Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who's excited?

We are!  We're excited to introduce our new (so sparkly, so shiny, so pretty!) book blog!  Never fear, we're not abandoning our semi-regular set up here at The Family Addiction.  We're just adding on.  Cause, you know, it's an addiction.

The new blog can be found here at BeTween Books.  It's focus will be that in-between stage, where one might not be ready to tackle Charlaine Harris or Voltaire (I hear they get compared a lot), but is sooooo over (insert pre-pubescent/adolescent eye roll and disdain) beginning-to-read chapter books.  That time of life when you're done with primers but aren't allowed to watch all of prime time....the tween stage.  So if you have your own children in that stage, or you buy books for someone else's children in that stage, or you ARE a child young adult in that stage, check out the reviews to help you find great books.

For this endeavor, we recruited a friend of the family.  She is also a voracious reader and has two boys that she's leading down the same wonderful path.  Carrie, Amy and I will also be posting, but Chanin is starting us off today with a review of The Undrowned Child.  Chanin's awesome, the review is great, and we're really excited!  Can you tell?!  So stop on over there and sign up so you don't miss any of the reviews.  Happy reading!
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Sarah's Top Five for The Family Addiction

I have a tendency to get swept up in the books I read.  The phone gets ignored.  Dishes linger (unsanitarily) in the sink.  The dog has to whine for 45 minutes straight before I let him out.  All of which would be fine; everything gets done eventually.  Except for the part where I forget I have two small children in the house with me.....yeah, that can get a little troublesome.  Regardless, I love to read and I love to talk about what I read.  Amy and Carrie love it too.  So we hope you've enjoyed our year of reviewing the books that have come into our lives.  Somehow we got pretty swept up in writing about the books we got swept up in, and now it's our blogiversary.  So we thought we'd each recap our five favorite books that we've reviewed, just in case you missed any of them.  We've also added a store (look up top! it's right there! awesome! I know!) to help you find any of the books we've reviewed.  Feel free to look around in there!  And if you read one of the books we've reviewed, please comment on the review so we can hear your take on it.  I can't tell you how excited we get when we get comments.  It's just shy of ridiculous how much happiness comment induce for us.

Oh!  And before I forget, which I already did, like, three weeks ago (thanks Aunt Barb for the facebook reminder!), congratulations to Rebecca!  She scored Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer AND (because she didn't care that it had been to Afghanistan and back) ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun.  Thanks for reading and commenting Rebecca!

My Top Five of the Year
I reviewed 28 books this year:  4 were non-fiction and 3 are considered children's storybooks/literature.  Which means the vast majority of the books I read and review are fiction. Most of those are of the literature variety (she says with her nose in the air and her most disdainful of voices).  I don't read much romance unless Carrie thinks I'll like it.  I don't read police procedurals because I'd rather watch Law & Order.  And I still haven't read The Hunger Games (I know, I know, Amy.  I will.  Probably.  Eventually.) because I think it's a horrible concept and I've already read Stephen King's "The Long Walk" and "The Running Man" and honestly THG just seems like a mash-up of those two stories.  So I'm kind of the stick-in-the-mud around here, but surely there are others like me.  Right? Hello? Anyone?  Well, anyway, here are my top five and I swear to you they're all wonderful and magical in their own ways.

5.The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
This one has some romance, so I bet you can guess who introduced me to the author!  It's sweet, whimsical, and a little bit of magic.  Some friendships are exactly what you need when you need them, and some friendships are even more than that.  Read this one and then read Ms. Allen's others.  They're all good.

4.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Heartbreaking and beautiful.  If you've ever wondered how civil unrest and wars are (sometimes) started in Africa, this is a good place to get an idea of how it happens.  It's a work of fiction, but true to the state of affairs in regards to refugees and immigration issues.  The story feels real and the language is poetic.  It has been months since I read it yet some of the language runs through my mind daily.

