14-year-old Peak Marcello is named after the mountains his father obsessively climbs for a living. While he hasn't seen his dad for years, Peak shares14-year-old Peak Marcello is named after the mountains his father obsessively climbs for a living. While he hasn't seen his dad for years, Peak shares his father's love of climbing. Unfortunately Peak lives in Manhattan where the only tall things to climb are skyscrapers, which he discovers the police don't appreciate him climbing. In order to avoid jail time, Peak leaves the country to live with his father. Little does Peak know, his father has set things in motion so that Peak can attempt to be the youngest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
I was sucked into the story pretty quickly and really enjoyed it, but I don't have a lot to say about it. This is definitely a good book for those who enjoy adventure stories and persevering through physical challenges. Peak has to push himself to the limits both physically and emotionally and comes down from Everest a different person than he went up it....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book that sounds like it's all about baseball, but isn't really.
Henry Skrimshander is not your typical baseball superstar.I thoroughly enjoyed this book that sounds like it's all about baseball, but isn't really.
Henry Skrimshander is not your typical baseball superstar. Of medium height and skinny build, the 17-year-old is definitely not a power hitter, but on the field he is quick and agile, the perfect shortstop. This boy from tiny Lankton, SD is obsessed with legendary shortstop Aparicio Rodriguez and carries a well-worn copy of his book The Art of Fielding with him wherever he goes.
When Mike Schwartz, a hard-working kid from Chicago's south side sees Henry play in an amateur tournament, he knows that the boy would be perfect for his college's team in northern Wisconsin, and convinces Westish College, located along the scenic coast of Lake Michigan) to roll out the welcome mat for a kid who thought high school was his last chance to do the only thing he'd ever been really good at.
Together Mike and Henry turn the perennially mediocre Westish Harpooners into a powerhouse ball club, but some of the most interesting parts of their story happen off the field with the characters they meet along the way: Henry's brilliant and serene roommate Owen, who joins the team despite his apparent lack of a competitive nature; Guert Affenlight, the college's president who was also once a student at Westish. He loves what Mike has done for his alma mater's sports program and gets to know Owen through his work with the college's green student initiatives. His daughter Pella also plays a major role in the story when she runs away from a failed marriage to start her life over again at Westish, and almost immediately falls in with Mike and Henry.
All of these characters lose something of supreme importance to them during the book and the way they all interact to eventually find their respective resolutions results in a very rewarding read. Because I've been reading a lot of YA fiction, this is the longest book I've picked up in quite awhile, yet once I got into it, I flew through most of the 500 pages in a few days.
I really enjoyed this book so I would recommend it to anyone, but especially folks who like coming of age novels (since most of the characters are college students trying to figure out how to deal with adulthood). You don't have to know much about baseball to follow the book, but an appreciation of sports in general might help you get into the more sports-heavy sections, since they're more about Henry and Mike's extreme training regimen than actual game play....more
With the winning combination of Italy and football Grisham tells a winning little story about a washed up NFL quarterback whose last option is to playWith the winning combination of Italy and football Grisham tells a winning little story about a washed up NFL quarterback whose last option is to play in the semi-pro American football league in Italy. He deals with culture shock in Parma, as well as the transition from pampered NFL third-stringer, to one of the few paid players on a team where everyone plays solely for the love of the game rather than big contracts and advertising dollars. I still can't decide if I think the ending is refreshingly open-ended or unnecessarily abrupt, but the rest of the book is solid. Nothing overwhelming or surprising, but I still found myself quickly unable to put the book down....more
Iowa Football: The Greatest Games, Players, Coaches and Teams in the Glorious Tradition of Hawkeye Football is solid quick introduction to the highligIowa Football: The Greatest Games, Players, Coaches and Teams in the Glorious Tradition of Hawkeye Football is solid quick introduction to the highlights in Hawkeye Football History. The book is divided into chapters on players, coaches, big games, rivalries, quotes, traditions, and stats, making it a well-organized ready reference for when I'm trying to remember the big plays in the #1 vs. #2 battle against Michigan in 1985. The foreward by Hayden Fry is a nice touch since he's pretty much sainted by the Hawkeye faithful. I also liked getting a little more background on some of the players in Iowa's distant past, especially Nile Kinnick, the namesake of the Hawkeyes' home field. But if you're looking for an in depth history, you're out of luck. However, this is still another solid edition in the Game Day series produced by Athlon Sports and Triumph Books....more
At times I wanted to be angry at the typical female stereotype this book is built on: While some women may be football fans, they simply don't grow upAt times I wanted to be angry at the typical female stereotype this book is built on: While some women may be football fans, they simply don't grow up learning the intricacies of the game like men do, and many of them grow up learning next to nothing about the game. Overall, though, I found this a wonderfully accessible introduction to the intricacies of professional football.
