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Book Review: Dreamfever (Dreamfire #2) by Kit Alloway, reviewed by teen reviewer Lexi

Book Synopsis:

Dreamfever (Dreamfire, #2)Finding out that she is the True Dream Walker hasn’t gone at all the Joshlyn Weaver would have expected it to. The only special gift she seems to have is an ability to create archways, which really isn’t that special. In addition to her inability to connect with the Dream, she has also started having nightmares that are so terrible she can’t tell anyone about them. Not even Will.

Just when Josh thought her life couldn’t get any more complicated, the lost dream walker princess returns to claim her parents’ right to the throne, right as the Lodestone party threatens to take control of the government during the upcoming Accordance Conclave.

With the clock running down, Josh must rely on not only her friends, but also her enemies, to stop the radicals from taking power and controlling the Dream. But how can she expect to save everyone else when she’s struggling to pick up the pieces of her own shattered life? (Releases February 23 by St. Martin’s Griffin)



Lexi’s Thoughts:

As goes Rome, so does the empire.”

I don’t really care for this book.

I don’t like the characters or the writing or the plot. The idea behind it doesn’t even peak my interest in anyway.

The writing for me was dull and tasteless. Half the time I was confused on what was going on and who it was speaking about because of how much it flip flops in time frames. I always enjoy third person point of view but this was just ridiculously unorganized for me to read. I quickly became frustrated with this book.

I had nothing that I could sink my teeth into with this story. I had already expected how Josh’s and Will’s relationship was gonna turn out with her secret nightmares and his stifling obsession. There was no unexpected outcome in the relationship part of this book. However, i will admit i didn’t expect the political outcome of the Dream World.  Other than that, and the reappearance of our mysterious madman, this book had no luster. No oomph. The characters didn’t have any life in them. They seemed flat and boring to read.

The whole dream world and dream walking thing isn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the content nor its plot. It’s not your average hero quest archetypal novel, and I’m a diehard for cliche and epic hero’s with epic adventure and this had none of that.

I wouldn’t recommend this book personally.

School Library Journal says, “A solid purchase for YA sections, especially where the first installment was popular.”—Jane Hebert, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL

Sunday Reflections: Goodbye Harper Lee

sundayreflections1We lost Harper Lee last week, and for anyone who read the book, it really does feel like we is the correct pronoun. It feels personal. It feels like a part of her belonged to us. To Kill a Mockingbird was a story that moved us, that motivated us to pay attention to social injustice, to the quiet neighbor, to our own need to write things down, to the way the world works, to books.

As far as assigned reading goes, it’s been at the top of the heap for a while. I’ve talked with many teens over the years who came in to the library with eyes wide, unbelieving of the outcome, suddenly seeing the world around them differently than they did before reading it. Some of us read To Kill a Mockingbird as kids, barely Scout’s age, before we could grasp the subtleties of the storytelling and the enormity of the story. Not me. I somehow escaped being assigned the reading of that lavender covered paperback all through high school and even through my English major that focused on American studies. But I did read it at long last, and I think it hit me at just the right time.

To Kill a MockingbirdThe fall after I graduated from college, I was living back home, substitute teaching and waiting to figure out how being a “very trainable” English major was actually going to help me find a path to self-sufficiency. Fresh off my foreign study stint, and still occasionally dreaming in Spanish, I joked with my grandparents that I’d happily translate for them and their friend on their upcoming package tour of Spain, and to my great surprise, they took me up on it. I don’t remember what else I took to read on that trip, but I do vividly remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I sat on a balcony, looking out at the sun soaked hills of a place I’d briefly called home, smelling the bougainvillea as the breeze passed by, and feeling like I’d finally found the piece I hadn’t known I was missing. Ms. Lee’s book has a way of connecting us to what we most need to see in it, and in others. I spent the rest of the trip not reading, but writing a long long letter to one of my professors–there were ideas unspoken that To Kill a Mockingbird wouldn’t let lie still. It was one of those books that didn’t just ask for reflection, it forced it. I returned home and opened my acceptance letter to library school.

