Featured New Release Of the Week: The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe by Granville Wyche Burgess

This week we are looking at a fictional novel about the last year of the life of one of the greatest baseball players to ever play in the sport. This week we are looking at The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe by Granville Wyche Burgess.

This book was a phenomenal tale that captures the old – and currently resurging – Southern mill life pretty well perfectly. And it also captures the desires of some of its children – sons in particular – to do anything possible to leave it behind them once and for all. Having grown up after the mill era busted yet in an era when it was still lingering, this reader can personally attest to the accuracy of the setting, both from personal memory and from growing up around those who lived, laughed, worked, and loved during the heyday of the southern american textile mill. Even the secondary story of the young lady coming down from the mountains to find better money in the mills is spot on to the era and even life in the region to this day.

But for all its spot-on perfection in showing the southern mill life, this book is a baseball book through and through, and it is within baseball that the book truly shines brightest. The story pits a young talented up and comer who works hard at perfecting his baseball skills against the owner of the local mill who is pursuing a championship at any cost, and both characters work very well. However, it is the inclusion of the titular Shoeless Joe Jackson of the infamous Black Sox scandal that rocked the sport a century ago this very year that gives the story is emotional and narrative heft. At this point in his life, the greatest natural hitter ever to grace a baseball diamond has consigned himself to a life apart from the sport he still loves, living in obscurity in his hometown as a liquor store owner. At least until our young up and comer comes to him and begs him to help train him to be a better baseball player. After some shenanigans from the villain, Joe is convinced to not only train our youngster but to become the manager of the team. This leads to the inevitable comeback ala the Atlanta Braves’ own Worst to First season, and like that very season the championship game comes down to the villain’s team vs the team now managed by Shoeless Joe.

It is during this stretch of the book that we get a phenomenal look at the Black Sox scandal itself, apparently based on original research done by the author and told via Joe reminiscing and revealing secrets at critical times – and withholding others almost until it is too late.

Ultimately, the championship game in particular shines and we get our titular moment – the last at-bat of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the greatest natural hitter in the history of baseball. And it is truly spectacular and worthy of being the title of the book.

Even if you have no interest in baseball or southern mill life in the last years of Jim Crow, you owe it to yourself to read this book, easily among the best I’ve read this year and quite possibly likely to remain a Top 5 book on the year no matter how many more I read.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Featured New Release Of the Week: Only One Life by Ashley Farley

This week we are looking at a generational tale of love, loss, secrets, and a mother’s enduring love for her children. This week, we are looking at Only One Life by Ashley Farley.

Structurally, this book was intriguing. The “normal” structure for these types of books that delve into stories in both past and present is to alternate chapters or sometimes even scenes within a chapter. This book takes a seemingly novel approach to the novel and instead opens in the present, goes back to the past to tell that entire story up to the present day, and then comes back to the present to finish out the overall story. For the story of this particular tale, this structure worked very well indeed – and even within this structure, managed to save some surprises for late in the book.

The tale itself was heartbreaking and yet also full of hope. The struggles that the primary mother and daughter go through are immense, but the ending gets to a happily ever after that manages to leave at least one key plot point resolved yet ready for a sequel, should Ms. Farley choose to pursue it. Overall an excellent tale, my first from this Lake Union author, and yet again not my last. Very much recommended.

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon:
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#BookReview: Trophy Life by Lea Geller

What Is A Trophy? In this tale by debut author Lea Geller, we get an interesting tale of an orphan who seemingly wins the jackpot while working as a preschool teacher after college – she randomly meets and marries an older wealthy man and through him obtains a life of ease. Maybe too easy. But as is to be expected somewhat, things are not as they seem and our new mom is sent across the country. Along the way, she finds herself and rediscovers just how strong she truly is. Overall a solid story with a few interesting twists, and I look forward to seeing more from this author.

This review of Trophy Life by Lea Geller was originally published on April 20, 2019.

#BookReview: Aiden Inspired by Blake Allwood

Masterful, With a Singular (non-fatal) Flaw. 20 years ago right around now, I gave an extemporaneous speech in my high school speech class that told this fantastical tale of alien adventures that took place over an extended time period. I thought it was an awesome story, and I had fun telling it. I thought the speech went amazing! And then my classmates and teacher started chiming in just absolutely eviscerating it. As it turned out, I had forgotten the very premise I had been told to work with: that the story had begun just the night before.

This book is an absolute masterpiece of a romance, with the fairly explicit sex MM romance is somewhat known for. The primary characters are charming in their own ways, and each has their flaws that are never glossed over as is the case of some tales in the general romance genre. The settings are amazing, and the extended time in the remote southeastern corner of Washington State (I googled the location) was astounding – it worked to further the plot while also enhancing the story.

The one flaw this story has is the same one my speech had all those years ago – in telling such a superior tale, the author gets his timings mixed up quite a bit. Things that happen overnight are spoken of in the section after speaking of things that happened over a much longer period of time,and this is a recurring problem of this tale – enough that I felt I had no choice but to ding it a star, as a one time blip of even that level could have been simply noted in this review yet forgiven on the rating.

