Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Friday Finds: April 30, 2016

fridayfindsWant to win a hardback copy of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater? Comment on this post for a chance to win. Last week’s winner is Bailey! Please email me your address at robinreads@bellsouth.net.

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Teens Don’t Read Anymore

Book Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, reviewed by teen reviewer Lexi

Middle School Monday – Series that Hit the Spot

Book Review: Jerkbait by Mia Siegert

Post It Note Reviews, by The Teen

Video Games Weekly: Ratchet and Clank

Book Review: Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Recently in Book Mail + a Giveaway

Take 5: Memoirs on writing to hand to aspiring teen authors

MakerSpace: How do you evaluate this new service?

Around the Web

National Teen Birth Rate Plummets To All-Time Low

Can More Money Fix America’s Schools?

Baltimore police: Officers ‘compelled’ to chase 13-year-old with BB gun

Transgender teen fights back after suspension for using ‘wrong’ bathroom

Michigan Teen Carries Brother With Cerebral Palsy 111 Miles to Raise Awareness

Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘The Raven King’ Marks the Beginning of a New Era in Fantasy

Young adult author Jessica Spotswood on why girls want more than to just have fun


MakerSpace: How do you evaluate this new service?

makerspacelogoAlthough many libraries have had Maker Spaces for a while now and are doing them quite successfully, our Teen MakerSpace is new to us at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). What we wanted (and needed) was to create a way to keep track of who is using the space when and what they are doing in the space. There is tremendous value to input and feedback and statistics, especially when you are creating a new space or service. We want the information we need to know what’s working and what isn’t; And since this is a teen space, we want a way to be responsive to teens. Now that we have this new space, we need a way to evaluate it.

One way to do this is to have a suggestion box in the space, which we are working on. However, we learn a lot just by working with our teens in the space and listening to them. Very early on one of our regular teens suggested having a Rubik’s Cube in the space. We now have two and we are exited to see the teens play with them every day. And because we listened, the teens feel respected and valued. So we wanted to expand on this and include it in our evaluation tools.

I am lucky in that I was able to hire two part-time assistants to work in the space with me. This means that I’m not always in the space. This also means that as the coordinator of YA services who really wants to be responsive to teens, communication between the three of us is vitally important. So I put together a daily form for my staff to fill out to help keep those lines of communication open. It also helps me keep track of statistics and other information that my administration wants. And every once in a while we get a great quote for PR purposes. You can see a first draft of the daily report here: Teen MakerSpace Daily Report PDF.  We are currently on our third draft of the Teen MakerSpace Daily Report, which I discuss in more detail down below. After using the form for a few weeks, we realized we weren’t getting the types of information we needed and went back to the drawing board. We are pretty satisfied with our current version, but that doesn’t mean our information needs won’t change in the future.

I have also asked staff to take photos of teens using the space and the projects that they create. Again, these are good things to have for PR purposes. In fact, we are working on getting mounted monitors in the space where we can scroll through pictures of teens using the space and their creations. The other day a teen came in and made a minion using the 3D pen; this is such a great thing to share with your staff and community so that they can see teens learning and engaging in the space. Many of the teens leave their 3D creations behind as part of our ongoing gallery.

Many teens leave their 3D Pen creations as part of our gallery

Many teens leave their 3D Pen creations as part of our gallery

Some of the information we want to track in our daily reports is:

Total Number of Teens Visiting the Teen MakerSpace

We keep a daily count of how many unique teens visit our Teen MakerSpace per day. For example, we know that roughly 250 teens visited the TMS in March, which was our first fully operational and fully staffed month. We also know that as of April 15th we had around 150 teen visits, which means we are on track to have more teen visits in April then we did in March. We have had many teens come in telling us that they heard about the space from a friend, so we also know that word of mouth is helping us grow and that we have had a positive response to the space.

Teen Visits by Hour

Because our space is staffed during certain hours, particularly during the after school hours and on weekends, we keep track of hourly visits to help us determine our staffing needs. We aren’t really sure what to expect for the summer when the teens are out of school, but we still don’t anticipate a big rush at 9:00 AM when the library opens because teens tend to sleep in. By the data we are currently collecting will help us better understand our staffing needs, particularly as we develop a schedule for the 2016/2017 school year.

