Category: Teen & Young Adult

100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide
February 16th, 2019 by diane92345

So you are not an early adopter (or you have been hiding under a rock) and are just now trying to join the Fortnite craze. The 100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide will catch you up to speed quicker than just learning by playing (like all those first players had to do).

 The guide begins with which console is best and continues with comprehensive instructions on controls, movement, combat, looting, building materials, and weapons.  All instructions includes copious amounts of picures making this a good guide for kids. The only negative is the maps change frequently so the ones in the books will probably not be of much use. However, the Guide is still recommended to noobs of all ages. 4 stars!

Thanks to Becker&Meyer Kids and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Apocalypse 5
February 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Fans of the Hunger Games have found a new book series to love with Apocalypse 5.

Sometime in the future, the world’s scientists are trying to develop a team that can fight any type of calamity that might cause an apocalypse on Earth. Teams of five young people are placed into all kinds of virtual reality situations: fires, aliens, and advanced weaponry. The catch is if they die in the virtual war, they also die in real life. The latest team has lasted 18 months of daily virtual skirmishes.

The action doesn’t stop in Apocalypse 5. There is also a romance and an underlying mystery.  There is truly something for everyone in this book. The characters are well drawn and you empathize with their stories. 4 stars!

Thanks to Black Spot Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Outpost Zero Vol 1
November 13th, 2018 by diane92345

If you are a young adult and are not adopted, you may enjoy Outpost Zero Vol 1, a space opera set in the far future.

Sometime in the future, Denis and his wife, Jann, are on the Discovery Team, who look for life on their alien planet. Their 14-year-old daughter, Alea, wants desperately to join them so she secures a spot as an intern for the Team. Alea’s boyfriend, Steven, believes the Discovery Team is too dangerous but Alea isn’t swayed.

The family lives in the Outpost, an artificially created biome that allows humans to live in a large domed city on an alien planet. When Denis and Jann are outside the biome, they see a fast approaching weather cell that may spell doom for the biome and the humans that live inside.

Outpost Zero Vol 1 has a good plot for young adult readers. There is a mystery but I don’t want to give any spoilers. The artwork is fine. The color palette of dusty blues and greens fits the mood inside a biome. However, I disliked this quote by Alea regarding the head of the biome who took in her son after his parents were killed, “What I mean is, do you think the Chief would do anything for Sam? Even though he isn’t really hers?” Jann’s response is even more insensitive to adoptive families, “Well, I think—she cares about Sam, wants him to succeed. Loves him like her own son. But when a child’s yours from the start—when they come from you…there’s a bond you can’t get any other way. It’s just the way it is.” This discussion wasn’t necessary to the plot and will hurt people’s feelings. I can’t recommend this book. 2 stars.

Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Medallion of Murder
October 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Medallion of Murder is another excellent entry in the young adult mystery series, Nefertari Hughes.

Terry, a female high school senior, has many balls in the air. She is still getting used to her leg prosthesis, deciding what to make her career after high school, and dealing with her widowed father’s romance with the mother of her best friend, Maude. Oh, and she has superpowers that she uses to fight crime at night.

Awad is a friend of Terry’s that works by day as a hieroglyph translator and by night as a member of the Illuminati. While looking for a cursed medallion, he disappears. Terry and her friends Maude and Fraser take on the medallion search while also looking for Awad.

I started reading the series with Medallion of Murder and wished I hadn’t. I think the spoilers in this book will make reading the others later a pointless exercise. Plus there was a large number of characters’ backstories to memorize in the first tenth of the book. However, the breakneck speed of the action makes this a fun young adult mystery. The book’s characters compare their earlier adventures to Scooby Doo. I agree. It’s just pure light-hearted fun. Here is one secret you won’t have to search for—this is a great read for adults too. 4 stars!

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours and the author for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

There is a blog tour giveaway for the entire series including this book plus a $25 Amazon gift card. It closes on October 11, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Giveaways, Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Echo Room
September 12th, 2018 by diane92345

Rett and Bryn continually awaken in the apocalyptic future in the Echo Room.

Step 1: Rett wakes up in a locked metal room with no memory of how he got there. He has blood on his clothes and hands. Soon he sees Bryn, who is also locked in the room with no memory of how she got there. As they talk, they discover they are both from the government-run shelter for abandoned youth, Walling House. Rett tries to discover a way out of the room.  He finds a broken lock on one door.  He finds hidden doors to two other rooms.  However, there is no food or water immediately available—just a bin filled with empty water bottles and another with strangely glowing green tubes. The only clue is the phrase “SCATTER 3” on one of the walls.

