Libellus de Numeros (Magicae Mathematica) (Vol. I)
by Jim West
One day, out of nowhere, and for unknown reasons, precocious middle-schooler Alex finds herself mysteriously transported to a strange, magical world, where fires start with the wave of a hand, vegetables slice themselves, and bowls of cooked soup float over to your table.
After realizing she wasn’t stuck in some weird dream, Alex had only one goal: get back home to her parents.
Like in the “Wizard of Oz”, she encountered various characters on her journey. Some trying to help her and others not so much.
According to her mentor and wizard friend Archimedes, her path home was to be found in mathematics.
The author writes in a readable, intriguing way and his descriptions are great. I could see this book as a movie. I like the strong message about capable young girls succeeding through their smarts too. – JN
Tom Candiotti: A Life of Knuckleballs
by K. P. Wee
For a major league pitcher to have the upper hand over a major league batter he must keep them off balance. He can do it with an overpowering fastball or he can do it with guile. Tom Candiotti, the pitcher, as explained in Tom Candiotti: The Real Knuckleballer, the book, did it with guile.
A knuckleball’s precise destination cannot be predicted. The ball is gripped by the fingertips and then pushed toward home plate. The pitcher has an idea of where he would like it to end up but basically, it slowly floats towards its target, usually around 50+ MPH, and then it goes where it goes. The pitch is so unpredictable that major league catchers have a hard time catching it. Knuckleballing pitchers that can consistently throw strikes are rare. They are so rare that there are usually less than a handful of knuckleball pitchers playing in the majors at any given time. The pitch is considered by many a trick pitch, even a freak pitch. Most major league managers and scouts think that the pitch is barely worth consideration, whether it is thrown for strikes or not.
I liked this book and as a big baseball fan I enjoyed learning about the ups and downs of Candiotti’s career. However, I thought the author sometimes repeated his facts a bit too often. For instance, multiple sections informed me that Candiotti originally learned the knuckleball from his dad and that he initially only threw it as a “mess-around” pitch. Even though I acknowledge my memory isn’t the greatest, after a couple of times, I got it. Author K. P. Wee also spent an entire chapter dwelling on the fact that Candiotti was the second successful recipient of Dr. Frank Job’s famous “Tommy John” surgery (second after Tommy John). The author seemed to obsess on the fact that baseball history too often overlooked this fact (the surgery). Sadly, that’s just the way it is when you do something second. I know I would not be able to tell you who the second man on the moon was.
Those small quibbles aside, the book is a good read. It allows your mind to drift back in baseball time. Like the fall of 1983 when the Brewers were still in the hunt for an American League pennant and Candiotti was breaking in. Or in the late ’80s when Candiotti pitched for Cleveland and was their surprise ace.
I also appreciated the tremendous amount of research that must have gone into this book. Within its covers, there are hundreds of examples, numerous insider stories, a multitude of quotes from other players and stats galore. If you like statistics (which I do) and statistical comparisons, you will not be disappointed. The book is close to encyclopedic in its thoroughness of Candiotti’s time in the major leagues.
Tom Candiotti’s baseball career as described in this book seemed to parallel the pitch that he became famous for. Despite the fact that he was very successful in high school and college, setting all kinds of school records, he was not drafted out of college. The reason given was he did not have a blazing fastball. He did eventually make it to the major leagues at the age of 26, lasting sixteen seasons, but, but like his bread and butter pitch – the knuckleball, he seemed to struggle for respect the entire time. -JN
Tess Valkyrie: Volume 2
by Andres Mann
The book “Tess Valkyrie” is an erotic thriller about obsession. It is the tragic tale of a combat-trained woman who will stop at nothing to protect her family. It involves her relationships with her American ex-CIA husband and her revenge-driven former lover, an Iraqi general. It is cover to cover military-style action, interspersed with sensual adult relationships. It is a page turner. It is a “read it in one day” type of book.
I liked the fact that the author portrays the females in this book as accomplished, self-reliant, and courageous. The women range from the mildly forceful general’s sister to the hell-bent, revenge seeking best friend … and that’s not even counting the super intense, hair-trigger tempered, main character, Tess. She is all of the above and then some. She has a heart of gold but if you cross her, she will kill you.
This book is the second book in the “Tess” series and I cannot wait to go back and read more about this intriguing, dynamic character.
This book is the second book in the “Tess” series and I cannot wait to go backand read more about this intriguing, dynamic character. -JN