And now we’ve lost Ms. Lee just like we found her. Quietly, knowing it would happen eventually, but never really expecting how it would hit us. Others more eloquent and well versed in the details of her novel and her life will have more important things to say about her passing. But me? I am just grateful. Grateful that she lived and shared that story that so moved so many of us. Grateful to have lived in the world while she inhabited it. Grateful too that for most of her life, her one published novel stood on its own, without comparison, a stalwart and proud testament to its ideas and time.

This week we say goodbye to someone who felt like our friend, but who never knew us. Someone who lived a life to deliberately avoid us, but touched our hearts. Someone who, for all the readers and writers, lawyers and judges she birthed, never pushed out another piece that made us think about life differently.We say goodbye, united in knowing that our goodbye is our own, solitary and singular, just as our reading experience was.


#MHYALit: Before and After, a guest post by Melissa Montovani

**Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicide.**


It was March 10th, 1995, and my “big” plans for the night involved doing some laundry. I had just started the machine, so the sound of water running was already filling my ears when the phone rang. I remember that my mom answered almost immediately, maybe after the first ring, but definitely before the third. But I can’t remember exactly what she said or how she said it.

What I do remember was a sound that I couldn’t quite place. At first, I thought she was laughing. But there was something odd about it, something that instinctively made me pause what I was doing and walk into my parent’s bedroom. And when I did, the before part of my life began to shatter.

What I saw wasn’t anything close to happiness. My mom’s face wasn’t lit up from within like it would have been under other circumstances. You see, the sound wasn’t laughter…. If I had to put a name on what I saw, what I heard, it would’ve been a lot closer to hysteria. There were tears rolling down her face faster than she could stop them.

In that moment, she was too distraught to remember where the box of Kleenex was. Or maybe her night table seemed too far away to assuage the onslaught of grief, because I distinctly remember that instead, she pulled up the fitted sheet from the bed and wiped her eyes with it.

And when I asked what was wrong, I remember with crystal clarity her say, “Corrine’s dead.”


It wasn’t until the next day that I learned my Aunt Corrine had committed suicide.

Today, she would’ve been 52 years old.

A little over five years ago, I started YABookShelf.com, in part, because there were all these amazing books on the market, the kind of books that didn’t exist when I was a teen. They explored things that there are no easy answers, even when the person, or character, leaves a note explaining all the reasons why, they’re never enough for the people they leave behind.


Here are some of the books that mean the most to me now as a survivor of a loved one’s suicide:

  • Nina LaCour’s Hold Still: This was the first book that I ever had the courage to read on the subject of a teen grieving for her best friend’s suicide.
  • Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye: An amazing book, the best one I’ve read since Hold Still. It’s about a teen dealing with the guilt she feels over her younger brother’s suicide. It’s also the only one on this list that I’ve read multiple times and I imagine I’ll continue to reread as time goes by.
  • Stephen Chobsky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower: I have too many feels about this book (and the movie) to put them into words fully. It’s a book about a teen with a best friend who killed himself a year before and who has suffered from depression afterward, and so many other things. You should just read it if you haven’t already.
  • Michelle Levy’s Not After Everything: A great story about a teen boy who changes everything about the direction his life had been taking after his mother commits suicide without leaving a note while grieving and puts the pieces back in a much different order afterward.
  • Amy Zhang’s Falling into Place: Told from an unusual perspective, this is an interesting, nonlinear narrative about why the most popular girl in the junior class ran her Mercedes off the road on purpose.
  • Lesley Anne Cowan’s Something Wicked: An edgy YA novel that deals with a character who spins out of control and into depression after she breaks up with a much older, secret boyfriend that doesn’t get enough recognition.

Have you read any of these recommendations? What did you think of them?

melissaMeet Our Guest Blogger

Melissa Montovani is the founder of YABookShelf.com and the Teen Publicist for Entangled Publishing. She is an advocate for and reader of YA Literature of all kinds, but she actively seeks out books depicting mental health issues. She lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

Karen’s Note: One of my best friend’s from high school committed suicide on January 1st. It has been a difficult emotional journey for all that loved him. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.

See all the #MHYALit Posts Here

Friday Finds – February 19, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: My first loves . . .

