Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker

Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: June 14th, 2016 by Simon and Schuster

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon's first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.

What I Liked: There are too many aspects about this book to rave about, but there are two things I'd like to talk about. The first thing is that I'd never seen a book about video games that wasn't overly cheesy and or super intense. There is such a big market in the whole online, video gaming section that authors just want to neglect, and I'm so glad this book was written with the subject of video gaming in mind. The other thing I'd like to point out is that I'd like to continue with the uniqueness aspect. In his whole "rehab" scene, sure it was cliched when Jaxon was put on the underdog team, and sure, it was cliched when everything worked in his favor, but how each of the characters were developed were special. For example, there's this character named Soup, which basically has these insanely weird traits that make him so funny to read. Like for example, he's willing to cross-stitch for just to have a friend. It's little stuff like that that made this book so enjoyable.

What I Didn't Like:  For this portion, there are another two things I'd like to point out. The first is the fact that the book curses like every other page. "But it's a YA book. Who Cares?" you may think. However, it's kind of ridiculous. I mean 90% of the book, it is actually useful. But I mean, there's one part of the book where part of Soup's celebration dance is to say every curse word he knows. Like really? I mean do you think that's necessary? Also, the romance between Jaxon and Serena is honestly the worse. I don't want to give too much away, but in my opinion, I just didn't like how it was portrayed.

Final Rating: 9.4 out of ten.

Why? Pretty good, of course. But profanity will getcha, and it happened here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fantasy League by Mike Lupica

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Sports Fiction
Publishing Date: September 16th, 2014 by Philomel Books

Summary: 12-year-old Charlie is a fantasy football guru. He may be just a bench warmer for his school's football team, but when it comes to knowing and loving the game, he's first-string. He even becomes a celebrity when his podcast gets noticed by a sports radio host, who plays Charlie's fantasy picks for all of Los Angeles to hear. Soon Charlie befriends the elderly owner of the L.A. Bulldogs -- a fictional NFL team -- and convinces him to take a chance on an aging quarterback. After that, watch out . . . it's press conferences and national fame as Charlie becomes a media curiosity and source of conflict for the Bulldogs general manager, whose job Charlie seems to have taken. It's all a bit much for a kid just trying to stay on top of his grades and maintain his friendship with his verbal sparring partner, Anna.

What I Liked: If there is anything that I like in a good book, it is middle-school-ish aged kids, sports, or said kids who become really important. Of course, I wouldn't be talking about those factors if the book didn't have all three. It was really cool to see some kid suddenly be propped up to fame and become a huge influence in the sports world. Not to mention how fun of a game fantasy football is, which I play even though it isn't for any money or anything. Mike Lupica is the premier middle-aged sports writer and for good reason; this book had a great story line and if you're willing to dabbel into sports fiction this novel will be great for you.

What I Didn't Like: I don't believe I can remember anything that made me think I didn't want to read it any further. I think something I would have changed was Anna and her family, who of course consist of the owner and general manager. At times they seemed slightly to arrogant for the novel. The novel was a funny and had a light mood but would almost be "interrupted" by some snarky remark, which frankly I could have done without.

Final Rating: 9.4 out of ten.

Why? It was a great book indeed, just do keep in mind it is a sports-oriented book, so if you don't like that kind of stuff, I would stay away from my recommendation.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Hand You're Dealt by Paul Volponi

Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: September 30th, 2008 by Atheneum Books

Summary: When Huck Porter's dad suddenly dies, it feels like nothing will ever make sense again. Huck's "best friend" thinks that Huck should just get over it, the girl he likes won't give him the time of day, and his mom now works all hours at a roadside diner to make ends meet. The only thing that still makes sense for Huck is the game his dad taught him, the game they spent hours playing together: Texas hold'em. 

Worse than all of that, though, is Huck's math teacher, Mr. Abbott -- a hungry card shark with an ego to match his appetite. He now wears the local poker tournament's first prize, a silver watch that Huck's dad wore proudly for three years. So Huck hatches a plan to knock Abbott off his throne and win back the watch. Only, bluffing his way into the tournament will mean lying to everyone Huck knows. But as Huck gets deeper in the tournament and starts to lose himself in the cards, he begins to wonder who he'll be when the last hand is played.

