Friday, December 21, 2012

Books for Christmas? Yes! (not "poo!") and Danger Goes Beserk, the Latest Brixton Borhters Book by Mac Barnett

Hey, ho, all you holiday-loving reader guys! Let me ask something--do you look forward to getting books for Christmas? Or is your attitude like this:

Well, I hope your attitude is NOT like this kid's! Let me put another question to you--what book would you WANT to get for Christmas? Good question! So write in and tell us what it would be!! If you had your wish of ANY book in the world, what would you like to see under your tree? And it could be a set of books. For instance, I'd love to get a set of the Alvin Ho books by the great Lenore Look. Or--I'm such a sly dog to make this segue--the complete set of the Brixton Bothers books by the outstanding Mac Barnett. That's because 1) I'm a big fan and 2) I've just read Danger Goes Beserk, the fourth and latest book in the series. Boy, was it ever a terrific read!! Each of the Brixton Brothers books gets better and better. This one has mystery and comedy and action and suspense--just what guys want in their books.

Here's a little background--12-year-old Steve Brixton is obsessed with the Bailey Brothers mysteries, a set of books published in the '50's. So when he stumbles into a mystery and becomes a private detective, he brings everything he learned from the Bailey Brothers to his cases. The only thing is--do these really help when Steve meets real-life bad guys? (BTW, Steve doesn't have a brother--he calls  his agency The Brixton Brothers because it sounds cool)

In this book, Steve opens his own office--only it's in the big doghouse in his backyard. He gets hired by a surfer dude named Danimal to find retrieve a stolen surfboard. The problem? It's been taken by a dangerous surfing gang called the Beserkers. Not only that, there's a group of pirates stealing cargo ships off the coast of Steve's California town. On top of that, someone is stealing the gym shorts out a classmate's locker. Can Steve and his chum Dana solve these mysteries? Can Steve really trail a suspect by walking backwards? And what are the Beserkers really up to? The only way to find out is to read this terrific book! You will certainly enjoy yourself if you do. Mac Barnett is truly becoming a first-class mystery writer. The mysteries become more perplexing, the bad guys become more dangerous, and Steve becomes more heroic with each book. So go out and find it, guys!! Or ask your parents to get these books for you. Or run to the bookstore  if you get Christmas money. Or head to your local library. Just find those Brixton Brothers! (If you want to find out more, click on the "Brixton Brothers" tab under this post)

So, how about it? Are there any Brixton Brothers fans out there? Write in and let us know. Or just write and tell us what books you'd like to get. We'd love to know.

And here's something to make your holidays merry and bright. It's Brian Setzer singing "Jingle Bells."

Have a great holiday and a rockin' new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Michael's Christmas Gift; Three New Reviews of Cool-Sounding Books

Greetings of the Season and Ho-Ho-Ho to all you reader guys out there. I know you can hardly contain the excitement of getting ready to be out of school for nearly two weeks!! Plus, add Christmas into the mix, and you all are probably about to burst. Well, our old and faithful friend Michael has gotten into the holiday spirit and is sharing three reviews of books that boys might like:

The Missing, book 5
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Something's wrong with time. It's frozen, and only time travelers can move in it. But how are Jonah and Katherine supposed to know that in frozen time, if four time travelers touch, they'll be sent to a random time period. Or maybe... not so random. This time the missing kid is Lieserl Einstein, daughter of Albert, if you haven't guessed. But this book focuses more on Albert's wife, Mileva. Jonah and Katherine must stay with her to find Lieserl, but being a scientist herself, is she smart enough to figure out the secrets to time travel? Unlike Sabotaged, this book has no action in it at all, which was a little disappointing. On the other hand, if you've ever wanted to pry into the life of Albert Einstein, but never had the attention span for a biography, then you'd probably like this book. And once again, Haddix introduces a new concept of time travel: frozen time in a time hollow. I must say this, though: the surprise at the end of book is worth all the somewhat-boring history facts building up to it. Basically, it's worth the read. Look for the next two titles of the Missing: Risked and Revealed.

Cahills Vs. Vespers, book 5
Trust No One
by Linda Sue Park
In this book, the Cahills will be betrayed by one of their own. In this book, the Vespers' master plan will be revealed. And in this book, someone will die. The Cahills, Rosenblooms, Starlings, Wizards, Holts, Kabras, and one Tolliver are at it again, either trying to rescue their family from bondage... or escape from it. This book's stolen item is the Voynich: an ancient manuscript that has never been translated. This book will see Dan, Amy, Jake, and Atticus all over the world. Plus, Amy is still mixed up about Evan and Jake. And the team finally takes a guess about who Vesper One is. Now, allow me to say something here: When The 39 Clues first started, it was for fourth graders. As the books progressed, the maturity level of the books kept rising. What started as a man in black showing up here and there is now a full-blown knife and gun show. And for people who have grown up with the series, like me, that's all fine and dandy. But for younger readers, this book in particular may prove to be a little too mature. Aside from the bloodiness and language, there are actually a few jokes about nudity. So if you're 10 or 11 and you're reading this, just be careful. But for 16 and 17-year-olds, like me, this is a great book that you won't want to miss. Look for book 6: Day of Doom by David Baldacci, the last book, coming in March 2013. And always remember: Steven Spielberg directs the 39 Clues movie saga, starting in 2014!

The Infinity Ring, book 2
Divide and Conquer
by Carrie Ryan
For all of you who read the books but don't play the game: The books start off where the online episode of the game ended, and vice versa. So although book 1 promised a trip to Paris 1792, this book starts in Paris 885, where Vikings are about to attack! Not knowing exactly what the Break is supposed to be, Riq uses his skills to do what he thinks will fix it. But has he really helped, or only made things worse? This whole book is pretty much a war, so it's much more action-packed than book 1. For 11-year-olds though, it may be a little bloody, and there's a scene where a Viking describes torture in great detail, which even made me shudder. All in all though, this book is a great read, and the action scenes are pretty good considering there are no guns. Look for book 3: The Trap Door by Lisa McMann.