3.  And Another Eoin Colfer
This is not my favorite Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy book.  However, it's a good one and I was SO excited to see that they were continuing the series.  Then I was even MORE excited to see that Eoin Colfer was writing it.  If you're a fan of Arthur, Ford, Trillian, Zaphod, and Random then you should read this.  After you find your towel, of course.

2.  City of Thieves by David Benioff
I loved the story.  I have no idea how true any of it is.  Well, except I know how crushing the conditions were in Leningrad during the 900 day siege (1941-1944) as it's estimated 632,000 Russians died during that time.  This could be a Russian Band of Brothers, unlikely friendships develop and you see both the horrors of war and the absurdities as well.  It's about survival, courage for the coward-prone, and love in the midst of madness.

1.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
By far and away my favorite book of this past year.  It was unexpected.  I thought I would like it well enough, but I really got myself wrapped up in the characters and the imagery of the circus itself.  I was sad when it ended, and not because it's a sad book (it's not really) but because I wanted it to continue.  That, I feel, is the mark of a good read; when you're left wanting more.  I immediately forced it on my mother who then forced it on her book club.  Then my mother hosted her book club and I had approximately 5,000 ideas for theme and decor.  All because I can't get some of that wonderful out of my head.  Read this book and we'll run away and join the circus together!

That's it for me.  Amy and Carrie will be chiming in with their own "Top Fives" so don't miss those!  What's your favorite book of the year?   Pin It

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spencerville by Nelson DeMille

Has anyone seen this phone?
My poor neighbor, Tami.   Her phone was stolen yesterday.  When she is out and about today doing all of the things that us awesome moms do, she will be without her phone.  How will she find out if Jason Varitek shows up to training camp?  What if there is a last minute Hanna Andersson coupon emailed to her?  To make matters worse, she won't be able to read this post and bask in the glory that she once again recommended a winner.  Sadly, she'll have to wait until she is home tonight and the kids are in bed to pull this up on her home computer.  Maybe by then the culprits will have returned the phone.  Or maybe not...

Either way, Tami gets the "cool neighbor" award for turning me on to  Spencerville.  I believe the interaction went something like this:

*Knock on my 1950's Army-issue brown screen door
Me:  Come in.
Tami:  Hey.  Have you read the book Spencerville?
Me:  No, should I?
Tami:  Ya. (heavy Boston accent way of saying yeah) You totally should. I don't know if it's good or not, but you should read it and tell me if I should read it.
Me: Cool, thanks.
Tami:  So, are we having a firepit tonight?
Me:  Yes.  How much wine do you have?

Let's just say that we like our books here on this street, but we like our wine just as much.  And our coffee, too.  But that's another story.  

The cover looks spooky, but the book is not.  At all.
Now, on to the review.  I knew I was going to like Spencerville from the start.  The main character Keith Landry is an ex-military type that has recently retired and moved back to his hometown. He is fixing up his boyhood home while his parents are soaking up the rays in Florida, and not much has changed since he left 25 years before.  Oh, except his ex-girlfriend and first true love is now married to his arch nemesis who just so happens to be the town sheriff.  Spencerville has some police action, some small town drama, a military man and some romance.  What's not to like? 

So, what specifically was the draw for me?  The characters.  Keith has just retired after a full military career.  After Vietnam he served the government in a more "covert" capacity until his 20 years were up.  Now that he is officially a civilian, Keith isn't really sure what he wants to do and finds himself in Spencerville.  I think he knew all along he would end up there, if for nothing else to see Annie one last time.  I will admit, I loved that part about him.  He never stopped loving her and it was her letters that got him through some of the roughest parts of his tours in Vietnam.  So, to recap:  Keith dutifully served his country for 20 years and never stopped loving his first girlfriend.  Can we just clone him, please? 