Raw and gritty, Paul Volponi's novel about grief, family, and poker is an adrenaline rush that starts with a bang and doesn't let up until the final page is turned. A coming-of-age story set at a card table, The Hand You're Dealt will leave readers wondering what they would risk in a game

What I Liked: So it turns out that I read this back last year around September, but I never got around to reviewing it, so I'd like to say that before people who end up picking up a copy and reading the book flame me for not being perfectly accurate. Anyways, as I recall, even though this book is marketed toward young adults, it is easily more kid-friendly than some of the other "middle grade" books out there. It honestly is just a thriller that may be slightly too intense to pronounce middle grade. Another thing that I'd like to point out is that it is a plot that centers around the "sport" (or game) of poker. This book is unique because it appealed to my love of the game of poker. While personally, I don't play for money or even for fun, I understand the ins and outs of the game and often recreational-ly watch hands in my free time. One of my favorite things about the game is that it appeals to all ends of the spectrum. Old (there was a 96 year old in the world series of poker main event) young, professional and newcomer. 99% of the game is dominated by professionals because it involves pure strategy and memorizing when to do what based on what you have as well as being the best actor you can and yet, even if you have no idea what you're doing, the 1% of poker makes it constantly exciting because that 1% is all luck, meaning anyone can win. Sorry for my little rant on why poker is the best (playing for fun, not gambling your life savings to the game), but I feel like it deserves the recognition it doesn't get. This book helps shine some light on the game because in a very fun and exciting way, highlights the game of poker.

What I Didn't Like: Of course, you, as the potential reader of this book, should note that this book isn't perfectly PG. I can't remember if there is any blatant profanity (maybe? just be aware there's a good chance there is), but there are some pretty intense "fight" scenes (not brawls, just arguments), so if you don't want 7 year old Timmy exposed to that kind of stuff, just be aware.

Rating: 9.2 Out of Ten

Why? It's an amazing book, but after I finished it, I felt like there was something lacking. I don't know what, but I just had a feeling it was missing something.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Last Post of the Year (Video+Review for MMGM)

Hello Everybody,

First off, before I begin with anything, I'd like to thank anybody for reading this. Yes, you. Somehow, you all grew my blog in views 6 times over. I started the year extremely grateful having met around six thousand views. Currently, this blog is boasting a mind blowing 39 thousand views and counting. So thank all of you for viewing and showing support, and trust me, there will be some good stuff coming out in 2017.

I brought back the YouTube channel and made a little compilation video of the biggest books and movies about books that came out this year. I'm sure I left out a bunch of books, but this is whatever I've come in contact with or have heard of so whatever.

And of course, because I need an MMGM review, I'd like to cap off 2016 with a review of an Andrew Clements classic: Lunch Money

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: July 1st, 2005 by Aladdin Paperbacks

Summary: Goodreads ~ Greg Kenton has always had a natural talent for making money -- despite the annoying rivalry of his neighbor Maura Shaw. Then, just before sixth grade, Greg makes a discovery: Almost every kid at school has an extra quarter or two to spend almost every day. 
Multiply a few quarters by a few hundred kids, and for Greg, school suddenly looks like a giant piggy bank. All he needs is the right hammer to crack it open. Candy and gum? Little toys? Sure, kids would love to buy stuff like that at school. But would teachers and the principal permit it? Not likely.
But how about comic books? Comic books might work. Especially the chunky little ones that Greg writes and illustrates himself. Because everybody knows that school always encourages reading and writing and creativity and individual initiative, right?
In this funny and timely novel, Andrew Clements again holds up a mirror to real life, and invites young readers to think about money, school, friendship, and what it means to be a success.

What I liked: One of my favorite things about this book is that, like the school story, this book explored into the wonderful (-ish) world of publishing books. While this one isn't as serious as The School Story, it is really cool to see how a kid learns capitalism and book publishing when he makes his own books. It is also (sort of) funny when Greg gets into a conflict with some competition literally because they have the same product. It's just funny how, in my opinion, whether intentional or unintentional, an allegory for the high-stakes competition of book publishing was put into a more "pleasant" way to read, with kids instead of publishing companies and comic books instead of novels.

What I Didn't Like: Yep, just like a lot of Andrew Clements books, I'm going to have to say there isn't really anything to ding here. I didn't wish, or crave for anything else, well, maybe it would've been cool if Greg took the whole entrepreneurship thing further and expanded into having assembly lines made and other products like book jackets and pencils and stuff, but other than that I really don't think the book needed anything else. It's...just...perfect.

Rating: 9.7 (or 8) out of then.

Why? Andrew Clements is good, but no book gets a perfect rating unless it's Stuart Gibbs (the I've-talked-to-him-for-two-years thing gives Stuart the bonus)

It is currently 11:48 PM. I made it in time. Phew. Well, have a Happy New Year, see you in 2017!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: November 1st, 2016 by Amulet Books.

Summary: Amazon ~ The pressure’s really piling up on Greg Heffley. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush, so she wants her son to put down the controller and explore his “creative side.”

As if that’s not scary enough, Halloween’s just around the corner and the frights are coming at Greg from every angle.

When Greg discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can he get his mom off his back by making a movie . . . and will he become rich and famous in the process? Or will doubling down on this plan just double Greg’s troubles?

