Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John H. Ritter


   Rating: *****
   Genres: Sports, realistic fiction
       Pages: 216
I am not a baseball fan. When my parents drag me to one of my brothers' games, I bring a book. But that didn't stop me from loving The Boy Who Saved Baseball. Dillontown has always been a dusty old town in the middle of the California desert, completely unremarkable aside from the way town life revolves around baseball. But as soon as Doc, the baseball field's owner, sells his land to developers, Dillontown will become just another urban sprawl. None of the kids want their beloved baseball field cleared, so Tom tries to talk Doc out of selling. Doc agrees  to keep Dillontown as it is-if the baseball team can win their next game. That would be a good plan, except
1: The other team has a lot more practice
2: And better equipment
3: Dillontown's team sucks (especially Tom)
4: Everybody blames Tom for the impossible odds
5: The game is in exactly one week
That means Tom has seven days to put together a brilliant training program, convince a reclusive former baseball star to coach his team, work up the courage to talk to his crush, and defy an ancient Death and Doom prophecy hinting they might lose the game.
I have to admit that when my parents first popped in the audiobook, I thought, so what if their old baseball field gets the bulldozer? They can build a new, not-so-broken one. But as the book went on, I was able to see what made Dillontown so special, why the rugged, barren landscape mattered. And, most importantly, why a team of ten kids are willing to fight so hard for their town and field.
 Tom is a shy, quiet protagonist. There were times when I was so preoccupied with Crux, a mysterious stranger who rides into town (literally) and brings his superb baseball skills with him, that I almost forgot Tom existed.
If I can be so completely drawn into a book about a sport I don't particularly care about, I think you will enjoy it, too. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Billionaire's Curse

   Rating: ***1/2
   Genre: Realistic fiction, fantasy
   Pages: 352
   Series: First of a trilogy. Are all series trilogies nowadays?
  Gerald is a normal Australian boy who enjoys drawing, rock climbing, and staring at a special girl in his history class. But everything changes when his parents get him from school to fly halfway around the world to a great aunt he never met. It turns out that Great Aunt Geraldine (his parents name him Gerald to suck up to her) was very, very, very, rich and left most of her fortune to Gerald. This makes Gerald's parents very happy. They get on Gerald's new yacht to go to Gerald's new island in the Caribbean and leave him in the care of his new creepy butler. Even worse, it seems that Geraldine was murdered, and she left him a mystery to solve. Now Gerald and his new British friends, Sam and Ruby, are racing across England through mansions and secret underground tunnels. They only have a few days to solve a mystery involving the world's largest diamond, Gerald's strange magical powers, and a strange, skinny man with a knife.
     What I love most about this book is how the author was able to mix in a dash of magic without making the story revolve around fantasy. I also enjoyed the action and comedy. Who knew Ruby's gymnastics skills could come in handy while sneaking into a mansion?

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Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic by Suzanne Weyn


Rating: *****
Genre: ghosts, romance, historical fiction, sci fi
Pages: 330
     Jane, an aspiring newspaper writer, lives in a boring small town with her mother and four sisters. Sure, it's a small town populated almost entirely by supposed psychics and mediums, but a small town nonetheless. When her oldest sister, Mimi, decides to take a "short trip" to New York City, Jane is more than happy to join her. There Jane encounters two very interesting people: Tesla, a mad scientist working on a time machine, and Thad, his cute assistant.
    As the title suggests, Jane, her sisters, Tesla, and Thad all end up on the Titanic. Jane is trying to enjoy luxurious ship with Thad and ignore her psychic sister Amelie's prediction that the Titanic won't complete the voyage. But when tragedy strikes, more than one of Jane's loved ones will be out of time.
    This is one of my all time favorite books. I love how the author was able to mix so many genres and make it work. I also like the amount of historical details. Jane's small town is based on a real community and many of the details about Tesla are true. I would recommend this book to almost everybody, as it has something everyone can enjoy.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch

      Rating: ***1/2
      Genre: sci fi
      Pages: 480    
      Also published as The Accidental Hero. Why do they change titles like that? It's so annoying.
     Jack, it was just another dreary day in the orphanage until two visitors showed up. The first is a robot zombie that tries to kill him. The next one if Agent Jazen Knight, an android from a secret island country called the Imagine Nation. Jazen tells Jack he has superpowers and whisks him off to the Imagine Nation.
     The Imagine Nation is a very diverse place. It is populated by aliens, robots, superheroes, knights, and ninjas, among other things. As different as they may be, they all have one thing in common: they think Jack is an evil alien-in-disguise intent on destroying earth.
    Well, all might not be the most accurate word. There are five or six people who think he's just an innocent twelve-year-old boy. Luckily, some of these people are the Imagine Nation's leaders, so Jack gets to live and practice his newfound powers. Jack meets some friends, makes some enemies, blasts a few aliens, and tries to convince everybody that he isn't an evil supervillain. But something doesn't seem quite right about the Imagine Nation. Jack is forced to take matters into his own hands and discovers a life changing secret.
     Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation is an interesting book with a shocking twist ending. I wish I could tell you, but you'll have to read it yourself.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

     Book Rating: *****
     Clean rating: *****
     Genre: romance, sci fi
     Series: First of a trilogy
     Pages: 400
     Sometimes prologues reveal things about the story to come. But this one just draws us deeper into the mystery. It mysteriously describes a young, innocent prisoner who is sentenced to walk through a foreboding black door. Though the door is not attached to anything, the prisoner simply vanishes into midair.
     Abby is having a successful, if somewhat boring, senior year. She has college applications in the mail, two great friends by her side, a cute boyfriend, and a school play to direct. On weekends, she rocks out at concerts by Zero Hour, the hottest new boy band. Then one day, a mysterious, good-looking boy walks into the auditorium during rehearsal. His name is Dante and he claims to be a foreign exchange student from Italy.
     Strange things seem to happen when Dante is around, aside from the entire female population of Abby's high school swooning. Time seems to slow down, speed up, and bend back on itself. Abby starts to get strange glimpses of the future. Who is  Dante, really? Why won't he reveal anything about his past? Why does he disappear so often? And what's up with the strange gloves he always wears?
     The Hourglass  Door is not just a romance. There's plenty of other action and mystery. Dante is an intriguing character who draws you into the story and keeps you guessing.

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MATCHED by Ally Condie

Book rating: *****
Clean rating: *****
Genre: dystopian, romance
Series: First of a trilogy
Pages: 384
     In Cassia's world, everything is supposed to be perfect. The Society makes all the choices for you: where you live, what you eat, what your job is, who you marry, and even when you die.
     At Cassia's Matching ceremony she'll find out who her perfect mate is. Usually your match lives thousands of miles away, but Cassia's turns out to be none other than her best friend, Xander.
    Then Cassia takes a look at Xander's file and receives a surprise. Xander's picture is replaced by Ky. Cassia has known Ky for years, but never gave much thought to this quiet boy with a mysterious past. But now she's intrigued and the two of them quickly becoming friends. And then something more. She knows this is forbidden, but she can't help the ways she feels about his looks (gorgeous), the secret messages (not exactly within the rules), and the poetry (very, very, forbidden) that he writes. Soon, Cassia begins discovers things the society doesn't want her to know, and she'll have to pay the price.
      Unlike many romance novels, MATCHED doesn't have overly flowery dialouge, though the many metaphors and symbols were starting to annoy me. The obstacle to their love is society, not parents or pride. Another bonus is that Ky is a likable character. With many romance novels, I can't see why the girl bothered to fall in love with the guy in the first place. Lastly, MATCHED is one of those books that keeps you up till two in the morning because you need to know what happens next.

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