Saturday, April 5, 2014

Great Reads for Younger Guys

One of my Iron Guy Resolutions for 2014 was to check out some good books for the younger readers guys. This blog is dedicated to middle school guys--that is, guys from 9 to 12 (or 14) years old. But, around January, I realized that I rarely mention books for guys younger than that. They need to find terrific books too, so, in true MANLY MAN fashion, I searched until I found some. Here are a few of the things I've read and liked:
  
The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder by the wonderful Tony Abbott.
It's the first of the Goofballs mystery series and how could you not love a series called Goofballs? and how do you know if you're a Goofball? If you stick french fries in your nose and ears, run over to your friend's house in your underwear or squirt cheese at each other. And that's just waht Jeff, Mara, Brian and Kelly do. They also love to solve mysteries, so when Randall Crandall, the richest kid in town, loses his horse, he naturally calls on the Goofballs. But how do you find a missing horse? And what's the connection with the flower shop and the Pizza Disaster? This is a fun read and a good introduction for younger reader guys to mysteries.

Captain Cold's Arctic Eruption by Jane Mason and illustrated by Dan Schoening, Mike DeCarlo, and Lee Loughridge
A volcano threatens to erupt and destroy a tropical resort island. The Flash knows only one person who could help--the infamous villain Captain Cold. The Flash appeals to Captain cold's vanity--the villain could get lots of glory for saving the island. Captain Cold agrees and together they work to stop the eruption. Or do they? Can a villain ever be trusted?

Battle of the Blue Lanterns by Michael Acampora and illustrated by Dan Schoening
Just as Hal Jordan, lies down on a hammock for a much-needed vacation (saving the universe all the time is hard work), his Lantern ring sends out a message for a new mission--the deadly Manhunter robots are attacking a human city on Nokyo One and Hal is the closest Green Lantern. So he sets off, finds the Manhunters and gets into an epic battle, only to have his ring's power level go down to one percent. Then, suddenly--no, I won' tell you! You'll have to read it for yourself. Ha, ha!! Bet you'll find it now!

Both of these books had lots of action and the stories moved right along. And the illustrations arew good and there are places with real graphic-novel style lettering. A good cross between a chapter book and a graphic novel.

Mrs. Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Adam Stower
It's not unusual for Nick and Maxine to live in "A tall building, with one apartment stacked on top of another," but it is unusual to for Maxine to stand with her head in a corner and see a "little old-fashioned house" in a whole street of tall apartment buildings. It's even more unusual for that house to have a cat as a butler! And wait until you see how they make cookies in that house! This is a really cute story. Now truly MANLY MEN don't usually do cute but this book also has Daniel Pinkwater's offbeat sense of humor--just wait until you meet the far-sighted mice! I enjoyed it a lot and can't wait to get the next one, Mrs. Noodlekugel and the Four Blind Mice.
 
All right, guys, go check these out for younger younger brothers and cousins and friends. Who knows--you might like them too!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

It Has Begun (a Blast From the Past)

What has begun? March Madness, Baayyybeee!!! Oh, I just love this time of year! This is one event that never, ever fails to thrill and surprise. Every year there are close, down-to-the last-few-seconds games. Every year the great players show why they're great and unknown players achieve greatness. Every year some low-seeded team upsets a big-name giant. And, because of that, my brackets go right out the---

Yep, I had Duke going to the final game (against Virginia) and NC State going a couple of rounds. Good thing my guys from Carolina won last night. It's pretty obvious I'm an ACC fan, right?

Anyway, in honor of March Madness, I'm going to do a Blast From the Past and repost something I've written before. This time it's a review of two good nonfiction books about playing the roundball game that I wrote back in June 2013.

"These are good, basic books about how to play the game. Fundamental Basketball covers everything from the history of the game to how to shoot jump shots to the size of the backboard! Basketball Step by Step
also covers the basics of scoring, equipment, players and court and the different team positions. But, more importantly, it shows how the techniques of offensive and defensive play by giving multiple photographs that demonstrate each move step by step.Both would be useful for the novice player or the veteran looking to sharpen his (or her) skills. Really recommended."

OK, guys, get these books, practice your free throws and cheer for your team!

Monday, March 10, 2014

We're Honored to Be a Best Blog

Look here, guys! We've been honored by Middle Shelf Magazine, an online magazine about middle grade books, with a Best of the Blogs Award for 2014!!!!

 The Iron Guy is actually speechless. I'm very touched, so all I can says is "Thank you," to Middle Shelf Magazine. And to all you boys who've read this blog and written in those terrific reviews. And to all you grownups who've supported us over the years. And especially to Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for letting me tell you about terrific books these seven years and providing all those books to all you readers.

