Category Archives: homepage gallery

First Thursday: Taking a Gap Year on a Budget

October 2nd, 2014rose with elephant 2

There are a million great reasons to take a gap year between high school and college…and one big, expensive reason not to: money. Is it possible to have an exciting, fulfilling gap year without needing an endless flow of dollars? YES! But don’t take our word for it, come to this workshop and found out for yourself.

One of our guests is Sam Bull, who has been a gap year consultant since 1994. He will be talking about how to set up your own, low cost gap year. Other guests will include students who have recently taken gap years and are excited to share their information and experiences with you. Additionally, we will have tons of resources and information for you to take home, so you can explore even more gap year on a budget options on your own.

Registration for this event is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Register here.

This event is open to high school students and recent graduates only.


How to Access’s Premium Content

You may be familiar with’s free study tools, which are endlessly helpful for shmoopeverything from algebra to statistics. With your Mill Valley Library card, though, you can access Shmoop’s Premium content–including test prep for any AP Exam you can think of as well as SAT, ACT, and all of those other fun times standardized tests (scroll to the bottom of the page to see their complete course catalog). There’s also business and career info, writing help and much, MUCH more.

To get started…

1) Just click here

2) You will see something that looks like this:






3) Click “Let’s Go” and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:




4) Where it asks you for a “Magic Word,” enter your Library Card Number (starts with 211110)

5) Create a Username and Password

6) Click “CREATE”

After creating your account, you can log into with your username and password and click on “My Passes” to see your test prep!

*Don’t have a Library Card? Maybe you lost it sometime in the 5th grade? No worries. Just fill out the online application below and stop by the Library to pick up your (free!) card.

Online Library Card Application

What, exactly, do you get with Shmoop’s premium content? Oh, just this:


Health, Physical Education, and Counseling
Technology and Computer Science

Pictures from “Take Your Rage to the Page” Zine Workshop

Well, that definitely goes down in history as one of my favorite events! Thank you so much to Elly Blue and Joe Biel, Ruby the second most awesome dog ever, and everyone else who attended!

First, Elly and Joe helped us make a list of everything that makes us angry (it was long…)

Hi Elly and Joe! You guys are the best!

Hi Elly and Joe! You guys are the best!



making our big list of angers (2)

making our big list of angers (2)

Then we talked about what zines are and how they can help us express that anger…

20140902_194410 20140902_194427


We looked at some examples of zines…before we made our own!

actually so cute

actually so cute

this was my pick

this was my pick




20140902_200555 20140902_200655 




the creative process...

the creative process…

Ilyana smiling makes me smile, always.

Ilyana smiling makes me smile, always.

20140902_201742 20140902_200721

collaborative zine-ing

collaborative zine-ing


Thanks again for a wonderful night! Elly, Joe, and Ruby, come back soon!


Open to high school students and recent grads only. Registration required, register here. 

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Joe Biel, one of Microcosm Publishing’s coolest dudes and one of our esteemed workshop leaders.

What pisses you off? What do you want to say about it? Zines give voice to the silenced and publicize stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover. By taking their rage to the page, zinesters not only find a way to articulate their perspective but also share their vision with the world. 

On Tuesday, September 2nd, the Zine aficionados from Microcosm Publishing in Portland will teach you how to turn the issues you care about into a powerful tool for social change. Or, you can  just learn how to use zines to tell a really good story. Take a look at the awesome time we had with Microcosm Publishing last year.

All participants who register will leave with a blank book to start their zine-making endeavors as well as the Microcosm Zine of their choice.

Don’t know what a zine is? Check out this lovely little film by Jacob Carroll:

Creative Writing Workshops; Wednesday nights from 7-8:30 PM

creativewritinginstagramForget essays and homework; discover what it means to let creativity run wild and write for pleasure at these weekly creative writing workshops. We will read and discuss poetry, fiction, non-fiction, slam poetry, and any other type of writing that strikes our fancy. These workshops offer the opportunity to explore your writing skills in a relaxed, informal environment. Creative Writing Workshops aren’t about getting a good grade or writing a critical analysis, they are about trying new things and creating something exciting to put on a blank page.

313393_283129255049078_100000560186552_1070834_1377457794_nIf you don’t feel like writing, that’s fine too, you are always welcome to just hang out, eat candy, and listen to what others have to say. 

Student writing can be found here.

Like our Facebook page here.

Creative Writing links of interest can be found here.

Contact Katie (workshop facilitator and Young Adult Librarian) here. 