Middle School Monday – Remembering Black History Month

Book Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, by teen reviewer Lexi

Book Review: Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

MakerSpace: 3D Pens, Reviews and Tips and Tricks

Video Games Weekly: Shovel Knight

Book Review: Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey

When the Ending Is Not the End: Mental Health and Accepting the Long-Term Journey by Annie Cardi

Bloomsbury Children’s Books Winter and Spring 2016 Roundup and Giveaway

Around the Web

Harlem Advocacy Group Demands School Librarians

Obama’s 2017 budget removes ALL funding for abstinence-only education

New report by NPE gives no state higher than C.

America’s Stacked Deck

Cover Reveal: ‘Three Dark Crowns’ by Kendare Blake


Ky’s Mini Reviews: It’s All Your Fault and Kill the Boy Band

Today TAB member The Bestie, aka Ky, reviews two new books. One came out in January 2016 and the other comes out on Febraury 23rd.

itsallyourfaultIt’s All Your Fault by Paul Rudnik

Publisher’s Description:

My name is Caitlin and up until forty-eight hours ago I had never:

Tasted alcohol, kissed a boy, sang in public at the top of my lungs, kidnapped anyone or—WHAT? STOLEN A CONVERTIBLE?

Now I’m in jail and I have no idea what I’m going to tell:

The police, my parents, the mayor, all of those camera crews and everyone on Twitter.

I have just noticed that:

My nose is pierced and I have—WAIT? IS THAT A TATTOO?

I blame one person for this entire insane weekend:

My famous cousin.

Who is also my former best friend.

Who I have HATED for the past four years.

Who I miss like crazy. NO I DON’T!!!!

IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT, HELLER HARRIGAN!!!! (Scholastic, January 2016)

Ky’s Thoughts:

I’m absolutely intrigued by this book. Not only is it hilarious, but Paul Rudnick did a fantastic job of getting the true meaning of family seeped throughout the pages. I highly recommend this book for anybody feeling down because there is a laugh waiting behind every page. There is truly nothing that the author needs to fix, it’s definitely spot on!

killtheboyband2Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Publisher’s Book Description:

From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell. (Scholastic Point, February 23, 2016)

Ky’s Thoughts:

Kill The Boy Band is a book filled with crazy twist and turns, betrayal, and murder!?!? Though you might think the title tells it all, you’ll be suprised to find out that the title is just the beginning of the story.  This book had my mind racing and i could hardly put it down.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books Winter and Spring 2016 Roundup and Giveaway

bloomsburyIt’s hard to stay on top of all the new books that are coming out soon. As an effort to highlight more of the review books I receive, I’ve taken to doing posts either about my recent book mail or highlighting a certain publisher’s list. Today I’m sharing with you what is new and forthcoming from Bloomsbury Children’s Books. As part of this showcase, Bloomsbury is offering to give away four ARCs. We will pick four winners to win one book each. The ARCs are: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange, When We Collided by Emery Lord, Whisper to Me by Nick Lake, and The Leaving by Tara Altebrando.

To enter you can hop on over to the Rafflecopter, (re)tweet this post, or follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething). Giveaway runs February 18 to February 25th. 


concentr8Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe (1/19/2016)

In a not so distant future London, riots have become the  norm. But things take a turn for the worse one day, when  the government suddenly stops their distribution of  Concentr8­­–a behavioral modification “miracle” drug akin  to Ritalin.

Amidst the chaos, five teens pick a man seemingly at  random and chain him up as a hostage in a warehouse.  Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet  sidekick­­–the only person he has ever trusted. But even  Troy didn’t see this coming, and as their story unfolds  over six tense days, one thing is clear–­­none of them will  ever be the same again.

Told from the perspective of multiple characters in a  world familiar to our own, this searing look into the  power of psychological medication is perfect for fans of  thoughtful fiction like Panic and The Program series.



rebelRebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange (2/16/2016)

With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional  depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes  readers on literary thrill ride.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked,  tattooed wild child. The Bully: Bigger is better, so York bullies everyone  who crosses his path. The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is waiting it out  until he goes Ivy League. The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked  for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves  hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops,  they decide to hop into the nearest car they see and take  off. Normally these four would never be caught dead  together, but when their getaway takes a dangerous turn,  sticking together will be the only way to avoid ending up  dead.


what you alwaysWhat You Always Wanted (An If Only Novel) by Kristin Rae (3/29/2016)

If Only . . . he was the boy she’s been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!

Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family–but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball–not dance–is Jessie’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?


when weWhen We Collided by Emory Lord (4/5/2016)

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power to save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.


burningBurning by Danielle Rollins (4/5/2016)

After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few  months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the  hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then  Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest  security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no  one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things  begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only  be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that  Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get  out, but how can they save themselves when the world  has forgotten them?

Readers will be rooting for Angela and her friends to find  the truth and save themselves in this spine­-tingling story  rich with secrets and conspiracies.


whisper to meWhisper to Me by Nick Lake (5/3/2016)

Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.

Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.



courtA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (5/3/2016)

Return to the faerie realm of Prythian in the stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ New York Timesbestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


long gameThe Long Game: A Fixer Novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (6/7/2016)

Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

Perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Ally Carter, the second book in this thrilling series will leave readers breathless.


leavingThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando (6/7/2016)

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been. A riveting mystery for fans of We Were Liars.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

This unforgettable novel brims with rich characters, tense storytelling, and high stakes.


break meBreak Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt (6/7/2016)

With its sizzling romance and thrilling tension, this second book in the Once Upon a Crime Family series will hold readers spellbound.

All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow in her father’s path and head up the Family business. But new legislation is about to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade.

Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for Alex, a tech whiz, to fix. But he copies confidential Family information he’ll only return in exchange for a kidney transplant he urgently needs. Fulfilling their bargain takes longer than expected, and Maggie finds herself falling for the ailing Alex. Like it or not, she must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for it.


learningLearning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy (7/5/2016)

Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize–if there’s ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri’s 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he’s not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.


chasingChasing Stars by Helen Douglas (7/19/2016)

A love story that spans generations and time continues in this captivating tale that’s perfect for fans of A Thousand Pieces of You.

Hunted down by a ruthless “cleaner” from the future, star-crossed lovers Eden and Ryan have been forced to travel a hundred years forward to 2123. Ryan has broken fundamental laws of time for them to be together, and now they face his trial and permanent imprisonment . . . and a life without each other.

Eden knows that she must save Ryan, but he’s under tight security–and getting caught would mean life imprisonment for the both of them. All Eden wants is Ryan, but is it possible to be together when it seems the whole universe is against them?

Fans of Claudia Gray, Amie Kaufman, and Meagan Spooner will be captivated by this epic cross-century romance where love bends the laws of time and reason.


all weAll We Have Left by Wendy Mills (8/9/2016)

A haunting and heart-wrenching story of two girls, two time periods, and the one event that changed their lives–and the world–forever.

Interweaving stories from past and present, All We Have Left follows two girls, Alia and Jesse, who discover that hatred and love have the power to reverberate into the future.

Then: Alia is a proud Muslim, even if it makes high school more difficult. Grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia decides to confront her father at his Manhattan office, putting her in danger she never expected. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside. There she meets a boy who risks everything for her.

Now: Jesse is haunted by the past. Ever since her brother died in the September 11th attacks, her dad’s rage and grief has overshadowed their lives. When one hate-fueled decision turns Jesse’s life upside down, the only way to make amends is to face the past and find out the truth of her brother’s last day.


almost kingThe Almost King by Lucy Saxon (8/16/2016)

A thrilling tale of adventure, deadly secrets, and romance on a ship traversing the skies of a distant world.

Aleks Vasin doesn’t want any part of the boring village life mapped out for him–he wants excitement and the chance to travel. So Aleks heads south to the great city of Rensav and enlists in the army, but after a brutal few days, he realizes that he’s signed himself away to a life far worse than the one he just left.

Aleks escapes, hoping to find safety somewhere in the north. On the way, he finds love, adventure, and a skyship full of technological discoveries beyond his wildest dreams. He just might just prove himself a hero too–but only if he can evade the vengeful soldiers on his trail who want him back.

The second book in an exciting YA sci-fi series, The Almost King returns to the epic, sweeping world of Tellus with a story that’s perfect for fans of Seeker and the Starbound series.


poppyPoppy by Mary Hooper (8/30/2016)

Set against the backdrop of World War I, this romantic novel is equal parts sweeping and heartbreaking.

England, 1914. Poppy is 15, beautiful, and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. She will become a servant to the aristocratic de Vere family . . . and bury her feelings for their youngest son, Freddie. He could never marry a girl like her.