Thanks again and check out the Middle Shelf site here and look at pages 52-53--and be sure to check out the other blogs as well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Proof Positive of the Creativity of GUYS!

Greetings, guys and fans of language and creativity everywhere. A lot of people say that boys don't like to read; this blog is dedicated to proving them wrong. A lot of people also say that boys have no love of language, no creativity and no ability to express themselves in words. Well, I don't believe that either. Give a boy a blank space and some letters and, in a very short time, he will come up with something truly unique.
And now I have proof--no, I have more than proof--of what I say. I have photographic evidence

We recently got one of those boards for the library that you can put magnetic letters on. Of course, most
of the time the little kids use those boards but last Saturday four middle-grade boys came to the library to hear the great Thomas Tillman do an African drumming program.
BTW, if he ever comes to a library near you, go see him! He's terrific! Anyway, after the program, someone told me that one of the four boys (who is not in the picture) had written something with the letters on the magnetic board and I should see it. I couldn't wait--I knew that this fellow had used all his creativity to write something original, something amazing, something so distinct that only a guy would think of it. And here it is:
See there? Something only a GUY would say!

And they say boys don't know how to use the English language!


And I'm following their advice. (camera may not be close enough to see my arm hairs)

Well done, guys!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Unstoppable: Breakaway and The Copernicus Files: The Forbidden Stone

Greetings, fellow reader guys! We've survived the month of the Mushy Holiday; in fact, a lot of us survived something far worse--the SNOWPOCALYPSE of 2014!! Yes, my brave and hearty guys, the snow came and covered huge portions of the country this month.  Especially in Charlotte. Yes, the snow came in thick and heavy but did it stop the MANLY MEN in Charlotte? Never! You see a picture of us manfuly going out to get our bread and milk.  And did the snow stop the Iron Guy from getting to the library?  HA!! I just hitched up my trusty dogs and mushed on in.

Well, I'm just being goofy, of course. The schools and libraries were closed for almost a week. It made for a minivacation and it was fun, sledding and making snow ice cream. And I got some reading done. Some it related to my 2014 resolution but these books caught my attention and I just had to tell you about them first.

Unstoppable: Breakaway by Jeff Hirsch


Everything stops when a new 39 Clues book comes out. This third series is proving to be every bit as fun and exciting as the other two. Dan and Amy are still leading the charge to find the components to make the antidote for the Cahill serum. Why? Because J. Rutherford Pierce, owner of a giant media conglomerate, has discovered the serum and is on a fast track to world conquest. They, along with Jake and Atticus Rosenbloom, travel to Tunisia for the second ingredient, only to find it exists only in a place that--well, many people thought never existed! Meanwhile, Nellie Gomez infiltrates the Trillon laboratories to see what connection it has to Pierce's plans. What she discovers shocks and scares her--and it will do the same for you!
And Pony, their resident computer hacking genius, finally meets the ultimate computer hacker--who is working for Pierce! Along the way, the Cahills meet Pierce's serum-enhanced goons and are called criminals by major newspapers. Plus the responsibility of leading the Cahills drives Amy off the emotional deep end, causing her to take hugely dangerous mission to the Arctic alone. Guess who she meets there--that's right, more of Pierce's henchmen! Can she possibly survive? Can any of the Cahills? Could anyone? You've got to read this one to find out!


The Copernicus Files: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbot

Now I didn't know about this one and was intrigued. It's all about guardians of a 400-year-old secret that could change the world, an evil organization that will stop at nothing to find it and some kids who unexpectedly find themselves caught up in all this and must solve puzzling riddles to find pieces of the old secret.

Wait a minute--does this sound familiar?

All 39 Clues fans would immediately shout, "YES!" Some would even think it'd be a rip-off series but I knew better. How'd I know?  Because of the author, the wonderful Tony Abbot. He's written a lot of terrific books for guys of all ages, such as The Secrets of Droon, Kringle and The Postcard. So I figured this one would be good and I was right! Mr. Abbot spins a tale that really hooked me and I spent all day with it until I reached the very end!
Wade Kaplan's dad is an astronomer, giving Wade a love for the stars. His uncle Henry even gave him an old star chart, beautiful and mysterious. But then a cryptic email from Uncle Henry puzzles him and before he and his father can figure it out, they learn that Uncle Henry has been murdered! They go to Berlin for the funeral but learn there was more to Henry than they guessed. And then they find out that their home back in the US has been broken into! Pieces of puzzles start coming together and soon they are on the run from the shadowy organization that wants the pieces of the secret and routinely wipes out people who get in their way. Wade and his family and friends have to outwit and outrun the bad guys in creepy old tombs, dense jungles and tropical caves. But what could simple and ordinary kids and grownups do against ruthless worldwide killers?
As I said, this one hooked me and it'll hook you! It's got everything that we love about The 39 Clues--action, narrow escapes, truly bad villains, exotic locations and characters we come to know and cheer for. Don't waste any time, guys! Go and check it out NOW!! You'll be really glad--and then you'll be holding your breath for the next one.