And then there is Annie.  Not wanting to hold Keith back from his career aspirations of serving his country she stepped back and they drifted apart.  She eventually married Cliff (the bully of a town sheriff) and they had two children.  By the time Keith returns the children are off to college and Annie is stuck in a now increasingly abusive marriage.  As the wife of the possessive town sheriff she has no freedom and has literally become a prisoner in her hometown.  At first I was annoyed with Annie because I wanted her to stand up for herself and GET.OUT. (Truth be told, I really wanted her to not have let Keith go to war without being her husband, but that is just the Army wife in me getting in the way).   But the poor girl just didn't know how.  Right when she is on the cusp of figuring things out, Keith shows up and it is like the stars align and kitty cats are dancing on rainbows.  Yes, that's right.  Kitty cats on rainbows.  I'll spare you the picture.  You're welcome.

But it couldn't be that simple and by the amount of pages I had left in the book, I knew it wasn't going to be that simple.  The last 150 pages or so were intense and a bit gruesome.  I had the feeling of dread and doom the whole time and just wanted it to be over. But, I couldn't put the book down even though I wanted to put it down just in case something bad was going to ruin their happy ending.  Does that make sense? I wanted Keith and Annie together and back to doing what they do best; loving each other.  I wanted Cliff gone and not in a police uniform anymore. I wanted peace for Spencerville.  I wanted the happy ending!

Did I get the happy ending?  I'm not telling.  You'll have to read it for yourself to find out. You'll also have to check here to see if Tami gets her phone back.  That is a happy ending I hope I do get to tell. Pin It

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (Review & Giveaway)

At the end of January, online friend Deborah Blake hosted author Alex Bledsoe on her blog, Writing the Witchy Way.  He spoke about finding time to write when you're a stay-at-home parent.  (Geez, the mind boggles.)  Deb reciprocated by explaining the concept of maladaptive inertia to Alex's readers.  Both posts are good reads, and I would get all cute and ask you to read them while I wait for you to come back to this post. EXCEPT. I. CAN'T. WAIT. THAT. LONG.

Do not look away. Finish this post.
Click through on the links later.
Read them later.  (Seriously, it's good stuff.)

Right now, at this very moment, I need to introduce you to the best thing I learned from Deb's and Alex's posts; I need to introduce you to Eddie LaCrosse and The Sword-Edged Blonde.

You're going to be so glad I did.

See, Eddie is tough guy, a sword for hire.  Living in a place that feels a little bit Medieval Times and a little bit Tombstone, Eddie makes a living by his wits, by his word, by his weapon.  I don't want to date Eddie, and I really don't want to be Eddie, but I would love to have a guy like Eddie at my back.  When you're in a pinch, and you need someone discreet to straighten out your mess, Eddie is your guy. He's a little bit Sam Spade, little bit Harry Dresden, and whole lot of Easy Rawlins.*

*If you're unfamiliar with any of these three, we can talk later.

At this point in his life, Eddie has his own code of dos and don'ts (like those other three), and he sticks to it even when it gets awkward.  Eddie gets the job done. In The Sword-Edged Blonde, the job is to find out what happened to his best friend's wife and infant child on the night everyone thinks the wife went crazy and murdered the boy.  The fact that Eddie's best friend commands his own kingdom and hasn't spoken to Eddie in years makes the situation trickier, but it doesn't change Eddie's code. The fact that the wife doesn't remember that night nor anything that happened before the day she met the king makes things interesting, but not nearly as interesting as Eddie's belief that he's met the woman before.

This book is for the tough guy in all of us.
The Sword-Edged Blonde takes Eddie on an adventure- and memory-packed journey to find the truth about that night.  You'll find out how a guy with Eddie's sordid past becomes friends with a king, and you'll be reminded that we're often the last ones to offer ourselves forgiveness.  It's Eddie's sordid past that makes me call this book western noir. The noir part is right.  Eddie is hard-boiled. He hasn't forgiven himself, but the western part is a bit odd because everyone else calls it sword-and-sorcery fantasy. I just can't shake the feeling that Eddie would fit right in during the shootout at the OK Corral. (Once, of course, he traded in his sword for a revolver.)  I'd say western noir is for anyone who likes the idea of frontier justice, the sanctity of friends, and never letting yourself off the hook.

