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1. Jackie Robinson Led By Example

I Am Jackie Robinson

By Brad Meltzer; illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos

 

We are coming to the end of something this month, and the beginning of something else. It’s almost the end of February which is traditionally referred to as African American History month and we are on the cusp of the beginning of Spring Training for the All American sport of baseball.

Brad Meltzer’s picture book from the series entitled, “Ordinary People Change the World” is a “hit out of the park” on both counts!

Chronicling the amazing journey of an incredibly talented and courageous African American baseball player named Jackie Robinson, this picture book enables a new crop of picture book readers a window into a world with a very different baseball roster than the one they see now.

Incredibly, at one time, there were NO African American players in Major League baseball!

C C Sabathia, Jason Heyward, Dominic Brown, Ryan Howard and B.J. Upton are but five players today that stand metaphorically on the shoulders of Jackie Robinson. And, I think many of them know this. In fact, there is a link at the bottom of this post to interviews with some of these players, as regards to Jackie Robinson.

Today, there are many players of race that stand on the shoulders of the courage, conviction and calm of Jackie Robinson as he broke the so-called “color line” in Major League Baseball.

I have always believed that “Example is the strongest teacher.” In the end, it is not so much what we say, but the values we hold, and how those values define our lives, that our character is formed. Never was that more true than today. Never was it more important for young readers to have picture books like this one in their hands.

And that is why a book like “I Am Jackie Robinson” is a great picture book read this month OR any other. It arranges the arc of Jackie’s life, and the experiences, example and ethos that drove it.

Perseverance, courage, determination, fearlessness and an incredible talent that could not be denied, are but a small semblance of the values and attitudes that formed Jackie Robinson.

Brad Meltzer’s picture book allows your reader a very vital and vibrant glimpse into a far different world than the one they are growing up in. Some injustices never change fast enough. They are part of the fabric of a nation for a very long time.

For Jackie it was a long road to change – but one he travelled alone, and with a quiet strength. He let his talent do the talking. And it commanded respect – eventually.

In baseball, it took the impetus provided by a manager named Branch Rickey, President of the then Brooklyn Dodgers to hire an all but unknown player named Jackie Robinson.

Athletic abilities, at that time, unlike today, had little to do with being hired by a Major League Baseball team – if you were a man of color.

Jackie, born the youngest of five children was named after the “Rough Rider” hero and President, Theodore Roosevelt. He was named Jackie Theodore Robinson. Quite a name to live up to – and he did!

Bravery was something that did not come immediately to Jackie. But, at the age of eight, he found his voice when a young girl called him a name – AND the girl’s father got into the fray. A fight began – yet that is never a solution; at least not a rock fight!

Told in the first person, sports and winning were what fueled Jackie’s passion for achievement. And it was here, at least initially, where the color of his skin did not wholly define him.

But it’s a huge leap from the sandlot to the floodlights of a Major League Baseball field.

Living in a mixed neighborhood, his mother gave Jackie a phrase that would carry him through many an angry confrontation on the field – “When you do something good, it brings out the good in others.”

At UCLA he was the first student EVER to win letter in four sports – football, baseball, basketball and track.

Then the call came – from Branch Rickey.

Jackie had guts and what we used to call “gumption”, as he embarked on being a historic first in the world of professional baseball. He did it with grace, style and a first home run of 340 feet! Scoring and stealing home became his trademarks with a professionalism that stood the test of racial epithets.

It’s hard to go first in any field against opposition, but it IS essential to lead by example. Jackie Robinson did both.

So as Spring Training starts, and African American History Month closes out for 2015, it’s batter up for this great picture book called, “I Am Jackie Robinson.” It’s both a “hit out of the park” for Jackie, and for your young reader.

Jackie Robinson defined what is possible if one has the talent, timing, technique and tenacity to reach a goal. It can be done!  

 

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2029246-mlbs-african-american-superstars-discuss-jackie-robinsons-impact    

 

 

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2. Interview and Giveaway: Elizabeth Harmon, Author of Pairing Off

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Elizabeth!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Creative, energetic, sociable, easily-distracted, short

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Pairing Off?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Absolutely! A great way to describe my debut novel, “Pairing Off” is that it’s like “The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist. It’s the story of a pairs figure skating duo who team up to train for the Olympics and fall in love in the process. What makes it different from TCE is that it’s set mostly in Russia and the hero is Russian.  He’s also a champion pairs figure skater, rather than a hockey guy recruited at the last minute. Anton did play hockey as a kid though, and was proud to have the best double toe loop jump of any goalie in the youth league.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Elizabeth Harmon] One of the most romantic scenes is when Carrie and Anton skate on a moonlit pond in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Their relationship has deepened but they’ve not yet crossed the line from friend-zone into something more.  I love the romantic setting, the sexual tension between Carrie and Anton, and also the details about the cold night, tinny music and the little crowd who applauds after watching this champion-level pair skate together.  Watching skilled pair skaters do their stuff live is really amazing, especially when it’s impromptu, as this skate is.  I also love Anton’s little comment to Carrie at the end, when he says, “guess we’re pretty good.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Getting to know Russia and Russians, both through my own research and with the help of a Moscow-based blogger and his wife, who proved to be an invaluable resource. As an American, we don’t always get the most favorable impressions of Russia and it was great to be able to connect with two Russians who were so generous with their time and excited to see the city they love used as the setting for a light, fun romance.  Corresponding with them also helped me create the cadence of Anton’s speech, and helping them edit an English-language cookbook gave me some insights into Russian home-cooking. The descriptions of fish pie and syrniki in Pairing Off were inspired by their family recipes. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Something to read, because you never know when you’re going to be stuck waiting, as well as something to write with and on, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Pictures of my family, today’s to-do list, and my cat, who loves to lay (and walk!) on my laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Elizabeth Harmon] For late night writing, nothing beats popcorn– NOT the microwaved stuff, but the real kind cooked on the stove, and tossed with butter, parmesan and salt.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Just one day? Probably an average person living in either ancient or medieval times. I think it would be fascinating to experience these worlds, but not live there long term, especially not as a woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Elizabeth Harmon] There are a lot of powers I’d love to have, but surrendering them after a week would be so hard! I would choose teleportation, the ability to travel anywhere instantly. I’d make a list of all the places I’d love to visit, but are difficult to actually travel to and hit all of them during that one week. As a writer, this would be an amazing experience.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Fiction-wise, I loved “The Haunting of Maddie Clare,” which was beautifully written, and scary– kind of “Downton Abbey” meets “The Ring” if you can imagine that.  I also enjoyed “ICE Blue,” a Chicago-set romantic suspense novel by Susan Rae. It’s the second book in her DeLuca family series and the latest installment is on my TBR list.

Since I’m in the midst of turning my National Novel Writing Month first draft into the third book in the Red Hot Russians series, I’ve been reading my favorite writing books which I always turn to at revision time. One the best is James Scott Bell’s “Revision and Self-Editing,” which takes the big scary revision monster and turns it into something manageable, as well as offering great ideas to develop characters and setting. Writing isn’t an easy job, but so much fun, because you’re always learning and improving.

Pairing Off
Red Hot Russians # 1

By: Elizabeth Harmon

Releasing February 2, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

A scandal-plagued American figure skater’s last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia’s sexiest male skater…who happens to be the first man she ever loved.

“The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist.

American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/pairing-off-red-hot-russians-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23440537-pairing-off?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/141555-red-hot-russians

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I’m a happy girl.

I read a variety of genres– romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.

When I’m not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Excerpt:

This is it…I’m going to die.

Carrie clutched the back of the sticky vinyl seat and braced for the end. She hadn’t imagined she’d meet it speeding down a Moscow highway in a small, vomit-scented taxicab.

“Slow down!” she shouted, but it was useless. The driver spoke almost no English. She knew three words of Russian. Desperately, she tried to remember one. “Pozhalujsta! Please! Slow! Gooo sloooow!” She gestured with raised, outstretched hands.

The driver glanced back. “Chto?”

Thank God, he’d understood. “Yes! Slow!”

Instead, she was thrown back against the seat as he darted into a tiny gap between an 18-wheeler and a sinister, black Lexus SUV with tinted windows. The Lexus honked its displeasure. Wind whipped through the open windows, blowing her hair into her eyes and mouth. As they rocketed past the warehouses, office buildings and apartment blocks that lined Kashirskoe Highway, Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky blasted from the rear speakers.

When I die and they lay me to rest…”

Nice music. What was next, Death Cab for Cutie? From behind, a shadow loomed. She turned to see the Lexus bearing down.

The cabdriver saw it too. Yelling, he gestured out the window with a raised middle finger and shot back into the center lane, just missing the front bumper of a cement mixer. More horns honked. She yelped and covered her eyes. It was best not to look.

She could have waited for a legitimate cab, but her flight landed late, Customs took forever and the line at the taxi-booking desk inched forward at a glacial pace. When two German-speaking business types left the official line and gravitated toward the motley fleet of private cabs parked outside, she’d followed. The driver, a friendly guy in a faded Beatles T-shirt and Yankees cap, promised in very broken English to get her downtown by 3:00, or 15:00 as it was known here, no problem.

She should have mentioned that alive would be nice too.

She was rocked by another wild swerve, followed by more horns and Russian swear words. Then, the cab slowed. She peeked between her fingers. They were on an exit ramp. The tense knot between her shoulders relaxed, and she glanced at her watch. Two forty-five. Miraculously, she’d survived, and was right on time to meet her new coach.

A little smile tugged at her lips. For the first time in a long time, things were looking up. They parked in front of an old red brick building in an industrial area near a river. A concrete medallion of a hammer and sickle loomed above the door, but the geranium-filled urns flanking the front steps were a nice touch.

The driver turned in his seat and tugged his ragged ballcap, ready for his fare. Carrie reached into her purse, her fingers brushed against the clasp of her wallet. At the airport, they’d agreed on one hundred U.S. dollars, but that was before he’d almost killed her. She shifted her gaze from his expectant, gap-toothed smile, to the dirty windshield. The peeling dashboard. The items attached to the sun visor with rubber bands. A pencil and notepad. A packet of tissues. School photos of two little girls.

The driver pointed to the pictures and his smile grew wider. “Moi docheri.”

His daughters. The pride in his voice required no translation. This man supported a family with his beat-up, smelly taxi. She counted out five twenties, and added an extra as a tip. “Spasibo,” she said. A Southern girl always knew the words for please and thank you.

As the driver carted her bags inside, she reread Galina Borisova’s email, shaking her head in wonder. American skating had shunned her, fans had turned their backs, yet here was the official paperwork confirming that someone—a Russian coach of all people—still thought Carrie was worthy of her time.

In the rink’s lobby, she bit back disappointment. This looked more like a neighborhood hangout than an elite training facility. Why was she surprised? Galina was a minor coach who’d gotten lucky and discovered Olga Zelenskaya, one of skating’s stars in the making. After winning silver at Worlds in Halifax this spring, Olga and her partner, Anton, had no doubt left to train with a top-level coach, leaving Galina to cast her net for new skaters. That she was willing to take on the pariah of American figure skating proved how desperate she must be.

Good thing Carrie’s expectations were modest. Since no one in North America would partner with her, she’d team up with a reasonably skilled Russian leftover, and find something low-profile to fill the days—maybe a cruise ship ice show—while she figured out what to do with the rest of her life.

In one corner of the rink’s lobby were wooden benches and day lockers, in the other, a shuttered blade-sharpening counter. At the rear of the lobby was a concession stand, also closed. The faint, fried aroma that hung in the air brought a memory of corn dogs. And just like that, she was ten years old, gliding across the oval at the Sweetspire Ice Palace.

“Momma! Watch me land a toe loop!”

At the boards, Momma chuckled and shook her head. “You’re gonna crack your skull, baby girl.”

Not that it would have mattered. She would have been back on the ice the minute the bandages came off. Skating once made her so happy. Dare she hope that it might again?

She pressed her fingers against her lips. She wasn’t asking much, just to find the joy she lost somewhere between landing that first jump, winning—then losing—the U.S. Championship, and arriving at this run-down Moscow rink, hoping for a fresh start.

She wiped perspiration from her brow and took a zippered makeup pouch from her purse. Her hair was a snarled disaster, but she tugged out most of the tangles and dabbed powder on her shiny cheeks. She slicked her lips in Succulent Peach, dabbed on enough Calvin Klein to mask any trace of the Vomit Comet and straightened her travel-wrinkled linen skirt and silk top.

She glanced at the swinging doors that led to the rink and took a deep breath. Time to face the future.

She’d seen Galina Borisova at competitions, but they’d never been introduced. Galina looked to be in her fifties and her thin neck, sharp features and spiky bleached blond hair, tinted pink on the ends, brought to mind a flamingo. Her dark eyes and brows suggested neither blond nor pink were her natural shade.

“It is well to meet you. Flight was agreeable, yes?” Galina’s accent was so heavy, Carrie struggled to understand. The ancient Zamboni rumbling past on the ice didn’t help.

“Yes. Spasibo. As I said before, I want to reimburse you for the airfare. I know it was very expensive.”

Galina waved the offer away. “Money is made to be spent. I consider investment. I wish you had let me arrange pickup car.”

“Really, that’s fine. You’ve been more than generous.” The Russian coach’s willingness to pay for and arrange everything now seemed too good to be true. Didn’t Dad always say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” She had the feeling she’d just flown six thousand miles to see him proven right. “I’m excited to begin training. I was a big admirer of your work with Zelenskaya and Belikov.”

Galina gazed wistfully at the departing Zamboni and the glistening ice left in its wake. “Olga and Anton were once-in-lifetime pair. Every coach should have good fortune to work with skaters so talented.”

Carrie offered a sympathetic smile. Losing her longtime students must have been heartbreaking for Galina. “Well, I’m no Olga Zelenskaya, but I’ve also been quite successful.”

Galina thinned her lips. “In your way. But we all must move forward, not live in past, yes?”

She bobbed her head, as her cheeks grew warm. Just how successful she’d been was the subject of ongoing debate. From the corner of her eye, she spotted someone doing warm-up stretches on the opposite side of the rink. “Is that my new partner? Your emails didn’t provide much information.”

A tall, dark-haired man skated out. Fast and athletic, he stroked halfway around, then cut toward center ice, launching himself into a double axel. After a confident landing, he glided into the far corner and did a camel spin, rotating with perfect form, his muscular body in flawless, T-shaped alignment over the ice.

Carrie caught her breath, but it wasn’t his beautiful skating that made her heart race. “Oh. My. God.”

“Yes, this must be good news for you. Antosha!” Galina waved, beckoning him over.

Carrie grasped the rink board to ground herself in reality, shaking even more than in the cab. This couldn’t be happening. But incredibly, it was. Her new skating partner was Anton Belikov, World silver medalist…and the first man she’d ever made love to.

He gave a polite nod, but didn’t smile. “Hello, Carrie. Welcome to Moscow.”

How could this be? He belonged with Olga, training at a top rink with a top coach. Not here, with a second-rate coach and skating with…her! She gaped and shook her head. “What are you doing here?”

His brows lifted in surprise. “You don’t keep up with news of your sport?”

Under normal circumstances yes, but these past months she’d avoided as much contact as possible with the outside world and especially the skating world. Galina crossed her arms. “Olga has teamed with Valentin Egorov. You are to be her replacement.”

She grasped the board tighter, as her out-of-control life spun into orbit. “That’s impossible.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Galina said. “You will train with me, and partner with one of world’s top male pair skaters. I cannot see how this is bad thing.”

Well gosh, for starters, she knew how he looked naked. Damn good, if memory served. Though seven years had passed since that night, this wasn’t an ideal start to a professional partnership. Even if he and Olga no longer skated together, she assumed they were still an off-ice couple. She searched his eyes for any sign of recognition. There was none. Was she relieved, or disappointed?

And how was it that Galina had simply decided to pair her with Anton, without even a tryout? Skaters were matched after weeks of evaluation, like dating before you were engaged. This felt more like a quickie Vegas wedding. She shook her head, as if that might clear her addled brain. This was ridiculous. They couldn’t possibly skate together. “We’re very different,” she began. “Olga’s delicate and artistic. I’m more of a jumper. An acrobat.”

Anton nodded. “You and Olga are different. But with right coach…and right partner, you could be champion again.”

His smile was much too attractive. Straight, perfect teeth gleamed against tawny skin dusted with the shadow of late afternoon stubble. She flashed back to that smile shining brightly in a stranger’s dim bedroom, as Anton gazed down and gently stroked her face. She crossed her arms over her chest as her cheeks burned hot and she let out a harsh laugh.

“Well, bless your heart.” The damn drawl slipped out, the way it always seemed to when she was nervous. “This is all very flattering but I’m afraid we can’t compete together. I’m an American. I’m not eligible.”

Galina spoke up. “Under international rules, you are eligible by permission to compete for us one year after date of your last competition for United States. Since you never skated at World Championship, your last competition was U.S. Nationals and this year, Russian Nationals begin exactly three days after one-year date. Our skating federation has contacted yours and both are willing to grant permission.”

Wasn’t that nice of them? Normally, a top-tier skater wouldn’t be released to compete for another country so easily. American figure skating was clearly anxious to be rid of her.

“As for citizenships,” Galina continued, “you can be both American and Russian. Becoming citizen here normally takes long time, but our government can be most accommodating when dreams of gold medals are at stake. Now then, shall we get to work?”

Carrie stared. Her hands fell to her sides. These two weren’t talking cruise ships. “Lake Placid is in less than seven months! You can’t be serious.”

But the Russians looked dead serious. Anton shrugged. “Not ideal situation, but neither of us is beginner. I am World medalist. You were U.S. champion.”

“Only because my partner slept with a judge!”

“Is that what you think?”

She gave a bitter laugh. “What difference does it make? Everyone else thinks so.” “Maybe you have something to prove, then?” His deep, exotic voice sent a shiver up her spine.

God, it was tempting. She’d been so close to her dream of competing at the Winter Games, only to see it snatched away. Here was another chance. Maybe, if she could salvage her career and restore her reputation, she could finally hold her head up. The public would forgive her. Dad would forgive her.

Was this the opportunity of a lifetime…or a disaster waiting to happen?

Just as she had skating dreams, Dad had political dreams; to win Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this fall…then in a few years, maybe run for president. The Cody scandal had embarrassed him, and as much as it hurt that he’d done nothing to defend her publicly, she understood. His political opponents had slobbered over images of Les Parker’s cheating daughter like dogs with new bones.

Imagine how they would react to her turning Russian so she could compete in Lake Placid.

And suppose Anton suddenly remembered their night in Amsterdam? True, she’d had jet-black hair at the time, and been hidden behind those silly sunglasses she and the other Silverettes wore when they snuck out after curfew. Back then, she’d still talked like Scarlett O’Hara too. But hey, it could happen. How would he feel about skating with a girl he’d deflowered, even if it meant nothing? Nothing to him, anyway.

Besides, who was she kidding? She didn’t belong here. The Russians ruled figure skating—especially pair skating—like the popular kids ruled the school cafeteria. She’d been the queen of that lunch table in high school, and if you didn’t belong there, you didn’t try to sit down. She’d lost her seat in spectacular fashion and now the quarterback wanted to take her to prom.

This was too weird for words, and she’d had enough weird to last a lifetime.

 Rafflecopter Giveaway (5 eBook copies of PAIRING OFF)

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The post Interview and Giveaway: Elizabeth Harmon, Author of Pairing Off appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lynda!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lynda Aicher] Driven. Direct. Loyal. Analytical. Serious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Game Play?

[Lynda Aicher] Game Play is the first book in my new Power Play series and follows the Glaciers professional hockey team. Young, professional hockey player, Dylan Rylie, meets his match in Samantha Yates, a hockey star in her own right. The heat between them is as hot off the ice as it is on, but her career is at a forced end and his still rising which is hard for Samantha to accept. Dylan has to win her over while still allowing Samantha to follow her own path.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Lynda Aicher] Ooh… The office sex scene ranks pretty high for me. Lol. But I also like the quieter moments when they’re really learning about each other. I love seeing them both open up to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Lynda Aicher] I had to learn A LOT about the details behind the game of hockey. I do enjoy learning new things though, so that was both arduous and fun. I can now say I know more about the details behind the sport than I ever thought I wanted to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Lynda Aicher] Excedrin Migraine. Seriously. I get bad tension headaches and two of those will stop a headache before it gets awful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Lynda Aicher] Slim Jims. Water bottle. Thank you cards (I still have to fill out from Christmas).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Lynda Aicher] Beef Jerky and Mountain Dew. Newly added to the list is Dried Roasted Spicy Seaweed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Lynda Aicher] ??? I have no clue. None. Sorry. I guess I like being me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Lynda Aicher] It would always be teleporting. I would go everywhere and see as many different places as possible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Lynda Aicher] The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes; No Place That Far by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov; The Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon; The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas. I’m reading exclusively Male/Male right now, just so you know.

Game Play
Power Play # 1

By: Lynda Aicher

Releasing February 16th, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

One night, one time, nothing more. That’s all it was supposed to be. They’d agreed their first night together would be their only night together—and Minnesota Glaciers defenseman Dylan Rylie was fine with that. Giant hickeys and claw marks on his ass had never been his style, even if the very memory of Samantha Yates’s merciless sexual energy gets him hard within seconds. He needs to focus on getting a better contract, not mind-blowing orgasms.

One night, one time, nothing more. Fresh off representing the US at the Games and with nowhere else to play, Samantha gave in to one night of frantic passion with the Glaciers’ brawny hotshot. She couldn’t get hurt—not if she controlled the outcome. And she planned to leave Minnesota soon, anyway. She didn’t expect to be recruited to coach Dylan after they’d gotten down and dirty.

When brutal on-ice workouts lead to kinky locker room sessions and “one night” falls by the wayside, Samantha insists on keeping things casual, despite Dylan’s quiet hope for more. But when Dylan goes down—hard—and his career is in jeopardy, Samantha is the first one by his side. What will it take to keep her there after he’s healed?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/game-play-power-play-1-by-lynda-aicher.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23289990-game-play?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | Kobo | iTunes

Author Info

Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. After years of weekly travel implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties as a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. Find her at: http://lyndaaicher.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Timing was everything, and she waited for her moment to kick up some fun on an otherwise blasé event. The charity that donated hockey equipment to kids from military families was a great cause that would benefit from a little show. At least, that was what she told herself.

“Don’t be stupid,” Meg warned in her ear.

“Why not?” Sam asked. “What do I have to lose?” Absolutely nothing. She’d never do anything to smear her name, but it wasn’t like she had a hockey career to worry about. Or a coach she was accountable to.

Or a reason to behave.

Rylie was spending as much time tipping his trademark worn brown cowboy hat at the passing women as he was paying attention to the kids looking for pointers. The ends of his brown hair curled over the back of the gray hoodie he’d worn under his jersey and seemed to match his hat color almost perfectly. Too perfectly.

Nicknamed Cowboy within the hockey world, he was dubbed Pretty Boy as well. The second label was coined his rookie season by a sports announcer and as far as Sam had heard and seen, the man cultivated both brands equally.

“Hi, Rylie,” a group of teenage girls dressed in skinny jeans and overdone makeup chorused as they skated past. Rylie shot them a nod and grin that somehow managed to be appropriate for the age of the girls.

Sam shook her head and chuckled at his easy charm. The guy had it all. Talent, looks, personality—he was a star in the making. One full of potential if he didn’t get distracted by the fame and parties he seemed to enjoy.

Walters smacked the puck toward Rylie, and Sam broke through the kids to swoop across the ice and steal the puck from the preoccupied man. A cheer went up from the kids when she circled the pro player, puck firmly in her control. The air chilled her cheeks and laughter rang in her ears as she sped away.

A quick glance over her shoulder showed Rylie chasing her, the determined pull of his brows blending with a full smile that somehow managed to put a matching one on her face. She caught sight of Meg and passed the puck off before she stopped then took off in the direction she’d just come from.

The circle of kids widened as Walters got into the play, tailing Meg. She swooped around a group of unsuspecting adults, using them as a pick to cut off Walters, and she smacked the puck back to Sam.

“Think you’re hot stuff, do you, Yates?” Rylie was at her side, jabbing his stick at the puck with no effect. She was under no illusion the man knew who she was. Her name was printed in big letters across the back of her jersey.

“Just having some fun.” She cut a sharp circle and faced off Rylie, who skidded to a quick stop.

He tapped his stick on the ice, an indulgent half smile on his lips. “Come on then.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You and me to the net.”

Her stomach did an unwanted flip when his eyes landed back on her. An interesting mix of brown and green, they seemed to dance with the same excitement that flooded her. The challenge was exactly what she’d wanted and his proposition was the best offer she’d had in months. On or off the ice.

“You are so on,” she said, grinning.

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The post Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. The Manager, by Caroline Stellings | Book Review

This funny novel is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Ellie, but the real star is her older sister Tina. They live in Whitney Pier over the gym where their father, a former boxer, trains aspiring boxers.

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5. Guest Post and Giveaway: Katie Rose, Author of Too Hot to Handle

Katie Rose dropped by the virtual offices to share a guest post. Don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway below!

TOP FIVE THINGS YOU WON’T FIND IN JAKE’S LOCKER by Katie Rose

So Jake Baldwin, the talented shortstop for the New Jersey Sonics, is a bit of a ladies man as well as a local heartthrob. He has a group of fans that follow him everywhere, bikini clad women known as Baldwin’s Beauties. He also has a gorgeous girlfriend, Nikki Case, who owns her own PR firm and knows how to deal with Jake.

And Jake is a guy’s guy. He loves beer, practical jokes, and winning. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but in spite of his lighthearted approach to life, he is the real deal. He takes care of his girlfriend, his mother, and is mentoring a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

So Jake does not have the following things in his locker:

  1. Girly Magazines. He used to have a primo collection of Playboy, Hustler, etc. But now that he has Nikki, he has more than enough sex, and his own poster girl.