Truly a masterful work, and I want to read the stories alluded to in the epilogue… 😉

This review of Aiden Inspired by Blake Allwood was originally published on April 18, 2019.

#BookReview: Once Upon a Comic Con by Maggie Dallen

Perfect Conclusion. This tale turned out to be about a somewhat unexpected couple – the male was fully expected, but based on the other two books this reader somewhat expected the female to be a different character than who it turned out to be. But it actually made for the perfect conclusion to the series, with a tale that had similar themes of the two other books but in a form that hit home according to this reader’s own experiences in high school – on both sides, as it would turn out. Excellent story of what some call the Stained Glass Masquerade and how it can be overcome by love. Very highly recommended.

This review of Once Upon a Comic Con by Maggie Dallen was originally published on April 17, 2017.

Book CounterPoint: Perfectly Good Crime by Dete Meserve

Moments ago, I wrote the Featured New Release of the Week post for this week, which features Perfectly Good Crime by Dete Meserve. I spent a large part of this review speaking about something that was the thing about this book that primarily resonated with me and intrigued me about this book, yet I felt it was a spoiler to reveal it. Other reviews have since already spoiled this particular topic, but even now I feel the need to hide the rest of this commentary behind a Continue Reading tag, so if you are reading beyond this point,

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Featured New Release Of the Week: Perfectly Good Crime by Dete Meserve

This week we look at a book chat continues to build its world while using a legendary tale in a modern setting to ask questions about the modern world. This week, we’re looking at Perfectly Good Crime by Dete Meserve.

It is difficult to speak about this book without spoilers, particularly since the biggest thing that resonated with me was the biggest spoiler of the entire book. But I’m not going to do that. I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible on this site, and I’m not going to start spoiling books now. So all I’ll say about what I really want to talk about is that there is a singular book I’ve read more than twice in my eReader exclusive era of the past 7 yrs or so. I love this particular book and what it stands for so much that I literally have a version of the heading of one of the parts of this book tattooed on my left wrist. And this particular book’s take on the spoiler subject of Perfectly Good Crime is pretty well diametrically opposed to the presentation Ms. Meserve gives the topic. Which is not to say that her presentation isn’t stellar, it is. And if you subscribe to the dominant beliefs of our era, Ms. Meserve actually presents this topic in a very balanced fashion and brings out some very interesting points about it in the process. But my own feelings there are simply… atypical may be a gentle way of putting it. 😉

All of that said, this is a great crime/ reporter mystery that continues with solid world building and tells an excellent tale of a reporter struggling to find just what she wants for herself. The personal aspects of Kate Bradshaw’s life are interwoven with the professional in a very satisfying manner and continue to show local journalists even in large markets such as LA as the true professionals yet also “normal people” they are. Truly an excellent work, and I look forward to more from this author and this series.

As always, we end with the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: Bloodstorm by David Wood and Sean Ellis

The End of the Beginning. This was an excellent tale of Dane Maddock and Uriah ‘Bones’ Bonebreak’s final mission as US Navy SEALs. As with the Star Wars prequel series, everything we have known that was specific to this era and would not continue into the next is resolved, while the things that do continue into the next era are set up nicely and alluded to hilariously. Truly an excellent tale that does all that it needs to do yet never feels burdened by the load at all, doing it all organically within the story itself.

This review of Bloodstorm by David Wood and Sean Ellis was originally published on April 12, 2019.

#BookReview: Dead Wrong by Pandora Pine

Ronan Expects A Friend… And Gets A Father. This was my first book of Pine’s long running Cold Case Pychic books after having read both of the spinoff series Ghost Detective books so far. And despite being book 11, a reader truly can come into this series and not be lost – said reader will just know how several things turn out over the previous 10 books that will be spoilers to those tales, but with this being a romance series to begin with most of them are fairly obvious anyway.

In this particular tale, series original Ronan O’Mara answers the door as he heads back to his first day at work in several months expecting a friend… and finds his father there, asking for his help. The mystery here is fairly typical of Pine in my experience, with mostly detective based questioning people and finding evidence of things with a few tense moments of confrontation in semi-dangerous situations.

Great read, and a solid entry point into the series if you don’t mind the mild spoilers. Very much looking forward to more.

This review of Dead Wrong by Pandora Pine was originally published on April 10, 2019.

#BookReview: Flight by K’Anne Meinel

Take Flight. This was a very interesting character driven book centered on Jessica Penn. We follow Jess over the course of nearly a decade as she is awoken to the news that her wife has died in some form of plane crash and we follow her through all that is revealed in the aftermath. The story has a major swerve about 50% in, as the narrative of the first half changes and a new villain emerges – with direct ties to the original. Great story excellently written.

This review of Flight by K’Anne Meinel was originally published on April 5, 2019.