What I liked:  Like a lot of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, this book just had me reading. I loved reading about Greg's hilarious adventures. It's not that this book has laugh-out-loud jokes, but everytime I read this series, it always brightens my mood, and this book did not let me down. I also have to point out that Jeff Kinney finds a great way to transition from one event to another without making it awkward or unusual. Like, for example, he transitioned from talking about kids trying to start the cheese touch to making a movie. I don't know about you, but there aren't many authors who, without explaining much, flip over to a different subject and make it feel very flowy. Maybe you could argue that he can do it because it's just documenting his life, so anything goes, but either way, Kinney's writing ability has time and time again shown in his books.

What I Didn't Like:  If anything, I would have to say that there is not a plot to this book. Even in other books where I say there's no plot, such as in such of the Andrew Clements books, there still is a plot, but here it is just a retelling of events. There wasn't a main goal in the books, and there wasn't intense moments. But still, that's what makes the Diary of a Wimpy kid books so great. They reach out to this broader range because it doesn't take an intense reading level or amount of concentration to interpret and enjoy the books.

Rating: 9.5 out of ten

Why? Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are never bad, but as a repercussion, you should expect, they will always not be as bland as other books. It's like a burger. There are some burgers which are AMAZING but it is just meat and bun. While they are still good, sometimes you want to pile on the onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. Not that there's anything wrong with either of which. It just depends on the mood you're in. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

An MBA Christmas

Hey y'all- So my Christmas present to you is a short story, fanfiction, thing on what I kind of imagine Christmas might be like on MBA. And because you may crave more after this, if I get a lot of support and comments, I will do Christmastime at Spy School. I've got a bunch of ideas how it may go, but it'll depend on the support. It'll be out on Christmas Eve if it comes out, so be sure to comment and view and tell your extended family about this. Anyways, enjoy!

Insert Crazy Amazing Title

Chapter 1

Well, it was Christmas Eve and of course, like all the families on Earth, we too were having a celebration, even though we were thousands of miles away.

Alas, it was cold, but it was this cold every day. The moon didn't really have seasons so every day was just, well cold.

Anyways, we did our best to improvise decorations. NASA apparently would rather spend the millions of dollars to send up a two foot tree on something more...well valuable (although honestly, what is more valuable than a Christmas tree), so instead of a traditional tree we put up a picture of a tree on our smart boards and called it a day. Decorating our room was tough because we didn't have decorations and my sister Violet didn't want to do anything before Christmas anyways.

There was a knock on the door. "Dashiell, could you open the door please" I opened the door to my dad with an armload of ...paper.

Of course, if the government wouldn't spend money on a tree, they wouldn't spend money on ornaments and other knick knacks. However, they did care for us, so they sent up some piles of printer paper for us to create decorations.

My mom appeared with some scissors "Time to get busy" she said as she opened and closed the pair.
And so it went, while kids were making wish lists, I spent my Christmas Eve cutting thousands of snowflakes. Not only were they for our cabin, apparently my parents actually convinced Nina to give them the night off (something extremely rare at MBA where time was more valuable than gold) on the promise that we would decorate all of MBA.

Shreds of paper were strewn all over the metal floor as we went in hanging up the snowflakes with tape. Normally at schools and such, you seem to have string hanging from the flakes to make it look like they were floating. And there was string on base, but we decided it wasn't important to waste it, so instead we got a big roll of tape and started taping.

I decided to take a break and talk to Kira.

"Hey what's up Dash" she asked when I greeted her with a friendly hug, which of course Roddy took exception to.

"Aww, don't you guys make a cute couple" he said and attempted to take a picture of our hug, however, he was inevitable too late.

I sighed, glanced at Kira, and laughed. Everyone on Earth had been saying we were most likely to make a good couple, because we were the same age and well, I was a guy and she was a girl. And honestly, I'm sure half the base agreed with them. But the one who shipped us the most was Roddy.

Roddy was so blatantly jealous of how Kira had preferred me to him it was hilarious. Roddy never went outside on Earth so his idea of getting Kira off of me was to be as obnoxious as possible whenever we were talking, which Kira had figured out.

"Get lost Roddy, I'm telling you we're just friends" Kira retorted.

"But why did you guys hug? I swear I'm the only good detective on this base and I'm telling you, you guys are hiding something"

"Good detective? You thought Nina was murdered, when she obviously is still alive"

That made Roddy take a step back, but he still had to get the last word. "Then what about that hug. Friends don't hug"

Kira smiled, knowing she had defeat in a clearly lopsided argument. "Yeah, that's because all you know about girls is from a video game. Have you ever seen a normal school? It's not like we're supposed to shake hands and be all formal with a 'Pleased to see you again'"

Roddy shook his head, and turned towards me "Well, Dash, I bet you were going to ask her out huh?"

