Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Win 5 from Merit Press

Want to win some books? I feel like giving some away today. I have 2 ARC and 3 Hardback copies of titles new or coming soon from Merit Press. Just leave a comment below by Friday (10/21/2016) to be entered to win. Be sure an leave a Twitter or email contact so I can contact you if you win. Open to U.S. residents only please.

Aftermath by Clara Kensie

merit1Publisher’s Book Description

Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free. (November 2016)

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles

merit2Publisher’s Book Description

After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother’s best friend–a boy she has despised all her life. Her brother is in a coma, and Gabi feels that she has no time to waste, but she is unsure. Will she hesitate too long, or risk her own happiness to keep a promise? An up-close look at the lives of the children of military families, Beneath Wandering Stars takes readers on a journey of love, danger, laughter, and friendship, against all odds.

Color Bind by Sheila Sobel

merit3Publisher’s Book Description

April is alone in the world. When she was only a baby, her teenage mother took off and now, unbelievably, her dad has died. Nobody’s left to take April in except her mom’s sister, a free spirit who’s a chef in New Orleans–and someone who April’s never met. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, April is suddenly supposed to navigate a city that feels just like she feels, fighting back from impossibly bad breaks. But it’s Miles, a bayou boy, who really brings April into the heart of the Big Easy. He takes her to the cemetery where nineteenth-century voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried, and there, April gets a shocking clue about her own past. Once she has a piece of the puzzle, she knows she will never give up. What she doesn’t know is that finding out the truth about her past and the key to her future could cost her everything–maybe even her life.

Dessert First by Dean Gloster

merit4Publisher’s Book Description

Upbeat–that’s Kat, the girl in the family who everyone turns to when things get difficult. Especially now, when her beloved younger brother Beep is in his second leukemia relapse, and a bone marrow transplant from Kat may be his only chance.
But Kat’s worried that she and her bone marrow may not be up to the task: She can’t even complete homework, and she’s facing other rejection–lost friendships, a lost spot on the soccer team, and lots of heartache from her crush on her former best friend, Evan. Kat doesn’t know if her bone marrow will save Beep, or whether she can save herself, let alone keep her promise to Beep that she’ll enjoy life and always eat dessert first.

Dessert First is a funny, moving story about coping, appreciating sweetness, and learning to forgive

If You Were Here by Jennie Yabroff

merit5Publisher’s Book Description

Just one person cared. And now she’s gone.

Tess was already an outcast before her mother started showing up at school acting like the insane person she actually is. Although Tess has some compassion for her mother’s mental illness, she’d never have made it without the support of her one true friend, Tabitha, and the stress relief of long runs through Central Park. Then Tabitha defects to the other side, becoming a fashion Barbie and dropping Tess like a bad habit. Before Tess can even come to terms with this loss, a horrific tragedy occurs, and everyone is blaming Tess. Now, Tess is heartbroken and obsessed: Is she headed for a fate like her mother’s? And can she find out what really happened to Tabitha and, at the very least, be able to claim her innocence? (January 2017)

TLT is Thankful for YOU: A Merit Press Giveaway

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I thought I would tell you how thankful I am for YOU – our readers. We could still do this if no one was reading, and I honestly probably would because I love it, but it sure is nice to have people reading and talking with us. So thank you! As an expression of our thanks, we’re giving away 5 titles generously donated by Merit Press. Just leave a comment down below to be entered to win, being sure we have a way to get in contact with you if your name is chosen out of the hat (like a Twitter handle). We’ll be accepting entries until the end of November at Midnight. And because this is a giveaway to say thanks to our readers, it’s open to every one.

Here are the Books

merit1Unlovely by Celeste Conway

If he falls for a beautiful dancer, does he risk his heart? Or his life?

• Unlovely is narrated in dark mystery wrapped around a world teens love, that of dancers and dancing.

