Book Review – Watched by Marina Budhos

by Marina Budhos
Place a hold.

Summary from Goodreads:
Naeem is far from the “model teen.” Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they’re not the only ones watching. Cameras on poles. Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.

Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero—a protector—like the guys in his brother’s comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?

Reaction from Tara:
What I loved about this story was that, as in life, right and wrong are a little squishy and sometimes hard to tell apart. Is helping the police find possible terrorists right or wrong? What if it means setting people up to be judged for things they have yet to do? What if these people are your friends and family?

Naeem wants to do the right thing. He also wants to help his family. He wants to feel recognized and special. And just maybe, he wants a little revenge against the one who betrayed him. Not all of his motives are the most honorable. Do his motives even matter if the result is a good thing? What does it mean to be loyal and to whom do you owe your loyalty? Every character in this book would have different answers to these questions. That can be a little frustrating because we want right and wrong to be easy to recognize. The fact that they’re not just makes the story that much more fascinating and compelling.



Anime Recommendation: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

slimeAge Recommendation: 12+

Genre: Comedy / Fantasy

# of Episodes: 6 (ongoing; updates Mondays)


“Corporate worker Mikami Satoru is stabbed by a random killer, and is reborn to an alternate world. But he turns out to be reborn a slime! Thrown into this new world with the name Rimuru, he begins his quest to create a world that’s welcoming to all races.”



This is my favorite, favorite, favorite anime to watch right now. I seriously never want it to end. I thought I was over the “Japanese character gets shoved into another world/game/etc trend but NOPE. It sucked me in. It subverts a lot of the tropes (the main character is a friggin slime!), and is just so enjoyable you can’t help feeling happy after each episode is over.

It’s really oddly wholesome in a way that’s indescribable. Just how Rimuru interacts with the world around him and is just so pure of heart and accepting of others is so refreshing. I get sad after each episode is over only because I know I’ll have to wait another week for the next one to update! I never know what the next one will bring, and thankfully there’s no spoilers for the “next time on” other than the title of the next episode (I really don’t like shows that do that!).

The cast has a wide range of characters and races from cranky dragons and dwarves to adorable and kindhearted goblins (not a phrase you often hear! Especially considering the other anime that’s popular these days. Note: Goblin Slayer is NOT teen friendly. DEFINITELY NOT. Don’t watch it. Especially the first episode. Please.).

We watched That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime for November’s Anime Night. But if you missed this month, it’s still available to watch for free any time on crunchyroll!

Stay tuned for our next Anime Night on December 3 at 5 p.m. Dun dun dun~!   


Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween!!!!!!!!! (The awesomeness of Halloween totally justifies the use of multiple exclamation points.)

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and it’s still the best time of the year, imho. It’s the one day out of 365 when you can dress up like a superhero or a vampire or a unicorn and, instead of strange looks, you get CANDY! (Seriously, I’ve tried wearing my unicorn horn around during other seasons and no one gave me candy, not even those gross peanut butter things.) The joy and beauty of Halloween is too much for a single day; in my family, we call the whole month Halloweentober. (This makes the entirety of September Halloweentober Eve, in which it is also acceptable to celebrate and dress up and do Halloween-y things.)

Other Reasons Halloween Season is the Best:

  • Socks with skulls and black cats are out at all the stores.
  • Everything smells like cinnamon and allspice, like pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider.
  • That crunchy sound as you walk through fallen leaves.
  • The colors of the leaves.
  • I can wear my pirate costume.
  • Pumpkin-shaped Reese’s cups.
  • Pumpkin patches.
  • Haunted houses.
  • No one expects me to buy them gifts (unlike *some* holidays.)
  • I’m not expected to travel cross-country to spend of time with relatives I don’t particularly like. (Again, unlike *some* holidays.)
  • No green bean casserole.
  • It’s (usually) not snowing yet.
  • It’s (usually) not hot and humid.
  • Glow sticks are plentiful.
  • Halloween stores full of skull coffee mugs, bony photo frames, black wigs and enough other cute and creepy cheap crap to make a closet goth like me squee!
  • Bats.
  • “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
  • Apple picking.
  • Scary movies especially the old, cheesy kind.
  • Corn mazes.
  • Awesome, creepy music about monsters and ghosts.
  • Dia de los Muertos (not part of Halloween, but same season).
  • Samhain (the Celtic holiday that shares roots with Halloween).
  • Bobbing for apples.
  • Hay rides.
  • Bonfires.
  • Did I mention costumes?
  • Jack Skellington
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Stuffing scarecrows.
  • Ghost-shaped Peeps.
  • Count Chocula.


Celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Fiction

National Hispanic Heritage Month may have just come to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still check out any or all of these fantastic books featuring Latinx heroes!

Tara’s Top Ten Latinx Picks (in no particular order):

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By Erika L. Sánchez
Place a hold.

Julia is grieving her dead sister, Olga. Olga was the perfect Mexican daughter. Julia knows her parents wish she had been the one to die in an accident. She knows she’ll never be what her parents want her to be. As Julia tries to find closure from her sister’s death, she discovers that Olga might not have been the daughter her parents thought she was. This book is for anyone who has grieved, felt lost or trapped or felt the burden of being “not enough.”