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, Ukeist, Mandolinist

Thanks, Michael!! I've had to be very careful not to read your review of Trust No One because I just checked it out! Take a look at these books, guys, and tell me if you agree with Michael or not. I'll try to write something before Christmas but  you know how the best-laid plans go. So have a great holiday season, Michael and all you reader guys!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh, Yeah! Oh, Ye-ah!! Rick Riordan Does It AGAIN with The Demigod Diaries and The Mark of Athena!!

I've told you before that I'm probably Rick Riordan's # 1 fan in Charlotte and there's a very good reason. It's because he writes fan-tastic books.Actually, now there are TWO more very good reasons and they are THE DEMIGOD DIARIES and THE MARK OF ATHENA, two terrific books!! You want action? You got it! You want suspense that will make your pulse race like a Kentucky Derby horse? It's there. And you want the trademark goofball humor? It's all there!
Take a look:

The Demigod Diaries--There are four stories, written by different demigods in their diaries. Luke Castellan and Thalia get trapped in a decrepit old mansion in Richmond, waiting for a monster to devour them. Percy and Annabeth have to get the cadeuceus, the symbol of Hermes, back from a giant who runs a flea market! Leo Valdez tries to track down his walking mechanical table while dodging the Maneads--the most frightening creatures I've seen yet in a Rick Riordan book. At the end is a story by a guest author--and wait until you find out who it is! All these stories move along and keep you laughing, gasping in suspense and reading, reading, reading. Plus there are cards, puzzles, etc. A true winner! If you haven't already read it, don't waste a minute--go find it at your library or bookstore or get it on your e-reader.

The Mark of Athena--The seven demigods finally set off on their quest to keep Gaea from awakening and destroying the world. Of course, to do so, they must sail across the Atlantic and try to survive what awaits them. If they make it, then they must get past the Pillars of Hercules--and past Hercules himself! If they can do that, then the REAL danger begins in Rome! Annabeth must go on a quest alone to follow the Mark of Athena and recover the Pallas Athena. (what's that? I won't tell you! You gotta find out!) Percy and Jason and Piper must overcome two giants while Leo and Hazel and Frank make an unexpected discovery. Do you think they've faced danger before? Ha! Just wait until you see who Annabeth meets!! Or the underwater trap waiting for Percy, Jason and Piper. And, while this is going on, the demigods from Camp Jupiter are moving across the country to attack Camp Half-Blood. Whew!
If you haven't noticed, there's a lot going on in this book! These are two of the best in the whole Percy Jackson series. There's enough adventure and excitement to satisfy the most enthusiastic or reluctant guy reader. But not only is there action, there's also laugh-out-loud humor. Like when Percy tries to save the quest from half-dolphin monsters by using a can of Diet Coke. Or when they face an evil giant wearing a tutu. And there are very touching scenes as well, like when Hazel finally figures out the connection between her and Leo and Sammy Valdez. And then there's the scene in which Annabeth starts to descend under Rome to find the Pallas Athena. She knows that the chances are coming back alive are extremely slim. She looks up and sees the blue sky framed in the doorway leading underground. She also knows that she can go back up those stairs into the sunshine and be safe. She has a choice to make.What will she do? THAT'S masterful writing, guys!

These books get the Iron Guy Seal of Approval as Two Terrific Books!!


I have to warn you. There is--there is--well, the only way to warn you properly is to make a Public Service Announcement:

Well, you've been warned but you've also been encouraged. Go and get these two fantastic reads!! You will not regret it. And if you've already read them, hit that "Comment" button below and send me a review. We love to hear what reader guys think!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Football--the Official Sport of Fall

It's almost Thanksgiving, the day a lot of guys like to eat insane amounts of turkey and watch FOOTBALL! Of course the Iron Guy does too. (I guess that makes me the Gridiron Guy---ah hahahaha!!!) The season is halfway over and we in Charlotte have groaned all year, watching our beloved and frustrating Panthers lose some games that were going our way. Anyway, here are some good books about the pigskin sport:

How Football Works by Keltie Thomas

Here's one that I've written about before and it's still terrific. Chock-full of useful information, this book is a must-read for the the novice or the long-time fan. You can see my original  review Go ahead and take a look--not only does it tell you how terrific the book  is, but it lets you see how hopeful we Panthers fans at this time last year. Well, we had Cam Newton tearing up the gridirons in his impressive rookie year, so we had good reason. But this year---Oh, will we ever learn????

Long Arm Quarterback by Matt Christopher

Most reader guys know that the name "Matt Christopher" on a book guarantees a good read. Here's what I said in the original review:

 Long-Arm Quarterback by Matt Christopher. I hope you know about him already. He writes sports books and I haven't read one yet that I didn't like. Cap Wadell is frustrated because his little Texas town is so small that they can't get enough guys together to make a football team. His grandfather Tully remembers when he was in high school and played with six-person teams; in fact, there was a high school league made of six-person teams. Tully suggests that all the small towns in that area get together and make such a league. Cap's friends get excited at the idea and, before long, there's a league going. Tully agrees to coach Cap's team but there's a problem--Cap's friend Jimmy joins the team. That's not so bad, but Jimmy's grandfather Sable comes along to help coach. Sable used to play on Tully's league on a different team and was a good player. Tully won the championship that year and Sable is still mad about it after all these years. Will that old rivalry tear the team apart? Will Sable ever put his anger away and think about the good of the team? I had to read all the way to the end to find out!

NFC South by Michael Teitelbaum

This is a good one if you want some quick facts about the teams in the NFC South Division: the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers, the New Orleans Saints or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The whole book took me only 15 minutes to read. There a short history of each team (only a page long) plus info on the Home Field, Big Days, Superstars (Then and Now), and Stat Leaders for each team. Interesting reading.