But the path for Poppy’s life changes when it becomes clear that the war isn’t going to end soon. England needs every able bodied person to serve in battle, which, for Poppy, means volunteering on the front lines as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. As she experiences what people are capable of–the best of humanity and the worst–Poppy will discover how to be her own person.

This sweeping drama vividly blends swoon-worthy romance with the story of a girl looking for her place in a war-torn world is perfect fans of Elizabeth Wein and Ruta Sepetys.


bombsThe Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan (9/13/2016)

This new thriller from a breakout author is a compelling story of war, friendship, and heartbreaking choices—perfect for fans of Andrew Smith.

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. But after Charlie meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken.

Then the bombs and soldiers come from Old Country, and Little Town changes forever. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his worst enemy. Charlie wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will . . . But to protect Pavel, he’ll have to kill someone else first.

From the acclaimed author of When Mr. Dog Bites comes a powerful story that asks the question–how far would you go to save the people you love?

#MHYALit: When the Ending Is Not the End: Mental Health and Accepting the Long-Term Journey by Annie Cardi

Today as part of our #MHYALit Discussion we are honored to host author Annie Cardi. This is her second of three posts that will appear here throughout the year as part of our discussion.

You can read her first post here.

See all the #MHYALit Posts Here


The advice given to every debut author: don’t look at your reviews. Don’t Google yourself. Don’t set up an autosearch and comb through blogs. And for the love of all that is good, don’t go on Goodreads.

Confession: I never take that advice.

Author Annie Cardi

Author Annie Cardi

Reviews don’t bother me. I’ve been in creative writing workshops, so I have experience listening to feedback from people I trust and from people whose opinion I don’t care about at all. I’ve worked in publishing, so I know that rejections aren’t personal. And as a reader, I know that there are books I adore that other people hate and books I slogged through that other people love. Just because a book isn’t for you doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile—it’s very likely someone else’s favorite book. Reviews reflect a reader’s personal tastes, what strikes them and what leaves them cold. It’s a glimpse into a reader’s life, and I love seeing that, no matter how good or bad the review. I don’t even mind the very critical reviews, as long as they’re thoughtful. Think my book is boring? Okay. Don’t like the main character? That’s fair. The reader’s experience is theirs, and why should that bother me?

Every so often, I’ll see a review that mentions the ending—or rather, the lack thereof. Some reviewers are frustrated because there’s no definitive resolution for Alex or her mom; others want to know what happens after the last page. And that’s a completely valid reading experience.

But I stand by my ending.



When I was writing The Chance You Won’t Return, I wanted to portray what it’s like for a family to live with mental illness as sensitively and accurately as possible. While I don’t know anyone who’s believed they were Amelia Earhart, I know a lot of people who have struggled with depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, addiction, and people who have seen loved ones struggled with these kinds of challenges. Just as each person and brain is unique, living with mental illness can mean a variety of things to a variety of people. Different medications and therapies and coping mechanisms and support groups can be helpful to a lot of individuals, and not as helpful to others.

One thing I’ve seen that’s pretty common to a lot of people—mental health struggles aren’t something you just fix. There are good days and bad days, but at some level, these challenges are always with you. And that’s okay. It can sound overwhelming to think “I have to deal with this for my whole life,” but it means that you shouldn’t feel pressure to feel 100% better on any given day. We all have good days and bad days, and if you’re struggling with mental illness, allowing yourself the permission to acknowledge the hard times and seek help is essential.

We all want to only have good days. It would be so much easier if there were a single pill we could take or a therapist we could go to for a few months that made us feel better for the rest of our lives. In reality, most people need long-term support, even when they’re feeling better. Medication can help provide balance to your biological chemistry. Therapy can help you open up about and address issues that might seem small but are still a big part of your daily experience. These kinds of things are helpful whether you’re having a great day or an awful one. And your life is never one single experience at a time—maybe your medication isn’t working as well as it used to and you need to find something else, or maybe you ran into a major challenge and need an emergency therapy session immediately. Thinking that there’s a ‘fix’ puts way too much pressure on the individual to only have good days (which is unrealistic) and to shoulder their bad days alone.

For me, the best approach to living with mental illness is when you can acknowledge your long-term journey. Having bad days doesn’t mean you’re failing, and having good days doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself.