• Bewitching writing, an eerie story, and a here-and-now thriller, combine for a captivating read of love, loyalty, and dark revenge

• Celeste Conway’s book The Melting Season was featured by the New York Public Library as among 2006’s best teen reads. She also has written two middle-grade novels and teaches writing at Berkley College

“A perfect combination of romance and horror with (dare I say this?) some culture thrown in.” –Lois Duncan, author of Stranger with My Face and Locked in Time

Accidents happen. But they happen more often when the beautiful ballet dancers return each summer to the island. When he hears the ruthless way that the loveliest dancer talks about boys getting what they deserve when they break girls’ hearts, Harley, home for the summer after his first year of college, wonders if he’s losing his mind. He knows for sure that he’s losing his heart to this girl…But then, strange incidents start happening all over the island and Harley is caught between desire and fear: could he also be in danger of losing his life?

merit2Perdita by Faith Gardner

Granted, Arielle has a vast, excitable imagination. But she’s not imagining how strange and out of control her life becomes after the death by drowning of her older sister’s best friend, Perdita. Not only does this death echo the death of Arielle’s own older brother, ten years before, it leads to dreams and visions in which Perdita seems to be reaching out to Arielle, asking for her help. The only other explanation—that Arielle’s high-strung emotions have finally caused her to break with reality—is even more terrifying. A story that builds to greater and greater heights of suspicion and fear, Perdita is also a multi-layered literary achievement that leaves no emotion untouched.

merit3The Yearbook by Carol Masciola

Misfit teen Lola Lundy falls asleep in a storage room in her high school library and wakes up to find herself 80 years in the past. The Fall Frolic dance is going full blast in the gym, and there she makes an instant connection with the brainy and provocative Peter Hemmings, class of ’24. His face is familiar, and she realizes she’s seen his senior portrait in a ragged old yearbook in the storage room. By the end of the dance, Lola begins to see a way out of her disastrous Twenty First Century life: She’ll make a new future for herself in the past. But major mental illness lies in Lola’s family background. Has she slipped through a crack in time, or into an elaborate, romantic hallucination based on the contents of an old yearbook?

Infinite Number BGcvr.inddAn Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay

As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie’s trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents’ divorce, Mari’s considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante’s working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam’s clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve–or to avoid–their problems.

Told in the narrative style of Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMAN, AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES is at turns geeky, funny, and lyrical as it tells a story about that time in life when friends need each other to become more than just people that hang out.

merit5Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.

Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.

Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

All book descriptions are the publisher’s descriptions. And a heartfelt thank you to Merit Press for these books to give away.

Win 3 from Merit Press: Jex Malone, Screaming Divas and Wanted: Dead or In Love

Next week, Teen Librarian Toolbox will be 3 years old. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I open up my computer and look at this blog and just kind of pet my computer screen. That’s not weird, right? TLT began out of a moment of desperation, but I am very fond of it. It has brought so many amazing people into my life, affords me tremendous creativity and opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences, and forces me to really examine what I do and why. So to celebrate our 3 year anniversary, I’m giving away 3 books from Merit Press (thank you Merit Press!) All book descriptions are the publisher’s book descriptions. U.S. residents can enter at the end of this post by doing the Rafflecopter thing by Midnight on July 18th.

Wanted: Dead or In Love by Kym Brunner

Impulsive high school senior Monroe Baker is on probation for a recent crime, but strives to stay out of trouble by working as a flapper at her father’s Roaring 20’s dinner show theater. When she cuts herself on one of the spent bullets from her father’s gangster memorabilia collection, she unwittingly awakens Bonnie Parker’s spirit, who begins speaking to Monroe from inside her head.

Later that evening, Monroe shows the slugs to Jack, a boy she meets at a party. He unknowingly becomes infected by Clyde, who soon commits a crime using Jack’s body. The teens learn that they have less than twenty-four hours to ditch the criminals or they’ll share their bodies with the deadly outlaws indefinitely.

Jex Malone by C. L. Gaber & V. C. Stanley

Bored out of her mind during a summer with her police detective father in Las Vegas, Jessica (aka “Jex”) Malone starts doing what she does best–snooping. When she meets three new friends who share her passion for crime, from the geek to the fashionista, suddenly, the stifling desert days don’t seem so long.

Her dad is never around, just like when her parents were married. But Jex’s crew, the Drew-Ids, take the pledge of eternal secrecy and then get down to the good stuff–digging through the cold-case files in Dad’s home office.

