Posted in Giveaway, nonfiction, Sports, Spotlight on November 10, 2016

CHAMPION OF

THE BARRIO

The Legacy of Coach Buryl Baty

by

R. Gaines Baty

  Genre: Biography / Sports / Civil Rights

Publisher: Texas A&M University Press

Date of Publication: February 9, 2015

Number of Pages: 288

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synopsis

champion-coverIn 1947, after serving in WWII and quarterbacking the Texas Aggies during the glory days of the old Southwest Conference, Texas football legend Buryl Baty was drafted by the Detroit Lions. But, the NFL wouldn’t be where he’d create his legacy. He instead became the head football coach at Bowie High School in El Paso, where he’d inspire a team of Mexican Americans from the Segundo Barrio with his winning ways and stand against the era’s extreme, deep-seated bigotry.

Tragically, however, just as the team was in a position to win a third championship in 1954, they were jolted by news that would turn their worlds upside down.

Later, as mature adults, these players reflected on Coach Baty’s lasting inspiration and influence, and 44 years after his death, dedicated their high school stadium in his name. The El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame followed up that honor in 2013 by inducting Baty posthumously.

In this poignant memoir, Baty’s son, R. Gaines Baty, describes his own journey to know his father, portraying the man’s life and accomplishments through the perspectives of nearly 100 individuals who knew him, including many of the young men he coached and whose lives he changed. In addition to many documented facts and news reports. NFL Hall of Famer Raymond Berry provides a heartfelt and relevant foreword.

A university professor labeled this an important and historic piece of work. It is also a moving story of leadership and triumph over hardship, over discrimination, over tragedy, over one’s self.

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PRAISE FOR CHAMPION OF THE BARRIO

“The best love story I have ever read.” –William “Bill” Reed, author and retired news reporter/assistant editor at the Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Morning News.

Champion of the Barrio is an important contribution to our understanding of the power of sports to reach, teach, and transform and a vivid portrait of an inspirational figure who was cut down too soon.” –Alexander Wolff, award-winning sports journalist, Sports Illustrated

“You could not grow up in Paris, Texas without knowing about Buryl Baty. He took on the world, and he won. This is an inspiring account and a great read.” –Gene Stallings, former head coach at Texas A&M, of the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide; Member, College Football Hall of Fame

“I knew Buryl Baty well. He created a glorious era and legacy for his team and school, and it was unbelievable how he captured El Paso’s heart. This is a gripping story — that brought tears to my eyes. Buryl Baty’s name lives on.” –Ray Sanchez, former writer and editor of the El Paso Herald-Post, author of seven books, member of five Halls of Fame and consultant for the movie Glory Road

“Perhaps one of Buryl Baty’s most important legacies is the hard lessons he taught a generation of Mexican Americans, who overcame so many strikes against them. El Paso owes Gaines Baty a ton of gratitude for reconnecting us with a man whose story continues to inspire.”El Paso Times

The following image shares some of  Buryl Baty’s history – from his personal life to coaching.

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about the author
gaines-baty

 

R. GAINES BATY, Coach Buryl Baty’s son, was a “Featured Author” and panelist at the 2015 Texas Book Festival in recognition of Champion of the Barrio, He has been published or quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, Healthcare IT News, etc. Professionally, he founded and leads a nationally-recognized executive search firm, and is a career counselor, trainer and author. Previously, he was an accomplished college athlete, receiving All-Southwest Conference and All-Era honors. In 2011, he was inducted into the Garland (TX) Sports Hall of Fame.

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11/10 Scrapbook StoreyBook Reviews
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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, nonfiction, Sports, Spotlight on October 29, 2016

bnr-pigskin

PIGSKIN RAPTURE

Four Days in the Life of Texas Football

by

Mac Engel

Photos by Ron Jenkins

Genre: Texas Sports / Football / Photography

Publisher: Lone Star Books

Date of Publication: August 26, 2016

Number of Pages: 240

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synopsis

You know what they say: Sunday in Texas belongs to God and football; not necessarily in that order. But game time now stretches well beyond Sunday, and Texas football is a phenomenon even bigger than the Lone Star State.

Over a magical four-day period in 2015, both of Texas’s NFL teams played at home on different days, a major high school rivalry played out on Friday night in West Texas, and a fierce regional rivalry came to the Cotton Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

In this first-of-its-kind project, veteran sports journalist and photographer Mac Engel and Ron Jenkins captured it all, and then some: from an illicit tour of the sealed Astrodome, to the locker room at Houston’s Yates school, to the tailgate at the Texans game, to sidelines at Odessa Permian (of Friday Night Lights fame), to the vaunted heights of the guest suite at Cowboys Stadium, bringing to life an amazing cast of characters and scenes. What they find isn’t all glitz and glory – but it’s all riveting, and it’s all essential info for any football fan.

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LSLL:  Mac, LSLL showcases Texas books and authors, and we have found that Fort Worth seems to be an incubator for authors — like Jeff Guinn, Julia Heaberlin, Sandra Brown, Gary Cartwright, Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, Larry L. King, and we could go on and on. As someone who has spent the greater quarter of a century in and around Fort Worth–and the Fort Worth publishing scene, what do think it is that makes the city such fertile ground for writers?

MAC:  I think it’s ambition combined with access to a lot of activity, and a lot of good people. Bud, Dan, and Sandra — all of the people you mentioned — are special people who are talented and were found. It should be noted that I don’t belong in any sentence with those people other than [that] I speak English and live in Fort Worth.

