Sunday, February 28, 2010

AF Graphic Novel and LT Movie

Hey, all, we've got two good reviews from our friends Michael and Stable Granny. First in line is Michael with a write-up about an Artemis Fowl graphic novel:

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel Series, book 1
Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer and Amdrew Donkin
Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old boy with an IQ higher than Mozart's. When he sets out to prove that fairies and leprechauns really exist, a bizzare and mysterious chain of events is put into motion as Artemis captures a fairy named Captain Holly Short. The other fairies are desperate, so they create a time-stop around the Fowl residence, which means that because time is stopped outside the Fowl's propertity, Artemis will not be able to escape without freezing in time himself. When Holly's boss, Commander Root, goes in to talk with Artemis about Holly's release, Artemis declares that he knows how to escape the time-field. It's impossible, never been done. But Artemis hasn't been wrong yet. Artemis says he'll release Holly for one ton of the fairies' most precious item: fairy gold. Then Artemis finds out that the fairies will comply only to kill him and everyone else in the Fowl manor with bio-bombs. With time closing in, it's a race to the finish as Artemis must hope that his theory on how to escape the time-field pulls through. If not, then Artemis won't be around to see it's failure. Also available is the Artemis Fowl novel series. The graphic novel series is great for people who are interested in this book but don't want to read the 300+ page novel. This book contains humor, adventure, and a little bit of time travel. Fans of Jimmy Neutron will like Artemis' ultimate wisdom, while fans of Tinkerbell or similar movies or TV shows will enjoy the fairy content. This book has a little something for everyone! Also available in the graphic novel series: book 2, The Arctic Incident. So check it out!

Thanks, Michael! Darth Bill reviewed both ArtemisFowl graphic novels and liked them. He's our graphic novel meister and if he likes them, they've got to be good.

Next we have Stable Granny, a writer and horse lover, telling us her thoughts about The Lightning Thief movie:

I went to see The Lightning Thief last night and movie was very good.. interesting, had great characters, it kept the story moving forward. I really think the critics have been unfair in their reviews. Now did it follow the book, of course not. The book is much better. The only thing in the movie that bothered me a little was the love interest between Percy and Annabeth. Why question is why... friendship is so much stronger than goo-goo eyes and flirting.

Thanks to you too, Stable Granny! We all saw it and liked it and like you, could have done without the "goo-goo eyes and flirting." We are 100% MANLY MEN here and want movies with sword fights and monsters and explosions--which The Lightning Thief move had plenty of!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Spider-Man, Tiny Titans, Wolverine, Lightning and More!!!

Hello all in the Land of Blog!!!!! (I don't know why but Blogger decided to make my whole post in BOLD) It's Darth Bill with a bunch of stuff to cover, so let's go!!!!!

First we have some additional comments on "The Lightning Thief" movie:

From Nannah V: "I took my two grandsons to see this movie. Jeff is almost 11 and Bobby is 6. They loved it! Now they want to read the book! They are also excited about the two movies they saw intros for. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" & "The the Last Airbender". Jeff has read all of the Wimpy kid books and they are very big fans of the Airbender cartoon. Personally I agree, I wish the actors looked younger. I have a hard time believing that they were 13. They looked more like 16."

From Mrs. Quinn: "You guys hit most of my beefs with the movie: that Percy was 15 instead of 13, and that the consequent love interest story was more pronounced (really not in the book); that it just wasn't as funny, with Percy being rather flat in the movie and flat-out-funny in the books; that there were lots of changes from the book. I was really hoping for a closer rendering of the book, because its really a great one. I'm concerned that they may not make future movies, just because the story lines in book 1 were truncated, especially the parts that are important for the future movies! But if the money's there, they probably will... STILL, very worth seeing and a fun action flick. AND if it gets kids to read the book(s) - which we already have - then it's all good."

From Anyomous : "It left out my favorite part with echidna and the chimera.
giant fan of the books."

Okay now for some ultra cool Graphic Novel and Comic Reviews:

Wolverine First Class: Class Action by Peter David, Ronan Cliquet, et. al - This Graphic Novel collects issues 17-21 of the comic series. It is written by one of my all time favorite comic writers Peter David and the art work by Ronan Cliquet, Francis Portela, Dennis Calero and Scott Koblish is just awesome!!!! The first story deals with the present meeting the now as Wolverine confronts a part of his past and must determine if the son of an old enemy is on the side of the angels or devils (of course Kitty Pride is there to help him along the way). The second story deals with one of my all time favorite mutants Madrox - The Multiple Man. It gets into the pretty intense issue of what constitutes a person and their right to exist. The next couple of stories have Kitty and Wolvie taking on the alien invading Skrulls and The Super Skrull with the help of Captain Marvel. The last story has Kitty going through a very intense session in The Danger Room. This was really a fun and interesting read. Two Thumbs Up!!!!!

Tiny Titans: Sidekickin' It, Adventures in Awesomeness and Welcome to The Treehouse by Art Baltazar & Franco - Hey guys I know these Graphic Novels on the surface appear to be intended for younger kids, but this is really a great and funny comic collection for all ages (that includes adults also - I laughed myself silly with these GNs). The GN's collect issues 1-6 (Welcome to The Treehouse), 7-12 (Adventures in Awesomeness) and 13-18 (Sidekickin' It) of the comic book series. See you favorite Teen Titans (Robin, Starfire, Raven, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Cyborg, Speedy and more) as kids getting into really hilarious situations at Sidekick City Elementary School or at their Titan Meetings that more often than not get them in trouble with Principle Deathstroke or Bat-Man's Butler Alfred. I'm serious guys, give these GNs a chance. You will not be sorry you did!!!!!!!!!!!!! Titans, Aw Yeah!!!!!!

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Issue 59 by Paul Tobin and Ben Dewey - I know not to long ago I wrote about this comic, but I just finished issue 59 and I got to tell you this comic is sizzling hot right now. This book is taking everything that is great about the character and
pressing the gas petal full throttle. The issue starts off with Peter talking to the mutant Chat, who knows he is Spider-Man, thanks to the not-so-nice Emmy Frost (a mutant mind reader and physic). They are trying to work out their boyfriend/girlfriend problems (only thing is that Chat is still keeping secrets that she needs to tell Peter). They find out quickly they are being spied on and the chase is on. Spider-Man first confronts part of the Torino Mob Family, then talks to Captain Stacy (a policeman who also knows Peter is Spider-Man) and finds out that the Torino Family has hired a professional hit man to take him out (Bullseye no less). That night before he goes to bed he notices he is being spied on again and goes on the offensive. The only problem, he's taking on the X-Men (Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Banshee and Cyclops). After a huge fight due to a simple misunderstanding, Chat enters the scene and it turns out the X-Men where searching for a mutant they thought was Spider-Man. Turns out the mutant is Chat (ability to talk to animals). Things get stranger from there, so either come by the library to read this comic or buy it at my favorite Comic Shop :Heroes Aren't Hard to Find. Nuff Said!!!!!!

Finally I just wanted to give a shout out about Batman-The Brave and The Bold GN which collects issues 1-6 of the comic series and features Batman teaming up with other heroes (such as Power Girl, Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Shazam and Kid Eternity) against many different villians (Lex Luthor, The Thinker, The Ultra-Humanite, Dr. Cyber, The Queen of Fables and General Immortus). Great Stuff!!!!!!

Until next time, peace all,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Viper's Nest, Woods Runner, and Blastin' the Blues

The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis is the seventh book in the 39 Clues series and, man, does it ROCK!!! In this book, Dan and Amy Cahill have to travel to South Africa in their search for the 39 Clues that will make the finders richer and more powerful than anyone on earth. On their way to find the Clue left by Winston Churchill, Dan hangs upside down over a deserted mine shaft, Nellie, their au pair, has to explain mysterious cell phone messages, and they all break into a Tomas stronghold--and have to break out again!! Plus they face death by a propeller and a horrifying poison. The suspense made me sit up and grab the book tightly! These books just keep getting better and better. NO ONE DOES IT BETTER THAN THE 39 CLUES!!

And we have a new review from a teacher who doesn't give her name but calls herself Hello! She writes about a great new Gary Paulsen book:

Okay...I'm a girl...An older girl...who is also a teacher...and a reader...I secretly lurk around your site looking for those super cool guy books I miss sometimes...because I have guys in my classrooms that need guy books. I'll keep up my secret spying in the hopes that you review the COOLEST...most SPECTACULAR book that has come from Gary Paulsen in a while...Woods Runner! BAM! SUPER AWESOME BOOK! My boys are reading this one like a wolf eats!
Check it out!

We'll certainly do that, Hello! I'll go and look for Woods Runner away. We're always glad when teachers look for good guy books. Don't forget to look at the Links on the left-hand side of the page--lots of places to find good guy books there! Gary Pauslen is one of the best guy authors of all time. Click on the "Gary Paulsen" label under this post to see what we and other guys have written about his stuff.

One more bit of news. The latest Sluggers book is out. It's called Blastin' the Blues and it's set in New Orleans. I have to say right here and now that I'm the # 1 Sluggers fan in Charlotte. These books are T-RIFFIC!!! and I'm trying to make more Sluggers fans out there. The book came out Tuesday but the library hasn't received its copies yet. You'd better believe I've got one on hold! The library system has plenty of copies. Be sure to get one. (the first few books were called the Barnstormers series, but don't let that confuse you. It's under the author's last name, which is "Long.") I've written A LOT about this series, so click on the "Sluggers" or "Barnstormers" labels and see.
The very excited and has-a-lot-to-read-now CARLMAN

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview with Alison Hart, Author of the Racing to Freedom Trilogy

Hey, reader guys, 'tis I, the CARLMAN, and I'm very excited to post this interview with Alison Hart, author of the fan-tastic Racing to Freedom trilogy. I really, really, really enjoyed these books! They are historical fiction at its best. Now, I know some of you may groan at the word "history," but let me tell you, that's where you find some of the most exciting stories. And these three books are exciting! Kept me on the edge of my seat, they did! Since my review was so long ago, let me do a quick repeat of what I said earlier:

Gabriel's Horses--Gabriel and his Pa keep the horses at Woodville Farms. Mister Giles, the owner, enters his horses in the Lexington races but there are Rebel raiders who also want them. How can a poor boy stop bad men with guns?

Gabriel's' Triumph--Mr. Giles is so impressed by Gabe's ability to ride that he makes Gabe a jockey. Gabe is so good that he gets his freedom. In this book, Mr. Giles enters Gabe and his best horse in the races in Saratoga Springs, New York, the finest race track in the country. But some people don't want a poor boy from Kentucky winning this race and will do anything--anything--to stop him.

