But when Kylie arrives at her first softball practice of the season, she comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare: Amber McDonald, the best pitcher in the state.
Now, Kylie's forced to warm the bench as Amber wows crowds again and again. With all the drama happening out on the softball diamond, Kylie finds herself drawn back to bad habits-sabotaging people and hanging out with a certain Zachary Murphy. . .
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Cute and fun yet still having plenty of more emotional scenes, Stealing Games is another great installment in the Pretty Tough series that will leave readers with that can't help but grin feeling. Kylie is headstrong and independent to a fault, yet Mikulski weaves her development perfectly to match this. Withe a range of fun side characters, a cheating yet still frustratingly endearing hottie to contend with, and a well paced plot, Stealing Bases definitely will hit with readers who like their romance with a side of sports.
The Extended Version:
Kylie is the kind of girl who keeps things to herself, even from her best friend, carrying too much baggage to really let anyone in. Still in love with her cheating ex, but trying hard to not get back with him, signs that things are starting to unravel for Kylie show up early. As things continue to rain down on her, things really pick up and her responses to things are completely understandable and logical for her characterization. Though she makes many mistakes, and definitely does things that readers will quirk an eyebrow to, Mikulski has infused her motivations and emotional reasons so strongly into the book that it's easy to overlook the whiny brat that Kylie can sometimes be when things get especially rough.
Zachary is just as hot as he seemed in Head Games, endearing and charming yet still unable to stop being a player. Even as Kylie struggles to resist his attempts to win her back, readers can easily understand why and might even find themselves starting to root for him again. Mikulski easily hits the gray space with this character, but definitely does not leave things dangling at the end.
The remainder of the characters have just enough to make them fleshed out and different, while still letting the story focus on Kylie. From mean girl type interactions to true friendship, there is a big range of relationship types in this book and each one is well placed and adds quite a bit to things overall.
The plot has a steady pace, focused on Kylie more than anything but holding plenty of outside factors that help drive things as well. Though predictable in some ways, Mikulski still weaves a very enjoyable and fun to read story while also not shying away from the inner turmoil that comes with the feeling of everything falling apart. From Kylie seeing the truth about people around her to friends that won't just give up on her to the softball aspect of the book, this one has plenty to keep it going and keep readers interested. Stealing Bases is another great installment in the Pretty Tough series that blends sports, romance, and great characters.
Source: Received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Razorbill; Original edition (July 7, 2011)