Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Artemis Fowl: Fun Book Series for Boys (and Girls)

Sunday, January 17th, 2010


artemisfowlbookcover

Review of Artemis Fowl Books

Why is it so hard to find good books for tween boys?  When my 6th-grade daughter goes to the library, we come out with stacks and stacks of books. But when I take my 4th-grade son, we often come out empty-handed. Or we get a book, he reads a few pages, and pronounces it “boring.”

When he is hooked on a book series, however, he can’t get enough.  Recently he just finished two book series for boys he loved: Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Ranger’s Apprentice.  My daughter mentioned that boys in her class liked a series called Artemis Fowl. So at a recent trip to the library I checked out the first two Artemis Fowl books.

I starting reading the first book just to see what it was about, and I could not put it down. Within a couple of days I was back at the library getting the rest of the series and all three of us devoured them.

Kudos to the author, Eoin Colfer, for plots, characters, and action and humor that appealed to all of us.

Colfer’s hero (or perhaps anti-hero) Artemis is a super-bright, rich, articulate 12-year-old with supreme confidence.  He is also a criminal mastermind intent on amassing an even greater fortune. The kid comes up with brilliant plots, and his buff bodyguard Butler, who is trained in martial arts and carries array of lethal high-tech gadgets, helps him to carry them out.

When we first meet Artemis, he is planning to rob gold from fairies. But these are not your typical fairies. “Die Hard with fairies” is how Irish author Eoin Colfer describes his books.  His magical beings are an advanced civilization with amazing technology and powerful weapons.

Colfer’s inventive plots have tons of twists and surprises that pull you through the adventures.

The settings include Fowl Manor, where the Artemis has a mansion any boy would envy, various places around the world Artemis flies to in his private jet, and the Lower Elements, the world inhabited magical beings, which Colfer describes in rich detail.

Readers come to know quirky, charismatic characters with an edge, among them:

Artemis Fowl, a preteen prodigy with a huge bank account and the toughest bodyguard in the world. Although he is greedy and ruthless, Artemis can do the right thing at times. He is still figuring out his place in the moral order.

Domovoi Butler, a loyal bodyguard with cool weapons who has no problem taking orders from a 12-year-old.

Captain Holly Short
, a gutsy female LEPrecon officer who sometimes bends the rules to save the day

Foaly, a wise-cracking techie centaur who is a genius in his own right coming up with amazing gadgets that give his side an edge

Mulch Diggums, a dwarf thief who uses explosive flatulence to help tunnel his way into places through impenetrable.

Opal Koboi, Foaly’s nemesis, an evil genius pixie who comes up with diabolical (and extremely clever) plans to rule the world

Accelerated Reading and Artemis Fowl Books
The Artemis Fowl books have accelerated reader tests.  The accelerated reading interest level is between 5 and 6AR Points for Artemis Fowl books range from 10-13.  Adults will enjoy them as well.

Artemis Fowl Movie
A film based on the first two books is reportedly in development. A script has been written, but the film been delayed several times.

Artemis Fowl Series Books

Artemis Fowl (book 1)

Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

Other Artemis Fowl books
The Artemis Fowl Files (2004)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (2007)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Arctic Incident (2009)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Eternity Code (20xx)

My son, almost 10,  ranks the Percy Jackson and Ranger’s series above Artemis Fowl, but I think I actually liked the Artemis Fowl series better.  Lots of humor and wit with likable characters and inventive plots.  Action packed but not scary.  Artemis Fowl books rate among the best books for middle school boys. Let me know if you like Artemis Fowl, and if you have other books to recommend to this age group.

If you read the first book in the Artemis fowl series, you will want to read them all.  Amazon a boxed set of the first five Artemis Fowl books. The set would make a great gift for a tween boy.

LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

related posts:

My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

My review of the Percy Jackson series

Battle of the Boys Books: Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

Lego Rock Band Review

Ranger’s Apprentice Series: Book Review

Thursday, January 14th, 2010


Rangersapprentice

Rangers Apprentice Book Series: Suspenseful Adventure for Boys (and the rest of us)

The fantasy genre is hot in literature right now, which is good news for tween boys. My 10-year-old son raves about the Ranger Apprentice books by Australian writer John Flanagan, which make new twists of Medieval tales of knights and castles. When he finishes one book, he can’t wait for the next. Many of his peers at school are reading it as well. The Ranger Apprentice series has been on the New York Times bestsellers list and has sold more than a million copies in the US alone. The books have sold a million more copies in other countries, and is the number 1 book in the the author’s native Australia.

I started reading them to see why he loved them and I love them, too. So they are not just for adolescent boys!

rangersapprenticebook1

The Ranger’s Apprentice books are an epic tale about Will, a orphan small in size, who has always dreamed of becoming a knight, like the father he never knew. Instead, he is adopted into the mysterious Ranger corps. Will is joined on fast-paced adventures to defend the kingdom by his mentor, Halt, and his best friend, Horace, among others. With his crossbow and a couple of knives, Will battles fierce enemies, overcomes suspenseful obstacles, and learns that what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, agility, intelligence and courage. Honesty and loyalty also matter.

The plot keeps you on the edge, wondering what is going to happen next. While reading the adventure, young readers learn about Medieval life with surprising accuracy.

Flanagan’s take on feudal good-versus-evil does not depend on tons of magical creatures to keep the reader interested, but rather plain old good writing. The books have suspenseful well-paced plots, sympathetic characters with interesting relationships, and detailed, colorful descriptions of Medieval times.

Critics have praised the books, as have Amazon readers who submitted exceptional reviews. I’d love to know what you think of Ranger’s Apprentice books.

rangersapprenticebook3

Will there be a Ranger’s Apprentice movie? United Artists reportedly paid seven figures to option the film rights, and it was supposed to come out in 2010 with Paul Haggis directing, but may have had funding problems. No word yet when it may come out.

Google Preview now allows you to get a limited preview of many books so I have embedded a preview for the first Ranger’s Apprentice. To get a real sense of the book, though, preview chapter 2 (not just chapter 1) because it is more representative of the tone and style of the series. The first chapter is not as good as the rest. To preview, just click on Google Preview button below.


If you are buying a Ranger’s Apprentice book as a gift, consider Amazon’s deal on The Ranger’s Apprentice Collection. Reviews of the Reviews of Amazon’s Ranger’s Apprentice Collection have been high. This collection would be one of the best gifts for a boy, and you get the first three books in the series for the price of one inexpensive toy.

Flanagan has written 10 books in the series. Seven have been released in the U.S. so far.

The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)

The Burning Bridge (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2)

The Icebound Land: Book Three (Ranger’s Apprentice)

The Battle for Skandia: Book Four (Ranger’s Apprentice)

The Sorcerer of the North: Book Five (Ranger’s Apprentice)

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of Macindaw: Book 6

Erak’s Ransom (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 7)

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel: Book 8

Halt’s Peril (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 9)

The Emperor of Nihon-Jin This book is not available on Amazon yet.

Note that the books come out in Australia first.  The last one to come out in the U.S. is book 7, Erak’s Ransom, which came out in January, 2010. The later books have not been released in the U.S., although you may be able to get them from sellers who import them and re-sell them.  We were lucky enough to have a friend visiting Australia and she bought them in a bookstore there for us. Check the links above to order through Amazon.

Books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series have Accelerated Reading tests available, so if your school uses AR tests, you can get points. They have an interest level ranging from middle grade to upper grade, usually a high 6 or 7. Taking a test and getting the answers right will earn you 12-14 AR points.

My son would definitely put these books on a best books for boys list. I’ve found these books often have waiting lists at the library, so be sure to get the next one in the series if it is available. You may have to put your name on a waiting list. Because they are popular, they can also be hard to find in stock in bookstores.

Related posts:
Percy Jackson & the Olympians book series review
Percy Jackson & the Olympians vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

Artemis Fowl book series review

How to Get free Tickets to Legoland California

Review of a Great Surf School in Northern San Diego, CA

Percy Jackson Book Series: Review

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010


Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Greek Mythology Meets Modern 12-year-old

Lightening Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series


My almost 10-year-old son and his friends all love the Percy Jackson series, in which a young boy helps the Greek Gods battle mythological monsters in modern-day America.  My son has read almost all the books (we still gotta get the latest that just came out) and can’t wait to see the movie when it comes out next month.

The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by bestselling-author Rick Riordan is about a 12-year-old kid who figures out  is a demigod . . . his mom is human, but his dad, (who left his mom before he was born) was a god.  Percy has to solve the mystery of his identity and discover what powers he possesses.  Percy and his demigod friends train in the ways of the Greek gods at Camp Half-Blood. They end up helping to save the world by fighting a seriously powerful bad guy, the titan lord Kronos and his mythological monsters. In the first book of the series, The Lightning Thief, Percy and his pals journey across the US to catch a thief who stole Zeus’ master lightening bolt. Other books in the series present Percy with other tough challenges. They all come complete with characters straight out of Greek mythology.  What’s fun is to see how Riordan devises ways for the mythological creatures to act in our time and to see how a typical 12-year-old would act with mythological powers. Along the way, of course, Percy learns things about himself.

The book is written from Percy’s point of view, complete with phrases and attitudes typical of a 12-year-old. Percy is just a guy with all the insecurities and issues any boy might have, but he is also a powerful superhero. My son and all his friends in 4th, 5th and 6th grade love these clever, fast-paced books.  The Percy Jackson series has garnered tons of awards and been on best-seller lists. A top choice for boys who love adventure, although girls might like it, too.  The books are on the Accelerated Reader lists, so if your school uses AR tests, you can get AR points for reading them. The first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, has an AR interest level for middle grade students, a book level of 4.7 and possible AR points of 13.

An added learning bonus: kids learn all about Greek mythology.

