12. The Most Famous Woman in Baseball, by Bob Luke. Kind of mixed feelings about this book. In general, I did like it (although someone with more knowledge in baseball, especially baseball history, will probably get more out of it than I did.) It's pretty well-written and engaging. I found it a little stats heavy in the recruitment and hiring, but again- a fan will probably appreciate it. My biggest complaint is that I feel the title of the book is a bit misleading. I got the impression that the book would be more about Effa Manley, the wife of Abe Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles. Effa played a major role in running the Eagles and had a strong presense on the Negro Leagues board. Well, about a third of the book is about Effa. I have a feeling it's probably because there isn't a lot of first-hand information on her, but as I said, I felt the book title was a bit misleading. Other than this issue, I would consider this an excellent resource. It's an honest look at the Negro Leagues, the many positives and several of the problems.
13. Shadows of the Dark Crystal, by J.M. Lee. This serves as a prequel to the Dark Crystal movie. Not sure entirely where in the timeline, but I'm guessing it's not too far back before the action of the film. I really loved this book and can hardly wait to get the sequel. I just love the details put in, which fit really well with both the movie and what I wondered- for example, the various Gelfling tribes, their customs and their structure. It was also neat reading a book about how the Skeksis were once actually admired (I already knew this from reading The World of the Dark Crystal book, but this has more detail and explains things better). Of course, if you've see the movie, you kind of know how this story will go. I do wonder if there will be surprises in the second book. But I digress. The heroine, Naia, of a remote swampland tribe of Gelfling finds herself on a quest to find out the fate of her twin brother, who has been accused of treason by the Skeksis lords. She is soon joined by Kylan. The two seem to be a highly unlikely pair but the confident Naia soon develops a respect for the more bookish Kylan.
14. Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, by Brian Holguin. This is a fantastic graphic novel for those interested in the history of Thra, the fictional world of The Dark Crystal movie. It's beautifully illustrated, and makes more alive some of the history I read in The World of the Dark Crystal. This novel goes back to the known beginning of Thra, with the appearance of Aughra and her son, and the very first Great Conjunction, which brought the UrSkeks to the planet. Some of this I knew from The World of the Dark Crystal and, of course, the movie. It was interesting seeing Aughra as someone who is even more powerful that I knew, but also someone who was not perfect. Her son Raunip is just fascinating. I'm eager to get my hands on the next two installments.
15. The Power of the Dark Crystal,Vol. 2, by Simon Spurrier. The followup to volume 1, where I had expressed a few reservations. Well, I'm hooked. Just love the shades of gray- the Gelfling are not portrayed as the heroes so much, and it's interesting to watch the quiet dissention within the ranks of the uRuh. OK, with one uRuh. But still. The Skesis are still pure evil, would not want that to change. In this installment, Jen is realizing the deep damage done while he and Kira had been in stasis. The main heros Thurma and Kensho are trying to make their way back to Thurma's beleagured world. There are some Gelfling who are trying to stop them, and there are those with Jen, who want to help them. In the castle, the Skeksis show their cunning as well as their cruelty. Eager for the next installments- this is a long series, but that's OK.
16. Murder and Mayhem on Ohio's Rails, by Jane Ann Turzillo. Did you know Ohio is (arguably) the site of the first train hold-up, shortly after the Civil War? This and other facts can be found in this collection of famous train hold-ups in Ohio, the heroes that tried to thwart the villians (and sometimes succeeded), and the villians (of course). An interesting look at Ohio's rail history, great for local history buffs and crime fans.
17. Wicked Akron, by by Kymberli Hagelberg, Somehow I missed leaving my review on this book, which I actually finished months ago. It's a nice, light read on some of the more unseamly moments of Akron's past. A few stories even loosely connect. The chapter on the body-snatching business and the scandals it created was especially memorable. I enjoyed it- this is a quick read, and those with an interest in Akron history may like it.
18. Confessions of a Romance Cover Model, by C.J. Hollenbach. A disclaimer- I actually know Hollenbach (through online and phone calls) and did a news story on him once. I've been wanting to read his book for a while now, finally glad I got around to it. This is a fun book. Hollenbach details how he got into the business and some of the things he has to do to maintain his physique (especially his signature long, blond hair). Many of his stories relate his adventures at various conferences on romance novel writers and publishers, and I found them quite entertaining (and occasionally eyebrow-raising. Do women really behave like that? Yikes!) Hollenbach has a wry sense of humor and a penchant for comic exageration. I laughed out loud several times while reading it.
19. What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries, by David Salisbury (Editor), James Tooley (Editor). This is actually a collection of essays written by others, on the advantages and disadvantages of charter schools and private schools versus public schools. I tried reading this with an open mind, but the most glaring problem is the book is heavy on hypothesis and speculation, and light of actual, raw data. The charts that were there were either useless or confusing. The last two essays were the best. Another problem is it's pretty dated at this point; many of the "oh, this probably won't happen" speculations actually have happened (example, charter schools pulling money from public schools). I'm sure there are ways education can be improved in America (and needs to be improved). But this book is not exactly the source for this type of inspiration.