LSLL:  How has publishing changed since you both started in the business? What role does social media now play for you as authors and journalists?

MAC: Oh, God — this could be a thesis. Night and day. It’s made it quick, fast, rapid, and just reduced our attention spans. We have the time, but when there are eighteen million other things readily available and coming at you, to grab your attention for an extended period is just not easy.

RON: The world has changed so very much from I began shooting sports for the University Daily, the student newspaper at Texas Tech in the ’80s. The ability to promote a project like this on social media is pretty wild. The response has been overwhelming and the reviews have been really flattering.

LSLL:  Another question for you, Mac. Why do you think football dominates Texas culture?

MAC: History and tradition, and I don’t think you can dismiss success, either. Back when football was beginning — go to the ’30s — the college teams were nationally renowned names. Texas, A&M, TCU, SMU, Rice, etc. Then the Cowboys were invented and as TV was formed and games were televised, the Cowboys were good. It just bred more and more recognition, interest and youth involvement. Then it became an identity for the state, and the players.

LSLL: So, for readers whose appetites you’ve whetted, how would you describe Pigskin Rapture in your own words?

MAC: For me, it succeeds in encapsulating the cultural importance of the game to Texans. Often we are flooded with hype and hyperbole about something and it seldom meets the verbiage, but you really can’t over state the importance of football to Texans and its place in the subconscious of Texans.

RON: Pigskin Rapture: The ultimate Texas football long weekend road trip. With glorious words and dynamic images that fans of Texas football really should not miss.  It’s a one-of-a-kind look at the Lone Star state, its people and its favorite sport, football.

LSLL:  Mac and Ron: What’s next for you?

RON: Up next for me will be covering the MLB post-season, including hopefully the Texas Rangers in the World Series along with more football, including college and the NFL. I’ll be shooting primarily for Getty Images and the Associated Press.

MAC: Sleep, I hope. I wrote two books last year and that’s a lot. I am sure I will try another one soon, but not writing a book right now is welcome.

 

This interview first appeared on Lone Star Literary Life and Mac & Ron were interviewed by Kay Ellington.  You can see the full interview here.

 

about the author

mac-engelMac Engel is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Since 1998, he has covered the Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Dallas Cowboys as well as colleges, high schools, and the Olympics. His Big Mac Blog was named the best blog in Texas by the Associated Press in 2012.

 

pic-photographer-pigskinFort Worth/Dallas–based contract photographer Ron Jenkins specializes in sports,  covering the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Mavericks as well as NCAA, high school, and everything in between. His photos have been published all over the world, including in French sports magazine L’Equipe, premier German magazine Stern, and the USA’s Sports Illustrated.

 

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10/29 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, nonfiction, Sports, Spotlight on September 8, 2016

Banner ROF

THE REPUBLIC OF FOOTBALL
Legends of the Texas High School Game

by Chad S. Conine

Genre: Texas Sports History / Biographies

Date of Publication: September 6, 2016

Publisher: University of Texas Press

# of pages: 288

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synopsis

Cover R of FootballAnywhere football is played, Texas is the force to reckon with. Its powerhouse programs produce the best football players in America. In The Republic of Football, Chad S. Conine vividly captures Texas’s impact on the game with action-filled stories about legendary high school players, coaches, and teams from around the state and across seven decades.

Drawing on dozens of interviews, Conine offers rare glimpses of the early days of some of football’s biggest stars. He reveals that some players took time to achieve greatness—LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t even the featured running back on his high school team until a breakthrough game in his senior season vaulted him to the highest level of the sport—while others, like Colt McCoy, showed their first flashes of brilliance in middle school. In telling these and many other stories of players and coaches, including Hayden Fry, Spike Dykes, Bob McQueen, Lovie Smith, Art Briles, Lawrence Elkins, Warren McVea, Ray Rhodes, Dat Nguyen, Zach Thomas, Drew Brees, and Adrian Peterson, Conine spotlights the decisive moments when players caught fire and teams such as Celina, Southlake Carroll, and Converse Judson turned into Texas dynasties.

“This is a wonderful, well-written book, full of compelling details and stories. A ‘must read’ for any Texas football fan.” —DAVE CAMPBELL Dave Campbell’s Texas Football

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I’d like to welcome Chad to StoreyBook Reviews.  If you live in Texas you know that football is a big thing here.  And especially now that fall is upon us, you will find football happening Thursday through Saturday at a minimum.  Maybe more!  So I’m excited to have Chad here to tell us a bit more about his book.

The Origin Story

Guest Post

By Chad S. Conine

Early on, when I first began working on The Republic of Football, long before it even had that title, I was having a drink with a friend and telling her about the project. She is a fan of comic books and graphic novels and she made the connection. “Oh, so it’s origin stories.” And, as I’m prone to do when holding a pint of beer, I exclaimed, “Yes! Exactly!” My friend was not necessarily a big football fan, but the fact that she connected with telling the stories of some of Texas’s great players and coaches before they were household names, that let me know I was on to something good.

As it happens, The Republic of Football has its own origin story.

My friend, Joben David, and I were going to a movie one afternoon in the spring of 2014. I had just covered the Final Four for the first time, so I was excited about having a little momentum in my career. We were talking about a book called Home Field (University of Texas Press, 2010), which I proudly displayed on the mantle in my living room. The book features photos taken from the 50-yard line at high school football stadiums all over Texas. I commented that I would like to read a book that told some of the stories from those stadiums. That was sort of the epiphany that began the project that became The Republic of Football.

