accident and lots of teenage secrets turn This is Our Story into a suspenseful story with a “ripped from the headlines” feel.

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard   Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson   This is Our Story by Ashley Elston

How could we look at Teen books without adding a little romance? Sarah Dessen has a very loyal fan base and her newest, Once and For All, will not disappoint! Ronit & Jamil is a clever retelling of Romeo and Juliet that has been transported to modern day Israel. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, you’re sure to love Alex, Approximately!

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen   Ronit & Jamil by Pamela Laskin   Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Life is complicated for teenagers, and books can be a safe haven where problems are acknowledged and feelings are validated. If you’re not sure if the content of a book is appropriate for your teen, try clicking on the Review link on the catalog page for the book. Professional reviews will typically give information about difficult content along with a suggested age range.

Release: a novel by Patrick Ness   The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner   Everything All At Once by Katrina Leno

Finally, for all our lovers of historical fiction, we have a great selection! Crossing Ebenezer Creek is by Tonya Bolden, better known for her non-fiction and is described as perfect for fans of Ruth Septys. If you love Hamilton the musical, you will certainly enjoy Melissa de la Cruz’s book about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza. The final two books take widely different looks at World War II history.

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden   Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky   Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

For more suggestions, just ask at the circulation desk! We have several staff members who love to read from our Teen collections.



Series Starters: Me Before You

A couple years ago, the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was one of the most popular books in the country, largely due to the fact of the release of the movie of the same name. What many might not know is that Louisa Clark’s story continued with a second and third book (the third book was just published in January; will there be a fourth?). And while there have been mixed reviews from readers about the continuation of Lou’s life, I believe that it’s important to see how she grows in each book as well as how she’s living her fullest life.

Louisa Clark is nothing special; her life is exceedingly ordinary (read: boring), and she’s content to keep it that way. That is, until she loses her job and is forced to take a new one as the caretaker of wheelchair-bound, paraplegic Will Traynor, who used to have the world at his feet. His life used to be anything but extraordinary, but after his accident, he turned bitter. Lou is different than all his other caretakers, though, and refuses to treat him with the delicacy he hates. When Lou discovers something shocking about Will’s future plans for his life, she decides it’s up to her to prove to Will that any life is a life worth living.

I read Me Before You right around the time all the hype surrounding the upcoming release of the movie started; typically, when it seems like the whole world can’t stop ranting and raving about a particular book, I have to read it to see what all the fuss is about. And I’m so glad I did. Not many books can bring me to tears, but this one did. My favorite part about the first two books is how you can actually watch Lou develop as a character throughout the pages. I’m so excited for the third book in this series because I have to know what happens next!

You can check out this series and other books by Jojo Moyes from the Aurora Public Library District or digitally from the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Happy Reading!

Classic Series Starters: Anne of Green Gables

Wholesome. That’s the best word I can think of to describe the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. This series is easily a classic, with feisty, redheaded, freckle-faced orphan Anne (with an E!) Shirley leading the way. With the popularity of the Netflix series soaring, as well as in the wake of the many television and film adaptations of Anne Shirley, it’s important to remember where she got her start.

Anne of Green Gables was first published by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, and has been considered a children’s novel since the middle of the twentieth century. The first in the series tells about an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who was sent by mistake instead of the boy brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert requested to help out around their farm. The book is filled with Anne’s attempt to win the Cuthberts over so they won’t send her back to the orphanage, but her temper and her mouth always seem to get in the way. Even though she has a heart of gold, Anne can’t seem to keep her opinions to herself when it comes to bullies, teachers, and classmates, alike. Anne grows from age eleven to sixteen in the first book, making and losing friendships, getting herself in and out of scrapes, and relying on her imagination and wits to see her through.

There are eight novels total in the Anne of Green Gables universe that follow Anne into adulthood and beyond. For over one hundred years, these books have been classics in almost everyone’s childhood.

Happy Reading!

The Olympics: Books to Read & DVDs to Watch

The 2018 Olympic Games will take place February 9 through 25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Some popular events include figure skating, skiing, curling, ice hockey, luging, snowboarding, and speed skating. The Aurora Public Library District has plenty to offer to get you as excited as you can about this global tradition.


Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Olympics by Daniel Brown

A Skating Life: My Story by Dorothy Hamill

Relentless Spirit by Missy Franklin

Miracle on Ice by the Staff of the New York Times

The Treasures of the Olympic Winter Games by Martha McIntosh

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand

Olympic Portraits by Annie Leibovitz

6 Below by Eric LeMarque and Davin Seay


Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Swift Edge by Laura A.H. DiSilverio

Winners by Danielle Steel

The Games by James Patterson

Gold by Chris Cleave

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffrey Deaver


Cool Runnings

Eddie the Eagle



Be sure to check out the Olympics display featured at the Aurora Public Library on the stairwell between the first and second floors! What’s your favorite event of the Olympics?