So, I really, really liked this book, and I want to thank Deb for introducing me to Alex's work by paying it forward.  I have a paperback copy of The Sword-Edged Blonde to give away.

Yay, free book!  Free GOOD book!

How do you make this possible?  It's as simple as a few clicks of the mouse and familiarizing yourself with all our social media efforts!  (Check out all those pretty buttons and options up there on the right.)  You can enter up to four times.  Please provide your e-mail address at least once.

1.  Follow our blog.  You'll see the word "Followers" on the upper right of the blog, and if you haven't followed yet that's where you can get started.  Once you have become an official follower, or if you already were a follower, leave a comment on this post saying you follow The Family Addiction.  Please leave your email address in the comment as well so we can contact you if you win.  To reduce the likelihood of spam or scams, use this format: youremailaddress(at)youremailservice(dot)com.  As an example, thefamilyaddiction(at)gmail(dot)com.

2.  Doing that is one entry.  For another entry, Like our Facebook page.  Then leave a comment that you're an official Liker along with your email address.

3. Follow us on Twitter and leave a comment telling us you do.

4. Follow us on Pinterest and leave a comment telling us you do.  (Need a Pinterest invite?  We can make that happen!)

5.  That's four entries if you did all that by Wednesday, February 22, midnight CST!  We'll randomly select from the entries that are there by Wednesday, February 22, midnight CST and notify a lucky Follower/Liker/Commenter by email.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Ellis Island Interviews by Peter Morton Coan

Once upon a time, I was a student of history. Or, as many of my professors felt, a student of History. It's very important you see. After all, you can't know where you're going if you have no idea where you've been. What I loved most about learning history in college (besides the theatrics of my teachers that is) was all of the primary sources. In high school, you read from the textbook and sometimes from a novel to emphasize a time period, but rarely do you get to read articles, interviews, advertisements, government decrees and rulings, diaries, full speech texts, and the like. And that's where the good stuff is. All the imperfections and everyday struggles, the triumphs and tragedies, the biases, the yearning for something better, the soap opera that is the making of a people's history: that's what you get when you look at primary sources. So after that once upon a time when I was a student, I became a teacher. And made my students read the textbook. But I also made them read primary sources. What I found was that most of my students didn't share my passion for History, but they all liked a story told in first person. They liked gossip. So even though I've been past those once upon a times for more a little over four years now, I still can't turn down a good (true-to-the-teller) story told in the first person. And that's what you'll find in this book.

This is a collection of interviews of immigrants and federal employees, all connected through Ellis Island. For 62 years (1892-1954), the Golden Door was the headquarters for Immigration and Naturalization Services for the New York area. During that time the INS processed more than 12 million immigrants, setting the stage for a diverse United State of America. Just imagine the how crazy every day at work must have been for the employees, as they processed hundreds of people speaking different languages, many of whom would have been on solid ground for the first time in weeks.  The facility is now part of the National Park Service and its vast number of buildings have been partially restored. It's a place I hope to visit sometime. To walk in the footsteps of the millions who left everything behind to seek a different, hopefully better and prosperous, life here in America. Not to get too grandiose, but these are people that made a leap of faith that spanned continents and oceans and Ellis Island would be their first look at their landing point; pretty cool, in my dorky opinion.

