Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category
Folks, I wanted to point your attention toward my latest book review of Charles Leerhsen’s TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty, which is up right now over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).
Now, why am I so proud of this review?
I think it has to do with two things. One, Mr. Leerhsen’s baseball scholarship is superb. And two, I was pleased to realize, after reading Leerhsen’s book, that Cobb was not at all the virulent racist he’d been portrayed to be.
See, all of the stuff I thought I knew about Cobb was wrong — well, except for the actual baseball facts. (I knew Cobb hit .367 as a lifetime batting average, for example, and was the all-time hits leader until Pete Rose moved past him in the mid-1980s.)
Basically, Ty Cobb, since his death in 1961, has been the victim of a shoddy narrative. Apparently his “biographer” Al Stump was no such thing; instead, Stump invented the wildest flights of fancy about Cobb, figuring that as there was almost no film or still pictures or even radio accounts of Cobb’s play, Stump could do as he liked and no one would be the wiser.
Besides, monsters sell. So Stump made Cobb a monster.
Leerhsen proved just how fallacious Stump’s account actually was by going back and reading all of the various newspaper reports, which were readily available in the archives. (Thank goodness for archives, eh?) Stump made so many erroneous assumptions that it’s hard to believe Stump didn’t know what he was writing was dead wrong; in fact, Cobb himself was in the midst of a lawsuit at the time of his death, because he’d gotten wind of what Stump was about to do to him in the guise of Cobb’s “autobiography” (which was ghost-written by Stump), and wanted no part of it.
The most egregious fallacy of Stump’s was to paint Cobb as a racist. Cobb was anything but — in fact, according to Leerhsen, Cobb used to sit in the dugout with players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige during Negro League games, and famously remarked that “The Negro (ballplayer) should be accepted, and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly.” And Cobb was a big fan of Roy Campanella’s, plus he enjoyed Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson.
And as far as being a mean, nasty, vicious old cuss — well, how mean, vicious and nasty could Ty Cobb have been if he was willing to help the young Joe DiMaggio out when Joe D. signed with the Yankees? (Cobb understood baseball contracts, and young Joe didn’t.) How mean was Cobb when he helped Campanella and his family out after “Campy” became paralyzed? And how vicious was Cobb when, after his playing days were over and he had nothing at all to gain by it, he and Babe Ruth became fast friends?
Leerhsen has dozens of stories about Cobb, and very few of them depict anything close to the man Stump portrayed (and Tommy Lee Jones later masterfully acted in the movie version, Cobb).
While Cobb was a difficult man to know — he was prickly, quick to anger, and settled things with his fists more than once — he was not a monster.
Instead, Cobb appears to be the victim of one of the worst narrative frames in the history of all narrative-framing.
So do, please, read my review of Charles Leerhsen’s book TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty. Then please, if you have any interest whatsoever in early 1900s to the “Roaring Twenties” Americana, baseball history, or just want to find out what’s actually the truth about Ty Cobb, go read his masterful book for yourself.
Folks, this is my fifth “blogiversary” — that is, the fifth anniversary of my blog, affectionately known as the Elfyverse. (Or Barb Caffrey’s Elfyverse, if you prefer.) Here, I’ve talked about everything that interests me, whether it’s baseball, politics, current events, music, writing, or something else — whatever it is, I’ve probably discussed it.
(Writers do that, y’know.)
Anyway, today I have a special treat for you, in that Pat Patterson of Papa Pat Rambles reviewed my story “To Survive the Maelstrom” over at Amazon — and he gave it five stars. (Thank you, Pat!)
Here’s the blurb for “To Survive the Maelstrom,” which was written in my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s Atlantean Union universe (and thus he is credited):
Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union has lost everything he holds dear. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.
Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.”
Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?
So if you want to read “To Survive the Maelstrom” in honor of my fifth blogiversary — or just because you like solid military SF — please go to Amazon and grab yourself a copy. (I do intend to get this story to Barnes and Noble and Smashwords within the next ninety days, somehow, but for now it’s on KDP Select. So if you have Kindle Ultimate, you can read “To Survive the Maelstrom” for free — right now.)
Folks, this past week I was consumed with editing. (My book may be in, but the editing goes on. Which is probably just as well…don’t want to be out of a job, methinks.) So I didn’t get a chance to blog.
Now, though, I have two reasons to blog.
First, there’s a new review up over at Shiny Book Review for Mary Robinette Kowal’s VALOUR AND VANITY. This is the fourth book in Ms. Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, and I enjoyed it immensely. But please, read my review, and let me know what you think.
Second, for the first time ever here at the Elfyverse blog, I’m going to give away a book for a friend, E. Ayers. Her newest novel is called A RANCHER’S DREAM, and it’s a Western set in the U.S. during the Victorian Era. (Say that five times fast. I dare you.)
Ms. Ayers and I know each other through the Exquisite Quills writing group. She’s a fine writer with a keen mind and an excellent eye for detail, and I’ve enjoyed all the novels she’s written to date. (I intend to review a couple more of ’em next week for Romance Saturday at SBR, if all goes well, one being A RANCHER’S DREAM.)
All you have to do to win an advance e-book copy of A RANCHER’S DREAM is to tell me why you love romance novels. It doesn’t have to be fancy…just tell me why you love romance novels, and the first person who comments, either here on my blog or at Twitter (by time-stamp) will win a copy of Ms. Ayers’ newest novel. (You’ll have your pick of formats, too, in case you’re interested.)
Widowed and raising a young daughter by himself,
Tiago has only one goal – to work a ranch of his own and build a
future for his small family. When fate deposits a young woman in
his path, he believes he has found the help he needs to care for his child
as they journey to their new home in Creed’s Crossing.
On the run for her life, Ingrid needs to get as far
away from Texas as she can. Her brother and father have
been murdered, and those responsible would see her dead, too.
Desperate, she accepts an offer to help Tiago with his daughter,
but Ingrid’s past can destroy everything Tiago is working for.
Worse – her very presence places him and his daughter in peril.
Amid secrets and danger, a single father
and an orphaned woman on the run must fight all odds to fulfill
A Rancher’s Dream
Coming June 16, 2015
Now available for pre-order at Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00YJP19TI
…and Amazon International: http://authl.it/B00YJP19TI
So there you have it — a new review at Shiny Book Review, and a brand-new book by E. Ayers that you can win if you tell me why you love romance novels.
How’s that for some savory Saturday goodness?
Folks, it took me longer than I’d have liked to review two new books over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always). One was nonfiction, the other was fiction. Both were outstanding.
The first, UNBROKEN CIRCLES FOR SCHOOLS by Ken Johnson, is a nonfiction book about what schools can do to help juvenile offenders. (This is a vast oversimplification, of course.) Mr. Johnson discusses the differences between retributive and restorative justice (the latter is much better, but isn’t often used by our criminal justice system), and how schools can help. Go read my review, then check out this outstanding book.
The second, DEVIL’S LAKE, is a romantic suspense novel by Aaron Paul Lazar. It’s an outstanding novel in every respect, and I was pleased to review it on Valentine’s Day for our Romance Saturday at SBR promotion.
So if you’re looking for something new to read in either nonfiction or fiction, head on over to SBR and take a look at these two reviews.
Folks, I remain much closer to ill than well, I’m afraid. But I was able to get up a new “2-for-1 SBR Special” — that is, two new book reviews instead of one over at Shiny Book Review — a few, short minutes ago.
What books did I review this time? I picked Mercedes Lackey’s BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, both featuring Herald Mags and his love interest, Amily, along with an interesting mix of characters and Companions.
Did I enjoy these books? Without spoilers, I can say honestly that I did. But one was far more predictable than the other.
Anyway, please go check out my reviews for BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, and see what you think.
Aside from that, I’m gearing up for my first-ever book promotion for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Because of that, the price has been temporarily dropped to only ninety-nine cents. So get your copy now, if you haven’t yet…the price will be going back to $3.99 in early December.
Finally, I wanted to pass along a bit of a wonderful new review I received for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at Amazon:
Fresh, innovative and daring, this story comes across as something very different from the rest. It offers new fantasy concepts, including a unique take on elves and their relationship with humans in a contemporary setting.
(Go read the rest of this rave review for yourself!)
Folks, I’ve been busy reviewing books over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).
These reviews weren’t easy to write, which is one reason I delayed writing them until now.
Still, I hope you will enjoy them in the spirit intended.
Folks, as most of you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging. I had surgery two weeks ago, and while I’m slowly recovering, many things went by the wayside.
Including book reviews. Edits. Writing of any sort. And as of yet, I haven’t been medically cleared to resume performing on my musical instruments, either . . .
It’s because of this that I was sorely in need of constructive diversion. And as I’d been sent an ARC of the inestimable Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s third book in her ongoing Night Calls series several months ago, I did my best to first re-read the previous two books in this series (NIGHT CALLS and KINDRED RITES respectively), then read her newest, SPIRAL PATH, several times for good measure.
Along the way, the ARCs kept getting updated. Cover art was added. And the book was released earlier this week.
So even though I have other reviews pending at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always) that have been in the queue nearly as long as SPIRAL PATH, I didn’t hesitate to review Ms. Kimbriel’s newest book this evening. (Or, considering it’s 4:38 AM as I write this, maybe I should say “this morning” instead.)
Because it’s late (or early, depending on your mindset), I can’t recall right now if I’ve mentioned that I find Ms. Kimbriel’s books — all of them, but most particularly the Night Calls series — to be “comfort books.” That is, books that make you feel better about yourself, and about life in general; books that, no matter how terrible you feel, always help to cheer you up.
So I freely admit that I’ve read and re-read Ms. Kimbriel’s books many times since I first was introduced to her work in late 2012 with FIRES OF NUALA (reviewed in March of 2013 at SBR). Everything she writes is well-researched, has depth and purpose and feels like a real place with real and vital people doing really vital things . . . and it’s just as well that e-books don’t fray with age and use, or my advance reader copies of Ms. Kimbriel’s stories would’ve all frayed into disintegration by now.
Anyway, while I slowly take up my life again, and all of my various responsibilities, I’m very glad I was able to make some time to review SPIRAL PATH this evening/morning.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading my review as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that you’ll check out all of Ms. Kimbriel’s work without delay. (She’s having a sale right now on her first book in the Night Calls series, the not-so-coincidentally named NIGHT CALLS, if you’re interested . . . I know I picked up a spare copy, just to loan to other people later on, as I am not giving up my treasured ARCs for anything.)
P.S. I wonder, sometimes, whether my late husband Michael got a chance to read any of Ms. Kimbriel’s work “the first time around” (that is, when her first five books were put out in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s). I like to think so, because she’s exactly the type of author he’d have adored — and for much the same reasons as I do.