Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a very Happy New Year! 2016 was a great year for reading I have no doubt that 2017 will be just as exciting. What were your favorites this year? What do you look forward to reading next year? Write in and tell us and have a--


The iron Guy is excited about great new reading in 2017!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Have a Great Holiday Season--And Do Some Binge Reading!

Greetings of the season, guys! This is a great time of year, isn't it? Lights and decorations are out all over the place, kids get out of school and the grownup world ends its hustle, bustle and stress for a while to reflect on friendship, good cheer, family and good will. (and if you don't those are MANLY virtues, you're WRONG!) I sincerely hope that everyone has a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa this year--which, by happy coincidence, all happen roughly at the same time in 2016.

Now this is time that a lot of bloggers talk about their Best of 2016 Lists or recommend Books For the Holidays (and if you'd like to see some holiday book recommendations, look here and here) but this year the Iron Guy is going to something different while you're out of school.

I'm going to challenge you to do some binge reading.

"What is binge reading?" you  ask. Well, what is binge watching? Everyone knows what that is. This is the same idea. Instead of watching several episodes of your favorite show in a row, take some time to read several books in your favorite series. Or read several of your favorite individual books. Or graphic novels. Or biographies or nonfiction. You get the idea--take take some time and read a bunch. You've got a break from school; why not take some time for some serious binge reading?

The Iron Guy, of course, will lead the way. I'll have a few days off, so I plan to read the first two books in the Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom series. Plus several graphic novels. And some other random things.

What about you? Do you have any favorite series you'd like to catch up on? Of course, there are the usual books--Harry Potter, Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles/Magnus Chase, The 39 Clues, My Weird School, etc. All of these would be great but let me also suggest:

The Copernicus Legacy
You've heard me talk about this. These would be perfect to binge on over the break. In fact, I got this idea of binge reading from Joanne Roberts, a blogger who left a comment about bingeing (is that spelled right?) on these books on my last post.

The Goofballs and the Secrets of Droon series
Also by Tony Abbott. Great for younger reader guys.

The Alvin Ho series
Funny, funny, funny and also great for younger or older reader guys

And there are many others. So grab a few of your favorites, turn off that computer or TV screen, find a comfortable spot and enjoy some big-time binge reading! Then don't forget to write in and tell us if you do. (that goes for you too, grownups!)

The Iron Guy in his happy holiday place with a MANLY stack of books for binge reading

And have a thoroughly wonderful holiday season!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Crown of Fire--A Fitting End to a Great Series

All right, guys, let me ask you---how do you feel when a favorite TV series ends? Or at the end of a day at a great theme park? Or after you've eaten the last slice of your favorite pizza? Or you happy and satisfied? Or are you a bit sad that it's over? Or do you feel both things at the same time? Well, that's what the Iron Guy is going through right now. I've recently finished The Crown of Fire, the final book in that terrific series The Copernicus Legacy by the unbelievably-talented Tony Abbott. I'm happy and satisfied after such a good read but I enjoyed it so much I wish there could have been more!

Where should I start? It would take way too long to summarize all that's happened in these books, so if you want a quick synopsis of the main plot line, click here for a review of an earlier book. This book wraps up the plot lines; we get to find all the Relics, see what happens when they are joined together (or when at least half of them are put together), learn what happens at CERN, what happens to Becca because of the poisoning, find out what all those nuclear warheads are for and finally discover the secret of Galina's past. Along the way there are characters who jump from building to building while bad guys shoot at them, look for the most powerful Relic in the Antarctic wilderness, have guns pointed at them by art-stealing Nazis, search in creepy flooded caverns under The Monster---and then there's the mind-bending and mind-blowing finale with all the paradoxes that time travel creates. In short, there's enough action and danger to leave any reader happy and satisfied.

There are some book series that grab hold of you so strongly that you spend every spare minute reading them. Then you remember them the rest of your lives. For me, they were the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, (at least the first series) and then the Barnstormers/Sluggers series. Now The Copernicus Legacy joins that proud company. Go find them and read them!! Go find them and read them!! You will be richly rewarded when you do.

PS--don't forget there are also two books in The Copernicus Archives series, which tie in with the four other books and get referenced in this one especially. They are every bit as exciting as the Legacy books.

