Posted in gaming, geek, geek culture, Guide, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads, Video Games

Yogscast: The Book!

yogscastYogscast: The Diggy Diggy Book, by The Yogscast, (Feb. 2016, Scholastic), $8.99, ISBN: 9780545956635

Recommended for ages 8-13

Yogscast is an insanely popular YouTube channel by gamers, for gamers. They have skits, animations, videos, songs – it’s like SNL on crack for gamers, and it’s pretty kid-friendly (otherwise, Scholastic wouldn’t be putting this book out). If you have Warcraft and/or Minecrafters in your household, library, or classroom, you’ve likely heard of Yogscast, or the kids in your life have.

My gamer boy was a faithful Yogscast fan when he was 7 or 8; I’d see him curled up with his iPad and headset in, cackling and snorting, and wondering what in the world he was listening to. So I asked him, and he told me, and then he showed me.

Yogscast is HUGE. The channel has over 4 BILLION views. If they were a movie, they’d be Deadpool PLUS Avengers, and that is just something that warps my fragile little mind. When I saw that they had a book out, I knew I’d need to check this out.

The Diggy Diggy Book is for people who know this channel and know it well. You will meet the creators and explore different areas. There are tons of in-jokes, a tour of YogTowers, a the tourist’s guide to Datlof, and the chance to become a JaffaQuest cadet. I was pretty clueless reading this book, because it is such an inclusive community (yes, I know calling a community of millions and billions inclusive is hilarious), but if you’re a fan, you’ll love the book. Carry it in your library at your own risk, though – there are workbook-type pages in here and they’ll most likely get written on. This book will do gangbusters at the Scholastic Book Fairs, bet on it.


Posted in Fantasy, geek, geek culture, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Star Wars Jedi Academy: Attack of the Journal!

jediacdemyAttack of the Journal (Star Wars Jedi Academy), by Jeffrey Brown (Aug. 2015, Scholastic), $9.99, ISBN: 9780545852784

Recommended for ages 7-12

For all the kids who love Jeffrey Brown’s Jedi Academy series, there’s now a journal where you can DIY your own comics, write your own stories, and read commentary from Roan and his fellow Jedi Academy classmates and instructors!

Want to make your own Jedi Academy class schedule? Make your own lightsaber? Write for the school newsletter, the Padawan Observer? This is the place for you! Loaded with creative and introspective ideas for kids, the Jedi Academy Journal offers kids fill-in-the-blank story outlines, lots of creative spaces for their own drawings and original writing, and prompts throughout the book. Some prompts encourage kids to look inward and write about what they feel they could do better, who inspires them and who they think they inspire. Comic strips with the characters from the Jedi Academy series pop up throughout the book, making this a great purchase for Star Wars fans. When they finish the book, they can even fill out their own Jedi Academy Diploma!

This is a journal, so it’s mean to be written in – so libraries may not want to invest money in this one. It’s a great gift idea, though, in the vein of the Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself book and a fun way to extend and put a personal spin on a favorite series.

Attack of the Journal is already in stores, so put this one on your shopping lists. The holidays are coming! If you’re bringing the joy of Star Wars to a lucky kid for the first time, consider the 3-book set, which includes the first and second Jedi Academy graphic novels and the journal.


Posted in gaming, geek, geek culture, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Geek Mystery – The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

dahlia mossThe Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, by Max Wirestone (Oct. 2015, Red Hook Books), $20, ISBN: 978-0316385978

Recommended for ages 14+

Geeks finally have a Jessica Fletcher to call their own (That’s the detective from the old TV show, Murder, She Wrote – ask your parents, kids)!  Meet Dahlia Moss – twenty-something geek girl who doesn’t make the best life decisions. She’s unemployed, unattached, and broke, living off her eccentric roommate for the time being. When Charice, her roommate, throws another one of her crazy parties, Dahlia finds herself being hired for private detective work by one of the guests, Jonah – it seems that someone stole a valuable artifact from him through his MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game – think World of Warcraft, for any uninitiated reading this). Dahlia has zero detecting experience, but she does speak geek, and Jonah flashes a lot of money her way, so she takes the case. The plot only thickens when Jonah turns up dead shortly after. Now, Dahlia’s determined to find the artifact, the killer, and quite possibly, a new boyfriend. Let’s hope her decision-making abilities improve!