So is the ending of The Chance You Won’t Return ambiguous and potentially frustrating? Definitely. But it was important to me to present a character who’s learning to take care of herself and who’s on the road to recovery, day by day. Alex’s family is learning how to put itself back together, and I truly believe that they’ll be together soon. That doesn’t mean that Alex’s mother won’t have bad times in the future, but it means the Winchesters are all learning about ongoing support and care and openness.

Whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, there is hope. There’s always another day, and the ending of a particularly tough experience doesn’t have to be the end.

Author Bio: Annie Cardi is the author of The Chance You Won’t Return, which was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year for 2015. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys running, baking, and spending too much time on Tumblr. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis at: Blog Facebook Twitter Tumblr.

Book Review: Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey

Publisher’s description

spiritHarriet (known as Harry) is a donor-conceived child who has never wanted to reach out to her half-siblings or donor—until now. Feeling adrift after a breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Harry tracks down her half-siblings, two of whom are in Seattle, where Harriet lives. The first girl she meets is fifteen–year-old Lucy, an effervescent half-Japanese dancer. Then she meets Meredith, a troubled girl who is always accompanied by her best friend, Alex. Harry and Alex are attracted to each other, much to Meredith’s chagrin, and when it becomes clear that Meredith is an accomplished liar, Harry makes it her business to figure out what Meredith is up to. In the course of her investigation, she discovers a lot about Meredith, but the biggest shock is not about Meredith—it’s about Alex, who was born female. So now Harry must deal with not only her growing attraction to Alex, but also Meredith’s hostility. As decisions are made around whether to contact their donor, the three donor sisters negotiate their relationship and Harry tries to figure out what she really wants.


Amanda’s thoughts

17-year-old Harry leads an interesting life. She works every Sunday at her “grandma” Verna’s hair salon giving free hair washes and haircuts to the “Sunday ladies,” a rotating cast of homeless women. Verna is not Harry’s grandma by blood relation; Verna took Harry’s mother in when she was young and homeless. Harry’s mother now has a PhD and is a sociology professor whose main area of research is the lives of homeless and runaway young girls. These girls and their stories (as well as some of those of the older “Sunday ladies”) show up a lot in this novel, as Harry spends time transcribing her mother’s interviews with the homeless girls.


After reading a magazine article about donor siblings, Harry decides she’s finally ready to begin searching for her siblings. Harry’s mom, a Single Mother by Choice, had long ago set Harry up with a way to access the donor sibling registry. Harry decides she wants this to just be her thing for now and doesn’t tell her mom that she’s starting her search. She quickly finds three donor brothers and two donor sisters, both of whom are currently in Seattle, where Harry lives. As she learns more about all of them, she finds they all have very different family makeups and reasons why their mothers used a sperm donor. After getting over the initial shock of how enthusiastic and gregarious her sister Lucy is, she begins to grow close to her. The introduction of another sister, Meredith, interrupts that growing bond. Meredith is secretive and hard to read. Harry just doesn’t click with her. She does, however, click with Alex, Meredith’s best friend who is also living in Seattle. When Harriet embraces the MO of one of her namesakes, Harriet the Spy, and digs into Meredith and Alex’s pasts, she uncovers something she didn’t expect: Alex used to be Danielle. Harry is thrown for a loop, but not horrified or upset or anything negative. She has some questions, but now knowing Alex is transgender doesn’t change anything. She’s still interested in pursuing a relationship with him, but Meredith has other ideas.


I really liked this book. I’ll admit that the title didn’t draw me in. Did I know that a spirit level is something carpenters use for checking if things are level? Of course not. Did I read the title as something either supernatural or New Agey? Yep. Good thing I looked beyond that and read the description. Harry and her mom are wonderful characters. They are very close and supportive of each other. Harry’s mom has worked hard to teach Harry to be compassionate and open-minded. With the exception of Alex’s garbage heap of a mom, who we only briefly meet, all of the characters in this book are so supportive and caring. I love that we see stories here from donor-conceived teens, from homeless girls and women, and from families made up in a variety of ways. I also love Alex and Harry’s growing relationship. I don’t want to be like, oh, Harry is so great to not be bothered by learning that Alex is transgender, because that should never bother anyone and you shouldn’t get heaped with praise for simply not being a close-minded idiot. BUT—I really did love that Harry was like, okay, this is a thing we need to talk about, and I have some questions, but she wasn’t otherwise concerned. Overall this was a good read focusing on voices we don’t hear a lot of in YA. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781459808164

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Publication date: 02/02/2016

Video Games Weekly: Shovel Knight

I’ve been playing a lot of side-scrolling platform games in 2016, but I think this will be the last one for a while! I will say that this one is by far the BEST side scrolling game that I’ve encountered in 2016, and probably one of my top five overall!

