All Book Reviews by Genre: Sports

Swim the Fly
Calame, Don
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

15-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop have been friends since kindergarten and have set summer goals for themselves since they can remember, though this year that goal almost seems impossible.

Trying to reach it gets them into situations and adventures you couldn't imagine happening to just some Lower Rockville Razorbacks of the Rockville Swimming Association.
I find this book a really great choice for a summer read, very relatable for most teens and also funny beyond all beliefs. It can get a little inappropriate for those under 15, though if you are comfortable with that kind of humor, it is hilarious. It is also a very great book for a swimmer to read, though you do not have to be a swimmer to understand everything or enjoy the book.

Reviewer's Name: Franscesca J
Awards:
Bodyguard: Recruit
Bradford, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Connor Reeves is in the Battle of Britain Junior Kickboxing Tournament champion with a promising career ahead of him. All of that changes when he sees a kid being beat up in an alley. With his father’s selfless blood running through his veins, Connor doesn’t hesitate to come to the victim’s aid. One fight later, he goes with some cops who invite him to join a secret organization called Guardian. Guardian specializes in the protection of high-risk, wealthy targets. Everyone is shocked when his first assignment is to protect the President’s daughter, after barely any training. This book is filled with suspense as Connor solves the clues to rescue her. I would highly recommend this book and book series to all middle school readers.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Lola F.
A Natural
Raisin, Ross
2 stars = Meh
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY***

This book was, without a doubt, the gayest book I’ve ever read. Usually, I don’t read books with LGBTQ+ themes, but the cover and title led me to believe it was about soccer (or, in this case, football). I am not against books with these themes, per se, as long as the characters are likable and relatable. It’s just I would hope that Random House isn’t merely publishing books with these themes to get “automatic” sales from people who want to support the LGBTQ+ movement. Unfortunately, based on the weakness of the story in A Natural, I suspect this as the only reason a large publisher released it.

For a book I thought was about football, actual instances of the sport being played collectively comprises perhaps 1% of the entire book. That’s roughly 3.86 pages of football in a book about football players. If you’re looking for tension and action on the pitch, you’d be better off reading something like The Rook Crew instead of this. So, instead of football, what does this book have in it? In a nutshell: sexual assault, rape, and homophobia. I would have hoped that a story about coming to terms with a young man’s sexuality would have been more inspiring, but the undertone of the narrative certainly feels against the idea.

Like I mentioned above, I could let most of this slide if the characters were interesting. Instead, we’re left with a loner football player who gets in a relationship with someone involved with the team. I don’t know why the main character decided to do this, as the characters are all pretty flat. On top of this, we have to follow a side-plot of a failed marriage included only for a minor (and predictable) plot point near the end. I was actually more taken aback by the sexual abuse that was allowed/permitted as part of the team’s “hazing” than the gay sex scenes that lacked any description at all. By the end, nothing was resolved, and I felt unfulfilled. I honestly failed to see the point of this book, other than a cash grab.

A boring book with boring characters playing a boring sport, I give A Natural 1.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Genres:
Ghost
Reynolds, Jason
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jason Reynolds (author) + Guy Lockhard* (narrator) = Magic

Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, has been running from things his whole life: his violent father, the consequences of altercations at school with a bully, and most of all, the anger that's been building up inside him. So Ghost has a ton of natural talent, which he puts to use when he inadvertently impresses the coach of a local track team. After the coach begs him to join, and Ghost reluctantly agrees, he begins to see that he might be happier if he runs towards something instead of away from everything.

I listened to this audiobook, and it was excellent. I really struggle with middle grade fiction, as I oftentimes have trouble identifying with the characters (I mean, middle school was a loooooooong time ago), but Reynolds took me right back to the thick of it. In a good way. The day-making/ruining things your classmates would say, interactions with adults in positions of authority, and not really being sure about who you are and what you want in life - Reynolds nails it all. Moreover, Ghost is just a straight up likable character, even as he makes poor decision after poor decision. We really get to see him grow over the course of the novel, and even as he does the wrong thing, his heart is usually in the right place. I loved his relationship with his mother, and later, with Coach. There aren't always positive adult relationships in fiction for young people, and so it was nice that Ghost had so many adults that he could turn to. The secondary characters were just as dynamic, and also had very serious problems of their own to deal with. I'd read a book about any of them. Shoot, I wanted to adopt most of them. As a runner myself (although I'm not competitive and do longer distances), I really liked that the book was about track as it's not a sport we read or hear a lot about. There's a bit about fartleks that was pretty hilarious, and I think runners (Land Sharks, anyone?) will find a lot to love here.