Monday, December 5, 2016

And Justin Claims His Prizes

Yes, guys, our good friend Justin, the other heavy hitter in the World Series of Reading Contest, has just sent me photos of him and his well-earned prizes:

As you can see, he won a copy of Dan Gutman's book The Million Dollar Goal, Mike Lupica's Game Changers and a flash drive. Well done, Justin! Enjoy them and let us know what you think of those books.

(Hey, I also see you've read a couple of the Keeper of Lost Cities books. How did you like them? I'm curious and would love to know what our fellow reader guys think of them)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Reid Claims His Prizes

Hey, everybody, and happy day-after-Thanksgiving greetings! I hope you had a good day yesterday. I know I did. And now we have one more reason to be thankful--our good friend Reid came by the library to claim his prizes for winning the World Series of Reading Contest. Here you see him striking a pose as he picks up his prizes--no doubt he's showing us how knocked it out of the park to win!

As you can see, he won a set of the first four Harry Potter books, a door hanger and a digital stopwatch. Reid really impressed me as he got his prizes. He already had the first four Harry Potter books. I asked him if he'd like to pick out some other books but he said, no, he'd give these books to a friend. Now that's a MANLY MAN!

Enjoy this long weekend, guys, and let me know if you read any cool books or listen to any good audiobooks. I hope to spend some quality time with The Crown of Fire. I've read the first three or four chapters and already there's been an escape from a gunfight, a reappearance of a mysterious assassin and a book that shrieks! I told you these books are good!

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Crown of Fire--- The New Book For Which This Turkey Is Majorly Grateful!

Stop Everything!


The latest book in The Copernicus Legacy series has just arrived! Woo-hoo! This is great!! This is really, really---wait a second. I'm getting carried away. The Iron Guy must show his usual manly restraint at the good news:

WHOOPEEE!!!!!! This is GREAT!!!!!!!!!

Ahem, this is what I had in mind:

That's more like it.

(BTW, I got that clip art picture from In all seriousness, I usually write a post around this time of year to mention things I'm thankful for. I'm doing one early because I've just received The Crown of Fire by Tony Abbott, the latest and final book in that terrific-beyond-words series by Tony Abbott. Do I seem a bit enthusiastic? You bet!  These books really are that good. You get thrills, mystery, secret relics hidden for generations, puzzling clues, a world-wide evil organization, badly-outnumbered heroes--and Galina Krause, the most despicable and fascinating villain to come along in a long time and the center of all that mystery. 

You say you haven't read any of The Copernicus Legacy books? Then what are you waiting for?? Go check them out! Now! As I said, they are that good. Start with The Forbidden Stone, the first in the series. Don't forget to check The Copernicus Files books too; they're a couple of "in-between" books that take place  between books 1 and 2 and books 2 and 3. 

Every few years an author bursts out of nowhere to surprise and delight us with a series that's new, exciting and totally unlike anything else. Rick Riordan did it first with Percy Jackson, then Phil Bildner and Loren Long gave us the Barnstormers/Sluggers books and now Tony Abbott (though he has been around quite a while) has "wowed" the world with The Copernicus Legacy. People like him keep reading fresh and fun and for that I'm very grateful.

Wait a minute---did I say this book is the final one in the series?? Awww, man! I wanted more!! 
Oh, well, the Iron Guy will take the disappointment, as he always does, like a truly MANLY MAN:

Oh, forget it! Go check out these books. You'll enjoy them a lot. And let me know how you like them.

PS--the book that you see in these photos is one that Mr. Abbott sent me himself. And he signed it! Thanks, Mr. Abbott!

Update--Today is Monday and it's the day for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Check it out and see what other cool books people are reading.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The People Speak!

We held a poll called "If Boys Could Vote, Who Would Be President?" with Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, The Incredible Hulk, Willy Wonka and Annabeth Chase as candidates. People voted and guess who won?

That's right--Annabeth Chase! It was a close race. Luke Skywalker came in second with HarryvbPotter next and Willy Wonka last. Poor Hulk got no votes ("Hulk sit in cave and cry now!") Thanks for participating, everyone.