I responded with "No, I just wanted to say hi. Because I'm normal. And not a creep"

Kira ignored Roddy's struggle to get into the conversation and asked me "How's the decorating going?"

"Tiring, but I think we're almost done" I responded "All we need to do is make the 'Christmas Tree' and that should please Nina"

Kira was about to ask something when she was interrupted again by a loud scream, which I could tell was from my mom.

"Dash where are you at! I need your help!"

We rushed to the scene, where I presumed my mom had fallen from trying to hang up snowflakes. I could tell he was somewhere by the green house and found him and mom on the brink of crying.

Little did I know, but Kira was behind me, and for the first time I didn't want to be near Kira because I was about to shed some tears.

"Dad" I asked "Are the...?"

"Yes Dash, they're all gone. All the green house food has been stolen"

Chapter 2

Kira was simply shocked by what had happened, and so had everyone in my family, except for Violet, who was probably watching The Polar Express or some movie in our room.

Normally it was a big deal that all the fruit was gone, but in fact it was a bigger problem. Dad had told me last night after everyone was asleep that for the first MBA Christmas, there really wasn't going to be material presents like iPads and such. NASA wouldn't send them up, and really we're on the moon for crying out loud. Why would you ever be like "oh instead of enjoying being one of the only people to ever be on the mood, let's play an iPad game"? But the parents had been planning a big surprise. They've been working non-stop to harvest a giant crop of fruits and vegetables, and tomorrow on Christmas Day, a shipment of some fresh food would come in, something NASA actually agreed was reasonable.

Now, after months of 20 hour days, all the adults work was gone. Not only was Christmas ruined for us kids, but for the adults as well.

After the shock was over, it took a quarter of a second to confront our first suspect.

Kira, Dad and I all marched to the Sjobergs room to confront them about the missing fruit.

Dad paused and pounded loudly on the Sjobergs's door "OPEN UP!" he yelled "WE KNOW YOU TOOK THE FRUIT. WE JUST WANT WHATEVER IS STILL INTACT"

"It wasn't us this time go away" the Sjobergs yelled from their room

It was in due time that Chang HI-Tech, the base's second-in-command, would find out about this missing green house. He took extreme exception to the missing food, as he was the base's single greatest laborer, and promptly kicked the door in and tackles Lars Sjoberg.

"Dash, go check the apartment" he ordered as he pinned Lars to the floor with his shocked family cowering in the corner.

We spent around a minute checking every single nook and cranny. In MBA, the apartments were tiny and far too cramped even for Japan's standards, and after Kira, my dad and I scoped the place out we all came to the conclusion: unless there was such a product to make food invisible, the food was not in hear.

"Let them go" my dad said "They actually don't have it"

Chang seemed surprised by this "Are you sure? I mean they took it the last..."

"Yes Chang, they're clear, we'll hold them down if you want to look yourself" my dad replied.

Chang accepted that offer and it took the three of us to pin a furious Lars Sjoberg as Chang searched for any possible secret compartments. After the search he agreed: Unless they managed to eat around half ton of food in the span of say twenty-four hours, they didn't have the food.

We came out of the room when Lars attempted to put his door back in the doorframe. Instead of in a graceful way angrily slamming the door in place, the door bounced off the door frame and smacked Lars in the head knocking him out.

All the commotion had gotten everybody away from their jobs into the communal area, also known as the cafeteria, which was also considered the mess hall.

Lots of chatter was going on, but the question everyone was talking about remained clear: What happened to the food, at what was going to happen tomorrow?

In all honesty, I expected all the kids to be aware that the fresh food was going to be a present for them and that it was ruined. But however, I was shocked. Only Kira, Dash, Roddy and his brother Cesar knew of the "surprise". All the little kids weren't informed and hadn't put two and two together. All they knew was that Santa was going to make a trip to the moon in his long journey tonight.

First things first, we needed to figure out how long the fruits and vegetables would last should they be kept in some sort of compartment that someone was hiding. All the adults agreed that it would be able to last the night, so in theory if we had until tomorrow morning in around 8 hours to find the missing items.

The sad thing is that everyone, even the Sjobergs somehow, was at the meeting, so even though everyone looked confused, shocked, surprised, or determined to find the thief, it didn't take a genius to figure out that someone in front of us was acting coy and was harboring the stolen property.

Nina spoke up "Alright, so I know that one of you people are holding the food. No time for interrogation, but however, once I assign your list of partners, if your partner is acting weird, or not letting you get to a place, you let me know and we deal with them" She then called out pairs of people who would search sections of the base. Then she looked at me.

"Kira, Dash.  There isn't much to do search-wise for the kids. Finish decorating this place, at least we'll be without food in a decently pretty area" She turned to Roddy "Roddy, you're no use. Go play those games or whatever you do" Finally, she let the kids do whatever, which meant they attacked the dehydrated waffles like vultures after dead meat.