One of them, the thirteen-year-old case of Patty Matthews, is still a mystery. Finding Patty, who vanished into thin air, became such an obsession for Jex’s father that it destroyed the Malones’ marriage. So not only is this a big deal, it’s personal.

Jex is determined to find out what really happened, and her excitement is contagious. Soon her friends are all on board and so is the missing girl’s brother, the hunky Cooper Matthews.

But as they dig up more and more troubling information–more than the cops ever did–they also get the clear message that someone out there wants to prevent the truth from coming out. That somebody is also prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to prevent it.

Jex isn’t afraid; after all, she’s a cop’s daughter. But maybe she should be.

Laced with humor, toughness, and real CSI investigation techniques, Jex Malone could be the Nancy Drew for a new generation–but with a chilling twist. These wannabe detectives are on the brink of finding out the fate of poor missing Patty. But will they disappear without a trace, too?

Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata

At sixteen, Trudy Baxter is tired of her debutante mom, her deadbeat dad, and her standing reservation at the juvenile detention center. Changing her name to Trudy Sin, she cranks up her major chops as a singer and starts a band, gathering around other girls ill at ease in their own lives. Cassie Haywood, would-have-been beauty queen, was scarred in an accident in which her alcoholic mom was killed. But she can still sing and play her guitar, even though she seeks way too much relief from the pain in her body and her heart through drugs, and way too much relief from loneliness through casual sex. Still, it’s Cassie who hears former child prodigy Harumi Yokoyama playing in a punk band at a party, and enlists her, outraging Harumi’s overbearing first-generation Japanese parents. The fourth member is Esther Shealy, who joins as a drummer in order to be close to Cassie–the long-time object of her unrequited love–and Harumi, her estranged childhood friend. Together, they are Screaming Divas, and they’re quickly swept up as a local sensation. Then, just as they are about to achieve their rock-girl dreams, a tragedy strikes. 

3 New Titles from Merit Press: a forbidden (but funny) romance, a hijacking in the air, and mortal enemies

Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

There’s a new titles in the Twisted Lit series, this one a fresh take on Romeo and Juliet with a little food thrown in. It is fun, flirty and an enjoyable read.  It would make a fun addition to our various food fiction lists: Sweet Reads, more Sweet Reads and Mouth Watering Reads.

Publisher’s Annotation:  Since before they were born, Gigi and Roman’s families had two rules: make the best Italian food in Chicago and don’t speak to each other.  When Gigi and Roman are teenagers, although Gigi resents the Montes’ last vicious prank that threatens her family’s livelihood, she can’t help falling for Roman, who’s as good a boy as his family (in her eyes) is bad. The two decide to uncover the truth of the war that began back in the summer of 1933, before violence can destroy their own future.  Alternating between past and present in the tradition of Nicholas Sparks’ THE NOTEBOOK, the story is a tender, funny, edgy romance.  In this retelling of the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, new love tries once again to triumph over old grudges.

Anyone But You is the third in the Twisted Lit Series which includes Tempestuous and ExposureYou can visit the Twisted Lit Tumblr for more information.

Unaccompanied Minor by Hollis Gillespie

Tagline: Runaway April is in a race against time – five miles in the sky

Backcover Copy: Fourteen-year-old April May Manning spent her life on airplanes with her flight attendant parents. When her father dies in a crash, April’s mom marries a pilot who turns out to be an abusive jerk, and gets Mom confined to a psychiatric hospital. So April takes off, literally, living on airplanes, using her mother’s flight benefits, relying on the flight crews who know she’s been shuttling between divorcing parents for a year. Then, there’s a hijacking, but why is April’s “dad” on board? April flees to the cargo hold with another unaccompanied minor she’s met before, and they fight to thwart the hijackers, faking a fire, making weapons from things they find in luggage. At last, locked in the cockpit with a wounded police officer, the boy, and his service dog, April tries to remember everything her parents said to do in a crisis above the clouds. But she knows it won’t be enough.

The back cover copy reads like a really unbelievable Hollywood blockbuster movie: abductors, plane hijacking, bombs.  To be honest, it is absurd – but it is a lot of fun.  It’s like a female teen MacGyver, and just like MG April has personality plus and you’ll find yourself rooting for her.  Booklist says it’s a fun read that combines believable characters and an outrageous situation and manages to make it all work.” (Booklist, 12/01/2013). I can see teen readers really enjoying this title and, once again, it presents some cool scenarios that we don’t often see in YA lit, making this a fresh read.

