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
Place a hold

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
Place a hold.

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
Place a hold.

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
Place a hold.

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
Place a hold.

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!

Supernatural Marathon October 8

Are you ready for a 2spoopy marathon of action-packed adventures with Sam and Dean Winchester (Maybe we’ll get lucky and have the occasional appearance of Castiel)? Do I reeeeally need to ask? Of course you are!
dean scream supernatural gif

Join us for a seven-hour Supernatural marathon featuring some awesome standalone episodes from throughout the series!

The Marathon starts at 1 p.m. sharp on October 8 in the Vortex!!

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!