Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Author: Erika L. Sanchez
Place a hold here.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterSummary:
Julia is a first generation Mexican-American girl living in Chicago and trying to live up to the expectations of her conservative, Catholic, traditional parents. When she loses her older sister, Olga, to an accident, things at home become even harder. Olga was the favorite. Olga made perfect tortillas. Olga rubbed her dad’s tired feet after a long day at his factory job. Olga was content to go to community college and stay at home with her family. Olga did all the things a perfect Mexican daughter should do. But, now Olga is dead. And it’s just Julia. Julia, who can’t cook, who hates to clean, who doesn’t want a quinceanera. Julia, who always wears too much black and whose friends include a girl who wears too much makeup and not enough clothing and a homosexual. Julia, who can’t wait to go to college far away from her parents’ cockroach-riddled apartment and her poor Chicago neighborhood.

Except maybe Olga wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.

And how far with Julia go to escape her life?

Tara’s Reaction:
I relate so much to Julia. I understand feeling torn between two worlds, not to mention her depression and grief. And I think everyone can relate to feeling imperfect or not good enough. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter examines the experience of teens who carry on the traditions of their parents and grandparents while firmly planted in American culture and the struggles they face trying to live in two distinct worlds. What does it do to a person to have to put on one face at school and another face at home? Can a person be authentically both? Does embracing her Mexican heritage make Julia less American? Does fitting in with her friends and boyfriend make her less Mexican?

This topic seems to have gotten a lot of attention in Young Adult fiction over the last few years, which I think is great. We live in a diverse nation with people of varying ethnicities and cultures. I’m thrilled to see so many of them reflected in modern literature for teens.

A Few Other Books You Might Want to Try:
Something in BetweenTitle: Something in Between
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Place a hold.


When Dimple Met RishiTitle: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Memon
Place a hold.


American PandaTitle: American Panda
Author: Gloria Chao
Place a hold.


American StreetTitle: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Place a hold.


Saints and MisfitsTitle: Saints and Misfits
Author: A. K. Ali
Place a hold.



Teen Trivia: Thursday September 27

Attention all hoarders of knowledge! How much do you really know?

Come test your mettle against other teens and see which team will win the big prize on September 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Vortex! (grades 6–12 only.)

Past topics have included Harry Potter, comic books, history, Fortnite, geography, Star Wars, kitchen trivia, video games, anime & manga, computers & technology, math, biology, classic cartoons, and the ever popular Name that Tune!

Each member of the team with the most points will win a gift card to some of your favorite local businesses like Dunkin’ Donuts and Regal Cinemas. 

teen trivia night

Sign up TODAY!

Tara’s Top Ten Board Games: Part Two

Console games, online gaming and apps are all great ways to connect with friends, practice problem solving skills and just have fun, but my absolute favorite type of game is a board game. You can go ahead and call me nerdy and old-fashioned. (I’ll wait.) Okay, are you done laughing at me yet? Because, seriously, board games are the best!

Image result for pile of dice

Last time, I shared five of my faves. Here in no particular order are the rest of my Top Ten Board Games.

Image result for kittens in a blenderKittens in a Blender – This adorable, little game has a horrifying name and I feel a little guilty every time I play it. Each player chooses a color and tries to keep their kittens out of the blender while – Bast help me – blending the other players’ kittens. Cat smoothie, anyone? I’m sorry, kittiiieees!!

Ticket to Ride – It took me a while to really get into Ticket to Ride. It’s a train game, and I just don’t get the fascination with trains that some gamers have. But it’s also, basically, a resource collecting game like Settlers of Catan. Once I realized that, it became more fun for me. Each player is given random route cards and has to build tracks between two cities. You collect cards of different colors to create your tracks. If you’re really a jerk. You figure out where your opponent is trying to reach and block them. I really hate that trick. It’s also a good way to learn some geography. The original game features a U.S. map, but there are additional versions with maps from all over the world.

Image result for zombie diceZombie Dice – This is a super-fast, super-fun game that only requires 13 zombified dice. Each die has pictures of brains, footsteps and shotgun blasts. You try to “eat” as many brains as you can without getting shotgunned. It’s similar to other dice games like Farkle or Fill or Bust, but it’s way cooler because zombies.

Image result for telestrationsTelestrations – The best thing about this game is that you don’t actually have to buy the game; you can totally re-create it with paper, pens and a little creativity. It’s a cross between Pictionary and that grade school standby, Telephone. The advantage to purchasing the actual game is that it comes with a deck of word cards. Otherwise, you have to make them all up yourself. Each player picks a card and draws what is listed on the card. They pass their drawing to the player on the left who tries to guess what it is. Pretty straightforward. Here’s where it gets confusing. Each player writes down their guess on a new sheet of paper and passes that to the player on their left who now draws the guessed answer to what the first player drew. Are you still with me? The new drawing gets passed, the next player guesses, and play continues like this until the whole thing gets back to the first player. Then you read through all the crazy guesses and drawings and hilarity ensues. Draw, guess, repeat.