No Surrender Soldier by Christine Kohler

Tagline: A young man, an old soldier, and a fight to survive.

Back cover copy: It’s 1972 on the island of Guam when Kiko finds an old Japanese soldier hiding out near his house.  Although he wasn’t even born during World War II, now his soldier brother is missing in Vietnam and he’s learned that his mom was rapes as a teen – by a Japanese soldier.  On the verge of manhood, Kiko suddenly sees this man as his personal, mortal enemy.  Why do you do to a mortal enemy? There is only one answer.

This historical fiction tale is haunting and challenging.  Told in alternating chapters, we hear from both Kiko and Seto, the found Japanese soldier who feels unworthy since he failed to commit suicide. Kirkus called this “an unusual, resonant debut” (11/15/2013).  It powerfully tells a story that is not often told in young adult literature.

 Win These Books!
Leave a comment today (2/03/14) and you’ll be entered to win these 3 titles.  I will literally draw one name out of a hat and mail that person finished copies of the books from Merit Press.  Open to U.S. Residents.  Please leave a Twitter handle or email so I can contact you.

Merit Press sent me copies of these books in exchange for an honest review.

Win This: 5 From Merit Press (Giveaway)

Earlier this year, Merit Press launched.  It is a new YA imprint started by New York Times best selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard.  Their focus is on “riveting and relevant real world novels for young adults” (via their Facebook page).  Today we had a guest blog post from author Julie Anne Lindsey, a Merit Press author.  I happen to have right here in my hand five FINISHED HARDBACK books from Merit Press for you to win.  You can keep them, use them as prizes, or add them to your library collection if you are a librarian.  This giveaway will be open until Midnight on Saturday, September 7th.  Complete details at the end of this post.

Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

 “The minute you think you can outsmart life, that’s when life will outsmart you.”

A modern day homage to Macbeth.  The captain of the hockey team, Duncan, turns up dead.  And senior Skye finds herself caught in a love triangle.  She may be the only one who knows what really happened to Duncan.  To tell or not to tell, that is the question.

Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

“I shuddered, remembering the similar crown of condescension I wore back when I stook perched on a higher rung of the social statrum.”

Miranda Prsopero has found herself banished from the popular crowd (say not banished).  She now finds herself working at the Hot-Dog-Kabob (think Hot Dog on a Stick with awesome uniforms and tall hats).  A huge storm sweeps through and they are all trapped in the mall, creating the perfect opportunity for revenge against her former clique.  Like Exposure, Temptestous is a part of the Twited Lit series, this one a take on The Tempest.

The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

“The one thhing even more dangerous than being in a hostage situation has to be being in a hostage situation that’s gone wrong.”

Rich, powerful people often make powerful enemies.  And they can seek revenge at the most unfortunate times.  Ariel is in the midst of a mega birthday party when they show up, guns in hand.  Everyone is now being held hostage, except Ariel who has escaped into secret tunnels.  Sera was forced to attend the party by her father.  As terrorists take over the party, Ariel and Sera may be everyone’s only chance for survival.

The After Girls by Leah Konen

“How could she have spent week after week with her friend, her best friend, and not known that she wanted to leave? The guilt ripped at her, enveloped her, drowned her.  If only she could find what it was that she’d missed. If only she could see how she’d failed her friend.”

Ella, Astrid and Sydney find their summer plans shattered when Astrid takes her own life.  Ella and Sydney are left reeling: they had no idea anything was wrong, shouldn’t they have seen this coming?  Ella hunts for the truth while Sydney tries to escape the pain, often in destructive ways.  And is it possible that Astrid is trying to communicate with her friends from beyond?  The answers may just change their lives forever.

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner

“Every night it’s the same thing. Screeching brakes. Crunching steel. A rush of cold, wet air as the glass crumbles, letting in the snowy night.”

Her entire family was killed in a car crash that left Sasha unable to speak without the assistance of a voice box.  Ben, an empath, seems able to read Sasha’s mind and tries to help her heal from the trauma of the accident.  Soon it becomes clear: Sasha’s family did not die in an accident, and her life is in danger.