Workshops are open to high school students only

View of Metropolis by Ben Daly

Kind of like a dream to break your neck looking up at these walls parting away for the living to navigate through. Even the childless adult who never grew up looks out his tall window at a sky that has enough warmth to look back at him. The bar owner and his cigarette look up through the high forest of right angles in more amusement than jealousy. He never needed a higher place than where he was. Far above is the CEO, and far below are the crustaceans of men who truly live in the shadow of his work. The moon doesn’t have many words for it, but spectates the battles of lives the running people fight on the pavement. How many are running from something? Will the blue sky ever see a day with these people at rest? Will they ever have a real sunset in their lives? The mechanic can never answer as he stares up out of his lonely warehouse. Even the young ones who live behind the skyline ask their parents if they have faced this question. Night is haunted by anger and orange lights. Sometimes they run more now than while the sun is out.

Throw Back Thursday: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Published March 2008 by Dial

403 pages

Anthony Keller (nicknamed T.C.) is a freshman in Brookline MA, right outside of Boston, and he is convinced he is in love with Alejandra Perez, whom he’s only just met. Alé is the new kid in school, having just moved to Brookilne after being raised in D.C. and Mexico City as a diplomat’s daughter with a secret passion for musical theater. Augie Hwong is T.C.’s “brother,” in that they decided they were going to be brothers in first grade and everybody just went along with it until it was kind of true. Meet the three most lovable, lively, and relatable characters in teen fiction history.

Told from all three perspectives, this book takes these three characters through their freshman year, which all three have claimed to be the “most excellent year” of their lives. This book has it all: first love, comic relief, new friends, best friends, families, devotion, and loss. As three lives become irrevocably intertwined, T.C., Alé, and Augie will cope with the trials of high school in many forms.

The writing is hilarious and the characters jump right off the page. Kluger does a great job of mastering the mle and female voice without reverting to gender or gay stereotypes. The many connected plot lines include Alé’s struggle to confront her parents about her love of the stage, Augie discovering his sexuality, T.C. continuing to recover from the death of his mother eight years earlier, and a little deaf boy named Hucky who has been waiting for Marry Poppins to come and live with him since he was four. Bursting with heart and overflowing with love, My Most Excellent Year paints the picture of a family that the reader can’t help but wish was their own.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Keywords: family, friends, love, high school

Best Quote: **Instant message conversation**

Augie: Does everybody else know?

T.C.: About my epitaph?

Augie: About me being gay!

T.C. Not everybody. There’s a night watchman at a Dunkin Donuts just outside of Detroit. He doesn’t know yet.

Creative Writing Links and Wisdom

Thanks to the weekly Creative Writing Workshop for high school students, I do a lot of reading about writing. It seems selfish to keep such a plethora of knowledge to myself. If I find an article/post/cat gif that I, in my totally subjective way, find pertinent to the craft of writing, I will share it here. Generally speaking, I will only post the title and/or first few lines of something, with a link to the full text. If nothing else, this will be a useful repository for me to collect the interesting writing articles I find and usually promptly forget about. There may only be a few pieces to start, but I promise to continue to add more. If you come across something you think should be here, email me or post it to the Facebook page (which pretty much only I read) and I will repost here.  Read/Write on!


  • All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.– ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • I don’t follow Quora much but this showed up in my inbox and if Lois Lowery is talking about the process of writing a novel, I want to read what she has to say.
  • This illustrated version of Charles Bukowski’s “air and light and time and space” is awesome. 
  • I am living by this excerpt from Anne Lamott’s great book on writing, Bird By Bird.
  • I mean, you can be sure I am going to include lots of quotes from my boy Hemingway on this page: 

“When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day next you hit it again.” - ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • Although this does not bode well for me, as I am actually the least athletic/exercise-y person alive, I am sure what Rebecca Makkai says is true:

“My cures for writer’s block are alarmingly pragmatic and physical. So pragmatic that they arrange themselves in list form! To wit: 1. Get up and walk around. A few years ago, I realized that the solutions to most of my writing problems would come to me in the bathroom. It wasn’t the bathroom itself, of course, that was magic, but the act of getting up from my desk and walking there, getting the blood flowing, and tearing my eyes away from the computer screen. So now, when I’m staring down a huge plot problem, I take a long walk—without a notepad. It’s nearly always solved by the time I get back. 2. Vitamin B. It’s better than caffeine. It makes you both calmer and smarter. I keep a bottle on my desk. 3. If you can, sleep late. That last cycle of sleep is when the weird dreams come, the ones you’ll actually remember. (And how great is it to say, “I have to sleep late for work?”) 4. Yoga. My point with all of these being: Writing isn’t entirely mental. You’re a physical being, and sometimes when your writing is broken, it’s your body that needs attention, not your mind.”
—Rebecca Makkai via The Millions

  • Finished a draft of something? Here are six questions to ask your reader to ensure they give helpful feedback.
  • Failure is Our Muse by Stephen Marche (good, because one of my stories keeps getting rejected and it’s giving me a sad!)
  • “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.” JOSEPH CAMPBELL

  • What Writers Can Learn from “Goodnight Moon” by Aimee Bender
  • Fiction Writer's Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox

    Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox

New Books for September!

I’m Just Mehspace=2 by M G Higgins

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Nasreen and Mia are two very different girls. But they stand out at Arondale High. And kids make assumptions about the only Muslim and the new black girl–the only African American–in school. “Who let you into the suburbs?” Samantha asks. Everyone gawks. Nasreen has kept her head down for years. Eighteen months and she’s out, she tells herself. Off to college. Mia is bold. Yeah, she wishes she were somewhere else, but she’s not going to take the bullying lying down. She has to live her life. Graduate. Get into a good school. The school administrators are ignorant. And worse. The bullying escalates. Both at school and online. The girls come up with a plan to fight back. To regain some dignity. To turn the tables on the bullies.


hspace=2Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists by Courtney E Martin. 

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

When did you know you were a feminist? Whether it happened at school, at work, while watching TV, or reading a book, many of us can point to a particular moment when we knew we were feminists. In “Click, ” editors Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan bring us a range of women–including Jessica Valenti, Amy Richards, Shelby Knox, Winter Miller, and Jennifer Baumgardner–who share stories about how that moment took shape for them. 

Sometimes emotional, sometimes hilarious, this collection gives young women who already identify with the feminist movement the opportunity to be heard–and it welcomes into the fold those new to the still-developing story of feminism.

hspace=2Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre


Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

In Ann Aguirre’s “Mortal Danger,” Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. 

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who–or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind.

hspace=2Lazy Intellectual: Maximum Knowledge, Minimum Effort by Richard J Wallace

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

‘The Lazy Intellectual’ is an accessible dip-in, dip-out recap of various academic disciplines. An interesting collection of facts delivered in a variety of ways, it provides an enlightening review at a reader-friendly pace.

hspace=2Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

When Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she’s about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why–in order to see for herself what makes life worth living. 

Unflinching in its portrayal of Emma’s darkest days, yet full of hope and humor, Rachel DeWoskin’s brilliant “Blind “is one of those rare books that utterly absorbs the reader into the life and experience of another.

hspace=2Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“Stephanie Perkins’s characters fall in love the way we all want to, in real time and for good.” –Rainbow Rowell, Award-winning, bestselling author of “Eleanor & Park” and “Fangirl”

“Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?”

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love–set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona–is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.


hspace=2Yolo by Lauren Myracle

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Through texts and messages, the mega-bestselling, beloved Internet Girls series followed the ups and downs of school for three very different, very close friends. Now it’s freshman year of college for the winsome threesome, and *everything* is different. For one, the best friends are facing their first semester apart. Way, way apart. Maddie’s in California, Zoe’s in Ohio, and Angela’s back in Georgia. And it’s not just the girls who are separated. Zoe’s worried that Doug wants to break up now that they’re at different schools, and Maddie’s boyfriend, Ian, is on the other side of the country.In the face of change and diverging paths, Maddie’s got a plan to keep the friends close, and it involves embracing the present, making memories, and . . . roller derby! Using of-the-moment technology, Lauren Myracle brings her groundbreaking series into the brave new virtual world of texting and tweets. 


hspace=2 Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs by Joseph O’Shea

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

With some of the most prestigious universities in America urging students to defer admissions so they can experience the world, the idea of the gap year has taken hold in America. Since its development in Britain nearly fifty years ago, taking time off between secondary school and college has allowed students the opportunity to travel, develop crucial life skills, and grow up, all while doing volunteer work in much-needed parts of the developing world.

Until now, there has been no systematic study of how the gap year helps students develop as young scholars and citizens. Joseph O’Shea has produced the first empirically based analysis of a gap year’s influence on student development. He also establishes a context for better understanding this personal development and suggests concrete ways universities and educators can develop effective gap year programs.

hspace=2100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Destiny takes a detour in this heartbreakingly hilarious novel from the acclaimed author of “Winger,” which “Kirkus Reviews “called “smart” and “wickedly funny.”