Cranium Cranium is great for families or friend groups who can’t agree on what type of game to play. It’s like four games for the price of one. One component is all trivia (for my brainy sister who loves Trivial Pursuit), one is all drawing and sculpting (for my artist niece who kills at Pictionary), one part features word puzzles (for me, the word nerd) and one component that revolves around singing and performing, like charades. (No one in my family likes that part.) You make your way around the board, participating in all four types of play with your team until you get to the giant purple brain at the center of the board and you solve one final puzzle (of your opponent’s choice).

Happy Gaming!



Anime Recommendation: Cells at Work

Age Recommendation: 12+

Genre: Comedy

# of Episodes: 8 (ongoing)


“This is a story about you. A tale about the inside of your body. According to a new study, the human body consists of approximately 37 trillion cells. These cells are hard at work every day within a world that is your body. From the oxygen carrying Red Blood Cells to the bacteria fighting White Blood Cells, get to know the unsung heroes and the drama that unfolds inside of you!”


I’ve had a chance to see two episodes so far of this show, and I absolutely, completely adore it. It brings me back to the days of the Osmosis Jones TV show I’d watch Saturday mornings back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

However, Cells at Work is definitely not a copy! It just gives me the general feeling because of the setting, but that’s where the similarities end. For one, this is strangely educational without going overboard. Each character when they’re first introduced, it’s explained what they do in our bodies and why they’re important!

Also, White Blood Cell is pretty competent (Sorry Osmosis, I still love you)! And the Red Blood Cell is just completely adorable. She’s still learning her job and gets turned around every which way (ending up in the kidneys when she was trying to find the lungs!) in our confusing bodies but still always does her best! Thankfully White Blood Cell is usually there to save the day from whatever mishap she landed herself in this time.

I never thought I’d ship cells (Red Blood Cell X White Blood Cell forever) in my body together but I do. I unapologetically, totally do.

We are going to watch Cells at Work on our next anime night on September 10 at 5 p.m. Can’t wait until then? Watch it on Crunchyroll for free!

Tara’s Top Ten Board Games: Part One

Console games, online gaming and apps are all great ways to connect with friends, practice problem solving skills and just have fun, but my absolute favorite type of game is a board game. You can go ahead and call me nerdy and old-fashioned. (I’ll wait.) Okay, are you done laughing at me yet? Because, seriously, board games are the best!

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Here in no particular order are half of my Top Ten Board Games. (I’ll post the rest next time.)

SetImage result for settlers of catantlers of Catan – It’s takes some time to learn, set up and conquer, but it’s totally worth it. Settlers of Catan consists of an ever-changing landscape of mountains, hills, forests, fields and pastures. Each player strategically builds settlements and cities in order to receive and control different resources on the island of Catan. There are also dozens of expansions like Seafarers, The Great River and Wizards & Dragons that can add different dimensions to your gameplay. Settlers is a great game for a game night with a small group of friends 

Image result for codenames gameCodeNamesCodeNames is a cool game in which two spymasters give their team of secret agents clues as they race to figure out which spies are on their side. It helps if the team and spymaster are familiar with each other’s thinking. I’ve played this game with people I know so well we can practically read each other’s minds as well as with near strangers. Even when I don’t win, it’s always a fun game!

Munchkin – There are a ton of themed Munchkin games including pirates, zombies, steampunk, ninjas, fairies, superheroes and even Rick and Morty! The basic idea is that you’re a small, selfish, tricksy creature known as a munchkin. You are crawling through a dungeon and must kick in doors, fight monsters and collect treasure. It is also well-known that munchkins cheat, so feel free to play creatively.

Image result for fluxx gamesFluxx Fluxx is another game with a zillion different versions. I think my personal fave is Monty Python Fluxx, but I haven’t met one I didn’t like. You draw cards, and try to collect objects to meet a goal, but it’s okay if you don’t understand the rules; they could change any minute! As you play, various cards will change how many cards you draw, discard, hold in your hand, and even the goal of the game! It’s a game that’s constantly in flux. (Get it?)

Image result for scrabble catScrabble – There are a lot of great word games out there, including Word on the Street, Quiddler and Unspeakable Words. But, imho, you just can’t beat the classic Scrabble for wordy, nerdy fun! No gimmicks – just pure vocabulary, strategy and luck. If you want something a little less intense, check out the games mentioned above. They’re all phenomenal!

Mobius Final Fantasy for Mobile Devices & Steam

Oh Square, you’ve done it again. You’ve gone and sucked me into another one of your free-to-play games.