After everyone scattered, I asked Kira "So, what's the plan to find the missing food?"

She laughed, quite excessively "Dash, you do know Nina is probably going to check if we actually did decorate. Let's start with that, I'm all for being the heroes, but it's hard to be a hero when you're grounded"
I blushed. "Yeah, I kinda thought so, just wanted to get a plan going"

And so it was, while all the adults frantically searched every cubic inch of Moon Base Alpha, banging all the walls for empty spots, Kira and I were like kindergartners, attacking a taped piece of paper with green and red and all sorts of colors, turning wood pulp into a tree. Did it look good? Well, let's just say next year NASA better invest in that Christmas tree. Point it, it was 1 AM, and we were finished.

We had 5 hours before the already asleep little children would wake up to find that food.

Chapter 3

Almost jokingly, I asked Kira “Where to first coach?”

“What, I’m the girl here. You’re gonna make me do all the work?” Kira responded.

I turned red. “Well, I just meant…”

She laughed. “Relax” she responded and playfully slugged my arm “You’re right, I come up with the good plans anyway”

“So, where do you think we should go”

“I’ll give you a hint, it’s not on this base”

“What?” I exclaimed “You do know that with all the moon dust, all the food would be contaminated on the moon surface”

“Hey, I’m the brains here. Trust me, I know what I’m doing”

“Then tell me genius, where do you suspect the missing crops would be?”

“Remember the operations pod all the other adults were stranded at during the meteor shower?”

I shook my head. “No, there are people staying there. How could someone stash the food there without anyone noticing”

“Think about it. The architects aren’t used to the new moon conditions. Maybe they thought it would be better. Then, someone gives them a proposition: let them store a bunch of crops in there and they can have a cut of it”

I pondered that. “But how did someone spend hours on the moon without being noticed”

“We’re going to find that someone…right now” Kira stated as she walked over to the vee-yar center where Roddy was firing away at aliens.

Kira put on her best flirtatious act and asked Roddy "Hey Roddy"

Roddy had his headphones in and couldn't gear a thing, so Kira kept tapping his shoulder harder and harder until she was literally slugging him until Roddy looked up.

Roddy pretended to be cool, which honestly is hard when you're just the opposite of suave. "Oh hey Kira, what's up"

Kira had this whole bit down where she batted her eyelashes and smiles which had helped us hack into MBA's numerous technological aspects, mostly because Roddy for some reason knew how to get in and he was an easy target.

"Nothing much Roddy. Do you think you could do a small favor for me?"

Roddy paused. I'm pretty sure he knew he was being used, but honestly I could tell he didn't care. Kira never talked to him like this, and he probably thought she had changed or something.

"Like what?"

"Oh, do you think you could get the security camera footage for me in the past 24 hours?"

Roddy laughed it off like it was the easiest thing. "Hah, child's play. Next time get me to do something challenging"

Kira had the most forced smile I'd ever seen as she said "Well, we'll see what you can do hotshot"

We went up to Kira's room while Roddy did his thing. Kira's dad was thoroughly inspecting somewhere near the bathrooms, so we were good for a while.

"So what's the plan from here" I asked her.

"Simple" she replied "We just watch the footage from last night, the only chance they would've been able to make away with the goods. I'm telling you, if any space suits are missing, we're going to find the culprit"
A question that's been bouncing around in my mind suddenly was released from my mouth. "How do you think no one has noticed for twelve hours that something was up?"

Kira laughed. "Dash you're so oblivious. Have you not seen the "decorations" that have gone up on the window of the greenhouse"

I stood up, left her room and walked to where I could see the green house. Indeed, there was a lot of carefully designed snowflakes placed where no one could see inside.

I returned to my conversation with Kira. "Makes sense I guess, and none of ur parents would go in there because if a kid followed them..."

"It would ruin the surprise" Kira said, finishing my sentence.

Just then, Roddy knocked on the door. Kira answered it.

"Hey Roddy, do you have the stuff?"

"Yes I do Kira" he said, producing a flash drive.

"Great!" Kira said and reached for the drive.

"Whoa, not so fast" Roddy said "You have to do something for me"

"What?" Kira said, now annoyed by Roddy.

"You have to give me a hug for this"

"Fine" Kira said, and snatched the drive.

Roddy held out his arms.

"What?" Kira asked, starting to try to walk by him.

"The hug you just promised?" Roddy questioned.

"I didn't say when I would give you a hug" Kira said, motioning for me to follow her.

Roddy tripped my on my way out, but I ignored him. I gave him a glare but went and followed Kira, while he disappeared into wherever he went.

