Category Archives: FSM Books

FSM First Look: UNBREAKABLE

After years of rejection but with constant hustle, Jay Glazer has built a career as one of the most iconic sports insiders, earning himself a spot on the Emmy award-winning Fox NFL Sunday, a role as the confidant of coaches and players across the league, and a role as himself alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on HBO series Ballers. His gym, Unbreakable Performance Center, attracts some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and is the headquarters to the powerful charity MVP (Merging Vets and Players) that Jay founded in 2015.  MVP began as a weekly physical and mental health huddle with combat veterans and retired athletes has expanded to seven locations, helping soldiers and players transition to a new team.

In Unbreakable, Jay Glazer talks directly to you, his teammates, and shares his truth. All of his success from his screeching-and-swerving joy ride through professional football, the media, the fighting world, Hollywood, the military-warrior community, comes with a side of relentless depression and anxiety. Living in the gray, as Jay calls it, is just a constant for him. And, in order to work through the gray and succeed, Jay has to maintain an Unbreakable Mindset. With this book, you can too.

·        Be of Service—help others and help yourself in the process

·        Build Your Team—give support, get support

·        Never Underestimate the Power of Laughter—never take yourself too seriously

·        Be Proud of Your Scars—our trauma makes us who we are

Throughout Unbreakable, Jay will use his stories—featuring some of the biggest, baddest, and most fascinating characters in the public eye today—to show how he walks this walk, has learned that while the gray is very real, it doesn’t have to define him. And it doesn’t have to define you either.

Click here for a sneak peak of the actual book available April 4, 2023 and keep reading for a very special message from Jay himself:

Hey Teammate,

We all face obstacles-physical, emotional, between the ears. The good news is that everything we have fought back against can empower us, IF WE KNOW HOW TO USE IT. My obstacles happen to be anxiety and depression. I call it living in the gray, and I’ve been mired in it my whole life. To be honest, it sucks. But I have also recently recognized that this same gray that has held me down has also empowered me to make my wildest dreams come true. You have probably overcome many of your own obstacles, but you’ve been too close to the conflict to clearly see what you’ve accomplished. We are all UNBREAKABLE, no matter what we do, who we are, or what traumas we may have experienced. We just need to admit that we can’t walk this walk alone.

–Jay Glazer

FSM First Look: LeBron

From Jeff Benedict, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tiger Woods and The Dynasty, this is the definitive biography of LeBron James, one of the greatest athletes of all time—the king of basketball, the figure at the center of social movements, the man everyone has an opinion on—based on three years of exhaustive research and more than two hundred interviews.

LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of the twenty-first century, and he’s in the conversation with Michael Jordan as the greatest of all-time. He wears the crown like he was born to it. Yet what makes LeBron’s story so compelling is that he won his destiny despite overwhelmingly long odds, in a drama worthy of a Dickens novel. As a child, he was a lost little boy living in a public housing project in Akron, Ohio. His mother, who had LeBron when she was sixteen, would sometimes leave him on his own. Scared and alone, destitute and fatherless, LeBron missed close to 100 days of school in fourth grade and didn’t play organized basketball. LeBron tells the full, riveting saga of how a boy adrift finds the will to become a titan.

Jeff Benedict, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tiger Woods, paints a vivid picture of LeBron’s epic origin story, showing the gradual ascent of a star who, surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends and adult mentors, transformed into a speeding comet during high school. LeBron today has built not only a basketball career that will go down as one of the greatest in the sport’s history, but a solid family and a business empire. He produces Hollywood films and television shows, he has a social media presence that includes over 100 million followers, he engages in political activism and takes outspoken stances on racism and social injustice, he transforms lives through his visionary philanthropy, and he’s the first active NBA player to become a billionaire.

To tell the story of LeBron’s rise to dominance on the court and beyond, Benedict pored through thousands of pages of primary source documents and countless of hours of video footage. He conducted hundreds of interviews with the people who were intimately involved with LeBron at different stages of his life, taking us inside his early years through his famed NBA career spanning championships with three teams as well as his supremacy in the Olympics.

Destined to be the authoritative account of LeBron’s life, LeBron is a gripping and unprecedented account of one of the world’s greatest and most iconic athletes.

LeBron will be available to sports fans on 4/11/23.

FSM Retro: A Lil’ Love for SNES’ Super Punch-Out!!

FSM takes a look back at the rarely talked about Super Punch-Out!! boxing game courtesy of Shaun Rogers from NextLevelGamerz. We find out it’s not that hard following the classic sans Mike Tyson and that gamers can have a little old-school fun…

Super Punch-Out!! is a boxing video game developed and published by Nintendo for the SNES. It was released on September 14, 1994 in North America and again in the same region in 1996.

