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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

100 Book Challenge? – It Definitely Was!

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Well I set my self a lofty total of 100 books in 2012, which turned out to be a little too high. I made it to 67, but I’m still quite happy with that. I started off the year with the best intentions and I managed to keep up until about June. And then Cameron moved back from Huddersfield and I was round at his house or going out more often, and the books kind of stopped flowing (I only read one book in July). I managed to pick it up again a bit later in the year but it wasn’t enough.

I’ve really enjoyed it though, I’ve tried a lot of books this year that I would never have thought to read thanks to recommendations from awesome people, sci-fi and fantasy are two genres that I’ve never really read before but will definitely be trying again.

I saw this ‘Best of Books 2012’ survey on one of the book blogs I read, so I’ve pinched it for my challenge review.

Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
I think this comes down to two. For pure magicallity and captivation, I’d pick The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It was completely different to anything I’d ever read, but the story of little Faina was both mesmerizing and heartbreaking at the same time. In terms of hard-hitting plots and something that stuck in my head for long after I finished reading, I’d pick When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. The plot wasn’t easy to read, but extremely well written and brilliantly thought provoking.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen would definitely qualify for this. It was the first book I read this year and didn’t really set the tone right for the other 99 books I planned to read. Since I’ve read it I’ve heard a lot about Franzen and how good he is supposed to be, but I found this book way too long and I just couldn’t get any connection to the characters. I’d had high hopes for the book but it left me feeling very disappointed.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
This would definitely be Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. I was leant this book with the assurance that it was really good, but I’d never read any sci-fi before and I had no idea what to expect. But it was amazing, fast paced and full of nail biting moments that kept me gripped until the end. I’ll definitely be reading more Reynolds this year.

Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
This would probably be The Hunger Games (I, II and III). I loved it when I read it and a few people I know have also read it and enjoyed it too, including my dad who usually reads sci-fi and crime books, but loved how easy to read the trilogy was.

Best series you discovered in 2012?
This would probably be The Hunger Games too. I loved it when I read it, and the only other series I have read this year were by Charlaine Harris (Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden), which were less enthralling that I expected.

Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
I’ve discovered so many new authors this year that it’s hard to pick just a few, but I would probably say Kristin Cashore, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, S.J. Watson and Hillary Jordan.

Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
There’s two books that I would pick for this. Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Both new genres, but both completely amazing and left me definitely wanting to read more sci-fi and fantasy.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
This was definitely When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. The plot was so shocking and so different from what I’ve read before, but also so heart-wrenching that I just couldn’t put it down once I’d started reading.

Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year
Considering the length of my ‘to-be-read’ list, I don’t think I’ll be re-reading any books next year. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve got so many more books waiting for me!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
If we’re talking about favourite appearance of a book, I’d say either The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, with it’s lovely black-edged pages and beautiful artwork, or When She Woke by Hillary Jordan with it’s striking picture of a girl staring at you, combined with the bright red-edged pages.

Most memorable character in 2012?
This would have to be Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, although this is probably combined with the fact that the film has just come out too. But I loved that I got to know the character before I saw the film, whereas I’ve already got a fairly good picture of The Lord of the Rings, so when I read it earlier it won’t be my own creation.

Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Definitely The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, absolutely enchanting.

Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
This is a hard one. I’d say it was probably The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. It made me think a lot about the impact you can have on other people with even the smallest actions.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
Definitely A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’ve really got no idea why I’ve never read this before but it was great to finally read it.

Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
This would definitely be from The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom: “Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
The Longest books was Century Rain by Alistair Reynolds at 640 pages. The shortest was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at 104 pages.

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It?
Not much really springs to mind for this question, but I did have to talk to my friend straight away at the end of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, because it didn’t end how I expected it to!

Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
This would definitely be the relationship between Victoria and Grant in The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Favourite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Definitely Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris – one of my favourite authors and the latest book in the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series did not disappoint.

Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else?
Two books: Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

So that’s my 2012 reading challenge over, not quite as successfully as I hoped but I’ve discovered some amazing new authors and tried books that I never would have dreamed of trying. Next year, I’m not going to aim for a specific number, but I do have in mind a lot of books that I want to read. Some longer ones that I couldn’t read this year (like LOTR and Anna Karenina), and some classics that I want to try, like Little Women etc. I’ve got a list of the top 200 books as voted by BBC readers. The list was voted in 2003, but it contains a lot of books that I do want to try, so my aim is to fill up this list a bit. I’ve read 49 from the list so far, so lets see how far I can get!

If you had a reading challenge last year, or you’ve set yourself one this year, let me know in the comments below!

Review: Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol

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charles-dickens-a-christmas-carolI’m quite ashamed to say that I have never read this book before – the only way I actually knew this story was from watching The Muppet’s Christmas Carol film each Christmas, but I’d never actually read the proper story. Somewhat more embarrassingly, I’ve never read a single Dickens book.

I’m going to rectify that situation next year, I’ve downloaded a lot of Dickens books onto my tablet so that I can catch up on what I have most definitely missed out on. If you’re a Dickens fan and you have any suggestions for which book I should read first, leave me a comment below and let me know – I’ll happily take any suggestions!

We all know the story of A Christmas Carol so I’m not going to delve too deep into that, but it’s a brilliant tale of redemption and how it’s never too late to change our ways. What I will say is that I loved the writing. This strange Victorian world so different from ours was brought to life so vibrantly on the page that you were just drawn into the book and I couldn’t stop reading.

The main disappointment for me was that the book was so short. Before I started reading (and having never read Dickens before) I had presumed that all Dickens books were long and beastly books, but I was very pleasantly surprised that, although short, the book was such a joy to read.

If you’ve never read this book and only ever heard the story through the films, I would strongly recommend that you pick up this book and give it a try this Christmas.

4 out of 5, but only because I wish it had been longer!

4-5

Review: Olivia Goldsmith – Uptown Girl

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uptown-girl-olivia-goldsmithThis is another kindle book, read on my phone whenever I’ve had a spare few minutes. It takes quite a while to read books this way, but it’s better than the crap I would be reading if I was just checking Facebook in those spare few minutes (sorry if any of you are my Facebook friends – I don’t mean you).

This book was definitely a typical chick-lit book, although the storyline didn’t go in quite the direction I expected when I first started reading it. In my opinion, the book wasn’t particularly well written, which would have been okay if the book had a strong storyline, but I found it a bit boring to be honest. When I read chick-lit books, I enjoy them most when I can relate to the character, or if I can at least feel some kind of connection with them, but Kate seemed to be like a spoilt posh girl with too high an opinion of herself, and it really didn’t endear me to want the story to finish off in her favour. But of course, in typical chick-lit fashion, it did.

A quick overview of the story in case you were still thinking of reading the book: Kate’s a youngish woman from Brooklyn, coming from a broken childhood to make it good in Manhattan. She’s got a new set of friends (all very stereotypical characters) and a good job, and what she thinks is a great boyfriend. But then her old and new lives collide rather dramatically and there’s nothing Kate can do to stop it from unravelling.

Her best friend Bina thought she was going to be proposed to by her boyfriend Jack, but instead he ran off abroad without her. But then Kate’s friends notice that there’s a guy charmingly nicknamed ‘Dumping Billy’ who has a reputation that every girl he goes out with is proposed to straight away after he dumps them. So of course Kate’s friends create this master plan for Bina to go out with Billy so that she can win Jack back and get the ring that she has always wanted. Of course, this doesn’t seem like such a great plan when Kate realises that she has fallen for Billy, and there’s a lot of scheming and moping while Kate figures everything out.

There was a nice little twist at the end which saved the book from being too predictable, but I still don’t think I would recommend it.

1-5

Review: Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child

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eowyn-ivey-the-snow-childI almost have no words for this book, but here’s a few that spring to mind: beautiful, enchanting, haunting and captivating.

