Saturday, July 28, 2012

Double Review and Giveaway! The Legend of Mickey Tussler and Sophomore Campaign by Frank Nappi

The Legend of Mickey Tussler
Title :  The Legend  of Mickey Tussler (Mickey Tussler #1)
Author:  Frank Nappi
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: April 1 2012 
Format: Paperback
Pages:  304
Source: Received from the author/publisher
in exchange for an honest review
Read: June 28-July 4
My Rating: 4 stars
In A Few Words:   Well Rounded, 
Reads like being at a ball game

Goodreads Synopsis:
In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey 's autism a disorder still not truly understood even today has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey 's powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.(less)

Melissa's Musings:

The Legend of Mickey Tussler has a little bit of everything for everyone, which makes it enjoyable for a broad range of people. There's a little bit of romance, jealousy, rivalry, sportsmanship, friendship and the list could go on.

My experience with stories rooted in baseball has been more of a historical, fact based relationship rather than a fictional one. I like both styles, but reading The Legend of Mickey Tussler was more enjoyable because I got to experience so many different elements. The book really explores the inner workings of a baseball team and how the different personalities can come together to make the team work, (and how they clash.) The code of baseball was something new, or at least something that I noticed more in reading this novel. There are certain things you just don't do to your teammates, and if you do, expect consequences.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable. The flow of the story is absolutely perfect. To me, it was a perfect mimic of the flow of a baseball game. There were  moments of suspense, when you'd be reading with bated breath to find out what the character's next move would be. This was particularly poignant in terms of Molly and Murphy's relationship. It's obvious right off the bat that they have feelings for one another. Nappi does an excellent job of building up their relationship slowly, making it so that you want to root for them, and you want them to be together, but it's not overdone. In fact, there were times when I wished the story would get back to focusing on them because I was so eager to see what would happen between them.

I also really appreciated Nappi's portrayal of Mickey. I have never read a portrayal of someone with autism that is quite so honest, and, I'm not quite sure how to say this, flows so easily and doesn't seem stiff or straightforward like they're just portraying the symptoms of autism based on the textbook definitions. I've also never read a historical fiction piece that portrays someone with autism, all the fictional accounts of characters with Autism that I've read have been contemporary pieces.
 I could clearly see the story from Mickey's perspective, he was what pulled me into the story. He's such a good person, who wants to be part of something, and wants to help. He's a very strong character, especially for the fact of how his father treats him. It's horrible treatment, to say the very least, but Mickey tries not to dwell on it, he mainly focuses on the positive things in his life, which is a good thing for anyone who's experienced abuse like he has.

There was only one part of this book that I was left wondering about in particular and that has to do with the fact that there wasn't a lot of detail given about what happened to Mickey after a particularly important event (don't want to spoil it for anyone). I would have liked to see more of an explanation of that part of the story.

Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel (Mickey Tussler, #2)
Title:  Sophomore Campaign
Author: Frank Nappi
Publisher:  Sky Pony Press
Published: April 1 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 285
Source: Received from the Author/Publisher
in  exchange for an honest review
Read: July 7-9
My Rating:  4 stars
In  A Few Words:  Powerful and poignant
Goodreads Synopsis:
It 's 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey 's proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season 's violent conclusion, his manager and now surrogate father Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy 's performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehend

I also had the pleasure of being able to read Sophomore Campaign as I was lucky enough to be sent both books for review.

The Sophomore Campaign packs just as much of a punch as The Legend of Mickey Tussler did, in both similar and much different ways.

In the beginning of the novel we see Mickey still struggling with the aftermath of last years seasons and the events that happened to him in particular. In addition, Murph is struggling too, reeling from last seasons  events and also trying to keep his job. But he always has ideas up his sleeve.  The team is struggling internally, as Boxcar, their catcher is struggling to fight off illness. Murph has to do something, so he goes scouting and finds the perfect catcher. The only thing is, he doesn't get the best reception...

Mickey struggles a lot in this book because there are many things he doesn't understand, particularly the racial issues that come up when Lester Sledge comes onto the team. These racial issues are intense. There's a lot of graphic name calling and some disturbing scenes and events.

As intense as these scenes are  I do have to commend Mr. Nappi for the way that he handled these. The scenes were powerful and well written. I also greatly appreciated the authors note at the beginning of the novel that explains the reasoning for the use of harsh language and the depiction of certain themes as necessary to the story and the warning that they may be offensive to some readers. Not many books dealing with the themes that are present in this story have such warnings and it was just refreshing to see.

In addition to the powerful exploration of racial issues in the 1940's there's also more romance between Murph and Molly, which I loved reading about. It's so straightforward, and easy. Murph and Molly fit together so well.

There's also exploration of the team coming together, as they struggle with their own beliefs and feelings, and ultimately decide whether or not they truly are a family. I don't want to give too much away in terms of the ending of the book or too many details because I think that it's just such an awesome book that you'll want to check it out, but I will say that I'm excited to see what will come next for all of these wonderful characters, and I'm thrilled that I got the opportunity to read these books.

I would recommend these to anyone who enjoys baseball, and powerful, poignant stories.

And now, I'd like to give you the opportunity to read these as well! I have so generously been offered the  chance by the author/publisher  to give TWO lucky readers a set of both The Legend of Mickey Tussler AND Sophomore Campaign.
Each reader will receive paperback copies of both books and they will be autographed
This giveaway will be limited to US entrants only (Sorry International readers!)

Rules for this Giveaway:
Giveaway is limited to US only
Please be sure you review the Terms and Conditions located on the Rafflecopter form
There are no mandatory entries for this giveaway, do as many or as few as you like
You DO NOT have to be a follower of Melissa's Midnight Musings to enter, but anyone who does choose to follow is appreciated.
All entries will be verified
Any false entries will be removed
Winners will be contacted by email within 72 hours of the end of the giveaway
All winners will have 48 hours from the time their notification email is sent to respond, before a new winner will be chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


hitchcockbe44 said...

I would love to read both of Frank Nappi's Mickey Tussler books. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Both of these books sound intriguing and i loved your review. I am a huge baseball fan (Go Phillies) and have added these to my wish list.

Cyndee said...

I am Friends with Frank nappi on Goodreads! Its great for a chance to win and read them. They are on my to-read-list. I like the Yankees, Rays and Braves. I like the book "The Art of Fielding" and "Calico Joe" to name a few.Thank you for the giveaway!
Cyndee Thomas
p.s. reviews were awesome.

Kayla E said...

I am a SF giants fan! World Series Champions of 2010 babyyy! :)

And I am also friends with Frank Nappi on goodreads! LOL

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

Good luck in the giveaway.

Thanks for those suggestions of other baseball books. Good luck in the giveaway. I'm glad you enjoyed my review. :) Good luck in the giveaway.

I'm glad you enjoyed my review. :) I'm a Giants fan myself.

@Kayla: Woo go Giants! Good luck in the giveaway.

laura thomas said...

So glad you are having this giveaway. I have been wanting to read these and thanks for remembering Melissa.
I am a Detroit Tigers fan. My home state, even though I have not lived there in almost 30 years.

Jim said...

Sports books are hard to write well. THey either read like a play by play with not much story or they are all story with no real sports involvement. Frank can get it right. Cards and Rangers.

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

@Laura: You're welcome. Good luck in the giveaway :)

@Jim: That is very true, sports books tread a fine line between being done well or not so well. These are definitely in the done well category. Good luck in the giveaway.