Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Fun Read for Halloween--or Anytime

Hey, guys, today is Halloween, one of the great guy holidays of the year. I mean, what other day can you get gobs of candy and not have one grownup tell you "No"? (although the smart grownups won't let you eat it all at once) Well, the Iron Guy thinks Halloween should be all about fun and I wrote a post about that last year. And I still believe it, so I'm going to tell you about a really fun book that's perfect for Halloween.

It's Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe. This book has been around for a long time (it  was published in 1979) but there's a good  reason why it's still  around--it's a very fun read! This is the story of a vampire bunny. Written by a dog. That's right! A vampire bunny and a dog that types. Told you this would be good. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Monroe family comes home one night (a dark and stormy night) from seeing a Dracula movie. At the theatre, the youngest boy found a little rabbit on a seat and they all brought it home. Both Harold, the family dog and Chester, the cat, are curious about the newcomer but Chester notices strange things about the bunny. It has markings that look like a cape. And it has something no bunny should have--fangs! Over the next few days, they see that the the bunny sleeps all day, stays awake all night and seems to get out of its cage without unlocking it. Then--beginning with the tomato, the thing with red juice--all the vegetables in the refrigerator turn white as if something had drained all the juice out of them! Oh, no! Could this cute little bunny really be a vampire??

Oh, boy, you will truly get a kick out of this book! It's funny, it's absorbing and it's a good quick read. It's funny because it's told from Harold's goofball dog perspective. It's absorbing because you really want to find out what's going to happen with Chester trying to convince his people there's a vampire rabbit in the house. And it's only 98 pages long, so it's the perfect read for any of you who are avid readers or what the grownups call a reluctant reader. Check it out--it's a perfect and fun read for the Halloween season or any time of year. And if you've read it, write in and tell us how you liked it.

PS--there is a whole series of Bunnicula books now, so dive right in and read them all!
PPS--in the Monroe family, the dad is a college professor and the mom is a lawyer. No wonder they have a dog smart enough to write and a cat who can read.
PPS--in the spirit of fun, tell me what your favorite Halloween candy is, even if you read this review a few days later. After all, any smart kid makes Halloween candy last until Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Becca and the Prisoner's Cross--These Books Just Keep Getting Better!

Wow. Some book series just get better and better with each new installment, even when you think they can't possibly get any better. That's the case with Becca and the Prisoner's Cross by the amazing Tony Abbott.This is the fourth book in this fantastic series and I'm just amazed at how good they are, how the thrills keep coming and the mysteries deepen.

By now the plot has gotten so complicated that it would take all day to summarize it. I'll just say that 500 years ago the great astronomer Nicholas Copernicus invented a time time but when the thoroughly evil Order of Teutonic Knights tried to get it, Copernicus took the machine apart and gave twelve pieces of it to Guardians for safekeeping. Galina Krause, the current head of the Order is obsessed with finding those Relics but Wade Kaplan, along with his family and friends, race around the world to stay one step ahead of the Order and retrieve those Relics. Galina is also obsessed with time travel in general. The Order had actually invented a machine of their own but it didn't work right.

That's important to know for this book. Becca Moore, one of Wade's friends got partially zapped by Kronos, the Order's time machine, so she goes back and forth in time. In the process, she learns some incredible things, especially about Crux, the fourth Relic. Of course, the Order and its bad guys are there at every turn, stopping at no bad deed to keep the Relic from Becca and company. And how does the Order know where they will be all the time? How could one family hope to outwit trained assassins? If Becca goes back in time, why does her body stay in the present? And she gets her most important information from---well, I don't want to spoil things by telling but your jaw will fall open when you find see!

There's plenty of danger, excitement, action and mystery for any reader here. Plus the kids have to solve arcane puzzles and codes to locate the Relic. Plus there's a lot about the mysteries and dangers and contradictions of time travel. Plus there's an emotional punch and depth to these characters that you don't always get in thrillers or scifi. And this is truly one the most unusual but successful marriages of scifi and thriller I've ever read.

I've got the next full-length book, The Golden Vendetta and can't wait to start it! If you're a fan, go find it. If you're not already a fan, don't waste any time but go check out the first book, The Forbidden Stone, and get all caught up in the world of The Copernicus Legacy!

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

PS--this is actually the second book in the Copernicus Archives books, which are sort of "in between" books. They take place between the full-length books and each one is narrated by one of the characters.  (Yes, it's a little complicated but, since this is an"in-between" this "second" book in this series is actually the fourth book in the overall story) But don't think you could skip these! A lot of important information comes out here.

PPS--there's a good Copernicus Legacy website.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library--a Fun Book

And what a fun book it was! And what a library it was! Holographic librarians, 10-foot tall images projected onto a Wonder Dome, anti-gravity boots that take you up to the top shelves of high bookcases--but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein.

In the little town of Alexandriaville, Ohio, the town's library was torn down twelve years ago but the
billionaire game designer Luigi Lemoncello has rebuilt it in the old bank building. As a grand opening, he will choose some kids to participate in a game--find a way out of the library within 24 hours after being locked in. (there's a good reason why he was so attached to that old library and decided to build the new one) But to get into the contest, each kid has to write an essay on why he or she should be chosen.
Kyle Keely, seventh grader, has played all of Mr. Lemoncello's board games and video games and would love to get into the grand opening game but forgot to write the essay. So, about 30 minutes before it's due, he scribbles down on one page. But guess what--he gets chosen! Along with his friends Akimi and Miguel, the cheerleader Haley Daley, the bookworm Sierra and spoiled rich kid Charles Chiltington. The whole town cheers as the kids go into the library for the game--and this is no ordinary library but a high-tech grand palace of a library, complete with marble floors, a cafe, holograms, a private suite with video games, and a basement where robotic arms retrieve books from the shelves. But getting out will be a lot tougher than they thought. Mr. Lemoncello is, to say the least, eccentric. They all have to decipher clues to get out and those clues lie in odd places all over that enormous library. And they are much more difficult to decode than expected. Can Kyle and friends even find them all? If they do, could they possibly understand those obscure references? And don't forget that bratty Charles Chiltington is planning to win and keep all the fabulous prizes for himself--and Chiltingtons never lose!

This was a very fun book. Chris Grabestein knows how to keep the action moving along. You also get a chance to figure out the clues along with the characters, which is always fun. (check out the puzzle in chapter 28)  I found myself really rooting for the characters, some of whom really need to win this contest. And there are references to other great books all over, as in chapter 36 when the kids ask Mr. Lemoncello the consequences of losing a round of a game and he says, "Something bad...In fact, something wicked will probably this way come." And you guys will just LOVE the eccentric and unpredictable Mr. Lemoncello, who will remind you a lot of Willy Wonka. How could you not like a guy who wears shoes that make burp-sqeeking noises! In short, this is a book guys would really enjoy. This guy did! Plus, there's a really cool interview with the author at the end of the book. So how could you lose? Check this one out, boys. And don't forget that it's the Community Read Book for this year.

So let me ask a couple of questions to start a community discussion:

Why is the town called "Alexandriaville"? (hint--it has to do with a library)

Remember Mr. Lemoncello's quote about "something wicked"? What book did it come from? And who was the author?

What would you rather have--a tour of Willy Wonka's candy factory or Mr. Lemoncello's library?

All, right, guys, can't wait to hear those answers!