Monday, April 25, 2011

Book #10: Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Here I go, revisiting Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, in "Hard Eight." The eighth book in the series brings new twists to Stephanie's life both in the romance department and within her family. Her sister Valerie has split from her husband, moving back in with Stephanie's parents, along with her two daughters. Valerie was always the "good" daughter, the one Stephanie should have been more like, according to their mother. Things have changed now that Valerie's life has been turned upside down.

Mooner and Dougie are nowhere to be found in this book, but rest assured, there is a new character hanging around Stephanie. Albert Kloughn (pronounced "clown") is a lawyer who fancies himself a tough guy and wants to be in on the action with her.

Morelli is around, but the relationship is anything but "on" at this point and things are heating up with Ranger, much to Stephanie's fear.

She's got her usual issues trying to bring in FTAs (failure to appear) but is focused on a non-paying case of finding her mother's neighbor's granddaughter and great-granddaughter. This brings her into contact with some of Trenton's unfriendliest people and gets her car bombed by a giant rabbit. (This is not at all unusual if you have read other Stephanie Plum novels!)

Janet Evanovich once again keeps me laughing out loud. The scenarios that Stephanie gets herself into are ridiculous and hilarious. I found the Ranger-Stephanie storyline a little anti-climactic, but then again, it turned out exactly as I thought it would.

If you need a good laugh and a fast-paced read, jump in. As I always say, you don't need to start with the first Stephanie Plum book in the series, but why wouldn't you? It's totally worth it!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book #9: Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America by S.L. Price

When I opened up the box of books that came in the mail from my friend @kayakgal, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the book on the very top. I never saw the title-my focus was immediately on the cover photo: a view from behind of a man holding two small boys, his jersey said "Coolbaugh." I froze. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. @kayakgal knows I'm a baseball fan, but I don't think there was any way for her to know that I was once a season ticket holder for a Texas League team in Wichita, Kansas or that I knew exactly who this story was about and the tragedy that befell him and his family. I had no idea that a book had been written about him, so I was absolutely stunned to have received it.

"Heart of the Game" follows two "lifers" in baseball: Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez. Their paths became forever entwined on July 22, 2007 when Tino hit a foul ball that struck Mike in the neck, killing him almost instantly. On that day, Mike was coaching and Tino was playing for the Tulsa Drillers, a Texas league team and AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Each chapter discusses first Mike, then Tino. The reader learns about their youth, their road to professional baseball and about their lives outside of baseball. The book gives an inside glimpse into the world of baseball and what it's like for most of the men who play it, like Mike and Tino. Along with telling about the ups and downs of a lifer's career, some eerie coincidences are revealed.

If you are a baseball fan, especially a minor league fan, this is a great book to read. It has it's happy moments, but it is a melancholy tale of what life is really like when you're trying to break into the majors or fighting to stay there. I feel like by reading it I was let into a secret club where I got to know what is really happening on the field when I'm cheering on my favorite team.