What Activities/Stations are Teens Best Responding To

We have a variety of activities and stations that teens can choose to participate in so keeping track of what teens are doing in the space helps us investigate and develop new ideas for the future. We know that teens are currently most interested in making buttons, the 3D pen, stop motion animation, coloring and the small robots. We also know that we aren’t doing a very good job of promoting our learn to code resources or that our teens don’t have a huge interest in that at the moment. However, we weren’t having a lot of use of our LittleBits or Lego stations but when we made “Challenge Cards” helping challenging teens to do specific activities, we found that they were more likely to use these items.

What Kind of Feedback Are We Getting

We also track feedback by writing down teen comments and suggestions for future ideas. Many of the suggestions we have had from teens have been to add more craft supplies, which has been interesting considering that we planned the space to be a tech space with a few more traditional activities. I believe this demonstrates a couple of things, one of which is that our teens aren’t necessarily aware of the types of technology and technology based activities that are out there so they don’t know to ask for it, which demonstrates the further need to keep introducing our teens to new technology. It also demonstrates that teens do, in fact, have a desire to engage in more traditional crafting type activities as well as engaging in new technology. When we planned our space we purposefully set out to include both and that has proven to be exactly what the teens needed and wanted.

Putting All the Information Together

My intention is that at the end of every quarter I will put together a report that highlights our statistics and shows pictures of teens using the space. This will help us all to visualize the overwhelming success of the Teen MakerSpace, especially to staff and admin who may not spend much time in the space.


What do you do to evaluate your Maker Space and communicate success to your staff, admin and community?

The Measure of Program Success?

Part 1: The Measure of Program Success? Probably not book circulation

Part 2: The Measure of Program Success? Probably not attendance either

Part 3: The Measure of Program Success? It’s complicated, kind of (a formula and discussion)

Take 5: Memoirs on writing to hand to aspiring teen authors

“How do you become an author?” We’ve heard teens ask that question every time they meet an author – published, famous, or neither. And we’ve all heard the answer too: read. Read everything. Read more. No, even more than that.

Reading is essential. But more than novels, teens who are firmly dedicated to the writing life will benefit from reading some writing on the craft. Here are five books to hand to teens for inspiration and instruction.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne LamottLamott’s brief classic on writing (and life) is a must-read for teens seeking with a desire to live a life full of creativity. Her approach is gentle and frank, and full of examples and ideas that will spark action.

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Hole in my life by Jack GantosHow much do you want to be a writer? Why? It took a series of crappy decisions resulting in incarceration on a drug offense for children’s author Gantos to really answer those questions. Hand this Printz Honor book to teens who don’t see a path from their current life to the writer’s life.

A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children by Katherine Paterson

A Sense of Wonder by Katherine PatersonAnother path to writing for youth by  Newberry Medal and National Book Award winner Katherine Paterson. This essay collection is culled from her many years of work. It gives insight into the books she has written, why she wrote them, and offers comfort and copious inspiration to those who aspire to write for youth.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King

Teens with aspirations of publishing would be well served to learn from one of the biggest publishing successes of our time. King begins his memoir with his path to authorship through poverty and addiction, and into his craft. The second half of the book offers specific instructions and examples of the rules King lives and writes by. Essential reading.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Reading Like a WriterReading for the pure joy of reading transports us to different places and times. It helps us connect with each other and with ourselves. What teens will learn over time is that reading for the pleasure of reading is only one way to do it. When I started selecting books for the library, I looked at them differently, just like when I started reviewing books. When I began editing books, yet another way of reading emerged. Here, Prose walks readers through the experience of reading as a writer, looking at successful writers and sussing out what it is about their work that allows for us to connect with it as readers.

Recently in Book Mail + a Giveaway

IMG_5235The following are books that have arrived here recently. I’ll be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months. Head on over to the Rafflecopter to be entered to win one package of three books from this list! You can also enter by retweeting this post or following me (@CiteSomething) on Twitter! US entries only, please. Contest runs April 28th through May 5th. 


All summaries from the publisher.


killtheboyband2Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (ISBN-13: 9780545867474 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 02/23/2016)

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.

We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him-his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.

We were not planning on what happened next.

We swear.

From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make-or break-the people we call “celebrities.”


exitExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (ISBN-13: 9781101994580 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/15/2016)

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.


seventh gradeMy Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin (ISBN-13: 9780553512502 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/12/2016)

Football hero. Ninja freestyler. It’s seventh grade. Anything is possible.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor in this kid-friendly humorous debut by Brooks Benjamin.


savingSaving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (ISBN-13: 9781626722712 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 04/19/2016)

A beautiful and offbeat novel from Mariko Tamaki, co-creator of the bestselling Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor Book This One Summer.

Montgomery Sole is a square peg in a small town, forced to go to a school full of jocks and girls who don’t even know what irony is. It would all be impossible if it weren’t for her best friends, Thomas and Naoki. The three are also the only members of Jefferson High’s Mystery Club, dedicated to exploring the weird and unexplained, from ESP and astrology to super powers and mysterious objects.

Then there’s the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet Monty bought online. Will it help her predict the future or fight back against the ignorant jerks who make fun of Thomas for being gay or Monty for having lesbian moms? Maybe the Eye is here just in time, because the newest resident of their small town is scarier than mothmen, poltergeists, or, you know, gym.

Thoughtful, funny, and painfully honest, Montgomery Sole is someone you’ll want to laugh and cry with over a big cup of frozen yogurt with extra toppings.


two summersTwo Summers by Aimee Friedman (ISBN-13: 9780545518079 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/26/2016)

ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . .

ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . .

When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.

In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can’t hide from anywhere. In the end, it might just be the truth she needs the most.

From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.


hundred hoursA Hundred Hours of Night by Anna Woltz (ISBN-13: 9780545848282 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/26/2016)

When Emilia de Wit ran away to New York City, she planned everything to a T. Plane ticket, purchased. Cute apartment, rented online. Subway map, printed and highlighted. This was no ordinary trip — this was Emilia’s declaration of independence. Her chance to escape the disaster her life has become. To get away from the horrible scandal that has rocked Amsterdam, the scandal that is all her dad’s fault. To see if her mom, the glamorous, world-famous artist, will even notice.

New York steals Emilia’s heart at first sight — even though absolutely nothing goes to plan. She didn’t plan to end up homeless on a stranger’s doorstep. She didn’t plan to make friends with Seth, Abby, and Jim. And she could never have known that Hurricane Sandy would be barreling up the coast, straight for the city.

All she wanted was to get away from her parents, her problems, her life… but when the storm hits and the power goes out, Emilia feels farther from home than she could have imagined.


silverOne Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman (ISBN-13: 9780545808927 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/26/2016)

After losing her mom in an accident, Sass is sent to live with her uncle in England. Far from her native Brooklyn, the rocky shores and crumbling castles of Cornwall seem like the perfect place to hide her grief. And when she stumbles across a silver horse in a sunlit meadow, Sass feels a surprising sense of peace . . . only to have it broken by a boy.

Arrogant and distrustful, the horse’s trainer, Alex, doesn’t approve of the trespassing American. Yet after a few chance meetings, he begins to feel a connection to the curious girl with the sad eyes, and offers to teach her to ride. Sass never expected to feel anything again–least of all love–but the lessons reveal a far different Alex, and soon their friendship turns into something more.

But Alex has a secret–a bombshell about his family that could shatter Sass’s trust . . . and force him to abandon the one girl who made him believe in himself.


keep meKeep Me In Mind by Jaime Reed (ISBN-13: 9780545883818 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/26/2016)

Ellia Dawson doesn’t recognize the handsome boy who sits in tears by her hospital bed. He claims he’s her boyfriend, Liam. But to Ellia, he’s a stranger. She remembers her name. Her parents. Her best friend, Stacey. But Liam is a total blank in her life.

Liam McPherson is devastated. His girlfriend, Ellia, suffered a terrible accident–maybe because of him–and now she’s lost her memory. But the harder Liam tries to reach Ellia, and remind her of what they had, the more she pulls away. As Ellia begins on the slow road to recovery, Liam begins work on a secret project that he hopes will bring back the girl he loved.

But can there ever be a future when the past is in pieces?


jerkbaitJerkbait by Mia Siegert (ISBN-13: 9781631630668 Publisher: Jolly Fish Press Publication date: 05/03/2016)

Even though they’re identical, Tristan isn’t close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other’s lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can’t escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world.

Robbie’s future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie’s secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path.

How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?


meet me hereMeet Me Here by Brian Bliss (ISBN-13: 9780062275387 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date:05/31/2016)

In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: do what everyone has always expected of him, or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the Army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, to find each other, to find a path, and to know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.


withoutWithout Annette by Jane B. Mason (ISBN-13: 9780545819954 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/31/2016)

Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood’s picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive.

While Josie struggles to navigate her new life, Annette seems to fit in perfectly. Yet that acceptance comes with more than a few strings. And consequently, Annette insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

At first, Josie agrees. But as Annette pushes her further and further away, Josie grows closer to Penn, a boy whose friendship and romantic feelings for her tangle her already-unraveling relationship. When Annette’s need for approval sets her on a devastating course for self-destruction, Josie isn’t sure she can save her this time-or if Annette even wants her to try.


leavingThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando (ISBN-13: 9781619638037 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/07/2016)

Eleven years ago, six kindergartners 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–the only one who hasn’t come back. Which leaves Max’s sister, Avery, wanting answers. She wants to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story. But as details of the disappearance begin to unfold, no one is prepared for the truth.

This unforgettable novel–with its rich characters, high stakes, and plot twists–will leave readers breathless.


long gameThe Long Game: A Fixer Novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ISBN-13: 9781619635968 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/07/2016)

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 Washington, 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.


red velvetRed Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith (ISBN-13: 9780062062277 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/14/2016)

Rock music. A broken family. Difficult sisters. A road trip. The blush of first love. Red Velvet Crush has everything that fans of Eleanor & Park and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist are looking for.

Teddy Lee has always shied away from attention. Her younger sister Billie is the one who stands out: brave, outgoing, and so beautiful that people can’t help but stare. Instead, Teddy Lee prefers writing songs and playing her dad’s old guitar. Until she gets the opportunity to start her own band. Suddenly Teddy Lee has everything she ever wanted—the band, the stage, and the irresistible drummer who only has eyes for her. It’s finally her chance to shine, to share her music with the world. Unless Billie steals the spotlight—and the boy—just like she always does.


lost and foundThe Lost and Found by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062231208 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/05/2016)

A charming and imaginative new YA novel about getting lost before you can be found, for fans of Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost and Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America.


Frannie and Louis met online when they were both little and have been pen pals ever since. They have never met face-to-face, and they don’t know each other’s real names. All they know is that they both have a mysterious tendency to lose things. Well, really, things just seem to . . . disappear.


Louis and Frannie both receive news in the mail that sets them off on a road trip to Austin, Texas, looking for answers—and each other. Along the way, each one begins to find, as if by magic, important things the other has lost. And by the time they finally meet in person, they realize that the things you lose might be things you weren’t meant to have at all, and that you never know what you might find if you just take a chance.


chasing starsChasing Stars by Helen Douglas (ISBN-13: 9781619634107 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/19/2016)

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. 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 swept away by this epic cross-century romance in which love bends the laws of time and reason.



girl in piecesGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (ISBN-13: 9781101934739 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/30/2016)

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel about a girl who has lost everything—almost even herself.

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.


detachedDetached by Christina Kilbourne (ISBN-13: 9781459734319 Publisher: Dundurn Press Publication date: 09/06/2016)

Anna has always been so level-headed, so easy-going, so talented and funny. How could anyone have guessed she wanted to die?

Anna is not like other people. For one thing, she’s been an accomplished artist since she was a preschooler. For another, she’s always felt like she didn’t belong: not with other kids, not with her family, not in her body. It isn’t until her grandparents are killed in a tragic accident, however, that Anna starts to feel untethered. She begins to wonder what it would be like if she didn’t exist, and the thought of escaping the aimless drifting is the only thing that brings her comfort.

When Anna overdoses on prescription painkillers, doctors realize she has been suffering from depression and start looking for a way to help her out of the desperate black hole she never thought she would escape. It’s then that rock bottom comes into sight and the journey back to normal begins.



labyrinth lostLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (ISBN-13: 9781492620945 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/06/2016)

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.



last trueThe Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely (ISBN-13: 9781481429887 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 09/13/2016)

From the critically acclaimed author of The Gospel of Winter and the coauthor of All American Boys comes a cool, contemplative spin on hot summer nights and the classic teen love story as two teens embark on a cross-country journey of the heart and soul.

