Profile for L. Smith > Reviews

Browse

L. Smith's Profile

Customer Reviews: 390
Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,206
Helpful Votes: 516




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
L. Smith "L. Smith" RSS Feed (Upstate New York)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good biography of a Yankee legend, October 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
While I cannot consider myself a fan of either the New York Yankees or of Derek Jeter, I respect the consistent excellence that both of them bring to the game of baseball. When I found this book when looking for a good biography, I picked this up. I then let it sit on my “to be read” pile for over a year until the 2014 regular season ended and I decided to read it after Jeter played his last game. I was able to obtain the audio version of the book at no extra cost, and now that I have a longer commute, I decided to listen to the audio book and this review is based on that version.

This is a book that truly lives up to the title. Ian O’Connor does take the reader on a journey of Derek Jeter’s life and career. In the opening notes, O’Connor does state that he did not obtain interviews with Jeter and that the book was a result of research and interviews with other people. \That is the strength of this book as O’Connor tells the complete story of Jeter’s baseball career from his days in Kalamazoo, Michigan to the 1992 draft when Jeter was unexpectedly available for the Yankees (my favorite chapter in the book) to his struggles in the minor leagues and finally his adventures in pinstripes at both the old and new Yankee Stadium.

O’Connor covers many sports in the New York metropolitan area, including the Yankees and his knowledge of the game and the team shows in the book. He writes not only about Jeter’s ride through the Yankee dynasty of 1996-2000, but also has many stories about the team itself and some of the players in those years such as Scott Brosius and Mariano Rivera. The reader is taken through those seasons, as well as the more frustrating seasons as the Yankees waited nine years before winning another title.

Not only is Jeter’s baseball career covered in the book, but O’Connor also does a fine job writing about Jeter’s biracial roots, the values his parents instilled in Jeter and his sister and also the type of lifestyle that many men can only dream of. What I really liked about this aspect of the book is that it did not turn scandalous, as many other biographies do on this topic, nor did it come off as too admiring. Sure, O’Connor states at times that Jeter seems to be living a charmed life. But he didn’t overdo it by letting the reader know that Jeter worked hard at keeping that portion of his life as private as possible, therefore it didn’t turn into tabloid material.

This isn’t to say there weren’t problems with the book as well. Because I listened to the audio version, it was clear that the narrator, Nick Polifrone, was not familiar with some of the players mentioned in the book as there were several mispronunciation incidents of player names. Two examples are Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia – the second syllable was pronounced with a long A sound instead of the correct short A sound. Also notable is Robin Yount’s name was pronounced with the first syllable sounding like “You” instead of the proper “Yow.” Of course this is not an issue for readers of the paper book or the e-book, but I was disappointed to hear these names not properly pronounced.

I also felt that at times O’Connor’s writing came across as an admirer of Jeter instead of an objective author. That came across when Jeter would be struggling – he would always find a way to overcome it. Those were written in a way that it seemed like the man could do nothing wrong and if he did, he would correct it. I also felt that O’Connor was critical of players not on the Yankees and other teams when it wasn’t called for. This was especially true when the book would need to include the other New York baseball team. The accounts of the 2000 World Series when the Yankees defeated the Mets and also the comparisons to responses by both teams to the 2001 terrorist attacks felt like O’Connor was trying to show just how much better the Yankees were than the Mets. I am sure that he did not intentionally do this, but that is how it felt, especially when listening to the book instead of reading it.

Despite these minor issues, I felt that the book was a very good recap of Jeter’s career and life up to the middle of the 2011 season, including the day Jeter got his 3000th base hit. This book is well worth the time to read for learning more about Jeter and what lead to his Hall of Fame- worthy career.

Did I skim?
No

Pace of the book:
Excellent. O’Connor keeps the book moving with interesting tales on each portion of Jeter’s career. This is not only for his time with the Yankees but also during his high school days and his struggles in the minor leagues.

Do I recommend?
Yes. Whether the reader is a Yankees fan, a baseball fan in general or enjoys well-researched biographies, this book is a good choice. If the reader is someone who believes too much attention was given to Jeter during his playing days or strongly dislikes the New York Yankees, then pass on this one.