The movie—The first book is being made into a movie, now in post-production, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by 20th Century Fox, scheduled for release February 12, 2010. The title role is played by Logan Lerman, 18, of Beverly Hills. Filming took place in Vancouver, Canada, but portions of filming also took place in Nashville, Tennessee, at a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens. A second film on the next book in the series is also planned. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters is scheduled to be released sometime in 2012.

You can sign up now at Amazon to be notified when the DVD or Blu-Ray of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is available.

A Percy Jackson Video Game for Nintendo based on the first book and movie is also out. The video game is a tactical role-playing game for Nintendo DS that puts players in command of Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods as they battle for survival in a world ruled by vengeful Greek gods. Several Percy Jackson toys based on the books and movie are also out.

The Percy Jackson Books
The Lightning Thief
The Sea of Monsters
The Titan’s Curse
The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Last Olympian

By the way, Amazon has a great deal on a box set of the first three books.

Related posts:
Ranger’s Apprentice book series review
Percy Jackson & the Olympians vs. Ranger’s Apprentice
Artemis Fowl book series review

Math Doesn’t Suck Book Review

Friday, October 9th, 2009


My husband and I got a kick out of watching re-runs of the Wonder Years a few years ago.  One of the best things about the show was cute little Winnie Cooper, played by actress Danica McKellar. So John was excited when he heard she wrote a book aimed young girls called Math Doesn’t Suck.  He ran out and got a copy for our daughter, Shea.

The book is aimed at middle school girls and somehow it makes math fun and relevant for this tough audience. Tonight Danica visited Harvey Mudd College to give a talk and John (who teaches at Pomona College, another of the Claremont Colleges) took Shea to hear her and have her booked signed.

Wow!   They both came home so inspired by Danica.

Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper) and my daughter Shea, 11.

Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper) and my daughter Shea, 11.

I recommend this book for any girl in fifth grade through high school.  McKellar has another book out as well, aimed more at the high school market. And I think a third book is in the works.

Lego Stars Wars The Visual Dictionary Book Review

Friday, October 9th, 2009


Just Out: A Must-Have Book for Every Star Wars Lego Fan!

This book is sure to become a collector’s item . . . and it comes with a special mini-figure!

Just out in time for the holidays is a new visual dictionary of Star Wars Lego. My son’s room is filled with Star Wars Legos sets, and he is going to love this book when he unwraps it.  The book has lush photos of all the Star Wars sets and mini-figures.

I got mine at the Lego Store the day it came out and was very impressed. The store had promotional games and even people dressed up in top-notch clone trooper costumes. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Lego Store nearby, but it also at bookstores, Lego.com and Amazon. If you know a kid who loves Star Wars Legos, get this book and get your holiday shopping done early. The book is reasonably priced as well.

The book comes with a cool mini figure. The mini figure and the book itself are bound to become collector’s items.

Product Description
In true DK style, LEGO® Star Wars ™: The Visual Dictionary elucidates, illuminates, and
excites even the most discerning LEGO Group, Star Wars™, and minifigure fans around the
world.. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and more are brought to life with
dozens of little-known facts and hundreds of photos, as are accessories, vehicles, weapons,
and even the Death Star! Learn about the history, manufacture, and construction of the
minifigures of the Star Wars galaxy, and come away a LEGO® Jedi Master.

Product Details

* Reading level: Ages 4-8
* Hardcover: 96 pages
* Publisher: DK Publishing (October 5, 2009)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0756655293
* ISBN-13: 978-0756655297
* Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 10 x 0.9 inches

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book, Love it!, October 7, 2009
By L. A. REED
Very nice hardback book with lots of stunning pictures of what else? Star Wars Legos!

We are big fans of Legos in general and this book did not disappoint. It came with a bonus Luke Skywalker mini-figure. As with all DK books, you get great pictures, thorough descriptions, and just a generally enjoyable book to collect or read.

I bought 2 copies of this book, one to read, and one to collect.

The only thing that bothered me a (very tiny) little bit was how the Luke Skywalker mini-fig was packaged. At first glance it looks like a much thicker book, but about half of the thickness is a spacer placed inside the book to make room for the mini-fig, so it lays flush with the front cover. I posted some pictures on the main item page if you want to see what I mean. Nothing that I would knock a star off for though.

Overall, we are VERY happy with this book. Great price for a quality book that will not disappoint young and old!

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Lego Star Wars Fans and Collectors, October 7, 2009
By Wendy Woudstra “PublishingCentral.com” (Ontario, Canada) -
My son adores Lego, and the Star Wars sets in particular. When this book arrived in our mailbox, he was gone for hours, hiding in his room poring over all the sets he has, the sets he wants, the sets he missed out on, the evolution of the various mini-figures, everything else included in this volume. While this book would NOT be appreciated by someone who isn’t a die-hard fan of the LEGO series, for those who collect, play with, and love the sets, it’s a great book at a great price.

The only problem with the book is that it will be out of date as soon as next season’s Lego Star Wars sets are announced.

On a final note, I didn’t realize when I ordered that it also came with a unique minifig, which is already selling on Ebay for more than the discounted price of the book.

Related post: Darth Maul Picking His Nose


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