Gabriel's Journey--Gabriel decides that being a winning jockey is not enough and joins the Union Army to fight for the freedom his people crave. He's too young to be a soldier but he can use his skill with horses to help the black cavalry. His unit is called out to fight before they're ready and sent to the Battle of Saltville, Virginia. The Confederates hate black soldiers and will have no mercy on them--and the worst part is that Gabe's Pa is one of those soldiers!

You owe it to yourselves to read them! Well, let me stop talking and let's hear Ms. Hart:
Why do you think it's cool for boys to read?
Reading is an adventure! In my novels, boys can battle a blizzard (Anna’s Blizzard), survive a steamboat explosion (Emma’s River), and fall off a cliff and fight in a Civil War battle (Gabriel’s Journey).

Why is it cool for boys to write?
Because they can create their own adventures! When I write a story, I can go anywhere—back in time or forward to the future—be anyone—a hostage negotiator to a jockey—and do anything, no matter how dangerous. And—unlike when you read a book—when you write your own adventure, you are in control of making those choices.

You write a lot about horses. Why are they so fascinating?
Horses and humans have been intertwined as early as 3500 BC when horses were raised for milk and meat in Kazakhstan. (See the fascinating March 2009 article in National Geographic

Since then, horses have been used by humans in all parts of the world. In America, horses became extinct about 10,000 years ago and were then reintroduced by 16th century Spanish Explorers. This gives me centuries of horses in history to write about. Many of my books focus on the 1800’s when horses were necessary for transportation, farming, commerce—and war. I also write suspenseful, contemporary mysteries with a horse “twist” that are set on a rescue farm. Whirlwind, my newest book for teen readers, will be out in May.

Your main character, Gabriel, is a preteen African-American boy during the Civil War. Was it hard to get into his mind and his world?
Before I write a book, I have to do lots of research. I spent about two years researching the Racing to Freedom trilogy (Gabriel’s Horses, Gabriel’s Triumph and Gabriel’s Journey). So by the time I started writing about Gabriel and Hammond Plantation, I felt as if I was living in Kentucky and riding race horses during the Civil War. In other books I have been a hostage negotiator and a cat detective, so you can see that writers truly get to morph into other ‘beings.’
I’m a Civil War buff but I’d never heard of the Battle of Saltville until I read Gabriel’s Journey. How did you find out about it?When I was researching Kentucky during the Civil War, I learned about Camp Nelson, one of the largest recruiting centers for African American soldiers. Camp Nelson had trained the Fifth Colored Cavalry, one of only seven Black cavalry regiments during the entire war. Of course, loving anything about horses, I was very excited! When I read that the Fifth fought in a battle that involved a treacherous march from Kentucky to Virginia and a disastrous defeat, I knew I had to write about it. Fortunately, I was able to find several books on the battle, and Camp Nelson has a terrific website ( The story of the Fifth become the last book in the trilogy, Gabriel’s Journey.

You live in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Are you still snowed in?
It’s warm, so now we have mud and slush.
What do you like to do for fun?
Write books, of course. And when we don’t have mud and slush, I love to ride my horse Relish. I also have three dogs who like long walks every day (in the mud and slush).

Which do you like better--cheeseburgers or pizza? What do you like on them?
Pizza with oodles of vegetables and no meat. I know, not a very ‘guy’ choice!

Hmmm--pizza toppings with nutritional value? Not a Guy choice at all! Well, we made you an Honorary Guy back in November and that's an honor so great that we can't take it back. We wouldn't want to anyway since you've written such terrific books. Thanks so much. And thanks for the great interview! Let tell you again, all you reader guys in blogland, you owe it to yourselves to get these books!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We Three Bloggers and the Lightning Thief Movie

What's the one thing that could bring a Master Jedi, a Sith Lord, and a CARLMAN together? The Lightning Thief movie! Zack, Bill and Carl have seen it and here are our thoughts.

Since I'm already here, I, the CARLMAN who brings balance to the Force, will and give my review first. Actually, I can sum my whole review it up in two words--Not Bad. It wasn't a great movie and it wasn't terrible; it was good. There's a lot to like--lots of action, lots of monsters, and great effects, as you can see with the Hydra. All the stuff GUYS love in their movies! There were also a couple of things I didn't like as much. For instance, even though there was humor in the movie, there wasn't as much as there should have been. (even though Grover is really funny) And the final scenes with Percy and the Olympians was kinda lame. (I expected more tension between the gods and between Percy and Poseidon) But, overall, I enjoyed the movie and I think you would too. Worth seeing. I'd give it six or seven stars out of ten.

Now the big question is--IS THE MOVIE DIFFERENT FROM THE BOOK? Well, yeah. A lot different, in some places. But don't let that stop you. Movies and books are two inherently different media--which is a fancy way of saying that books and movies are very different and you can't expect them to be the same. So if you expect the movie to be a exact replica of the book, you'll be disappointed. But if you go in there and watch the movie on its own terms, you'll like it.

One more thing--I'm going to demand credit for scriptwriting!! I've been saying for years that a Percy Jackson story should take place in Nashville, Tennessee since it has a full-scale model of the Parthenon and is called "The Athens of the South." So where does the middle part of the movie take place? HUH??? I demand my cut!!! (and not with Riptide!)