12000020Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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Aristotle and Dante couldn’t be more different. Ari is angry and trying desperately to live up to his dad’s machismo while Dante is sensitive, quiet and introspective, yet somehow they make their friendship work. It’s a friendship that changes them both, more than either of them expected.

90 Miles to Havana90 Miles to Havana
By Enrique Flores-Galbis
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This book is aimed at a more of a tween audience but, even so, I loved it. It takes place during the early 1960s as communist Fidel Castro was coming into power in Cuba. Thousands of children were smuggled out of Cuba as refugees and sent to group homes in Miami until (if) their parents could escape Cuba and join them. Julian and his brothers are three of these children. They learn to stick together and survive in this new world of strange language, strange food, strict rules and bullies behind every corner.

Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising
By Pam Muñoz Ryan
Place a hold.

This one is also for grades 4–8 and is also about a wealthy, privileged youth emigrating to the U.S. for safety and survival. Esperanza’s father dies unexpectedly and her mother is faced with a terrible choice: marry a greedy, lecherous corrupt politician or flee to the States and try to find work. Esperanza grew up in a manor house with servants and now she must work alongside her former servants as a migrant farm worker in the days before workers’ rights.

The Devil's Highway: A True StoryThe Devil’s Highway
By Luis Alberto Urrea
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I’m not going to lie: this one’s brutal. It follows the journey of 26 men who crossed the border into the Arizona desert in 2001. Only 12 of them made it out alive. This book uses first-hand accounts from survivors, testimony from their coyote or guide and medical information to paint a gruesome picture of the last days of the 14 men who starved, dehydrated and literally baked to death in the desert heat, trying to find a better life. Do not read this if you have a weak stomach – or even a medium-strength stomach.

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End
By Adam Silvera
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In the year future, people are informed, via a pleasant phone call, when the will die. They don’t have much time to do anything about it because the phone call doesn’t come until the day of their death. Naturally, there are a ton of services aimed at people living their End Day, like the app, Last Friend. (Yes, there’s an app for that.) Rufus is a tough guy living in foster care and Mateo generally doesn’t leave his home unless strictly necessary. The two meet up on the app and set out to Live Life before they die.

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper, #1)Shadowhouse Fall (Shadowshaper, #2)Shadowshaper & Shadowhouse Falls
By Daniel José Older
Place a hold on #1.
Place a hold on #2.

Sierra is an Afro-Caribbean American living in Brooklyn. She has friends, art and a big family to keep her busy. She really doesn’t need zombies, weeping murals or spirits to deal with. But, as she learns her family’s secrets, she realizes that’s she’s the only one who can.

The Poet XThe Poet X
By Elizabeth Acevedo
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Xiomara’s whole being is full of thoughts and passions and anger and indecision and want and frustration and ideas and so many words. But in Harlem, she’s just another Latina without a voice. She turns to poetry to find and use her voice. Written by a renowned slam poet, so of course, it’s full of great rhymes and beats and imagery.

Miles MoralesMiles Morales
By Jason Reynolds
Place a hold.

Yep. It’s based on the comic books, but this one doesn’t have any pictures. It takes familiar characters and takes them on new adventures. Also, it’s written by Jason Reynolds who is always phenomenal!

Gabi, a Girl in PiecesGabi: Girl in Pieces
By Isabel Quintero
Place a hold.

This is one of my favorite books ever. I relate so hard to Gabi. She’s got a lot going on with friends getting pregnant or coming out of the closet. Her parents try but they’re not perfect. She writes it all down – her entire senior year of high school – in a journal and her thoughts and stories are poignant and hilarious and so, so relatable.

Happy Reading!



Mahjong Solitaire Classic

Like usual, I’ve gotten myself sucked into another mobile game. This time it’s a matching version of the Chinese classic, Mahjong!

This is available for mobile devices on Android and iOS for free! This does have ads, but they’re not too intrusive, and if you have spare google play money from somewhere, it’s only $1.99. Other than that, the only stuff to buy is extra boards to play but there are SO many boards to play when you first get it they’re definitely not necessary. No annoying microtransactions to make the game playable! I’ve played a lot of different mahjong solitaire apps (I love mahjong ok don’t judge), and this is definitely one of the better ones!

You just install the app, open it up and can start matching those tiles right away! There’s a lot of fun patterns to the boards too. The one picture below looks like a little lady bug! Ahh! So cute!

It’s super relaxing and I really enjoy the daily challenges as well. Once you complete all the daily challenges for a month, it creates a cute little picture! Fun!

Give it a shot today!

Art @ Your Library

Picture 2.jpgMeet Christine Thornton, art teacher, studio owner, wife and mom. She began her career as a school art teacher but now teaches art lessons at her home studio and also at libraries throughout the Chicago area. She started as many of you have – enjoying all kinds of art like drawing, painting, sculpting, making jewelry, you name it!

Christine frequently visits Fountaindale Public Library District to lead painting and drawing programs for teens and for adults. This month, she’ll return to the Vortex for How to Draw Mexican Sugar Skulls. She’ll give a brief slideshow about Día de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead and the traditional of sugar skulls or decorated skulls as a part of Día de Muertos celebrations and altars. Then, she’ll be on hand to guide program attendees in drawing their own colorful skulls.

Here’s some photos from last years event!

Register here!