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned–and learn how to write their own destiny.

 Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers  by hspace=2Mike Sacks 

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Amy Poehler, Mel Brooks, Adam McKay, George Saunders, Bill Hader, Patton Oswalt, and many more take us deep inside the mysterious world of comedy in this fascinating, laugh-out-loud-funny book. Packed with behind-the-scenes stories–from a day in the writers’ room at “The””Onion “to why a sketch does or doesn’t make it onto “Saturday Night Live “to how the BBC nearly erased the entire first season of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus–Poking a Dead Frog “is a must-read for comedy buffs, writers and pop culture junkies alike.

Sarah’s Book Reviews: Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood

Published February 2013 by Simon & Schuster UK

Hardcover 271 pages

I’m not sure I know what this book was supposed to be about. It was a mashup of many different traditional subgenres: mother abandonment, forbidden love, surly alcoholic father, sibling that has lost his way, money struggles, and racial differences. If handled correctly, this combination has the potential of being a beautiful book. Instead, Infinite Sky was confusing and unimpressive

On the inside of the dust jacket, at the top of the summary, is the bold, eye-catching question “Is it possible to keep loving somebody when they kill someone you love?” First off, I would like to answer no. It is probably not possible. But more importantly, it is unclear to me that the main character in this book, Iris, even fell in love. When gypsies set up camp on her farm property, much to her father’s disgust, she goes behind his back and strikes up a friendship with the new boy her age, Trick. While Trick is kind to her, has a crush on her, and presents her with an alternative to her dysfunctional family and irritating friends, Iris is 13 years old and they are not in love. Right off the bat, then, the whole premise is ridiculous.

There were parts of this book that I liked. Iris’s mission to reclaim her brother from his adolescent angst phase by coaxing him with childhood memories was moving and sweet. Her devotion to her parents despite their faults was also sweet. But ultimately the progression of events, and the characters themselves, were unrealistic and this left me bored. The issues that arose, and Iris’ response to them, were more fit for a lead character of about 16 or 17 and I had to keep reminding myself that she was only 13. Iris’ family is a mess, but in the kind of way that makes you think they are hopeless and she should cut and run. Her friend Matty is unhelpful at best, and downright destructive at worst. This book contained too much dysfunction and that wasn’t woven together well enough to make up a coherent story.

Genre: Family Drama

Keywords: Family, violence, fighting, dysfunction, England, gypsies

Best quote: “How can anyone do anything but love each other and be kind when at the end of it all, waiting quietly, sure as the dark at the end of the loveliest day, is only this?”

Throw Back Thursday: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Published May, 2013 by HarperTeen

432 pages

Abby Barnes knows what she wants in life: an education at northwestern before she sets off as a journalist. So how did she end up filming a movie in Hollywood after a scheduling conflict caused her to take drama in her senior year? She’s as baffled as the rest of us. But that happenstance is really only the beginning of Abby’s worries because the day before her eighteenth birthday, her world collides with a parallel universe. I’m not going to spend too long trying to explain it because it’s actually quite complex but the gist of it is that everyone has been transporter into another version of their lives, but Abby is the only one who realizes it. Now stuck living the wrong life, a life dictated by decisions she herself is making but that haven’t been made yet, Abby wakes up to a new reality every morning but none of them is the one she wanted. 

This book started out kind of confusing, because it took me a while to get a hold of the multiverse concept, but it also took Abby a while to figure it out and I was only ever as confused as she was. Once the conventions of the two worlds becomes more clear, the book delves into some pretty deep philosophical theories about fate, love, and what remains constant in your life regardless of which version it is. The writing is funny and while an experienced YA reader can foresee the possibility of slipping into cliché at several points, Miller does a good job of avoiding most of the usual tropes.

There are a wide variety of audiences that would enjoy this book–it blends science fiction, real life, and a love story–but I would recommend it most highly to people who are going through the college admissions process. Parallel examines the weight that is held in our choices and how that affects our future. Abby discovers that the decisions that change your life are not the ones that you would think. Toying with the idea that destiny might be a constant in the mathematical formula of life, I found this book extremely relatable and comforting as someone who is facing big decisions in the next few months.

Genre: Science Fiction/Realistic Fiction

Keywords: parallel worlds, fate, choices, love, destiny, friendship

Best Quote: “Often it is the choices that seem inconsequential that uproot us.”