And watch this blog over the next week or so. A new book (well actually, the final book in a series) is coming out that the Iron Guy truly is excited about. Not just excited but over the top, beside himself, counting down the days until it's here excited. What is it?? Stay tuned!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Reid and Justin in an Epic Duel to the Last Inning!

Wow! What a great finish to the World Series of Reading Contest!  And what an amazing similarity this whole contest has had to the real Series--that game went into extra innings because of a tie between two great opponents, Chicago and Cleveland. This game went into extra innings because of a tie between those two great opponents, Reid and Justin. Both teams scored in the last innings and Reid and Justin have both sent in reviews this weekend, which was the "extra innings" for this contest. Which reviews should we print first? Hmmm--let's go with Justin's:

The School Story by Andrew Clements

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: August 1st, 2002 by Atheneum Books

Summary: Goodreads: "Two middle school girls scheme to publish a book in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?"

What I liked: Ok, so I think the biggest thing that I appreciated about this books was that it, like a character in the book, really hit home to my heart. This book pretty much embodied the inner sixth-grade novelist in me, the sixth-grade novelist which pushed me to start this blog. That was my goal, to get a book published, be famous, and this book really hit home, which is why I loved reading it. Of course, Andrew Clements always continues to write really good content, which is why time and time again I enjoy reading his books.

What I didn't like: This book is crazy unrealistic in every way shape and form. This book is like the Lawn Boy series: it only works because of two things- luck and craziness. Like seriously, I know Clements tried to sell off the fact Zoe managed to convince a teacher to let her be a literary agent and all of that, but I mean seriously, what are the chances? And at another point, how does Natalie's book manage to actually be seriously considered. The book says something about how she really wrote about how a kid thinks and all of that, but at the end of the day, plot movement, character development, etc. kind of matter. I don't know if I'm just going on a worthless spiel, but I was a little irked by that.

Rating: 9.1 out of ten

Why? I fell in love with this book after the first chapter or so. It started off fast and it never let up. Absolute amazing writing.

This one is The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Group: MG
Publishing Date: March 1, 2010 by Amulet Books

Summary: So after Dwight and his Origami Yoda save Tommy from humiliating himself in front of the whole school (Basically, he stopped Tommy from asking this girl to dance practically two seconds before another guy runs over and kisses her), everyone in the school listens to Origami Yoda's advice, except for Harvey, and honestly he has good reason to. Dwight is part of "that group (you know, the type of kids who make Origami Yoda puppets) so I guess it makes sense not to listen to one of "them" for advice. And yet, kids do, with success. Let's say you break an English Teacher's most prized Shakespeare head? No problem, Origami Yoda says to make a new one with play-doh and sure enough, you're not in trouble! But towards the next dance, after some shady things happen with Sara, Tommy's crush, a new Origami Yoda has popped up, and it is made by non other than our good pal Harvey. Suddenly, the next dance comes up, and Tommy needs to make a move on Sara, or else she'll be hopelessly lost to Tater Tot. In a hilarious and clever star-wars-themed middle school book. Tom Angleberger keeps you interested and intrigued by the curious world of Origami Yoda.

What I Liked: First off, I loved how Angleberger chooses to make a character like Dwight, who trust me is really "out there", a main character, because in most books, those types of kids are usually forgotten. Angleberger has really captured not just a certain part, but the entirety of the atmosphere that envelopes your down-the-road middle school. Also, the book is written so that all the challenges and struggles are turned into hilarious scenes. There wasn't really a time where the book got "serious" or "intense" and it's one of those books where you just ignore it because the plot line is so interesting and hilarious.

What I Didn't Like:  I mentioned it above: the book never got "serious" or "intense" I mean, I would've preferred some sort of rising and falling action, which while there was a little, it wasn't enough to make my stomach turn into knots the way a really driven book is. Another thing I'd like to mention is that the ending is based on a point that is mentioned throughout the book, almost thrown in the middle as a forgotten idea until ALAS, you needed to know the speck of info to understand the ending. Finally, the book is just...weird. Like it talks about Dwight's weirdness and it jumps a lot back and forth between subjects. It's not bad...just not a lot of people's cup of tea you know?

Rating on 'the scale': 8.3 out of ten.

Why?: Again, it's not bad, just...interesting. Although the hilarity and the most realistic middle-school book I've written just won me over, so I give this book a big thumbs up.

