Book Review: Advantage Erin by Kris Kreisman

Title: Advantage Erin
Author: Kris Kreisman
Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Time Travel
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: 22 August 2012
Pages: 140
Rating: 2.5 stars

Click here to read the first chapter of Advantage Erin.

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Erin’s mom is driving her crazy. Especially about tennis. Erin is good and enjoys the game. But it’s not her fault she’s not the megastar her mom claims to have been when she was Erin’s age. If only there was some way to get Mom to understand…

Spring break arrives, which means a visit to Grandma and Mom’s old hometown. Grandma is eccentric, but she’s also cool and understands Erin’s frustrations. And she can help. By taking Erin on a visit to Mom’s old high school. Not Mom’s school today. But Mom’s school as it was in 1970.

Erin experiences the trip of her lifetime. Back in time, where she struggles to fit in with a bunch of kids who never heard of the Internet or laptops or cell phones. Where she meets some very cool kids. And one not so cool kid named Catherine. Now known as Mom.

Talk turns to tennis, and inevitably the challenge is made and accepted. And they play the tennis match of the century. Erin had repeatedly heard how Mom was undefeated. Now was her time to do something about it. They battle hard until, in unexpected fashion, it’s over. But when she returns to the present Erin learns the truth about her Mom. And Mom learns some lessons as well.

Enjoy Erin’s thrill ride, her fun, her excitement, her anxiety. And discover how her trip to the past changed her present.

My Review:

More and more lately I’ve been thinking about what life must have been like for my parents back when they were my age. Through a magical computer and a crafty grandmother, Erin gets to go back to the sixties and meet the teenage version of her mother. Before children, before her tennis dreams were crushed and before life got complicated and “grown up”, Erin’s mother Catherine is like a different person. Erin realizes that maybe there’s more to her mother than she ever realized.

Conceptually I thought this book was great. Time travel, tennis and sixties fashion – I loved it all. However I had some problems with the pacing. Everything happens too quickly (Erin’s entire time travelling adventure occurs within an 10 hour or so window). I also thought that in terms of emotion and drama, Erin managed to deal with all that was happening without any trouble. I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle being dragged back in time five decades anywhere near as well as she did.

There were some surprises and fun quirks along the way that kept me reading up until the last page. Advantage Erin is a fun and quick novel about mothers, daughters and how sometimes the time and distance between them isn’t as large as you might first think.

Thank you to author Kris Kreisman for providing me with a review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

If there’s a sport I know even less about than American Football – it would be baseball. However after reading and enjoying Catching Jordan, I thought I’d try Stealing Parker and see if it could teach me a thing or two.

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 2012
Pages: 256 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

My Review:

After her mother leaving her family (and for another woman at that!), Parker Shelton is a girl trying to get a reputation. No one will ever doubt that she is a girl who likes boys. Most of her old friends abandoned her when she needed them most but her bff, Drew, refuses to let the old Parker fade away completely. He signs Parker up to team manager for the boy’s baseball team.

It’s there that the new coach, Brian, catches her eye. It’s sparks from the first moment she lays eyes on him but being twenty-three (and six years older than Parker) there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Or should they?

There’s a about Stealing Parker that felt VERY familiar after reading the first book, Catching Jordan. But this book managed to set itself apart. The heroine, Parker, is interesting. She’s been betrayed – not only by her friends and family but she feels like even her God has abandoned her. So she tries to change herself. Changes her interests, loses a lot of weight and attempts to lose the girl she was. To be honest, I found her rather annoying for the first half of the novel. But she grew on me and I was on her side by the end. I wanted her to succeed and to fix her family and reputation.

Teacher/Student relationships are something that I often have a problem with and I felt like Brian took advantage of the situation and Parker on more than one occasion. And whilst I felt like he got off a little too easily, I did like how the author addressed the situation and the consequences that result from a relationship like that.

I have to admit I’m a little surprised that I adored a character named “Corndog”. Unlike the type of stereotype a name like that might bring to mind, Will “Corndog” Whitfield, was smart, funny, generous and just the perfect leading male for Parker. I loved the drama associated with their relationship and thought the ending was perfect.

One of the highlights of this book was the religious angle. For me, I’m often against YA novels with a Christian flavour – they’re at times over the top and start leaning towards being preachy – but I really enjoyed how Miranda Kenneally wove Parker’s religious beliefs into the storyline. It was tastefully done and I loved how it turned out.

Whilst I may not have learned anything about baseball from reading this book, I enjoyed the sports angle and by the time I finished the novel I adored the romance.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Book Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Sports novels (especially those regarding American sports) aren’t usually my thing – I don’t know the difference between a linebacker and an outfielder and that’s despite watching four seasons of Friday Night Lights – but I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about Miranda Kenneally’s young adult books set in Hundred Oaks High. So I decided to take a break from all the paranormal novels I’ve been reading lately and see if Catching Jordan lived up to the hype.

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: December 2011
Pages: 281 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
One of the boys…

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

My Review:

Jordan Woods, high school senior and respected captain of the football team has everything planned out. Lead the team to victory and impress the college football scouts. Donovan Woods, Jordan’s father, is a professional quarterback and seems to support everyone in living their dreams except for Jordan. Because she’s a girl.

But Jordan has always just been one of the boys. She prefers practical to pretty and would rather spend her nights watching game tape to parties and make up. That is until Ty Green shows up on her pitch. He’s unbelievably gorgeous and one of the best players Jordan has seen on a high school team. Only problem is he wants her position and with Jordan mesmerized by the new arrival she’s can’t keep her head in the game.

There’s a lot to like about this story. I loved the fact that despite Jordan being female, she was able to hold her own with her team-mates. That’s not to say that sexism in the sport wasn’t addressed. I really admired the author for being able to tackle the issue without it becoming the main focus of the novel.

The romance was really well done. I liked how everything played out between the characters – I don’t want to get too much into it because I don’t want to ruin anything except to say that I was satisfied by Jordan’s choices romantically speaking.

I didn’t quite understand why someone who claimed to be one of the boys, hates typical female activities and was so focused on her goals was so over the top, heart over heels besotted with Ty – to the point of doodling their names in her diary and losing sleep – after just one very brief meeting. The instalove there really bothered me because from everything I’d been told about Jordan that just seemed so very out of character that it sort of bugged me. But despite that I thought that Jordan was a strong character who stood by her choices and her friends.

Overall I quite enjoyed this novel – and you don’t need to know a thing about sport to understand what’s going on. There are some fun and adorable characters, a well-thought out, entertaining plot that was well out together and a love story and pleased the romantic in me.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository