Cassian W. - Reviews

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Another Shot : How I Relived My Life in Less Than a Year
Another Shot : How I Relived My Life in Less Than a Year
Author: Joe Kita
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 5/13/2008
Helpful Score: 1


From Publishers Weekly
As he approached 40, veteran journalist Kita (Wisdom of Our Fathers) decided to revisit his greatest missed opportunities. It's a terrific conceit and, within the limits of his 20 specific regrets (from "losing my hair" to "working my life away"), Kita pulls it off with wit and aplomb. After two months of conditioning, he works out with his alma mater's high school basketball team and is told that this time he wouldn't have been cut. He and his wife attend a workshop for lovers (for which he happily paid $1,000 and would do so again before spending another $10 on a Viagra pill), allowing them to have "the best sex of our married livesand with each other, no less." They also renew their vows in a ceremony far more satisfying than their overstressed wedding. Even when his quests don't pan out, Kita finds peace: so what if he can't recover that first Camaro, or if that woman he was too shy to approach in college won't return his letter? Basically a happy guy (okay, without those elusive washboard abs), Kita doesn't often stray toward seriousness, though he laments not having said good-bye to his father, who died at 62 (and tries to revisit him via a psychic); he also takes a day trip with his Mom to try to repair some long-standing rifts. In his conclusion, Kita lists some regrets he hasn't yet pursued that might make for a deeper challenge (e.g., moving out of the valley in Southeastern Pennsylvania where he's lived all his life and becoming fluent in a foreign language). Though he achieves some heady moments of satisfaction and introspection, some readers may be left wishing that Kita, who never in his 40 years has found a hero more compelling than Jack LaLanne, had written a darker, more thoughtful book.


Baseball on the Brain
Baseball on the Brain
Author: Dennis Purdy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/25/2007


1,003 trivia challenges covering the history of baseball. There is stuff in here even the hardest-core seamhead has never thought of, let alone knows. 550 pages and brand-new copy.


Blues in the Night
Blues in the Night
Author: Rochelle Krich
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/13/2008


From an amazon.com reader: Blues in the Night is the first of Rochelle Krich's books that I have read, and it's a great place to start. This is the first in her Molly Blume thriller series. Molly writes true crime but she soon finds that deadlines aren't the only things on her agenda. A few dead people add to her days, the first being a mysterious unidentified young woman who is hit by a hit and run driver in the middle of the night.

I enjoyed how I got to know Molly and her family and friends throughout the book. Molly consistently remains faithful to her Jewish background and the author remains faithful to hers by giving us a glossary at the back of the book explaining terminology used that non-Jewish readers may not be familiar with. Blues in the Night has all the components that I love in a mystery/thriller...hooked from the first few pages, a main character that I like from the beginning who is obviously a strong person and has the ability to solve problems on her own but isn't afraid to ask for help on occasion. Molly has a loving relationship with her family, and that provides humor and tenderness. There is romance in the air, too. This is a book that from the first moment of suspense kept me reading until I had finished the book and was sorry that I had. I had to say good-bye to Molly until I read the next in the series, which will be very soon. It's already on its way. Excellent book that I love!


Brett: His Own Story
Brett: His Own Story
Author: Brett Hull, Kevin Allen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Imagine a hockey legend having a son whose skill and intensity match his own, a deadly accuracy and toughness passed on from one generation to the next. Well, imagine no longer. Brett Hull, NHL sensation and offspring of the legendary Bobby Hull, has filled his father's skates and then some, leading the NHL in goals over the last ten seasons, winning the prestigious Lady Byng trophy and the Hart trophy, and powering his way into the upper echelon of hockey stars.
Now a key member of the successful Dallas Stars, Brett tells his own story and shares his troubles and triumphs. Through all the pressure and controversy that comes with being an NHL great, he strives to stay on top of his game and to maintain an easygoing attitude. "My only game plan," he writes, "is to keep smilin' and shootin'. It's just the way I am."