Step 2: Explore. Get scared. Repeat Step 1. Rett and Bryn learn a bit more with each repetition.

The mystery is intriguing. The setting in a wrecked near future world is eerily unsettling. Even though it’s marketed as young adult science fiction, the Echo Room works well as an adult thriller too. While the pacing slowed a bit in the middle, the plot kept the reader engaged. The book will make a great movie someday. It is perfect for fans of puzzles and intriguing situations like in the Maze Runner.

A sequel is hinted at toward the end. I’m looking forward to that book. This one deserves 4 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

August 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Sheets is a heartwarming graphic novel about the unusual friendship between a grieving girl and a lonely ghost boy.

Marjorie’s mother is dead and her father is so depressed that he barely leaves his bedroom to eat. The family’s laundry is run before and after school by Marjorie. The mysterious Nigel is trying to convince Marjorie to give up the laundry’s lease so he can open a yoga studio and spa.

In the meantime, Wendell lives in Ghost Town. At 11, he is having trouble making friends. He decides to ride a train out of town and ends up in Marjorie’s town. When they meet, their adventures begin.

Sheets is perfect for young and middle school readers. The words are scarce and the pretty pastel pictures tell much of the story. The moral is nice and doesn’t seem forced. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Lion Forge, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Children, Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Rice Boy
April 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Equal parts Alice in Wonderland and the Lord of the Rings with a pinch of politics and religion plus maybe some leftover LSD from the 60s. Rice Boy is a true quest tale with the survival of the world at its core.

The One Electronic, T-O-E for short, is looking for the true messiah. The past 3,000 years have been filled with one fake after another. If T-O-E stops searching for a messiah, he will die. One day after the latest messiah has died, T-O-E asks Rice Boy to be the next messiah.  All Rice Boy needs to do is meet with the Tree Keeper downstream in the Dorlish Wood. Rice Boy refuses and T-O-E leaves. Soon, Rice Boy decides to go on a quest to the Dorlish Wood. He meets Gerund going the same way on a quest to kill the Bleach Beast.  They decide to journey together. There are two sinister foes, Golgo and Dolly on Rice Boy’s trail.

I love Alice in Wonderland and have read a multitude of remixes and updates of it.  Rice Boy is the best of the bunch.  It has the feeling of Alice in Wonderland (everything is just enough similar and just enough off to give a feeling of discomfort). The art is brightly colored.  The tale is just bizarre enough. The mash-up of religion, politics and fantasy really works to create a deliciously different fairy tale.

While marketed as a young adult title, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy and especially those who are bored by the similarity of so many recent plots.  Rice Boy is magnificently unlike everything else.  Plus at 460 pages, it is well worth the price tag.

Thanks to the publisher, Iron Circus Comics, for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

City 1
March 31st, 2018 by diane92345

City 1 is a surreal fast-moving episodic Sunday Comics-style manga.

Nagumo (20) doesn’t have her rent money. She tried to double her money by playing the horses and lost. Her landlady, called the Granny, is insistent. Niikura, Nagumo’s best friend cannot loan her the rent money. Nagumo goes through many schemes trying to pay her rent. Granny is a street brawler (literally).

City 1 contains twelve 12-page stories. All involve city life and build on each other. Some are ironic, some are humorous but all do not seem like traditional manga.

I’m not sure if the problem is in the translation or me not understanding Japanese culture well enough despite my worship of Studio Ghibli and mecha anime. Do Japanese really touch the gills of a shiitake mushroom or rub an eraser to relax? City 1 is clearly meant to be a madcap comedy. It fell short of that for me. However, tastes vary so I’ll give this comic 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Kodanska Comics, and NetGalley for a copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

March 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Combine Lord of the Flies and Mean Girls. Stir in a pinch of the Stanford Prison Experiment and you have Damselfly, a new young adult novel.

A teenage fencing team from an expensive prep school is stranded on a deserted island after the crash of their private aircraft. Soon their society is splitting into factions based on skin color and trying to find a mysterious island inhabitant.

This is a contemporary update of the Lord of the Flies. It includes some interesting backstories of some of the participants’ life before in the prep school. While it is a quick read, I think it adheres a little too closely to the original. It is only recommended to readers not familiar with the original. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Scholastic Press, and Goodreads for holding the giveaway where I won an advanced copy of this book.

Posted in Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide
March 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Drawing chibis (big heads and small bodies) that are seen in manga is easy and cheap if you use Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide.  All that is needed is some nice bristol paper, a regular pencil, a pencil sharpener, several pens with a variety of tip sizes, a 15” clear ruler, some kneaded erasers and some practice time.

Mr. Crilley starts simply with the basic chibi girl and boy including their hairstyles, clothing and manga emotion symbols.  In Part 2, he includes some more advanced poses like panda, fox, witch, fantasy, kissing and action. The chibi dog, cat and robot are adorable. Part 3 gives 78 ways to use your new drawing abilities including cards, signs, t-shirts, stickers, buttons, rubber stamps, pop-ups and calendars. My favorite, and sadly lacking, ability was to create a chibi that looks like a real person.

Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide would be an excellent gift for the manga fan in your life.  If they are already into producing art, it would also be nice to include those items listed in the first paragraph that they are lacking.  I have been asking my daughter, an A+ art student in high school, to make my face into a manga character for my blog.  She has let me down for over 13 years.  Now I can do it myself…with substantially more practice.

I would highly recommend purchasing the paperback version of this book.  The kindle version is hard to read on a kindle as some of the illustration break over several pages.  On a larger tablet, the kindle version is fine.  However, if the reader wishes to use tissue paper to copy the chibi examples to get a head’s start on their own drawing (please don’t judge), a tablet won’t be easy to use. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Impact Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

There is also a review of a more traditional art instruction book using pencil located here.

Posted in Non-fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Again Vol 1
March 7th, 2018 by diane92345

With dyed blond hair and a hostile resting face, Imamura is finally graduating from his high school as Again Vol 1 opens. He transferred to the high school three years previously but had neither made friends nor joined a club. Imamura has also made no plans for his future career or schooling after high school ends. After the graduation ceremony, Imamura is thinking about the Ouendan (pep) club that he could have joined but didn’t.  When he tries to climb through a window into the old Ouendan club room, he is seen by Akira, who is meeting her boyfriend.  When Akira sees Imamura, she runs in fear and trips down a staircase.  Imamura also trips and lands on top of her, knocking them both out.

Imamura wakes up with his mother calling him to go to school. He realizes that it is three years earlier and he is reliving his entire high school career.  He realizes that this is his chance to make better choices including joining the Ouendan.  Akira’s tale is also told but in less detail. While berating Imamura for forcing her to fall down the stairs, she accidently joins the Ouendan too. The rest of the novel addresses typical high school rivalries and romances.

The cover artwork using pastels and watercolors is beautiful. The interior art uses cross hashing to make various shades of gray. However, the drawings appear somewhat muddled. There is nothing within the plot to mark it as original. The abrupt end of Again Vol 1 forces me to give this volume 3 stars.  Hopefully, Vol 2 will have a more complete story.

Thanks to the publisher, Kodansha Comics, and NetGalley for an egalley.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , , ,

Not Now Not Ever
November 20th, 2017 by diane92345

A fun “King of the Nerds” meets Jeopardy summer camp is the setting for this entertaining young adult romance.

Ever Lawrence is determined to make her own way in life.  She won’t become a lawyer like her Dad, a local community theater actress who sells real estate like her Stepmom or join the Air Force like her Mom. She loves Octavia Butler’s novels and decides to get a free scholarship to the only school that has a Science Fiction Literature degree, Rayevich College. Taking a test and writing an awesome essay gets her into Camp Onward where at least one attendee will win the coveted scholarship at the conclusion of the camp. The contests required to win vary between the physical and the intellectual. Ever tries not to be distracted by her growing attraction to one of the other campers, her strange roommate and even stranger resident adviser.

Not Now, Not Ever is a humorous take on Much Ado about Nothing.  However, I enjoyed the frequent Oscar Wilde quotes and pop culture references even more. The characters are believable and the finale is great.  The machinations of some of the campers are laugh-out-loud funny. Even though I am far from a young adult, I loved the characters, plot and the setting.  4 stars!

I won an advanced reader copy of Not Now, Not Ever in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review. This book will be released on November 21, 2017.

Posted in Romance, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Clue in the Trees cover pic
September 12th, 2017 by diane92345

The Clue in the Trees is nostalgic for older Nancy Drew fans and is recommended for mystery-loving pre-teens and young teens.


Set in a small Northern Minnesota town, The Clue in the Trees is the story of high school seniors: Francie, Raven and Jay.  Francie recently moved into the small town, where she had only summered with her aunts before. She has a reputation as an amateur detective because of the previous book in this series, Enchantment Lake.  It is not necessary to read the series in order but there are some spoilers in this book about the first.