My first move, within a couple of days of that conversation on the way to the movie theater, was to try to get an interview with then-Baylor football coach Art Briles. While covering college football the previous fall in Lubbock, I had a conversation with an Amarillo sportswriter named Lance Lahnert about a game between Panhandle and Hamlin during Briles’s first season as a high school football head coach. Lahnert said Briles enjoyed telling this particular story. Because I covered Baylor and had encountered Briles around Waco a few times and had pleasant exchanges with him, I figured I could get an interview with him and try to get this idea moving. So I sent an email and a few days later, while I was in Fort Worth with some friends who were working in a recording studio, I received an email in return saying Briles would talk to me for the project. I left my friends at the studio for a couple of hours while I hustled over to a coffee shop and prepped for the interview, which we scheduled for the next morning.

As the project went on, these little lightning-in-a-bottle moments, when someone took an interest in the subject and agreed to talk about his high school football days, became the fuel for the thing. The next place I went was my alma mater, Texas Tech, and sat down with Kliff Kingsbury. We chatted about football for half an hour and he was really encouraging about the idea. He suggested I reach out to Dat Nguyen. And then that worked too.

I determined that I needed to write four sample chapters to take to agents or publishers to find a home for the project, which by that time I was calling “Remember When: 50 High School Football Stories from 50 Texas Towns.” I decided to go big on the fourth one, perhaps even raising the profile from the first three prominent interviewees. And since I worked on staff at the Waco Tribune-Herald for six years and because I went to high school in the mid-1990s in Waco, my attention went to LaDainian Tomlinson. LeRoy Coleman, Tomlinson’s high school coach at Waco University, told me a great story about LaDainian’s breakout game at the beginning of his senior year. And then one afternoon, LaDainian returned a phone call and we set up the fourth cornerstone interview for the project.

A couple of weeks after I interviewed Tomlinson at a Starbucks in Keller, I connected with Robert Devens at University of Texas Press. By the beginning of July, I had signed on with them to turn in a manuscript just before football season in 2015.

The exciting thing was that the connections kept up through the project. I contacted the Minnesota Vikings and set up an interview with Adrian Peterson soon after training camp started in late July of 2014. In one of our phone calls, I asked the media relations director what was the biggest factor in Peterson agreeing to the interview. He said it was definitely the list of people whom I had already interviewed. That became my selling point. In fact, when I asked LaDainian when we met how I should make contact with current NFL guys, he said to get on it quick and probably try to do it during the informal team practices that teams hold early in the summer. He also told me to drop his name, which I did many times.

That’s the origin story for The Republic of Football. Not every person I reached out to wanted to participate, but as I look at the 41 chapters in the book, I’m thrilled with the collection that we’re putting out there this football season.

 

about the author

Chad ConineConine is a freelance sports journalist who has written for the Sports Xchange, Reuters, and Golf.com, among others. He has been covering Texas high school and college football since the late 1990s. He lives in Waco, Texas.

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Posted in excerpt, Sports, Spotlight, Young Adult on October 28, 2015
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Young Adult – Family Saga – Sports Fiction
Date Published: August 2015