  2. PEDS. Jake has no need for performance enhancing substances of any kind. Enough said.

  3. Rosary beads, rabbit’s foot, or a four leaf clover. Some of the players in the National League are superstitious and have religious artifacts, charms, a special glove, or a trophy from a girlfriend to bring them good fortune. Jake has none of this stuff. He doesn’t believe in luck; he believes in work. He does, however, have his own odd collection in his locker: shaving cream, champagne, peanuts, and condoms. These things are for pranks. And if there is one thing Jake is really good at, besides sex, it’s practical jokes.

  4. His old jersey. Jake lost number 11 in a bet over Nikki. He has never looked back, and considers himself the winner, not the loser.

  5. Flowery cologne. The Sonics used this to prank a player in book 3, IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT. But it wasn’t in his locker. It was in Chases’.

As the leadoff hitter, Jake really is the heart of the team. He gets the momentum going, inspires the players around him, and knows how to take a joke as well as deliver one. He knows that laughter is a way of dealing with stress, making disappointment seem lighter, and helping the players put a loss in perspective. But he is also a man they can count on. He exemplifies everything good about the Sonics: the team spirit, the sense of joy, dedication and hard work.

And as far as his locker goes, he loses it completely in book 3. And since it is Jake we are talking about, he doesn’t look back. After all, he now has Nikki.

Too Hot to Handle
The Boys of Summer # 2

By: Katie Rose

Releasing January 27th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Katie Rose’s Boys of Summer series returns for a delicious double-header—with the story of total opposites who are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.

Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/too-hot-to-handlethe-boys-of-summer-2.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22551564-too-hot-to-handle

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/126154-the-boys-of-summer

NOTE**If you use the Pre-Set up links, you don’t have to also use the link URL’s as well, they are Pre-Linked**

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Too-Hot-Handle-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00KUQGRBU/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418316743&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=too+hot+to+handle+y+katie+rose

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/too-hot-to-handle-katie-rose/1120641382?ean=9780553390483

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/too-hot-to-handle/id887129411?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/too-hot-to-handle-the-boys-of-summer-series

Author Info

Award-winning historical author Katie Rose makes her contemporary debut with the Boys of Summer novels, Bring on the Heat and Too Hot to Handle, which combine Katie’s true loves: baseball and romance! When not watching baseball, Katie is at her lake house in New Jersey, hard at work on her next book.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads

Website: http://www.colleenquinn.net/katierose.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/historicalromanceauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCQuinn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/399542.Katie_Rose

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6. Meet Derrick Collins from Julie Brannagh’s Holding Holly and Giveaway

 

Please give a warm welcome to Derrick Collins this morning!

I’m Derrick Collins. I have been playing football since my daddy put my brother and me into Pee-Wee. I currently play for the Seattle Sharks. When I’m not playing football, I spend time with my Holly.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Derrick Collins] Driven, passionate, fun-loving, happy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in your life?

[Derrick Collins] I get out of bed as late as possible before I have to be at practice. The other six months a year I get up as late as possible. Holly is awake (and happy about it) when the sun is up.

The rest of my day goes like this. I do some lifting, take care of whatever it is that needs to be done, and then I go home and spend some time with the women in my life – my wife, my mama and my grandma. My little bro is home from Afghanistan for good, so we play video games or do some work around Mama and Grandma’s place when he has some free time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Holly?

[Derrick Collins] She’s caring, compassionate, and loving. She thinks about other people before she thinks of herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s her most appealing quality?

[Derrick Collins] She knows everything about me and loves me anyway. And that makes me the luckiest guy in the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What just drives you nuts about her?

[Derrick Collins] Did I mention she’s up when the sun is? I can’t be too mad, though. My beautiful wife is teaching me to love mornings.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Derrick Collins] I would have met Holly sooner.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Derrick Collins] My phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less

[Derrick Collins] Health, happiness, wealth, and Holly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Holding Holly
Love and Football # 4.5

By: Julie Brannagh

Releasing December 2nd, 2014

Avon

Holly Reynolds has a secret. Make that two. The first involves upholding her grandmother’s hobby answering Dear Santa letters from dozens of local school children. The second…well, he just came strolling in the door.

For the last two years, Holly has not been able to stop thinking about gorgeous Seattle Shark Derrick Collins. His on-field exploits induce nightmares in quarterbacks across the NFL, but she knows he has a heart of gold.

Derrick has never met a woman he wants to bring home to meet his family, mostly because he keeps picking the wrong ones-until he runs into sweet, shy Holly Reynolds. Different than anyone he’s ever known, Derrick realizes she might just be everything he needs.

When he discovers her holiday letter writing, he is determined to play Santa too. And as the pair team up to bring joy to one little boy very much in need, they discover the most precious Christmas gift of all: love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/10/holding-holly-love-and-football-45-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21805398-holding-holly?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Holly-Love-Football-Novella-ebook/dp/B00JDKBU0M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414528607&sr=8-1&keywords=Holding+holly

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holding-holly-julie-brannagh/1119887866?ean=9780062363862

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/holding-holly/id852752781?mt=11

Author Info

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.

When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.juliebrannagh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieBrannagh
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julieinduvall
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7127296.Julie_Brannagh

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7. Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit

geno smith Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit

If you are a New York Jets fan, as I am, you know that the best part about supporting this team is finding out just how awful and bizarre things can get. I know other football teams are terrible and have weird things happen, but when you throw in the New York media fishbowl, you get a special kind of magic. That magic has been on full display for the last few years with the wonderful soap opera known as The Jets Quarterback Situation. The Situation seemed to be okay for a few years (2009-10) when young Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship game TWO YEARS in a row. But then….it went pear shaped.

Sanchez and the franchise faltered in 2011 and it was revealed that flamboyant coach Rex Ryan had a tattoo of Sanchez at the same time it was discovered that Ryan liked to make rather sweet foot fetish videos with his wife. In 2012, Sanchez was joined by back-up quarterback Tim Tebow, already a sensation for his God-fueled rampage with the Bronco despite not really being able to do things like throw the ball. This led to a three ring media circus of insane proportions as model-dating Sanchez and God-loving virgin Tebow were cast as antagonists, while all they wanted to do was stand around on the sidelines pretending nothing was happening. Sanchez was eventually sidelined for keeps after being injured in the last quarter of a meaningless pre-season game, leaving Geno Smith and Michael Vick to enact this year’s version of the sacrifice of the Corn King Quarterback for bloodthirsty fans.

In his first year in 2013, Geno Smith proved to be a…work in progress. That progress was stalled entirely this year, with Smith’s skills such as they are wilting under the New York media scrutiny, and yet another drama over whether washed-up Vick should led the team. At this point the Jets are 2-11, and well on their way to one of the most futile years any fan can remember.

On Sunday the Jets lost in overtime to the Vikings, 30-24 in a game that wasn’t as close as it sounds. Although Smith didn’t have the horrific game he had on Monday night, Gang Green could only muster a bunch of field goals in five red zone attempts.

NOW, if you are really a Jets fan you know that the best part of being horrible is how the SNY analysts rip the team to shreds after every game. It’s a guilty pleasure we’ve all enjoyed for years. The current crew is a bit more mellow than the Adam Schein/Joe Klecko years, but yesterday they managed to find a new way to be critical, tearing into Smith for how he was dressed for the traditional post game press conference. Smith came out in some kind of shapeless white smock that looked like something Uncle Owen would throw on to go check on some vaporators out on the moisture farm. It’s true that it was very cold in Minnesota, and Smith was probably only trying to bundle up for the brutal 10 yard journey from the players entrance to the team bus, but that was no excuse for the SNY team. Even after the worst shellacking, Sanchez would show up for post game appearances in a suit and tie, a look that the SNY team of Brian Custer, Erik Coleman, Ray Lucas and former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff found far more suitable.

Just watch.

I hope you will forgive me for my one sports moment of the year. I added this video to the library of great jets moments such as Mark Sanchez eating a hotdog on the sidelines,

and a more recent event where he reviewed the food options available at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, where he’s playing pretty well now that he doesn’t have New York’s psychotic mind blitz coming at him on every waking moment.

Obviously, poor Geno Smith has crumbled under the pressure, and so has his closet.

4 Comments on Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit, last added: 12/8/2014
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8. Spotlight and Giveaway: Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry

I enjoyed Midnight Games, the 2nd book in the Blue Dynasty series, so I’m happy to share an excerpt and giveaway for Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry.

 
Enter to Win
$10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
and
Signed Copy of JUST FOR CHRISTMAS NIGHT
 

 
A red-hot holiday

Pro football publicist Martha Blue has something to prove. To protect the image of the Las Vegas Slayers—and stay employed— she has to shed her party-girl reputation. Fast! So no more mistakes. No further scandals. And absolutely no falling for the one man who can give her everything she wants…and nothing of what she needs.
 
Danger and desire never mixed well for undefeated prizefighter Joaquin Ryder. A friend of the Blue family, he’s a man who knows his boundaries…boundaries he has secretly crossed only once before. Now that he’s back in Sin City to train for the biggest fight of his career, he can’t afford to let a sexy distraction like Martha put him against the ropes. Revisiting their sizzling past is something he isn’t willing to risk—until a steamy Yuletide encounter, where for just one night, they’ll surrender completely….