We didn't end up going anywhere. We did a full circle and then walked right back to Kira's room, where we plugged the flash drive into the smart board. It took a little bit, but we found the folder for the area by the space suits.

The timestamp of 1 AM GMT Earth Time appeared. We were watching a lifeless hallway for 15 minutes when a body appeared. Only for a half second though. It blurred out the camera right away with some sort of cover.

I glanced at Kira "That had to be..."

Kira responded "There's only one person it could be..."

"Patton Sjoberg" we said at the same time.

Chapter 4

We sped through the clip hoping the cover would be removed after Patton presumably went on the moon. We only had to forward fifteen minutes. The cover was probably some more paper (who knows how much of this stuff NASA sent up) and eventually fell off. However, when we got a good view of the spacesuit locker, Kira and I saw the same weird thing at the same time.

Half of the Sjoberg's spacesuits were gone, were my mom's and my dad's.

"Whoa, where are my parent's spacesuits" I rhetorically asked.

Kira looked shocked. "There's no way..."

I shook my head. "No this must be like last time. Lars and Sonja must have taken theirs, and Patton and Lily's probably broke so they just took my mom's and dad's"

Kira thought for a second, and began to shake her head "Yeah, that's seems plausible. I mean, they'd want to do this quickly, and wouldn't waste time repairing it. Patton and Lily are about your parent's size give or take"

It was about ten minutes later when they came back, a reasonable amount of time we agreed if they were to travel on rover, with the extra few minutes Patton had gotten, to the operations pod and back. A few minutes later, they had another armful of baskets of crops, and were outside the door again.
"That's all we need" Kira said "It's out there at the operations pod, c'mon let's go"

Kira moved with such urgency it shocked me. "Whoa, whoa, what about a plan, I mean, our parents wouldn't let us out there" I said.

"Yeah Britain also didn't let Washington lead a revolution but it happened and good things resulted from it now are you coming or am I going alone?" Kira responded.

I eventually conceded and went with Kira. Once she got going on a topic, there was no chance in stopping her or changing her mind.

It seemed like Kira knew what she was doing. She figured out where we could make our way to the space suit storage area with being stopped, and calculated we had around 30 minutes to an hour before all of the "inspectors" would eventually give up. Honestly, I figured they would've been done hours ago, I mean it's not like we were looking for a person, just some food, and it wasn't a small crop so it isn't like a tiny nook and cranny would hide all of it. Still, all the grown-ups were peering tiny flashlights and banging on each section of the wall as they had for a couple hours now.

 We stuck the wall, slowly, because even floors on fancy hi-tech moon bases could still creek, and even though there was a lot of noise, considering we were supposed to be in our rooms, and a major sound would destroy our plan.

When we made it to the storage area for the suits, I didn’t think about the action of suiting up, I just went through the motions. It was funny that kids like me dream of suiting up and walking on the moon, but here I didn’t even think, I was all-business.

Opening the door without being noticed was slightly harder, but we made it into the little holding area between the inner door and the outer door.

I glanced at Kira, who looked back at me. As soon as we opened the door, an alarm would be sent to the computer, so theoretically anyone near that area of the base would notify everyone of our escape in a quick amount of time. But, it had to be done, so we nodded and opened the door into the endless ocean of rocks that was the surface of the moon.

We bounced our way to the moon rover garage and took the keys and put them in the ignition. Normally, on Earth, these vehicles were tested to travel around 25 to 30 mph, which considering the moon base was around a half to a full mile away, was good. But on the moon, with the decreased gravity, it took five revs of the engine before we even got it going. After that, well, let’s say my great granny could have walked fast than the speed we went.

Still, the vehicle was great because we ride the craters and flew into the air. It wasn’t too long before we the operations pod for workers on Moon Base Beta was in site.

That was then Kira and I glanced behind our shoulder and saw an extremely angry pare of space suits who appeared to be of the same size as Lily and Patton on a moon rover chasing us.

Kira froze. "What should we do Dash?" she yelled.

"We need to turn around" I commanded.

"What?" she screamed "You do know if we turn around they will catch us and literally kill us"

"Not a full complete turn" I stated "Just pretend like you're going straight to the Operations Pod, but when we get there instead of parking go all the way around it and start going back"

We neared the operations pod. "SLOW DOWN" I suddenly screamed.
"What?" Kira cried "Why?"

"They're at a pretty far distance. If we continue at our pace they could see what we're doing and cut us off. Let them get closer"

She seemed unsure so I grabbed her arm to calm her down. She looked at my arm then at me. I shrugged. It worked with violet when got rowdy, and by the looks of it, it looked like Kira had earned my trust. She slowed down just so they were about half a football field's length from us.

We arrived at the operations pod, and like planned, instead of parking, we just kept going around it.
My plan worked perfectly. By the time Lily and Patton saw we weren't stopping there and going inside to hide, it was more effective to continue going straight around the pod than to do a complete spin, start up again, and go the other way.