Synopsis

Cody’s worst day, was the day his brother – his best friend, left to join the Army. Boomer’s worst day was yet to come.
In high school, Cody followed his big brother’s blocks on the football field. Now, it is his time to lead. Cody and his girlfriend, Kim, embark on a journey to reveal the hero beneath the scars and bring Boomer home.
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Excerpt
Cody couldn’t breathe. After the vicious hit, the defensive end pinned him to the turf. He tried to push off the overpowering weight, but he didn’t have the strength. Suddenly, a huge hand grabbed the linesman’s shoulder pads and tossed him like a rag doll to the field.
“You OK, Little Bro?” Boomer asked.
Cody’s chest expanded as he sucked in a deep breath of air. Boomer leaned over him with his face partially concealed by his football helmet and hidden by the shadows cast by the overhead stadium lights. Cody could see his brother’s eyes filled with worry.
He didn’t answer. He extended his hand. Boomer pulled him to his feet. Jogging back to the huddle, Cody stole a quick glance at the scoreboard. He wasn’t worried about the points. They were down by five. A touchdown would still win the game, but they only had time for one more play. One more play against their archrival Panthers. Their season wasn’t built on how many games they won, the only thing that mattered was if they beat the Panthers. That, and the fact that this was the last high school football game he would play with his brother, made Cody want to take a time-out and make it last a lifetime.
The tight end ran the play in from the Coach. Cody called the play in the huddle, but he knew it didn’t matter. The real play would depend on how the defense set up. The goalposts seemed like miniature toothpicks across the field. He wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. His heart was pounding so hard that it hurt. He slid his hands under the center and surveyed the defense. He knew it was going to be a blitz. He stepped away from the center and motioned his running back to stay in and block. Back under the center, his voice broke as he tried to bark out the count. He gripped the football and started to back away. Rising up for the block, the center’s heel stepped on top of Cody’s foot. He stumbled. Falling, he managed to pivot and get his hand down to keep his knees from touching the turf. The running back blocked one of the blitzing linemen.
Cody scrambled. Time slowed down. He felt like he could see every player on the field. The wide receiver streaked down the sideline. Cody rolled with him.
He could hear the defensive end coming up on his blind side. Instinctively every muscle in his body tightened for the impact. Boomer charged in front of him. He heard the deafening collision of two mammoth bodies.
The wide receiver pulled away from the Panthers safety. Cody planted his back foot and threw the ball as hard as he could. He lost it in the stadium lights, then watched it spiral back to earth. The wide receiver and the Panthers safety together looked back over their shoulders. The Panthers safety slowed and the under thrown football drifted into his hands.
Cody collapsed to one knee. He wanted to scream to drown out the cheers from the Panthers bleachers that echoed in his football helmet.
Boomer grabbed his brother’s shoulder pads and yanked him to his feet.
“Come on, Little Bro.”
Cody tugged off his helmet. He couldn’t meet Boomer’s eyes. He felt like someone pulled a pin and all the air had left his body. He struggled to put one foot in front of the other. When he reached the sideline the flash from the camera blinded him. When his vision returned he saw Kim, the girl with the camera.
In the locker room shower, the steam was thick as fog. Cody let the cascading water mask his face and feelings. The disappointed and frustrated crash and smash of his teammates’ fists and helmets against lockers had stopped. What voices that were left were subdued and then finally silent. He dried off, then wrapped the towel around his waist. The locker room was empty except for boy-man giant sitting on the bench. Cody walked down the aisle and collapsed next to his brother.
“You’re only a sophomore,” said Boomer. “Next year you’re going to be so frigging tough.”
“You won’t be here next year.” Cody rubbed his bruised ribs. “I wanted this game so bad. I wanted us to win.” Pain and frustration coated his words, “I screwed up. If only I let the ball go a second sooner.”
Boomer’s massive hand massaged the back of Cody’s neck.
“Whoa. Where’s this coming from? How many times have I told you, you never get down on yourself?” Boomer squeezed the back of Cody’s neck and gently shook his head. “You played a great game. That’s what I’ll remember.” Boomer groaned as he pushed up from the bench. “Get dressed. Let’s get out of here.”
They walked together across the deserted high school parking lot. The fire-engine-red Ford F-150 truck gleamed under the stadium lights. Cody tossed his bag in the back of the truck then sat in the passenger seat. Boomer pulled his towel from his bag. He wiped off gravel dust that settled on the truck, his face mirrored in the shiny hood.
Boomer got in and started the truck, then pulled out of the lot. His head was round like a pumpkin, his hair cropped short, his ears seemed too small for such a large head and his nose was slightly bent from being broken more than once. When at ease, his natural expression was a slightly tilted up smile with a boyish inquisitiveness reflected in his brown eyes. He wasn’t really a giant, but at 6 foot 5 and 260 pounds, he seemed that way when he walked the high school halls.
Cody powered down the window. The cool autumn breeze couldn’t blow away his feeling of despondency, nor could the tires humming on the two-lane asphalt country road as the high school lights retreated into the background. He could still see the football falling short into the Panthers safety’s hands and hear the cheers that weren’t for him and Boomer.
Cody shook his head and mumbled, “Shit.”
“Let it go.”
Cody stuck his head out the window. The wind blew tears from his eyes.
The truck’s headlights illuminated the stop sign. Instead of turning left for home, Boomer turned right.
“Where’re you going?” asked Cody.
“You need to chill.”
The country road followed the bends of the river that led to the small town of Grand Rapids. Most of the stores lining Main Street were closed, and tonight the town seemed as subdued as Cody’s feelings. A few cars were parked in front of O’Malley’s bar, and at the Dairy Queen at the end of the block. Boomer stopped at the flashing stoplight, then drove into the darkness at the edge of town.
Boomer slowed, then turned onto the gravel road leading down to the rapids. He turned off the headlights and drove by feel, pebbles crunching under the tires.
The harvest moon bathed the rapids with ashen hues. Boomer turned off the engine. “Come on.” He didn’t wait for Cody to follow.
Cody slipped going down the steep embankment. He dug the sides of his shoes into dirt, then jumped the final few feet to the riverbank.
Boomer was already in the river jumping from one rock to the next. A large granite outcropping rose up from the water a third of the way across the river. Boomer jumped and grabbed the edge, then hauled himself up to the flat surface. He sat on the edge, then looked back at his brother.
Cody strained to see the rocks beneath the surface of the rapidly flowing water. The first time he saw Boomer go out to Buffalo Rock, he really thought his brother could walk on water. In spring, when Walleyes run, the rocks are completely submerged by melting winter snow. But in summer and fall, when the water level falls, if you knew where to look, you could see the stepping stones. He jumped to the first rock and felt cold water seep into his gym shoe. He skipped to the next one. Now both shoes were wet. A cloud passed beneath the moon and suddenly it was like he was wearing dark sunglasses. He stood still waiting for moonlight to return while listening to the river.
Boomer reached out his hand. Cody locked his hand around his brother’s forearm and Boomer lifted him up to the boulder. They sat side by side with their legs dangling over the edge. Cody fell under the spell of rippling water. The riverbanks were lined with tall trees that stood like dark silent sentinels. Beyond the rapids were islands in the stream and the distant glow of a city where the river merged with the lake. A breeze stirred and trees rustled. Cody inhaled the river’s primeval scent of mud and decaying leaves. He rested back on the boulder, cupped his hands under his head and tried to see stars through moonlight.
About the Author

Terence O’Leary was born in Chicago, Illinois, but has spent his teenage and adult life in Northwest Ohio where the varied seasons and sports provide the background for his three ‘sports as therapy’ young adult novels. A graduate of the University of Toledo with a degree in Journalism, English and Psychology, O’Leary’s critically acclaimed realistic coming-of-age stories focus on teenagers facing a family crisis. He is the author of Penalty Kick and More Than A Game.
 
