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26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey into the Heart of the Boston Marathon
26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey into the Heart of the Boston Marathon
Price: $2.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on the premier road race in America, April 16, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
The Boston Marathon is considered THE premier event that runners of all abilities set as a goal – if he or she can complete Boston, then that is one of the top achievements one can complete. There is a lot of interesting history along the course of this road race, and this race is chronicled in a terrific book by Michael Connelly.

However, there is an interesting twist to this book in that Connelly does not give a chronological history of the race. Instead, he follows the course from Hopkinton to Boston, with each chapter covering one mile of the course. The last two chapters cover the last 385 yards of the race (the extra distance added to a marathon race) but in two different ways. One of the chapters tells of the stories of exhaustion, exhilaration and agony that runners have once they view the finish line. The other chapter on this portion is about the 2013 bombing and the stories that runners, spectators, responders and race officials have about those terrifying minutes.

In each chapter, he describes the terrain, turns and atmosphere of the mile. The reader feels the agony of climbing Heartbreak Hill on Mile 20, the ear-splitting screams of encouragement from the women of Wellesley College on Mile 12 and the drop-off of 165 feet as the runners move onto the town of Ashland in Mile 2. By describing these and other unique features of the course, the reader feels like he or she is traveling along the course and can imagine how the runners must feel while traversing that mile.

Of course, the book wouldn’t be complete without stories about the runners themselves, and there are plenty that are interspersed in each chapter along with the course description. These stories cover the entire 117 years of the event and include some of the best-known runners from Boston Marathon lore. There is seven-time champion Clarence Demar, whose story of running is told in Mile 2. John “The Elder” Kelley, one of the more popular runners to ever run the event, has a very good story of trying to bait another runner when battling for the lead in Mile 6.

The thrilling finish in 1982 between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley is also replayed in Mile 6. Not every story told necessarily takes place at that point on the course, but they all are woven together in the chapters seamlessly. Readers will be able to still follow the course, but will at the same time have their emotions tested as the stories are mixtures of joy, heartbreak, sadness and redemption.

In short, everything that makes a runner want to get out and put one foot in front of the other is captured in this book and it makes for a terrific read for runners, spectators or anyone who just is interested in this annual event.

Did I skim?
No

Pace of the book:
Very good. The format aided in making this a faster read, although it wasn’t too fast with the insertion of personal stories in the middle of the description of the terrain and makeup of the particular mile.

Do I recommend?
Yes. Whether the reader is a runner, is interested in the history of the Boston Marathon or enjoys personal stories of triumph, this book will be a fine choice.


Tri-Mom: Swimming, Biking, and Running Through Motherhood
Tri-Mom: Swimming, Biking, and Running Through Motherhood
by Debra Hodgett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.33
23 used & new from $14.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book on balancing life and sport, April 11, 2014
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
When an athlete in any sport undergoes a major lifestyle change such as getting married, having a child or undergoing a career change, this will also change how that athlete trains and competes. Debra Hodgett shares her tales of what it takes to balance family life and her athletic goals in this quick and easy read.

The book is targeted to women who are training and competing in triathlete events while trying to also be a wife, mother and friend. It is not an easy balance to maintain, and Hodgett’s stories about some of her adventures with her husband and sons will leave the reader laughing out loud. I especially loved the story about the shark bites while she was swimming and had to bring her sons to the training session. That was one of the many times I was laughing out loud while reading this book. The humor of Hodgett and her co-authors make this book fun to read.

There are many practical tips that can be adapted by any woman who is trying to balance various aspects of her life with something else, not just being a triathlete. The stories and sections that describe the triathlete lifestyle are very good, as the reader can feel that he or she is in the pool or on a bike alongside the athlete.

Not all of the stories are Hodgett’s experiences. Six other female triathletes shared their stories of balancing training, competing and family life as well and the common bonds all of these ladies share in addition to being athletes was intriguing. This was the only section of the book where I had trouble while reading. The reader has to be careful and realize when one of the co-authors is now speaking and not get caught thinking that it is a story of Hodgett’s. She tells a brief story about each of her co-authors before their contributions. All of the other contributors’ stories are toward the end of the book, so that is where the reader will need to be on his or her toes to realize that this story is a little different perspective.