Book Format Read/Listened:
Audio book


Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto
Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto
Price: $9.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every football fan should read this book, October 12, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)

Review:
There is no question that football is the most popular sport in the United States. Whether it is professional football with record television ratings for its championship game, college football with all the pomp and circumstance or high school football in which entire towns shut down on Friday nights for home games, Americans love their football.

However, Steve Almond, who is one of these fans who follows the game passionately, has written a thought provoking book in which he questions many aspects of the sport and what it says about society as a whole. He addresses many issues from both the aspect of the game itself and the effects that the game has on other aspects of life.

This latter statement comes from the topics that Almond addresses and asks hard questions about what football does to address or ignore the problem. He writes about the bullying of Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin – but goes beyond calling out Richie Incognito. He addresses racism and the thoughts of Martin’s fellow African-American lineman who also taunted Martin by saying he wasn’t “black enough.” There are the calls that Martin wasn’t strong enough to confront his distracters. With bullying being a hot topic today, this was a very interesting commentary.

Of course, the topic of concussions is addressed in the book. While Almond does not offer a lot of new or different aspects toward this issue, I felt that he used some powerful examples to show the dangers players face from multiple concussions or the condition that has been brought forward because of players suffering from it, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. How a player suffered from concussions at a small college in Maryland during practice because his coach was driving him to hit harder by leading with his head is one of the most powerful pieces I have read on this topic.

As was all of Almond’s comments on topics like corporate welfare when NFL owners obtain taxpayer-funded stadiums, designation as a non-profit organization (yes, seriously!) and a very shrewd observation at the annual NFL combine. When some of the players who are being brought out for work outs to the combine, they huddle up, place their hands together in the circle and broke it with a yell “On three…one, two, three, Get Money.” That is an excellent illustration of what the NFL has become – these players put themselves through what some people consider either a slave auction or a meat market for one thing – to get money.

College and high school football always is addressed in the book, the former for many of its own tales of corruption and greed. The most shameful has to do with the investigation or lack thereof, into an allegation of sexual assault in 2013 by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. There was compelling evidence plus a statement from the victim to warrant a full fledged investigation but it never was completed. It makes the reader again wonder just how much importance football has over a school. I thought this particular incident was also a good tie-in with the current scrutiny colleges are facing over their internal policies concerning sexual assaults as a whole.

These are just a few examples of the hard questions Almond raises. He does talk frequently of his own football fandom, and he does state in the book that he is not out to criticize or demonize fans who enjoy the game. He is simply asking these hard questions and I believe this is a challenge to all fans to ask themselves if they are aware of all these matters and if they are, then how do they feel about being a part of this? It certainly made me question why I follow this sport. That is what I believe the message is to be taken from this book, and Almond writes a very powerful manifesto in order to be that messenger.

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
Excellent – this is a very fast read, even when the questions that Almond asks make the reader stop and think.

Do I recommend?
Yes – this should be required reading for anyone who enjoys the game of football at any level. This book will make fans, coaches, administrators and players at least stop and think about what the game in its current state does to everyone.

Book Format Read:
Hardcover


The Legend of Mickey Tussler (Mickey Tussler Novel)
The Legend of Mickey Tussler (Mickey Tussler Novel)
Price: $9.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Good fiction book on a young minor league pitcher, October 6, 2014
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
Autism wasn’t diagnosed or understood in 1948 as well as it is today, and the main character of this interesting novel by Frank Nappi has that condition as he is dealing with how to use his tremendous talent to pitch a baseball.

Mickey Tussler is a 17 year old pitching phenom who was discovered by scout and manager Arthur Murphy. Murphy is the manager of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and when he sees the youngster fire apples into a barrel from 100 feet away, he thinks he can make Mickey into a pitcher for his struggling team.

Mickey does indeed become a pitcher for the team, where he has to learn to adapt to not only a new lifestyle away from his parents Clarence and Molly, but he also has to play a game in which the rules and nuances are completely unknown. This is where I felt the character of Mickey was a little unrealistic, as how can he field and hit (no DH in 1948) to play in these games? The baseball scenes don’t talk about Mickey doing anything other than pitching, so these left me wondering.