This book provides a brief history of how the island became the portal to America and then presents the interviews in chapters divided by nationality, along with a chapter for employees. There are a number of photographs and drawings as well as some transcripts of the "investigation" of some immigrants (including Bella Lugosi who did not mention anything about sucking blood or changing into a bat at any point during his interview). The book is well organized and laid out so it's easy to pick and choose chapters of specific interviews if you don't want to read them all, but once you start it's hard to stop. One of my favorite interviews was that of Dr. James Baker who served as the psychiatrist on the island for two years. He describes some of the treatments they used on "excited" immigrants who had been sent to him for further consideration. Hydrotherapy, electro-shock, lobotomies....they apparently did it all there. Also Leslie Townes, who was five when his family emigrated, discusses how he later saw Ellis Island and thought "thanks for the memory." Turned out to be a pretty good thought for Leslie Townes, better known as Bob Hope. There's an interview of three siblings (with some very awesome sibling interjections) from Poland who mostly remember being detained for six weeks due to ringworm and that they learned to speak English in less than two months after they arrived. All walks of life from all over the globe were interviewed for this book, making it full of gossip and good stories. If you're into that sort of thing.

 PS for Natalie: Baron von Trapp came to America through Ellis Island in 1938. So now you know they made it through the mountains. :) Pin It

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman (PLUS your chance to win!)

Switch gears with me, will you?  I love sports and I love books about sports but I haven't read any in the recent past.  I have read some non-fiction, but it was about Khost, Afghanistan which is too depressing for Valentine's Day.  I'm currently reading a book with my daughter (as in, we are sharing it, which is complicated so don't ask) but I am not finished yet, so I cannot review it.  So for now, you all are stuck with a fiction review of a book that I didn't really like. Bummer.  But, I'm going to make it up to you.  I promise.

You may remember that I reviewed another Laura Lippman book last May.  If not, you can refamiliarize yourself with it here. In that instance, I sort of stumbled upon the book while looking for a gift.  This time, I went looking for another Lippman novel and chose this on purpose.  The fact that it was based on a true story immediately caught my attention. The jacket description describes a single novelist with diverse middle-class Baltimore upbringing.  Hoping to regain her standing in the non-fiction world, Cassandra Fallows returns to her roots and starts investigating a former classmate that was accused of murdering her young child.  Cassandra is confident that this story will be a best seller and decides to delve into her past and the pasts of those that were closest to her.  Not everyone is thrilled she has started digging though, and she is met with some major challenges. Those challenges make up the meat of the book, so I'll stop right there. 

I really wanted to like this book. Life Sentences has everything I like.  Some mystery.  Some crime.  Some colorful characters.  And it's set in Baltimore...a hop, skip and a jump from where I live.  I should have liked it, but I didn't.  There are a few reasons worth mentioning, so I'll start with the biggest.   My main problem was with Cassandra.  I just DID NOT like her.  And from what I've read in other reviews about this book, most people felt the same way.  Like most other reviewers I felt that Cassandra was a smart girl, but a tad morally corrupt.  For example, she starts an affair with another woman's husband. That husband also happens to be the lawyer who is defending/defended another woman who is accused of murdering her infant son.  Oh, and did I mention that both of those women were her BFF's in high school?  Who does that?  I understand the need for authors to use some elements of betrayal in their story lines, but in this case it drove a rift between me and the main character.  Or maybe I'm just old fashioned.  Either way, I didn't like her which was a major contributing factor to me not liking the book.

Another sticking point for me was that the plot seemed "muddled."  Was Ms. Lippman trying to address race as an issue in this novel or the class system in Baltimore?  Or maybe she meant to explore the world of political corruption?  I couldn't tell and it confused me.  I felt like she was trying to tackle too many things with this book and it got tiresome.  A good effort, but she should have stuck with one main theme and let that be the star of the show.  Instead, she tried too hard and it left me feeling disconnected.

The good thing is that I REALLY liked the first book of hers that I reviewed and there are way more of that genre by Ms. Lippman.  And I really liked the main character in that one too.  Tess Monaghan is a smidge more wholesome and has some more exciting adventures to boot.  I think I'll stick to those.  Or maybe I should try a sports book, instead.  Anyone have one I can borrow?