 
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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, contest, Giveaway, New Adult, Sports on January 23, 2014

Podium Finish

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PodiumFinish

Synopsis

With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper’s life is pretty much perfect. She’s fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women’s Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.

For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an “all skating all the time” type of guy, which would be fine, if he’d stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner…or herself?

As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it’s that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.

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Excerpt

Harper

We finish a slow lap around the rink then I tell Rye I want to see him speed skate.

“It’s more impressive when I’m actually racing people.”

“That’s okay,” I say.

“You just want an excuse to look at my butt.”

“No. I’ll just race you then if you’re going to be like that.”

“You’ll still have a nice view of my butt.”

If I were in 100 percent health, I would have punched him in the arm and bolted off, not caring that his skates are better designed for racing, not to mention the years of experience he has, and I would have raced my heart out, but I’m not in 100 percent health. A dull ache crept its way into my knee on the second turn of our slow lap together. It’s not painful. It’s the weakness Tyler was talking about, but nevertheless, that ache is a reminder that comebacks are a multistep process.

Rye takes off, crossing his right leg over his left leg to turn the corner of the rink, picking up speed on the straights. When he passes me, a rush of wind follows him. He rounds the first turn again, fingertips brushing the surface of the ice, body at a 45-degree angle, so low to the ice that if it weren’t for his speed, he’d fall over, too much speed and he’d fall as well. I stand by the rink wall, and Rye whips by again, purposely getting close to me even though speed skaters normally try to stay as close to the inside of the track as possible.

“Show off!” I call, but he’s already coming out of the turn and probably can’t hear me.

Review

Podium Finish is a clean romance novel that had me on the edge of my seat.  The main focus of the story was several athletes and their quest to make it to the Olympics.  As I read this story, I wondered if Alex and Ace would do well in ice dancing. If Harper would make the women’s hockey team.  Plus there were trust issues between Alex and Ace.  Harper, although 17, finds love with Rye, another Olympic hopeful.

The author did a great job of making the reader feel the emotions of the characters.  As they were competing for Olympic spots, I would get nervous and wonder how they would score.  Would the ice dancers beat the others?  I definitely got caught up in the competition and hoped that it would all turn out for each individual.   To top it off, each character was either in their teens (still in high school) or not much older.  It is amazing what athletes will do for their sport!

We really enjoyed Podium Finish and give it 4 paws and recommend this book!

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Beth Pond author picAuthor Beth Pond

Beth Pond graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Hendrix College in 2012. In 2013, she taught in South Africa for 9 months as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. Pond is currently completing her coursework at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her debut novel, Podium Finish, was released from Astraea Press in November 2013. When she’s not writing, Pond enjoys martial arts (she’s a black belt) and serving as a volunteer coach for her brother’s special needs baseball team.

 

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Praise for Podium Finish

Podium Finish is unlike any other book I have read, period. It is amazing that Ms. Pond could take two very different characters who are pursuing two completely different sports and tie them together as roommates at the Olympic Training Center. ~Crystal, Books are Sanity

This is a great, fun book! This story is really 2 stories in one – bonus! ~Shelley Walker, Goodreads

This book was truly enjoyable to read. ~Michele, Amazon Review

Podium Finish is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. ~Ana, Amazon Reviewer

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 2/9/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in Medical Thriller, Sports, Spotlight, suspense on November 17, 2013

Today we welcome author Dustin Stevens to StoreyBook Reviews.  He has quite a few books out and contacted me about reading Catastrophic.  I will be reading and reviewing this book in the coming month, but wanted to highlight this book for anyone that likes suspense/thriller books that tie in sports and the medical field!  If you get a chance, check out his book!  He sent me the first chapter to share with you and I noticed that if you have a Prime account on Kindle you can borrow the book for free!

Catastrophic

 

Synopsis

College phenom running back Tyler Bentley is the ultimate success story. The son of a single mother from a wayward stretch of highway in Western Wyoming, he heads to Midwestern football powerhouse Ohio Tech and
becomes a star, MVP of the Centennial Bowl, runner-up to the Heisman Trophy.

He is also the ultimate fall from grace story when a freak play occurs, leaving his knee shattered.

Seeing an opportunity, the SynTronic medical corporation convinces Tyler to use their newly-designed KnightRunner knee replacement, promising him that he’ll be back on the field long before the upcoming season. Everything they promise comes true  up until the product malfunctions, costing Tyler his career and his  leg.

Now, leaning on the help of his one-time teacher Shane Laszlo, Tyler must take his battle from the gridiron to the courtroom. Laszlo, an Ohio Tech alum himself just a year removed from law school, has his own score  to settle with SynTronic, an incident occurring years before with repercussions  far greater than the loss of a limb.

Together, they will go into the biggest case Ohio has ever seen…

Chapter One

The law firm of Webster, Banks & Cohen, like most firms of its ilk around the county, had a well-defined hierarchy. Unlike all the others though, it assigned offices in ascending order of seniority.

The first floor was comprised of the palatial offices of Martin Webster, Jack Banks, and Howard Cohen, though they were rarely, if ever, seen in them.

The second floor was subdivided into six offices, each of them filled with the first hires of the firm forty years before. Two of the men had already retired into schedules similar to the founding members, while the other four still at least pretended to be working most days.