This time it’s Mobius Final Fantasy, which is available on iOS, Android, and Steam. It’s been around for 2 years, why haven’t you played it beforehand, you must be asking. Well…because! I don’t really have a good reason! So many other games, and so little time, I guess!

What brought me in?

Final Fantasy X. I got an email from Square that they are having a special story within Mobius Final Fantasy about Tidus! They’re advertising it as A Dream Within a Dream, and I AM SO EXCITED. It launched this August, so I’ve already dove right in to get my head around the mechanics, story and all that fun stuff. Once you completed enough of the story to get to the world map, you’re able to switch over to Tidus’s story!

What’s this thing about?

You are dropped in a land called Palamecia with no memory. You hear a strange voice telling you that you and many others have the chance to become the fabled “Warrior of Life.” Are you the one the prophecy tells of? Play on to find out.

So which do I like better, mobile or PC?

PC. There’s not any question about it.

Just after playing on PC for a few minutes I waaaaay prefer it to mobile. Screen is better (and bigger!), I can use a mouse. It’s much easier to tell what I’m reading/doing! The graphics also look WAY better as well! It looks smooth and no longer grainy. (This may differ on more high end phones of course, mine is pretty old now!)  

PLUS, this game is a big battery drainer. If you decide to go the mobile route, keep a charger with you if you’ll be out all day playing. It also has a long initial update time to get started so that’s also something to keep in mind. The nice thing is the game does allow you to switch between operating systems. So if you start on one and change your mind, you don’t have to lose any progress! I started on mobile and was able to switch to Steam easily.

So is the game fun?

Yes! But there’s a but.  

It’s definitely not something you can only play, however, which makes me understand its appeal as a mobile game. It can be a little grindy, but the game makes up for that with an auto-battle mechanism (the ai will play through for you) that’s reasonably smart. So you can play while watching TV, working on a craft, etc. I could even have it running as I write this if I wanted!

Despite its grindiness, it’s still enjoyable and the writing of the characters is fun. I’m especially amused by the interaction between Tidus and the main character of Mobius (that you get to name. I called mine Perrin!).

There is a saving grace with Mobius though compared to other mobile games I’ve played: the music. It gives me a feel of coming home. Especially with the Final Fantasy X chapters. It uses the same music with updated arrangements from the original game that fills with me an intense rush of nostalgia from when I was a kid first playing it. The music is beautiful and definitely worth keeping on.   

Any tips for newcomers?

Use your summon tickets to buy that starter pack that’s only available within the first 30 days of playing. It is woooorth it and if you’re playing it like me just to see the story, it makes it far more enjoyable as well. The games gives you plenty of tickets early on, and you need 9 total to get all the starter packs. It gives you some great cards (what you use to fight with) and jobs! This lets you get through harder battles with ease while being able to level up your character’s other jobs available! My favorite I think is the Dancer or the Dragoon. Mostly because of appearance, haha!

The games gives a pretty thorough tutorial, but here’s some links to help you get started in your journey:

Polygon’s Mobius Guide

10 Tips & Tricks

Mobius Beginners Guide



If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this. It’s fun seeing the little references the game teases you with and the battle system has a lot going on without being too complicated. There’s cutscenes interspersed between the battles to keep you interested.

So if you’ve played FF before and are looking for a game that’s with low investment when you have some time to spare, give it a shot!  

Great News for Black Panther Fans!

Have you seen Black Panther? If you haven’t, stop reading right now and go watch it. Like, right now. Seriously. I’ll wait. You can check it out on DVD  or Blu-ray  from the library.

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Ok, now that we’ve all seen it, we can discuss our favorite character. Obviously, I mean Shuri. She’s sarcastic, brave and a certified genius. And, as I just discovered, she’s getting her own series! (Squee!) According to this Bustle article , Marvel is releasing a whole-new, stand-alone series featuring Shuri as temporary ruler of Wakanda when T’Challa is lost on a mission.

Image result for shuri own series

And, even better, it will be written by award-winning, Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorofor! (Double squee!) This is an author who clearly understands what makes Shuri tick. She told Bustle “[Shuri is] an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has traveled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda. The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? Alllll that and more.” And Okorafor already has experience writing in the Black Panther universe with Black Panther: Long Live the King . Shuri (the new series’ title is short and sweet) won’t be out until October of this year, but you can read some of Okorafor’s other amazing work  in the meantime!

And, don’t miss Summer’s Last Bash in the Vortex!  Join us on Monday, August 12 from 3–5 p.m. for one last party! Play Black Panther Bingo, go on a vibranium hunt, make your own mask and kimoyo beads, eat snacks and watch Black Panther before the homework starts rolling in again.

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Wakanda Forever!