**And now for the good part.  Remember when I said I would make it up to you?  Well, here it is! It's Valentine's Day and we here at The Family Addiction want to share some love.  Book love, that is.  So in honor of Valentine's Day and February being the 1st anniversary of The Family Addiction we are doing another giveaway!  This time, we're giving away the Hunger Games trilogy to one lucky fan.  That's right...the TRILOGY!  I you haven't read these books, they are fantastic.  Don't believe me?  Read my reviews of them here.  To win, simply leave a comment on this post. You have until Thursday at midnight (EST) to register.  Good luck and happy reading!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey

Wanna hear something awesome?

Pitchers and catchers report on February 18.*

I know.  It makes you giggle, doesn't it?**  I don't care if that groundhog tangoed with his shadow, Spring Training is around the corner, and THAT means spring is on the way.***

*For the St. Louis Cardinals, that is.  Not every team starts on the same day.  Check out the schedules here.

**Actually, based on the number of you that commented on the last post that sports = guy stuff, you may not be giggling.  You may not even care. It's okay.  I still love you.  I may not understand you, but we can still be friends.

***Yes, yes, winter hasn't really been that bad.  I don't care.  I'm ready for spring and Spring Training.

My precious . . . I mean, the Commissioner's Trophy

Look at the shiny, pretty, precious trophy.  It's actually coming to a cell phone store near me!! For realz!!!  I, I, um. . . actually, maybe my exclamation points and I should have a moment to ourselves.

(deep breath)

Where was I?  Right. Spring Training is right around the corner, and while my baseball team won't look exactly like it did this time last year****, that's okay because a new season is a fresh start.   During Spring Training, the post-season is still every team's dream.  Every pitcher still has a chance for a shut-out; every catcher has a chance to throw out that sneaky baserunner. Every batter has a chance to hit like The Man, Stan Musial (career .331 batting average, 475 HR, 1951 RBI.)

****No. We're not going to talk about that here.  We're going to talk about the real Man.

Stan is known for his stance.

Stan Musial is arguably the best player to ever wear a Cardinal uniform.  He is arguably one of the best players to wear any baseball uniform, frequently spoken of as part of the Big Three (Musial, DiMaggio, and Williams).  In Stan Musial: An American Life, George Vecsey argues those cases well. For Stan Musial, the usual Spring Training dreams of position players--hitting well, winning pennants, and being chosen as an All-Star--were a reality for most of 22 seasons.  In addition to being amazing on the diamond, Stan is generally referred to gentleman off the diamond and a savvy businessman.  Would that all professional athletes had his commitment to his wife, his soft touch with fans, and his foresight to earn money in non-athletic pursuits.  We'd have a lot more role models in professional sports if they did.

In fact, Stan Musial: An American Life almost seems too good to be true.  The stories told, though, are consistent with what was said about Stan when he was an active player and when he was an active businessman.  The only real complaints to be found about Stan seem to be that he wasn't omnipotent.  If his teammates were looking for a political leader who would use his weight to address the social inequalities of his time, they were looking in the wrong place.  Stan wasn't the kind of teammate to chase confrontation.  If his hometown was looking for someone to save a small town in the Rust Belt, they were looking in the wrong place.  Stan was known to be generous on an individual basis, but he never formed a foundation that makes major donations for hospital wings and children's libraries.

So it seems that Stan wasn't perfect, but as man he was very, very good, and as a player he was great.  I'll take that, and I'll take George Vecsey's collection of Stanley anecdotes to carry me over until the baseball season really begins.  I liked this glimpse into the history of baseball (Musial's career spanned racial integration and union formation) and the history Stan (his upbringing, his playing days, and his relationships).