"Yes!" Kira screamed into the radio in my ear when we suddenly gained lots of ground when their rover got stuck in some moon rocks. "We're half way back to the pod!"

Of course, our problems didn't end there. That's when we saw Chang Hi-Tech commandeer a rover and began to head straight for us. We were essentially doomed.
“I know what you’re thinking Dash” Kira yelled “We’re not doomed!”

“What?” I responded “How the heck did you…”

“We’re basically sandwiched in adult-death. Put two and two together”

“But still…you found the right word and…”

“Who cares, I have another plan”

“Would you care to elaborate on said plan?” I asked, but it didn’t matter.

Kira had taken a turn, and instead of going toward MBA, she was beginning to veer slightly toward the solar array. Right toward a giant crater. Chang however, was planning on cutting us off, and being the genius he was, he decided to aim for a part right behind a crater.

We were around 100 feet away when I yelled “Are we going to…”

“YES! That’s the only way Dash, we have to jump him”

And so it was, like an action scene, we were nearing the place, action music was playing in my mind, when all of a sudden we hit the crater and we went flying into the air.

Of course, here’s the part where you’re expecting we went sailing of Chang’s head, landed, made it back to MBA, and no one but Chang had noticed we were gone. Sadly, the opposite was true.

As soon as we were about to take off, Kira hesitated.

“What are you doing” I shouted.


“What?” I yelled but then I looked at Chang.

Chang had changed directions and chose not to attempt to somehow grab us out of the air, but to go for the crater so that we couldn’t jump. He got there a bit too late. We were almost in the air when his rover hit ours and we went flying into the base. Chang went flying too, near the solar array. Our rover went haywire and slammed right into the side of MBA.

“There goes being discreet” I muttered, when Kira grabbed me.

“C’mon, I’ve got a backup plan” Kira said as she pulled me toward an all too familiar part of the moon surface.

“Are we seriously going into the place where Nina nearly died?”

“Well, if we don’t go down there, we will die from our parents rage. At least we can pity them or something”
We opened the hatch to the operations pod for Moon Base Alpha. It was designed to pretty much keep you alive on the moon at that was about it. No amenities or anything. Except, when we got down there, there wasn’t an empty room but…

“It’s all the food” I announced to no one.

It was true, all the fruits of our work, strawberries, blueberries, all the berries and other foods the geniuses at NASA figured out could cultivate on the surface of the moon was here. I only saw it for a second, because once Kira was in, she closed the hatch, which blocked out all light.

“Wait, what did you say?” she asked me.

“It’s all here” I said, smiling “Everything has just been here”

Kira went to open the hatch to get some light, but she stopped herself, knowing she didn’t want to be exposed. Instead she walked over to the back wall and started feeling around, and sure enough she laughed and said “Yep, here it all is. The mystery has been solved”

“C’mon, let’s go tell someone, we need to get them in trouble” I told Kira, when a figure in a space suit opened the door.

Very winded, he said “Dash, come with me, let’s go inside”

Of course, it was no other figure than my own dad.

Chapter 4

In the base, my parents were almost confused on how to act. Like they wanted to reprimand me, but they also wanted to praise me for finding the entire crop.

Nina decided to hold a quick debriefing who-did-what meeting in her room.

My dad, Kira, and I arrived with Chang Hi-tech, the Sjobergs and Nina all in inflatable cube chairs.
Nina didn’t waste any time.

“All right, Dash and Kira, you violated a billion NASA safety codes but for the moment, we’ll forget about that. Lars, I mean I get the whole you-hate-us thing, but seriously, crops on Christmas?”

Lars still believed there was a chance to convince Nina that he had no part in this “I’M TELLING YOU” he yelled “I DIDN’T PUT THAT FOOD IN THAT ROOM”

It was time for Nina to combat him “Really? We have footage of Patton covering the camera to the space suits”

Lars paused “Patton…” he threatened, a quite bit amount of anger in his voice.

Patton admitted “Alright, alright, Lily, Cesar and I wanted to play space football again, so this time, I didn’t want to get caught…so I covered the cameras while we played. I didn’t know it would fall off”

Lars seemed satisfied with Patton’s answer, but Nina wasn’t. “Lars sit down” Nina ordered. When he did, she continued “You still haven’t answered my question. Just admit it, you know it’s a losing battle, I just need this for official NASA record and all that. Did you put our cultivated crops in that room”

Lars was annoyed, but he calmed himself and responded with a short “No, I did not Nina”

Nina began to yell, but out of all people, my dad stood up and said “Nina, sit down. Lars is telling the truth”
I spoke up. “What? But dad…?”