The point of living is learning how to love.

That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.

The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.

And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.

One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.


forgettingThe Forgetting Machine by Pete Hautman (ISBN-13: 9781481464383 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date:09/20/2016)

People all over Flinkwater are losing their memories—and it’s up to Ginger to figure out what’s going on—in this sequel to the “quirky, dryly funny” (Booklist) The Flinkwater Factor from National Book Award–winning author Pete Hautman.

Absentmindedness in Flinkwater, a town overflowing with eccentric scientists and engineers, is nothing new. Recently, however, the number of confused, forgetful citizens has been increasing, and no one seems to know why. Ginger Crump figures it’s none of her business. She has her own problems. Like the strange cat that’s been following her around—a cat that seems to be able to read. And the report for school due Monday. And the fact that every digital book in Flinkwater has been vandalized by a fanatical censor, forcing Ginger to the embarrassingly retro alternative of reading books printed on dead trees.

But when Ginger’s true love and future husband Billy Bates completely forgets who she is, things suddenly get serious, and Ginger swings into action.



we knowWe Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash (ISBN-13: 9781481462006 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 10/04/2016)

Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars in acclaimed author Maggie Thrash’s new Strange Truth series.

It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.



some writerSome Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet (ISBN-13: 9780544319592 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/04/2016)

“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

Book Review: Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Publisher’s description

savingA beautiful and offbeat novel from Mariko Tamaki, co-creator of the bestselling Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor Book This One Summer.

Montgomery Sole is a square peg in a small town, forced to go to a school full of jocks and girls who don’t even know what irony is. It would all be impossible if it weren’t for her best friends, Thomas and Naoki. The three are also the only members of Jefferson High’s Mystery Club, dedicated to exploring the weird and unexplained, from ESP and astrology to super powers and mysterious objects.

Then there’s the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet Monty bought online. Will it help her predict the future or fight back against the ignorant jerks who make fun of Thomas for being gay or Monty for having lesbian moms? Maybe the Eye is here just in time, because the newest resident of their small town is scarier than mothmen, poltergeists, or, you know, gym.

Thoughtful, funny, and painfully honest, Montgomery Sole is someone you’ll want to laugh and cry with over a big cup of frozen yogurt with extra toppings.


Amanda’s thoughts

Let me jump right to this point: I really wish they had made Montgomery maybe 13 instead of 16 and turned this into a middle grade novel. Because her voice comes across as much younger than 16. I liked a lot of what was going on in this novel, but kept getting hung up on how young she felt and much better this would have worked for me if it wasn’t YA.


Montgomery really only likes her best friends Thomas and Naoki. Everyone else exasperates her. She’s surrounded by people who seem uninteresting and small-minded. She takes a lot of heat for having lesbian moms, just as Thomas puts up with a lot of taunting for being gay. She feels like an outsider all the time. The only thing she really likes it the mystery club she and her friends have. Investigating mysterious, paranormal things is intriguing to her, even if none of them seem to work out or be true. She aptly notes, “I’ve always been, like, this inexplicable thing, a mystery object that’s not like anyone else at this school. I guess it’s possible that that’s part of why I’m so obsessed with other inexplicable things.” Montgomery is so certain that no one really understands her, that everyone other than her best friends suck (and she even fights with them). She’s angry, sees things as black and white, and makes a lot of assumptions. As you might expect, the mystery she learns the most about in this story is herself.


Homophobia and religion play large parts in this story, especially once the “I’m going to save the American family” Reverend White shows up in town. Montgomery fills the reader in on the long history of those issues looming large in their own extended family, helping us understand why she reacts how she does (well—there’s no context needed for why she gets furious about all the homophobic comments, but the religion aspect makes a little more sense when you learn more about her family). I liked the fact that her moms show up a lot in the story and are so loving and supportive of Monty, even though she’s constantly pushing them away and covering up all the feelings and experiences she could be sharing with them.


There was a lot to like in this story, with really interesting characters, but the execution of it just fell flat for me. I’m good with stories having very little actual plot as long as the relationships between the characters and the dialogue can propel the story forward, but here I often found myself sort of bored by their repetitive conversations and Monty’s one-note behavior and feelings. Useful to put this one on the list of YA books that skew younger. The premise is interesting, but I just wanted more.


Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626722712

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Publication date: 04/19/2016



Video Games Weekly: Ratchet and Clank

I have to confess right off the bat that I have never played a Ratchet and Clank game before.  Somehow, this game never appeared on my radar!  Therefore, my review and opinions are formulated on this game alone, and may not be the only review you want to read. I highly recommend reading Wired, Kotaku, and IGN if you want to read reviews written by gamers who are more familiarized with the series.  This game is the rebooted version of the very first Ratchet and Clank game that came out 14 years ago on the PS2.

There’s a movie too: Yep, there is a movie with the same title in theaters near you!  The movie and game go hand in hand.  According to Wired’s review, some of the plot and characters were changed in order to adapt to the film, but the overarching story remains the same.  Also, Sylvester Freaking Stallone is one of the voice actors, along with John Goodman.  I haven’t seen the movie yet because I wanted to beat the game first!

Platform:  PS4

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer:  Single

Storyline:  The storyline is reminiscent of many superhero movies. The protagonist, Ratchet, is a fox-like mechanic who wants to become a Galactic Ranger.  Ratchet attends tryouts to be a Galactic Ranger but he is denied due to his background check.  While going home after tryouts, he witnesses a crash landing and manages to save a robot defect named Clank. Thus the dynamic duo is born.  There is an evil politician who is trying to spark an intergalactic war with warbots, and it’s up to Ratchet and Clank to save the galaxy.  In a weird way, the game reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy because you have a weapon savvy anthropomorphic character, space battles, and silly overtones.

Gameplay:  The game is a combination of adventure, shooter, and puzzle genres.  Players control Ratchet with a third-person view, while Clank rides on Ratchet’s back.  Ratchet can use a variety of weapons to kill enemies like the “Groovitron”, which distracts enemies with the power of disco (see what I mean about silly overtones?).  The game is full of preposterously named weapons and characters, which makes the game extremely likeable.

As players progress through the story, they can unlock weapon upgrades, armor upgrades, and side-quests.  The story takes place on multiple planets, and players can choose to complete every side-quest on a planet before progressing in the story, or they can leave the side-quests for later.  The main story mode is relatively short, only about 12 hours or so of gameplay.  Usually, games that are storyline focused are about 40 hours long, but there are many, many side-quests to keep players entertained.

Art Style: I just want to point out that the art style is beautiful.  A lot of money was invested in upgrading the game’s artwork and graphic design, and I believe it really paid off.  Take a look at a comparison here: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/abSN25NJa-I/maxresdefault.jpg

Audience:  I think this game is great for all ages.  It is a great selection especially for kids because it’s a shooting game that isn’t overly violent, it’s funny, and players can select their difficulty before playing the game.  As for teens, I think they would enjoy it because it’s one of those “classic” game series that has persevered over the years but doesn’t have a large mainstream presence (that is, until the movie comes out).

The new movie and new game also have programing opportunities, like having a movie night for teen gamers, or playing the movie in the background at Teen Game Night programs.  

Verdict: Primary purchase for circulating collections.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian


$40 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Ratchet-Clank-PlayStation-4/dp/B00Z9LUDX4/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1461547283&sr=1-1&keywords=ratchet+and+clank

Post It Note Reviews, by The Teen


It’s time for another installment of The Teen’s Post It Note Reviews. This post is Penguin heavy because I took her to a Penguin Teen panel and she decided she really liked the sound of the books after hearing the authors talk about them so she read a couple. It also includes one ARC of an upcoming title because she steals them from me. For those of you new to the blog, I allow each of our Teen Advisory Board members to develop their own personal review style and this is what The Teen has chosen.


Publisher’s Book Description:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Post It Note Review:  I loved this so much. One of the best things ever.


Publisher’s Book Description:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Post It Note Review: Perfect, beyond compare. Great and fun.


Publisher’s Book Description:

Sidney and her friends must race to find the origin of a storm that has hit their small island home—turning every animal into savage weapons—in this suspenseful thriller from New York Times bestselling author, Thomas E. Sniegoski.

