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Book Review: The Card: A Van Stone Novel by Jim Devitt

Published 03:41 p.m., Thursday, June 9, 2011

Winning the essay and becoming a bat boy for the Seattle Mariners, was more than Van Stone had ever wanted. Even at 13, he was much larger than many of his friends, looking more like one of the players in uniform than what he really was. In The Card: A Van Stone Novel by Jim Devitt, Van's life has just taken on a darker and deeper twist.

Receiving a gift from his father for the hard work going into the essay was unexpected and (according to his Dad) just a bit special. It was a baseball card from the early '30s and '40s of a relative unknown baseball player, Moe Berg. It was certainly unusual, and yet his father seemed to be deep in thought when he again mentioned that it could be very special to him someday. Trying to get Van to relax for his first big day his Dad changes the topic, and as Van tucked the card in his backpack, the subject did not come up again. His Dad dropped him off at Safeco field to begin his dream.

Learning the ropes and finding his way gives him a better understanding of the players. Thomson, an unknown player, is aloof, and Ron Cantos, the best player on the team, is one of the meanest. Getting advice from the other bat boy, Van tries to stay out of Cantos way. Part of the job involves cleaning up after the team and cleaning out the lockers for the next team. While checking to see that the lockers are clean and empty Van finds an odd double baseball cardholder in the very top of Thompson's locker. He can throw it away, since that is their instruction, but Van decides to use it for the Moe Berg card he received from his Dad. Putting it in his backpack to use later, he completes his work.

Life begins to settle, and finally even Cantos starts to treat him better, making life at the clubhouse just short of perfect.

When his Dad is unexpectedly killed in a car accident while on leave from the research facility where he works, Van's world changes. His friends are his comfort, and they become even closer than before. While he and his mom will be all right, his entire life has changed in an instant. The funeral is sobering, and sadness permeates even those things that are good in life.

Looking back and reflecting on his time with his dad, Van holds his Moe Berg card, remembering one of his last conversations with his father. He decides to put the card in the holder he found at the clubhouse to give it a place of honor in his room. When the card warms up, he is a bit surprised. Trying other cards from his collection, he finds the phenomenon only occurs with the Moe Berg card from his father. Is this the real reason for his Dad's gift?

Suddenly Van begins receiving threating phone calls demanding he turn over the card, his gift from his father. He is warned that if he does not comply he will be putting his friends and his mother at risk. Is there something about the card that makes it valuable? Is his dad's research the reason for the danger or is there more about the Moe Berg card that Van does not understand? Van is unwilling to give up the card. However, when the guard at the Safeco field gate is shot, Van realizes just how much danger is involved. Who can he turn to? Will giving up the card protect his friends and family?

Van is a strong and intelligent young man and Devitt does an exceptional job drawing characters you can relate too. Van and his friends are much like most children their age. Not understanding the danger, they try to come up with plans to hold on to his Moe Berg card. When challenged, Van is afraid and yet he refuses to give in. In the face of the danger that follows, Van and his friends put together plans to elude the perpetrator and try to trap him into revealing himself. This only puts them in further danger, but Van stands his ground. Even with the possible tragedies that could befall, Van is strong and motivated. Keeping track of his mom to keep her out of danger and keeping up with his friends to make sure they are alright, he puts himself in danger to draw the perpetrator to him.

Jim Devitt draws the ballpark as only an insider can. You can hear the crack of the bat and smell the popcorn. And he is so in tune with the inner workings that you can almost smell the sweat and feel the excitement of the locker room as he builds the suspense with the images of his words.

I would recommend this book for the young adult reader; it is fun and eventful, with suspense and action. Van Stone is a strong character, and has an amazing way of dealing with life. Devitt provides some great ballpark background as he delivers the goods.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure, great depth, September 20, 2011
I'm a big Seattle baseball fan, and I was initially drawn to this because of the connection to Safeco field. The baseball action and behind-the-scenes perspective of the stadium were a lot of fun, but what really impressed me is that there's a lot more to this book. The story is fascinating- the fast paced adventure really keeps you hooked. The characters are compelling and easy to relate to- even relatively minor characters are well-drawn and interesting. But what I found outstanding about The Card is that there's a pretty profound underlying message here. Besides just out-maneuvering the bad guys, our hero is forced to create strength and positivity out of some really devastating circumstances, and he proves to himself that he can do it. This is really a story about a boy who has to look in the mirror and decide who he wants to be and how he is going to let himself be defined- by self pity? By revenge and anger? Or by making the choice to become a better person? By the time I put this book down I was feeling optimistic and strong myself. So much YA lit these days tends to be aimed at girls, and I think this would be a great read for teen boys in particular. I'm really looking forward to more from this author.

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Young Adult Novel, September 9, 2011
As an adult, I don't often read novels written for young adults (YA), but I thoroughly enjoyed the story of "The Card." The writing style was easy to zoom through to the next exciting page. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants action, devastation of the heart, recovery, strength, and memories of being a curious teenager. Good going Author Jim Devitt! Bravo!

5.0 out of 5 stars The Card, September 7, 2011
I just finished reading the "Card" Great book, it's well written and has lots of great Seattle and Mariners inside information. I can see why it's marketed for youth readers...but it's a great read for Adults too..especially if you're a baseball fan!

5.0 out of 5 stars The Card, July 30, 2011
Dorothy Perez "Dorothy Perez" (Miami, Florida) -
This review is from: THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel) (Kindle Edition)
What a refreshing, wonderful, wholesome, cannot put down kind of book.
It is a book that once you start reading it you cannot put in down.. You start and as the story continues to grow, you cannot find the right spot to put it down. It has the mystery, the suspense, the action you want, but without the gory things.
The characters are wonderful, that everyone can relate to. Fred is wonderful, Zoe is the even keeled individual that keeps everyone grounded. The main character; Van is so real and exactly what everyone would want their son to be.
My family eats, breathe, eats and sleeps baseball, so it hits even closer to home, because of the setting.
Its everyone's dream. !!!
Good work: Jim Devitt.!!!
Please keep your style of writing.
I will be a loyal reader. Thanks

5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure at its Best, June 2, 2011
Elizabeth (Pennsylvania) -This review is from: The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
Winning an essay contest definitely turned out to be excellent for Van or so he thought. His prize was the opportunity to be a bat boy in the dugout of a major league baseball team and rub shoulders with all the big names. His dad was thrilled, and so was he. On his first day with the team, his dad gave him a special baseball card that he described as magic. But.....was the card really magic or was it bad news?

Bad news happened not too long after the card appeared, and what was to be magic turned out to be something Van wished he had not even heard of. What would have been the reason he won the contest in the first place, and what was so important about a Moe Berg baseball card to cause all this trouble? Did either have anything to do with the things starting to happen in his life?

Baseball fans will definitely enjoy the book because of the details about the behind-the-scenes activities that happen in a locker room of a baseball team. Mystery fans will enjoy the book as well....the ending was filled with action. :)

I enjoyed the is a Young Adult read. It is fast moving, and the added interest of the mysterious men in black suits keeps you going. The author had good development of the plot and the characters and definitely had you guessing until the end. 5/5

5.0 out of 5 stars The Card, April 25, 2011
This book is an easy read for young adults. fast paced action adventure with a Seattle backdrop. Reading it , I felt I had been at most locations in this book. Made me feel like I was a part of the experience with Van Stone. I am passing this book along to all the youth baseball players in the neighborhood,( I am keeping mine, they will have to buy their own). Definitely getting one for my grandson. Looking forward to hearing how they enjoyed it. I sure did. When is the next one out?

