Calling All Witches and Wizards

Have you ever wanted to learn spells and charms? Have you taken every quiz ever written to determine your House? Have you dreamed about what it would be like to actually live at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Here’s your chance! The Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app is here and it’s pretty enchanting.

(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

The Game:

You start off by creating and naming your character. The choices to start with are a little limited, but as you play and gain levels, more options for clothing, accessories, hair styles, etc. become available. And you can always go back and change your character’s hair color, eye color, skin color and facial features. So, don’t feel like you’re stuck once you’ve created a character. Also, you CAN make in-app purchases, but it’s totally not necessary. Anything that you can buy with IRL money can be acquired through gameplay. It might take a little longer, but where’s the fun in buying your way through a game anyway?

You will start off in Diagon Alley. The graphics are pretty darn good for a mobile app. There’s the Leaky Cauldron, Ollivander’s and Flourish & Blotts, among other recognizable settings from the books/movies. Other students and magic-wielders are bustling about the Alley. Here is where you meet your first new friend. She’s easy to spot as she has an exclamation point above her head. (Her name is Rowan in my game, but they may randomize the NPCs in different games. I’m not sure. If you play too, leave a comment and let me know if your details are the same.) Any NPC (non-player character) with an exclamation point or other symbols above their head has something to share with you. The game will let you know what things you NEED to click, but you can also try tapping random stuff like house elves and ghosts to see what happens.

When you arrive at Hogwarts with all the other frantic first-years, Dumbledore lets everyone know that the infant Boy Who Lived has been safely placed, and Voldemort is in hiding. It’s kind of cool to play in a pre-Harry setting. There are some familiar characters like Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and all the professors, but you get to experience a different story that centers around you.

Once in the Great Hall, you can choose your House. I, of course, chose Ravenclaw, because Ravenclaws are the best. It’s just a fact. There can be no argument. You can explore your House Common Room, the Castle Grounds and all sorts of places! Some doors will have Lock symbol on them. These rooms or floors can’t be used until you’ve reached a higher level.

You get to attend classes, learn spells, mix potions and even duel! Because, of course, there’s a nasty Slytherin bully. Also – surprise! – Snape is a jerk-face. As you explore the school and meet its students, you also discover a mystery involving your brother and the clues to solve it!

Tara’s Analysis:

Even though, the game leads you through your lessons by telling you who to talk to you and what to do to cast spells, I like that it’s not just a bunch of mindless clicking. As you go along, you’ll be asked questions and given choices, and some of the options are definitely better than others. Your answers will affect your gameplay. I’m glad that the characters are so customizable. There’s a range of skin tones and eye and hair colors. (Sadly, no green hair. I’m hoping that opens up at a later level. If Tonks can have pink hair, I should be able to have green!) Mostly, I love the scenery, characters and spells. The graphics are beautiful, the NPCs are engaging and the whole game just feels like visiting old friends and they are just as wonderful as I remember.




Game Recs – I Need Them

Can we talk for a minute about the deep, all-encompassing despair of reaching the end of a video game?  

game over

There are some games (especially console or MMOs) that you can play over and over again for years. I don’t play those. I tend to stick to puzzle games and sims on my tablet. And a lot of those have definite end points. Like, when you’ve collected all the collectibles or played all the levels, it’s just over. There’s no point in playing anymore. And that’s sad – not just sad to think about how many hours you’ve spent arranging and rearranging your tiny, pixelated farm or trying to group tiny candy pieces into rows of three or more – actual sadness that the game is over, that you won’t be able to play it anymore.

I’ve reviewed DragonVale here and Ashe has reviewed Neko Atsume. I still play both of them, but I won’t be able to for much longer. DragonVale only goes up to level 95 and I’m on level 90. I’ve lured all the kitties to my yard but I’m still trying to get three mementos. (Darn you, Conductor Whiskers, Jeeves, and Sassy Fran! Why must you be so stubborn?) So, I know the end is near for these games and, while part of me is ready to move on, part of me is wondering what on earth I’ll waste my time on once these games are over. Will I be forced to do productive, responsible, adulty things like clean my house and make phone calls? Oh noes!  

Please save me from this awful fate and recommend some good, time-wasting games and apps for me.


Image result for video game memes



Game Review – Dragonvale

Dragonvale is a simulation game app for iOS and Android devices.  Annnnd… (imho) it’s pretty rad.  You can download it for free from your App Store of choice.  (There are Special Items for sale through in-app purchase, but they’re totally not necessary to play the game and have fun!)

dragonvale intro

Here’s the premise: you have a dragon park.  People come to visit it.  They give you dragon-cash that you can use to improve and decorate your park, thus drawing more visitors and dragon-cash.  Gain levels.  Get bonuses.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

dragonvale dragons

But, the Dragons though!