I also noted one other puzzling baseball scenario, but that is mainly because of the year the story is set. Since this is 1948, when Mickey gets to meet Warren Spahn, the latter hasn’t reached his legendary status he eventually would attain during his pitching career for the Milwaukee Braves. Had Mr. Spahn been simply introduced as a major league pitcher to Mickey, that would have been a little more plausible.

But this book is much more than just a baseball book. It illustrates how an autistic child (and yes, at 17 I will call Mickey a child) affects everyone around him. How his teammates accept him (like Pee Wee and his catcher Boxcar) or don’t accept him (like fellow pitcher Lefty) make for good reading. Passages that are set on the farm where Mickey grew up will address other topics such as domestic abuse.

One other note about the baseball scenes – it is a wild ride for the Brewers during the 1948 season as they soar to first place after Mickey gets in a groove. Then he disappears after a night at the bar with teammates when he leaves with a mystery woman – and the team promptly has a lengthy slump. When Mickey returns, the team picks it back up again. I won’t give away any more about the season or the story – but I will say that it wasn’t what I expected at all.

Baseball fans, readers who enjoy young adult novels and anyone who just wants to read a feel-good story with some twists will enjoy this novel.

I wish to thank Mr. Nappi for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?
No as I needed to read each chapter carefully to fully understand the situation and characters.

Did I feel connected to the characters?
Yes - some of them. I could relate to Arthur Murphy’s struggles to help Mickey adapt to the life of minor league baseball. Molly was also a woman who the reader will cheer for. However, I couldn’t quite connect with Mickey because I can’t imagine being afflicted with that condition, and I also thought Clarence was a despicable character. That says more about Mr. Nappi’s development to make him someone so easy to dislike.

Pace of the story:
Overall it reads fairly quickly. I felt it was a little slow at the start as Nappi was building his characters, especially Mickey. Once Mickey started pitching for the Brewers, I felt the pace of the book was much faster.

Do I recommend?
Yes – for readers who enjoy good baseball sequences as well as a moving story about a teenager afflicted with a condition that wasn’t clearly understood at the time the story is set.

Book Format Read:
Paperback


Saving Private Blue (A Soldier To Love Series Book 1)
Saving Private Blue (A Soldier To Love Series Book 1)
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice military romance, October 3, 2014
Being a former military member, I felt that the author did a great job of illustrating the emotions that a soldier, sailor or airman feels when coming back home. Will I be welcome? Will she be there? Billy is fighting another war after returning home...the war of his emotions. As is is flame Savannah and his brother. A nice love story that anyone who enjoy romance will like.

I wish to thank Nicole for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Unlocking the Mystery
Unlocking the Mystery
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding love story, September 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was absolutely blown away by the 50 year romance between Catherine and Shane in this story with simply letters. Heck, they didn't even progress to e-mail as the letters were still on paper in 2010 and 2011. Thiers was truly a deep, committed love to continue with writing these letters, some extremely erotic. Also, the woman who delivers the last letter, Evelyn, even gets a reward of her own...or at least it appears that way. And no, not sex...something even better.

This is an excerpt from my review of this story as part of Spring Into Summer. I picked this up to reread this fantastic love story. If you have not done so, make sure you do!


Tales from the Minnesota Vikings Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Vikings Stories Ever Told (Tales from the Team)
Tales from the Minnesota Vikings Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Vikings Stories Ever Told (Tales from the Team)
Price: $8.69

2.0 out of 5 stars Not so great book on the Minnesota Vikings, September 27, 2014
Rating:
2 of 5 stars (not so great)

Review:
As a longtime Minnesota Vikings fan, I am always on the lookout for books on the team, especially those that would have good stories on the great Viking teams of the 1970’s. I was able to obtain a copy of this book, but I was sorely disappointed with it. A collection of the “greatest” Vikings stories ever is a stretch, to put it kindly. Most of the stories could be written by most fans with either long memories or a little research.

Not all of them are bad – some are downright entertaining, such as Bob Lurtsema’s party habits during training camp or some of the Randy Moss antics. But overall, the stories about the great players for the Vikings during the entire history of the team are very short and not very entertaining. They come mostly from other people’s recollection of them, such as coaches or teammates. This does a disservice to great players of the team’s history. How does a Hall of Fame player like Carl Eller get only a short six-paragraph mention lumped in with other defensive linemen?