5.0 out of 5 stars Want to encourage reading? Buy The Card., April 25, 2011
Peggy D. Cuevas (Miami, FL United States) -This review is from: The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
As an elementary school teacher I'm always on the lookout for good books that will encourage the boys in my class to read. The Card is now high on the list for everyone in my class - not just the boys! It moves quickly, the characters are so believeable, and the plot is just complex enough to catch their interest without overwhelming them with too many characters. Even the students in my class who've never seen a baseball card enjoyed the interplay between Van and his friend Fred. In fact, whenever someone in the class acts a little goofy several of my students have taken to calling him "Fred".
Every school library and classroom library should have a copy of The Card. In fact, multiple copies would probably be a great idea. Naturally, I read the book before I put it on my classroom library shelf and I enjoyed it as much as my students have. This is one of those rare books that makes you want to read more. I sincerely hope Jim Devitt will make this the first in a series. 

5.0 out of 5 stars An All American Novel - But Good for the whole world!, May 25, 2011
waylander -Amazon Verified Purchase
The Card has all the wholesome elements that Americans (and most of the world) holds as high values: The spirit of adventure, the quest for answers to a mystery, the refusal to give up. Van Stone still lives deep in the heart of every human being and Devitt has skillfully resurrected what sometimes seems to be in danger of dying or maybe has already died in the advancing cultures of the world.

I was taken back to my own adolescence when everything was new and full of life and wonder in each moment. As I read, I became more and more aware that these attributes are still alive in me. I wanted to go out and build a baseball diamond in the back yard, invite my sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, friends and family and just play ball.

The absence of obscenity and the lack of inappropriate attention to sexuality is a reminder that entertainment need not contain these features. I couldnt wait to pick up the book again each day and find out what would happen next. I want to live my life this way.

Bravo, Mr. Devitt.

5.0 out of 5 stars In my wheelhouse!, May 7, 2011
Mark A. Spisak (Normandy Park, WA, US) -Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel) (Kindle Edition)
This book was great. You don't have to be a sports fan, great read. This guy Devitt might be the next Mike Lupica?
Speez - SEA

5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good, May 6, 2011
this book was very good. especially for a first time writer. I also enjoyed reading it because it took place in an area where i had been 30 minutes before i started reading it! I recommend this book to anybody that likes reading books because in my opinion it was very descriptive and made the charachters come alive.

5.0 out of 5 stars A "Real World" thriller., April 27, 2011
David A Whiteley -Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel) (Kindle Edition)
At first I wasn't sure if the action was moving quickly enough, but I found that the investment in the development of the characters and the plot pays off.

Van Stone is an everyday kid who just happened to have landed his dream job as a batboy in the major leagues. I found the characters in this story to be real and believable, acting and reacting to the events that unfold in ways that you could see yourself acting. It's refreshing to find a book that doesn't need to have impossible things happening (or super-human powers) to keep the action going. No wizards or vampires are needed, this is real.

As a parent, this is the type of book I'd like to see my kids reading.

The accuracy of the subject matter and description of the actual locations of the events happening in the Seattle area is also refreshing. Being from the Seattle area, I found that I could actually picture where the events took place as they unfolded.

I would encourage pre-teen and young adults to read this book. My twin ten year old boys are reading it now. They are about half way through the book and loving it.

Great job by Jim Devitt on his first book. I'm hoping there will be a sequel!

5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome young adult book that you can not put down!, April 6, 2011
Sarah L
This review is from: The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
I am usually not a big reader, because I have yet to find the perfect book, to keep me interested. But I would say that this book was the perfect fit for me. Jim Devitt used so many details throughout the book, that I could visualize everything that Van, Fred, and Zoe were doing. I would start reading the book in the evening after dinner, and I would read for such a long time that my eyes would start to sting. I would tell myself that this would be the last chapter that I was going to read and then I was going to go to bed, but by the time I got to the last sentence I just had to read the next chapter. I just could not seem to put this book down, I absolutely loved it!! Hopefully there will be another book to come, in the near future :)

5.0 out of 5 stars Great action book with twists and surprises for ALL, April 4, 2011
Anthony Valente (Federal WAy, WA USA) -

This review is from: The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
Ever wonder what a book by Clive Cussler would be like if Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino were teen-agers? Well I now know the answer, Van Stone and his side-kicks will take you on the same kind of ride I have only found in a Cussler novel.