Okay, Tis I Darth Bill, and I went and saw the movie Sunday. I really was expecting the worse from the reviews the movie received by the "experts" in the paper and media who said at best it was average. Also several people I know said it was lousy. Okay here is where I give my sermon on forming your own opinions. I can't tell you how many times I have seen books and movies reviewed by so called "experts" and my opinion has been totally different from their conclusions. Bottom line, form your own thoughts and opinions and don't blindly believe what others may say. So what did I think of the movie? I loved it!!!!! Even though it was not exactly the same as the book (in my opinion most books adapted into movies are in general not as good as the books), I had a good time. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it it an 8 (and that is just my opinion). I hope you all who like the books go and see the movie.

Master Jedi Zack here now with my 2 cents. I liked this movie for what it was, a fun action filled movie. I didn't like it for what it wasn't, an accurate adaptation of an awesome book. My only real beef with the changes was the age of the characters. I wish the movie's characters were younger, because that is one of the things I loved about the books. With all of that said, it was a fun movie and Grover had some pretty good lines. So, if you can get past it not being exactly like the book, you should see this movie. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.
So there you have it, guys. Tell us what YOU think!

Ranger's Apprentice and The Mysterious Darth Bill

Hi all in the Land of Blog,

Once again the mysterious and somewhat strange presence known only as Darth Bill is with you again to talk about my latest cool read.

Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flannagan - I know there are probably a bunch of you guys out there who are aware of "The Ranger's Apprentice" Series and I had seen it and heard about it for a long time myself. However, I just recently finished the first book in the series and it was awesome!!!!! The story centers around a 15 year old orphan named Will and several of his friends (also orphans: Horace, George, Jenny and Alyss) who have been taken in by the kind Baron Arald. At the age of 15 they are expected to be chosen for one of the many job classes in and around the castle.

Many years ago the powerful and evil Lord Morgarth tried to invade the Kingdom of Araluen, with his monstrous Wargals, ruled by King Duncan whom Baron Arald serves. Will's father was killed in the deciding battle of the war and knows nothing about his father. He assume he was a brave knight and has ambitions of being chosen to be apprenticed through Battleschool so he can be trained to be a great knight also. However Will is small for his age and not as strong as most who get into Battleschool (like Horace who who does) and indeed he is rejected.

However just when it looks as no one will pick Will to apprentice, a mysterious Ranger named Halt shows up in Baron Arald's room and gives the Baron a note he says concerns Will. Will's curiosity is peaked, to say the least, about what the note has to say. The Barron tells Will to come back in the morning and they will discuss what the note has to say. Needless to say this is to long for Will, so he decides to break into the area of the castle Baron Arald lives in to see what the note says. With this action Will's future is decided. Read this awesome book to find out what that future is.......

Till next time all,


Michael Writes Three!

Sorry to double-post on you, Darth Bill, but our good friend Michael has outdone himself today with not just one, not just two, but THREE reviews! Let's hear him:

15 Minutes
by Steve Young
Casey is late for absolutely everything! But when he finds a strange watch in the attic left by his Grandpop Jesse, he finds that it's also a time machine. But it can only go 15 minutes into the past, and it can't go to the future at all. But Casey finds the time machine (called the Go-back) to be quite useful in winning footbell games, gaining popularity, and wooing girls. But he lets his not-so-popular friend Nina have a go at it, and once she figures out that Casey is using the Go-back to cheat and become popular, she doesn't want to be his friend anymore. Casey wants popularity, but he still wants to be friends with Nina. Bur Nina won't have it both ways. Casey is left with a decision, and it's not going to be an easy one. This was a very good book, and with how funny it was, I would suggest Steve Young's other book: Winchell Mink: The Misadventure Begins. Winchell Mink gets transformed into is pet turtle and sees things from a different point of view. Awesome!

Herbert's Wormhole
by Peter Nelson
When Alex meets up with neighborhood weird kid Herbert during summer break, they are transported through time to the 22nd century. There, as they find out, aliens that have helped humans throughout history (called G'Daliens) showed themselves in 2050, and since then the humans and the G'Daliens have lived in harmony. Except for one of them. Gor-don. He hates Herbert and Alex, and tries to destroy them forever. Can these simple 21st century kids win against these 22nd century G'Daliens? Only one way to find out. Read!

Counter Clockwise
by Jason Cockcroft
Something is up with Nathan's dad. He goes into the shower and disappears. When Nathan hears a crash, he bursts into the bathroom, only to find a dad-sized hole, but no dad. His mom can't help because she got run over by a bus and died 10 years ago. But when Nathan meets a Tower of London gaurd (the locals call them Beefeaters due to their size) named Bartelby, he figures out that Henry, his dad, is living in the past so intensely tha sometimes he's actually living it. He crashes through the bathroom wall and disappears into time. Nathan must stop him from trying to save his mom from the bus, lest they both be run over! Considering that this is Jason Cockcroft's first novel, it was really good. However, it fails to stick to a plotline throughout the book. It is much like a Dr. Seuss book, only it's mostly time travel. That's the only thing that kept me reading this book: time travel. On the 1 to 10 scale, it's probably a 5 or 6. Not bad, but could have been a whole lot better. For those of you who read these reviews often, feel free to get this book and write your own review. Mr. Schwanke, the man who puts all these reviews up, and I would like some different view points. (so would Darth Bill and Master Jedi Zack! Sorry, just had to break in and say that. the CARLMAN) Just because I thought it was OK, doesn't mean you have to think that. If you read a review and would like to get the book reviewed and then you want to write a review of your own on it, go right ahead. I would really enjoy hearing from you. You might think the book is great, so why not read it today?