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Lisa Marie Perry encounters difficult fictional men and women on a daily basis. She writes contemporary romance fiction with plenty of sizzle, energy and depth. Flawed, problematic, damaged characters are welcome. Her tales feature exciting multicultural mash-ups, sexy guy-next-door heroes and powerful larger-than-life alphas who are brought to their knees by the love of complicated women.

According to Lisa Marie, an imagination’s a terrible thing to ignore. So is a good cappuccino. After years of college, customer service gigs and a career in caregiving, she at last gave in to buying an espresso machine and writing to her imagination’s desire. She lives in America’s heartland and she has every intention of making the Colorado mountains her new stomping grounds. She drives a truck, enjoys indie rock, collects Medieval literature, watches too many comedies, has a not-so-secret love for lace and adores rugged men with a little bit of nerd.






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Excerpt:

Joaquin’s heart staggered, bearing the impact when he saw Martha waltz into the study a few steps ahead of her mother.

Some women had butts, others had asses. Martha had an ass, and it shone under the metallic gold-green fabric that fondled her slender body as she moved.

She was all bronze and shimmer and curves and long limbs, scarcely contained in a gown held together by strands of jewels.

A meaningful, appreciative glance passed between the attorneys, and Joaquin eyed them coldly.

Martha arrived at the desk, set down a shopping bag. “Merry Christmas, Pop.” She wiggled a sprig of something woven into her shiny, slicked hair.

Mistletoe. She’d tied mistletoe in her hair.

“Careful of my makeup,” she warned, offering her cheek for a kiss. To the rest of them, she said, “Excuse me, fellas, but my father insists that I knock, so—” She rapped on his desk obnoxiously.

“All right. All right.” Marshall’s smile appeared painful, but it was genuine. “Go, men. Enjoy the party.”

As the attorneys left, accepting drinks from the server waiting at his post, Joaquin approached Martha. She stood between her parents now, a treasure dangling out of his reach, a beauty out of his realm.

“Merry Christmas,” Joaquin said to her, presenting the oversize candy cane.

At the exact moment she ventured forward, suddenly near enough to taste.

Grab her face, lick into her mouth. Pull her close, drink her moans.

Rather than do it and have Tem threaten castration or Marshall call him out for a street fight, he laid the cane in her hand and murmured against her hair, “So you won’t steal mine the next time you’re in my ride.”

A snort of wry laughter or a smartass remark was expected. Not crystalline tears.

“I need to speak with my parents.” Taking the candy, she added in the silkiest whisper, “Tonight, if you want me, Joaquin, find me.”

It was the sexiest proposition he’d ever heard, or the most baffling. Either way, he left the office dazed, hard and confused.

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Guest Post and Giveaway: Collete West, Author of Game On

Please welcome Collete West to the virtual offices this morning! She’s here to share a Top 5 list, and she has an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

Top 5 Things Jilly Would Never Do on a Date by Collete West

1. Make boring, small talk.

If he’s going to say something, it’s going to be meaningful—something that’s sure to hold your interest and give you some deep insight into his character.

2. Split the check.

He might not take you to the most glamorous of locations, but he’ll be sure to pick up the tab. He likes being able to take care of his girl, but he’s going to make sure that there’s a personal touch to everything he does.

3. Get dressed up.

He will if he has to, but he’d rather not. He finds suits to be uncomfortable, especially those Italian designer varieties. He doesn’t like clothing that constricts his movements, and if it does—he’d fantasize about you taking it off him.

4. Go to trendy places.

He’s much more comfortable out of the limelight. He’s a well known ballplayer, who can’t run from being a celebrity, but he’d like to pretend that it’s possible when he’s with you. He wants you to see him as just a regular guy, and he’s happy indulging in activities that ordinary people take for granted—even something as simple as strolling down the street hand in hand.

5. Make the first move.

He’s super shy and even though he’s full of confidence on the field, it doesn’t mean he scores a lot off of it. He wants to satisfy your desires but you’ll have to encourage him to take it to the next level because Jilly’s the kind of guy who needs you to spell it out for him.

Game On

New York Kings # 3

By: Collette West

Releasing October 17th, 2014

Self-Published

Pitching phenom Bruce “Jilly” Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he’s painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin.

Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone.

Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly’s life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he’s about to become her new leading man.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/game-on-new-york-kings-3-by-collette.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22883350-game-on?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Game-Collette-West-ebook/dp/B00OHQ8ZLE

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/game-on-west-collette/1120553674?ean=2940150494725&isbn=2940150494725

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/collette-west/id830692301?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?Query=%22collette+west%22+&fcmedia=Book

Author Info

Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball’s biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette’s impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.

Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she’s not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at collette_west@yahoo.com

 

She is the author of NIGHT GAMES, GAME CHANGER and GAME ON.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Collette-West/537935442972229

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Collette_West

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7539982.Collette_West

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Collete West, Author of Game On appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. The World Series Is Here…and So Is a Great Picture Book!

Becoming Babe Ruth

By Matt Tavares

 

I guess the reason I enjoyed reading this book about the life of the iconic baseball figure, Babe Ruth, was mainly because of its title. It says a great deal to children in a simple phrase and its use of the word “becoming” is very telling in itself. In addition I think the art work is very warm and emotional in that it has a real “feel” for portraying the beginnings of the life of the Babe, the big moments AND the giving back for which he was known.

No one becomes who they are “alone” – not even world class baseball idols like Babe Ruth. Even his name, “Babe” was given him by teammates, who after his hire by Jack Dunn of the Baltimore Orioles, said, “He’s one of Jack Dunn’s new babes” – shorthand for a newbie.

Babe’s early life seemed destined for trouble. Stealing, skipping school and roaming the streets filled his days until his parents, at seven years of age, take him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys on June 13, 1902. He begs for another chance, but unbeknownst to George Herman Ruth, THIS is his chance!

School seems an endless routine of church, class, work and rule following. Rule following and classes are his least favorite things. And he is homesick.

One pursuit at the school sparks his interest – baseball. A Brother Matthias can hit the heck out of the ball, over the school yard fence, not once, but again and again.

George is mesmerized. He has found his passion and his mentor. He will play in 200 games a year at the school, even in winter.

Brother Matthias teaches him how to throw a curveball, how to turn a double play, how to get a runner off at first. He learns EVERY position on the field including catcher and shortstop.

At 16, George is the biggest boy on the team – and the best. Soon he has caught the eye of Jack Dunn, owner of the minor league, Baltimore Orioles and after watching him for a 30 minute pitching demo, Jack offers the 16 year old a contract.

Two weeks later, suitcase in hand, he leaves St. Mary’s for the outside world. Newspapers start calling him “Babe Ruth” after the nickname given him by his teammates.

From the Baltimore Orioles to the Boston Red Sox where he becomes the best pitcher in baseball, his team wins the World Series in 1915, 1916 and 1918. Then, it’s to the New York Yankees and signed for an unheard of $125,000 paid for his contract, the largest sum EVER paid at that time for a baseball player.

Babe is a celebrity living the high life. But he never forgets his early start at St. Mary’s. He breaks the single-season home-run record halfway through his first season with the Yankees. Babe is dubbed “The Batterer”, “The Colossus” and “The Sultan of Swat.”

Here comes the part of the book I love and I hope kid and parents will too. St. Mary’s is demolished by a raging fire. It has all but been destroyed, but Babe has an idea. Writing a letter to Brother Matthias, Babe invites the 50 piece school band to join him “on the road” and come along with the New York Yankees on a road trip. Could you see kids reading this and imaging the thrill of such an opportunity today?

The 50 boys go to all the games and before each game, play a concert in the stands. They are called “Babe Ruth’s Boy Band” and the huge crowds attending the game are eager to contribute to the rebuilding of St. Mary’s – and they do!

And he returns to the Big Yard at the rebuilt school where he saw Brother Matthias smack the ball over the big trees again and again. But this time, The Babe does the same thing for the boys.

Matt Tavares has written a historically accurate picture of a baseball icon and honed in on one small event in a historic baseball career. BUT, he has managed to achieve more than that in “Becoming Babe Ruth.” In his “Author’s Note”, Matt states that even the seemingly superhuman Babe Ruth needed help along his journey to greatness. He needed role models that cared, along with a ton of support and guidance.

And even after his fairy tale rise to stardom, he never forgot the shoulders that he had stood on to achieve his goals – or even forming the idea of a goal to be reached.

Much has been written in eastern papers of late of the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. His   career that has recently come to a close has served as a role model of dogged determination for excellence, along with a scandal free personal life, topped off by a final game that was magical in which all the stars seemed to align.