Told in the first person from Dahlia’s point of view, this is an often hilarious, readable, fun, whodunit. We’ve got a new heroine for the geek age in Dahlia Moss, who’s self-conscious, sarcastic, and fluent in fandom. If you love a good mystery – heck, even if you don’t, but love science fiction, gaming, fantasy, or any kind of fandom, this is a great book for you. Wirestone is a librarian, and if there’s one thing I know about our people, the Geek is strong with us. She humorously captures the strange bedfellows that online gaming makes of us all, and manages to weave together a smartly layered mystery and a love of all things quirky and geek. Dahlia Moss herself is wonderfully left of center and will appeal to anyone whose square peg just won’t fit into that round hole, no matter how hard we try.

Teens and college students will get a kick out of this book and likely try to figure out how their own social groups match up to Dahlia and her friends. Here’s hoping we get some more Dahlia adventures in the future!

Posted in geek, geek culture

Free Comic Book Day is Coming – Are You Ready?!

Children’s Book Week is coming! From May 4-10, libraries, educators, and booksellers all over the world will be planning programs and initiatives to get kids reading and encouraging a lifelong love of books. But did you know that this year, we’re kicking off Children’s Book Week with Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is an annual celebration of comics. Libraries and comic book stores all over the US, Canada, and worldwide work in conjunction with comic book publishers to get free comics into the hands of ALL readers. It’s taking place on May 2nd this year (it’s always on the first Saturday in May), so check your local library or comic book store to see what they have in store.

Don’t just take it from me. Robin Lord Taylor, better known these days as Penguin on one of my favorite shows, Gotham, wants you to have free comics, too.

Fast Facts about FCBD:

  • On May 2nd, over 2,300 participating comic shop across the US, Canada and worldwide will be giving away free comic books
  • There are 50 designated FCBD titles available to choose from
  • Over 5.6 million comic books will be given away for free making this year’s event the biggest yet!
  • During FCBD, comic shops host special events such as costume contests, guest signings with comic book writers and artists, raffles, giveaways, store-wide sales, games and more for the whole community to enjoy
  • To find a participating comic shop, enter your zip code into the store locator at
Posted in gaming, geek, geek culture

The Family That Geeks Together – TableTop Gaming

I wrote a piece on tabletop gaming for WhatchaReading recently, that’s received some great feedback. I thought I’d post the article here, too, especially with a lot of my readers being librarians and parents, and get some more input.

My 11 year-old son, Alex, and I hang out a lot together. I introduced him to Doctor Who, the Batman ’66 TV series, and Batman’s The Killing Joke; he introduced me to tabletop gaming. We’d played Clue, Monopoly, and Trouble until I thought I was going to weep, and even though we learned how to play Magic a few years ago at New York Comic Con, one game could get so bogged down that I kind of shied away from gaming. That changed last Christmas, when my brother-in-law gave Alex Munchkin, the card game where you loot the treasures, kill the monsters, and stab your buddy. He was immediately hooked. Next thing I knew, he was an authority in the making on tabletop gaming. He introduced me to Wil Wheaton’s TableTop web series. He collected different Munchkin games. We went to New York Comic Con together, and he showed me Fluxx, King of New York, and other tabletop games. We went home and played Munchkin with my 15 year-old, and we had a blast. I was hooked.

The Family That Geeks Together: Tabletop Gaming

Many Munchkin games later, we’ve expanded to include Cthulhu Fluxx, Machi Koro, Sushi Go, and We Didn’t Playtest This At All. We go at each other, talking smack and trying to trip each other up, laughing and talking about everything – school, books, crazy members of the family – as we go along. Tabletop gaming has given me a great way to tighten my relationship with my kid as he enters – shudder – puberty; it’s “our thing”: something that’s for us, we have together. Alex is a gamer, not really a talker, but if we’re playing Machi Koro, and something’s on his mind, it’ll come up as we’re stealing one another’s resources to build our city. If his brothers are driving him crazy, I’ll hear about it as he’s attacking a monster during a round of Munchkin. He’s relaxed. I’m relaxed. If we can defeat Cthulhu and find the Necronomicon, dealing with a 2 year-old who’s sticking fruit snacks in your hair is a piece of cake.

