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Reviews Written by
Charles Ashbacher (Marion, Iowa United States)

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Starting Pitcher
Starting Pitcher
by Duane Decker
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Eddie Lasky is simply a good ballplayer, April 27 2015
This review is from: Starting Pitcher (Hardcover)
I consider Duane Decker to be one of the best writers of adolescent sports fiction. Many of his books revolve around the mythical Blue Sox, with their manager Jughead (Jug) Slavin. Actual baseball legends such as Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio and Ted Williams also appear, but only as the objects of media commentary and comparison. There is a book featuring a player at each of the nine positions and this one deals with a pitcher.

Eddie Lasky is an all-star caliber shortstop on the Blue Sox team that won the pennant last year. However, in the off season, he rescued his nearly blind dog from being hit by a car and damaged his knee. The damage is permanent and it robs him of his speed, changing him from a star into a utility infielder. He starts the season on the bench and helps his replacement polish his skills until it is clear that he will not be returning to the lineup. Jug Slavin then asks him to take over the pitching of batting practice, which he does. His control is excellent, and the competitive fires still burn.

Therefore, he begins a serious attempt in converting to a pitcher, over the objections of Slavin, who points out that right now, Lasky has a spot on the team. His position as a utility infielder is secure, but if he decides to become a pitcher, then he will lose that security and will have to earn his way on the team all over again. He learns fast, before long his teammates are encouraging Slavin to give Lasky a chance at pitching. Eventually, he is given a few chances in games where the Blue Sox are well behind. He does well, but Slavin is still skeptical. Finally, he is put in a game and suddenly the Blue Sox rally to tie the score. The pressure is too much and he hits the next batter. Finally, he is about to be shipped to the minor leagues, but he is given a chance to pitch to one more batter. It turns out that Slavin has played a psychological trick on him and Lasky gives up a chance at fame to win the game.

This is a book about never being satisfied and continuing to pursue your goals, even when you have security. In the end, we all are measured by the quality of our dreams and the effort we expend in trying to achieve them. It is an excellent lesson for young people, even though some of the comments and dialogue are outdated.

Goal to go (Pilot books)
Goal to go (Pilot books)
by Mike Neigoff
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A lesson about always doing your best, even when practicing, April 26 2015
Andy is the second string quarterback on the Gregg high school football team. While very talented, he has an attitude problem. He lacks concern for his performance at practice, thinking that it really doesn’t matter as after all, “it is only just practice.” Coach Stone is one who does not condone the slightest amount of slacking, believing that one should be serious at all times and always do your very best. This puts them in conflict, and Coach Stone starts moving Andy around to different positions. He interprets this move as a demotion, and tries even harder, but only in an effort to show the coach that he made an error.
When his grades suffer, Andy is put on probation, even though the first string quarterback has surgery and is out for the season. Andy finally understands and works very hard to learn the quarterback position and to get his grades up. It all comes down to the big game at the end where the victory or defeat is up to Andy’s performance.
This is a story about hard work and dedication and secondarily about football. Young people need to understand that doing your best at all times is paramount. In the modern world, success is nearly always based on your ability to work inside a team rather than working as a loner. That is the message of this book and it is a good one.

Price: CDN$ 1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball and the real meaning of life, April 26 2015
This review is from: Highpockets (Kindle Edition)
This is a story of a selfish man altered by his love for an injured boy. Cecil (Highpockets) McCade is a rookie outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers whose primary thoughts are his batting average and other on-field accomplishments. He is not a bad person, he is a farm boy from North Carolina who wants to pay off the mortgage and help his younger siblings get an education. However, his constant thoughts only of himself turn off his teammates, coaches, fans and the sports writers.
However, while he is in a frustrated, self-absorbed mood, a boy runs into the side of his car. The boy is severely injured and although Highpockets was not responsible, he befriends the boy and helps him with his stamp collection. They become friends and this changes Highpockets into a team player. At the end, there is the predictable big game for the pennant where Highpockets makes the play that wins the game.
This book also features most of the same people that appear in the other Tunis books involving his mythical Brooklyn Dodgers. Spike and Bob Russell, Chiselbeak the clubhouse man, Roy Tucker, Razzle Nugent and Fat Stuff Foster are some of the characters that appear. Like the other Tunis books, this is a sports story filled with a deep lesson for life. No man is an island and the accolades of your teammates should matter more than personal achievement. I enjoyed it immensely.

