Book Review and Giveaway: The Big Field

Big Field, The

“Yeah,” Hutch said, not looking up at either one of them. “My Dad sure knows his baseball.”

Baseball runs in Hutch’s blood, and no position feels like home as much as shortstop. His father played shortstop during his baseball days, but those ended a long time ago. Now his dad struggles to hold down a job and rarely shows up to watch Hutch play baseball. When superstar shortstop Darryl Williams shows up to play on Hutch’s team, Hutch gets moved to second base. Hutch resigns himself to be a good team player and accepts the move, but when his consistently MIA dad starts showing up to coach Darryl, the situation gets more and more bitter. The biggest game ever for their team is coming up fast, but Hutch’s patience is running out.

I’ve yet to read a book by Mike Lupica that I didn’t like. My mom and brother enjoyed this one with me when we listened to it as an audio book. I love his down-to-earth, humble main characters. They’re not perfect kids, but they aspire to standards that make them worthy role models for young readers. And the feel-good stories are equally heart warming for older readers as well.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY simply leave a comment explaining why you’d like to read this book. Due to shipping costs the giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States. The winner will be announced on April 30th.

Book Review: Cobra Strike

Cobra Strike

“And don’t do anything stupid like try to run,” he said. “I’d hate to have to get rough.”

Roy Linden can run like a deer, but his tongue is another story. His stutter prevents him from making friends and keeps him labeled a loner. His running isn’t doing him much good either. Everyone in his small Kentucky hometown thinks he could be great in football, but without a decent quarterback, no one outside Johnstown will ever see him. Roy’s luck changes when legendary high school quarter back Waymen Witley moves to town. Together, Waymen and Roy are unstoppable on the football field. But Roy has plenty to distract him from his growing fame. Birds have been dying on his Gram’s property. Roy knows something is wrong with the water, but he can’t get anyone to listen to him. Something strange is going on, and someone high up is pulling strings to keep it quiet. Roy fears his gram is in danger. What will he decide when he starts receiving threats?

I’m not a big football fan when it comes to the sport itself, but I seem to enjoy a lot of football stories (Facing the Giants anyone?). I first read Cobra Strike several years ago and enjoyed it enough to re-read it out loud to my mom. I enjoyed it again as I re-read it this week. It’s a quick read (I suspect it may have been written as a hi-lo book), but totally worth it. Let me know what you think! Bonus points: Cobra Strike is written from a Christian perspective!

Book Review: Million-Dollar Throw

Million-Dollar ThrowNew month, new theme. This month I’m going with sports stories. Which may end up meaning written-by-Mike-Lupica-books. I love his stories. But there are some other sports stories that look good, too, so we’ll see. 😉

“I mean, I’m excited about doing it, at least some of the time, when I’m not geeked out of my head about it,” Nate said. “But most of the time, it’s like it’s one more thing I don’t need right now. Like one more guy piling on when I’m already down.”

Nate Brody loves football and is a huge Tom Brady fan. He’s been saving up money to buy a football autographed by Brady. Despite financial hardships, his parents are holding to their end of the deal and paying half the money for the ball. Winning football isn’t Nate’s biggest worry, though. He spends nights staring out the window at the for sale sign hanging in front of their house, not wanting to sell their house but hoping the bank won’t get it. And then there’s his best friend, Abby. As far as Nate’s concerned, Abby’s problems trump all of his. When his name is drawn for a chance to win a million-dollars during half-time at a Patriots’ game, Nate feels the pressure piling on. Can he get things figured out before the big day and his million-dollar throw?

 This is the newest addition to my comfort-reads shelf. You know, those books you read on rainy days or when you’re sick? Miracle on 49th Street, another Mike Lupica book, has been on that shelf for a while along with A Little Princess and The Scarlet Pimpernel. These books cover a wide range of story types, but they have at least one thing in common. All of the stories feature strong friendships. That’s what made me enjoy Million-Dollar Throw too. Nate consistently puts the needs of his teammates, his family, and his friends above his own stresses and worries. As his mom says several times, he leads with his heart. And in the process he does a great job of capturing the heart of the reader. If you’re looking  for an edge-of-your seat story that keeps you guessing till the last page, this one isn’t for you. But if you want book that leaves you with warm fuzzies, go for it! 🙂

Book Review: Miracle on 49th Street

Miracle on 49th StreetWith the month of December here, people are getting into the Christmas spirit, and I figured this blog should be no exception. So, for this week and the next couple of weeks, I’ll be reviewing Christmas flavored books. 😉 I’m starting with an easy-read favorite of mine.

He got out of the car and closed the door and got down in a crouch, so they were eye to eye. “You’re Jen’s kid, aren’t you.”

After Molly Parker’s mom dies of cancer, Molly is determined to break through to her father. Trouble is, Josh Cameron isn’t interested in being anybody’s dad. A star basketball player, Josh is full of himself and doesn’t seem to have room for Molly. He’s about to find out just how determined she can be. Can Molly win Josh over in time for their own Christmas miracle?

I can’t remember why I first picked this book out at the library, but I’m glad I did. It’s been good for many re-reads. It’s not a strongly Christmas themed story, but it definitely has some of the elements. I love the interactions between Molly and her best friend, Sam. And even though there are moments when I’d love to bop Josh over the head with a two by four, I like him too. If you’re ready for a sweet, sports themed story with a dash of Christmas, this book is for you.

Author: Mike Lupica
Audience: Middle Grade–Tween
Genre: Sports or General Fiction
Pages: 246
Publisher: Philomel Books

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?