The third floor was split into ten offices, the second-year hires, followed by eight floors with fifteen offices each. All of those offices were filled with people that had been with the firm a minimum of twenty-five years. Every one of them still showed up a minimum of five days a week, many still working the same long hours they had when they started.

Somebody had to keep their trophy ex-wives in the lifestyles they’d grown accustomed to.

Above those eleven were fifteen more floors, all belonging to the firm. Levels twelve through twenty-four consisted of attorneys ranging from those on the cusp of making partner to those just a few years removed from law school. Grouped in teams of three to five, each one had their own receptionist and paralegal, a veritable free standing entity unto themselves.

Way up on top, the twenty-sixth floor was reserved for the rookies. Every single attorney that had ever working for Webster, Banks & Cohen started on the two-six, a fierce testing ground for new hires.

The entirety of the two-six was one large room with a tangle of desks strewn about. On their first day the new hires were assigned to a particular desk, but where they put it and how they chose to interact with the room was left up to them.

Corporate America’s truest Rorschach test.

Some angled for the windows, taking advantage of the fact that their firm was the only one in the city that didn’t bury them in the basement. Others chose the middle of the room, displaying their bravado for all to see and daring others to challenge them.

On his first day, Shane Lazlo chose the corner.

Not the one closest to the door or the one where two banks of floor-to-ceiling windows intersected, but the far corner.

As others sought out the coveted positions that first day, shoving their heavy old desks into position while wearing expensive designer suits, Shane nudged his into the darkened corner and began unpacking his bag. By the time some of his smaller coworkers had managed to post up just where they wanted, he had already read through the employee handbook and was moving on to the standard stack of first day documentation.

Cradled by dark brown brick to his rear and left, Shane positioned his desk tight against the side wall. It afforded him a good view of the room and even a decent sightline to the windows should he so choose.

Strategically speaking, it was an excellent move. On the social scale, it was closer to self-imposed exile.

That fact had failed to register with Shane the day he chose the seat. Not once in the months since had it done so either.

Most days Shane was the first person to arrive at the two-six, finding his spot in the corner long before anybody else bothered to come in. He wasn’t much of a morning person, but his preference for the quiet solitude of dawn made up for it.

Some nights, like this one, he was the last to leave as well.

Not a single light illuminated the enormous expanse of scattered desks save the small lamp on the corner of his and the laptop screen in front of him.

New Year’s Eve, a night when most people in Boston were at the North End enjoying dinner with family or at Faneuil Hall having drinks with friends, Shane sat alone in the semi-darkness. He had no family to speak of and only a few local friends, making it easy to dodge the handful of half-hearted invites tossed his way.

Not that he had much to celebrate these days anyway.

Just six months removed from law school, Shane was twenty-six years old and over a hundred thousand dollars in debt. The firm required seventy billable hours a week from him, which in actuality was more like ninety. The only person he had waiting for him at home each night was a temperamental cat.

The sadistic irony of being a twenty-six year old cat lady was not lost on him.

Ten months before, when the offer to join Banks, Webster & Cohen first came in, Shane jumped at the opportunity. The chance to practice environmental law with a renowned firm caught his interest within seconds. The chance to one day make the type of money they were telling him was possible sealed the deal.

Within weeks the new car smell of the whole thing began to wear off. By Thanksgiving the closest he’d been to the environment or big money was wandering into the Public Gardens by mistake on his way home one evening.

With a heavy sigh, Shane tossed his pen down on the desk and rocked back in his chair. He unknotted his tie and let it hang down from either side of his neck, placing his fingertips along his temples and kneading in slow, even circles. After several long moments he dropped his hands to his side, leaned forward and slid open the bottom drawer from his desk. He withdrew an ancient clock radio and plugged it into the wall behind him.

Brought it in special for the occasion, Shane adjusted the dial through a sea of static before finding what he was looking for. Clear and even, the familiar graveled voice of Ron Rickshaw floated out from the speakers, filling the desolate two-six.

“Yes sports fans, what we saw here in the first half was a performance for the ages. Ohio Tech running back Tyler Bentley, fresh off a top five finish in this year’s Heisman race, making a strong case that he should have been the one hoisting that trophy at the Yale Club three weeks ago.”

Jumping in was Rickshaw’s on-air sidekick, Ken Lucas. “It’s a shame that the folks tuning in this evening are listening on the radio instead of watching a television, Ron. I just don’t know that we can do Bentley’s performance justice. Coming out of the backfield for the Crimson Knights Bentley had rushes of 67, 45 and 38 yards, finishing the half with two hundred yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Forget the Heisman, this guy’s making a strong case that this could be his last game in a college uniform.”

“All week Bentley has been dodging questions about foregoing his senior season and turning pro,” Rickshaw said, “stating he will not address those issues until after the Centennial Bowl. I tell you from the way he’s carrying the ball right now, I can’t imagine there are too many college coaches out there that wouldn’t help him pack up his dorm room.”

“This performance comes as no surprise to Crimson Knights fans out there though, Ron. This is what he’s done pretty much all season for Coach Bob Valentine’s club. Over sixteen hundred yards on the ground, another five hundred receiving, a dozen touchdowns, he’s even passed for one and returned a kickoff for another. About the only things this kid hasn’t done yet are tear tickets and hawk programs.”

Rickshaw chuckled at the comment, his husky voice rasping out through the speakers. “Right you are Ken. Let’s take it down to the field for a moment and get the word coming out of the locker room from sideline reporter Sue Barnes. Sue?”

