Lance Smith

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Lance Smith

  • Hired Help on Aug. 17, 2013

    I never thought that I would read a story with emotional connections between a prostitute and a client, but that is exactly what happened in Hired Help. Olivia has been in a funk ever since her lover left and rooommate Sam has the perfect cure. She leaves card for Olivia - a business card for a high class escort service...for women only. Four days after she gets the card, Olivia musters the courage to call. She speaks to Scarlett. They arrange for a get together and it becomes more than just a quick business transaction. The sex is very hot and well written. As is the case with other stories I have read by Ms. Bliss, the reader feels the emotions of the women, not just a play by play. In this story, I am impressed at the portrayal of the emotions of Scarlett. One would not expect that type of reaction from someone who does it for a living. The ending wraps up the story sufficiently but leaves enough for the reader to imagine what is next. An excellent short story by an author whose work I enjoy more each time I read one of her stories.
  • Halls of Ivy (Halls of Ivy, #1) on Aug. 22, 2013

    A brief review on a book that had great potential, an interesting cast of characters but for some reason it didn't seem to flow so well. Cheyenne Winters arrives at Sun Valley University to conduct research for her dissertation. She interviews 21 freshmen in a basic 101 course and through these interviews she gets closer to them and is caught in a crisis at the school where students are committing suicide at an alarming rate. While I thought th characters were well developed and mostly likeable especially Cheyenne, it seemed like there were just too many of them to see how they were all involved. Plus the format of the story which introduces the students by using an essay they wrote as a chapter seemed strange later on. The actual mystery itself also was hard to follow and I at times wondered what was Cheyenne and the detective doing. But at least it was all tied up at the end. A decent book, but be prepared to meet a LOT of people while reading it.
  • The Thin Line - The Short Story Of A Runner on Aug. 24, 2013

    Synopsis: A college student is trying to juggle the three biggest parts of college life - athletics, academics and social life - and still stay healthy and stress free. He also has an important meet upcoming and needs to train for it. How is going to manage them all Rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars Review: This short story about a college runner reads much like other books on young adults. There is angst, there is a bit of romance (non-sexual, not even a kiss that is more than a peck on the cheek) and a lot of dialogue between the hero (who remains nameless in the book) and his running partner Dan. I did like that the struggles that were followed were the athletics and the academics instead of the romance. That was a refreshing change from the usual YA or NA story. The running scenes, including the important meet, were a bit short as it seemed like they were over in a flash. Either these runners were all in the class of Usain Bolt or the author shortened this parts considerably. The ending was completely unexpected and was a nice surprise. Until then I wasn't really into the story, but after finishing I stopped and gathered my thoughts as it all came together. It even explained why the hero and his girlfriend(a minor character in the story) were not named. It made the story a good read and I would recommend it for a good quick read.
  • Light Tower Power on Sep. 02, 2013

    This is a very short story about a manager and his bat he affectionately calls "THOR." The name is capitalized in the story to emphasize the power in both the bat and its owner. While "Light Tower Power" by Jon Sindall was very short, it made its point in a big way. During batting practice the manager decides to take a hack himself with THOR. What happens leaves a lasting impression. A baseball fan who wants a quick read will enjoy this title. Four stars out of five.
  • In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People on Oct. 29, 2013

