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L. Smith "L. Smith" RSS Feed (Upstate New York)

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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
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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: $4.99

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.


Bad Football Saturday's 50 Worst Teams Ever!
Bad Football Saturday's 50 Worst Teams Ever!
Price: $0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not much depth - but a fun subject, September 14, 2014
This list of the 50 worst college football teams ever was an okay read. It didn't go deeply into any of the teams - a brief recap of the season, saying that either the offense or defense was really bad (or both if applicable.) Then the basic team stats and the losses for the season by each team was listed. It was that same format for all 50 teams. The introduction did say it would be in this format and it was correct. A quick list that can generate some barroom discussion, but not much else.


A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports
A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book on an important part of baseball history, September 14, 2014
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
In early 1970, Curt Flood, an all-star outfielder, was part of a multi-player trade between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies. Having established himself in the city with both business and on the Cardinals, Flood refused to report to the Philles and wanted to remain with the Cardinals. However, because of baseball’s reserve clause that tied a player to a team until he was traded, released or sold to another club, Flood had to report to Philadelphia if he wanted to play baseball in the 1970 season.

Instead of doing so, he sought legal advice and also financial backing from the players’ union and decided to sue Major League Baseball. By doing this, he knew he had little to gain ( he was giving up a $90,000 annual salary, one of the highest in baseball at that time) and a lot to lose. But he was willing to take that risk in order to stand up to a principle.

The resulting legal case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Flood’s life both in and out of baseball are portrayed in this excellent book by former attorney Brad Snyder. Ironically, Snyder also quit HIS job in order to research and write this book. While it is not known if Snyder had the same professional and financial difficulties that Flood faced after quitting baseball, his knowledge of the legal system aids in making this book a good detailed account without legal language or compound sentences making it harder.

The book is at its best when it portrays Flood as a man with principles who just wants to end the practice of binding players to one team unless the owner sees fit to discard him in whatever manner is best for the owner. In addition to the court cases, Snyder recaps much of Flood’s baseball career and how it hardened him so that he was prepared to face the risks of suing Major League Baseball. In one excellent chapter on Flood’s minor league playing days in the South, the prejudice Flood faces is not unlike that which Jackie Robinson endured when he broke the color barrier. Robinson was an inspiration for Flood in both baseball and civil rights matters and it is stated so several times in the book.

Flood’s life falls to pieces after his baseball playing days are done and the Supreme Court rules against Flood. His financial problems, drinking problems and relationship issues are documented well, but not too much in order to preserve the main focus of the book – how Flood opened the door toward the eventual demise of the reserve clause in 1975.

Snyder’s legal expertise was also evident in his excellent coverage of the actual hearing in front of the Supreme Court. Snyder is especially critical of Flood’s attorney Arthur Goldberg’s presentation in front of the justices by basically saying that the true reason that the reserve clause should be abolished was never truly expressed by Goldberg. That part is by far the best of the legal writing in the book.

This book should be read by not only fan, but modern-day baseball players in order for them to truly appreciate what Flood did and sacrificed for them. The multi-million dollar contracts that are common for even regular players today would not have been possible without one man challenging the sport not for selfish reasons, but just because he felt it was the right thing to do.

Did I skim?
No, because skipping over any portion of this book would mean the reader would miss key facts or elements crucial to Flood’s case against baseball.

Pace of the book:
I found the first third of the book rather slow and hard to concentrate as it mainly concentrates on Flood’s case in the lower court. However, once it gets to the Supreme Court, the book reads much faster for all topics – the legal matter, Flood’s baseball career and his life.

Do I recommend?
An absolute must-read for any sports fan who wants to understand the background of how players were able to obtain the freedom to go to any team – not just in baseball but for all team sports.


NFL Football: A History of America's New National Pastime (Sport and Society)
NFL Football: A History of America's New National Pastime (Sport and Society)
Price: $11.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on non-football issues of the NFL, September 7, 2014
Rating:
4 ˝ of 5 stars (excellent)

Review:
There is no doubt that professional football is the most popular sport in America now and the National Football League is one of the most successful enterprises in the world. How the sport and the league arrived to this point is chronicled in this well-researched and well-written book by Richard C. Crepeau. It is a wide ranging book that covers mostly the business of the league and related topics such as media coverage and labor relations.