Happy Reading!

Home Improvement

If you’ve been following my Cooking with Shelby blogs, you know that I’ve been trying to become a real-life grown-up. Recently, my husband and I have the opportunity to move into our first real house as a married couple. This new house is all open, which means there won’t be much hiding our clutter (read: junk) in a back room that no one ever goes into (Who does that?? Also: I do that.). It’s an older house, too, which means that it could use some modern improvements, like updated floors and appliances. Boring.

What isn’t boring, though, is the fact that I get to paint and decorate the house however I want to. We’ve been perusing home improvement stores and websites, and I wondered if the Aurora Public Library District would have anything I could use.

I was in luck! The library has plenty of volumes about home improvement and home decorating. Where should I start?

We have books on kitchen remodeling, bathroom makeovers, and exterior home repairs. We have books on DIY plumbing, wiring, and other home projects. We also have books on decorating your new space, or sprucing up your old space. We have information on painting, choosing and installing new floors, and, you know, books on how to keep your new house clean once it’s pieced together the way you want it.

Once you’re in your new home, maybe you’ll want to start a garden. I thought about it, but I’m worried I’ll kill the poor plants before they sprout. Luckily, we have plenty of beginning gardening books to get me started!

Sometimes I think about a project I would like to do after the library has closed. Luckily, the Indiana Digital Download Center also has a wide variety of home improvement , design, and decorating information that I can download right to my Kindle from home without ever leaving the house!

I’m so excited to get started renovating my new home! Hopefully you’re excited, too, to start your next big project!

Happy Reading!

Learn with Jack and Annie!

For over 20 years, elementary kids have loved the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In each of these short chapter books, Jack and Annie travel to a different location or time period. These books are very popular with kids who have only recently started reading chapter books.

If you are just introducing your child to this series, you may want to begin at the beginning (Dinosaurs Before Dark), because the books do get progressively harder in length and vocabulary.

Did you know that there is a companion series of non-fiction books written especially to supplement the Magic Tree House books? Kids love learning more about the people, places and animals from the stories. Here are just of few of the Magic Tree House books shown side-by-side with their non-fiction companion books.

Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne  Sabertooths and the Ice Age by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne   Dolphins and Sharks by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne   China: Land of the Emperor's Great Wall by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne   Mummies and Pyramids by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

The non-fiction books present information in a reader-friendly way and often also list online resources for additional information. You may want to read the non-fiction books with your child since they are typically at a slightly higher reading level. Of course, kids usually mange to read the books they are really interested in!

We have most of the Magic Tree House fiction and non-fiction books, but if you can’t find one you need, just ask. Many of the books are also available to download through the Indiana Digital Download Center. The series is still continuing, so keep checking for new additions on our shelves!

There is also a great Magic Tree House web page, complete with book information and games. Parents and teachers should check out specials links for them in the upper right-hand corner of the web page.

Series Starters: The Kane Chronicles

One of Rick Riordan’s lesser-known series is the Kane Chronicles. The first book in the Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid, takes place at the same time frame in the Rick Riordan universe as The Lost Hero, and there are subtle references to Long Island and the Percy Jackson universe throughout that are fun to pick up on.

Brother and sister Carter and Sadie Kane have grown up apart since their mother died. Carter has been traveling the world with their Egyptologist father while Sadie was forced to live with their grandparents in London. On a rare visit to London, Carter and Sadie’s father brings them with him on a research assignment to the British Museum where things go terribly wrong. The Egyptian god Set has been released, forcing the children to flee for their lives as their father is banished to the Underworld. The siblings discover that the gods and goddesses of Egypt are real, alive, and know that the Kanes exist. What happens next is a journey to discover their own family’s history and who they are in the grand scheme of things. Oh, and they also have to save the world from sure destruction.

Told in alternating chapters narrated by both Carter and Sadie, this trilogy is sure to get your heart racing and your blood pumping. The voices of Carter and Sadie are perfect, and the Egyptian culture is a nice change of pace. If you’re looking for your next adventure series, then look no further than the Kane Chronicles.

Pre-Valentine’s Day Fun

As a grandma (and soon to be great-grandma!), I am always looking for fun and easy things to do when I have my grand kids for an afternoon. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I began looking for a few activities that would not involve a lot of expense, but would keep them entertained for a while. I can always come up with a paper heart and card type of craft, but I decided to try something a little messier, a.k.a. more fun...salt dough heart ornaments. These definitely used materials I had on hand, so there was no additional expense to me. What a great way to spend a dreary winter day! Why don’t you try some, too?