Thanks again, Michael! You're absolutely right--we LOVE for guys to write in and tell what they really think of the books they read. Or the movies they see. (as Darth Bill said in his comment about The Lightning Thief movie) So come on! Put your own reviews in that "Comment" section below.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Treasure Island Sword-Fighting Swahbucklers!

AAAARRRR, ye scurvy sea dogs, 'tis I, Eyepatch Carl, the scourge of the seven seas, and I'm here to tell ye about a very fun program for boys in a couple of weeks. It's the Treasure Island Sword-Fighting Swashbucklers. What is it, ye ask? It's for boys (boys only!)10-12 years old. In honor of the Children's Theatre of Charlotte's upcoming production of Treasure Island, we're going to learn the basics of stage sword combat from Andrea King, one of the Children's Theatre crew, and then improvise a pirate sword-fighting scene of our own. AARRR, that sounds like fun!! The program will be on Saturday, March 6 at 3:30 pm in the Round here at Imaginon. Registration starts at 9:00 am on Saturday, the 19th. Call 704-416-4630 to register. We're limiting it to only 20 boys, so don't delay!

Ye want more reason to come? All participants get a $5.00 discount on general admission tickets to the Treasure Isalnd play (March 12-28) AARRR, there's some plunder for ye!

And if ye get the chance, be sure to read the original Treasure Island. It's the greatest pirate story of all time! We've even got a graphic novel version. If that's not enough, click on the labels under this post and find out what pirate books we've talked about. AARRR, ye're sure to find something ye'd like. The library has more good books about pirates than a Spanish galleon has gold doubloons!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Michael Wrties about N.E.R.D.S.

Once again, our most excellent friend Michael has written a first-class review of another terrific book:
by Michael Buckley
Jackson Jones was the most popular kid in his school. He loved hanging around his popular friends, creating trends, and most of all, harrassing nerds. But when Jackson had to get braces, he too became a nerd. And when he stumbled upon the secret hideout of the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (aka N.E.R.D.S.), he must join the team and stop the evil Dr. Felix Jigsaw from connecting all the continents together and recreating Pangea. But Jigsaw keeps talking about a "Simon". Who is this Simon? Is it his professional assassin, the Hyena, his goon, Dumb Vinci, or could it be one of the N.E.R.D.S.? This is a great read for anyone and everyone. The best spy story I've ever read. Good for any and every occasion! Amazing!

Thanks again, Michael! N.E.R.D.S. is a lot of fun. Click on the "N.E.R.D.S." label under this post to see my original review. And don't forget we're going to have a N.E.R.D.S. book club here at Imaginon on Saturday, February 27 at 3:00. Call 704-416-4630 to register.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Camp Half-Blood!

Last week we had a Camp Half-Blood program at the Matthews Branch Library and it was a blast. I did this with my padawan (and super cool Teen Librarian) Rebecca. We had a bunch of people show up and took lots of great pictures. You can see the pictures on the Matthews Branch Facebook page.

I did get a chance to see the movie over the weekend, but I don't want to say too much about it before the CARLMAN gets a chance to go. What I will say is that the movie is NEVER as good as the book, so just remember that before you go see it.

Laurence Writes About Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Hey ho, everyone, 'tis I, the CARLMAN who has survived the Second Great Ice Age. Well, it wasn't really that bad, but that's how people act in Charlotte when we get the least bit of snow. There was a major holiday yesterday that had people giving gifts and going out to dinner. No, I don't mean that holiday--the one with all the kissing and pink and frilly hearts and stuff that makes a MANLY MAN cringe--I mean Chinese New Year. It began yesterday and, in its honor, I present a review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Today's review is from our new friend Laurence. Actually, Laurence is new to you but he lives down the street from me and is a good friend to me and my family. Let's hear what Laurence says about this book:

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is about a girl named Minli and her family that lives in a village that is very poor and plants and harvests rice. She is so inspired by her father’s stories that she sets off on her journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to make a wish that her family and village would be wealthy, and her parents’ struggle to find her, and the people she meets along the way. Enough with the plot, let’s gossip about the pros and cons. Grace Lin used mostly everyday verbs like shocked, scared and gratefully, instead of using words like dumbfounded, petrified, and beholden to the settings, characters, and predicaments. Plus, Grace Lin did not describe the characters very well, like when she wrote that A-Fu and Da-Fu were cheerful and were little rays of sunlight, (although too much description is bad).

Now that we’ve enough of the cons, let’s go to the pros. I am bursting with pros for this sensational piece of literature. I don’t what I was thinking condemning one of my favorite novels. Okay, first, Grace Lin was eager to use fiction elements like dragons, talking fish, and a book of all the knowledge in the world and mingle it up with the non-fiction elements to spice up her story and keep page turning bound. Secondly, she had surprises throughout the novel keeping readers on the edge of their seat until the book was over. Third, (see, I told you I was bursting full of great things for this book), Grace Lin instinctively knows what readers would not understand, she explains those things with a story told by a character, therefore clarifying the subject, like when a talking fish told about the Dragon’s Gate. Fourth, (I know this is getting repetitive), Grace Lin not only wrote a piece of literature, she went beyond that, introducing readers to Chinese culture, immersing them into their ideas and traditional customs.