By the end of the book, I realized what these amazing women have done and had nothing but admiration and respect for what they accomplished. This book is highly recommended for any woman who is looking for a way to balance participating in a sport and her family.

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

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
Very good. No chapter or story is very long and the writing style is such that the reader will not get bogged down in too many details.

Do I recommend?
Yes, if the reader is looking for a book of not only what it takes to be a triathlete, but also what some great stories about everyday situations that you make you laugh, then pick up this book.

Book Format Read:
Paperback


One Less Set Of Footsteps
One Less Set Of Footsteps
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great breakup song, April 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Jim Croce has been a singer who I have admired for a long time, especially as we lost him far too soon in a plane crash in 1973. While it has been over 40 years, his music still resonates with me and this particular song is one of the best breakup songs I have ever heard.


The Tomb That Ruth Built (A Mickey Rawlings Baseball Mystery)
The Tomb That Ruth Built (A Mickey Rawlings Baseball Mystery)
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding baseball murder mystery, April 6, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
Mickey Rawlings, the utility infielder who is as adept at solving a murder as he is at fielding a scorching line drive, is back in the seventh installment of the Mickey Rawlings Murder Series by Troy Soos. This time, Mickey is now a New York Yankee at the start of the 1923 season and while he and girlfriend Margie are settling in the Bronx, there is a gruesome discovery at the site of the brand new Yankee Stadium. The body of a bootlegger has been found under the site and the team owner wants Mickey to help solve the crime. There are a few reasons why: one is that the victim was a former teammate of Rawlings, the owner doesn’t want the bad publicity and since Rawlings’ roommate is Babe Ruth, it also becomes Mickey’s job to be sure the Babe doesn’t get implicated in this as well.

If this sounds complicated, it really isn’t while reading the book. As with the other books in this series, Soos does a terrific job of weaving detailed and rich baseball scenes with the grittiness required when Rawlings needs to ask questions or might find himself needing to protect not only himself but Margie as well.

It should be noted that this book can be read as a stand-alone as well as any of the others in the series. Soos does describe enough about the characters so those readers who did not read the earlier books won’t be missing key details, yet it doesn’t repeat so many items that those who have read all of them won’t be skipping over those parts. That is not easy to do when writing a series, but Soos does so masterfully.

Not only is the baseball realistic, but so are the characters and sites that are set in the 1920’s. Prohibition was the big topic during the time frame of this novel and the reader feels like he or she is right there in the speak-easies with the characters. The descriptions of the scenes and the dialogue are realistic for the time frame and Soos’s writing shows that he is quite knowledgeable of that era as well.

Any baseball fan or fan of murder mysteries will enjoy this outstanding tale that is equal parts baseball and mystery.

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

Did I skim?
No

Were the characters realistic?
Yes. Soos’s main characters in each of these novels, Mickey and Margie, are portrayed in a manner that the reader will be able to connect with them. Soos’s baseball knowledge and research are very helpful in making Mickey’s character believable as a major league baseball player. The other characters are not portrayed in an over the top manner so they are realistic as well.

Pace of the story:
Excellent

Do I recommend?
Yes. Baseball fans and murder mystery fans alike will enjoy the latest Mickey Rawlings saga.


The Best Seat in Baseball, But You Have to Stand!: The Game as Umpires See It (Writing Baseball)
The Best Seat in Baseball, But You Have to Stand!: The Game as Umpires See It (Writing Baseball)
Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A season with the umpires - an okay read, April 1, 2014
Rating:
3 of 5 stars (okay)

Review:
This book of the chronicles of a National League umpiring crew during the 1974 season was originally published in 1975 and has been re-released in ebook formats now. Lee Gutkind traveled with the crew that was headed by Doug Harvey, who later was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and gives the reader an inside look at the men who are not remembered during a game unless they make a mistake – the umpires.

It was billed as a tell-all book that would make fans realize exactly what umpires must go through and how they endure life always on the road, since they do not have home games like the players, how they interact with fans and other people in each city and some of the shenanigans they do as well to bide their time. Some have called this the “Ball Four” of umpires. There is some NC-17 language in the book, but that is about all that this book has in common with the Jim Bouton classic.

Some of the stories are downright entertaining, such as the cab driver in Chicago who will only give rides to and from the ball park to umpires. His take on what these men are like is funny, touching and even a bit poignant. If for no other reason, this story alone would be a good reason to pick up this book.

However, the same can’t be said of some of the other passages in the book. Gutkind touches on some sensitive issues, such as infidelity (although none of the four umpires in the book are guilty of that in any of the stories) and race issues. However, some of these and other stories tend to get a bit wordy and start to repeat themselves. The book could have had some shorter passages or not repeat some topics and still have been able to make the same points.

Overall, this book is okay for baseball fans, and one that those who are interested in learning more about the umpires would really enjoy. But as an interesting read, it struggled to keep my interest and was only mildly impressed. An okay read.

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

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
It felt to be dragging at times, especially when the talk was about Williams and the reason he was in the major leagues was only for integration. After a while I got tired of hearing that and to have it described for several pages made for tough reading.

Do I recommend?
If you are a hard core fan of 1970s baseball or are interested in the life of an umpire, then pick this one up. If not, then I recommend passing.


Pete Rose: An American Dilemma
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma
Price: $11.49

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book on a polarizing baseball player, March 28, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
Pete Rose has been one of the most polarizing figures in baseball for the last 25 years. In that time, he signed an agreement that permanently banned him from associating with Major League Baseball, has admitted in a tell-all book that he bet on baseball after denying so for over 15 years, spent time in prison for tax evasion, hawked as much memorabilia and as many autographs as he could and yet still have a lot of support to win reinstatement and enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame. All of these topics and more are covered in Kostya Kennedy’s outstanding book on Rose.

This isn’t a typical biography in which the story of the subject is told from birth to present day. Oh, sure, there are pages about Rose’s youth, his relationship with his father and his climb from the minor leagues to the Cincinnati Reds. However, the focus of the book is on Rose and the manner in which he handles himself with the ban from baseball.

There are several chapters interspersed throughout the book on his presence in Cooperstown, New York during the weekend in 2012 when two players were inducted into the Hall of Fame. These stories of Rose and his presence in the hamlet selling anything he can while at the same time being banned from enshrinement in the museum less than a mile away on Main Street smacks of part irony, part melancholy. Kennedy makes the reader feel like he or she is experiencing induction weekend in Cooperstown during these chapters. When Barry Larkin, one of the players inducted that year, mentions Rose during his acceptance speech, the reader cannot help but feel Rose is there, thanks to the prose of Kennedy.

Other topics which are captured and vividly described by Kennedy are Rose’s relationship with his oldest son, Pete Jr. Here another emotional event is illustrated well when Pete Jr. makes his major league debut with the Reds in 1997, but cannot enjoy the moment with his father in the clubhouse because of the ban.

However, my favorite chapter in the book was chapter 17, simply titled “Gate Keepers.” The first paragraph in this chapter is all you need to know in order to understand the title. It ends with the phrase “Keep Pete Rose out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.” This was the meeting in 1991 when a special committee met and drafted the rule that became known as the Pete Rose rule – simply that a person on baseball’s ineligible list shall not be eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Kennedy can barely hide the contempt for this rule, calling it “the greatest disservice to be inflicted upon the Hall of Fame induction process…” and further stating that nothing else “has so deeply stained the procedure, nor delivered such a blow to the integrity of the process as a whole.” This shows that not only has Kennedy done his research, but that he has a deep passion for the topic. His writing is a reflection of that passion.

No matter how the reader feels about Rose and whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame, this outstanding book should be read by every baseball fan. The stories are rich, the research through, the interviews with other players and Rose’s family members riveting and the entire book is a fine work by Kennedy.

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
Excellent. Kennedy’s writing keeps the reader engrossed and the pages turning, whether the topic is Rose hustling to third base on a hit, the gambling investigation, Pete Jr. or the latest sale of Rose merchandise in Cooperstown.

Do I recommend?
This is a must read book for any baseball fan. It doesn’t matter whether you like Rose or not, nor does it matter how the reader feels about whether or not Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, this book will keep the reader riveted.


