Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Take 5: June Droolables

June. People think of June for summer vacation, summer reading programs, weddings, graduations….  Me, I WANT MY BOOKS! Especially as it seems that this June is finishing off a lot of the series that I have been devouring page after page! Here are some of the books that I am looking forward to being released this month- share what you are looking forward to seeing this month in the comments!

This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves—and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates. The final book of The Testing trilogy.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. The third of The Grisha trilogy.

All Dylan Mint has ever wanted is to keep his Tourette’s in check and live life as a “normal” teenager. The swearing, the tics, the howling “dog” that escapes when things are at their worst—nothing about Tourette’s makes it easy to meet cute girls or have normal friends (or many friends at all). But a routine hospital visit changes everything—Dylan overhears that he’s going to die. In an attempt to claim the life he’s always wanted, he decides to grant himself parting wishes, or “Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It”

In Thalia’s world, there is no more food and no need for food, as everyone takes medication to ward off hunger. Her parents both work for the company that developed the drugs society consumes to quell any food cravings, and they live a life of privilege as a result. When Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that there is an entire world outside her own. She also starts to feel hunger, and so does the boy. Are the meds no longer working?

 When Alix’s charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee’s room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee’s cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: “Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you.” 
Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life–secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she’s been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee’s phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.
Brought together by Swanee’s lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they’d thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to–but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

Book Review: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

“Cia. Enzo. Will. Damone,” Ian calls, and the voices around us go quiet. The four of us walk to where Ian stands next to Professor Holt. “Congratulations on returning with your entire team intact. Do you have the markers?”

I dig into the green bag and hand the markers from the first three challenges to Ian. “We don’t have a marker for this task.”

“There wasn’t a marker for the final test. This task was designed to be insurmountable.” Professor Holt takes the markers and gives me a small smile. “Ian was told to engage the bridge when we deduced that you had figured out that solution.”

My heartbeat measures the silence until Professor Holt says, “It takes a lot of courage to choose to do nothing when you aren’t certain of the outcome. We believe this is an important lesson to impart to all University students and one many students find almost impossible to accept. I’m happy to learn that most on this team are more . . . open-minded.”

I see Damone flush.

Professor Holt hands the markers back to Ian with a small nod. Ian turns and gives us a wide smile. “Congratulations, Cia, Enzo, Will, and Damone. Since you arrived first with all of your markers, we are happy to declare you the winners. Once the other three teams arrive, we will hold a formal Induction ceremony where you will be officially welcomed into the Government Studies program. Until then, I suggest you get lots of rest. I’ve seen your class schedules. Trust me, you’re going to need it.”

The students standing behind Ian laugh. As my teammates celebrate, I notice that Professor Holt isn’t the only one watching me. In the distance, next to the willow tree where just yesterday I stood with Enzo, is Dr. Barnes.


Independent Study, book two of The Testing Series by Joelle Charbonneau picks up where The Testing dropped readers off. Cia, having survived her testing and having no memory of the horrors that have been inflicted, finds the recordings that she made for herself to remember- and learns that the happy memories she has of the test and her fallen friends are a lie. As their courses of studies are announced, Cia is locked into Government Studies, away from Thomas and next to Will, who’s motivation is in doubt based on the actions she remembers. Additionally, everyone who survived the testing are placed in with those from the town, who never had to go through the brutal testing- yet everyone has to go through the Induction- a week of brutal physical and mental challenges designed by each specific college to weed out those unworthy of the honor, a week where the slightest mistake can be fatal. And all eyes seem to be on Cia- especially when she uncovers a conspiracy against the government. Yet can Cia trust those around her- or those from home- or anyone?
Fast paced and making you want the third in the series already (Graduation Day, estimated publication June 2014), Cia is believable and the twists and turns keeps readers on their seats. The fact that Cia never knows who to trust and double crosses from adults as well as others abound only adds to the creep factor with everything going on around her. Additionally, the theme that those around you can never seem to be trusted really hits home with teens and dystopia right now.
(Warning: still intense violence for younger teens, so if you have some that are sensitive to these types of mental images, this book/series is not for them. I have some that can watch The Hunger Games and other things on screen and they’re fine, but if they read it, it gives them nightmares.)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who have already started the series, as well as those looking for alternatives to The Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, and Enders duality, or high action dystopias.
Could June hurry? I need Graduation Day already.

Christie’s To Drool For: January 2014 Titles

Oh, January. New year, snow, hot chocolate, and NEW BOOKS!!!!!!

Haley and her father Andy have been on the road for the past five years, always moving, avoiding the demons from her dad’s PTSD. They’ve finally returned to Hayley’s hometown, but will that make things better or worse, and will Hayley finally be able to have a normal life.

The sequel to Better Nate than Never, Nate is finally headed to BROADWAY!  Off to start rehearsals for E.T.: The Musical, nothing turns out to be exactly like he expects. Can his lucky rabbit’s foot save the day, or will he need more than that to see his name in lights?

The second novel of Miss Peregrine’s series, Hollow City starts right in 1940. Jacob and his friends have to journey to London, the Peculiar Capital of the World, discovering new creatures, aliens, and peculiarities along the way.

Book two of the Testing series, Cia is now a freshman in Tosu City- and even though the government has tried to erase the horrors she endured during the Testing, she remembers. Balancing the line between what to reveal to whom, and how far to go can have deadly consequences, and the future of everyone is at stake.
The conclusion to Starters. Someone is after Callie and Michael- Starters, teens who help adults relive their youth in exchange for food, money, and safety. While the body bank is destroyed, the Enders (adults) can still control her while the chip is in her head- including hurting people she loves.
In the sequel to Pantonmime, Micah and Dystran have left the circus behind, and fallen in with the great magician Jasper Maske. However, people are still hunting for Micah based on his past, and Micah is discovering that magic is not all card tricks and illusions.


Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

There is a hum of a motor and a large white screen unfurls above the stage. A black heart symbol flashes. You can hear people murmur as the symbol registers. Their time has come. I see Nicolette tromp up the aisle and disappear out the door with the twenty or so members of her group. Several minutes pass. A few people whisper. I hold my breath, waiting for the next group to be called.
A triangle. Malachi and Ryme.

I spot Malachi’s small, slight body rise from a seat to our far left. His mouth is pursed in concentration or fear as he walks up the aisle. I give him a thumbs-up, but his eyes are plastered on the back of the girl in front of him and he doesn’t notice.

There are fewer whispers. More fidgeting as we wait. My heart keeps pace with the seconds ticking by. The screen flickers. Another symbol.


Tomas sucks in air, and I remember. Ours. Though I am certain he will outdistance all of us on the tests, I am so glad he is coming with me. He is a touchstone from home. I will do better knowing he is near.

We rise and join the others in our group. I can’t help but notice that our group is much smaller than the others. Once we are in the hallway, I count. Ten. Half the size. Is this good or bad? The two Testing officials in their red and purple do not allow me the time to worry further. The blonde asks us to follow her. She heads down the hallway to the left and we follow. A dark-haired man brings up the rear.

The woman at the door instructs us to step inside and take a seat at one of the desks. The door is narrow. Tomas goes first. I enter next. Two steps inside and I stop walking. My feet are planted to the floor as bile climbs up my throat.

I know this room.

White walls.

White floors.

Black desks.

This is the Testing room from my father’s nightmares.

On graduation day, everyone is celebrating, but all sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is hoping for is to be chosen for The Testing, a program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders and blaze the way for the revitalization of the world after the war.  No one from the Five Lakes Colony has been chosen in years, yet FOUR are chosen from Cia’s class, including her. When her father shares his nightmares of his Testing, and the insidious threats of treason all around her, Cia has no choice but to head to Tosu City and whatever awaits her- including her possible death. And who can she trust when everyone wants the same thing:  to survive The Testing and make it to University?

After nuclear war obliterates much of the planet and the earth fights back by unleashing meteorological terrors that almost destroy what is left of the human race, the United Commonwealth is formed. Based in Tosu City (what was once Wichita, Kansas), the government takes the best and brightest of the graduating classes to be entered into The Testing- a four part series of mental, physical, and psychological exams to determine who can handle the rigors of leadership in the new world.  When Cia is chosen for The Testing, her father shares his own nightmare experience of his Testing: colony friends gone missing, people dying, and blanks where memories should be. However, to refuse to undergo The Testing is treason, and death. Joined by three other members of her colony, Cia embarks on a journey that pushes everyone to their breaking point and beyond- where a mistake or even trusting the wrong person means death, and everyone is fighting for survival. Wonderful twists and turns throughout the book keep readers on their toes, and the final twist sets up for the next book (Independent Study) extremely well. Cia is a strong and vibrant heroine, and will definitely find fans with those who love Katniss (Hunger Games), Tris (Divergent), or Tally (Uglies).  The situations are extremely violent, so I would hesitate giving it to younger readers who may not be ready for some scenes, even though I have no qualms about putting it in a young adult collection. 4.25 out of 5 stars.  Goodreads has The Testing listed as 4.00 stars as of Tuesday, May 14, 2013.


OMG, I loved this book! I could not put it down!!!  I am a huge lover of dystopias, so that should give you a clue, but I was immediately pulled into Cia’s world. It reminded me of a mix of Hunger Games and Battle Royale (testing, evaluation, and fighting to the death with teenagers to find the victors while the adults watch) with hints of Divergent (grouping by abilities/test scores/aptitudes) and Uglies (the complete separation from your past if you’re accepted to University, and the HUGE twist at the end that I am NOT going to spoil). 

It definitely had enough world building for me, and Karen loves me enough to grab a copy of Independent Study (the second book) during the Texas Library Association Annual Convention, which explains the world even more, and that makes me a happy reader- I am geek enough that I need to know HOW the world broke in my dystopias, it’s not enough for me to know THAT it broke, I’m a toddler always asking WHY?!?!?!?!

Definitely one to keep around, and keep an eye on. With movie studios picking up YA dystopias like crazy to make into movies and TV shows, I can’t help but wonder if this one will get looked at as well.

Coming Soon: a Taste and Tease

I was the only one of the TLT’ers to be able to go to ALA Midwinter, and I shared a lot of other bloggers’ frustrations with the ARC drops as I was wearing multiple hats- not only was I going as a rep for Teen Librarian Toolbox (so much so that I made That Guy tell SoHo and Zest Books that he was Karen, much to their hysteria) but I was also running the Rainbow Project meetings. So I missed out on some ARCs that I *really* wanted (*cough* The S-Word *cough*) but hopefully the reps will send them when they do get back to their offices.  And three books that I’ve been on the edge of my seat to read (Doctorow’s Homeland, Meyer’s Scarlet, and Lu’s Prodigy are either out or coming out next week.  BUT, I do have a top 6 of the ARCs that I am SUPER excited about that I thought I’d share with y’all…

ARC available on Netgalley, on sale August

On Sale June 2013, haven’t seen it *yet* on Netgalley or Edleweiss

On sale June 2013, egalley on Edleweiss

On sale February 19, short stories by Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Margaret Sthol, Melissa Marr, and more

on sale May 2103, back cover says there will be a  *keynote and signing at Texas Library Association Conference*

On sale June 2013, says there’s an ebook prequel promotion as well

Were you at Midwinter in Seattle?  What did you pick up and what are you excited to see coming out this spring/summer?  Share in the comments!