I was originally looking for a book for my sons to read when I stumbled onto The Card. The cover intrigued me, and after reading the synopsis, I purchased it for myself. What seems to start out as a book about a batboy for the Seattle Mariners quickly turns into a mystery-adventure. (I have to admit, I pride myself on being able to figure out who-done-it, and potential plot twists. The ending on this one caught me completely by surprise!)

I think one most impressed me about this book was that it is completely believable. The characters, Van, Fred and Zoe can be found in any high school. I particularly like how strong a character Zoe is, a great role model for any young lady. More importantly though, everything they do is feasible. There is no magic, no strange coincidences, or anything that would make you say "yeah right!" (Though I must say Fred's use of bacon grease was brilliant!) The kids even use the metro-bus to travel through Seattle to avoid problems with parking. I've always disliked novels that have people pull up to some place downtown and always seem to find a spot to park.

The novel is well researched, I've been to Safeco field many times, and knew very little about the roof. Better yet, Jim Devitt weaves the facts into the story so well; you don't know you are learning.

As I said, I bought the book for my sons to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I sincerely hope there will be more to come

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and adventurous, January 10, 2012
This review is from: THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel) (Kindle Edition)
Simply put, I enjoyed reading this book. The action began right off the bat (pun intended). With the end of each chapter, I found myself eager to find out what was going to happen next. If I didn't have to take breaks for living life, I probably would have read the book straight through. The only reason I am not giving it five stars is because I felt that the ending was a bit rushed.

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Young Adult Mystery, June 5, 2011
Sandra Kirkland (High Point, North Carolina United States) -The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
Van Stone is a lucky high-school student. He has just landed his dream job as a batboy for his beloved Oakland A's baseball team. As he gets ready for his first day at work, his dad, who is a research scientist and often away, makes amends by giving him a baseball card. It is not the card of one of baseball's superstars but of a player who had a pedestrian career. Van doesn't care, he loves his dad and treasures his gift.

Everything changes for Van overnight. His dad is killed in a car accident. Now Van is the man of the family and responsible for taking care of his mom. Strange things begin happening. Van starts to notice men in dark suits following him and his friends.

The suspense ramps up when Van gets a demand. To keep his mom and friends safe, he must give up the card his dad gave him. Why would anyone want that card? The pace accelerates as Van attempts to evade his pursuers and keep those he loves safe. Is there anyone he can trust to help?

Jim Devitt has written an interesting mystery. The readers learns about the inner workings of a baseball clubhouse and also something of the biotechnology industry along with the mystery. This book is recommended for mystery lovers but will also appeal to sports fans.

4.0 out of 5 stars A home run!, April 25, 2011
This review is from: THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel) (Kindle Edition)
The Card is a fast-paced, entertaining action-adventure story both fathers and sons can read and enjoy together. Devitt's experience working in a major league baseball clubhouse adds a really nice element of realism to the story as well. Baseball fans will be drawn to this book, and be even further pleased with the mystery surrounding the "card."

You never know what you might get when agreeing to review an author's first novel, but I enjoyed reading The Card. Not only does it feature an exciting and fast-moving plot, but I also appreciated seeing the positive relationship between Van and his parents.

There is one part of the story I'd like to discuss a little bit, but I must give you a *spoiler alert* here first. One of the major themes and subplots in The Card is the death of Van's father about a third of the way into the novel. His death is definitely an important element of the story and helps drive the plot and adds even further suspense to the novel. Van's father's death also adds another element of realism to the novel as death is obviously, part of our lives. Parents can decide for themselves if this is something which might need to be shared with their son or daughter before they read the novel, especially if it's something they may have already experienced.

All in all, a terrific first effort by Jim Devitt. The Card is the first of what looks like a series of Van Stone novels. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the author is going to take this series. I'm especially interested in seeing if there is further development around some of the themes discussed above. I think many other readers will be looking forward to this as well.