Book Review: Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

“Who cares what they’re doing as long as they’re at the other end of the mall?” Ariel seemed unperturbed. “We’re just in here for the night. What do we need with all that stuff, anyway?”

“Don’t you get it?” Derek answered. “We don’t know what’s happening out there with the storm. we could be snowed in here for days. What if we lose power/ This could turn into a survival game.:
“See?” I said to Caleb chidingly.

“It’s war. You’re involved now whether you want to be or not.”

“wait a sec,” Chad said, “before we get ahead of ourselves. . . Don’t we have bigger things to worry about? Like  oh, I don’t know. . . the computer store thief?”

“What about him?” I said with a shrug.

“They aren’t even real,” Caleb said. “We sell some just like those at Got Games.”

“Oh, they’re real,” Troy said.

“If they’re so real, how come I know the trick to get out of them?” Caleb said.
He twisted his wrist a few times even though it was clear there was no way he’d be able to get his arm out of them. He looked confused. I yanked back on my end of the handcuff.

Troy stuck his hand in his back pocket, this his front pockets.

“I. . . what the hell?. . . I can’t find the key. It was in my pocket,” he said. Caleb and I both looked at him expectantly, our irritation growing. “I’m serious.
He looked around the ground at his feet and everyone else did, too, but the key was nowhere to be found. Just brilliant. Brian, Rachel, and the Itneys were going all Lord of the Flies on us, a potentially armed criminal might or might not be somewhere in the mall, and Caleb and I were handcuffed together. What more could go wrong?

Forced into the pits of loserdom of working the mall food court to pay restitution for her crimes (and others as well), Miranda Prospero (sound familiar, English majors? Think very loosely of The Tempest) is trying to figure out how to survive the last few months of her senior year without gathering more attention from her former crowd, the Itneys. Yet life has other plans- in the form of a blizzard that shuts down the mall before Miranda, her co-worker Ariel, her ex Brian, her former BFFs Rachel, Whitney, and Britney,and other mall workers and mall rats can get home, and oh, yea- the THIEF who starts smashing and grabbing stores.  The preps and the nots set up camps at opposed ends of the mall, and Miranda sees her perfect chance for revenge- even while handcuffed to Caleb. Yet will Miranda discover herself or be focused on her revenge- and what about the thief?  

Tempestuous is the first of the author’s Twisted Lit series, and is extremely loosely based on The Tempest by Shakespeare- a few similar characters, everyone stranded together, a lot of learning about human nature.  It is a very fun and fast mystery, with a lot to hold readers and keep them immersed in the story.  There’s Miranda and her story, with not only her ex-friends and new friends, but Caleb and his backstory, Ariel and her growth; and a bit of fleshing out of secondary and third characters.  The mystery of the mall thief is a nice twist as well, as you’re not quite sure who it will be when people keep going in and out of the story line.  Definitely an entertaining read, one that I would pair with books by Louise Rennison or Rachel Cohn for the humor quotient.  3.5 out of 5 stars.


I really enjoyed Tempestuous, it was amusing and catchy, and kept my interest throughout the book. I got invested in what would happen next- what would Miranda and Ariel do, and how would things progress between Miranda and Caleb, especially with the twists between the different cliques.  Askew and Helmes built a world could have come off as extremely superficial- instead, you could see how everyone fit in. And the reactions to the pranks and situations are not typical- the Itneys (Miranda’s old clique) react very different than what you expect to Miranda’s detailed revenge plans (including bunnies, henna, and hair dye gone rampant), and Ariel turns the tables on Miranda more than once.

Those that are expecting a hard mystery should look elsewhere- the focus is more on the development of character and discovering one’s self rather than finding the thief, although everything is neatly solved by the end.  It’s interwoven- don’t get me wrong, and adds tension, but it’s not a major focus point within the story until the last quarter of the book.
Tempestuous is the first of the Twisted Lit series, and part of the Merit Press new YA releases.  It has received an average of 4.06 stars on Goodreads (I am a hard grader, I admit) as of January 3, and was released on December 18, 2012.  ISBN: 9781440552649.