Background: Shovel Knight came out in 2014 for the PC, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U, but then was re-released for PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and Xbox One in 2015. As you can guess, the game is incredibly popular! So much so that they made an Amiibo for it. The reason why the game took so long to get released on the newer consoles is the game is created by an Indie company, and it’s hard for Indie companies to break into mainstream console markets. Indie developers have to get picked up by companies in order to break into the console market, and it isn’t always worth the effort when you can reach a wider audience selling your game for cheap on Steam or promoting it on Reddit.


Platform: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, PC. Note: It’s a little sketchy to buy because different platforms are available from different vendors. Amazon has 3DS, Amiibo, and PS4, but Access Ingram has all that AND the WIi U version.

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: You play as a blue knight named Shovel Knight because your preferred weapon is…wait for it…a shovel. You learn that your BFF and/or beloved Shield Knight was imprisoned in a tower thanks to an evil Enchantress.   Shovel Knight gets so depressed that he lives in solitude for years. While Shovel Knight was in exile, The Enchantress had coaxed eight knights called “The Order of No Quarter” to help her take over the kingdom and now rules the world. Shovel Knight fights each of these knights in their castles as he looks for Shield Knight . It’s a basic storyline with a brave protagonist on a quest to find a person, and evil sub-bosses stand in your way until you fight the Big Boss Enchantress. The eight knights have pretty awesome names like Treasure Knight, Mole Knight, and Propeller Knight.

Game Play: The game is a platform jumper, and is a homage to old school games from the 80s and early 90s. The art is 8-bit, the music is chiptune (and catchy I might add), and it has many nuances that are found in retro games. Even though this game uses a lot of retro elements, its combat style is what makes it unique. Most adventure games give your character a gun or sword to use as a weapon, but Shovel Knight only wields a shovel and [later] magic. This means you attack enemies by shoveling them or bouncing on their heads while you ride the shovel like a pogo stick.

Shovel Knight can also learn a variety of magic, but magic has its limits. When you defeat an enemy, the enemy drops gold and sometimes magic points. Players can also find secret areas that have treasure chests with even MORE gold! Also, if you die while playing a level, you drop a chunk of your gold and have to go back to retrieve it. Sometimes it’s better to quit a level altogether and go back to the beginning because you want to maximize the amount of gold you can get per level. Players can use gold to purchase more health, magic, and other bonus items, but you have to spend your gold wisely. You want to purchase equipment that will help you defeat whatever knight is in the next castle.

I know it sounds silly, but trust me, the game is mega fun. It’s also INCREDIBLY HARD. It took me like 30 minutes to figure out how to beat Spectre Knight, and that’s pretty early in the game. My thumbs literally went numb playing this game for a few hours, and my heart stopped a couple of times as Shovel Knight miscalculated a jump and fell into a pit. This game is hard because players have to get the timing just right in order to defeat enemies, and use a combination of melee attacks with the shovel and not waste their magic. Actually, this game is about as difficult as retro games used to be in the 80s. If you want to read about what 80s games Shovel Knight is based off of, you can read this.

Audience: This game is certainly not for beginner gamers. It’s pretty difficult, and it also doesn’t have any tutorials on how to play. This can lead to frustration, so give this title to older gamers who will appreciate a good throwback retro game. Also, teens who are advanced gamers should enjoy this title, especially if they aren’t familiar with its NES predecessors. I would not recommend this title for a program because 1) it’s single player and 2) there’s a huge risk factor every time you die. Super Mario Maker is the better choice for a single player game that can be enjoyed by everyone watching.