The future is looking bright for Sidney Moore as she as she gets ready to leave the small island of Benediction behind for one of Boston’s top veterinary schools. Only a few small bumps in the road to navigate before she can go—her father’s recovery from a debilitating stroke, and her own guilt for ending her relationship with her high school sweetheart. But she’s always been strong willed, and she’s not about to let anything stop her from achieving her goals.

Now a storm is bearing down on Benediction, a hurricane that will bring devastating winds and rain, rising tides…and something else. Something deadly; something that will transform all the things that creep, crawl, and flutter into instruments of terror and death.

The future is looking bright for Sidney Moore…if only she can survive the storm.

Post It Note Review: A lot going on but good details.

Karen’s Note: So this book comes out on May 31st from Simon Pulse. The Teen actually had a hard time reading this book because she is a HUGE animal lover and as you can read from the description it involves bad things happening to animals. She stuck with it and finished it, which surprised me.

Book Review: Jerkbait by Mia Siegert

Publisher’s description

jerkbaitEven though they’re identical, Tristan isn’t close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other’s lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can’t escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world.

Robbie’s future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie’s secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path.

How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?


Amanda’s thoughts

I overuse the phrase “rage blackout.” I’m sure I’ve claimed that 2/3 of all things in existence have given me a rage blackout. I’m easily annoyed. BUT. BUT. This book gave me a rage blackout. The parents are AWFUL. The way Robbie’s teammates treat him is AWFUL. And did I mention that the parents are AWFUL? Because they are. But we’ll talk about them later.


Tristan has always felt like he’s lived in Robbie’s shadow. Though they both play hockey (and their former hockey player father is their manager), Robbie’s the star, the one who will be drafted and go on to a huge career. But not if it gets out that he’s depressed. That he’s tried to kill himself three times. That he’s gay. At least, according to their monster of a father. All of that is bad press for Robbie, so the obvious thing to do is cover it up, not address any of the very serious issues, and focus on that goal: getting drafted. Sure. Great parenting. Your kid will be fine. You’re doing a good job. 


(You can come join me in my rage blackout—it’s kind of satisfying to get so mad.)


I could yell for paragraphs about their cruddy parenting and extreme denial, but I won’t. You get the idea already, I’m sure, that they suck. They pull him from the hospital early after attempt number one so he doesn’t miss a hockey game. They cover up the truth with lies, don’t do anything to help Robbie, and basically blame Tristan for what’s going on with Robbie AND make him responsible for watching over him to prevent future issues. Tristan, who quits hockey after some epic homophobic bullying, just wants to focus on his burgeoning theater career. He loves theater, has a knack for singing, dancing, and acting, and wants to grab the opportunities in front of him. But that’s hard to do when you’re supposed to be keeping your depressed wreck of a brother from committing suicide. Things become even more complicated and convoluted when Tristan learns Robbie is gay. Robbie is terrified of what coming out will mean for his life and his career—but not so terrified that he doesn’t out himself in an effort to save Tristan from some bullying. His teammates react just as terribly as you can possibly imagine. And when his parents find out? It’s a nightmare.


There’s a lot to talk about with this book. Siegert is tackling big topics: teenage sports careers; being not just a closeted gay teen but a closeted gay teen athlete; sibling/twin relationships; depression and suicide attempts; crappy parents; crappy friendships; homophobia; stigma with mental illness, and so much more. Plus, the book takes a big twist near the end when Robbie gets the brilliant idea that the answer to all of their problems is running away to go stay with this older dude he met online. That never turns out well, does it? And in this case, it REALLY, REALLY goes badly. Though it ends on a hopeful note, this is not a light read at all. It’s pretty much the worst case scenario for all things with the exception of the way Robbie and Tristan grow closer and more supportive of each other. It’s a dark, upsetting, frustrating, painful look at the pressure on teen athletes, at what happens when mental illness is ignored and untreated, and at how horribly scary coming out can be, especially for teens whose parents are hateful and unsupportive. Bleak but powerful. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781631630668

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Publication date: 05/03/2016

Middle School Monday – Series that Hit the Spot

MSM1There is a certain type of book that just fits middle school readers. If you work with this age group, you know what I’m talking about. While most of my sixth grade students will still gladly pick up middle grade novels, many of them as well as most of my seventh and eighth grade students want YA. So older, but not too old. And it should have action and adventure of some sort. It’s good to be scary, but not too scary. And it needs to have a good sense of humor, or some kind of comic relief sprinkled throughout. A tall order, but here are several series that hit the spot.

51urVkEfwmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_First up is Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud. This three book (so far) series combines all of these element with clear and descriptive prose and excellent characterization which brings the action off the page and into the students’ imaginations. Told in first person from the point of view of main character Lucy Carlyle, this is a fantasy/horror/mystery series with a good deal of humor and intrigue. You can find my review of the first book, The Screaming Staircase, here, and the second book, The Whispering Skull, here. I’m currently about half way through the third book, The Hollow Boy. I’m again impressed with how Stroud is able to capture the emotional life of Lucy while maintaining the action and moving the plot forward. HE is gifted at writing within what I would call the younger YA range. The stories are of teens and their concerns, but told in a way your average middle school student can understand and relate to.

Next, I’d like to highlight the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White. Main character Evie has special abilities7719245 that make her perfect to hunt down supernatural beings for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. Perfect, that is, until she realizes that all is not as she has been led to believe. Who can she trust in this very complex world? White is also a gifted writer who manages to convey complex subjects in an easily accessibly way. Her quirky sense of humor and her gift for characterization clearly shine in this series.

Finally, here is a non-exhaustive list of series I’ve found meet this specific niche market:

  • The Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelly Armstrong
  • The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black
  • The Unspoken Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • The Heist Society series and the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
  • The Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Shades of London series and the Scarlett series by Maureen Johnson
  • The Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison
  • The Alfred Kropp series by Rick Yancey

Chime in if you have any to add!

Book Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, reviewed by teen reviewer Lexi

thewwayiusedtobeThe Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith (368 pages)

About the Book

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

Lexi’s Thoughts

My body is a torture chamber. It’s a fucking crime scene. Hideous things have happened here, it’s nothing to talk about, nothing to comment on, not out loud. Not ever. I won’t hear it. I can’t.”

This book is about changing yourself into someone you can actually stand to look at in the mirror every morning.

This book is about trying to forget. Forget how it happened. Forgot how it felt.

This book is about being empty and trying to fill yourself back up to full capacity again. Only, you can’t.

Eden’s story is like many others. Her fears and pains sing a familiar tune that many people know. This book is relatable in the way that we have all experienced something in our life that made us hate so strongly and want to change so badly. Some of us can relate to her abuse. Some of us can relate to her inability to look at self the same. Because no matter what situation we have been in, no matter how different, we have all experienced some kind of event that made us question why things happen the way they do and make us even question who is looking back at us in the mirror.

Eden is a strong girl. Brave in her words when able to speak them. Her story is beautifully written. SO much emotion was written in every word that it rippled through me as I read it. I could feel Edens loss of herself. Her struggle to make it to another day is both admirable and saddening. Her secret made my heart clench and my lungs restrict. She was too young but it still should have never happened to her. No person should ever have to experience sexual assault, and yet we still do everyday. And this is why we need books like this.

We need books that break that barrier. We need books that will tell a story of the world’s real horrors. Because the real monsters don’t live under your bed. No. The real monsters bide their time, waiting to get your trust so they can manipulate you. People like Kevin Armstrong are the real monsters. People who prey on other people are the ones our horror stories should really be about.

This novel reminds me a lot of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. That book shredded me apart. And as that one did, so did The Way I Used To Be. While reading this book i felt completely empty. Way past the point of sad, I read this book like it was the only thing I could do. Because after all, it was the only thing I could do. Reading this fictional, but probably true for someone else, story reminded me of the terror women face everyday. It reminds me to not always be so trusting, to only lock my door at night, because if Eden had she wouldn’t have been raped. She wouldn’t have had to endure the worse experience in her life. Maybe, if she would have locked her door, she could have prevented her own assault. But also, this book made me realize that she shouldn’t have had to lock her door. She should have felt safe in her own home.

We need these words to be spoken out loud. We need people to acknowledge that someone is sexuallay assaulted ever 107 seconds in the united states. We need rape victims to not be blamed for their rape. And we especially need to prosecute the monsters who do the assault no matter who they are.

This book needed to be written. I thank Amber Smith for writing it and I thank every other author who is brave enough to speak out about the silence victims face every day. Because with these books, with this book, we actually get hear from the victim.

10 out of 10 would read again.