If you are looking for a book to listen to or read with your kids, this is a great one. There are loads of teachable moments, and it is ultimately a heartwarming tale of self-discovery. I couldn't get enough of it - 5 stars.

*Shout out to Guy Lockhard - he narrated the other Jason Reynolds book that I've listened to (All American Boys), and he is a fantastic narrator. It seems like Reynolds thinks so as well, because it looks like Lockhard will be narrating Reynolds' recently released book about Spiderman Miles Morales. I may have just put that on hold...

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Soccer on Sunday
Osborne, Mary Pope
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

:)

Reviewer's Name: Ben
Booked
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Nick Hall has everything going for him: he's doing well in school, he's got a solid flirtation going with his crush (or...limerence as it were), and most importantly, he made the soccer travel team. And so, of course, everything starts to go wrong. His parents separate, he starts to get bullied and his best friend ends up on a soccer team 30 miles away.

Booked is absolutely in no way the type of book I would normally pick up, but despite that, I thought it was fantastic. It's a sports fiction novel written in verse neither of which are my thing, but man, I get why Crossover won that Newbery if it was anything like this. In very few words, Alexander manages to develop complex characters, create humor, and develop and subsequently neatly (a little too neatly, perhaps, but hey, it is a book for kids) tie up several plot lines. Oh! And the words! There is a fun little subplot in which Nick's dad wrote a dictionary, and it leads to some really awesome word play. I also learned a few new fun vocabulary words to throw around.

Anyway, my final thought is really just...wow. I'm impressed. I'll definitely be booktalking this one. And even though, like I said, it's not my thing AT ALL, I'll probably read Crossover, Alexander's other book. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This isn't your typical comic book. It doesn't have fantasy super heroes or talking animals. This novel is about your everyday girl in a real-life situation that falls in love with roller derby. I wasn't expecting to like this book because I'm not much of a comic book person but it surprised me and I loved the message. The only thing I would change is the age of the main character because some of the events in the story were questionable because she is seems young. If you are looking for a really quick read with a good message then this is the book for you.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
Rash
Hautman, Pete
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Rash is a book about a so called “perfect” society, where anything moderately dangerous is outlawed. After Bo has had a run in with the law for the third time he is sent to a work camp to serve time for his crimes. His old A.I from when he was in school promises him freedom. Can he do it? Meanwhile Bo runs into many dangerous things on his time in prison.

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Awards:
Sticks
Bauer, Joan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Sticks is about a boy named Mickey who's dad is a champion pool player, but his father died when he was young. Mickey decides to follow in his dads foot steps and trains to win the Junior Nine-Ball Championship. Then a stranger comes to town, claiming he is a friend of his father's. This book is a short but interesting read. I'd rate this book a three because it was quick and well written but lacked adventure or excitement. I felt compassion for Mickey when it talks about him wishing his father could have seen him grow up. I read the book because I like the author Joan Bauer though it is not one of her better books. I recommend this book to people who like pool and are missing a loved one.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Roller Girl is a graphic novel about two best friends who did everything together till the summer before high school. Astrid, the tough one of the girls, signs up for roller derby camp while Nicole, the shy one, signs up for dance camp. Will their friendship survive? Out of 1(bad) - 5(great) I would rate this book a 3 because I liked how the antagonist was hard to find even though there were two rival groups. I personally do not like graphic novels because they don't give enough written detail, so for some people this book would be a 4 or 5. The reason I read this book is because my languages art teacher recommended the book and it sounded good, so I gave it a try. I recommend this book to people who like graphic novels and roller derby.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.