Buy the Chief a Cadillac: A Novel
Buy the Chief a Cadillac: A Novel
Author: Rick Steber
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/13/2008
Helpful Score: 1


From Publisher's Weekly: In 1954, the U.S. government, under the Indian Termination Act, "incorporated" a great deal of Indian land on the Pacific coast and revoked the status of a number of tribes. Compensation came in 1961, in the form of $43,000 payments per tribe member. Spur Awardâ"winner Steber focuses, in his 27th novel, on how three Klamath brothers react to the loss and the money as they prepare to receive the latter. Rollin, called Chief, is the eldest brother; he's a violent alcoholic who puts the money straight into the bottle. Creek is a vulnerable college student who covets a red Corvette and can see little beyond that. Half-brother Pokey, who is half-white, doesn't want the money at all. As termination day nears, the liquor flows, and the local deputy sheriff gets nervous, especially after he discovers a hit list nailed to a bridge. The few whites who live on the reservation (including a vengeful storekeeper, a brutally opportunistic tavern owner and a redneck cattle rancher whose visiting daughter is writing a college paper about termination) don't help matters. There's no happy ending, just Steber's powerful, depressing portrayal of government duplicity and reservation poverty, alcoholism, anger and despair.


Chasing Destiny
Chasing Destiny
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 8/13/2008


From Publisher's Weekly: With a strong overtone of moral teaching, college football coaching legend Holtz offers a prosaic but endearing memoir. It's clear from the beginning that Holtz sees coaching as nurturing more than mere athletic achievement; it's an opportunity to mold promising student-athletes into superlative young men: "Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant." Holtz grew up in a hardscrabble West Virginia mining town in the 1940s and '50s, keeping a determinedly working-class and strictly religious attitude no matter how high he climbed as a coach. His stories of assistant and then head coaching at institutions from Ohio State to North Carolina Stateâ"as well as run-ins with big names like Bill Cowherand Bill Clintonâ"are full of funny anecdotes and neat little lessons, but they tend to blur in the mind. A standout is Holtz's long-term position at Notre Dame, of special importance not just because of his devout Catholicism but also his refreshing devotion to strict academic standards for the players. In fact, what stands out is his modesty and adamant belief that football is ultimately less important than education.


Crossing the Line : Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada's National Sport
Review Date: 3/22/2007


I've only skimmed this one, but it takes a look at how hockey indoctrinates kids and young adults with violence and how it carries over to their off-ice behavior. She takes particular aim at junior hockey, played by 15-20-year olds.


Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
Author: Robert Thorp, Raymond W. Bunker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/2/2008


Review by an amazon.com reader: This little volume of what professes to be pure history contains the exploits, along with a good many stories that probably aren't true, of the Mountain Man John Johnson. Some of these stories are almost definitely true--Johnson's battle with the twenty Crow warriors over fourteen years, for example. Still, some of these tales are more than likely fictitious, made-up accounts passed on among the last Mountain Men until Thorp stumbled upon them.

For sources, Thorp has few, and they are second or third-hand at best. Most of them were old men who were trying to remember stories or `things they'd heard' a half-century before. Even Thorp's principal source, "White-eye" Anderson, was getting most of his information third-hand. Thorp proclaims his source as impeccable, but even he can't help but include, in the course of the narrative, that White-eye had a famous capacity for "story-telling."

So why give this any stars at all? Well, it IS fun to read. A lot of these stories are just plain entertaining, and Johnson's war against the Crows is based in fact (in fact, this account is probably fairly accurate). No matter what, you can get a good look at the late Mountain Man era by reading about Johnson (and his companions') exploits. Of course, sneaking up on Indians and massacring them does get quite dull even after less than two hundred pages, so fortunately this book isn't longer.

All in all, this is an entertaining read. It isn't written very well, and the author's attempts at dialect are horrendous, but it is still a lot of fun. Just bear in mind that this little book, history though it proclaims to be, is probably as much Mountain Man myth as anything.


Dating Amy : 50 True Confessions of a Serial Dater
Dating Amy : 50 True Confessions of a Serial Dater
Author: Amy DeZellar
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 5/9/2007


From an amazon.com reader: ``I happened across this book at Barnes and Noble, sat there reading it awhile, and ended up buying it. It's not really a dating advice book, but it's maybe the only book on dating written by a female that I consider worthwhile (because it contains some worthwhile lessons, mostly unintentional). I paid special attention to the things her dates were saying to her and some of them really made me cringe. Is that really what women think when guys say/do that? It mostly helped me in what not to do but also allowed me to see the dating scene from the perspective of the type of woman I prefer to date. I've been single for years now, been married for years as well, and well, when it comes to the opposite sex, both can be a real challenge. But if you can laugh at the dating scene and yourself, it certainly doesn't hurt. When in her book she said "I'm ready to quit having fun and get married now", she was being facetious but wasn't aware of how close to the truth she really was. Everybody ought to find that out for themselves, so I guess I hope she does too. Definitely some great laughs!''