When the leader of the town’s archeological site, is strangled, Francie tries to follow the sheriff’s advice to stay out of it. However, soon she is involved when her brother becomes the prime suspect.  Francie is also given the lead in the school’s play of Antigone. Francie sees some parallels between the play and her life.  There are the usual high school rivalries, friendships and dances. The Minnesota lake setting was unusual and seemed almost like a character in the book by the end.


Solving the murder is the main plot in The Clue in the Trees.  There are plenty of suspects.  The clues are fair and not too obvious. However, there are also several subplots in the book.  Not all are resolved by the end of the book leaving some loose ends to be untangled in future books in the series.  It was disappointing because one of the subplots was more intriguing than the main plot but remained unresolved. One of the twists toward the end also seemed rather unfair. I took off two stars for these issues. Overall, it was a good, but not great, teen mystery.  Three stars.


Thanks to the publisher, University of Minnesota Press, and netgalley for an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.  This book will be published on September 19, 2017.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

August 10th, 2017 by diane92345

The rich are different, and not better, than the poor.

Charles Dickens classic novel, Great Expectations, is reformatted into a manga. The result is an excellent way to convince teens to read a classic tale.

Great Expectations is the story of Pip, a pleasant helpful child, who is thrown into high society in the early 1800s. Young Pip is randomly called to entertain and assist rich, old and crazy Miss Havisham. There he falls in love with her stepdaughter, Estella, and even more with the idea of being a gentleman. Once old enough Pip becomes an apprentice blacksmith under his brother-in-law. But greater adventures await Pip as he receives news that an anonymous benefactor is paying for him to become a London gentleman. He has Great Expectations now.

Personally I have tried slogging through the original 500 page novel and never made it even 10% in. This graphic novel makes reading the plot entertaining and faster though it is also over 300 pages long. The artwork makes keeping the multitude of characters easily recognized.

I chose this version of Great Expectations because I have great memories of reading Classics Illustrated comics when I was a child. This manga gives the exact same feeling of making a great story accessible to modern readers. Great Expectations, the manga, is highly recommended for students who want more entertainment and enjoyment than simply reading the wiki. It is also recommended for adult readers who have always been curious about Dickens’ story but don’t want to invest 10+ hours to read the book.

Thanks to the publisher, Udon, and netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

August 7th, 2017 by diane92345

Great teen/young adult paranormal mystery perfect for fans of Beetlejuice and The Good Place.

It was the worst possible day for Echo. She had 70s makeup and 80s hair. Oh, she was also in an open casket at her own funeral. Okay, maybe being murdered was worse.

Sixteen year old Echo wakes up in Middle House not knowing how or why she arrived there. Soon she realizes her goal is to bring her murderer to justice. There is more than just one mystery to solve in Bad Girl Gone. Why does the caretaker, Mrs. Torvous, keep crying? Why doesn’t her best friend, Cole, talk about why he is in Middle House?

Bad Girl Gone was written by a screenwriter and it shows. This book would make a great movie. The author makes the setting feel real. This is paranormal at its best–not frightening but more thought-provoking. How would you handle it if you switched places with Echo? The use of ghosts in a paranormal mystery is not new. There is Bailey Ruth and The Others. However, the world building in Bad Girl Gone seems more organic like a science fiction or fantasy plot. Bad Girl Gone also has some clean romance.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the something different than the usual werewolf or vampire paranormal mystery.

I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that did not impact my review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

July 2nd, 2017 by diane92345

Timely look at teen issues.

This is the story of Genesis, who was left at an abortion clinic by her boyfriend, Peter. The novel also includes many other current teen topics like drug abuse, religion, pre-marital sex, suicide, mental health, alcoholic binges, and deciding on a career. It is a lot to cram into 350 pages. I wish the author had picked one or two to delve into deeper as it seemed like some topics were dealt with too swiftly.

I really liked the story structure. Each chapter was entitled with an aftercare instruction that matched the actions within the chapter. Every couple of chapters a script between Genesis and Peter would flashback to different events in their relationship.

The characters were very genuine and they showed different perspectives of the same event. The plot was good though, as is typical with books marketed as Young Adult, the ending wasn’t much of a surprise.

This would be a good book for an older teen. It is a combination of a family drama and romance.

I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that did not impact my review.

Posted in Romance, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , , ,