Posts Tagged 'competition'

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

court-of-fives

Genre:  Futuristic Fiction

# of Pages:  432

Jess lives with her military father, pregnant mother, and three sisters.  Due to the fact their mother is a commoner, her father was never allowed to legally marry her, but he has always taken care of them like they were legally his family.  Secretly, Jess likes to run the court of fives, which is an intricate and physically grueling competition that involves different challenges in a variety of patterns to figure out.  Jess knows that if her dad ever found out she was doing this he would be furious, which is why she’s kept it a secret.  The day before Jess is scheduled to compete in her first match, her father unexpectedly returns from war and insists on taking them to the competition.  She is forced to sneak out and compete or else she’ll lose her entrance fee that took her a year to save.  She is forced to throw the match at the end because winners must take off their masks and she cannot risk her father learning her secret.  However, she does not realize the attention her actions will bring to her family and the ferocity in which someone with power will work to destroy everything she holds dear.  Ultimately, it is the court of fives she must do in order to bring respect to herself and her family, but will it be enough?

Fans of futuristic novels like The Testing will love this book.  It is full of plot twists, excitement, and adventure.  A main part of the story even features an Indiana Jones’ type adventure that is hard to put down.  Jess loves training for the court of fives partly because it encourages her to think strategically, but in the end she is forced to use that kind of thinking in order to protect her family from a vicious adversary.  It is a fast paced, exciting story.

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Out of Reach by V.M. Jones

Genre:  Sports/Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  264

RAC: Yes

Pip McLeod hates it when his dad comes to his soccer games because he yells the entire time.  He yells from the sidelines about every call, every play, and every score.  When a talent scout for a more competitive league comes to the game Pip tries hard to do his best and has a good game, but when the scout does not choose to talk to him he has to hear about all of his mistakes all the way home.  Pip has had it and no longer even likes to play.  His older brother, Nick, is a great player and chosen for the elite team, which doesn’t help Pip’s feelings of failure.  One day on his way home he sees that the new sports complex has a door propped open and he finds himself wandering in.  He notices a big room with walls for indoor climbing and feels drawn to it.  After trying a little climbing on his own, he realizes that this is something he loves to do.  The problem is how to tell his parents he wants to do this and how to pay for lessons when they are on a very tight budget.  In the end, Pip (who becomes Phil around the other climbers) must do what he needs to do in order to challenge himself and put himself into a more positive environment than he is used to, which means entering a very challenging competition to prove he has what it takes to be a superior climber.

For anyone who likes sports or climbing stories this is a good story.  There are not that many books about climbing, especially indoor climbing, which makes this story interesting.  Pip’s struggles with his family, friends, and even himself are all somewhat relieved once he starts climbing.  Communication is a big issue in this story as Pip and his father fail to communicate their true feelings to each other and instead let the tension and anger build and fester. Many readers will be able to identify with Pip in some way.

Summer Ball by Mike Lupica

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 244 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to Travel Team Danny Walker and his friends go to a summer camp to play basketball for the summer. Danny is nervous from the start because even though their travel team ended up winning the championship there are always people who want to knock you down. When he arrives at the camp he learns that his name was left off the bunk list and he has to room with the younger kids. He takes this news surprisingly well considering the fact that he has issues with people thinking he is younger than he is due to his height. The rival from the championship game, Rasheed, is at camp and they are placed on the same team. Early on in the camp Danny learns that Rasheed and their team coach believe Danny has no place on a basketball court.

Danny Walker has many obstacles in this book considering his success in the previous one. The degree to which his coach dislikes him is amazing considering his ill treatment of Danny begins almost immediately. As Danny struggles with confidence, bullies, and even a homesick younger roommate he considers some drastic measures for escaping but ends up fighting his battles whether her wants to or not. The sports action is as good as ever in this book and fans of sports fiction will enjoy it. The fact that not everyone comes around to Danny’s way of thinking is a good reminder to readers that you will never get along with everyone and you just have to make the best of it. A good sports read.

I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader by Kieran Scott

Genre:   Realistic Fiction/Romance

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Annisa is a new student at her high school and her first day does not begin well.  First, she discovers that she is literally the only brunette female in the entire school.  Second, she lives in a house that another girl’s family was evicted from for not paying taxes and she blames Annisa for some reason.  Third, she accidently breaks the nose of the most popular girl in school.  Later that night she also inadvertently witnesses two cheerleaders getting busted with alcohol, therefore removing them from the competition squad a mere two weeks before the big regional competition.

Still trying to fit in, Annisa decides to try out for one of the two open spots on the cheerleading team.  Even though several members of the team hate her for one reason or another she manages to get a spot.  Unfortunately, she makes a few mistakes and the rest of the squad starts to fall apart and everyone blames her.  She offers the suggestion of starting a prank war with the nearby school to work as a bonding activity.  The prank war lands her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.  Meanwhile, her neighbor, Daniel, is someone Annisa feels she could be very interested in but of course he is dating her most hated rival, Sage.  As time goes on, Sage shows her true colors and eventually loses Daniel.  The question is whether or not that means he is interested in Annisa.

This story is filled with ridiculous plots twists and the coincidences that teen movies are made of, but the voices of the characters are interesting and the plot moves at a good pace.  Some of the conflicts are worked out much too quickly, which is of course in time for the big cheerleading competition that is two weeks from Annisa’s first day of school.  The fast pace of the book is believable, however, because high school conflicts often start and end quickly.  Girls who like Meg Cabot books will enjoy this.


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