The Dog Who Rescues Cats: The True Story of Ginny
The Dog Who Rescues Cats: The True Story of Ginny
Author: Leonore Fleischer, Philip Gonzalez
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Amazon.com
This poignant canine memoir recounts the story of Ginny, a Long Island dog with a remarkable ability to seek out and rescue homeless cats. Simple but delightful, the story is narrated from the perspective of Ginny's owner, Philip Gonzalez. Badly disabled in an industrial accident, Gonzalez quickly fell into a downward spiral of despair. His saving grace arrived in the form of a small, scruffy grey dog. Ginny quickly provided Philip with a focus in life: cats--hundreds of them. Each chapter recounts Ginny's amazing rescues of helpless felines. Particularly heartwarming is the image of Ginny running across broken glass to reach a kitten in distress. As Ginny saved cats, Philip housed them, and soon his life was taken over by the creatures--many disabled or disfigured. The Dog Who Rescues Cats is packed with touching photographs of Ginny and her feline family. Included is an introduction by Cleveland Amory, noted animal enthusiast and author of The Cat Who Came for Christmas.

From School Library Journal
YA?When Philip Gonzalez, a young Vietnam vet, became disabled in an industrial accident, he didn't realize how drastically his life would change. Always fit and active, he found himself living on disability with little prospect of employment. Depressed and isolated, he finally followed a friend's advice and got a dog for companionship and to keep him from being so self-centered. Not being a dog lover, he was somewhat bewilderingly taken by a female mongrel named Ginny, who was in almost as bad shape as he. She soon became the center of his life?but the center of her life seemed to be stray cats. Soon Gonzalez was also taking in debilitated felines. While not great literature, this brief look at the author's relationship with Ginny and their raison d'etre is heartwarming and readers will soon become involved with them and their adopted cats, all of whom have distinct and winning personalities. Many YAs will think twice about cats, dogs, and handicaps after reading this book


Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods--My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine
Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods--My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine
Author: Noelle Howey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Amazon.com
If the only time you think you've seen a transsexual is on the Jerry Springer show, Noelle Howey's thoughtful, funny memoir of her suburban childhood with a cross-dressing dad may leave you wondering where all the fireworks are. The first half of Dress Codes is like anyone's story of parental neglect. "I had a dad possibly like yours," Howey explains, "sullen, sporadically hostile, frequently vacant." It was her loving mother who eventually confided her father's secret when Howey was 15, by which time it came as a relief that the remoteness, the drinking, the mood swings were not the young Noelle's fault, but the result of her father's constantly stifled "yearning for angora." Although the early chapters are interesting, Dress Codes really takes off at the halfway point, when her father realized he was not a heterosexual male transvestite, but a woman. His sexual transition, and the family's awkward adjustment to it--including the author's inability in high school to keep any secret aside from this One Big Secret--is written with warmth and insight, and colored with a lonely girl's lingering disappointment. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
In this rich memoir, Howey details not one life, but three. It's a difficult juggling act, but it pays off beautifully, for the story of her father's coming out as a male-to-female transsexual is only part of a larger narrative of growing up female in America. Howey's writing is neither sensationalistic nor condescendingly cheery; this is a loving portrait of a girl's complicated relationship to her father's femininity and her own. The author, co-editor of Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Parents, nicely juxtaposes her childhood dress-up games and clandestine sexual experimentation (she wanted to be Madonna) with her father's secret penchant for soft scarves and pumps (he dreamed of becoming Annette Funicello). As a teenager, Howey was impatient with the attention that her father's adventures always garnered and told her parents, both of whom she enjoyed a healthy relationship with, about her sex life: "It was a power maneuver on my part.... Dad kept raising the bar of what Mom and I could accept with equanimity, and I felt justified in doing the same." She is no less forthcoming about the odd celebrity status having a transsexual parent granted her at her ultra-liberal college, elevating her "above all the other upper-middle-class white chicks in thrift wear roaming the commons." Howey's candid, funny writing gives this memoir the cast of fiction, perhaps not surprising in a book honest enough to admit "we all reconstruct our lives in reverse, altering our own anecdotes and stories year after year in order to make them more congruent with our present-day selves." Agent, Karen Gerwin. (May)Forecast: Sure, there are lots of books out there on families with transgendered parents. But how many are memoirs? And how many are as funny and candid as this one? Howey's work will do splendidly.