Yet, the character and performance of Babe Ruth still stands out in its greatness, despite the weaknesses that showed themselves in his later adult life. His athletic achievement stood out, but what is remarkable is his eagerness never to forget what formed him. He wanted to provide hope for kids in orphanages, reform schools and hospitals, telling young ones that they too could achieve something in life – that good things are possible even with a rocky start.

“Becoming Babe Ruth” is a great picture book in this “play off” season to remind kids what is possible in baseball – and life, even when you’re down in the 9th inning AND bases are loaded.

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11. Here come the Yankees

It’s not easy being a Yankees fan in Boston. Just ask my husband. Or Ben Affleck. (It’s ok, son. Let it out. We won’t judge. #dothprotesttoomuch)

Here are three new children’s books that will have Yankees fans cheering. And not the Bronx cheer, either.

jeter contract Here come the YankeesDerek Jeter hung up his cleats earlier this year, and now he’s starting his own imprint. The Contract (written with Paul Mantell) is about a boy, named Derek Jeter, who chases his dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. According to an author’s note, it’s “based on some of my experiences growing up and playing baseball,” and the “theme” of the book is: “Set Your Goals High.” Third-grade Derek (the character) is remarkably — and unrealistically — self-possessed and self-aware. No matter; Jeter fans will get a kick out of this kid-version of their hero.

rivera thecloser final Here come the YankeesThe Closer by Mariano Rivera (with Sue Corbett and Wayne Coffee) is an adaptation for young readers of Mo’s memoir about growing up in a fishing village in Panama. (The attention-grabbing first line: “You don’t mess around with machetes. I learn that as a little kid…”) He works hard, gains the attention of a baseball scout, and blossoms into a baseball superstar while remaining an all-around nice guy. Didactic “Notes from Mo” inspirational-message anecdotes are interspersed. With an eight-page color-photo insert.

appel pinstripe pride Here come the YankeesPinstripe Pride: The Inside Story of the New York Yankees is a young readers’ version of the adult book Pinstripe Empire written by Marty Appel, former Yankees PR director. It’s a history of the Yankees juggernaut — the team’s highs and lows — with a little social history thrown in as well. Those Bostonians who don’t root for the home team will be happy to have this resource (though maybe throw on a paper-bag book cover if you’re going outside).

The World Series starts tonight. Needless to say, the Yanks won’t win it (neither will the Sox; it’s the Giants v. Royals), but kids can relive the memories with these Bronx Bombers books.

Bonus: here are a couple more baseball booklists.

 

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12. Review: Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Twelve year old twin brothers, Josh and Jordan Bell, are basketball players just like their father. And just like their father, they are GOOD.

Josh loves basketball and words; he is the one telling the story, in a sequence of poems organized by sections as if it were a basketball game, starting with Warm Up, moving on to First Quarter, and ultimately ending with Overtime. His father loves music, giving Josh the nickname Filthy McNasty after a favorite song.

His twin, Jordan, is JB, and loves basketball and betting.

The Crossover takes the twins through a basketball season, ending with an important game. And while this is a book about basketball and basketball players, it is also a story about brothers, a father and sons, a family. The two brothers complement each other on the court, a great pair leading their Junior High team to victory after victory. Their parents are loving but strict, with complications because their mother is also their Assistant Principal; their father, who played professional basketball, is a stay at home father who coaches his sons. And then there is a new girl in school, who Josh likes but before he can say a word, it's his brother who is dating her.

The Good: I'm on a roll of reading good books lately!

I loved Josh, his poetry, his love for his dad, his brother, basketball, words. Oh and his hair: he's proud of his locks, just like his dad wore when he played, and conflict with his brother starts when Josh loses a bet to JB -- a bet that allows JB to cut one of those locks off. There is also competition and jealousy, but those feelings are hidden deep inside Josh, only coming out in full force when JB begins dating. The feelings are so hidden, and the parents are so into reinforcing the brother bond, that these emotions are ones that Josh has a hard time understanding. Their father pushes both sons to be good basketball players, but he's individually pushing them: there is no setting one brother against the other.

If I talk more about the twins' father, it's because of the strong basketball bond between the father and sons. The father stopped playing years ago, explaining to his sons that he saved his money and is happy being with them full-time. As the twins learn, it's a bit more complicated than that: an injury ended their father's career. Health issues continue to plague the family; there's a history of hypertension, and their father has a huge distrust of doctors and hospitals so refuses to see one. (And yes there is foreshadowing there.)

One thing I really liked about The Crossover is that it's a book about two typical kids -- readers will see themselves in Josh as he struggles with his love for his brother but also his jealousy; with wanting to play basketball; enjoying being good at something; practicing to become better. Having a father who is loving and caring; a mother who is also kind and loving but knows when to be strict. Parents who value their sons' education as much as their basketball skills. It's a story played out in towns and cities everywhere.

Another Favorite Book Read in 2014!

Other reviews: The New York Times review; Stacked; Clear Eyes, Full Shelves; Bookshelves of Doom.







Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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13. Guest Post and Giveaway: Julie Brannagh, Author of Covering Kendall

Please give a warm welcome to Julie Brannagh!  She’s here to share a Top Ten list about Drew, her hunky hero from Covering Kendall.

The top five ways Drew McCoy of COVERING KENDALL unwinds after a game

Drew’s workplace isn’t a cubicle in an office or on a construction site. He spends his Sunday afternoons from September until February each year playing in front of 70,000+ screaming fans. Drew loves what he does, but it’s tough for him (and many other pro football players!) to unwind after a game. Here’s the top five things Drew might be doing shortly after he walks through the front door of his house on a Sunday night…

  1. Drew’s a little hungry after chasing some other team’s quarterback around Sharks Stadium for three hours. As a result, he might be out for dinner with one or more of his teammates.

Zach Anderson stopped by his locker as Drew picked up the overnight bag he brought to home games.

Hey, come on out with us. We’re going to Jak’s Grill in Laurelhurst. Cameron’s meeting us there, too,” Zach said. He grinned at Drew. “You know you want a big, juicy steak and a beer.”

It sounds great, but I think I’m going to have to pass this time.”

Other plans, huh?”

You could say that. Give your woman a hug from me.” Drew got to his feet and gave Zach an elaborate handshake. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

  1. Drew loves to read. He owns an e-reader, but prefers the feeling of a book in his hands. A comfortable chair and a new book might be just the thing he needs right now.

Drew stopped on the way home and picked up a to-go dinner. He’d watch some mindless TV, have a beer, and go to bed early with the book Kendall had given him.

He pulled into his garage, disabled the alarm system, and walked into his house. He dropped the overnight bag in his laundry room. He’d unpack it later. He moved through the kitchen and turned into the hallway by his front door to scoop up the book he wanted to start reading.

As he picked up the plastic bag with the two books, he heard a phone ringing. He unfurled the top of the bag, pulled the phone out, hit “talk,” and said, “Hello?”

Is this Drew? It’s Kendall Tracy. You have my phone.”

  1. Maybe a visit to a warm, sunny climate might improve his mood.

Drew rubbed his hand over his face and let out a groan. His concern about how he could return her phone in the most convenient way possible wasn’t self-serving at all. It had nothing to do with wanting to see her again, or spend a few more minutes chatting and laughing together. He’d go to the same lengths for anyone else.

He shook his head and muttered, “No, I wouldn’t.”

  1. Drew McCoy: Overgrown Boy Scout to the rescue.

She moved back, pulling the door open enough for him to step inside. He moved over the threshold into her house. They were still staring at each other, and she licked her lips. He tried and discarded twenty things to say to her in his head. Maybe he should keep things light. He reached into his pocket, pulled out her cell phone, and handed it to her.

I believe this belongs to you,” he joked.

Her fingertips lingered as she took the phone out of his hand. He felt the tingle all the way up his arm.

  1. If all else fails, a visit from someone special might work.

Drew was interested in watching the TV program, but he couldn’t stay awake. It had been a long day. He usually was in bed by ten on game days. He held up his phone to see what time it was: Ten forty-four. Hopefully, his mom and dad were sleeping now. He shoved his phone back into his pocket and heard someone knocking on his front door.

It was pretty freaking late for the guys to drop by and see if the cake was all gone. Maybe one of them left their phone at his house. He hurried to the front door and looked through the peephole.

Kendall looked back at him.

Drew has a few more ways of unwinding after a game. You’ll have to read COVERING KENDALL to find out what they might be!

Again, thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and Go Sharks!

Covering Kendall

Love and Football # 4

By: Julie Brannagh

October 21, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Blurb

Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous man-who looks oddly familiar-Kendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face.

Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure.

Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/covering-kendall-love-and-football-4-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21805397-covering-kendall?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Covering-Kendall-Love-Football-Novel-ebook/dp/B00JDKBU1Q

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/covering-kendall-julie-brannagh/1119471858?ean=9780062363817

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/covering-kendall

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/covering-kendall/id852754397?mt=11  

Author Info

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links

Website: http://www.juliebrannagh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieBrannagh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/julieinduvall
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7127296.Julie_Brannagh?from_search=true

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14. Interview with Sawyer Bennett, Author of ALEX

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sawyer!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sawyer Bennett] Empathetic, funny, creative, honest, procrastinator

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Alex is the first book in my new series with Loveswept, called the Cold Fury Hockey Series. Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player with the Carolina Cold Fury. He’s a bit damaged, a little bit of an ass, and completely averse to developing relationships with people. He’s one of those men that you just want to “fix”. Sutton Price is a social worker that gets sort of gets stuck with Alex to create an outreach program for at-risk youth. Both of them have traumatic backgrounds, but both of them let it shape them differently in their adult lives. This is very much a book about Alex’s journey to really find himself and let the past go. Oh, and it’s pretty steamy and romantic as well!!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sawyer Bennett] The concept was easy. I’ve written a few indie books about hockey players that were well received and figured an actual series would be fun. The characters for this story very much grew organically, but I started with this very basic concept… Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player that hates playing hockey. I mean… how messed up is that? I knew I could fashion an interesting story of growth and redemption from that concept.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, I loved writing Alex’s voice most. This is dual POV, and I loved writing “asshole Alex”. It’s fun to sort of let go and make a guy distasteful and then try to redeem him later.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, not much. I mean, there are some serious issues involving drug addiction and abuse, and I will admit writing the epilogue made me cry a bit. It’s totally my type of swoon, but this book flowed pretty easy for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sawyer Bennett] What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (which is also my favorite song)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Sawyer Bennett] My underwear! Ha ha. Okay, that’s not necessarily true so I’ll say my cell phone! I can’t stand not being able to have access to the digital world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sawyer Bennett] Picture of my dog, a bottle of papaya scented lotion that I just noticed and have no clue where it came from, and a check dated August 28th that I just noticed I forgot to deposit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sawyer Bennett] Without a doubt it would be the President of the United States. I wouldn’t care who was in office at the time, just the acting President. I’d like to be in charge and have all that power (and stress) for just one day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sawyer Bennett] OMG! Black Lies by Alessandra Torre. I read it over a month ago and it’s still plaguing my thoughts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love to read but I don’t have much time for that. I have an 8 month old baby girl so I spend most of my free time with her. The best is when she falls asleep on my chest. *swoons hard*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love interacting with readers. They can reach me at:

www.sawyerbennett.com

www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

www.twitter.com/bennettbooks

sawyer@sawyerbennett.com

Alex

Cold Fury Hockey # 1

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing October 14th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett scores big-time with the first novel in a sexy new series hot enough to melt the ice.
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/alex-cold-fury-1-by-sawyer-bennett.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21794306-alex?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/125350-cold-fury-hockey

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Cold-Hockey-Novel-Carolina-ebook/dp/B00JTCH5RQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410967793&sr=1-1&keywords=Alex%3A+A+Cold+Fury+Hockey+Novel

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alex-sawyer-bennett/1120019672?ean=9780553393002

iTunes: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett is a snarky Southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author Links

Website: http://www.sawyerbennett.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bennettbooks
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bennettbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950682.Sawyer_Bennett

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Alex Crossman/Carolina Cold Fury Hockey Jersey)

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15. Are you ready for some football…books?

I love the fall. I do not love people asking me, “Hey, how about that [insert-local-football-team] game?” I have nothing against the sport; it’s just not my thing.

Working at an all-boys school, though, I am surrounded by a mass of gridiron fans. As stereotypical as it may be, I think any of my coworkers would agree that the vast majority of our guys live for sports. They play them. They watch them. They passionately debate about them. And in the fall that means football.

Being a sneaky English teacher, I try to capitalize upon this interest to trick kids into reading. Here’s a list of books about football I find myself recommending to students time and time again.

wallace Muckers 198x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   bradley CallMeByMyName 198x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   herbach StupidFast 200x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   bissinger FridayNightLights 197x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   smith winger 196x300 Are you ready for some football...books?

Muckers by Sandra Neill Wallace
Based on a true story, Muckers follows a 1950s quarterback from a struggling mining town as he tries to lead his team to a state championship in the final year before the high school closes. A great look at a town on the cusp of historical change and the spirit of determination found in athletes.

Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley
Set in a slow-to-integrate Louisiana town, Bradley tells the story of two friends and teammates — one black, one white. It’s a well-told tale that explores the power and limitations of athletics to bridge the racial divide.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
A growth spurt punts a once-runty kid into the world of the jocks. With a wonderful voice, Herbach tells a hilarious and real story about navigating sudden change. (My “reluctant” readers often tear through this one.)

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger
The source material for the movie (best soundtrack ever) and the TV series (one of the best TV shows ever), Bissinger spends a season with the Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas. It’s a great look at what happens when gifted high school athletes are treated like throwaway gods.

Winger by Andrew Smith
Winger tells the story of a 14-year-old high school junior and rugby player as he tries to navigate life and girls at a boarding school. Smith’s hilarious and soul-crushing novel perfectly captures both the real and tenuous bonds that exist between teammates. (Yes, I know that rugby is not football. But I don’t foresee myself making a “books about rugby list” anytime soon, so here it is.)

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16. Review: Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had a hard time with Winning Ruby Heart.  I was fascinated with the premise, especially with all of the reports of terrible behavior by athletes during the last week.  While Ruby hasn’t committed domestic abuse, she has committed abuse of another kind: she doped before the Olympics, costing her a gold medal and leaving her reputation in tatters.  She was forced to forfeit the one thing she lived for.  Now she can no longer participate in any Olympic sport, and for a period of five years, she can’t compete in any sport at all. 

The story begins right after her five year suspension has ended.  Ruby has always loved running, and she can’t give it up.  She’s competing in her first ultramarathon, and as luck would have it, Micah Blackwell, the reporter responsible for crumpling up the last of her career and tossing it in the trash, is covering the race.  He recognizes Ruby and is instantly curious.  Why is she there?  What is she up to?  Is she breaking her suspension by participating in the race?  He smells a story, and he won’t rest until he’s uncovered it.  Besides, there’s an anchor slot available at his network, and he knows that this story will seal the deal for him and give him his dream job.

My biggest problem with Winning Ruby Heart was Ruby herself.  I didn’t understand her.  She was already the best in the world at her distance, so why did she allow herself to be talked into cheating?  She is firmly convinced that she would have won the race anyway, but she let her coach chide her into blood doping.  Everyone is doing it is not a good enough reason to risk your entire livelihood and your ability to participate in the one thing you love most in the world.  She knew the consequences if she got caught, but she cheated anyway.  Worse, when she was first interviewed by Micah, she wasn’t even repentant. With his skillful prodding, she came across as spoiled and self absorbed, and certainly unworthy of a second chance.

The romance left me unmoved as well.  At 29, Ruby has always been dependent on her parents.  She lives in their home, her father’s law firm has been handling her legal matters at no cost to her, and with no job, she has no means to support herself.  Her parents are fearful that she’ll embarrass them again, and they make no secret of their disapproval.  Once Micah reenters Ruby’s life, they know it’s only a matter of time before the family is paraded through the papers again, making their lives a nightmare.

I wasn’t convinced that Ruby and Micah made a good match.  Micah has had to work hard for everything he has, while Ruby was given the world on a silver platter – which she promptly threw away.  After an accident on the football field leaves Micah paralyzed, he turns all of the energy and dedication that made him a stand out player into becoming a stand out sports reporter.  And that was where all of my skepticism for their  HEA flourished.  When Micah was kicked on his backside, he found the strength and the willpower to reinvent himself.  Ruby crawled into a hole and hid.  I just don’t see them making it for the long haul, because I wonder what Ruby will do when things go south again?  Even with Micah’s support, she doesn’t come across as a fighter to me, and she’s not one to deal adequately with adversity.

I found the training interesting, and I can’t remember reading romance with a paralyzed hero in a long time.  I enjoyed the introduction of Dotty into Ruby’s life (because dogs make everything better), but overall, I was disappointed with Winning Ruby Heart.

Grade:  C

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

It’s a race to their beginning…

Exposing world-class athlete Ruby Heart’s cheating scandal five years ago made reporter Micah Blackwell’s career. Falling in love with her now could end it. Yet watching her determination to return to the top, he can’t resist the woman she has become. 

Working with Ruby to tell America her story, Micah falls deeper under her spell. But at a crucial moment, his feelings for her conflict with his job—the very thing that once saved him. Now he must choose between his skyrocketing career and the unlikely love of a good woman….

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17. NY Mets rookies in female superhero cosplay hazing ritual

ByFjt2FIEAEs4Nb NY Mets rookies in female superhero cosplay hazing ritual
Where is Milo Manara when you need him? The regulation baseball season has seven days to go, which can’t come soon enough for NY baseball fans, although the tearful Derek Jeter final sendoff still looms. In another fall ritual, baseball rookies were subjected to generally harmless “hazing.”A few years ago this consisted of just wearing a My Little Pony backpack around the bullpen, but since that’s practically normal now, the ritual has become much more complicated, as the NY Mets rookies were required to dress as female superheroes for the road trip from Atlanta to Washington.

