Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Justin Tells Us About Spy School!

Guess what, guys? A new friend has sent us a review! His name is Justin, he's 14 (almost) and he has quite a story. He used to hate reading; in fact, he was "that kid who would read short 20 page nonfiction books for my weekly assignment." Then he found the book Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale and was hooked. Since then he has read lots of other stuff and now runs a blog about books! (like the Iron Guy) That blog is called Justin Talks Books and you can visit it here. He has run the blog for two years and is a particular fan of Stuart Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs even gave Justin a special shout-out once. How cool is that! Justin will tell us about one of Mr. Gibbs's most popular books.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Spy SchoolSummary: 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

Thanks, Justin! We really appreciate it. Stuart Gibbs is a popular author with guys. Our friend Reid told us about this book back in March. I may have to look up some of his books myself. Please keep in touch and send us more reviews.

All right, boys, this is a good start to summer! School is almost over and there will be lots of fun stuff to do but don't forget that reading is one of them. As you can see from Justin's story, reading is a great thing for guys. So write in and tell us over the summer what books, graphic novels, biographies or nonfiction you're reading. After all, the Iron Guy (and Justin and Reid and lots of other boys) believe that--


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Break = Summer Fun!

HomeHey guys, I guess I don't need to tell you that summer is almost here! Our guy radar is already picking up the end of school and the beginning of summer fun. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has also kept its radar out for summer and we've got something great to keep you reading and having fun. It's our new Summer Break program. (it's what we called Summer Reading in years past) We've changed it up a bit. You can get credit for reading, of course, but you also get credit for doing other cool things. You can also read, write, create, explore, play and give. At the end of 20 hours of doing such fun stuff (10 hours of it would be reading), you get a free book! You also get a coupon for a free Junior Frosty at Wendy's and a $5.00 fine waiver card (which means you can escape $5.00 in overdue fees) for signing up. Does this sound good? You bet! Got more questions? I'm sure you do. Check out the Summer Break website to find out more and to sign up. (and, guys, be sure to tell your parents they can sigh up too!)

The Iron Guy loves reading, of course, but is also excited that we can do other things as part of Summer Break. Here are some things I plan to do:

Keeping up my MANLY physique

Engaging in mortal combat with killer barbarian animals

Transporting myself back in time to train with other Ancient Greek demigods

Yep, it sounds like this will be a great summer. Sign up for Summer Break, boys, and start Living Summer to the Fullest!