There are also several editing errors or typos that could easily be caught but somehow made it into the final copy. One example is a 2001 story on Ron Yary that mentions a grass roots campaign led by then-owner Red McCombs “who both the team three years age.” Another example is when talking about defensive lineman John Randle, a play “just con apses on John.” Huh? Collapses?

The stories and chapters, such as the one on the death of Korey Stringer, seem very choppy and there are either abrupt endings to short stories or confusing breaks in longer ones. There is not a good flow for continuous reading, nor are many good stopping points for those who like to read just a few pieces at a time. It just feels like the book was quickly put together in a rush to beat a deadline. This is how I felt for both the main section of the book which was published in 2004, and the extra chapter added in 2012 for the 2005 to 2010 seasons. I could not get into a good rhythm for reading, which in turn decreased my enjoyment of the book.

Did I skim?
No

Pace of the book:
This was a quick read, but because of the poor editing and sudden breaks in the stories, I had to stop every now and then to get back on track.

Do I recommend?
Fellow Vikings fans may enjoy some of these tales, especially those with old time players like Bob Lurtsema and Bill Brown. However, I don’t recommend this book for those strolls down memory lane as there are books with more complete stories.


Oriole Magic: The O's of 1983
Oriole Magic: The O's of 1983
Price: $9.39

3.0 out of 5 stars While Loverro does a good job of recapping the season’s games, September 27, 2014
Rating:
2 1/2 of 5 stars (so-so) - rounded up to 3 for Amazon and Goodreads

Review:
The Baltimore Orioles were one of baseball’s most successful franchises for nearly 20 years – from their shocking 1966 World Series sweep to the 1983 championship, the team was very successful and this book by former Orioles beat writer Thom Loverro recaps that last championship season from start to finish.

The book starts with a look back at past Orioles disappointments - the 1969 World Series loss to the New York Mets, being the first team to lose a World Series after having a three-games-to-one lead to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979, to losing the Eastern Division on the last day of the season in 1982 to the Milwaukee Brewers. These were used as motivation for the 1983 team, something Loverro reminds the reader regularly. I thought it was mentioned too often, one of the problems I had reading this book.

I felt the biggest strength of this book was also its biggest weakness. While Loverro does a good job of recapping the season’s games, it was hard to keep up on what series was being played against which team. The details of each game were written up almost like a newspaper article written to be read in the morning edition. That would be logical since Loverro covered the team for a Washington newspaper, but reading a book that is a narrative of the season written in that style was difficult to fully enjoy.

I also felt that when the book left the recap to tell a story about a player, it didn’t seem to be connected with the season at that point. Here Loverro gets a plus for not only talking about the stars like Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. but also other players such as Dan Ford and John Lowenstein. However, no matter who the story was about when it was told, it felt like a distraction to the recap of the season instead of an enhancement.

This wasn’t a terrible book as the details were good, the game-by-game listing at the end was a nice touch, and some of the player stories were interesting. But as a book to read and enjoy – it just didn’t do that for me. Therefore, the rating of this book is right down the middle – 2 ˝ of 5 stars.

Did I skim?
No

Pace of the book:
It was a fast read, but very choppy as the narrative goes from recapping games to a story about a player back to the games to some other tidbit such as the fate of the manager. This would be fine if they were somehow connected with transition sentences or paragraphs, which were lacking.

Do I recommend?
Oriole fans will enjoy this recap of their latest championship. Other baseball fans may wish to pass on this one as there isn’t much depth or entertainment value in this book.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)


Stranger at Sunset
Stranger at Sunset
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent psychological murder mystery, September 27, 2014
This is author Eden Baylee' s first mystery novel after establishing herself as an outstanding erotic literature author. The qualities that makes her writing stand out are present in this psychological mystery/thriller set on a tourist resort in Jamaica.

Dr.Kate Hampton is one of a group of people staying at the resort that was battered in two ways. One was by a tropical storm, the other was from a terrible review written by a reviewer for a respected travel magazine. The owners invite the writer back for a second chance at a respectable review. Dr. Hampton, who is friendly with the owners, will assist in whatever manner she can in order to help her friends get their business back on track.