The book is set in 1920’s Alaska. Jack and Mabel moved to Alaska with the dream of setting up a cosy homestead with just the two of them, away from the constant reminders that they have remained childless. They did have a child once, many years ago, but the child was stillborn and this has haunted Mabel ever since.

Times are hard in Alaska, Jack is not a young man so it’s hard for him to tend the land, and the isolation is not good for Mabel, leading to depression and a feeling of desperation: the book starts with Mabel taking herself off to the frozen river in the hopes of falling through the ice into the blackness below.

One winter night during the first snowfall of the season, Jack and Mabel experience a rare moment of togetherness and have a snowball fight and make a beautiful little snow girl, giving her mittens and a scarf, adorning her with straw for hair and making little pink lips with berry juice. The next morning, the snow girl has disappeared, which wouldn’t be so strange, if the mittens and scarf hadn’t disappeared too.

Then, mysteriously, Jack starts to see a little girl in the forest around their house. He thinks he may be going mad until Mabel sees her too. Now during this time, Mabel and Jack have (unwillingly at first), made friends with their neighbours George and Esther and their children. When Esther hears Mabel talk about this little girl, she thinks she is going crazy with the isolation.

But after a while, Mabel and Jack manage to coax the little girl into their house, and discover that her name is Faina. She’s wild and unpredictable, but seems at one with the forest, never staying for long with Jack and Mabel before she runs off to her forest home.

The story follows Mabel, Jack, Faina and their neighbours over the next 6 years as Faina grows up and gradually becomes a daughter to Mabel and Jack. But each time winter ends and spring comes around, Faina disappears, leaving Mabel heartbroken. Mabel is reminded of an old Russian fairy tale that her father used to read to her. Needless to say this doesn’t have a good ending, and it worries Mabel, even when Faina is around, and especially when it looks like Faina is falling in love with George and Esther’s son Garrett, who has also become a great help on the farm with Jack and Mabel.

The ending of the story was beautiful and tragic, and I’m not ashamed to say it made me cry. It didn’t end quite how I expected it to, but it was a true fairy tale.

As well as being a fabulously well told story, the book portrayed a beautiful picture of the Alaskan wilderness, but also a very realistic picture of the harsh realities of the ice-cold winter and the loneliness and isolation that families in the 1920’s experienced, before they all had cars and modern technology like computers and phones to stay in contact with the rest of the world.

When I reached the end of the book, I was shocked to learn that this was a debut novel, so enthralling and perfectly written to make sure that you just can’t put it down. Definitely recommended!

5-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – Deadlocked

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charlaine-harris-deadlockedI’d somehow managed to convince myself that I’d already read this book, so every time I’ve seen it in Waterstones I’ve just ignored it. But last week I realised that I’d not actually read it yet, so I had to buy it and read it straight away – the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series is my favourite set of books.

Once again, Harris has written a book that keeps you enthralled from beginning to end, I just couldn’t put it down. Like all books by Charlaine Harris, there’s a bit of repetition at the start of the book as she re-introduces the main characters and gets you up to speed on what has already happened in the past 12 books(!). It would be good if you’d picked up this book without reading any of the others, but it does get a tad annoying when you just want to dive straight in to the story.

Speaking of stories, this one packed a punch! There’s trouble all around for Sookie, with her vampire husband Eric supposedly now betrothed to another (very powerful) vampire as the last wish of his now-deceased maker, with no apparent way of getting out of it. Then Sookie is summoned to Eric’s house to meet the vampire King Felipe of Nevada and his entourage, expecting punishment for killing Victor, regent of Louisiana. But Sookie is (without her knowledge) told to arrive late to the party, and turns up just in time to see Eric feeding off another two-natured woman, who has apparently used fairy blood to make herself irresistible. And when this woman turns up dead on Eric’s lawn a short while later, there are no shortage of suspects.

Add into this the fact that Sookie is now part owner of Merlotte’s grill, dealing with her fairy relatives living in her house, and also trying to conceal the presence of the magical Cluviel d’Or that she was left by her grandmother and she’s not having an easy time. And it all takes a big twist when she realises that her fairy cousin Claude may not be quite as loving as he may seem.