You start off with a single dragon.  But you can breed this dragon with others to create literally hundreds of different kinds of dragons.  You may have heard of The Four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.  In Dragonvale, there are dragons that correspond to these elements plus Light, Darkness, Lightning, Cold, and Galaxy, among others.  You send two dragons to the Breeding Cave.  They disappear for a period of time (rarer dragon eggs take longer to breed) and, when they are done, you have a dragon egg!  It will go into your hatchery to incubate (again, rare dragons take more time) and they you have BABY DRAGONS!  Feed your dragons to make them bigger and stronger, attract more dragon-cash, and have better odds in the breeding cave.  

dragonvale habitats

What I Like about Dragonvale

Various aspects of the game remind me of other games that I’ve enjoyed (like Flight Rising, Neko Atsume, Doodle God, and Meow Meow Star Acres) and blends them seamlessly.  I like the “gotta catch ‘em all” part of the game, but I LOVE the puzzle aspect – trying to figure out which dragons to combine to create new dragons.  You can find friends via Facebook or email invites and then share gems with them, borrow their dragons for breeding, and visit their parks!  Also, for a small-screen game, the graphics are pretty good (dragons = adorbs!) and they update with new dragons, new special events, and new decor pretty regularly!  

Check it out!  

And then friend me!

Best Library Resources to Get Caught Using on Your Smartphone

It’s back to school time! And your attention spans will inevitably wane.

While I am not encouraging cell phone use in schools, I realize it happens. Even though they should be in your lockers, I know they’re most likely not going to be. The temptation is hard. The struggle is real; I get it guys.

But your teachers will not.

Now here’s where I come in. What if you get caught using a library resource on your phone? Your teacher will be so impressed that they will not confiscate your phone this time. You get to keep your phone for the rest of the school day and look good to your teacher. Win-win! Woo!

Here’s some apps and websites that will make you look awesome to your teachers.


mangoMango Languages for Libraries

Want to learn German while you’re in Spanish or French class? Now you can! Out of all these resources, Mango has to be my favorite. “Mango is an online language learning system teaching practical conversation skills for a wide variety of popular languages, including English as a second language; Spanish; French; Chinese; and even Pirate!” It makes learning a new language not only easy, but also fun. You’ll be amazed and proud of yourself on how fast you start picking it up!


The books you have to read for class are boring? Hide your phone in your school book and read something else that you actually want to read!

The library has several apps for eBooks. To download any of these, in your device’s appstore search for any of the following apps:

overdrive Overdrive

3m cloud 3M Cloud

axis 360 Axis360

For help installing any of these visit the library website!



Lynda is super cool. If you want to learn something technology related, chances are, they’ll have a video on it to learn about it. “This online subscription library teaches the latest software tools and skills through high-quality instructional videos taught by recognized industry experts. Create an account, track your progress and print certificates of completion when you finish a course.”

Brainfuse Help Now!

Is your teacher boring and you’re not really learning what you want to learn about the subject from them? Try Brain Fuse! it’s “a full service resource that has live online tutors, writing labs, online group collaboration classrooms and much, much more. Resume writing help, Microsoft Office help, high school equivalency prep and U.S. Citizenship preparation are also offered as part of the service.”


Find your next great book to read! “Search for fiction books by author, title, series title, plot, or genre. Searches can be done by Lexile score or grade level. Based on a book or author, the system can suggest read-a-likes. Reviews on most titles are also available.”

For a full list of library resources and recommended websites visit the library’s online resources page.

For a list of databases related to homework help visit here instead.

*Quick note, I am in no way encouraging cell phone use during school! This was meant to be a humorous attempt at sharing resources the library has available!

Now get on your phones and learn, everyone!

New e-Reader or Tablet? Download e-books @ the Library!

mobile phone and booksDid you get a new e-reader or tablet for the holidays?  The library has a couple of resources that you can use to download e-books and e-audiobooks to your devices.  You can use Pindigital (Overdrive), 3M Cloud, and OneClickDigital for book and audiobook content.  Apps for all these services are available for your portable devices and work very similarly from device to device. Visit the library’s website to learn more about each database and how to download the different apps.  You will need your Fountaindale Library card to access the materials.

Did you also know that the library circulates Nooks pre-loaded with e-books?  Our Teen Nooks feature popular titles like the Fault in our Stars by John Green, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, 2014 Rebecca Caudill Nominees and more.  Teens would need to visit the library with their parent/guardian and their Fountaindale Library cards to check out one of our Nooks.  Stop by the Vortex to learn more about this great service!

Randi C.