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Search tags: ben-m-baglio
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review 2017-02-19 00:12
Colt in the Cave - Ben M. Baglio

I found a copy of this book in the Lending Library. I haven't read any of the Animal Ark Hauntings books before this, but I remember having a few Animal Ark books growing up

Overall, the story was interesting. Without giving too much away, the ending did not come as much of a surprise given that it is a Hauntings book. But I still enjoyed the story and liked how all of the pieces fell into place.

Not going to lie, the best part was everyone trying figure out the Internet. It really brought me back to the days of that awful start up tone and not getting calls while on Yahoo Messenger. Good times.

A cool, quick read with a nice ending.

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text 2015-01-26 00:57
[Cover Characteristic] Bunnies and Rabbits

 

This Week's Characteristic: Bunnies & RabbitsCover Characteristic is a weekly meme hosted by Sugar & Snark.

 

 

From left to right, these books are Bunny Bonanza (Animal Ark Pets, #16) by Ben M. Baglio, Bunny on a Barge (Animal Ark) by Lucy Daniels, Bunny in a Basket (Animal Ark) by Ben M. Baglio, Rabbits on the Run (Animal Ark) by Lucy Daniels, and Bunnies in the Bathroom (Animal Ark, #15) by Ben M. Baglio.
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text 2015-01-12 01:47
[Cover Characteristic] Sand


This Week's Characteristic: Sand

Cover Characteristic is a weekly meme hosted by Sugar & Snark.

 


 

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review 2014-05-23 17:25
Touching the Waves (Dolphin Diaries, #2) by Ben M. Baglio
Touching the Waves (Dolphin Diaries #2) - Ben M. Baglio

Jody McGrath's dolphin dreams are coming true! Her whole family is sailing around the world researching dolphins--and Jody is recording all their exciting adventures in her Dolphin Diaries.

The McGraths are in Key West, Florida, visiting a very special dolphin center--with "dolphin teachers." Jody loves watching the dolphins at work.

But when one dolphin gets tangled in netting, will Jody be able to free it?

 



Once again, the back cover blurb of a book damn near misses the point (at least it's not outright false this time--yes, I've seen it happen recently). The most important part of the dolphin center isn't that the "teachers" are dolphins, it's that the center, Cetaceans as Educational and Therapeutic Associates (aka CETA), is a dolphin therapy facility where children with disabilities come to receive a unique incentive--time spent with dolphins--to focus their attention on their education and physical therapy. It's run by a small group of new characters, the Rozakis family. Jerry, Alice, and Lauren Rozakis, plus a few minor assistants (named and unnamed) work with four dolphins: Nick, Nora, Maxi, and Maxi's daughter, Rosie. And contrary to what the blurb above says, the main conflict of the story is not any of these dolphins--or any of the original seven from Into the Blue, who all return for Touching the Waves--getting caught; instead, the plot revolves around one of the dolphin's apparent decision to abandon the facility with the the aforementioned Into the Blue pod.

In my review of Into the Blue, my main complaint was with two of the characters, Dr. Taylor, a stereotypical stuffy scientist, and Brittany, a stereotypical Rich Alpha Bitch. As Jody the majority of the book away from the Dolphin Dreamer, Dr. Taylor only appears for a very brief scene at the beginning; as such, his character doesn't get a chance to improve in Touching the Waves. Though, frankly, it was kind of a relief to have him elsewhere.

Brittany, on the other hand... what to say about Brittany. Touching the Waves sets up a rivalry between Jody and Brittany; both girls want to be friends with Lauren Rozakis, who is not only a fan of dolphins but also in-style enough to win Brittany's approval. Lauren is content to be friends with both of them, but Jody at least is not pleased with that in the least. And that's where I think my biggest problem with Touching the Wavesis. Unlike Into the Blue, it's not Brittany who's a one-note brat in the book; it's Jody. In the half of the plot that isn't spent talking about the dolphins and the special needs children, Jody spends an absurd amount of time moaning about how Lauren should like her better. Despite the fact that Brittany and Lauren are repeatedly shown to have many hobbies and interests in common--with the major exception being dolphins--Jody insists that Lauren only likes Brittany because the latter girl is "pretending" to be worthy of Lauren's friendship. To the reader, however, it's very clear that Brittany is incredibly lonely and emotionally fragile; ultimately, she comes across as the victim of Jody's jealousy and nastiness, which is the exact opposite of how a protagonist/Alpha Bitch dynamic is supposed to work.