And here's a video to make you laugh. It's based on an old Andy Griffith routine called "What It Was Was Football" about a young hillbilly boy who sees his first football game. It'a about 7 minutes long, so make yourselves comfortable.

If I don't see you before then,  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Michael Talks About the Latest Amulet and N.E.R.D.S!!

Taking a break from all my sports talk, the Iron Guy is pleased to present the latest reviews from our good friend Michael:

Amulet, book 5
Prince of the Elves
by Kazu Kibuishi
I don't know about you, but after what Max did in The Last Council, I wasn't sure whose side he was on. This book reveals it all. Stonekeepers can use their amulets to travel back into their own memory, and when Trellis the elf prince decides to do so, things take a dangerous turn fast. I can't put much more without spoiling the book, but it's definitely worth reading. There aren't many fantasy series that I like, but this one is one of the few.

N.E.R.D.S., book 4
The Villain Virus
by Michael Buckley
Something's going around, and it's not your average flu. People globally are suddenly overcome with thoughts of revenge against people who never wronged them, building doomsday devices, and wanting to take over the world to show everyone their supreme power! Sound like someone familiar? Those are just the things that Heathcliff Hodges, aka Agent Choppers, aka Screwball, aka Brainstorm would say. But how could he be infecting the whole world? After the fiasco in The Cheerleaders of Doom, Heathcliff is sleeping under sedation, and he hasn't woken up. But there must be some explanation for the virus that may destroy the world. This is a decline from the books before, and the climax is worse than some of the other action scenes, which aren't great. I must say, though, there are some unbelievably amazing twists at the end. I just hope it doesn't turn out to be a flop ending to the series.

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, Ukeist 

Wow, I sure hope the same thing! The N.E.R.D.S. series have always gotten good write-ups, especially from you and I'd hate to see them end with a flop. And I must admit that I've never read the Amulet series. What about you reader guys out there? Have YOU read them? Did you like them? Shoot us a review and let us know! And don't forget--you're doing all your fellow reader guys a service when you tell us about terrific books. After all, when you write in, other guys know they're not hearing from some boring old grownup (though the Iron Guy defies ANYONE who calls him boring!), you're hearing from a boy, just like you. That means those books will be--


Monday, October 22, 2012

Batter Up! More Blasts From the Past

Hey, all you swinging dudes in blogland! (Baseball--bats--swinging----heh, heh, heh!!!!! Oh, me, how do I keep coming up with all those knee-slappers??!!??)  I told you I'd write a post soon about baseball fiction and here it is. Actually, this post is a Blast From the Past because I'm  recommending books that have been reviewed before. They were terrific then and they're still terrific now.

These books are about the early days of baseball. I just love reading about that period in the game because the stars were larger-than-life figures. They were more than heroes; they united the country by the great admiration and love people had for them. Baseball truly was the national pastime and everyone followed it. Here are some good reads about those days, with one contemporary story thrown in.

The first one is Bill Penant, Babe Ruth, and Me by Timothy Tocher. You can read the original review here but it's halfway down that page. I'll reprint the relevant part for yout:

It's the 1920 baseball season. Young Hank Cobb spent the last summer working for John McGraw, manager of the New York Giants. After the season, McGraw sent Hank off to Anson Academy so the boy could get an education, but Hank absolutely hates school and doesn't see why he needs to be there. His great dream is to be a ball player; he can learn all he needs on the ballfield. Imagine his joy, then, when McGraw calls him out of school to work for the Giants again. But then imagine his surprise when he finds out his new job will be taking care of Bill Penant, the team mascot. And Bill Penant is a baby wildcat--a real wildcat, totally untamed! But that's not all; he also discovers that he must also "take care" of the Yankees' new player, Babe Ruth, who is rather untamed himself. (The Giants and Yankees shared a ball park back then) Can Hank work for both the Giants and Yankees? And what happens when this baby wildcat grows up? And will Hank ever go back to school or stay in the ballpark all his life? Want to know? Then you have to get this book and find out!

I tell you, if you get this one, you'll enjoy it for sure. It's funny, funny, funny--especially with all the scenes of Hank and the wildcat! But then, just as you think it'll be all fun and games, something serious happens that changes Hank's whole life. He has to face up to his fears and decide his future. Is he a coward? Or does he have what it takes? All guys have to answer that question at some point. Read it and see how Hank gets his answer.

The next one is the contemporary story. It's the terrific book Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta, first reviewed on 3-12-09. Let me reprint some things I wrote about it.

 It's hard to believe that this is Mr. Scaletta's first book because it's so good. The basic idea is that these kids live in a town in which it has rained for 22 years!! Then, one day, it stops!! And it may have something to do with a baseball game 22 years ago, a foster brother, and Native American mysticism. I didn't talk about this book nearly enough when I reviewed it on 3-12-09. The characters act like real kids, the situation, strange as it is, iis totally believable, the story gets a big hold on you, and there's quite a twist at the end. You'll like it a lot!

And here's my interview with Kurtis Scaletta.

Then we have Lucky: Maris, Mantle and My Best Year Ever by Wes Tooke. I really enjoyed this one and here is what I said about it on 6-10-09:

It's 1961 and young Louis May lives with his father, stepmother, and stepbrother in White Plains, a suburb of New York City. Louis loves baseball and has a huge collection of baseball cards. In fact, he has memrozied all the information and statistics on all those cards. Imagine, then, his surprise when he gets to be a batboy for the Yankees! He gets to be friends with his two heroes, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and watches with anticipation as they try to break Babe Ruth's record for the most home runs in one season. Louis's stepbrother is jealous, however, and seems determine to ruin his life--even attempting a very low trick with Louis's baseball card collection. Will his stepbrother actually win? And do Maris and Mantle get to break the Babe's record? You can find out only by reading this terrific book!

And if you'd like to read my interview with Wes Tooke, click here.

Finally, we have the Sluggers series (some of the books were originally issued as the Barnstormers series) by Phil Bilden and Loren Long. This is still one of my all-time favorites. It would be hard to tell about all of them since there are six in the series but I'll repeat what I wrote about the third book on 4-25-08:

It's about the Payne family; the three kids Griffith, Ruby, Graham and their mom. Where's the father? He didn't come back from the Spanish-American War (the books are set in 1899) The father's friends from the war (they were all in Colonel Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders) formed a baseball team called the Travelin' Nine. They plan to go around the country and play exhibition games in order to raise money for the Payne family, who owes ten thousand dollars! The father left them his baseball, but when the kids put their hands on it, strange things, and I mean really strange things, happen during the games. Could the baseball be magic? And who is this creepy guy called The Chancellor and why does Uncle Owen tell the kids to beware of him? Why does Uncle Owen tell them that they are in very great danger, particularly young Graham? And, whatever they do, don't let the Chancellor know about the ball!!!You got to read these books!!! They'll suck you into the story and make you want to get the next one right away!!

If you want to find out more, click on the "Barnstormers" or "Sluggers" tabs under this post.

OK, guys, the World Series starts this week. Good time to find these books. And be sure to tell us what you think of them. Baseball and book fans are waiting to hear from you!

Friday, October 5, 2012

October's Here and That Means---


Yes, indeed, this is a great time of year because it's the month when the big three of sports converge--football, basketball and baseball. Football has been going on already; in fact, it's one-quarter of the way through the season. We in Charlotte have been watching our beloved Panthers struggle (pleeeaasseee don't get me started on last Sunday's game) but you'll find most of us glued to our sets every time they play. The Charlotte Bobcats start playing this month. OK--if you want to get technical, those are preseason games, but still, it's basketball! And it's hard to believe that, in this month of cool weather and falling leaves, there's still baseball. The World Series will be upon us in about three weeks. Now it seems to me that baseball is always associated with summer and should stop when things turn cold. But, doesn't matter--baseball is still the great iconic American sport. I just love reading about its colorful history and its larger-than-life characters.  Here are a couple of really good books about the early days the official sport of summer.

Ball Park: The Story of America's Baseball Fields
Written and illustrated by Lynn Curlee

You can watch baseball on TV but there's nothing like actually seeing a game in a real ballpark. This fascinating and beautifully-illustrated book gives a history of baseball parks from their very beginning. Find out why each ballpark is unique and why there is no standard way to build them. There's also a lot of interesting things to learn--the history of baseball, when New York was the "capital of baseball," how baseball invented Astroturf, and which pre-WWI ballparks are still around. This is  a very interesting read.

Heroes of Baseball: The Men Who Made It America's Favorite Game by Robert Lipstye

Here's another great book about the history of baseball, full of stories of the giants of the game. And what stories they are! The chapters on Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson Mickey Mantle are terrific in themselves but there's a lot more. Find out why Ty Cobb was one the greatest players ever and why no one liked him,who was A. G. Spalding (and why we still see that name on sports equipment), who was "The Clown Prince of Baseball," which records will never be broken, and what Yogi Berra's real name is! This is one terrific book, guaranteed to keep you turning page after page. If you're a rabid fan or if you've never been to a game, this is one you should NOT pass up! In fact, this book gets--

  The Iron Guy Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book!

That's some of the nonfiction about baseball. I'll write a post soon on baseball fiction and then some books on football and basketball. Stay tuned, sports and reading fans!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Big Three from Michael!

Life has been busy again for the Iron Guy and the last post I made was before Labor Day!  Wow. Hard to believe it's been that long. I'm busily working on new stuff but, in the meantime, our old friend Michael has come through again with three top-notch reviews. Let's hear him out:

My Wierder School, book 6
Mayor Hubble is in Trouble!
by Dan Gutman
Mayor Hubble, after the incident in Mr. Burke is Berserk!, has been released from jail and is running for mayor again, believe it or not. Meanwhile, A.J. decides to run against Andrea for president of the third grade at Ella Mentry School. But when Mayor Hubble offers to rig the competition in exchange for A.J.'s promotion of him as next mayor, A.J.'s unsure about the whole thing. Will he accept the mayor's tempting offer, or will he submit to an inevitable loss? This series is definitely getting better, but it could be even better than it is now! I wish it was just a little funnier, and nearly every paragraph has a running gag in it. It's still worth reading though.

The Infinity Ring, book 1
A Mutiny in Time
by James Dashner
Dak and his friend Sera live in a future America where a force called the SQ rules everything, and the world is going downhill fast. But when the two meet a secret society called the Hystorians, everything changes. Using an infinity-shaped time machine that Dak's parents made, the two, along with a young Hystorian named Riq, go back in time. Their goal is to fix things in history that never should have happened. In this case, it's saving Christopher Columbus from being thrown overboard in a mutiny. But the mutineers don't give up easily... and neither does the SQ. Now, although this book is original, it could be a lot more exciting, and it's obviously a copy of The 39 Clues. There's a blue bar on the front cover that says, "Read the book, follow the guide, play the game". The first page has a quote from the book on it. Book two will be written by a different author. And it's put out by Scholastic! The thing is, now that Cahills Vs. Vespers is declining in popularity, The Infinity Ring will surely take over as the most popular kids' series out there by the time Cahills Vs. Vespers is over. Now, which do I think is better? Personally, I'd stick with Cahills Vs. Vespers. But I'll still keep up with The Infinity Ring.

Reviews coming soon: Cahills Vs. Vespers, book 4: Shatterproof, by Roland Smith---- N.E.R.D.S., book 4: The Villain Virus, by Michael Buckley ----------- Amulet, book 4: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibuishi

Cahills Vs. Vespers, book 4
by Roland Smith
Amy, Dan, Jake, and Atticus are at it again when Vesper One tells them to steal the Jubilee Diamond right out of the Pergamon museum. But when things go wrong, the team finds out that the whole thing was a setup. What now? Milos Vanek is hot on their trail. And by hot I mean that he's never more than a few miles away from them. How will they shake him loose? Jonah, Hamilton, and Erasmus are still on Luna Amato's trail. Will she lead them to something valuable? Plus, the hostages attempt an escape. Will it work this time? This is definitely better than book 3 and is worth reading! Look for book 5, Trust No One by Linda Sue Park in November, and the movie series starts in 2014!

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, Ukeist

Thanks, Michael!! I always look forward to seeing your reviews. Yeah, I agree that The Infinity Ring is definitely a copy of The 39 Clues, so I haven't picked it up. How about YOU--have you checked it out or bought it? Did you like it? Is Michael right and will this be the next 39 Clues? Speaking of which, don't pass up the Cahills vs. Vespers series!! They're every bit as good as the first and possibly better. I  REALLY liked Operation Trinity and hope to review it soon. I checked out Shatterproff last week and can't wait to start it.
Anyway, let us all hear what you're reading and enjoying. If you need any help in figuring out how to send a review, just check the instructions on the left-hand side of the page. So what are you waiting for??? Get those fingers on those keyboards and tell us!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fun Stuff for the Labor Day Weekend (More Blasts from the Past)

Hey everyone, it's Iron Guy Carl, blogging at you from the end of summer. Yes, summer's over. It's always a little tough getting back to the grindstone, but, mercifully, the grownups created something to make  reentry less painful.  And that is the Labor Day weekend!! A big three-day weekend to kick up some fun before settling back into the routine. Some guys like to go to the beach over this weekend, some play or watch sports and some like to hang out. But all the readers of this blog like READING. With that in mind, let me give you a few favorite reads from the past. These will be good for those car trips or the times spent chilling out around the homestead. These books are picked randomly but every one of them is great fun for a Labor Day weekend and all of them are guy-proven great reads. (If you want to find out any more about them, click on the tab under this post--for instance, click on the "Alvin Ho" tab if you want to learn more or read reviews)

Any of the Alvin Ho books

Funny, funny, funny!!! The tales of a second-grader who's afraid of everything. Guaranteed to make you hold your sides--because, if you don't, you'll split them laughing!

The Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Walking war machines vs fabricated animals in an alternative history of World War I. Lots of adventure, action and things that blow up.Great reads!

The 39 Clues series

Most of you probably know about these books, but if not---go get one right away!! They pull you in and won't let go!

 How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

One of the great guy books of all time that asks the question, "Could you eat 15 worms in 15 days?"

The Brixton Brothers mysteries

Mystery, fun, and excitement as Steve Brixton (he has no brother--he just thinks it sounds cool) unravels criminal plots. Besides, where will you find out that all librarians know 9 forms of martial arts?

All right, guys, go out there and have a great weekend. And be sure to tell us what you read (or listened to, if you love audiobooks) when you get back!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan

Hey and how-de-do to all you fans of reading! The Iron Guy has been extremely busy lately. Life at the library gears up for summer and, after the big season hit, I went into hyperdrive.You've probably noticed that I haven't posted any of my own reviews for a while and that's because I've been so busy--which is good because that means so many kids are out there reading! (And I really appreciate reader guys like Michael and Sammer and mphuff who have taken up the slack) But, no matter how busy things getI always make time for a Rick Riordan book. I'm a HUGE fan of his stuff and was very excited when The Serpent's Shadow, the third and final volume of The Kane Chronicles series, fell into my eager hands. I finished it during the summer and enjoyed it. A lot of you have probably already read it, but some of you haven't. If you haven't, then pay attention. If you have, write and tell us how YOU liked it.
In case you don't know what these books are about, here's the lowdown--Carter and Sadie Kane are the son and daughter of a famous Egyptologist, who just also happens to be a powerful magician. Through a series of adventures too complicated to relate briefly, Carter and Sadie find themselves as the only two humans to stop Apophhis, the giant Chaos Serpent from rising from his ancient prison and swallow the sun. In this book, they finally discover a way to banish Apophis, but it's a tremendous risky task--they must find his shadow and cast an execration spell right to his face!
This book has all the Rick Riordan trademarks that we guys love so much--the action, the humor, and the vivid and believable otherworldly settings. This story moves right along, keeps your attention, and makes you laugh often along the way. I enjoyed it but, to tell the complete truth, I didn't feel the incredible suspense that I found in all the other Rick Riordan books. This is not a criticism because I enjoyed this book very much; it's just that I knew somehow that the characters would come out all right, even when the had to go face-to-face with Apophis. Maybe it's because I've read so many RR books that I just knew Carter and Sadie would make it.I didn't get that feeling in, for instance, The Last Olympian. There you really felt that Kronos might actually destroy the world and Percy along with it.But don't let me stop you from reading this book--like all of Rick Riordan's books, this is a good read. Maybe some of you have read it and disagree with me. If so, write in and tell me!
I have one mild criticism, though. I love his humor, but there may have been a little too much here. That sounds weird, I know. I enjoyed the insults and the quick quips all through the book but it seemed that Sadie and Carter were always hurling witty insults at each other, even in the most dangerous moments. it got a bit annoying. BUT--criticizing Rick Riordan is like critiqueing Michael Jordan. Or Babe Ruth. Or the Beatles. Rick Riordan is still one of the giants of guy writing and I cannot wait until The Mark of Athena, the final book in the Heroes of Olympus trilogy. (PS--you can read the first chapter here!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old Friends and a New Friend

Hey all you summer-living, vacation-enjoying, terrific-book-reading guys! Iron Guy Carl here. Summer is a great time of year--lots of fun things to do and time time to read some truly cool books. We have two reader guys who have taken time to tell us about stuff they've read and liked. The first is our old friend Sammer. Let's see what he's read:

I'm here to tell you about Chasing Vermeer. It is a story about two kids who live in Chicago where a Vermeer painting has been stolen so they try to find it where the Government failed. It is a great book and guys out there should read it.

Thanks, Sammer! A lot of guys have written in the past and told us about that book--check out the "Chasing Vermeer" tab under this post and see.

Then another faithful friend, Michael, has sent us a good review of an interesting book:

Bridge of Time
by Lewis Buzbee
Joan and Lee are best friends in eighth grade. When the last field trip of the year is a tour of ultra-boring Fort Point, the two sneak into the lighthouse and take a nap. They wake up in 1864, with a man named Sam. Sam holds some secrets as to why they're there, what's going on, and who he is. I think the book was pretty average: could've been better, could've been worse. I'm not a fan of Joan and Lee hating their parents, and I also don't like their names: Joan Lee and Lee Jones. A little lazy on the author's part. This book supports the theory that a few people can become unstuck in time, floating around from one time to another, and that they can control it somewhat, until they become restuck in their own time. A bit unrealistic, but legitimate enough. All in all? It's worth reading.

And thank you too, Michael! You have always found good stuff and tell us exactly what you think. Guys appreciate your manly honesty!

Then we have a new friend, mphuff, who has written to us about some books that guys like:
I really like the Alex Rider books. I like them because there's a lot of action. There are a lot of cool gadgets. I also like IQ because it's about a bunch of spies that have to stop terrorists.

Thanks to you also, mphuff! We used to hear a lot about the Alex Rider books, but you're the first to tell us about the IQ series. I have to say, with a shame-faced expression, that I've never read any of the books in either series. They sound good, though, and I may have to check out some. And I want to remind you, mphuff, that you can come to the Myers Park library and claim a free book for writing your first review for us. And that goes for all reader guys! So if you've never sent us a review, go ahead and do it now! We LOVE hearing about great reads!

So keep reading and writing and enjoying summer!

(PS--Summer is a great time, but it's also very busy for us library guys. So if you send a review and don't see it posted right away, don't worry--I'll put it up here for as soon as I can)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Michael's Last Word on The Shadow Children

Our good friend Michael has given us the lowdown on the last two Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Did he like them or not? Let's see:

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 6
Among the Enemy
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
You may remember Matthias, all the way back from Among the Betrayed. Well, he's the main character in this book. After his friends Percy and Alia are hurt and then go missing, Matthias absentmindedly saves the life of a Population Police officer, landing himself a job in the Population Police! But when he discovers that he has friends there, he takes part in a plot to completely ruin the Population Police's plan for destroying third children. This is most definitely the most exciting book in the series. Two shootouts (one in a speeding car), a poisoning, and an explosion! This book is the best one, even though I'm still not a big fan of switching main characters.

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 7
Among the Free
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Luke, working undercover for the Population Police, is ordered to shoot an old lady in front of a village. When he drops the gun and runs away, his action is misunderstood as rebellion, and the villagers fight back. This sets off a chain of events that eventually overthrows the Population Police! The country is free! But Luke never suspects that people might hate third children after all, not to mention: how long can a country stand without a government? For an additional problem, Luke has to overcome a kind-of friend, and you're not going to like who it is. I must say, this book is pretty good, if not predictable. It has its boring spots, but overall, it's good for reading. And that wraps up my reviews on the Shadow Children Sequence. A new book review is to come soon!

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, Ukeist

Thanks, Michael! We always like your honest reviews. Sometimes you have to wait a while before a series gets good. How about you, all you reading fans? Have you read these books? Do you agree with Michael? Or not? Write in and let us know!
Well, I hope you are enjoying the summer and have a great Fourth!!!

Once Again, It's Sammer!!

We haven't heard from our old friend Sammer in quite a while and so I was REALLY excited to get a new message from him. Like our other friend Michael, Sammer always tells us about good reads. Let's hear about what Sammer has liked lately:

This is Sammer. I haven't given a report on anything in a long time, but here all of the great books I have read.
1. The Chronicles of Narnia. A seven-book thrill ride. The series kicks off when Digory and Polly sneak into Digory's Uncle office and he gives them rings that send them to a place full of pools that send them places. The second book is the after-story of what happens after Digory and Polly. It is about 4 kids who are sent to stay at a professor's place; their names are Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and peter. Lucy finds a place called Narnia. And that is where the rest of the Adventures begin. Later in the sixth book Eustance comes along.
2.The Mysterious Benedict Society. A great trilogy just waiting to be read by people all over the world about Constance Contraire, Sticky Washington, Kate Weatheral, And Reynie Muldoon--all Names that fit their personalities.
3.The Beyonders. About-to-be trilogy with only two books out right now. It is about two kids from earth who go to a different world where things go wrong and they have to help.
4.The Westing Game. One day sixteen people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. The will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing's murderer.
5.The Secret Zoo is about animals that have a secret zoo where they act like humans except for talking. They have animals from Polar bears to extinct Dodo birds.
6.The Candy Shop War is about four kids who are given magic candy, but they get into a bigger problem then they think.
6.Surviving the Applewhites. About a family of different talents who are joined by a teen juvenile deliquint-- will he survive? Will the applewhites survive?
7.Applewhites at Wit's End. The Applewhites are trying to raise money so they open a camp called Eureka! But things go wrong and they go crazy.

Well, that is all I have.

Thanks, Sammer! Yes, I really enjoyed the Narnia books too. I also listened to most of the Mysterious Benedict Society books on cd and thought they were exciting, but I have not read the other books you mentioned, although I've heard other guys talk about how much they like the Beyonders books. So here you go, all you reader guys--here are a bunch of great reads for the summer that have been endorsed by another reader guy like you and not some boring old grownup. This could be fun reading during these hot summer days. Thanks again, Sammer, and let us hear from you soon!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More From Michael

Our old friend Michael has come through again. Michael has always found good reads and this time he's giving us the lowdown on a very well-known series.

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 1
Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
In an depressing future, the government has only allowed two children to be born. Third children will probably be killed, along with their parents. Luke Garner is one of those kids. He's had to hide for years on his family's farm, and only his four family members know about him. Then one day a new neighborhood is built in the woods, and Luke has to stay inside for the rest of his life. He's never ridden in a car, never watched TV, and never even walked through the corn pasture. Luke is 12. But when he finds that there are more third children and that they're planning a rally, Luke finds an unbelievable adventure and danger waiting for him at every turn. Well, I must say that this review really hypes up the book a lot. It's pretty slow-moving, and there's no mystery or intrigue at all until chapter 9. I kept reading because I thought that there might be some thriller-type stuff, and there is, a little bit. Mostly it's an alternate future book. I will keep reading the series, though, and more book reviews are yet to come! Overall, it's worth reading.

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 2
Among the imposters
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

    After coming out of hiding, Luke Garner is enrolled in Hendricks School for Boys. But there he finds suspicious things about the students and the building itself. Plus, he thinks there might be other third children like him there. But are any if them spies for the Population Police? Well, I must say that this book is an improvement on the last time, but again, not much excitement til chapter 14. But there are twists I never would have expected. If you like realistic fiction with a touch of thriller, than this is more your series. It's kind of like Gordon Korman's On the Run meets Haddix's The Missing. I'm still hoping it picks up on the action as I read more and more.

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 3
Among the Betrayed
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
At the end of Among the Imposters, Jason was arrested. You might also remember that Nina was arrested too, since she was his accomplice. Well, she wasn't. Or, so she tries to tell the Population Police. She claims that Jason betrayed her. But when the Population Police offer her freedom, she can't resist. All she has to do is pretend to be somebody's cellmate, get them to trust her, and then betray them. But later she finds out that her cellmates are 10, 9, and 6 years old. Can she betray such lovable kids? Should she betray anybody at all? And what will happen if she fails? These questions will be answered in the book. As you can see if you just read this review, once again Haddix has everything but excitement in this book. She has intrigue, romance, emotional qualities, inspirational parts, and realistic aspects. But she completely lacks excitement. I don't know if this book is worth the read. Yes, it does have some amazing twists at the end, but it's not at all exciting. Plus, we've been following Luke Garner this whole time, and suddenly a secondary character, a bad guy no less, now becomes the main character. I fail to see how this is Haddix's most popular series. You can read it if you want to, but for a thrill-seeker like me, it was boring until the very end.

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 4
Among the Barons
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Now that the situation with Nina is worked out, we can return to Luke Garner, who has taken on the identity of Lee Grant. Well, lo and behold, the real Lee Grant's brother, Smithfield, comes to school. Smits is annoying, but he's also mysterious, and no one know quite why the Grants sent him to school there. Things complicate when Luke and Smits are asked to return home, to the Grants' house. Plus, can Luke trust Smits' menacing bodyguard, Oscar? This book is probably the most mysterious and intriguing so far. And... wait for it... there's and exciting scene! I wasn't even expecting it! Haddix finally delivered! This book is definitely worth the read!

The Shadow Children Sequence, book 5
Among the Brave
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Trey, who had just saved Luke's life from that chandelier, still considers himself a coward. But when he, along with Luke's brother Mark, have to rescue Luke, Nina, Joel, John, the chauffeur, and Mr Talbot, Trey is forced into courage. Finally! A car chase and shootout! This is what I've been waiting for! This book is the best one yet. Definitely worth reading!

 Thanks, Michael! I'm very impressed by your honest reactions. It's good to see that it got good at the end. How about the rest of you? Have any of you read any of The Shadow Children books? Did you like them? Or not? What the books in Haddix's Found series? I read the first one and liked it a whole lot. (see my review here) Send us  your reactions. Reader guys everywhere are dying to know!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Michael Tells Us About Great Graphic Novel Goofiness!

Once again, our good friend Michael has written in to tell us about another great read. Let's hear what he has to tell us:

Stone Rabbit, book 7
Dragon Boogie
by Erik Craddok
Stone Rabbit, Henri, Andy, Judy, Milton, and Grandpa are back in their newest comic book! When Stone Rabbit, Henri, and Andy play a medieval board game with magic dice, they are transported to the land where the game takes place, where they must defeat the evil Lord of Darkness. All of their friends appear as characters in the game to help them along, and this book introduces a new character who turns out to be the ultimate villain. This book is for fans of Fishhooks, Fairy Odd Parents, Spongebob Squarepants, and other shows like that. This book is written and illustrated in the goofy-style humor that appears on many of today's TV shows for kids. So this book is really like watching TV. I was never really a fan of magic and wizardry, but this book doesn't focus so much on that as it does the humor that can come with magic spells. I think overall that this book is worth the read, but it's not real high on my top books to read list.