Finally this is "The League" by Thatcher Heldring

Summary: Wyatt Parker is your typical goody-two-shoes. Never lies, plays golf,  probably will become valedictorian, and built like a pencil, which is why he's friends with Francis (his golf partner who's exactly like him) and gets beat up by Spencer Randle, you typical big football player who's a bully. As Wyatt has realizes, football players don't get beat up, and get girlfriends, which is practically preached by his brother Aaron. After another encounter with Spencer Randle, and a hate for the game his dad forced him to play, he decides to play football. At first, it's only two hand touch with some people he kind of knows at the park, but then he wants to go full contact, with tackling. His brother then talks to him about the League of Pain, a group of the biggest and baddest kids where they play football without any protection...with no rules. To get to play in this league, Wyatt has to do something he hasn't ever done... lie, to his parents even to the girl next door who he likes. Even if Wyatt manages to get to play in the league...will he survive?

What I liked: The great thing about sports fiction novels is that it always includes a taste of romance, which like in every novel, moves the plot along and makes it really exciting. I also appreciate how these characters develop and change throughout the story. For example, Wyatt isn't happy with his life so instead of dealing with it and trying to make the best of it, like in a lot of the books I read, he changes it, and even though it was towards a bad way, I kind of like the moral it sends, most likely unintentionally. Just the fact that it brings sports to the novel makes it really good for me, because I don't know, but sports in books just make me happy.

What I didn't like: Well, in my opinion, the biggest flaw was that it's a little bland. There's not much going on, nothing that gives the book a wow factor. While the content starts to creep into the YA area, it's written sort of like a lower-level MG area. It's kind of hard to describe, but these days, every book has that X Factor which gives it something special, which is why you pick it up. It just felt like one of those stereotypical MG books, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It just doesn't have the special factor which made it over the top.

Rating on 'the scale': 7.9 out of ten.

Why? It's just your generic football MG book, which isn't bad at all, but it's not really special. If you're feeling tentative about sports fiction, it's a good book to get you into things, especially if your one of those people who just don't care for sports at all.

Related: Football Genius Series by Tim Green/ 15 minutes/ Honestly if there's the word football on the book jacket, it's related.

Wow! Three reviews! Good work, Justin. Now let's see what Reid has sent us:

I like The Fourteenth Goldfish by, Jennifer L. Holm because it is about science. Also it is great because it is so well written. It is about a scientist that found out that you can change your age to whatever age you want. He uses it himself to make himself the same age as his granddaughter. Her grandfather has weird habits that embarrass her in front of her friend Raj. Ellie realizes that the age-changer had been a terrible mistake because now people could be immortals. Can she stop her grandfather before it becomes public? I like this book and would recommend it for anybody who likes science

Yep, that was a good one. Thanks, Reid! 

Well---who's the winner?

According to the rules, each of Justin's reviews were worth one point each, which means that he got three points. Which gives him a total of six points. And, according to the rules, Reid's review  was worth four points, making it a Home Run and giving him a total of seven points and making him the winner! Well done, sir! Come on over to the Myers Park library to claim your prize. And, Justin, we haven't forgotten you. I'll be in contact and get you a prize as well. Not that the Iron Guy believes that every one who plays gets a trophy but I did say that the top three boys got prizes, so I'll be true to my word. 

Well done, both of you! Many thanks for an exciting contest and sharing some good reads with all the other guys out there. And don't let it stop here! I've enjoyed posting your first-class reviews, so please keep them coming. Same thing for all of you other reader guys. There are a lot of good books and graphic novels and biographies and nonfiction these days, so tell us about them and share the excitement!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

If Boys Could Vote---

---then who would be president? Good question! Based on what the Iron Guy has seen over the years,  especially from the books boys have read, these would be some of the choices:

Harry Potter
Party: The Magical Thinking Party
Slogan: "If you listen to most candidates, they sound like they'll solve all our problems by magic. Why not elect a REAL magician?"

Luke Skywalker
Party: The Light Side of the Force
Slogan: "I can fly an X-wing, I have Jedi training and the Force is with me. What more could you want?"

The Incredible Hulk
Party: The REALLY Green Party
Slogan: "Hulk SMASH nation's problems!!"

Willie Wonka
Party: Candy for Everyone Party
Slogan: "Good children get chocolate. Bad children get flushed down tubes. That's a lesson kids and grownups would do well to remember."

Hey! HEY!! Wait a minute!!

Yes, who's there?

It's me, Annabeth Chase. What makes you think only boys can run for president? There's a female running right now!

Yeah, you're right. OK, let's hear your info:

 Didn't I already tell you my name?

Yes, you did.

All right, then. my party is the RAD Party (Real Athena Daughters--sorry about the lame title. Percy came up with it)
Slogan: "We ancient Greeks invented democracy!"

Very well, everybody, there's a poll on the right-hand side of this blog that lets you vote. Here's your chance, boys, girls and grownups. Make your choice! Let your voice be heard! This poll will close at 11:00 pm on November 8 and I'll announce the results on November 9. May the best candidate win!

Extra Innings!

Wow, did you see last night's game? What an unbelievable end to an epic series! A hard-fought battle, a come-from-behind score and extra innings. Then the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years! People will talk about this Series for a long time. 
Well, just like last night's game went into a tie, guess what? The World Series of Reading Contest has gone into a tie! That's because our friend Reid has made an eighth-inning hit that tied the game. He sent a review last night that tied the score with our friend Justin. Let's see what Reid has read:

I have read Frank Einstein and really like it because it is so funny. I had never thought that it was possible to make science and engineering that hilarious. Also I really like the fact that they put diagrams to show what they are talking about. That way I can literally follow along like I'm actually doing it. I'll say that this book would be great to anybody who likes science, engineering, challenges, and projects. 

Thanks, Reid! I really enjoyed that book. (see my review here) Jon Sciezska writes terrific stuff and runs a really good website about books boys will like. Well, that review was worth one point and your review of Spy School was worth two points, so that gives you a total of three points, tying your score with Justin's.

Hmmmmm--this has never happened before. What should we do?

Of course! We'll go into EXTRA INNINGS!

That means that Justin and Reid (or any other boys) have until midnight on Sunday to send in some more reviews. I'll post the results Monday afternoon. (I won't be at the library this weekend) OK, guys? Step up to that plate and swing for the back fences!
Oh, man, doesn't everyone enjoy an exciting World Series?

PS--while we're continuing the game, watch this blog later today for a surprise event!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Reid Steps Up to the Plate

Just as the World Series has gone to the last day by a Chicago Cubs win, the World Series of Reading Contest has gone to the last day by the sudden appearance of our good friend Reid. He has sent us a review of Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Let's hear what he thought about the book:

Spy SchoolI think Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs is a great book because it catches your attention immediately and dives right in without any stops along the way. It's the follow up to Spy School and is just as good. It is about a boy named Ben who is being targeted by an enemy organization named SPYDER. But after a little while they realize that that was all just a setup to lure a great spy out of hiding. They capture him and he gives up the coordinates to a place where the president and some british leaders are staying. Can Ben stop their nefarious plans once again or will SPYDER take their lives???

Thanks, Reid! Wow, this book sure is popular! Two boys have reviewed it for the contest. I must read some of these books one day. Anyhow, reviews of this book are worth two points, making it a Double. That puts Reid right behind Justin, who has three points. Will Reid hit another Double and pass Justin? Will Justin take a swing with another review and score more points? Or will someone else come out of the blue and upset these two front runners? Don't forget that you boys have until midnight tonight to send in reviews and get points. I'll announce the winner around the middle of the day tomorrow.

The Chicago Cubs--The Cleveland Indians--one of these teams will be the World Series champion before tomorrow. And Justin, Reid or another boy will be the champion of the World Series of Reading before tomorrow as well. Who will it be?? Oh, the tension mounts!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Justin Steps Up to the Plate

Hey, everyone, we've got a great Halloween treat for you. Our good friend Justin has sent two reviews for the World Series of Reading Contest. Let's see what he's read lately:

No Talking by Andrew Clements 
Genre: Realistic, School Fiction
Age Group: Middle Grade (8-12)
Publishing Date: June 27th 2007 by Atheneum Books

Summary: Goodreads: ""You have the right to remain silent." However... 

The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don't get along very well. But the real problem is that these kids are loud and disorderly. That's why the principal uses her red plastic bullhorn. A lot. 

Then one day Dave Packer, a certified loudmouth, bumps into an idea -- a big one that makes him try to keep quiet for a whole day. But what does Dave hear during lunch? A girl, Lynsey Burgess, jabbering away. So Dave breaks his silence and lobs an insult. And those words spark a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it's the boys against the girls. 

How do the teachers react to the silence? What happens when the principal feels she's losing control? And will Dave and Lynsey plunge the whole school into chaos? 

This funny and surprising book is about language and thought, about words unspoken, words spoken in anger, and especially about the power of words spoken in kindness...with or without a bullhorn. It's Andrew Clements at his best -- thought-provoking, true-to-life, and very entertaining"

What I Liked: I've read this book a thousand times and it's a book where it simply doesn't get old. The Harry Potter fan will say books like Harry Potter never get old, but we all know that eventually, it's boring. But for some reason No Talking has always been my go to book whenever I'm at the library, even though I literally know exactly how it is going to play out. No Talking is a fast-paced book, and it's a battle-of-the-sexes which results in pure hilariousness. I've always loved Clements work, and this is the poster child of my argument.

What I didn't Like: If I will say something, this book is by no means for the literary genius who earns to read books like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby every hour. This books was targeted for the eight, nine, and ten year old kids who want a fun book to read. I'm not sure why a fourteen-year old freshman like me decides to feature books like this, but I feel like they're worth talking about. 

Rating: 8.6 out of ten.

Why? I mean, it's a classic, but it does have it's flaws, some of which the fact that it's not a very long book, which means that at times I wanted a little more description. 

 Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Summary: Benjamin Ripley, a 12 year old living your average middle school life is being recruited for a science academy, secretly a spy school. Oh it's just another typical recruitment with a top-notch spy appearing in your living room after a long day of school. Ben has a "cryptography" skill and even though he bombs his SACSA's (basically a pre-assesement in self-preservation) he's kept in the school because of his "talent" for cryptography. Along the way he meets Erica Hale- the most beautiful girl he's ever seen, the best student in spy school's history, and a legacy (she's even related to all time spy legend Nathan Hale) But the introverted isolated Erica reaches out to Ben and reveals he has no skill whatsoever. Instead, he's being used as bait for something called Operation Creeping Badger, a plan created by the CIA to weed out the mole in Spy School. Ben decides to hop on the
train for one main reason: getting to spend time with Erica. I mean for three years she's practically been lonelier than a rock on a deserted island and now she reaches out to a nerd like Ben? Not only does it bring us his coolness by a mile, but spending time with your crush is the best feeling ever. But is it worth if it you end up being dead? Follow Stuart Gibbs's fantastic thriller through elaborate plans, midnight escapes, and lots of gun fighting as Ben and friends try to answer the question: Who's the mole? Oh and try to not get killed in the process.

What I liked: Everything? But seriously, it's just a well-written book. Humorous moments were weaved well into the diverse book. Lots of actions scenes, which of course you'd expect from a James Bond-esque book. I definitely liked the inclusion of a legacy in a book. I mean if you think about it any time you read about a private school there's always someone "who's great grand-father was the founder" or something like that. Not only is Erica's deceased relatives the founders of the school, but the country in general has been at the mercy of their family. I could talk for about 10 pages of how this book is awesome, but I feel like there wouldn't be any point to it.

What I didn't like: Let me just start out with saying: the cursing. Yes, there are bad words in this novel, but keep in mind this: I talked to the author himself and he said that he only stuck in the various language because it could give some character to the book, to spice things up. He was advised to do so by somebody (an editor I think?) and so he did and he received a million hate comments for it. He's removed all bad language from the rest of his books (unless you consider "stupid" "dumb" and "idiot" bad words) Another thing I didn't like was the classic format for all middle grade books. While it varies, in MG if we're talking about a kid and school it's always: There's a loser at blah blah school. Suddenly he catches a break and he talks to his crush. For half the book everything is really awesome with only minor flaws. Then there's a huge conflict at the end. The ending is either "YAY! We made it!" or "Aw, we lost" I feel like I could explain the plot of this book at a general level using the normal MG format, and while it's not bad, it's just overused.

