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January 2016

The QB:The Making of Modern Quarterbacks by Bruce Feldman

Bruce Feldman’s new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, examines the science behind sports’ most complex position and the growth of the private QB coaching business.

The book focuses heavily on the work Trent Dilfer is doing as part of Nike’s Elite 11 Academy to train and mentor high school QB’s and on Johnny Manziel’s preparation for the 2014 NFL draft.

At first I was a little skeptical about the focus on those two because I was hoping for more substance on what makes the current crop of soon to be Hall of Famers great – Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Brees. But the book touches on some of that and Feldman does a good job showing how becoming a truly great QB – from high school to the pro’s – is a year round job that doesn’t stop once the season is over.

The best QB’s work throughout the offseason with private QB coaches, and it’s become a lucrative business for the coaches doing it.

Feldman’s examination of these private coaches, showing how each became QB coaches and their unique methods, is probably the most interesting part of the book.

With Manziel’s recent struggles towards the end of the 2014 NFL season, the fly-on-the-wall access that Feldman was granted by him and his QB coach makes this book even more relevant. It’s easy to see why Manziel fell apart as soon as he reached the NFL.

The QB is a great read for anyone wanting to learn more about the nuances of the position and for parents of young QBs. The money, time and preparation spent on developing young boys into QBs these days is eye-opening.

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NIV Bible for Men review

This NIV Men’s Devotional Bible has been a great resource of daily devotions. I started reading in Genesis and the daily devotions will take me all through the Scriptures. The translation is very readable. I like the Monday through Friday format with a Weekending section for Saturday and Sunday. Men will find this Bible to be very meaningful. I highly recommend it.

City of Blades (Book #2)

There are few sequels that stand up to the original novel but City of Blades is just as gripping as the novel that started it all, City of Stairs. You must read the first book before this, however, as it doesn’t work as a stand-alone. For those who loved City of Blades, many characters are back here, especially….wait for it…..Sigrud who features prominently here (can I hear a collective hooray?). While our main protagonists shift in this book, the superior world-building and twisty plot remains. The themes were darker in this book, which seemed appropriate given the hard look at war, those who lead us into war (and why), and why people follow them into war and carnage. Frankly, it was these dark questions that made the novel more compelling for me than the first. Philosophically, it made me think while still keeping the plot moving along…it didn’t get dry and boring with musings at any point.

Hunters In The Dark by Lawrence Osborne

If you like a slow, dark, lush, literary suspense thriller that transports you to an exotic and dangerous world, you might appreciate Lawrence Osborne’s “Hunters in the Dark.” It’s the type of rich atmospheric novel that celebrates outstanding literary craftsmanship while taking you on a suspense-filled journey deep into the dark hinterlands of Cambodia and…once there, delivering you cleverly and artfully into the jaws of a likeable, yet cunning sociopath.

Robert Grieve, the 28-year-old main character, is a disillusioned, solitary, and aimless young man. He is, perhaps at the beginning, not a very likable protagonist. But as you get into the novel and come to understand the man and his predicament, you learn to care about him.

In the beginning, we meet a young man disillusioned and apathetic about life. Life has sidelined him into a career as a schoolteacher in an isolated English village. He hates it. His future holds no promise and for that, he blames the poor global economic situation facing Millennials. But underneath it all, he’s aware he may just lack ambition. Robert is good-looking and charming, but friendless by choice. He likes his own company and blames his lack of a girlfriend on his meager and lackluster economic situation. Robert spends his leisure reading great literature and traveling. In fact, traveling is his singular escape. But of late, even that has become boring. Travel around Europe has stopped being interesting. Yearning for something entirely different, exotic, and far away, Robert goes to Thailand. Once there, his life changes forever.

As the novel opens, we find Robert at the tail end of the long summer school holiday. He’s on the Thai-Cambodian border. He’s been traveling with very little money and living in seedy hotels, the type rarely visited by European tourists. He’s trying to make his money last. Somewhat as a lark, he decides to uses his last remaining Thai bahts to try his luck at gambling. It’s a very popular “sport” that’s legal just over the border in Cambodia. There, he finds an array of sleazy casinos, most teeming with women in the sex trade, many curiously dressed like Chinese government officials. It seems the Chinese tourists love their prostitutes that way.

Robert’s foray into gambling turns out lucky. Rather than continue, he decides to use his unexpectedly good winnings to extend his vacation. He cashes in his chips and cautiously slips away…or so he thinks.

As the hours and days unfold, seemingly everyday circumstances lead him on a path toward meeting and befriending a very likeable American. Little does Robert know how dangerous this man will become…how much his life will be forever changed on account of their meeting.

Don’t expect the strong pull of a potboiler popular fiction thriller. This is not that type of fiction. This is a book of slow, steady suspense. The prose is hypnotic; danger lurks just out of sight everywhere, violence turns up unexpectedly. Love is intense, passionate, and exotic. Much of the pleasure of reading comes from being immersed in this fictional experience.

In the last analysis, this is ultimately a book about identity, a book where the themes, the mood, and the literary craftsmanship are almost more important than the plot. Not all readers will like that; I did. This is my first book by Lawrence Osborne; I’m sure I will read more.

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