by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
8 used & new from CDN$ 44.06

5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best SF stories ever written, April 25 2015
These are some of the best stories ever, I have read some of them at least ten times. In my opinion, the second, “Nightfall”, is the second best story that Asimov ever wrote. The remaining eleven are all in my list of the top-twenty Asimov stories of all time. “The Dead Past”, a tale about the problems that the ability to view the past would cause is one of the top five Asimov stories of all time. All entries deal with the human condition, with very little in the way of exceptional science. Many require little more than the science that we understand now.
It is interesting to note that with two exceptions, all of the stories were written before 1960. That was the golden age of science fiction, when it moved from being an isolated genre to a segment of the mainstream literature. If you are interested in the development of science fiction, these are classic stories that will never be obsolete.

Go, team, go!
Go, team, go!
by John R. Tunis
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from CDN$ 4.97

5.0 out of 5 stars A big lesson about life wrapped up in a sports tale, April 25 2015
This review is from: Go, team, go! (Hardcover)
When I was in middle school, I read every sports fiction book in the Harding Middle School and Hiawatha public libraries. This was one of my favorites and I enjoyed it just as much when I read it again. There is a lesson in this book that transcends sports, which is something that Tunis does as well as anyone.
The high school basketball team of Ridgewood, Indiana has won the state title and the players are on top of the world. However, this is a town that has its’ problems. There is a great deal of gambling going on and many citizens are betting that the team will win the state title the following year. All of the starters are back, so it seems like a good bet. Unfortunately, the team members start to believe that the rules do not apply to them. These beliefs are buoyed by the majority of the people in the town, who feed their egos. When the only real bad apple among the varsity players is disciplined, the remaining four players resign.
Rather than back down, the coach stands firm and plays his B team. At first they get shelled, but gradually they form a cohesive unit. When the school holds a pep rally in support of the new team, they catch fire and start to win.
The story is told from the perspective of Little Tom, son of the mayor and a member of the original varsity. He spends a great deal of the story feeling sorry for himself and making excuses for his bad behavior. Finally, to his credit, he goes to the coach and offers to help with the team. The coach readily accepts the help and together they coach their team deep into the state tournament. Since he was man enough to admit his mistake, his girlfriend takes him back and he rises above what he was to become a man proud of himself once again.
This story is a reminder of what seems to be lacking in sports these days, a concern for the character of the players that rises above concerns for winning. While winning is always desirable, how you play the game will almost always matter more in the long run. Tunis writes those points as well as anyone ever has, which is why I admire him so much as a writer. He teaches a very valuable lesson about life by wrapping it up in the thrill of sports.

Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations
Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations
by Michael Kölling
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 114.95
35 used & new from CDN$ 69.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a stand-alone educational tool, April 25 2015
Greenfoot is a Java-based language constructed from a set of objects with methods that can be imported into and modified in programs. In general the objects are designed to be used in simple games, demonstrations and simulations.
The goal is to teach object-oriented programming and that goal is met with one major caveat, the explanations of how the objects interact are often too abbreviated for easy comprehension. The reader has to know some basic programming, have knowledge of the programming basics such as function calls, the role of variables and what kind of data they contain and what it means for a function to be “void” or return a value.
For example, inheritance is a complex concept, far more nuanced than it appears in this book. Constructors and object passing via the this pointer are not simple concepts. Finally, some of the screenshots of class descriptions are often unreadable.
This is a book that can be used to teach the basics of object-oriented programming where the reader can really have some fun while learning. However, it is not an effective stand-alone educational device and a knowledgeable instructor will make the life of the user far more productive. . There is a reason why Java textbooks are hundreds of pages long, all of that is needed if you are going to use and understand the full power of the language.