As with all of Harris’ books, the drama starts about 3 pages into the book and builds up and up and up until it finally explodes with a bang in a dramatic finale. The Cluviel d’Or (a magical object that grants the owner one wish) is used in the most unexpected way, which saves one of Sookie’s loved ones but also creates a new worry for another, who was maybe expecting that Sookie would use it for him. So the book (as usual) ends up on a bit of a cliffhanger, which is quite frustrating as the next one doesn’t come out for another 6 months!

If you like True Blood or any kind of supernatural/fantasy, then I’d really recommend this series of books – but if you’re expecting sparkly vampires like Twilight, you’ll be disappointed (or enlightened).

5-5

Review: Pittacus Lore – I Am Number Four

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wpid-photoI’d watched this film last year, ashamedly for no other reason than I liked the main actor, Alex Pettyfer. But when I watched it with my brother and my dad, I realised that I really liked it and I wanted to read the book it was based on. Admittedly it has taken me quite a while to get round to it, but I’m glad that I finally did!

The book is about a race of people from the planet Lorien. When their planet is invaded and destroyed by the Mogadorians, they send a ship with nine children to earth to wait it out and return to re-populate the planet. Unfortunately, the mogadorians have followed them to Earth and are now hunting down the nine. Before they left, one of the Loric elders put a charm on them which means that as long as they are never in the same place, they can only be killed in the correct order.

‘John Smith’, as he is currently known, finds out that number three is dead, he is number four. He’s been on the run with Henri, his cepan (guardian) since he arrived on earth, and he’s now ended up in Paradise, Ohio. He has been warned by Henri not to get too attached to a place or too close to a person, but in Paradise he meets a girl called Sarah, who he quickly falls in love with.

As luck would have it, the place he finally wants to stay is the place where it is most dangerous, the mogadorians are getting closer and putting John and his friends in danger.

Throughout the book, John is developing his Legacies, a unique set of skills that will help him in his battles. It almost looks like they won’t come through in time, but with help from Henri, he grows into the skills that he will need very shortly to save all those dear to him.

The book concludes with a 70+ page battle between John and his friends and the Mogadorian soldiers. He’s aided by the appearance of Number Six, which is a help, but also a dangerous hinderance, breaking the charm that protects the other Loriens. I won’t spoil the ending too much, but I cried, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel to tie up all the loose ends of the story.

I loved the pace of the story and the never ending (and sometimes frenetic) action that kept me turning the pages so I almost couldn’t put the book down.

But I found the ‘romance’ between John and Sarah quite distracting from the story. I can see why it was needed, but it all felt quite superificial and immature. But then with the terrible things that were happening, it was easy to forget that John is only 15. And I guess the book is really aimed at young teenagers, so the romance is aimed at that age too.

My favourite quote from the book is this:

“It’s the last thing to go, when you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope”

5-5

Review: David H. Martinez – The Book of Baseball Literacy

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the-book-of-baseball-literacy-david-h-martinezThis book was quite a change from my last one and I was undecided about whether to include it in my ‘100 books’ as it most definitely a non-fiction book rather than a novel. But, I am 25 books behind on the challenge, with no chance of making it to the end, so I guess it doesn’t harm to include it.

The book was a guide to all things baseball, including some of the basic terms (like single, double, walk-off etc), along with a great big chunk of baseball history. That’s something that I’ve never really looked into before, so I found it all very interesting. Of course, any baseball fan has heard of Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the ‘color-barrier’, but I was very interested to learn more of the history behind it and to learn more about the negro-leagues. In fact, I found it so interesting that I’ve added a few books to my Amazon wishlist in the hopes that I may get them for Christmas.

A large percentage of the book was the statistics behind the game. For example, when describing each of the more basic baseball terms, we find out about the career and individual season records for each of those things. Rather than just feeling like a list of statistics, they were integrated so well into the rest of the book that it flowed seamlessly from fact to story.

The book also contained a lot of personal opinion from the author, although he does let you know that this will be the case from the start. And I liked that, it made it more of an easy read than if it was just fact after fact after fact. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I whizzed through it in 3 days, and I’m very excited to learn more about the history of a sport that interests me so much.

I have a couple of favourite quotes from the book. The first one comes from Ford Frick when he was confronted with the rumour that the St Louis Cardinals would rather go on strike than play a game against Jackie Robinson, the league’s first coloured player.

“I don’t care if half the league strikes. Those who do will be suspended, and I do not care if it wrecks the NL for five years. This is the United States of America, and one citizen has as much right to play as another.”

My other favourite quote is from the author when describing an old team called the Cleveland Spiders, which he describes as:

“A solid if unspectacular team for its first decade of existence, featuring Hall of Famers Cy Young and Jesse Burkett, the Cleveland Spiders in 1899 reached a level of crappitude unmatched in baseball history.”

I really enjoyed this book, so I’m giving it a solid 5 stars. I’d highly recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more about baseball, baseball statistics and baseball history.

5-5

Review: Anna Sewell – Black Beauty

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This is another book read using the kindle app on my phone. I have to say that it is definitely quite useful to always have a book available, like when I had to wait in the hairdressers for ages while Vicky had her hair done. I’m still not going to back away from my real books though – sorry Cameron!

I have heard this book talked about a lot of tiblack-beauty-anna-sewellmes, and I knew that it was categorised as a children’s classic, but I actually had no idea what it would be about. I had visions of a child being givena new horse and tales of the playful things that they did together, but I was way off the mark.

The book was actually the chronicles of the life of one horse, written from the horse’s point of view. I’ve since found out that it was written by Sewell to highlight the issue of animal cruelty, in particular to horses. Apparently she wrote it for people that owned horses and said the aim of the book was to ‘induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses’. Well I hope it worked, because I don’t think I could have carried on with any of the practices that she was discouraging after I read this book (like the check rein, used to keep the horse’s head up high but that damages their neck in the process). It’s made more shocking because it’s all being told from the horse’s point of view, so it’s almost like you can feel their pain.

Black Beauty talks us through the stages of his life; born as a care-free colt on a farm with his mum, he moves a few times with varying success until he ends  up working in London with a cab driver. Even though he is first of all paired with the kindest cab driver of them all, this doesn’t last and he ends up being worked almost to death by an unkind and uncaring owner.

Thankfully the book at least ends up on a good point, with Beauty retiring to the country to a couple of lovely girls who promise never to sell him away again. I have to say I was a bit worried about how the book would end, at numerous points during the book it looks like it may not be quite such a happy ending.

I have to say, I found this book quite hard to read. Some of the things that happen in the book are pretty disturbing, and I’m glad now that I never read the book when I was younger – I’m not quite sure how it has ended up defined as a ‘children’s classic’. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think – did you read it when you were a child? Or would you let your children read it?

3-5

Review: Jane Green – The Love Verb

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jane-green-the-love-verbWell I’ve now realised why it’s a bad idea to use the back of the book to decide which book to read, as the major ‘surprise’ plot point was given away on the back of the book, even though I read almost 200 pages before it was revealed in the book. It kind of spoilt it because I spent 200 pages waiting for it to happen.

I’m going to give away spoilers now though, so if you don’t want me to spoilt the book for you in the same way, I’d stop reading now.

The book is about Callie, a happily married mum to two kids, with a sister she is very close to, and two parents that she loves (even if they haven’t loved each other since they divorced 30 years ago). As I mentioned before, the first 200 or so pages of the book were spent introducing you to all the characters and setting up the little side-stories. Callie is experiencing some headaches and dizziness, and then at Callie’s birthday, her husband raises a toast to Callie for her birthday and for hitting the 4 year all-clear mark from her treatment for breast cancer.