On the one hand, I can only assume that because there are several acknowledgements of Brittany's loneliness from various characters (including Jody, at one point), Baglio purposefully subverted the stereotype. On the other hand, Jody ends up winning. By the end of the book, she manages to sway Lauren; Lauren finally sees Brittany's frustration boil over, and they have a fairly minor argument that somehow permanently severs Lauren and Brittany's friendship and leads Lauren to agree with Jody that--to put it in less friendly terms than the book uses--Brittany's a bitch who should get out of their way. Lauren's response to the fight is, "I don't suppose there's any chance she might decide she'd rather go live in the wild instead of staying with us?", and apparently, it isn't just a joke; the last words of the rivalry subplot are, "Next morning, Jody and Lauren breathed a sigh of relief when Brittany demanded to be taken back to Dolphin Dreamer."

Um... alright, then. Good job with using your passive-aggressive bullshit to ruin Brittany's only friendship, Jody. Real great protagonist behavior, there.

Seriously, I shouldn't find the antagonist more sympathetic than the protagonist. I really, really shouldn't.

Luckily, the rivalry/friendship subplot didn't have a huge presence in the story, and the main plot--that of the missing dolphin--and the second subplot--that of Hal Davis, an autistic patient with rich parents--were much more interesting and satisfying.

I have no idea where the series will go next (I'm sure I've read later books, but I honestly don't remember much about them), so I'm looking forward to seeing where Baglio takes the Dolphin Dreamer next. Hopefully, the dynamic between Brittany and Jody will get some satisfying resolution, because it certainly went to a weird place in this one.
Source: aftanith.blogspot.com/2014/02/book-review-touching-waves-dolphin.html
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review 2014-01-21 02:03
Into the Blue (Dolphin Diaries #1) by Ben M. Baglio
Into the Blue (Dolphin Diaries #1) - Ben M. Baglio

In the first book of the Dolphin Diaries series, Jody McGrath and her family ship out with the crew of the Dolphin Dreamer. With her are Craig and Gina McGrath, her parents; Sean and Jimmy McGrath, her younger twin brothers; Harry Pierce, the captain; Dr. Taylor, a corporate scientist; Cameron Tucker, the first mate; Mei Lin, the Chinese cook/engineer; Maddie, the African American research assistant; and Brittany, Harry's daughter who was effectively abandoned by her mother and definitely doesn't want to take part in any research trip.

All in all, it's a cute story, though it has its fair share of flaws. For one, the concept and science are, as far as I know, a tad outdated now it's been nearly fifteen years since the book was published. The idea of setting up a database like the one they describe in the story seems like a particularly "early 2000s" idea. (Though I'm fairly sure there are plenty of areas of study that still lack such tools, I don't expect the ever-popular dolphin to be quite so neglected.) And the story about the endangered baiji dolphin is more heartbreaking now that no one's sighted one in several years and they may possibly have already gone extinct.

Other areas of note are the characters—two in particular. The Dolphin Dreamer is funded in part by an oil company, which I think is an interesting shade of grey to add to the story, but so far the only thing that's come of it is the addition of another scientist to the expedition. This character, Dr. Taylor, is the most stereotypical fuddy-duddy scientist you can imagine; he disapproves of anyone having any form of fun, he's clearly implied to be entirely inexperienced with field work, and he refuses to see dolphins—the creatures he's paid to learn about—as anything more than mindless animals void of personality and incapable of any behavior he hasn't read about in his books. It's kind of ridiculous, and I really hope to see Bagley do something a little more interesting with the character in later installments.

Meanwhile, Brittany is a cookie-cutter Rich Bitch stereotype. Her mother is neglectful, she doesn't connect with her father because he works too much to spend time bonding with her, and her personality is your typical mash-up of spoiled, whiny, and self-centered. Oddly, in spite of the fact that her character arc will obviously be one of "redemption", she has her pivotal "learning her lesson" scene halfway through the book and almost immediately hits the reset button to revert back to her former brattiness. (Most series at least have the decency to hit the reset button between books—not chapters!) Honestly, I'm not even going to bother hoping that she turns around, because I've seen this stock character too many times to care about another one.

The only other complaint I can make is that the book paints a very idealized picture of dolphins. None of the more disturbing (from a human perspective) behaviors are even alluded to (which is perfectly reasonable, given that it's a children's series), and Jody quite vehemently defends their carnivorous diets (which is in character for her but still felt a bit silly).

On the other hand, it's a really cute, vaguely scientific series from the penname behind Animal Ark, and I highly recommend it to any children interested in dolphins.

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