Shane took a long swig from a paper cup of tap water on his desk and rocked back as far as his chair would allow. He put the soles of his loafers on the corner his desk and smirked.

“Atta boy.”

Unlike his co-workers, who reminded every day him of their Ivy League pedigree, Shane was a card carrying alum of Ohio Tech University. In total he’d spent seven years on campus there, enjoying the price breaks for local students and the life that accompanies a college town during football season.

Tailgates, student sections, road trips. Shane had done everything and regretted nothing.

“Thanks Ron,” Barnes said. “I spoke with Coach Berg of the Virginia State Falcons and he said that his team had to find a way to contain Tyler Bentley. Coming into tonight they had planned to try and take away all other options for the Crimson Knights and force Bentley to beat them. Right now their plan is quite the opposite. Stop Bentley and force everyone else to beat them.

“On the opposite side, Tech Coach Bob Valentine said they have no need to change up what they’re doing. Remaining on the ground they’ve been able to control the clock and the tempo of the game while building a comfortable lead. If it’s not broke…

“Back up to you guys in the booth.”

“Thank you, Sue. With that we are all set to begin the second half. Darkness has fallen over Bill Irwin Stadium here in Miami and the temperature has dropped into the high-60’s, a perfect night for football as Virginia State kicker Drew Lenton gets ready to kick us off.

“Lenton draws back his standard eight yards and two to the side, has the referee’s whistle, and we’re under way here in the second half. Ohio Tech returner Maurice Welsh settles under it just shy of the goal-line and has a bit of a crease, returning it to about the thirty-one, make it thirty-two yard line for the Crimson Knights.”

“Knowing that Virginia State will be crowding the line and bringing eight or nine guys into the box to try and contain Bentley,” Lucas interjected, “it’ll be interesting to see if Tech tries to open it up here. Maybe catch the defense edging forward and pop a big one right off the bat.”

“First play from scrimmage Tech quarterback Nate Simmons takes the snap and drops back,” Rickshaw said, “and he finds tight end Brent Hanson over the middle. Hanson breaks one tackle before being drug town by a host of Falcons. That’s good for an eleven yard gain and a first down.”

“If Virginia State is going to commit that heavy to stopping the run,” Lucas said, “they’re going to be susceptible to that all night long. Their only hope is they can get enough pressure on Simmons to keep him off balance, otherwise this could be a very long night for the Falcons.”

Rickshaw continued with the play call, not bothering to comment on Lucas’s analysis. “First and ten from the Crimson Knight’s thirty-three. Simmons takes the snap and hands off to Bentley up the middle for a gain of seven. State was pressed up hard onto the line, but Bentley was still able to squeeze through to the second level.”

Shane finished the water, sat the cup on the desk beside his computer and checked his watch. “One more play and then back to work. I might even make it home for the fourth quarter.”

“Right now Tech has State back on its heels. The Falcons have no idea what’s coming and no way of stopping it even if they did,” Lucas announced.

“Here on second down Simmons takes the snap and pitches it out to Bentley, swinging hard around the right side,” Rickshaw said. “Nifty spin-move to avoid the first man, crosses the line of scrimmage and—

“Oh! He just got leveled at the forty!”

An audible groan from the crowd broke like a wave through the radio.

“Oh my Ken, this does not look good. Tyler Bentley went down hard and he is not getting up.”

Shane leaned forward and rested his elbows on the desk, turning the volume up a little higher and staring at the radio.

“I’m taking a look here on the replay,” Lucas said, “as State safety Harris Burton comes flying in and…” He let his voice trail off, offering a slight gasp as he sucked in a breath of air between his front teeth.

Folks,” Rickshaw said, “I know you can’t see this right now and be thankful for that. Burton almost put his helmet through the knee of Tyler Bentley. This does not look good.”

“Oh my, Ron,” Lucas said. “As you can see on the replay, it’s a legal hit. Burton works off a block and throws himself at Bentley, whose foot is planted. Boy did he take a shot right there.”

Shane slid back in the chair and rested his chin on his chest. He closed his eyes and returned his fingertips to his temples, massaging them in even circles.

“The angle that his knee is in just after Burton connects is difficult to watch folks,” Rickshaw said, a certain measure of sorrow in his voice. “Now they are calling for the stretchers.

“We can only hope this looks worse than it is.”

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About the author

I originally hale from the Midwest, growing up in the heart of farm country, and still consider it, along with West Tennessee, my co-home. Between the two, I have a firm belief that football is the greatest of all past-times, sweet tea is really the only acceptable beverage for any occasion, there is not an event on earth that either gym shorts or boots can’t be worn to, and that Dairy Queen is the best restaurant on the planet. Further, southern accents are a highly likeable feature on most everybody, English bulldogs sit atop the critter hierarchy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Saturday night spent catfishing at the lake.

Since leaving the Midwest I’ve been to college in New England, grad school in the Rockies, and lived in over a dozen different cities ranging from DC to Honolulu along the way. Each and every one of these experiences has shaped who I am at this point, a fact I hope is expressed in my writing. I have developed enormous affinity for locales and people of every size and shape, and even if I never figure out a way to properly convey them on paper, I am very much grateful for their presence in my life.

To sum it up, I asked a very good friend recently how they would describe me for something like this. Their response: “Plagued by realism and trained by experiences/education to be a pessimist, you somehow remain above all else an active dreamer.” While I can’t say those are the exact words I would choose, I can’t say they’re wrong. I travel, live in different places, try new foods, meet all kinds of different people, and above all else stay curious to a fault.