I Did It My Way: A Remarkable Journey to the Hall of Fame
I Did It My Way: A Remarkable Journey to the Hall of Fame
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding memoir by an outstanding coach, March 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
Bud Grant is a legend to Minnesota sports fans, so when I saw that he wrote an autobiography I immediately picked up a copy. I was hoping to not only read about his time coaching the Vikings, but also more about his time in the Canadian Football League, his playing days and what he has done since coaching. Those were all covered, but there is a lot more to the book than that, and it is some of those stories that make this an outstanding book.

No matter what topic is discussed, Grant writes much like he coached - he stated his view or point, talked about the important aspects to either give credence to the story or explain his opinion, and then moved onto the next topic. He stated several times during the book that he would not dwell too much on games that were lost or players that left the team because he felt that it did not help to dwell on the mistakes if the team was to move forward. He wrote the book with that concept in mind, as there is not a lot of reflection on the four Super Bowl losses by the Vikings during his tenure or other tough losses. Instead, he talks a lot about the great players he coached such as Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman and Alan Page. Vikings fans who followed the team during this time will recall fondly those players who were the stars of the team’s heyday.

There were several “firsts” that Grant accomplished during his sports career as both a player and a coach that are covered in this book. One of these are becoming the first “hardship” case when he left the University of Minnesota’s basketball team to play professionally for the Minneapolis Lakers. Many readers may not know that Grant was a fine athlete, excelling in basketball and baseball as well as football. He also talks about the Vikings running the “West Coast” offense in the 1970’s before the San Francisco 49’ers did, giving it that moniker. His writing comes across as prideful yet not boastful when covering these topics.

However, I believed some of the best sections of this book were not about his playing or coaching career. His account of how his family got through the tough economic times was fascinating reading (I won’t give away too many details of that.) His chapters on animals and the outdoors are also well written.

But the best chapter was chapter 3 when he describes his ordeal when he was caught outside during the famous Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. An avid hunter and fisherman since he was a young boy, Grant was hunting when the storm suddenly arrived and the tale of what he did to survive that storm and ensure his hunting companions were safe was nothing short of incredible. That chapter alone makes the book worth the time to read.

This is an outstanding book written by a legendary coach that captures his life in the same manner as he coached his football teams. It covers many topics and aspects of the man’s life in an even-keeled manner and comes across as sincere, not boastful or regretful. Readers who are sports fans, especially Minnesota sports fans, will love this book.

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
Very good. The book does follow a true timeline and does not skip much. There are times Grant will go off on a tangent with a related story, but these are infrequent and short – it doesn’t steer off course for too long.

Do I recommend?
Pro football fans will like this book, especially Minnesota Vikings fans. Also, those who enjoy the outdoors will like Grant’s chapters on hunting and animals in general. Something for many tastes.


Backspin: One Player's Journey From the U.S. to Europe and Back Again.
Backspin: One Player's Journey From the U.S. to Europe and Back Again.
Price: $8.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book on overseas basketball, March 21, 2014
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
When most basketball fans in the United States think of professional basketball, the NBA immediately comes to mind. However, there are many professional leagues in Europe and Asia as well. Several American players will play in these leagues and will face challenges along the way. Pete Strobl was one of these players and he decided to write a book on his adventures in Europe when playing in several countries.

“Backspin” takes the reader through Strobl’s playing career at Niagara University and his stops in various European countries, including France, Austria and Germany. The adventures and experiences he has at each stop is described in vivid detail. Some of the stories are downright funny (the adventures of the grey Omega that he drove from California to Niagara University), some are poignant (how he felt when an inexperienced player took a bad shot at the end of a championship game) and some are uplifting (his story of courting and marrying his wife Sheryl and the birth of their children).

What I like best about this book is that Strobl never comes across as too emotional while telling these stories. Through his writing, he doesn’t come across as getting too excited about the highs, nor too depressed about the lows. He keeps an even keel throughout his career in Europe. He also writes well about his trials and tribulations of being an American in a foreign country and needing to quickly adapt to the culture and languages. My favorite story of these was early in his first stop in France, he was mocked by a store clerk by asking if she had any English language magazines – and she did it in English! Later, after he learned to speak French well, he returned, asked the same question in French, and got a much different reaction.

There is plenty of basketball talk as well for the hardcore fan, especially about his college career at Niagara and his days playing in France and Austria. He recalls important games, some of his memorable episodes with teammates and the work he put in to become a better player at each stop. This work ethic not only helped him on the court but also to be able to quickly adapt to new cultures and languages at each stop in Europe.

Overall, this is a very good book about Strobl’s life before, during and after his overseas professional career. Written in a very even-handed manner, it is a good read for those who like memoirs and for basketball fans. The latter category will even learn a little more about professional leagues that are not the NBA.

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

Did I skim?
No. The stories each are an integral part of what has made Strobl who he is today and each one of them tells an interesting fact or tidbit about his life.

Pace of the book:
Very good. It is not too slow so that it drags, nor is it a quick pace as each story should be absorbed instead of skimmed.

Do I recommend?
For readers who like personal introspection into the lives of the book’s subject, this is the perfect book. It covers more than just basketball - it truly is a book on the adventures of life.

Book Format Read:
Paperback


Between the Pipes: A Revealing Look at Hockey's Legendary Goalies
Between the Pipes: A Revealing Look at Hockey's Legendary Goalies
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read on NHL goalies, March 16, 2014
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
Throughout the colorful history of the National Hockey League, goaltenders have always had a special place that forwards and defensemen do not enter. Whether that is superstition, unusual habits or just being “different”, many talented goaltenders have interesting stories behind their legendary careers. Randi Druzin’s book on twelve of the best goalies in NHL history takes a look at their careers, their achievements and yes, their idiosyncrasies as well.

The span of time covered by the book is long. Goalies who had success during the time when the NHL had only 6 teams are portrayed are included as well as recent stars such as Ed Belfour and Martin Brodeur. The stories of these legendary net minders such as Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall made for some of the more interesting passages in the book. Jacque Plante’s knitting hobby may have earned him some ridicule from teammates, but it served him well while becoming a Hall of Fame goalie. Ken Dryden appeared to be deep in thought while the action was on the opposite end of the rink, leaning on his goalie stick. This book puts that myth to rest, as he states that he simply was relaxing in a different manner than most goalies. Passages like these are the best parts of this book.

The style of Druzin’s writing is easy to read, quick paced and well organized. Each goalie’s chapter starts with a personal story or two, his amateur career, his NHL career season by season followed by life after the NHL. None of these sections get too detailed that would drag the book, nor does it skim too much to not be insightful

I have only one quibble with the book – some of the stories or actions by the men being featured were written in a manner that left me wanting to know more about it or wondering why this happened. One example was in the chapter on Dominik Hasek when he retired from the Detroit Red Wings, only to play the next season in the Czech Republic. There is no reason given for his sudden retirement from the NHL, not even that he did it to play in his home nation. That left me wondering just why he wanted to leave the Red Wings. Excerpts like this made me wonder if there is more than what is written in the book. It doesn’t detract from the overall book, but it would have been even better with a full explanation.

Overall, this is a fun book to read that any serious hockey fan, especially those who are fascinated with the position of goaltender, should add to the reading list.

Did I skim?
No. Because each goalie had a unique characteristic about him, I was interested in learning more about their personalities as well as their accomplishments.

Pace of the book:
Very quick. Because Druzin concentrated on each goalie’s personality instead of detailing each man’s childhood or extra analysis of their greatest seasons, each chapter was a quick and easy read for me.

Do I recommend?
Hockey fans in general should enjoy this book. For fans like me, who pay extra attention to the goaltenders as they have a special role in the success of the team and have also gained notoriety as being “different”; this book is very informative and fun to read.


Sudoku Free
Sudoku Free
Offered by Appstore - US - MP - Offer
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent app, March 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sudoku Free (App)
Having been a huge Sudoku fan for many years, this is one the ways I have found to play it. The screen is easy to read, seeing how many uses are left for each digit is great, it's easy to remove numbers and it doesn't go over the top when you solve the puzzle as I do not like all the "celebrations." Much better than solving them in the newspaper this app will be enjoyed by anyone who likes solving these puzzles.


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