Thursday, June 15, 2017

Most Memorable Books From the Last 10 Years--Part Two

OK, guys, you've seen Part One. Here is another list. Since there are so many, I'm simply going to list them without any comments and I'll put them into three categories. Look them up; our library system has plenty. If you want to learn more about them, check out the Labels section under this post. As I said in the last post, these may not necessarily be the best but they are what has impressed the Iron Guy the most over the last 10 years. (and, yes, other reader guys have enjoyed them as well!)

Most Memorable Nonfiction

The Boys in the Boat

Stubby the War Dog

Lincoln: A Photobiography

Howard Bryant's Legends books

The Last River

Most Memorable Graphic Novels

The Bone series

The Fangbone series

The Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series

The Lunch Lady series


Big Nate

The Alvin Ho series

The Brixton Brothers series

The Boys vs Girls series

The audiobook version of Science Fair

OK, once again, what do you think of this list? Do you agree this is a truly awesome list that should be remembered for the next 1000 years or is it the most bogus list ever assembled? And did I leave anything out? (Like the Wimpy Kid? There a good reason for that too)

Write in and let me know what you think! Hopefully, there are a few of your favorites in here. And if not, maybe you'll find something that will become a new favorite of yours!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Most Memorable Books From the Last 10 Years--Part One

Hey, everybody, I appreciate all the kind comments on the last post. If no one minds, I will take the next two or three posts to talk about some of my favorite reads from the last 10 years. Plus, I'll post lists from a couple of blogging friends. Now the Iron Guy has read a lot of books over that time and could probably pull up a list ten pages long but I will spare you that. Instead, I'm going to tell you about the books that jump immediately to mind. You know how it is--if someone asked you, "What are your favorite movies?" you would come with a bunch without even thinking about it. Same thing here. If you asked me, "What have been your favorite reads over the last ten years?",
this this is what I would say immediately:

(PS--These aren't in any order and the sizes of the pictures don't mean I liked one better than any other)

The first Percy Jackson series (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

What can I say? Boys everywhere LOVE these books!! Maybe my top favorite of all.

The Barnstormers/Sluggers series

Haven't read them? You should. A really unique blend of baseball, history and fantasy.
(For some reason, they changed the name of the series from "Barnstormers" to "Sluggers" halfway through the series)

The Copernicus Legacy (and The Copernicus Archives)

Man. Oh. Man. Thrills, more thrills, mystery, time travel and one of the most memorable villains ever!

The Yearling

The Yearling

Possibly the best book none of you boys have read. An epic story that grabbed me like few others have. A great story about growing from boyhood to mature manhood.

Treasure Island

The best pirate story ever written! Yeah, it's from a long time ago but the language isn't much different from today's and I bet you wouldn't have much trouble with it.

The Leviathan trilogy

Walking mechanical war machines, genetically-altered animals as war machines, alternate history of WWI--how great is this??

The Brixton Brothers Mysteries

Good mysteries and funny, funny, funny! And the audiobook versions by the great Arte Johnson are terrific.

The Boys vs Girls series

These also are funny, funny, funny but also--well, there are no big dramatics, no space battles, no evil wizards but one of the best stories I've ever read about boys (and girls) living out their everyday lives, going to school, getting into or out of trouble and doing things we all could relate to. I want to live in this town! Plus, the ending gave me the strongest reaction I've had to any of these series.

OK, I'm not saying these are the best of the last 10 years but they are the ones that I've enjoyed the most. Do you agree? Or not? Have I left something out?
(Like Harry Potter? There's a good reason) If you agree with this list or if you don't, write a comment in the Comments section under this post. We love to hear what other people think!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ten Years and Still Here!!

Yesterday the Iron Guy celebrated a historic event and guess what--today is a historic event as well. Well, maybe it's not as important to world history as yesterday's event, which was D-Day, but hopefully it's been important to some of you reader guys out there. And maybe some of you grownups as well. I'm referring to---

The 10-year anniversary of the


The first book I reviewed on this blog--and it's still terrific!
Yes, it may be hard to believe but the first time the Iron Guy ever posted on this blog was on June 7, 2007. You can read the original post here and guess what--you can still find most of those books in our library system! And they're just as good now as they were back then.

This was when blogging was a relatively new thing in the cyber world. In fact, the whole cyber universe had undergone a big revolution in 2006 with the Web 2.0. Before then, the Internet was slow (do any of you grownups remember using Netscape?) and you couldn't do a lot of things we don't even think about now. So I got excited about blogging, especially about blogging about books that boys would like.  (there was very little of that then)  And, rather than create a static website, I wanted to do a blog in which people could comment and boys could send in reviews of books they liked so that other boys could not only find good stuff to read but also realize that there are other boys out there who also think that reading is very cool. 