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, Ukeist

Thanks, Michael! A lot of guys like goofy-style humor, so we may have some takers on this one. The library has copies of this book and others in the Stone Rabbit series, so come on in and take a look!
Yep, that cover looks pretty goofy to me. That could be a high recommendation! I think I'll find a copy. How about you reader guys? Have any of YOU read the Stone Rabbit graphic novels? Did you like them? Your fellow reader guys are dying to hear what you think.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another Blast from the Past: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Every once in a while the Iron Guy likes to set conventional wisdom on its ear. (When I say "conventional wisdom," I mean "The way people say it's always done") The conventional wisdom says that boys won't read books with a girl as the main character. Well, I stick out my tongue and say, "Ppphhhhttttt!!" to that. Give a guy an exciting story about a boy or a girl and he'll read it. I've seen guys sitting around the library reading Nancy Drew graphic novels. So there! I've got a book that any guy would enjoy. I read it several years ago (which makes it a Blast from the Past) and it's Island of the Blue Dolphins by the terrific Scott O'Dell. This is a great survival story in the tradition of Hatchet. (see my review of that book here) In this story, a Native American girl named Karana and her little brother get left behind when her tribe has to leave their island, which is a desolate spot off the coast of California. They learn to fend for themselves but then her brother gets killed by a pack of wild dogs. Can she learn to survive on that lonely island? Can she make peace with that pack of dogs or be killed by them too? Is it possible to make it through the winter on her own? Add to this an unforgettable fight with a "devil fish" and you've got one fantastic book that will stay with you long after you finish.So go and check it out. You'll really like it.

This gets the Iron Guy Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book!

(sorry about the glare on the cover--must the glow of MANLINESS radiating from the Iron Guy!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Return of Michael!

Yes, indeed, guys, our good friend and reviewer par excellence Michael has returned with FOUR great new reviews of good stuff for guys. But first, let me share something really exciting:

You see the Iron Guy beaming with happiness because he has just received his copy of The Serpent's Shadow, the final book in Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles trilogy. I'm Charlotte's # 1 Rick Riordan fan and any new book from him is the cause of much joyous celebration. (What?? Did you say that you're a BIGGER Rick Riordan fan than me??? HA!!! I don't believe you!! If I'm WRONG, then write in and PROVE it!)

But, as I said, we have four reviews from our friend Michael. Let's not waste any more time:

The Adventures of Tintin, volumes 1-7
by Herge
Tintin is a reporter who is always finding intriguing stories to follow. Usually, he gets caught up right in the middle of his story, and he's always having to fight off enemies with guns and knives in addition to the ones trying to find creative ways of killing him. There aren't many dull moments in this series. When I first heard about it, I thought it was just a cute kiddie comic about a boy and his dog, but the dog, Snowy, really doesn't have much to do with the stories. If you like thrillers and hilarious lines, you won't better than this comic-book series right here! Read them all!

The Adventures of Tintin: the movie novel
by Alex C. Irvine
If you're not sure about the Tintin movie, or if you really want to see it but it's not on DVD yet, then this novel is right for you. It has the exact same details and dialogue as the movie, and in some ways, this book is even better than the movie. The author has done well making the complicated scenes simple enough to understand without watching the movie. I think it's a great novel, and if you want to be the ultimate Tintin fan, then you can watch the movie and read the novel, like I did! It was a great book and a great movie.

Storm Runners: book 3
by Roland Smith
This is the final book in the Storm Runners trilogy. If you've read my reviews on the other two books, than you should be caught up. In this book, the Rossi Brothers' circus has gone missing in Mexico, so Chase, John, Tomas, Nicole, Cindy, and Mark head down to Lago de la Montana to go and find them. The only problem is that Lago de la Montana is right at the base of Mount Popocatapetl, which is showing signs of eruption, which could turn out to be the worst in its history. Plus, if the circus has had an accident, the animals could escape... and Chase would rather not have an incident like what happened in the last book happen again. Although all this suspense is built up, and it seems as though something great is going to happen, nothing actually happens. This book is more about the characters' relationships with one another and animal attacks more than storms. There is not one storm in this book, and in the end, Mount Popocatapetl doesn't even erupt. Plus, I don't approve of this being only three books. He could have had 50 books in this series! But he only chose three. I hate to say it, but this is the worst book in his trilogy. Look out for his next book coming in September: Cahills Vs. Vespers, book 4: Shatterproof.

 Herbert's Wormhole, book 2
The Rise and Fall of El Solo Libre
by Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao
After 6 years, Alex, Sammi, and Herbert are finally back in this mediocre sequel! GOR-DON, the evil G'Dalien from the last book is back, and this time, he has a guaranteed plan to get rid of the three pretend Alien-slayers. Alex sets out on a mission to find his 110-year-old self, like Herbert, but Alex suddenly gets prideful and wants to be a solo Alien-slayer. Will Herbert and Sammi tell him the truth? The main happening in this book, however, is when GOR-DON, in disguise, tricks Alex into trash-talking the G'Daliens' sworn enemy, the Klapthorians! The Klapthorian general promises an attack on Earth! What will happen to the planet? Plus, Sammi thiks it's wrong to let all of Merwinsville keep thinking that the three of them are still real alien-slayers when they had really just used a life-size video game. She doesn't want to go back to the future, but Herbert made a rule that either all threre of them or none of them went through the wormhole. Could this be their last mission to future Merwinsville? It all unravels in this long-awaited sequel! Like I said at the beginning, this book is pretty average. It's mostly stupid humor and immature behavior, so it's a little boring. There was one really good thriller-type scene (no guns or anything), and that was my favorite part of the book. For those of you who read the original Herbert's Wormhole when it was released in 2006, I found that I'm really too old for the series now. It was great when I was 10 like the characters, but now the characters are still 10 and I'm 16. So, all-in-all, it's an average, nonsense book with a few exciting parts. It's probably worth the read.

Thanks, Michael! We really appreciate the way you tell us just how you see things. The Tintin graphic  novels have looked really interesting and now the movie novel does too. I'm sorry you found the last Storm Runners book disappointing. And the same for the Herbert's Wormhole book. But maybe there are a lot of 10-year-old guys out there who would like it! So you may have done us a favor. Have any of you out there read the Herbert's Wormhole books? Would you like to? Write in and tell us!!

And, if any of you have the mistaken idea that reading is not for guys, here's a picture of the Iron Guy striking his MANLIEST pose and showing that he is a walking advertisement for guy reading:
There!! How could you argue with a MANLY MAN like the Iron Guy???