My dad looked at my mom and sighed. “It was my wife and I who snuck all that food into the old operations pod”

I was too shocked to react with any sorrow. My dad looked around and saw the similar reactions so he elaborated a little more.

“Let me explain. Lars approached me and said that he would pay me off if I found a way to give all of our crops to him”

Lars began to yell out profanity but my dad calmed him. “Lars, shut up. You know this is true. I only tell the truth”

When Lars sat down, Dad continued. “I was in the middle of decorating when he approached me. He said ‘Hey, I’ve got a question. All that food in the greenhouse. How much is that worth to you? In USD?’ I responded honestly, not suspecting anything. I told him that honestly, for fresh food, which I still am dying for, I’d pay a couple billion for it. Lars responded ‘Tell you what, I’ll pay you triple that once you get back to Earth, if you help me get all of it for my family’”

Lars interjected “Was it not a good enough deal? I mean, I’ll sweeten the pot if It means there won’t be any repocuss…”

Nina glared at him which ended any chance of him bribing us to let him go.

Dad continued “Anyways, I declined his offer, obviously, and that was when he threatened not Dash, but Violet. He said he would send Patton and Lily to do horrible things to her, unless I helped him out. I didn’t believe him, but the chance of losing Violet, I mean she was an easy target and helpless. Dash here is strong and he knew what to do when being attacked, but Violet…I couldn’t trust her being vulnerable. So I talked to my wife and we agreed to do the job”

He looked at the ground, and began tearing up, my mom rubbing him.

Kira interjected “So that’s why you were chasing us? Because you didn’t want us to stumble upon it?”

“Oh no, not for that reason” my mom said, finding her words. “We chased you because we didn’t want Dash to get hurt.”

Chang had nodded along and finally spoke up “So that’s that. Everything’s settled right”

Nina thought for a second and nodded “I guess so. Lars paid Dash’s parents to steal the crop, Dash illegally went onto the moon, Patton played with expensive equipment, yeah I think we’re good”
Dad and Mom took me in a hug, which Kira spontaneously joined.

Chapter 6

Two hours later, it was officially Christmas morning. It was extremely awkward,  because instead of waking up to a beautiful Hawaii sunrise and looking at a vivacious tree filled with gifts, I woke up groggily to a paper tree with nothing.

But Christmas lunch was still a thing.

Cooking delicious meals proved to be a challenge everyone unanimously agreed on avoiding. We agreed that with the fresh burgers NASA graciously sent up combined with raw vegetables, the lunch was set. At first, Violet turned her nose at the kale and spinach, but in the end gobbled it up. For the first time everyone in MBA seemed genuinely happy, except for the Sjobergs, who Nina kicked from the luncheon and gave them rehydrated slop to eat in their room.

In the end, it was just another holiday on MBA.

So there you go. Pretty short thing, but honestly, I planned on just describing what it was like but I ended up making a plot. Want to read a Spy School version in a few days? I have some number goals for views and comments, which I'll keep a secret, but the more the better!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Report Card by Andrew Clements (MMGM)

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: January 1st, 2006 by Atheneum Books

Summary: A fifth-grade genius turns the spotlight on grades - good and bad - in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Nora Rose Rowley is a genius, but don't tell anyone. She's managed to make it to the fifth grade without anyone figuring out that she's not just an ordinary kid, and she wants to keep it that way.

But then Nora gets fed up with the importance everyone attaches to test scores and grades, and she purposely brings home a terrible report card just to prove a point. Suddenly the attention she's successfully avoided all her life is focused on her, and her secret is out. And that's when things start to get really complicated....

What I Liked: This book literally preaches the truth and I love it so much. The educational system honestly is horrible, which the book states a decade before this whole movement in 2016. The main character flat out says how the whole system boils down to memorizing facts the night before a test which has nothing to do with intelligence. Nora also talks about how a number between 0 and 100 can not only stress a kid out, but that kid will either feel dumb or smart based on how high that number is. As a kid in high school, I found it so true and realized how ridiculous the school system is. In the words of Albert Einstein "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it's stupid". And I agree. So what if some kid bombs a social studies test? Maybe he doesn't need to know who Stephen Douglas was, but he may be a mathematical prodigy and a genius, and yet the school system has caused him to think he is dumb because of his inability to keep facts on the US history. I agree, as citizens, we do need to know basic US history and what not, but like Animal Farm, this book is an allegory of an emerging issue in the US.

What I Didn't Like: Rant aside, there isn't much bad to say about the book. It's short and sweet and gets the message across. This book is literally animal farm, but instead of animals and communism, it's Nora Rowley and the school system. It's genius.

Rating: 9.7 out of ten.

Why? Go read the what I didn't like section again if you're seriously asking why I compare the book to amazing pieces of art (like Spy School). It sends an amazing message in a fun and intriguing way.