And if you've read either or both of these books, write in and tell us!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Books That Guys LOVE (2014 Edition)

February greetings to all the reader guys out there. The Iron Guy recently noticed that February has a lot of holidays for such a short month. There's Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year (which actually started on January 31 but is celebrated for two weeks), and President's Day.

Then there's-----that holiday!!

Yes, that holiday--February 14. The one devoted to--to--pink hearts and romance and looooovvee. All the things that make MANLY MEN shudder. 

HOW MANLY MEN VIEW ROMANCE
 



HULK SMASH MUSHY LOVE STUFF!!




Well, all this talk about romance brings to mind a post I wrote last year and one I wrote in 2011 and even one from 2009. These all talked about books and things GUYS love. What do guys LOVE? 
Large Pizzas
Movies where lots of things blow up
Really close football/basketball games
Ice-cold drinks on hot days

And what books do guys LOVE?

Of course, we have Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, etc. Based on what other guys have said over the years, here are:

Dan Gutman books, especially the My Weird School series
 






Gordon Korman books, especially the Island trilogy
 





Science Fair by Dave Barry
 





Three of my favorites are:

The Alvin Ho books (Funny for younger and older reader guys as well as grownups):
 
 




The Brixton Bothers series (great comedy and mystery):
 






And Treasure Island (for older reader guys but still the best pirate story ever):
 






There are lots and lots more but this is a good start. How about YOU? What books do you LOVE? Leave
a comment in the space under this post and I'll post them. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Old Friend, A New Friend

Greetings, all you rocking, rolling and reading guys. You have certainly rocked in the new year! Today we have not one but TWO reviews from a couple of very cool reader guys. The first is from our old friend Michael, who's been sending first-class reviews for--oh, what, SEVEN years now? Let's hear about what he's read lately:

The Infinity Ring, book 6
Behind Enemy Lines
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
      Dak, Sera, and Riq must defeat the Nazis in World War II by pulling off the biggest spy mission of all time. But the complications come when Dak and Sera are forced to briefly return to the present day, and when they go back to 1943, they bring an uninvited guest... Tilda, leader of the SQ. How can they possibly hope to defeat Tilda and Hitler at the same time? Everything hangs by a thread in this suspenseful 11th adventure of the time traveling trio! Now, for those of you who read my Cave of Wonders review, you may remember how I was going on about how good I wanted Behind Enemy Lines to be, since the time period has a lot of modern resources, and since it claimed to be a spy novel. I'm glad to say that this book does not disappoint! Despite the lack of action, I was still intrigued by the secret plans, the labyrinth of complications, and the real-history facts. The characters' reactions were fantastic, and the balance between the spy mission and the time travel problems was perfect. Even though some of the other books of this series had more action, I still believe that this is the best-written book of the series so far. Definitely worth reading! The series will end with the next book, The Iron Empire, by James Dashner, the author who wrote the first book of this series. I hope it's a satisfying finale. Stay tuned for the next review!

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, ukeist, mandolinist

 Thanks, Michael, and well done! I was afraid The Infinity Ring series would be a 39 Clues rip-off but this sounds really good. Have any of you guys out there read it?

And now I'm pleased to announce that we have a new reader guy in our ranks. His name is Brady and he comes to see me at the Myers Park library. Let's see what Brady has read:

I just read a book from Dan Gutman called The Get Rich Quick Club. I like it because of the character Gina. She makes summer fun in a small boring town, by convincing a group of kids they can all become millionaires before summers end. I would rate this book 4 and a half stars out of 5 stars. If you like fiction this is a book for you.

Thanks, Brady! I love fiction, so I might have to get this one. In fact, I was going to read it but someone claimed it before I had the chance. One of my Iron Guy Resolutions is to read some Dan Gutman books this year. And remember, Grady, the first time any guy sends in a review, he gets to come here and get a free book out of our ultra-cool prize box!

Any other guys out there itching to get a free book? Send us your reviews!