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars (very good) Review: First a synopsis of the book: Ronny Thompson just wants to play baseball. He's good at it, and can pitch the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series victory in over a century. So why are all these Mafia-type events swirling around his life? How does he extricate himself from them? And how does he concentrate on winning games, rather than on his estrangement from his parents, his girlfriend, and an aggressive reporter, and on so much that his farm upbringing didn't prepare him for? This is the perfect description of this story of baseball, the mob, an unlikely romance and the naivety of a young farm boy from Kansas. Ronny Thompson has wonderful pitching skills and is a once-in-a-lifetime pitcher who has an incredible rookie season for the Chicago Cubs. With over thirty wins in the regular season, three no-hitters, pitching every game in the final weekend of the regular season and on two days of rest for the duration of the playoffs, the kid is just too good to be true. So, going back to the synopsis – why is all this happening to him? The reason is simply a high-stakes bet between crime organizations in Chicago and New York on the outcome of the World Series. If the Cubs can actually beat the New York Yankees in the World Series (so you KNOW this has to be a work of fiction) the Chicago mob is set to gain eighty million dollars. So both organizations get to work – one will do everything it can to distract Thompson to throw him off his pitching, the other will do everything to protect him. This includes using of their call girls to pose as his “girlfriend.” Just like the baseball, the lengths these two otherwise street-smart organizations go to in order to make sure the outcomes are to their liking are far-fetched. Staging auto accidents, planting a false story of Ronny’s dad taking money from the school where Ronny pitched college baseball and finally a planned shooting at Yankee Stadium during game 7 of the World Series are all events that seem over the top. Also, there are events that just seem to happen that put Ronny in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as a drug bust, that are also captured by a reporter and photographer. However, put them all together and it makes for a fun and entertaining read. Sure, maybe the reader will have to suspend reality while doing so, but all of these elements are blended together in a manner that will have the reader cheering for Ronny throughout the story. I was pumping my fist when he pitched his no-hitters just as if I was at Wrigley Field witnessing it. I was touched on following him fall for Sarah, the girl planted by the Chicago mob to help him through the season, but realizing that she was falling in love with him as well. As I worked through the book and enjoyed the story for what it was instead of thinking that there is no way a kid will pitch with this kind of success while enduring all these terrible occurrences, I found myself appreciating this author’s work more and more. By the time of the book’s conclusion, I realized I just read a very entertaining work of fiction that was meant to do just that – entertain. It wasn’t meant to be a lesson in baseball or crime family history. It was just a good yarn that was fun to read and left you cheering. I won’t give away the ending – but since this is fiction, I will let you come to that conclusion. Or better yet, pick up a copy and you will find out for yourself. Did I skim? No Did I feel connected to the characters? Yes, at least to Ronny, Sarah and Lind, the Chicago reporter who was following Ronny and “exposed” some of his shortcomings. Of course, it is hard to find a “connection” with crime figures, but what was interesting about them is that Todd didn’t make them fall into the typical stereotypes. Pace of the story: Excellent – the baseball portions, the family issues and the final game all move along without slowing down, but at the correct pace so that it doesn’t seem rushed. Positives: While I am certainly no prude, I found the lack of stereotypes, sex scenes, excessive violence and foul language extremely refreshing. I don’t mind any of these in a story when they are tastefully presented or integral to the story. However, when they are included just for shock value or to add something “extra” then they are a major turn-off. By leaving them out, Mr. Todd concentrated on the story at hand, and that made it a good read. Negatives: I did find some of the baseball achievements unrealistic, even for fiction. The amount of pitching Ronny does, on two days rest, the number of games he wins, and the number of no hitters he throws in a season – three - is a big stretch of imagination, even for a fictional book. While calling this a “negative” might be too strong, I felt that if Ronny’s achievements were closer to realistic, the story could still have held its own. Do I recommend? Yes – for any baseball fan or crime fiction reader. This book has excellent prose on both of those topics. Book Format Read: ebook (ePUB file)
  • Basketball Gods: A Short Story on Oct. 29, 2013

    It was a good story, but given the longing of the narrator to spend time with his brother, it was more about family than basketball.
  • Headshots on Jan. 04, 2015

    Rating: 5 of 5 stars (outstanding) Review: In this sequel to the excellent story In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People, Headshots picks up the story in the seventh game of the World Series, at the point described in In Front of Fifty Thousands Screaming People where Ronny Thompson’s life changes. After getting injured by a gunshot in the seventh game of the World Series, Ronny now must reconcile three issues: repair and rehabilitation of his injuries so that he can come back for the next baseball season, reconciling with his girlfriend Sarah and figure out his love and feelings for her and how to deal with the Mafia who arranged the hit on him and now who have three contracts out for her death. This will require protection for her from the FBI so he must address that issue as well, especially since he is now a celebrity athlete, not a country boy on the farm. Like the first book, this story has some baseball passages, a lot of mystery and Mafia crime issues and a bit of romance as well. Ronny and Sarah continue their relationship by becoming engaged and expecting their first child. In order to protect them, it is decided that Sarah will stay at the farm of Ronny’s parents with protection. I thought this part of the story was well-developed and all of the characters show a good deal of intelligence without typical stereotypes. That helped me believe this part of the story as I was reading. In the meantime, Ronny has two surgeries to treat the injuries, but they leave him unable to pitch right away and he starts the next season on the disabled list. He does come back, but still has something nagging in his shoulder, so he eventually pitched out of the bullpen. The Cubs, while not a bad team, cannot repeat their success and miss the playoffs. This time, the baseball passages, such as a skirmish between the Giants and Cubs over brush back pitches and hit batsmen, were more realistic as well. Like the first story, these passages were short and were not a big portion of the book, but important enough that the baseball was a key to understanding Ronny and his issues. This time, his major concern was the safety and welfare of Sarah and their unborn child. This is important, because the bulk of the book concentrates on the Cerelli and Washburn crime families who engaged in the high stakes bet. As it becomes clear that the authorities are on to the shooting of Ronny, the extortion of three Cubs players to throw games and the contracts out on Sarah, these crime family members are leaving nothing to chance and try to make sure that Sarah is eliminated, as well as any nosy reporters who seem to be finding out more information as well as the authorities. The adventure and pursuit that lead to the final conflict between Ronny, Sarah and these hit men is a very compelling story and the ending was one that even though it is somewhat predictable, was very entertaining and one that let me exhale when complete. There are times the sequel is better than the original, more often in books than in movies. This book was a good example of this, as I enjoyed reading this one more than the original. It did help to have the background information gained in the first book, but this one felt a little more realistic and as a result, I was engrossed into the story. The reader does need to read Fifty Thousand Fans first or he or she will not be able to understand this book. But after doing that, make sure to follow up with this one as it is an even more gripping story of the Mafia, a little romance – and yes, some baseball as well. Did I skim? No Pace of the story: Excellent – the baseball portions, the family issues, the crime scenes and the final conflict all move along without slowing down, but at the correct pace so that it doesn’t seem rushed. Do I recommend? Yes – for any baseball fan or crime fiction reader. This book has excellent prose on both of those topics.