Verdict: I know it’s difficult to purchase at this time, but I highly recommend trying to get the game if you can. It is seriously one of the best side scrolling games that I have reviewed for Teen Librarian Toolbox, and I think your patrons will enjoy it just as much as I did.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian


$20 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=shovel+knight

MakerSpace: 3D Pens, Reviews and Tips and Tricks

Many on our staff at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County were clamoring for a 3D Printer when we were discussing creating our MakerSpace, but we were worried about cost and space. And I personally was worried about the learning curve: I know nothing – and I mean nothing – about 3D Printers. So I was hesitant to set myself up for failure right out of the gate and worried about losing momentum and staff support when others saw my failure. So we opted instead for a 3D printing pen, which turned out to be a really excellent place to start in 3D printing.

3D Printing Pens work kind of like a glue gun, except that they use filament – the same stuff used in 3D Printers – to create 3D works of art. They are less expensive, pack up easily, and they are a great place to start when considering the world of 3D printing. Here’s our first attempt at using a 3D Printing Pen.

We have 2 different types of 3D Pens: the 3D Doodler and a 7Tech 3D Pen which can be found on Amazon by several different names.


The 3Doodler and Filament


The 7Tech 3D Pen

After working with both of the pens I prefer the second 7Tech 3D Pen over the 3D Doodler because:

  • The 3D Doodler takes longer to heat up and advance the filament
  • It is harder to load and navigate the filament
  • You can only use 3D Doodler brand filament, which comes in short sticks so you have to reload it more frequently
  • It is less intuitive for first time users

In comparison, with the 7Tech 3D Pen you can buy spools of 1.75 Filament (often at rock bottom prices) on Amazon. These are more continuous strands so you can focus more on building your creation and less on reloading your filament.

A Note about the 7Tech 3D Pen:

If you do a search on Amazon for a 3D Pen you will find a variety of pens by different names that look basically the same, though they may vary in color. The most common name you have probably heard of is the Scribbler. These pens are a different make and model than the 3D Doodler, the most popular brand name 3D printing pen. These pens are all a version of Model #: RP100A and they take a 1.75 mm filament. You can read some about the Samto version here.

Tips and Tricks for Using Your 3D Pen:

Overall, we really enjoyed using our 3D printing pen. For our first project, we simply tried to make a cube.


We then freehanded something that we called a T-Rex skeleton, mostly just because I like dinosaurs and it kind of looks like one. I went back in and added itty bitty arms to keep it on theme.


We then discovered the magic of templates.

Tip #1: Use Templates Whenever You Can

3dpen6 3dpen7 3pen8

You can freehand draw your own template, which is what my coworker did here. But you can also do a Google search for 3D Pen Templates and find a ton as well. We started a Pinterest board to pin some of our favorites which we keep stocked in our MakerSpace. 3Doodler also has a book which is a great inspiration and starting point, even if you don’t use the 3Doodler.

Tip #2: Buy Some Type of Mat

The 3Doodler actually sells a mat, and even if you don’t use the pen you can use the mat. You can also use a regular cutting mat that you purchase at your local craft store. The mat makes it easy to lift your project off when you are done.

Tip #3: Know Your Filament

There are 2 different types of filaments, ABS and PLA. They have a few differences that are important depending on what you intend to try and make. 3Doodler has a good comparison chart to help you understand the differences.

Tip #4: The Tip of Your 3D Pen is Like a Soldering Iron

You can make little pieces and then solder them together using the tip of your 3D pen.

Tip #5: Be Patient! And Start Small!

Your first time creating with a 3D pen will not be a masterpiece. It takes a while to learn how to keep a steady hand, how best to manipulate the pen and filament, etc. Start with a smaller project and work your way up. It can take a really long time to make a complete project, patience is key.

In the end, we were able to create a very cool catapult using our 3D Pen. (In the interest of full disclosure: my coworker did this, not me) and it can fling um, spit balls (but without the spit, because gross).


And here’s a picture of me sitting in the Teen MakerSpace wearing the 3D glasses that my coworker made . . .


I highly recommend getting a 3D printing pen for your classroom or Maker Space if you can.

Additional Resources:

Testing the 3D Pen, and Conclusion – PC Magazine

3D Printing Pen Tutorial – Instructables

3D Printing Pen Tutorial | Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos

Stencils on Pinterest | 3doodler