The Evil That Men Do: FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood's Journey into the Minds of Sexual Predators
Review Date: 8/13/2008


Note: this copy doesn't have a dust jacket. From Publisher's Weekly: Michaud documents the unique career of criminologist Hazelwood, a retired member of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (little known to the public until Thomas Harris wrote The Silence of the Lambs). Hazelwood was one of the co-founders of VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program), the FBI's program to profile serial killers, with Robert Ressler and John Douglas. In the wake of books by Douglas (the bestselling Mind Hunter) and Ressler (Whoever Fights Monsters), Michaud recounts Hazelwood's career and explains his specialty?exploring the psychology and motives of sexual predators, from rapists to serial killers. Sexual crime investigation was a "scorned and degraded facet of police work" until Hazelwood transformed it into a professional discipline at the FBI. "There'd been hundreds of rape studies done," according to Hazelwood, "but no one had ever looked at serial rapists." To do so, he combed prison records of 12 states, locating 41 men who, cumulatively, had committed 837 known rapes and attempted 400 more. The book relates Hazelwood's involvement in several headline cases of both alleged and confirmed sexual crimes (Tawana Brawley in 1987, the Atlanta Child Murders that first came to light in 1979, the explosion that killed 47 aboard the USS Iowa in 1989) and the numerous accounts of unfamiliar criminals are equally, if grimly, absorbing. Michaud is most interesting when he ably summarizes Hazelwood's groundbreaking work and least interesting when he slips into simple hagiography of the dedicated lawman.


George Washington, Frontiersman (Ohio Frontier)
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Grey presents the drama of the life of young Washington: from his birth to his early surveying trips into the Ohio River Valley and the Shenandoah, to his role in General Braddock's disastrous campaign to wrest Fort Duquesne from the French, to his taking command of the Continental Army in 1775. George Washington, Frontiersman is a newly discovered American classic: one of the most popular authors of the twentieth century taking on the story of the father of our nation.


Hands to Work: The Stories of Three Families Racing the Welfare Clock
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Product Description

In this illuminating examination of our national welfare policy, award-winning veteran reporter and writer LynNell Hancock offers an intimate, heart-wrenching, and beautifully rendered portrait of three women and their families as they struggle to find their way through the new rules and regulations of the public assistance system.

Hands to Work takes us on a journey within the day-to-day struggles of these women, describing their hopes, regrets, and deepest dreams. Hancock demystifies contemporary misconceptions of poverty and illustrates how welfare policy and reform have been conceived, offering a thought-provoking look at the most divisive questions about America's neediest citizens.



About the Author

LynNell Hancock is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of journalism, where she served as director of the Prudential Fellowship for Children and the News, a program dedicated to improving media coverage of children's issues. She has been a writer and editor at Newsweek, the New York Daily News, and the Village Voice, and now contributes to US. News & World Report and Parenting. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.


The Hockey Dad Chronicles: An Indentured Parent's Season on the Rink
The Hockey Dad Chronicles: An Indentured Parent's Season on the Rink
Author: Ed Wenck
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/24/2007


Indianapolis writer and dad of a 10-year old hockey player chronicles one season with the team. Humorous look at why kids and parents put up with 6 a.m. practices, freezing temps and long drives.


Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad
Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad
Author: David Eddie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/13/2008


From Publisher's Weekly: Novelist and journalist Eddie (Chump Change) is living a dissolute bachelorhood of bohemian squalor and interchangeable "sexually forthright, non-rocket-scientific young women" when he finds the love of his life in the form of a family-minded woman. He was wary of the crimp domesticity might put in his literary aspirations, but when son Nicholas comes along, the avowedly unemployable writer decides that he was "born to be a househusband." He may stay home while his wife goes to work, but he's not entirely housebroken: he uses the corner bar and neighborhood lingerie shop as day-care centers, longs to join the glitterati, muses about divorce on a hellish family vacation, exists for long periods in a haze of boredom and sleep-deprivation and wears the indelible social stigma of the stay-at-home dad. But he derives an unsuspected degree of fulfillment in a house well-kept, a meal well-cooked and a child well-cared for, and finds that family life gives him "more sustained happiness than I ever expected to enjoy on this earth." These superbly crafted explorations of fatherhood are full of wry humor, keen observations, and hilarious, off-kilter riffs on such topics as the Teletubbies, the seduction techniques of the single man and the scientific literature of parenting. This indispensable guide to fatherhood in the post-feminist age proves that writing and child-care do indeed mix.


How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Author: Toby Young
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 8/13/2008


From Publisher's Weekly: Seemingly unable to keep from offending everyone he comes in contact with, British-born Young is a misfit in the New York publishing world. He isn't attractive (he calls himself a Philip Seymour Hoffman look-alike, but with bad teeth), he's socially inept without alcohol and, most importantly, he's consumed with the desire to "be somebody." His memoir is a hilarious and scathing insider's view of the world in which Young wishes so badly to fit. Hired by editor Graydon Carter to work at Vanity Fair ("Basically I forgot to fire Toby Young every day for two years"), Young is shocked to find that his journalist colleagues are more awed by celebrity than news and are more likely to cuddle up with publicists than with a smoke and a shot at the local watering hole. The saving grace of Young's tale of his own downward spiral is his ability to lambaste himself along with the New York publishing world. Young's crisp reading of this memoir is highly entertaining and bitter, yet guileless and funny. His hilariously screechy imitations of some of the female heavy hitters of the publishing world (such as Tina Brown and Peggy Siegal) bring out his knack for hyperbole and his boyish, prankster style.


If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails: And Other Lessons I Learned from My Mom
Review Date: 8/13/2008


âThe book offers details of her dizzying rise from dyslexic D-student growing up with nine siblings in Edgewater, NJ, to queen of Manhattan real estate.â (People) âCorcoran's humanity, humor and wisdom gently convey worthwhile lessons for those who would like to succeed on their own terms.â (Miami Herald) âA practial, funny compendium of advice that should stick with any reader.â (USA Today) âA likeable and worthwhile book, an honorable contribution with heart.â (Publishers Weekly) âPart memoir, part rough guide to business and 100 percent in-your-face glee.â (Working Mother) âThese easy-to-remember and pithy words of advice can be used by anyoneâ (Cathleen Black, president, Hearst Magazines)


Ivy League Stripper
Ivy League Stripper
Author: Heidi Mattson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 3/26/2007


Brown Univ. student strips and encounters the sordid life that goes with that job. She also battles Brown legally over issues that arise from dancing all but nude.


Jim Murray: An Autobiography
Jim Murray: An Autobiography
Author: Jim Murray
Book Type: Hardcover
  ?
Review Date: 5/13/2008


Amazon.com
Not many sportswriters are interesting enough to sustain the first sentence of a memoir let alone a full-blown autobiography, but, then, there's only one Jim Murray. The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the Los Angeles Times is an ace in a pack of deuces, a 240-yard three-wood to the heart of a postage-stamp green, a Koufax curve, a Unitas pass, an Ali shuffle, a Secretariat by 31 lengths, and a Jordan jumper at the buzzer from the top of the key. His sense of humor, exhaustive reportage, clear biases, and gorgeous prose revolutionized the very notion of the sports column; his decency and outrage--and the way he's squeezed them both into print for five decades--made him a true avatar of the press box. Yet, his life neither begins nor ends with sports, nor is it without the kinds of trials that would have easily paralyzed a lesser soul. If he writes thrillingly of his experiences on the fields of play, and insightfully about the Hollywood he played around in before being drafted by Sports Illustrated in the '50s, Murray also writes with great compassion and candor about his wife's losing battle with cancer and his own heroic toe-to-toe with blindness.
In the end, Murray wonders, "What would our lives be without our Galloping Ghosts, Manassa Maulers, Brown Bombers, Dizzies and Daffies, Rockies and Fearsome Foursomes, and Steel Curtains. They are part and parcel of the fabric of America." For several generations of fans, so is Jim Murray. This engaging memoir covers the bases of explaining why. --Jeff Silverman


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