First, gather all your supplies for the salt dough ornaments:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

(If you don’t want to make such a large batch, you can easily divide by half)

Other supplies are:

  • Cookie cutter(s)
  • Drinking Straw
  • Cooking Spray
  • Parchment Paper
  • Colorful ribbon, (1/8 to 1/4-inch wide) or string
  • Rolling Pin (use a large drinking glass, if you don’t have a rolling pin)
  • Food coloring or glitter (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 250°F. Place the rack in the center position. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Line the work area with parchment paper to prevent your counters or table from becoming stained.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt until well whisked.

In a glass measuring cup, measure the water. If you want to tint your dough, add the food coloring to the water NOW and mix thoroughly. The color and amount of food coloring is up to you depending on how dark, bright, or light you would like your ornament to be.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the colored water. Stir well.

Knead the dough with your hands for approximately 10 minutes (on top of some parchment paper), or until the dough has become smooth and the color is distributed throughout.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thickness on the parchment paper. Use whatever shaped cookie cutters you’d like to cut out the dough. Transfer the cut shapes onto the prepared baking sheet.

Use the straw to cut a small hole near the top (where you’d like to hang the ornament from).  Lightly spray the cut shapes with the non stick cooking spray. This will help seal in the color.

Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.

Once cooled, decorate the ornaments with paint (if you didn’t tint the dough), gems or anything you wish. Thread the ribbon or string through the holes and tie to hang.

You can use this recipe for any holiday or occasion—or anytime you just want to see a smile on the face of your kids or grand kids—they love to make a mess!!

If you don’t want to try this craft, there are plenty of craft books available in our collection at both the Aurora and Dillsboro buildings. There are also some fun craft books available through our Indiana Digital Download Center. Just look for Digital Downloads on our APLD home page.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Black History Month through Picture Books

Are you unsure how to introduce your young children to African American History? You might want to start with a few of these picture books They tackle difficult subjects in a way that is very appropriate for children. Read the books together and follow your child’s lead in how much additional information to share.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford



Freedom in Congo Square amazed me when I first read it! I had never heard about the special Sunday privileges enjoyed by the slaves of New Orleans and how Congo Square became a mixing place for many African cultures.







The next two titles are set during the Civil War era. Hold the Flag High relates the story of Sgt. William Carney, the first African American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. All Different Now tells of June 19, 1865 when the news of the Emancipation finally reached slaves in Galveston, Texas.

Hold the Flag High by Catherine Clinton   All Different Now by Angela Johnson

It’s always fun to learn history by reading about the people who left their mark on our culture. Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. Major Taylor was a world champion cyclist from Indiana; there is an open-air velodrome named for Taylor in Indianapolis. Langston Hughes, of course, was a widely-acclaimed poet and playwright.

Nobody Owns the Sky by Reeve Lindbergh  Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo

The next four books document the struggles of African Americans to gain their rights. These are the stories of our country, and all people need to learn about not only our past, but also about our current struggles for equality.

Papa's Mark by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert  Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney  A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

The book covers shown above are just a few of our picture books about the rich history of African Americans. If you are interested in a specific topic or event, please let me know. We also have great juvenile biographies of black musicians, artists, scientists and more! For older kids, I’d be happy to recommend other fiction and non-fiction books, including Heart and Soul: the Story of America and African Americans and We are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball, both written and illustrated by the amazing Kadir Nelson.


Cooking With Shelby

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another recipe from a book we have on the Indiana Digital Download Center! I checked out Chrissy Teigan’s cookbook, Cravings, and immediately spent the next two months trying to decide what to make since all of her recipes looked so tasty! Once I decided, I requested Cravings through the Interlibrary Loan services because it’s easier for me to cook from a book by keeping the page open instead of trying to flip back and forth digitally. I made Chrissy’s Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup on page forty-four, which was the easiest and tastiest recipe ever!

Here’s what you’ll need:

First, I had to chop all the vegetables to get them ready to cook. I also went ahead and cooked the egg noodles and set them aside.

Then I added the oil and the onions to a large stock pot. Once the onions were tender, I added the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot to soften the vegetables up a little more. I found garlic in a tube that was already minced, so that was a nice way to save some time!

Next, I added the chicken stock and the bay leaf. I let the pot come to a boil and then I turned the heat down to let it simmer for forty-five minutes.

After the forty-five minutes were up, I stirred in the shredded chicken and the noodles, letting the pot simmer for another ten minutes.

This soup was so amazingly flavorful, and I couldn’t believe how simple it was! This recipe was perfect for that winter comfort food craving without the guilt. This is one that will go into my repertoire to make again and again!

Bonus: Chrissy recommends eating this soup with buttered saltine crackers. You’ll have to let me know how it tastes! Until next time!