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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pickup Games by Marcia Mickelson

Here’s a nice, quick read for those of you who have an interest in sports and romance, Pickup Games by Marcia Mickelson. It will be of particular interest for those of you who live in Utah because, you guessed it that’s where the story takes place and those are the teams Marcia focuses on.

Pickup Games is a follow-up novel to Marcia’s highly-praised Reasonable Doubt. Pickup Games does stand alone, but it carries over elements and characters to show them in a new light. Pickup Games tells the story of two newscasters, Mick and Cara, who really don’t see much to like about each other. However, they have one thing in common that makes them a perfect match for a new show. They are both basketball fanatics and previous college players with a lot of potential. Hence sparks of all kinds are flying every time these two interact. You know they’re going to end up together, but like any good romance you still enjoy the journey it takes to get there. Pickup Games is a totally cute and totally perfect name for this one!

I have two personal grumpies about Pickup Games. One may throw you off for a moment, but I’m pretty sure the other is an “Alison is weird” thing so take it for what it’s worth. First the tiny whine. The storyline and characters are well developed, it’s an engaging read. But, one of the minor characters in the book gives Mick some very valuable advice. When he does it feels completely out of character for him. It was advice Mick needed, and he wouldn’t have turned to any other source to get it, but the way the character presented it was far too serious for what I’d come to expect from him. It threw me off for a moment.

Now, here’s my confession that goes with my biggest whine about the book. See, I’ve had Reasonable Doubt on my “to-read” list since it came out. I love a good mystery and the cover intrigues me. But, that cover is also the reason Reasonable Doubt kept getting pushed back. See, I’m not a sports person. At all. Unless they someday make marathon napping an Olympic event the whole attraction of sports and competition is totally lost on me. Anyway, even though Pickup Games can and does stand alone, I think it hurt me personally not to have read Reasonable Doubt first. Why?

Because I really, really, hated Mick. Yes, I could read and understand why he was the way he was. I could appreciate that he grew and changed. But all in all he was not a guy I’d ever care to know—friend or date. That’s just a personal thing. He’s not a bad character, I just have little patience with his basic personality type in real life, thus I took it out on Mick. I really think that if I would have built a reader-relationship with him in Reasonable Doubt I would have liked him better in Pickup Games. ;)

On the other hand, I really liked Cara. She was someone I could admire and relate to. She has spunk, poise, and a great attitude. I’d also love to know Pablo and Julie, they can have me over to dinner any time.

There’s one more thing that I took away from Pickup Games that really made it worthwhile for me: the contemplative message Mick and Cara receive from one of the coaches they are interviewing. Basically, there are more things to consider in life than just money and prestige. A career can be just as successful for the big time or little time player depending on what they bring to the table and what they want to take away when it’s all said and done. Good food for thought and something I definitely needed to be reminded of these past few weeks.

Now, the basketball element. How did that work out for me? It honestly wasn’t as painful as I feared (sorry Marcia). The games and information addressed weren’t just thrown in to try and create a different angle. They were there as every good story element should be: to advance the story and help you understand the characters better. Marcia didn’t overwhelm every page with description that someone who doesn’t watch or participate in the sport would find foreign or distracting. I made it through in just a few days and came out the other side satisfied with what I’d read. I think I really do need to repent and pick up a copy of Reasonable Doubt, though.

Here’s the long and short of it: Love sports and love romance? Pickup Games is a good book for you. Loved Reasonable Doubt and care about what happens to Mick? Pickup Games is definitely for you. Love romance but sports, not so much? Don’t let the basketball on the cover scare you away. It may not become your favorite book, but you won’t be disappointed by the interpersonal aspects of the story.

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