Cthulhu Fluxx munchkin cthulhu machi koro

Alex’s influence has spread to my library, where I just started a Tabletop Gaming club. Our first session, I had six kids and a parent show up to play another Fluxx game, Oz Fluxx. These kids had a BLAST. It exceeded my wildest hopes, because I haven’t had a lot of geekery catch fire with the kids at the library these days. When I finished the “learning round”, as I called the first game, they immediately asked for another round. I handed off the deck to the dad who sat in, who was more than happy to take over as game leader.

Fluxx Oz we didn't playtest      sushi-go

Gaming works. It gets kids thinking strategically, using numbers, words, reasoning. It helps them plan, it helps them understand cause and effect. Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, TiddlyWinks, Break the Ice – start playing with the little ones early. You can start when they’re about 3. But when they’re as young as 5, you can start teaching them Magic – it’s how Alex became more comfortable with numbers as a Kindergartener. I have a 6 year old in my Fluxx group at the library, and she was the kid who won the game. Her proud dad was the dad who joined my group, and he can’t wait until next week, when the group meets again. Gaming brings people together, so why wouldn’t it bring parents and kids together? It’s one of the few times they can oppose you without grief, right?

Now I’m scouring Kickstarter for new games to bring home, and to my library. I’ve got 3 in the hopper now: Gryphon Games’ 12 Days of Christmas and King’s Kilt, and Exploding Kittens, by Ellan Lee, Shane Small, and The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman. Which also happens to be the most-backed Kickstarter EVER. Once I get these, I’ll make sure to report back.

12days kingskilt explodingkittens


In the meantime, what are YOU guys playing? I’d love to hear about it. Weigh in on Twitter, or in the comments below!

This article appeared on WhatchaReading on 2/21/15.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, gaming, geek, geek culture, Humor, roleplaying, Science Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Attack the Geek: Geek Culture Gone Wild!

attackthegeekAttack the Geek, by Michael R. Underwood. Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books (2014), $2.99, ISBN: 9781476757780

Recommended for 18+

Attack the Geek is more of a New Adult read than it is a YA read, but there are plenty of pop culture, gaming, and garden variety geek references in there that will appeal to younger audiences. There’s a content heads-up for language, but it’s nothing the kids aren’t screaming at each other these days.

Attack the Geek is a side adventure to a series created by Michael R. Underwood; his previous two books, Geekomancy and Celebromancy, are available via digital download on Amazon for a very reasonable price. I haven’t read the two previous books which could be a reason why I felt off-kilter with Attack the Geek.

For any gamers out there – did you ever have a roleplaying session where one bar fight or battle took up hours of your campaign? If you know what I’m talking about, that’s how I felt while reading Attack the Geek. It’s a single combat story, with barista Ree Reyes, the heroine and protagonist of the series, and her fellow geekomancers coming under attack at Grognards, the establishment owned by Ree’s boss, Grognard. The geekomancers have the ability to channel the power of geek culture by consuming it – Ree, for instance, keeps clips from her favorite movies, like X-Men or Spider-Man, to draw upon when she needs power – and she’ll be able to shoot webs or toss people with telekinesis. There are props aplenty, including working Star Trek phasers and Star Wars lightsabers, and collectible card game cards merely need to be torn to release their  magic in this world, if channeled by the geekomancer. So when they come under attack from a Strega witch named Lucretia, it’s a hairy battle, loaded with pop culture references and witty banter.

This being a side adventure is my own issue – I am unfamiliar with the geekomancy power and these characters, so in a sense, I was at a disadvantage. But I also thought the book was trying to be too witty, throw too many references in, for its own good. The references took over the plot, and after a while, I was just reading about a battle where there was Spider-Man web slinging, Star Trek phasers, and lots of collectible card game references. This just wasn’t my book. For anyone who’s a devoted sci-fi/fantasy/gaming/comic book fan, it’s worth a shot. It’s why I requested it from NetGalley, after all, and I may read Geekomancy now just to see if having more of a background will help me better grasp the book.