Monday, June 2, 2014

I recently read Payback Time by Carl Deuker. Daniel True is the main character and he goes unnoticed at his high school. The fact that he is overweight has earned him the nickname "Mitch," short for Michelin Man. Mitch is an aspiring journalist and he wants to write about serious topics. When he finds out that he isn’t going to be the editor of his school’s paper, he’s extremely disappointed. The new editor assigned him to report for the sports section, but he decides to take his new role seriously. Mitch is teamed up with photographer named Kimi. They uncover a scandal involving one of the varsity football players. Mitch has noticed this highly-talented player named Angel Marichal who is used infrequently and is “hidden” by his coach, but who appears to be quite the talented player. Mitch’s journalistic side gets the better of him because he knows there’s a story about Angel, so he and Kimi start digging. After tireless digging, Mitch and Kimi discover they just might be sitting on a scandal that could cause serious trouble in his school’s athletics, get the football coach fired, and lose them all sorts of friends. Also, his investigative work may have put his life, and the lives of others, at serious risk. Mitch is a great character. It is great to read how Mitch is taking more control of his life and working hard to be what he wants to be. For sports fans, the descriptions of the action in the football games are well-written, but not so in-depth that a non-sports person would feel lost. I enjoyed this book for a couple different reasons. The exciting football play-by-play and the mystery surrounding why Angel isn't playing, combines to make Payback Time a suspenseful, engaging and action-packed story. This page turner is a gripping read.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Hoopster

I recently read a book called The Hoopster by Alan Lawrence Sitomer. This is a story about a boy named Andre who loves basketball and loves to write. He has always wanted to become a professional writer. His best friend, Shawn, thinks he is too caught up in his professional life instead of his social life and he is introduced to a friend named Gwen. Andre is then asked to write an article about racism for his boss. Andre spends two weeks working on the article and ends up finishing on time. The article becomes a big hit and his whole family, friends, and neighbors throw a big surprise party for him. His life seems to being going perfect when he gets brutally attacked by a group of white men. They threaten to do worse things to him and leave him there beaten. He is in the hospital for weeks at a time. When he finally returns home, he will not talk. He ends up finally talking and he has a big speech about his article. Everyone cheers and Andre finally realizes there are good people out there. This book was one of the best I have ever read. It has a lot of intense moments that make you want to keep reading. It gives the reader an idea of what racism is like. You will never stop reading when you are going down the road of Andre's struggles and great times.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gym Candy

I recently read a book called Gym Candy written by Carl Deuker. It is a story about running back Mick Johnson who has dreams of winning and of being the best. All his life Mick has lived and breathed football. He has dreams of one day being like his dad, Mike, a high school and college star and former 3rd round draft pick of an NFL team. His dad has been working with him since he was four, taking him to all the best camps and pushing him to be his best. Mick goes through his early life dominating in football. When a new coach takes over his 8th grade team, Mick learns an awful truth about his dad – Mike got by on his talent because he was the best, but he never put in the hard work to succeed. That’s why he never lasted in the NFL. Mick vowed that this will not happen to him. But football is a rough, unforgiving sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. Once Mick reaches 9th grade, the varsity coach invites him to tryout for the varsity team. But Mick faces tough competition from other players who are stronger than he is. He decides to join a gym instead of working out with his teammates, and he is introduced to the dark side of the sport. His dad hires him a personal trainer named Peter Volz. Peter notices that Mick could use a little “help,” so he offers Mick steroids, or “gym candy.” At first Mick refuses but in the end he decides to try them. His performances become record-breaking, but the side effects are terrible. Mick suffers ’roid rage, depression, body acne, and he started growing breasts. He could not take his shirt off without being embarrassed. Mick realizes that these are all side effects to his steroid use, and stops using them until he is challenged by other players. In the end, Mick takes the “easy” way to success is by taking a new steroid from Peter, but unfortunately it forces Mick down a nightmare of a ride, that almost causes him his life, but worse yet, puts him in his own prison in his mind. In my opinion this book was one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It had everything that you could ask for in a book. I really like how intense the story gets at times. In addition, the story is somewhat sad at times. The steroids do make Mick stronger, but they have many bad side effects. There are so many lessons to learn in these pages, but just as his dad found out, Mick learned that there are no short cuts to hard work and dedication. Gym Candy’s is action packed and intense. You’ll find yourself unable to look away as Mick goes down a road that even he knows is the wrong one to travel.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Underdogs

I recently read a book called The Underdogs by Michael Lupica. It is a story about boy named Will Tyler, a star running back for his middle school football team. He fumbled the ball in the league championship game against the rival school, causing his team to lose. A year after his catastrophic fumble, his dreams of going back to the championship game and winning seem impossible. Tyler’s town, Forbes, Pennsylvania, is in economic decline. The sneaker factory has closed leaving a good part of the town unemployed. Will's father, who is raising Will by himself after Will’s mom died when he was two, is delivering the mail and going to school at night to try to learn new skills after losing his job at the factory. The town has limited resources so it decides to cancel the football program for middle school and Tyler’s team needs $10,000 to get his team into the league. Tyler throws his first of many desperation passes and finds a way to get a sponsor to put up the money to allow the school to field a team. At the same time, he is being recruited to play for his team’s rival, the same team that beat them in the championship. But Tyler is loyal to his school and more importantly, his town, and he refuses to leave for what would be a great opportunity. Now he has to find a coach and 10 other kids to play football. When he finds only 9 other boys to play, his only other options are an athletic girl named Hannah, who just moved into town, and Toby, a former teammate who doesn’t want to play. But Tyler is determined. He gets his teammates to let Hannah join and he gets Toby to realize how much he loves the game. He persuades his dad, a former star player who has turned against football because he badly damaged his knee in a high school football game, to be the coach. But Will faces more obstacles along the way to the big game including the loss of a star player to injury and the loss of Tyler's best friend, who has to move away mid-season. Somehow Will’s conviction is contagious and his team and the entire town rally together to bring the championship trophy to Forbes PA. The Underdogs is a great book and an inspiration for people who don’t want to fight through obstacles. It allows the reader to relate to the story because it takes place in the economic times we live in today. I liked this book because it tells people to never give up on their dream.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I recently read The Big Time by Tim Green. Twelve-year-old Football Genius Troy and his teammates have just won the state football championship. Everything seems in place for Troy to succeed in his dreams to have the money for college and someday buy his mother a nice house and a car. She deserves everything in Troy’s eyes because she’s the only parent he’s ever known. While celebrating their big victory at star Atlanta Falcon linebacker Seth Holloway’s house, Drew Edinger shows up at the door. Troy is astonished to see the father he's never met at his coach's house and it causes Troy’s dreams to follow another path. His mom had constantly told Troy that his father abandoned them both and that he didn’t care, but seeing the fancy sports car and learning his dad is a lawyer and agent from Chicago with big money clients, like mega-bucks rapper “G Money”, puts doubts in Troy’s mind that his father really didn’t care. After all, here he is his wanting to get to know the son he never knew he had. Drew tells his son that he'd like to represent him in contract negotiations to maximize the return on Troy's remarkable ability to predict football plays. Everyone but Troy is suspicious of Drew’s sudden appearance after 12 years, including best friends and teammates Nathan and Tate. But Troy is elated his father is part of his life, even though his mother knows better. She gets some information about Drew that causes the reunion to come to a crashing end. The FBI suddenly are part of Troy’s life, showing up in his kitchen and telling Troy, his mother and gramps about dirty deals and money laundering Drew has got involved in. But the FBI tells Troy he has a chance to do something good for his dad. The FBI offer a deal that requires Troy to take a big risk, but it could keep his father out of a 10 year jail sentence. Troy is not about to lose his dad again and he agrees to do whatever it takes. After all, it’s for his dad. With help from Tate, Troy is successful in getting the information the FBI needed to put the evil associates of his father in jail. But it also causes Drew to flee and once again disappear from Troy’s life. The Big Time is about Troy’s desire to connect for the first time with his dad. It is a nerve racking, and sometimes sad, situation for a 12-year-old who has spent years wishing his dad would be there to meet him after games, and be a part of his life. We see the trust issues that emerge among his family and friends as questions around his father’s motivation come into question. There is very little football action other than when Troy and his team win the backyard brawl between junior all-star teams from Georgia and Florida. It is still a football-tough kind of story with dangerous moments that will bring out the emotions in anyone who reads this book.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I recently read the book Football Champ by Tim Green. Troy White is a "football genius," who works for the NFL Atlanta Falcons. He has the extraordinary ability to predict an opposing team's next move. Most people outside of the organization think Troy is a ball boy, but the team, and some of Troy’s friends, knows the truth. Now, thanks to Troy's ability to predict winning plays, the Falcons are winning their games. Troy loves his role behind the scenes and the thrill of having the Falcon’s star linebacker Seth Halloway (who's dating Troy's mom) to coach his own Duluth Tigers team as they fight their way to a state championship. Then Troy's perfect world comes crashing down. Reporter Brent Peele, who has an old grudge with Seth because he blames Seth for ruining his own football career, is out to make the Falcon’s look really bad, and that means going after Troy and Seth. After Peele writes his story about the Falcon’s cheating, the NFL starts to think the Falcons are stealing plays from the other team because it seems like they know every play. Also, with the help of a corrupt doctor, Peele starts to make up rumors about Seth and steroids. The vicious media storm that descends on the football genius threatens not only his job with the Falcons and the Tigers' run at a championship, but his mother's career and Seth's as well. Together with his best friends, loyal Nathan and Tate, Troy sets out to unmask the dishonest Peele and save Seth's reputation no matter what the risk. Troy and his friends risk everything to succeed in both their quest for the truth and drive to win their championship. I loved this book because it’s a thriller with suspense and mystery. This book was a dramatic yet sporty book at the same time. I loved the tension coupled with the excitement and thrill of big football plays. It is a very easy read that makes you want to keep reading each page to the end without putting it down. It’s another great story from Tim Green.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Football Heor

            I recently read a book called Football Hero by Tim Green. It is about a boy named Ty Lewis who, after losing his parents in a car crash, goes to live with his aunt and uncle. Ty is one of the fastest kids in his class and the football coach wants him to join the team. This gives Ty the chance to get a fresh start in a new school, and be like his older brother, Thane "Tiger" Lewis, who's about to graduate from college and has a chance to be drafted by the NFL. Unfortunately, Ty's Uncle Gus, his guardian since the death of Ty's parents, insists the boy has no time for sports. He has to earn his keep by scrubbing toilets for Gus's cleaning service. Overall Gus treats Ty rudely and with little respect. Gus is a gambler and does gambling schemes with the local mob boss, a man called Lucy, who also has no time for Ty. When Thane finally gets drafted by the New York Jets and signs a huge multimillion dollar contract, things appear to be on the verge of getting better for Ty and Thane. But Gus attempts to swindle money from Thane and is unable to do so. When Lucy hears just how famous Ty's older brother is, he becomes suddenly friendly, which leads to Ty and Thane becoming the unwitting pawns in a dangerous game involving the Mafia. As the tension builds, Ty finds himself trapped in a dangerous web. The stakes are high, and one false move on Ty's part could destroy his brother's future. Ty is also feeling pressure from trying to help save his coach’s job by winning the big game against the top team. In the end, the true love and support of a family bond allow Ty and Thane to overcome more than just the mafia. They overcome the ghosts of their past, the pressure of the present and the fear of the future. This book shows how you can overcome challenges in your life and still be able to play sports. But the story moved fast and had plots outside of football to interest those beyond the sports fans. I would recommend this book. It teaches a lesson of how talented young athletes are taken advantage of when they have that chance of making it to the pros. The plot is something that can really happen in today’s society.