Here’s hoping it continues to provide us all with some pretty good stories.

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Posted in 4 1/2 paws, contest, fiction, Giveaway, Sports on October 22, 2013

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Tour Schedule

pitcher

The Pitcher

“I never knew I had an arm until this guy called out, “Hey you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?” I was only nine, but mom said, “come on, let’s play.” This Carney guy with no teeth and a fuming cigarette hands me five blue rubber balls and says if I throw three in the hole we win a prize. He’s grinning, because he took mom’s five bucks and figures a sucker is born every minute. That really got me, because we didn’t have any money after Fernando took off, and he only comes back to beat up mom and steal our money. So I really wanted to get mom back something, you know, for her five bucks.”

A boy with a golden arm but no money for lessons. A mother who wants to give her son his dream before she dies. A broken down World Series pitcher who cannot go on after the death of his wife. These are the elements of The Pitcher. A story of a man at the end of his dream and a boy whose dream is to make his high school baseball team. In the tradition of The Natural and The Field of Dreams, this is a mythic story about how a man and a boy meet in the crossroads of their life and find a way to go on. You will laugh and you will cry as The Pitcher and Ricky prepare for the ultimate try out of life.

Review

This is a great book!  It is about one man’s past, one boy’s dreams and a mother’s hope.  But along with those are lessons to be learned by the characters and the reader alike.  For Ricky, if you want something bad enough work for it and don’t let anyone stand in your way.  For Maria, don’t be too proud to accept help.  For the Pitcher, life could be a lot worse and don’t hide yourself away from the world.

These three main characters have a lot to learn from life and becoming involved with each other enables the characters to learn and grow and become better people.  There were times when each of the characters gave up, but another came along to push them so that they would see their value and worth.  I thought this book was motivating and is definitely worth reading!  Sometimes I thought that the story was set in the past, but it is set in modern times as evidenced by music, television and politics.

This book is a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall and well deserving of that selection.  I think everyone could learn something from this book and that isn’t something I say all the time.  We give this book 4 1/2 paws

pawprintpawprintpawprintpawprinthalfpaw

 

williamAuthor William Hazelgrove

William Hazelgrove is the best selling author of five novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways and Rocket Man and The Pitcher His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly, Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. His latest novel Rocket Man due out May 1, 2013 was chosen Book of the Year by Books and Authors.net. He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. A forthcoming novel, The Pitcher will be out Sept 1, 2013. He lives in Chicago.

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

 

 

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/27/11

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Book Blast, contest, Giveaway, Sports, Young Adult on September 17, 2013

pitcher

The Pitcher

“I never knew I had an arm until this guy called out, “Hey you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?” I was only nine, but mom said, “come on, let’s play.” This Carney guy with no teeth and a fuming cigarette hands me five blue rubber balls and says if I throw three in the hole we win a prize. He’s grinning, because he took mom’s five bucks and figures a sucker is born every minute. That really got me, because we didn’t have any money after Fernando took off, and he only comes back to beat up mom and steal our money. So I really wanted to get mom back something, you know, for her five bucks.”

A boy with a golden arm but no money for lessons. A mother who wants to give her son his dream before she dies. A broken down World Series pitcher who cannot go on after the death of his wife. These are the elements of The Pitcher. A story of a man at the end of his dream and a boy whose dream is to make his high school baseball team. In the tradition of The Natural and The Field of Dreams, this is a mythic story about how a man and a boy meet in the crossroads of their life and find a way to go on. You will laugh and you will cry as The Pitcher and Ricky prepare for the ultimate try out of life.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

 

williamAuthor William Hazelgrove

William Hazelgrove is the best selling author of five novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways and Rocket Man and The Pitcher His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly, Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. His latest novel Rocket Man due out May 1, 2013 was chosen Book of the Year by Books and Authors.net. He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. A forthcoming novel, The Pitcher will be out Sept 1, 2013. He lives in Chicago.

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

 

 

 

 

pitcher tour

Blog Tour Schedule

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 9/30/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Blog tour, Sports, Young Adult on October 31, 2012

 

Synopsis:

It’s Detroit, 1961. Fifteen-year-old Dale Wheeler, the son of an unemployed, alcoholic autoworker, has big dreams of leading his team to the City Basketball Championship.  But his dream is shattered when Dale—the co-captain and top point guard—is cut from the team to make way for the son of a big money team sponsor.

His life in a tailspin, Dale finds a helping hand in Miss Furbish, the beautiful homeroom teacher whose well-meaning kindness gradually builds into a potentially dangerous passion.  And in his lowest times, Dale gets a final shot at his dream:  A hardscrabble team of street-ballers that may have what it takes to win the City Championship.

 

Review:

 This “coming of age” novel reminds me that times have really changed.  Sure Dale’s problems are similar to what some kids go through now, but today all kids are plugged in and don’t always know what it means to work hard for something you really want.  However, it was sad to see what Dale had to endure with his life situation.  As a kid, there is only so much he can do to improve his home life.  I really felt for Dale and his situation, but at times other things didn’t seem realistic or likely.  The relationship with his homeroom teacher, Miss Furbish….at times Dale’s words with her seemed wise beyond his years, and at other times he seemed rather immature, but perhaps that was his infatuation and not realizing that what he was envisioning in his mind was not realistic.

Overall I enjoyed this story and would give it 3 1/2 paws

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