Final Thoughts: A really, really, really great book with some minor flaws but nothing enough to make it bad.

Rating on 'the scale': 9.5 out of ten

Why? Minor flaws but nothing major. Really a great books that keeps things exciting and fresh.

Related: Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs/ Playing w/ Fire series by Bruce Hale/ Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Wow, Justin, these are very thorough reviews! Thanks! A lot of guys like Spy School and that whole series gets checked out of our library all the time. Andrew Clements writes terrific books. You'll probably read Frindle some time in high or middle school but he has, as you can see, written other good stuff. And that was a great idea to give us related books for Spy School.

All right, guys, just as Chicago has created excitement by forcing a Game 6 of the World Series, Justin has created excitement by scoring points for his reviews--a Single for his No Talking review and a Double for Spy School, giving him a total of three points! That's a very good starting lead but I bet there are other guys out there who could hit some Doubles and Triples of their own--maybe even some Home Runs! Will YOU be the one? Send in those reviews and build the suspense in the World Series of Reading!

PS--check out Justin's terrific blog, Justin Talks Books.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

We Interrupt This World Series of Reading Contest--

--to bring you my annual Halloween rant. You may have seen it last year and the year before, in which I basically say that Halloween should be FUN. Scary, yes, but in a fun way. Not with all the gruesome stuff you see nowadays that would give nightmares to your nightmares. But enough about that--
I'm going to tell you about some books that are good for Halloween and are a whole lot of fun. And most of them are about Mad Scientists.

That's because the library has held a Community Read event in October. The grownups read the original Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a story about a scientist whose experiment worked--and with bad and unforeseen results. For kids, the library picked The Fourteenth Goldfish, a book about a scientist whose experiment succeeded but with unforeseen results. Were they bad? You have to figure that one out!

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Ellie's brilliant scientist grandfather, Melvin Sagarsky, (who has a fan club in Finland) has invented a serum that reverses aging. The problem is that it turned him into a 13-year-old boy! The police didn't believe he wasn't just a kid and took him to live with Ellie and her mom. But he still acts like a cranky old guy. And he has to go to middle school again. And he wants to let the Nobel committee about his wonderful invention. He's bound to get one--after all,  it would be great to be young forever, right? Right? Maybe...
This book had a good story that moved right along. It was fun to see the interaction between Ellie, her grandfather (looking like a kid) and Ellie's mom. It also brings up lots of good ideas for discussion and has lots of interesting info about notable scientists at the end.

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

Oh, man, now here's a book to bust your gut from laughing! Brilliant kid inventor Frank Einstein is living for a while with his brilliant scientist grandfather, Al Einstein. (not that Einstein!) Frank tries, like Victor Frankenstein, to create something living out of inanimate matter--in this case, a web camera, a Shop Vac, a jumbo kitchen trash can and other parts. Does he succeed? And can he actually create an endless supply of energy using matter/antimatter? The only way to find out is to read this terrific book! And you'll find laughs and thrills while reading, along with a chimp that spells "Peace out" in sign language, a robot that tells stupid jokes and a giant Antimatter Squirt Gun.

Science FairScience Fair by Dave Barry

Oh, man, what a GREAT audiobook! I heard this many years ago and never forgot it. One of the funniest things you will ever listen to. It would take too long to explain, so let me simply say that Dave Barry creates an amazing laugh ride out of a high school science fair and national security, spies from the country Krpshtskan (led by the dictator Grdankl the Strong) who become obsessed with shopping channels, a floating frog, a mysterious dude in the mall's science store who makes mysterious things happen, and the biggest Nuclear Mentos experiment of all time!

Frankenstein Takes The Cake

Frankenstein Makes A SandwichFrankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex

And I can't post about Frankenstein without mentioning these two oldies but really goodies. These are books of poems (yes, poems!) that will make any guy laugh out loud. In the first, we wonder what happens when the Invisible Man gets a haircut, who would tell Dracula he has something green stuck in his teeth and if The Phantom of the Opera gets "It's a Small World" out of his head. In the second, Frankenstein gets married. But why can't Dracula eat anything on the buffet? And what is on the Headless Horseman's blog? And why does no one go to Skull Island anymore? And why does Frankenstein really want a harpist at the wedding? These books have been around quite a while and they still get checked out. You truly owe it to yourselves to find out why!