4.0 out of 5 stars Local Author Makes Good, May 26, 2011
I read a feature article about this book in our local newspaper here, the Auburn Reporter, so I checked out the Kindle Edition. This story grabs you right from the start and doesn't let go until the very end. We did not publish it, but if it had crossed my desk, I would have done so. Crisp story, good prose, highly entertaining...and highly recommended.

Robert M. Blevins
Managing Editor
Adventure Books of Seattle

3.0 out of 5 stars Kristi's Book Nook, June 12, 2011
Kristi Bernard (Overland Park, KS) -This review is from: The Card: A Van Stone Novel (Volume 1) (Paperback)
One Kid... One Card ... One Chance to Discover the Truth

Van Stone has it all, the perfect family, great friends and the best job in the world. then, his life falls apart. Thrust into a deadly plot masterminded by unknown enemies, Van is in a race against time to save those closest to him.

When Van wins an essay contest to become the new batboy for a Major league baseball team, he finds himself in a foreign world of million dollar athletes and fame. Forced into the spotlight, Van is uncomfortable in his new role. His instant fame at South Seattle High School has turned all eyes toward him, including unknown adversaries that want something he has.

Jack Stone works for Biotrust, a large and secretive biotechnology company. Van's father is on the verge of making one of the most stunning discoveries in over a century, a technology that could change the world forever. While finishing the project, Biotrust forces Van's father into a leave of absence. In an effort to protect his secrets, Jack may have endangered his family.

's review
May 08, 11

5 of 5 stars

It pwns so bad! its like Gary paulson and david lubar put together! sequel! sequel!

Holly  (FullMoonBites)
Mar 29, 2011
Holly (FullMoonBites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Jack Stone works at a big time biotechnology company, Biotrust. While working on a very sensitive project that could change the world as people know it, he is forced to take a leave of absence in the middle of the project. In the efforts to safe guard his work he unknowingly sets off a series of events that he could have never predicted.

Van Stone, Jack's son, is floating high as he goes to his first day as a batboy for a major league baseball team. His life is going smooth, new popularity at his high school, his two best friends in the world by his side and his family's loving support. What more could a teenager ask for?

Then the unthinkable happens and his life is turned into a whirlwind of action, confusion, and mystery as unknown assailants makes themselves known. They want something from Van and they aren't about to give up.

Forced to make decisions that put not only him but his family and two best friends in danger as well. Van sets out with his two best friends, Zoe and Fred, to discover the mystery to the card his father gave him.

I loved this book it pulled me in from the very first page and wouldn't let go! It doesn't really have much to do with baseball, yes, that topic is there and in the background but we are mostly centered on Van, his two friends and the mystery that surround the gift from his father Jack, a Moe Berg baseball card.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is looking for some mystery, suspense and a good one-day read.

Get your copy of THE CARD here or Kindle Edition here.

's review
May 21, 11

4 of 5 stars
bookshelves: contemporary, for-review, indie
Recommended for: All ages
Read from May 04 to 21, 2011

**Book Copy Courtesy of Author

After winning an essay competition, Van Stone is the new batboy in town. His life is great until a death rocks his world. Then there’s the whole ordeal with the baseball card his father gave him that everyone’s after. What’s so special about this card? It’s just a baseball player who hardly made it to the big time, so it’s nothing of value.

Except Van’s wrong—it’s highly valuable.

Men who wear black suits (or “Suits,” as they’re called in the book) are after Van and he has to figure out why. All Van knows is that it’s related to his father, who happens to work for a very secretive company called Biotrust. When Van begins to receive threatening text messages and notes in his backpack, he realizes they want the card. But is he willing to give it up?

Not my usual read, but it was a quick one for me. It started a little slow, but picked up pace about 75-100 pages in. From then on, it was nonstop. There were times that the dialogue was a little stiff, and I didn’t really get a feel for Van like I thought I would (I actually think Fred and Zoe were fleshed out more than Van), but I would recommend this book for all ages. I especially like that this book was about baseball, as I think it would encourage a lot of younger boys to read.

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