Okay, this is the moment you have been waiting for…overall “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” was a hunky-dory book even though Grace Lin did not employ vivid verbs but had lots of blue-ribbon parts and details throughout the book.

Thanks, Laurence! I totally disagree with you about Grace's use of verbs and descriptions. They very vivid to me and I could picture everything she wrote. But I completely agree with your pros! This is one terrific book and I can't recommend it highly enough. Click on the "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" or the "Grace Lin" labels under this post to see my original review and an interview. We appreciate your review, Laurnece! Come in to Imaginon and claim your free book!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zeus, King of the Gods by George O'Connor

GUYS!!! You've GOT to get this graphic novel!! It's totally, amazingly INCREDIBLE!! I haven't this worked up for long time, but this gn is fan-tastic! George O'Connor has started an enormous project, turning the stories of the 12 ancient Greek immortals into graphic novels. This one focuses on Zeus. It starts with the creation of the world and goes into the domination of the earth by the Titans, Zeus's quest for his birthright, and the great battle of Zeus and Kronos. Wow! What a story. And what artwork!! George O'Connor does both the story and art and he excels mightily. This is everything a guy could want. As it says on the back, "Epic battles, daring quests, and terrible monsters await you." What more do you want? And what a perfect thing to read during the weekend that The Lightning Thief movie opens!! (PS--I'll give a free book to any one who writes a review of the movie) Zeus, King of the Gods--go get it!! And Bill, Zack--I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Manly Sweaty Doll Blogger Award

Our good friend Ms. Yingling over at the Ms. Yingling Reads blog has very nicely given us an award. It's The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award (and we are very proud of this, but somewhat uncomfortable with the title). Yes, Darth Bill, we are very proud and grateful that a fellow blogger has thought to recognize us, but being the MANLY MEN that we are, we ARE uncomfortable with this extremely----PINK award. Therefore we're creating an award that MANLY MEN can display proudly. It's not a sweety doll award, it's the--


Yes, indeed, what do all MANLY MEN have in common? WE SWEAT!!! When we run down the court to shoot the winning shot, WE SWEAT!!! When we fight the barbarians at the gates, WE SWEAT!!! When we hack through the jungle in search of treasure, WE SWEAT!!! When we exert the least bit of mental effort, WE...wait a minute, that's not right. It's the perfect award to give to other bloggers who write about books guys love. So we've got a good deal here. As part of receiving the Fabulous Sugar Doll award, we're supposed to pass that award on to ten other blogs that we like. Well, we will do that, BUT, along with the Sugar Doll award, we will also pass along the Manly Sweaty Doll Blogger Award. Here are some deserving bloggers:

Charlotte at Charlotte's Library (she often links to our reviews of sci-fi and fantasy)
Elizabeth Bird of Fuse # 8 (a librarian in New York who writes for grownups but has turned me on to great guy books like the Percy Jackson and The Brixton Brothers series)
Jay Piscopo at The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli (a great graphic novel series)
Jaymie at Bring on the Books (one of our followers who has boys of her own)
Jana at Adventures in the Library (another follower who has boys)
SWIRL at Book Clubs 4 Boys (yet another follower with boys)
Stable Granny at Writer on Horseback (an author who loves horses!)
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads (she spent a good part of January reading guy books)
Ms. Ellen at Girls Read Girls Rule (The World) (a great blog but we don't post to it beause we're guys)
Mr. Michael at SMS Guys Read (a teacher who runs a guys' book club in the Raleigh, NC area)

As part of accepting a Manly Sweaty Doll Blogger Award, you have to paste the picture on your blog (as you do with the Fabulous Sugar Doll Award) and answer at least 4 of these questions:
Tell a couple of things about yourself, the name of your favorite guy book, your favorite sports moment, favorite MANLY MAN movie, favorite manly music, and your Favorite Food With No Nutritional Value. Here's what the CARLMAN would say:

1. I can do the entire "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" song from The Pirates of Penzance.
2. I was a major in high school ROTC.
3. Guy book--the Percy Jackson series.
4. My favorite MANLY MAN movie is Spartacus.
5. Favorite Sports Moment--this last Super Bowl
6. Favorite manly music--Beatles, Led Zep, and the Who
7. Favorite Food With No Nutritional Value--any meat lover's pizza with black olives.

Zack? Bill? How about you?

1. Favorite Guy Book - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimen.
2. Favorite Sports Moment - The Red Socks win the World Series. (wow).
3. Favorite Manly Sweaty Movie - Aliens.
4. Favorite Manly Sweaty Music - Iron Maiden.
5. Manly
Favorite Food With No Nutritional Value - Sweaty Chesse Cake.

Master Jedi Zack's Turn:
1. Favorite Guy Book: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
2. Favorite Sports Moment: when my Texas Longhorns won the 2005 National Championship
3. Favorite Manly Sweaty Movie: any of the Star Wars movies!
4. Favorite Manly Sweaty Music: Nirvana
5. Favorite Manly Sweaty food with no nutritional value: pizza pizza pizza!

Thanks, fellow MANLY MEN! And thanks to you, fellow bloggers! You deserve BOTH these awards!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cosmic Repair Boys and When the Whistle Blows

Hey, all you reader guys, you get two reviews for the price of one today. The first is from that awesome reviewer Michael:

Rodney and Wayne: Cosmic Repair Boys, book 1 The Age Altertronby by Mark Dunn
Rodney and Wayne live in a town that has been taken over by an unidentified force and is trapped in a force field. The force gives the town unexpected tests to see how the residents will react. Lately, everything is peach colored (except the peaches). After that passes, Rodney and Wayne go to visit their old mad scientist friend who has made a time machine that he calls the Age Altertron. It malfunctions and sends everybody in the city from infancy to old age in just a few days. The old professor is now 115 and can't move! Will Rodney and Wayne be able to fix the Altertron before it's too late?

Thanks again, Michael! You find the coolest books.
The second review is from me, the CARLMAN, and it's about another rare and wonderful book, When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton. It's a very terrific book! It's hard to find enough good things to say about it. It's set in a real town, Rowlesburg, West Virginia, although the characters are fictitious. The story traces young Jimmy Cannon's life from 1943-1949. Jimmy's family works for the railroad, as just about everybody else does in that small town, and Jimmy's convinced that he'll drop out of school and work on the steam engines just like his older brothers. His dad won't have it because he thinks major changes are coming that'll change everything. Will Jimmy listen to his dad or not? You'll have to read to find out. And you'll be really glad you did because there are a lot of unforgettable stories here--the Halloween pranks at the cemetery, the meetings of The Society, how a new principal tries to stop First Day, and the county championship football game. This is another one you'll want to read and reread throughout your lives, guys. DON'T MISS IT!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Heart of a Shepeherd by Rosanne Parry... an absolutely fantastic book! It's not a slam-bang action adventure story but it's still great. Young "Brother" Alderman (he's called "Brother" because his real name is Ignatius!) lives on a ranch in Idaho. His dad is going to be deployed to Iraq for 2 1/2 years and his three older brothers are going off to the army, college, and a boarding high school, leaving him to run the ranch with his grandparents and a hired hand. He promises his dad to keep things the same while he's away, but events come that threaten to change things in the worst possible ways. How will he ever manage? Does this sound depressing? It's not!!!This is a rare and wonderful book about taking responsibility, getting in over your head, and the unexpected miracles that pull you through. There are some books that stay with you all your life--this is one of those books! Go get it--it's well worth reading.

PS--Just to let you know, there are a couple of swear words in this book. They're not gratuitous (which is a fancy word that means "dropped in there for no good reason") and you'd hardly notice them, but they are there and I know that some guys and parents might want to be aware.

AND--we've got 4 Camp Half-Blood t-shirts here at the Imaginon library. I'll give one away to any boy who can prove his dad, older brother, uncle, mom, older sister, or aunt is deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Guys like you deserve a reward. But be on your honor, guys. Don't just say, "My dad's in Iraq" to get a shirt. Show us some proof. This offer will be good through February or until these four shirts are gone.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Warriors, Spider-Man, Copper and Missle Mouse Oh My!!!

Hello all in the Land of Blog, tis I, Darth Bill. I have been away for awhile fighting evil and righting wrongs with my boys Batman and Captain America (hey I can dream, right?). But I finally took a break and read a bunch of Graphic Novels and would like to talk with you about them. So lets get to it:

Warriors, Ravenpaw's Path: Shattered Peace by Dan Jolley and James Barry - This is the first in a Graphic Novel (GN) series, taken from Erin Hunter's outstanding Warriors Book Series, featuring Ravenpaw and his best friend Barley (oh if you didn't know the Warriors Books and Graphic Novels are about cats living on their own). In this story Ravenpaw, a courageous and kind feline, has parted ways with his former clan named ThunderClan. Ravenpaw has settled on a farm with another stray cat named Barley who has lived his entire life on the farm. At first, Ravenpaw finds peace and comfort on the farm with his friend...until one night when they are visited by a pack of strays looking for help. The strays have a mother cat who is ready to give birth to kittens and they desperately need protection from the constant snow that has started to fall. Barley is suspicious of these strays, but Ravenpaw accepts them in the barn for as long as they need. The kittens are born, time moves on, Barley grows more uncomfortable with the new arrivals and Ravenpaw is reminded of clan life, which a part of him misses. Things are about to happen that will change Barley's and Ravenpaw's lives forever. To find out what that is check out the Graphic Novel and give it a read. Also, just to wet your appetite there will be a sequel to this GN. Great stuff!!!!!!!!

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man: Thwip! by Paul Tobin, Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni - This Graphic Novel collects Marvel Adventures Spider-Man issues 53 - 56 and it opens up a whole new world for our favorite web-slinger. In the first story Peter (Spider-Man for those who need to buy a vowel) meets a bunch of new friends/foes who appear they will be around for the foreseeable future. Two of
these people are mutants: Emma Frost (whose power is telepathy) and Sophia Sanduval (otherwise known as Chat and she has the ability to talk to animals). Emma discovers through her telepathic abilities that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are one in the same and shares this information with Chat who really likes Peter a lot (like in a boyfriend way). Is this good or bad for Peter? Only the future can tell. In the next story we meet another new girl in Peter's life, Gwen Stacy (she was actually introduced in the first story) and her father George Stacy who just happens to also be a Police Captain. To make matters more complicated for Peter, George Stacy figures out that he is also Spider-Man. Yikes, three people discovering your secret identity all within the period of a couple of days!!! The last two stories have Spidey teaming up with Captain America and the team of Cloak and Dagger to take on such villains as Tombstone and The Mob. Things are getting complicated in Peter Parker's life and this really leads to some great stories. Highly Recommended!!!!!

The Mutant Team of Cloak and Dagger

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi -This is an outstanding GN by the writer and artist Kaza Kibuishi who is also well known for such GN's as the Amulet Series - Amulet. Book 1, The Stonekeeper (you can see the review of this book through the Book 2 link), Amulet. Book 2, The Stonekeeper's Curse (of which the third volume will be coming out soon). This GN focuses on short stories about a boy named Copper and his best friend Fred (who also happens to be his dog). Copper is in general very optimistic about life and Fred is a bit of a pessimist. The stories are fun to read with each having a touch of the bizarre, weird, funny and sometimes deeper meanings (things that make you go hum.....). Really a bunch of fun, so give it a try.

Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker - If you have not heard of Missile Mouse yet, boy are you in for a treat with this Graphic Novel. Missile Mouse has appeared before in Flight Explorer which was released in 2008 and reviewed by myself (click here to see the review). Incidentally, a Copper story also appears in the Flight Explorer GN.

Anyway, Flight Explorer is not the GN I'm talking about right now, but the most awesome "Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher" GN. In this GN Missile Mouse finds himself in hot water with his superiors at the GSA (Galactic Security Agency) whose responsibility it is to protect all known Outer Space and it's planets. He is in trouble for a mission that went bad that involved him finding a Star Compass (of great value, we learn later) which was then stolen from him by a bounty hunter known as Gurne. His commander does not take into account that Missile Mouse was at a severe disadvantage as he had just fought a Giant Space Slug that was on the space ship along with the Star Compass. Missile Mouse learns through his commander that Gurne is working with the RIP (Rouge Imperium of Planets) which is actively working on bringing back an ancient weapon of mass destruction known as a Star Crusher. Star Crushers were used in an old war in which both sides used them to create Black Holes that destroyed everything. Missile Mouse is tasked with stopping the RIP from recreating the Star Crushers with the help of a scientist named Ulrich (whose race was responsible for creating them) and Agent Hyde, a relatively new recruit to the GSA. If you like high action, plot twist, great artwork, space adventure, green slime and a mouse with a mission, this is definitely the Graphic Novel for you!!!!! Great stuff!!!!!!! Check out this preview if you don't believe me:

Later and peace all,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weird Worlds = Awesome Books

Hey there guys, Master Jedi Zack here. Recently I've come across a few really cool books about some really weird stuff.

First we have The Glitch in Sleep. This is the first book in a series called The Seems, so once you find this awesome book too awesome to put down, you have two more to read. The story follows a 12 year old named Becker Drane who has a pretty cool job. Becker's job is to fix things that break down in a world called The Seems, which is the place that shapes everything about The World (where you and I spend our lives). The Glitch in Sleep tells us all about The Seems while we watch Becker try and fix a "Glitch" that is keeping everyone in our world from being able to sleep.

Second is Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett. This book was brought to me by another guybrarian out there who is in the know. So if you are ever visit the North County Branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library be sure to stop in and say hey to Ian, he is good people (and not an evil Sith like some people around here). This book is about Johnny Maxwell is finds that the aliens in his video game would rather surrender to him than be blown up. Now Johnny has to figure out what to do with all of these aliens from his game.

Last, but certainly not least is the graphic novel version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Now I know what you are thinking, but this is not the same girlie girl Wizard of Oz you have heard about this is some serious Boys Rule! Boys Read! stuff here. In this version you can see some good ol' fashioned ax work by the Tin Man, one seriously scary wicked witch (but she does like silly straws) and more monsters than you can shake a Cowardly Lion at!

So there you have it, three new books about weird worlds (and even more than that if you read the rest of The Seems series). Read on!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Michael Writes Again!

Hey, everybody in frozen blog land, it's the Great and Powerful CARLMAN, survivng another frozen weekend. I spent the last few days the way I spend every weekend in January, cross-country skiing on the ice planet Hoth. You see what it looks like. You can't see me, though, because I've just gone over the horizon. Well, you couldn't have seen me anyway, since I ski at faster-than-light speed.
Anyway, we have a new review from our excelllent friend Michael:
The Time Thriller Trilogy, book 1 Ripple Effectby Paul McCusker
Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Forde went home to take a bath and plan on how to run away. Suddenly, the bathtub fills with muddy water. When she emerges from the bathroom, she finds herself in an alternate time. Everyone in that time keeps calling her Sarah, and they say she has amnesia. When Elizabeth triggers a series of events that eventually leads to Sarah's boyfriend trying to kill her and all of her friends turning against each other, the people from Elizabeth's life in the real time only have so long to save her. What will happen? And more importantly, does the little town of Fawlt Line actually sit on a time fault: a portal to alternate times and unexpected time travel? The citizens are about to find out. The most exciting part of the story is yet to come in books two and three of the Time Thriller Trilogy: Out of Time and Memory's Gate.
Thanks, Michael! Would you say this as good as the Jump Man books? Better? About the same? Keep writing those great reviews!