Carl, Zach and Bill back in the day
Back then, I worked with my good friend Bill. He was my coblogger. (you'll see his first reviews on the original post) Bill was a lot of fun, wrote good reviews and was also a Sith lord. After a while our good friend Zack, who worked at a different library location, came on board. He also wrote cool reviews, was a lot of fun and was a Jedi master. Once we all read and reviewed the same book together, sometimes did we did programs together and sometimes there was Sith/Jedi taunting. (that meant I had to bring balance to the Force) Zach and Bill have gone on to other things and places but the memories remain. (and I still hear from them from time to time)

Ah, memories!

There's a whole lot more I could say but it would take waaaayyyyy too much time and space, so I'll break it up and post about favorite books, memories and such throughout the month of June. In the meantime, I intend to continue to carry this blog's original mission, which was (and still is) to be "A place for boys to find terrific books and tell other boys about great reading."

Thanks for being there and I hope that you'll continue to come along with me. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Was D-Day?


What a story!

Guys, I know all of you like the Who Was... and the What Was... series of books. And with good reason. They're informative, they're interesting and they're quick reading. They tell really good stories from true life and the writing always makes the story flow so well that you want to keep reading to the end without stopping. Well, this one, What Was D-Day by Patricia Brennan Demuth, is even better than most of the others because of the story it tells. It's about an amazing and incredible event. D-Day. The invasion of Europe in World War II. And most of the people who participated weren't that much older than a lot of you boys!

We all know who Hitler was and why we had to liberate Europe from him. But he had no intention of letting the good guys stop him. Of course, he knew that one day we'd come ashore fighting, so he built bunkers, laid mines and put up barbed wire over many beaches in what he called "Fortress Europe" to halt the inevitable invasion at the start. BUT---he didn't know where or when that would be. That's where this incredible story begins. There was a lot of planning involved, including a lot of ways to fool the Nazis. Wait until you read about the inflatable "tanks" or the spy named Garbo! Then the day came--and it seemed that everything that could have gone wrong went really wrong. The whole invasion--and the chance to liberate Europe--seemed doomed until some brave men took desperate chances. Read the stories of First Lieutenant William Moody, who climbed up a steep cliff using only his bayonet, or General Norman "Dutch" Cota who left the safety of his ship to personally lead the troops to the enemy positions.

This is a great story and deserves to be remembered, especially today, June 6, the day that it happened. If you've never read about D-Day, prepare to be moved by this heroic story. Or if you've heard or read about it for a long time, you'll still learn things you never knew. Just like I did. This is one truly terrific read and you won't forget it. In fact, you'll understand these group of soldiers became known as the Greatest Generation.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fun, Weird and True Sports Facts

Second day of June greetings, everyone! It's a new month, so the Iron Guy thought he'd get back to his resolution of telling you about more sports books. And I've got a couple of doozies today! These are great fun and you can read them quickly. (they're what I call Good Quick Reads) Both of them are about weird and funny facts from sports and many of them will either make you laugh or shake your head and say, "No! Not possible! Nooo! Noooooo!!!" Or maybe you'll do both.

The first one is from the famous Dan Gutman, who has not only written the My Weird School series but is also a big sports fan. And here he combines both in one book. It's My Weird School Fast Facts: Sports. In this one, A. J. and Andrea tell us amazing but absolutely true brief stories and facts from baseball, football, basketball, hockey and other sports. For example, you could find out:
  • Which sport was played on the moon?
  • Why do NASCAR drivers lose 10-15 pounds during each race?
  • What country trained bears to play hockey?
  • Who was the shortest NBA player ever? (hint--he used to play for the Charlotte Hornets!)
If you like My Weird School (and what guy doesn't?), like to learn new things (and what guy doesn't?) and have a lot of fun (ditto), then you need to find this book!

Weird But True SportsThen we have the National Geographic Kids Weird but True Sports: 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletes book. It has a much simpler format--pages with eye-catching graphics or photos and on or three odd and fun sports facts on each page. And what wacky facts you'll learn!
  • "You can watch ostrich races in South Africa"
  • "Runner Fauja Singh completed a marathon at the age of 101"
  • "U.S. Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were all former cheerleaders" (you'll also learn that all cheerleaders used to be guys!)
And wait until you see the photo of the guy riding a unicycle on the Great Wall of China!
So, guys, check these out, have a few chuckles and find out some things you never knew before!

PS--there is one inacuracy. The National Geographic book says that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. That story is an often-repeated myth. The truth is that 15-year Michael was only 5'10" and too short to make the varsity team, so he went on the JV team. The next year, however, he had a 4-inch growth spurt and make the varsity team. And after that, of course, went on to make basketball history. So if you don't believe something in one of these books, go and do the research. That's what MANLY MEN do!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Part Two: Memories of Star Wars Episode IV--or, Yes, Han Solo Shot First!

Today is the day that changed everything, guys. 40 years ago on this day, a movie opened that not only brought a new level of excitement the moribund (look that word up, guys!) movie industry but also into the lives of boys everywhere. I'm talking, of course, about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Today, the Iron Guy will talk about his memories of seeing that movie. (and, believe me, boys, it DOES seem like "A long time ago")

Here's the poster for that first one-notice that it doesn't say "A New Hope"
Let me give you a little background. First, the Iron Guy has been a sci-fi fan for a long time---in fact, ever since he was a fifth-grade Iron Boy. That was when a librarian pointed me to the fiction shelves
(I had been reading only nonfiction at the time--which is a phase a lot of boys go through) and I found a copy of The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree by Louis Slobokin and was thoroughly hooked. I read a few other sci-fi and fantasy books as well as DC and Marvel comics over the years and watched the original Star Trek as it came on but there was very little sci-fi to read and extremely little to watch, especially at the movies. And the few sci-fi movies that came along were terrible. So imagine how excited I got when I heard that a new sci-fi movie was the biggest hit in the nation!

Secondly, in 1977 the movie industry was in a real slump. There were a lot of, what a friend called, "Life Stinks" movies--depressing grownup movies about how life is no good. Movies were no fun. Plus, I grew up with a lot of BIG movie theatres. There were old movie palaces that showed films on ginormous screens that made going to a movie a grand and special event. But they all started closing up around 1975 because there weren't any good movies. 

Doesn't this sound like Han Solo?
THEN--out of the clear blue came this FUN movie that imitated the style of the old Flash Gordon movie serials of the 1930's. There was action! Amazing (for the time) special effects! A wise-cracking princess with a blaster! A cynical semi-criminal with a heart of gold, like Humphrey Bogart in Casbalanca. (have you seen that one, guys? PS--I got this link from Tumblr)) And, in the best tradition of the old movies, the bad guys wore black and the good guys wore white. Everyone was excited about seeing it.

Including the Iron Guy. I went with a friend,  another sci-fi fan, one afternoon a week or two after it opened. And it was indeed fun. Of course, part of the enjoyment for me was predicting what would happen. Having read a lot of comics, I knew that this movie was like a big comic-book story and I knew how the story would go. I knew the bad guys would blow up Alderaan even when they said they wouldn't. I knew Darth Vader would strike down Obi-Wan and, when Luke was making his last approach through the trench, I said to myself, "A disembodied voice will come out of nowhere and tell Luke to use the Force." and sure enough...

But it was great fun. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that, when it was over, we looked at each other and said, :Let's see it again!" So we did. We stayed in our seats and waited until the next showing and saw it all over! Yes, that wasn't the most honest thing to do and I wouldn't do it again today (besides, they wouldn't let you) but things were a lot looser in those days and guys did it fairly often. In the end, by gong to see it with other friends, I saw that movie 10 times within a month! Whew! Of course, I've been a huge fan ever since. As a lot of guys have been, still are and will be for a long time. 

So that's my memory. Thanks for letting me talk for such a long time. Why don't YOU share your memories of seeing this terrific movie? Write something in the Comments section.
PS--This movie wasn't called "A New Hope" until many years later.
PPS--and in the original version--that I saw 10 times--Han Solo DID shoot first!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Part One--Memories of Star Wars Episode IV

Hey, guys, tomorrow is the day!! On May 25, 1977 the first Star Wars movie opened, so, in honor of that momentous event, the Iron Guy is devoting a few days to posting memories from different guys about the first time they saw Star Wars Episode IV.
The original Star Wars poster
Today we have a treat. Not just one but two great guys will tell us about seeing the movie the first time. Our first memory is from Mr. Lee Keesler, the CEO of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and a truly cool guy.

Mr. Keesler
In 1977 I was one year removed from college and headed to MBA school.  I remember vividly seeing the first Star Wars movie in the theatre.  I developed a short-lived mini-crush on Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) which was later extinguished when she tried to take out Jake and Elwood Blues with a bazooka strike under the EL tracks in Chicago (Blues Brothers).

I was impressed with the creativity of R2D@ and C3PO, and the dark genius of James Earl Jones’ voice of Darth Vader.

Finally, I was taken with the role of O-bi-Won-Konobi and have used him as a metaphor many time in professional settings.

While not its biggest fan, Stars Wars served to bring me back to the movies in my 20s.  The fact that it lives and thrives today is evidence of its cinematic excellence.   

Oh, yes, nobody sounds as menacing as James Earl Jones! O-bi-Wan really is a good role model but I prefer Yoda because he is not only wise and handy with a light saber but he can also  lift an X-wing star ship out of a swamp and talk in backwards sentences.

Mr. Singleton
The next memory is from Mr. David Singleton, another very cool guy and the Director of Libraries for our system.

I saw the first Star Wars movie in 1978, as a freshman in college at UNC-Chapel Hill.   There were still long lines at the theater on Franklin Street more than a year after the first release.   From the first few frames, I was hooked on the characters and the story, and the special effects were truly awe-inspiring for the time.   I saw the film two more times in less than a week!    May the Force be with you! 

The Force is always with the Iron Guy! Wow, seeing three times in a week. Pretty impressive!. (the Iron Guy has a similar memory that he'll talk about tomorrow) Thank you both for sharing your stories. 

 How about YOU out there? Do you have any memorable memories of seeing this movie? Leave it in the Comments section below and I'll post them.