While even I can’t ID all of them from left to right that’s Dario Alvarez, Wilmer Flores as Lady Thor, Dilson Hererra as a saucy Batgirl, unknown, Juan Centeno as Lady Green Lantern, unknown and slender rookie phenom pitcher Jacob DeGrom rocking a bold (some called it skimpy) “Pretty Patriot” outfit. Also unknown s Wonder Woman in the front row. Hey, they’re rookies who just got called up! I am saddened that we didn’t get to see Jeurys Famiglia as Power Girl.

While this is a hazing ritual everyone seems to be taking it with very good humor.

In case you were wondering, the LA Dodgers rookies had a similar stunt but got to dress as male superheroes.

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18. Fantasy League, by Mike Lupica | Book Spotlight

Twelve-year-old Charlie is a fantasy football guru. He may be just a bench warmer for his school's football team, but when it comes to knowing and loving the game, he's first-string.

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19. Learn About Sleepover at the World Cup in Brazil, by Geeta Raj

Geeta Raj brings an 11-year career in international development and humanitarian assistance to The Global Sleepover series, including over 8 years as a Senior Program Analyst with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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20. If You Were Me and Lived in … Portugal: An Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures | Dedicated Review

Discover the western European country of Portugal with award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman.

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21. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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22. The Bambino and Me, by Zachary Hyman | Book Review

The inspiration, passion, and illustrations make The Bambino and Me a wonderful, well rounded, addition to any reader’s roster.

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23. Playing Man: some modern consequences of Ancient sport

Playing Man (Homo Ludens), the trail-blazing work by Johan Huizinga, took sport seriously and showed how it was essential in the formation of civilizations. Adult playtime for many pre-industrial cultures served as the crucible in which conventions and boundaries were written for a culture. Actions were censured for being “beyond the pale”, a sports metaphor for being “out of bounds”.

A quasi-sacred time and space set apart for games were a microcosm for the lives of all who played and for the spectators. Sport was a place in which individual merit was the rule and performance was regulated by the terms of the event.

The Ancient Olympic Games, an invention of the 700s BCE, preceded Athenian Democracy by about 200 years, and yet those earliest Games allowed any free citizen to participate and win the supreme Panhellenic crown. Yes, probably most of the first contenders were wealthy by token of having more leisure time to train and travel to the festival. 

Yet in the pre-democratic centuries, the sporting model showed that what counted was individual ability and acquired skill, not status by birth. So the era of rule by tyrants and elite families was balanced by models of egalitarian display in the stadium in footraces, wrestling, boxing, and other track and field events.

Chariot racing was of course still the exclusive domain of the wealthy, a vestige of heroic tradition, but the athletes contending mano a mano ushered in more meritocratic ways. The Greek custom of requiring athletes in track and field and combat events to participate in the nude underscored this democratic ethos, perhaps popularized among the communally oriented Spartans by 600 BCE, but soon adopted universally by all Greeks.

The double entendre in my title “playing man” is intentional, with allusion to the sense that sport has been for most of history and globally a performance by and for males. For the Greeks, athletics were for men only, with a few interesting exceptions, notably girls’ ritual races at Olympia to ask Hera for a happy marriage.

In the modern Olympics, there was no women’s marathon race until 1984, almost 90 years into the games. Even then, in 1984, only 25% of all Olympic participants were female; today it is still at less than half (45% in 2012). The first women boxing events came in 2012. 

A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Women’s participation in sports at all venues and events has slowly improved over the last 30 years, thanks to gender equity movements as a whole. Still, males have been the participants in and the most avid audiences for competitive sports globally throughout history.

Is it tradition and culture or nature (testosterone and men’s greater muscle bulk) that has driven this trend? Scholarly disagreement continues, but the answer must include nature and culture, with nature perhaps playing a heavier role. The attempts to bring women’s sports to the fore have largely not succeeded: world viewers, broadcasters, and corporate sponsors overwhelmingly prefer male contests.

Overt displays of machismo characterized the ancient Greek contest, or agôn, whence our term agony, the pain of struggle. Combat sports of boxing and wrestling topped the popularity charts and the rewards at the festivals that gave valuable prizes.

At the Olympics, there were no second or third place prizes; only first counted, and one boxer said “give me the wreath of give me death”. Many were brutalized or killed, as is shown on vases in which blood streams from the contestants.

The Greeks were overly familiar with violence meted out by men in war on a daily basis, and so violent sport here did not inspire violence. But the association of athletes with Homeric heroes maintained the display as acceptable and even superhuman (see the funeral games of Iliad 23).

Greek sport, then, is worthy of our attention as the model in many ways for our own very different contests. Yes, the modern Olympics appropriated the Greek ones for its own very different aims. But arguably the ‘deeper’ social inheritances from the Greek men who “played” are, on the one hand, a greater egalitarianism, and on the other a heroized violence and machismo with which we all still wrestle.

The post Playing Man: some modern consequences of Ancient sport appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Offsides - Kerry Madden-Lundsford

The best advice I ever got, as an author was, "Write what you know." Kerry Madden-Lundsford takes that to a whole new level with her debut novel (republished - 2014), Offsides.

The daughter of a college football coach, Kerry Madden-Lunsford grew up in a series of hometowns, transplanted from one place to the next with the changing of the football season, uprooted from childhood friends with almost no warning. It is this hectic, whirlwind lifestyle which Madden-Lunsford draws upon in writing her first novel, Offsides.

The first thing Kerry will tell you is, "No, my father isn't John Madden." She does, however, pull memories-some good, some bad-from her days as the oldest child of a football coach, being uprooted from one football-crazy college town, to the next.

I found Madden-Lundsford's characterization of an awkward, self-critical, defiant Liz Donegal, refreshing and believable. While she protests every move, we know she will eventually give in and pick up roots, once more, in order to follow her father's never-ending search for that elusive head-coaching job.

On the surface, Liz appears to be an island; never quite fitting in, even with her family, but in between the lines, you feel the love and loyalty the Donegal family possesses, even when her closest confidants, her mother's sister and her father's brother, appear to leave her behind.

While I'm a dog lover, and cringe at the thought of losing a beloved dog, Madden-Lundsford writes an especially vivid scene in which the grave of "Bear Bryant" is dug up by his replacement, "Halfback". Equally traumatic is that all this takes place during Liz's boyfriend's first meeting with her family.

I highly recommend this book for YA and mature teens.

Further proof that Offsides is written from experience? Check out this picture from one of the author's latest booksignings.


Kerry Madden-Lundsford with Lynn Majors, wife of famed Tennessee football coach, Johnny Majors

Offsides: Amazon Kindle
Kerry Madden Books


Mary Cunningham, author, Cynthia's Attic Series,
The Adventures of Max and Maddie Series
 

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25. Offsides - Kerry Madden-Lunsford

The best advice I ever got, as an author was, "Write what you know." Kerry Madden-Lunsford takes that to a whole new level with her debut novel (republished - 2014), Offsides.

The daughter of a college football coach, Kerry Madden-Lunsford grew up in a series of hometowns, transplanted from one place to the next with the changing of the football season, uprooted from childhood friends with almost no warning. It is this hectic, whirlwind lifestyle which Madden-Lunsford draws upon in writing her first novel, Offsides.

The first thing Kerry will tell you is, "No, my father isn't John Madden." She does, however, pull memories-some good, some bad-from her days as the oldest child of a football coach, being uprooted from one football-crazy college town, to the next.

I found Madden-Lunsford's characterization of an awkward, self-critical, defiant Liz Donegal, refreshing and believable. While she protests every move, we know she will eventually give in and pick up roots, once more, in order to follow her father's never-ending search for that elusive head-coaching job.

On the surface, Liz appears to be an island; never quite fitting in, even with her family, but in between the lines, you feel the love and loyalty the Donegal family possesses, even when her closest confidants, her mother's sister and her father's brother, appear to leave her behind.

While I'm a dog lover, and cringe at the thought of losing a beloved dog, Madden-Lunsford writes an especially vivid scene in which the grave of "Bear Bryant" is dug up by his replacement, "Halfback". Equally traumatic is that all this takes place during Liz's boyfriend's first meeting with her family.

I highly recommend this book for YA and mature teens.

Further proof that Offsides is written from experience? Check out this picture from one of the author's latest booksignings.


Kerry Madden-Lundsford with Lynn Majors, wife of famed Tennessee football coach, Johnny Majors

Offsides: Amazon Kindle
Kerry Madden Books


Mary Cunningham, author, Cynthia's Attic Series,
The Adventures of Max and Maddie Series
 

0 Comments on Offsides - Kerry Madden-Lunsford as of 9/16/2014 10:42:00 AM
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