While I wanted to be offended at the assumption that women just don't know the details of football, I have to admit that I don't really either. As a kid who grew up watching football on Sunday afternoons & Monday nights and has become an increasingly rabid fan of Hawkeye football, I can definitely follow the main action in a game. However, I couldn't tell what a nickel back was, the advantages of running a West Coast offense, or even what a West Coast offense was, for that matter, so I guess I fit the stereotype. But Holly doesn't apologize for women being so dumb when it comes to football. Instead, she seems to have decided that as a good NFL quarterback's wife (her husband is Rodney Peete), she simply needs to help us women catch up.
The book starts with the assumption that women will pick it up with varying levels of football knowledge, some with a fairly solid base like me, but others who know nearly nothing about the game & simply want to find some way to understand their man's Sunday afternoon obsession. I was disappointed with how much time Peete had to spend with the very basics of the game for less knowledgable readers, but I understand why it was necessary to the book. It also helped that little blurbsexplaining some of the most significant historical developments in the game were scattered throughout the book , breaking up some of the more tedious information. After each chapter there was also a top ten list of a significant aspect of the NFL (key players, coaches, Super Bowls, etc.) Peete's somewhat informal tone also kept the book from getting too dry & boring while remaining clear enough when explaining the important details that I was dying to learn.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend reading this book straight through, at least not the last chapter (it's simply a list of NFL teams & important items from their histories), but that's because it makes a great go-to guide for those times when something comes up during a game that you don't understand. While I wish she could have gone into more depth about different offensive and defensive formations, I still appreciate the way this book filled in the gaps in my basic football knowledge. And while the book ended much to quickly for me, Peete leaves her readers with the tools to continue to increase their football knowledge....more
For those who know me, it's not too surprising that I saw the movie version of this book shortly after it came out. I LOVE football movies. So eventuaFor those who know me, it's not too surprising that I saw the movie version of this book shortly after it came out. I LOVE football movies. So eventually I was going to have to get around to reading the best-selling book it was based on. Unlike the movie, Lewis' book tells two stories: the heart-warming story of Michael Oher's rise from poverty and the story of the left tackle's rise as the best kept secret of strong NFL offenses.
I love football, but having never played the game, I understand very little of the strategy aside from the flashy players who carry the ball. I watched my brothers play various defensive positions, but I honestly couldn't tell you what they were other than one brother's senior year when he proudly told me he was playing middle linebacker because he was on-field leader of the defense (and he was, watching him shout instructions to the other defenders was one of the highlights of watching him play). So Lewis' lesson that the left tackle is the most important player on the offensive line because he protects the quarterback's blind side, was one I hadn't had an inkling of before reading the book. Yet, as he went into chapters worth of evidence to support this statement, I was able to follow every facet, from the entrance of Lawrence Taylor, as the first super-huge, super-athletic blind side blitzer, to the rise of Bill Walsh's West Coast offense, making passing a much bigger part of NFL offenses, leading to the need for bigger, more athletic, freak of nature left tackles like Jonathan Ogden.
Lewis does an excellent job of telling the heart-warming story of Michael Oher and his integration into the Tuohy family, as well as distilling the nuts and bolts of changes in football over the last forty years that made the left tackle position perfect for someone like Michael Oher, making him a top college prospect after playing barely more than a season of high school football. If you have an interest in sports, the story of the rise of the left tackle will appeal to you. If you have any interest in hearing what a little care and attention can do to turn a kid's life around, you'll love the story of Michael Oher....more
I saw two really good sports movies that were based on best-selling books this December. The first one, The Blind Side, I'm still waiting on my turn tI saw two really good sports movies that were based on best-selling books this December. The first one, The Blind Side, I'm still waiting on my turn to get it from the library. Luckily, I went out and saw Invictus shortly after it opened and was able to get my hands on a copy of the book it was based off before they all disappeared.