For a St. Louis Cardinals fan, this is a must read.  For a true fan of baseball, this is a must read. For all of us, it's a great lesson of a life of meaning and value.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

FREE BOOK! and Those Guys Have All the Fun by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

So it seems we've been blogging on our itty bitty book blog for about a year now.  My how quickly the pages turn!  It makes us feel like we should celebrate so this month each one of us is giving a book away.  And I'm going to start!  But before we get to the free book, how 'bout I review one?  Mmkay? Okay.

I'm not going to lie or try to dress this up.  I read this for the gossip.  It's huge (745 pages) much like the network it tracks from an idea by an out-of-work father and son to the sprawling multi-national mega-corporation it is now.  Even if you're not into sports, I bet you'd know what you can find on ESPN (Which they used to refer to as E.S.P. Network.  Which I find amusing.).  The book is easy to read despite its ability to kill an entire colony of ants in one fell swoop.  It reads like a documentary; the name of the speaker is given and then large amounts of direct quotes.  It's clear that the authors shaped and edited the content (as in didn't put a Mark Shapiro quote about the show PTI in the section discussing the initial funding for the network), but the entire book is 90% direct quotes from what must have been thousands of hours of interviews.  A lot of time and work went into the making of this book, but fortunately it won't take you as long to read it.

What brought me to this book is my love of Dan Patrick.  He is unaware of our relationship, but we're boyfriend/girlfriend.  I listen or watch his show exclusively now, so it's pretty serious.  His split from ESPN (where he was part of what I consider to be the greatestSportsCenter duo ever) was acrimonious to say the least, so when the book came out I wanted to read up on all the gossip I could.  There is plenty of information here, but the breadth of the subject is so wide that it doesn't focus nearly enough on my boyfriend.  Of course, I could be biased.  Overall, the book casts a positive tone; choosing to regard ESPN as a competitive entity in the sports information world.  Which is certainly is. There are people who feel that ESPN is too powerful and has too much sway in certain sports and media circles, but the book doesn't really get into that in great detail.  Regardless of that, if you're looking for information about this gigantic, 24-hour, sports-fueled machine called ESPN, then look no further.

Here are some things I learned:
1.  Dick Vitale, Bob Ley, and Chris Berman all joined ESPN within the first year (1979 ish) and all are still with the company.
2.  The infamous promos for SportsCenter, all ending with the tag-line "This is SportsCenter", developed from one of many skirmishes between Keith Olbermann and the management.
3.  We have ESPN to thank for the NFL Draft being as annoying as it is.  It was their idea to televise it starting in 1980.
4.  Denise Austin used to have air-time on ESPN.  They made her acquire her own sponsor, she produced her own exercise show, and now she's an aerobics legend.
5.  If it weren't for the NCAA wanting a place for its basketball tournament and Getty family money being at the discretion of a guy who liked sports and off-beat ideas, then we'd still be getting sports information from our local news.
6.  For my brother:  In 1979, RCA was making "concept sales" of satellite transmissions.  Everyone knew about cable and its physical locations, but very few people understood the implications of satellite broadcasting.  Basically that something that got picked up on one spot could be sent world wide.  They convinced the Rasmussen's of the fledgling ESP Network to buy one of their two transponders for $34, 167 a month.  
7.  While we all know how incredibly stupid and obnoxious The Decision was (in terms of both television programming and humanity in general), LeBron James and his decision about his talents were watched in about 10 million homes.
8.  It's a long, complicated, wild book, but worth the read.

FREE BOOK!!!!!!!
Speaking of complicated and wild.....I'm giving away Wild Rideby Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer to one lucky commenter.  I reviewed one of their other books, Agnes and the Hitman, earlier.  You can find the review here.  I picked this book to give away because: it's a lot of fun to read; it's got romance, humor, demons, ice cream AND amusement parks; it's been something of a wild ride for us here lately.  The only thing you need to do to enter is leave a comment telling us your favorite book and your email address.  Leave a comment by Thursday, Feb. 9th, at midnight.  Yay!  Free book!

Here's some SportsCenter for you too!
And for Giants fans:

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