The book mentions very little about the game itself. It could be considered more of a business book, but in a historical context. The references for the author’s research are both from academic and media sources, which leads to very interesting writing. It is mostly serious, but Crepeau shows some humor as well. One of my favorite passages in the entire book is near the end in the chapter about how the Super Bowl has turned into a national holiday. When talking about the ever-growing popularity and hype of the event, he states that “there are only two things that can stop it: a massive economic collapse or a hysterical wave of sanity sweeping the country.”

Crepeau is careful not to show opinions in the book, but he does make clear the strengths and weaknesses of the league’s commissioners during the period of exponential growth of the league, which is considered to be roughly the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century as well. The passages on labor relations under Pete Rozelle, during which there were three player strikes, and Roger Goddell, under whom there was a lockout in 2011, were especially balanced. This was true not only about praise or criticism of the leadership, but also in the writing style. Crepeau wrote about this and other business matters in a way that the average fan who does not deal with business language would understand, but advanced enough so that those readers who do work in this field would not consider it too simple.

No topic related to the business of the NFL is ignored. Franchise relocation, drug testing for both illegal substances and performance-enhancing drugs, pension benefits, and post-concussion health problems are all addressed in the book. The sheer amount of topics that are covered in depth make this book worth reading for anyone interested in the business side of the NFL. Crepeau’s work makes that topic that sounds boring a very good read for football fans.

Did I skim?
No as the book shows the fascinating history of the league, especially off the field as both a business and as an enterprise.

Pace of the book:
It took awhile to get through the book. It is not one that can be read quickly. Reading it slowly and methodically is best to understand all the intricacies of the league.

Do I recommend?
There are so many different aspects of the NFL that are covered, especially since the 1960’s, that any football fan should be able to enjoy the book. This is especially true for those readers who enjoy reading about non-football issues with the league.


Wire to Wire: Inside the 1984 Detroit Tigers Championship Season
Wire to Wire: Inside the 1984 Detroit Tigers Championship Season
Price: $9.39

3.0 out of 5 stars A historic team deserves a book with more depth - but worth a look, September 5, 2014
Rating:
3 of 5 stars (okay)

Review:
The 1984 Detroit Tigers got off to the best start in baseball history for the first 40 games. They had an incredible 35-5 record at that time and went on to win the World Series in five games over the San Diego Padres. It was a special season for the Tigers and their fans. George Cantor’s book “Wire to Wire” recaps that season by sharing stories from many of the players and relieves some of the best games of the season.

Cantor was a long-time Detroit sportswriter who covered the Tigers in two of their championship seasons, 1968 and 1984. The knowledge he gained by covering the team shows in his writing as he recaps some insights about the players and owner that only a writer who regularly covered the team would know. However, the book never goes deep into the sprit or details of that season.

Most players on that team share some thoughts on that season for the book. Not only the stars like Kirk Gibson and Willie Hernandez talk, but some reserves such as Rusty Kunz, Tom Brookens and Ruppert Jones also are interviewed. I was hoping to get some great insight on this historic team from these players, but the stories were fairly short and predictable. The same could be said for the writing about the games on the field. While Cantor does a decent job describing the highlights of the great start to the season, this portion also lacks the depth I was hoping to read. After those first 40 games, the reader doesn’t learn much else about the season until the playoffs, when he again switches into more detail about the wins against Kansas City in the American League Championship Series and then the World Series win.

He also compares the 1968 Tigers championship to this team and that made good fodder for debate. It reads much like those types of comparisons one would read in a newspaper. There is also a good story on how Tom Monaghan, the Domino’s Pizza maverick, became owner of the Tigers.

Alas, in depth and entertaining stories like that are few and far between in this book. While it was a quick and decent read, if you are looking for a book on this team that covers a lot of ground, this isn’t that book.

Did I skim?
No

Pace of the book:
While hoping for more details about this team, the writing style did make this a quick read. It read it in two sittings of about one to one and a half hours each.

Do I recommend?
Tiger fans will certainly enjoy this recap of one of the single seasons in baseball history. A casual baseball fan who has heard about this team may also like it. However, hard core fans who want to learn more about this historic season will be disappointed with the lack of depth.


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