Playing the Enemy is so much more than a story about sports, which is why it's so compelling, and why it's so hard for me to get my head around it. I've always been a huge sports fan and will look for any reason to justify my obsession, but this book is the ode to how sports can bring people together. Only a year before the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the nation of South Africa was on the brink of civil war. The age of apartheid was officially over and a new popularly elected government had been installed, but how could years of state-sponsored discrimination turn quickly and peacefully into a stable popularly elected government, without devolving into state-sponsored vengeance?
To understand how Nelson Mandela managed to use a sport that had been one of the greatest symbols of white oppression to unite his country, the story starts during his early days as a lawyer in the ANC, through his time in prison at Robben Island and other institutions on the way to his eventual release and election as President of South Africa.
The book also takes more time than the movie to look at the individuals who made up the rugby team and their political journeys on the way to the unifying World Cup Finals. There's still very little explained about rugby, but even a n00b like me could follow along just fine. Really the focus of this book are all the individuals who chose Mandela's path to reconciliation over the other more violent options offered in the post-apartheid era, making it more a story of South African's ability to heal and move beyond the terrors of their past.
Since I was a bit of news and politics nerd as a kid, it surprised me how much of the South African story was new to me, especially this very important chapter framed around the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Once I get done being surprised, though, I'll probably be able to tell you that this was a wonderful book....more
I've never known a casual wrestling fan, so if you're like me and can't get enough stories of high school and college wrestling, Niemand's book is worI've never known a casual wrestling fan, so if you're like me and can't get enough stories of high school and college wrestling, Niemand's book is worth a look. Following WWII, the GI Bill flooded campuses with young men and gave small colleges with higher tuition equal footing with larger public institutions. Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa took advantage, fielding a team that won both the NCAA and AAU championships in 1947, the only private school to ever do so, and the first school outside of Oklahoma to win the NCAA crown.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did conduct quite a bit of research for this book, digging through the Cornell College archives and the newspaper archives of the Iowa State Historical Society. That said I really enjoyed seeing the way Arno brought the random pieces of history I found to life, fleshing out a complete story with interviews and other pieces, and pointing out the ways this historic team helped to develop modern day amateur wrestling....more
First, I have to admit that I might be a little too randomly related to events in this book to be a fair and unbiased reviewer.
The book chronicles theFirst, I have to admit that I might be a little too randomly related to events in this book to be a fair and unbiased reviewer.
The book chronicles the attempt of two high school wrestlers to become the 15th and 16th four time Iowa State Champions during the winter of 2005. My brother's team wrestled in several tournaments with Dan LeClere's North Linn Lynx that year. It was so weird seeing one of my brother's teammates mentioned when he faced Dan, and I was actually at the Tournament covered in the chapter "Saturday in Wyoming."
So it was glaringly obvious that Kreidler (currently living in Sacramento) is not an Iowan (at one point he calls the University of Iowa, "Iowa University"), but it was also equally clear that he knew his wrestling. Not only did he document the senior wrestling seasons of Dan Le Clere and Jay Borschel, but he filled in the important details around that season needed to accurately capture what I affectionately refer to as "the cult of wrestling".
Anyone who's spent much time around wrestling and caught wrestling fever will love this book. Not only does he cover the drive and desire of Dan and Jay in their respective wrestling rooms and the ridiculous physical and mental demands of the sport, but he also covers at length the kiddie programs that started Jay and Dan down the road to wrestling glory, their dads' dedication to the sport, the legend of Dan Gable that motivated countless Iowa wrestlers (including Dan and Jay) to strive for greatness (and to wrestle collegiately for the University of Iowa). If you love wrestling, even if you don't know a lot about the sport, you will absolutely love this book. Kreidler captures the magic of this demanding sport and the state that has claimed it for it's own....more