But while out shopping with her mum and sister, Callie gets dizzy while driving and ends up on the wrong side of the street. She is forced to go back into hospital, where her deterioration is rapid. She’s weak and losing hair and weight so quickly that it shocks everyone. Then comes the shocker that we’re not prepared for. Callie has a disease that happens to about 5% of breast cancer sufferers called Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis. The worst news – it’s untreatable. Callie has a year, tops, but worst case it could be as little as 4-6 weeks.

Cue everyone else miraculously sorting their lives out before anything bad can happen, suddenly Steffi has found the man of her dreams, Lila is pregnant and Honor and Walter (Callie’s parents) are back together again.

And then, no matter how much hope we are given that it might not happen, Callie passes away. Now I know that this may be a hard part of the story to write, but it felt kind of like a cop-out. We get one page about Callie having died, and then we skip to the epilogue one year in the future, to let us know how fine everyone’s lives have turned out. It felt like an anti-climax, after 400 pages of build up and we have a one-page conclusion and then a short epilogue written to give the story a happy-ever-after kind of feel.

I did enjoy the book, and it was genuinely heart-breaking, especially when you find out at the end that the author’s friend died age 43 from the same illness. The story of Callie is not the story of Heidi, but Jane Green wrote the book and dedicated it to her friend.

I’d give it full marks if it wasn’t for the slightly disappointing ending, but I’d definitely recommend the book if you’re not afraid of having a little cry.

4-5

Review: John Grisham – Calico Joe

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john-grisham-calico-joeWhen I saw this book on the book people, I was intrigued. I knew that Grisham was more of a legal writer – I know my dad had read a lot of his books. But the description said that it was completely different to those books, and of course the cover drew me in straight away.

Now I don’t know what his legal books are like, but this book was very emotional. The start was a little confusing with two seemingly unrelated stories running in parallel, but it quickly becomes clear how the stories are going to intercept, even while you are praying for it not to be so.

Joe Castle is a rookie phenom for the Chicago Cubs. He’s smashing records left, right and centre, hitting home runs, triples, stealing bases and inspiring the hearts of Cubs fans nationwide. He’s 8 year old Paul Tracy’s idol, Paul collects his pictures from the newspaper for his scrapbook and follows his fledgling career game by game. One fateful day in August, Castle comes up to bat against the Mets starting pitcher: a bitter, spiteful and over the hill pitcher, named Warren Tracy. Yep, that’s Paul’s father Warren Tracy. A man who only barely holds the title ‘father’, he’s abusive and distant and unfaithful.

In Castle’s first at bat, a prolonged affair with numerous foul balls, Castle hits yet another home run. As he’s rounding the bases, he gives himself a little fist bump. Nothing too fancy, and definitely not intended to show up the pitcher.

But Warren is cynical and claims to be from the ‘old school’. He doesn’t like this gesture, and decides that next time up, he’ll get his own back. Cut to the third inning and Warren throws two normal pitches. It looks like Castle may escape unscathed, but in the stands, Paul knows better. He turns to his mum and says “He’s going to hit him”. And he’s right. The next pitch, Warren throws as hard as he can, straight at Castle’s head. There’s a sound of crunching bone and Castle hits the floor. The ball hit him in the eye, missing his protective helmet and shattering his skull – a 95mph projectile to the head tends to have that effect.

Castle never recovers. His sight is damaged in that eye and the subsequent stroke that he had causes him to walk with a limp. He’s a recluse, no-one has talked to him in years, and he has spent his days as a groundskeeper for the high school baseball field in his hometown.

Meanwhile, a 38 year old Paul Tracy receives a call from his father, he’s dying from cancer. Paul hasn’t seen his dad regularly since that day 30 years ago, but he knows that there is something that he has to do. He wants to take his father to Calico Rock to meet Joe Castle and apologise for what he has always maintained was an accident. He knows that it will be a struggle to get his dad to agree, and it doesn’t go quite as planned.

I really loved this book. It was a perfect mix of thrilling baseball action and heart wrenching moments as Paul recollects the troubles from his past and the repercussions of his father’s actions.

All in all, a fantastic book, and has left me wanting to try some of his usual books.

5-5