Grand-Slam Kid
Grand-Slam Kid
by Duane Decker
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from CDN$ 24.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Success often comes from contributing, not starring, April 25 2015
This review is from: Grand-Slam Kid (Hardcover)
Bucky O’Brian is a catcher who appears headed for a spot in the big leagues. Pete Gibbs, the regular catcher, is too old to play every day and the Blue Sox are looking for a replacement. Although Bucky is an excellent hitter, he is still unpolished when behind the plate, so Gibbs becomes Bucky’s tutor. Bucky becomes an immediate media sensation when he hits a grand slam in his first at bat. Not only does it win the game; it also clinches the pennant for the Blue Sox in the last game of the season.
Unfortunately, Bucky now believes that he must hit a home run each time he comes to the plate, so shortly into the next season, he is batting a mere .209 and is hearing boos from the home crowd. Things get progressively worse, as he swings away and makes an out when he is ordered to bunt. This happens more than once and it is devastating when he fails to bunt in a critical situation and costs his best friend a no-hitter. Eventually, Bucky learns to be more concerned about winning games rather than with his image as a home run hitter.
Duane Decker is one of the best writers of juvenile sports fiction, where his main character also teaches a lesson in personal character. In this case, the lesson is about winning by contributing rather than winning by glorious personal action. This is something that is not taught as much as it used to be.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Space Between
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Space Between
by David Tischman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.52
20 used & new from CDN$ 2.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Major flaws in what had a lot of potential, April 25 2015
While this graphic novel has the natural appeal of being Star Trek, it has some flaws. The primary one is that while the story segments are supposed to be sequential and connected, it is difficult to see any thread of similarity. Furthermore, the final segment ends in a way that has many aspects of the “an unexplained moment of magic” plot device. There is a major crisis followed by an almost immediate “all’s well.”
Secondly, I found the artwork to be less than stellar for my tastes. The coloration has a washed out appearance, for example in the second segment Picard is in a lush tropical environment and the green foliage is very dull. The shading, especially on the faces, is often much darker than it should have been. This book had a lot of promise, but there are significant weaknesses.

Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha GOLD 30g - USDA, KOSHER Premium from Japan, Sweet Earthy Flavors (30g)
Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha GOLD 30g - USDA, KOSHER Premium from Japan, Sweet Earthy Flavors (30g)
Offered by Life & Food
Price: CDN$ 40.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A taste that you should acquire, April 25 2015
As a longtime drinker of green tea, I found Matcha tea to be an acquired taste. The first few times I drank it, I found it unappealing. However, not one to easily dismiss a new flavor of tea I used my spoon to remove the froth on the top before drinking it. This dramatically improved the taste, I don’t think it was necessarily how the foam tasted but the texture.
This tea is in powder form and is certified organic, gluten and GMO free. It is the premium form imported from Japan and is suitable for the tea ceremony. Green tea has long been known to be high in antioxidants and Matcha tea has a higher level than standard green tea.
If you are new to Matcha tea I would suggest that you do what I did if at first you find it unappealing. After reading the suggestion I tried adding a bit of honey and that also worked very well. The potential health benefits are significant enough that you should be persistent in drinking it until you find a form you like.

This item was made available for free for review purposes.

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: Power Pack!: Sell More Books on Amazon - Get More Reviews on Amazon
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: Power Pack!: Sell More Books on Amazon - Get More Reviews on Amazon
by Penny C. Sansevieri
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.75
2 used & new from CDN$ 8.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable tips for the novice independent author, April 24 2015
In many ways the answer to the question, “How do I sell a lot of books on Amazon?” is similar to the answer to the old joke question “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer to the latter is “Practice, practice, practice” and the answer to the former is “Write a great book!”
There is one reality that the author barely mentions and that is to sell a lot of books you have to have created something people want to buy. Absent that, even the most expertly run publicity campaign will not get you to the goals you have set.
Having said that, let’s continue on the assumption that you do in fact have a quality book. If that is the case, then this book will provide considerable aid. That is in fact what the author has done. The novice indie author knows very little about how to do things, the skills that allow you to create a good book are of little help in navigating your way through the overall pathways of the Amazon maze.
None of what you can do is really all that hard, Amazon makes most author operations rather easy, even for the novice. However, doing things like the proper selection of keywords, adding an author page and making respectable contact with quality reviewers is more an art that it is an algorithm. I am both a high ranked reviewer as well as an independent author and most of my education has been “on the job” rather than from consultation with an experienced person.
If you are an independent author, you will find this book very helpful. There was nothing new to me, but if I had read this book some time ago I would have avoided a few significant missteps as I entered the world of being an indie author. Generating publicity is hard and this book will help.

This book was made available for free for review purposes.

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