OK, boys, these are perfect for Halloween or any time of year. Check them out and have  a fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Batter Up! And Readers Up!

OK, boys, the WORLD SERIES OF READING CONTEST starts today! Check out yesterday's post to see all the rules. We;'re waiting to see who knocks some out of the park!

Cleveland/Chicago--first time for a championship in a long time
And what a time to hold our contest! The World Series often has a lot of drama and this year it has started even before the first pitch has been thrown. That's because the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians are playing each other. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. To put that in perspective, Teddy Roosevelt was president and Henry Ford introduced the first Model T car! The
Cleveland Indians have won a little more recently--their last championship was 1948! To put that into perspective, Harry Truman was president and World War II had been over for only three years. 
People were driving these the last time the Cubs won a World Series!
This World Series promises to be memorable, so let's make this World Series of Reading one to remember! Good luck and send in those reviews.

Monday, October 24, 2016

World Series of Reading 2016!

Hey, boys, here's a great contest for you--the 2016 World Series of Reading! We had a fun March Madness of Reading seven months ago and I thought it's time for another contest. And what better time than the World Series!

All America used to watch the World Series

It's not so popular now but you wouldn't believe how big the World Series once was. It was all that people talked about. The whole nation hung on every game. I remember a time that our teacher brought a TV into our classroom so we could watch a game. The players weren't just stars, they were heroes. Some of the games became legends. Imagine the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals combined. That's how big it was. Now it gets beat in the ratings by Dancing with the Stars. Sad.

Which is all the more reason to hold a contest during the week of the World Series. Our contest will start tomorrow, Tuesday, October 25, and go on through Wednesday, November 2, which would be how long the Series would run if it went all seven games. The rules will be simple; you read books and then you send in a review of each book or audiobook. Each review is worth at least one point. Some will be worth more points. I'll count up the points after Nov. 2 and the three boys with the most points will win. What will the winners get? Well, I'll tell you about that in a couple of minutes.

So how does the contest work? I'm glad you asked. Boys can read anything you'd like--fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction or biographies. And for the first time, I'll include audioboks because they are so great. Any review you send is worth one point. That makes it a SINGLE.

However, there are some books that are other boys have told us about during the year and I'd to like see more boys read them. Or there are some books that are really good and don't get enough attention. Reviews of these books will be worth two points, making them DOUBLES. These books are:

Any in the Alvin Ho, Stick Dog, Spy School, Mysterious Benedict Society, Brixton Brothers or Ballpark Mysteries series or any graphic novel in the Fangbone series.


There are other books which are really good but longer and more challenging.  Reviews of these books will be worth three points, making them TRIPLES. These books are:

Stubby the War Dog
, Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze, any book in the Leviathan trilogy or any nonfiction book about the World Series.

And, for the first time, any review of an audiobook will be worth three points.

But wait--there's more! A review of any book in The Copernicus Legacy series or a review of The Boys in the Boat or The Fourteenth Goldfish (the library's Community Read book for kids) will be worth four points, making it a HOME RUN.

So what would it take for a GRAND SLAM? A review of The YearlingTreasure Island, or The Hound of the Baskervilles. These books are older and also more challenging but also much more rewarding, making each review worth five points.

All right, guys, those are the rules. I will start accepting reviews tomorrow until midnight on Nov. 2. I'll try my best to announce the winners on Thursday, Nov. 3. Remember, when you send in a review, be sure to include the title, author, a brief summary of the plot and why you did or didn't like the book. Don't just say, "This book was cool. I liked it." Tell us why you did. Or didn't. There are instructions on sending reviews in the "Here's How Our Blog Works" box on the right-hand side of the page. Or you could call me at the Myers Park library at 704-416-5800. Winners will get prizes our of our ultra-cool prize box, which contains mostly books. All of them are ultra-cool, of course, but there may be a surprise or two.

So step up to the plate, boys, and send in those reviews. I know it may be hard with school going on but I have faith in all you MANLY MEN out there! I can't wait to hear from you!

PS--if you want to find out more about any of the books I've mentioned, click on the title in the "labels" section under this post.