The qualities that I enjoy in Ms. Baylee' s writing are plentiful in this story. Her characters are richly developed, each with their own idiosyncrasies and personalities. This is true not only of Dr. Hampton and Matthew, the critic/villain of the story but for all the other characters as well. There is plenty of sexual tension between some of them. This is illustrated in a manner that is not erotic, but dramatic which fits with the storyline perfectly. As for the murder that takes.place, this particular type of writing makes the crime so interesting to read.

If there is a downfall to this story it is the actual murder mystery takes place so late in the book and for me, was easy to solve right away. However that doesn't take away anything from this novel as a whole and it enhances what has already been written about the characters. The ending, while not dealing with the murder, also is excellent in that it is all about one of the characters and that person's past demons.

I've given this book an overall rating of 4 1/2 stars out of five, rounded up to five for Amazon and Goodreads. I wish to thank Ms. Baylee for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants, and Stars: True Tales of Breaking Barriers, Umpiring Baseball Legends, and Wild Adventures in the Negro Leagues
Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants, and Stars: True Tales of Breaking Barriers, Umpiring Baseball Legends, and Wild Adventures in the Negro Leagues
Price: $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on the Negro Leagues, September 18, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
Bob Motley was an umpire for the Negro Leagues starting in the late 1940’s for over a decade. He considers himself fortunate to be able to have called games involving some of the best players in baseball history and he shares some wonderful stories about those years in this entertaining and humorous memoir. Along with his son Byron and author Larry Lester, Motley recalls his time as an arbiter with reverence and entertains the reader with stories of life in the Negro Leagues and his views on the quality of baseball played in those leagues.

Motley grew up in Alabama during the era when racism ran rampant in the Southern part of the United States. He also was one of the first African-Americans to enlist in the Marines and serve in World War II. Despite the struggles of his childhood, he never comes across as bitter or angry about that time in the country’s history. Of course, he believes that it was not fair to people of color but instead of writing about the bad times, he concentrates on the good times he had in that era. This is evident throughout the book as he tells his stories in a manner that will make a reader smile and laugh, whether it is about his high school dance, calling balls and strikes for a game in which Satchel Paige is pitching, or just thinking about his family.

Speaking of Paige, that is the player for whom Motley has the most respect. He devotes an entire chapter to the legendary pitcher, even claiming that he might have been even faster than modern fireball pitchers like Randy Johnson. Even his tale about making sure his “STRIIIIKKKEEE” call on the first pitch he saw Paige throw was told in reverence.

While stories about other players don’t have quite the same bravado, Motley does speak fondly of other legendary players who played in the Negro Leagues such as Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks. Motley comes across as a person who loved baseball and the history of the game. Not just with his stories of players, but also with his tales about ball parks. He recalls his first time at Comiskey Park when he “rolled around on the grass like a little kid making snow angels.” I couldn’t help but smile to read a book written by a man who simply loved the game this much.

Much like the attitudes of many of the Negro League players who were just happy to have the chance to play the game, Motley does the same with this book. He loves talking about his umpiring career and how the Negro Leagues produced some very competitive and entertaining baseball. This book is a winner that should be read by all baseball fans.

Did I skim?
No – this was a wonderfully entertaining book and I wanted to enjoy every story.

Pace of the book:
Excellent – Motley never drones on too long during any one story and because he tells the stories in a very cheerful manner, the reader will be moving quickly through each chapter.

Do I recommend?
Anyone who is interested in baseball history, Negro Leagues history or just a good collection of interesting and funny tales will enjoy this book.


The Wives of Beverly Row 4: Lust Has a New Address
The Wives of Beverly Row 4: Lust Has a New Address
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More fantasy stories, September 16, 2014
The saga of Zola, Ariel, Trudy and Veronica continues in the 4th installment of this series by Abby Weeks. In this segment, Becky goes a little farther with her boyfriend, Trudy continues her pursuit of younger guys with a very hot conquest, Zola suffers more humiliation for her husband and Veronica is having some troubling thoughts. In other words, Abby is just continuing to write the stories and characters that have have made this series a very fun and sexy read. Two cliffhanger endings will leave you eagerly awaiting the next installment. I am really enjoying this series.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20