Super Punch-Out!! is an impressive boxing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It features great graphics, cool music, tight control, and excellent replay value. This game should be considered one of the greatest boxing games in video game history. The characters are full of personality and are unique and fun to fight. The game takes advantage of the SNES graphics chip capabilities and really pushes the envelope as far as graphics are concerned.

Playing this game is very enjoyable, as it is fun to play as a newbie or as an experienced veteran. Beating the opposition takes time and learning their patterns and moves really is a must. Super Punch-Out still rates up there as one of my favorite video games of all time. Beating the special hidden circuit definitely takes skills, and that is what I love about the game.

Gameplay

The action is fast, and the response times are lightning quick. Each opponent forces you to re-think your maneuvering, as they all have their own unique styles and patterns. The controls are simple enough, with a left and right punch, as well as a super punch. Dodging and blocking become key components in this game if you are to be successful.

The game play is very tight and responsive and pulling off super punches is easy. The game is easy enough for anybody to pick up and learn, and it is fun enough for everyone who wants to. Your boxer controls flawlessly and avoiding your opponent’s attacks will timing and skill.

The Storyline

You must take over the role of an underdog boxer attempting to win the Minor, Major, World, and Special Circuit Championships. Old arcade favorites like Bear Hugger, Piston Hurricane, and Bald Bull are here, as well as NES favorites like Mr. Sandman, and Super Macho Man. You are attempting to battle your way to the top of these circuits, which contain four boxers in each circuit, and the fourth opponent is the reigning champion. Overall the story is very simple but it works.

Graphics & Sound

Super Punch-Out is well animated and features beautiful cartoon like graphics that gives each fighter their own personality. The graphics are colorful and the characters are well animated. I love the opponents, Narcis Prince and Bear Hugger both are very different from one another but are so beautifully drawn that they just make my jaw drop wide open. The ring mat changes from circuit to circuit, but you only have the choice of using the one boxer.

He does not appear to be Little Mac from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out but rather is a different character all together. The graphics are so bright and colorful that it is hard not to appreciate them. The opponents all have special facial and body expressions when they are about to pull off a new move or when they get decked themselves. It is comical to watch your opponent go sprawling into the corner after a knockdown punch.

It seems that each character is bigger than the last, and they all are so well done that each one is either very likable or easy to despise. The boxers feature their own theme songs and the sound effects from the punches are excellent. The sounds of the boxers are great as they each have their own voice samples, and the sound of your boxer after winning a match is great too. He will either exclaim that the match was, “A piece of cake,” or, “Too close”… your opponents laugh and pose when they win the match, which is incentive enough to get back in there and take them on once again.

The Games Re-playability

This game is very fun and the replay value is so high until you finish every circuit. The game has great graphics and sound, and the control is very precise and tight. Playing this game over and over can be easy to do because of all the entertainment value it possesses.

Attempting to beat your old best scores can be another incentive to play this game again. Tweaking your skills and becoming a master takes lots of time and practice, but putting a lot of effort into a game like this is easy just because it is so well done.

Final Thoughts

This game is a must have for Super NES owners. The cartoon like quality of the graphics makes this game humorous and addicting, and the music and sound effects are all right on with the game atmosphere. Missing out on Super Punch-Out!! would be a tragedy as this is the best boxing game Nintendo has ever made.

It is fun, addictive, humorous, challenging, and entertaining. Spending lots of time with your SNES will not be to difficult once you pick up a copy of Super Punch-Out!!, it is that kind of a game that still amazes even years later.

For more game reviews and things alike, visit nextlevelgamerz.

FSM First Look: Ringmaster – Vince McMahon and the Unmaking of America

Even if you’ve never watched a minute of professional wrestling, you are living in Vince McMahon’s world.

In his four decades as the defining figure of American pro wrestling, McMahon was the man behind Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, John Cena, Dave Bautista, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Hulk Hogan, to name just a few of the mega-stars who owe him their careers. For more than twenty-five years, he has also been a performer in his own show, acting as the diabolical “Mr. McMahon”—a figure who may have more in common with the real Vince than he would care to admit.

Just as importantly, McMahon is one of Donald Trump’s closest friends—and Trump’s experiences as a performer in McMahon’s programming were, in many ways, a dress rehearsal for the 45th President’s campaigns and presidency. McMahon and his wife, Linda, are major Republican donors. Linda was in Trump’s cabinet. McMahon makes deals with the Saudi government worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And for generations of people who have watched wrestling, he has been a defining cultural force.

Accessible to anyone, regardless of wrestling knowledge, Ringmaster is an unauthorized, independent, investigative chronicle of Vince McMahon’s origins and rise to supreme power. It is built on exclusive interviews with more than 150 people, from McMahon’s childhood friends to those who accuse him of destroying their lives. Far more than just an athletics or entertainment biography, Ringmaster uses Vince’s story as a new lens for understanding the contemporary American apocalypse.

Ringmaster will be available for purchase on March 28, 2023.

Ringmaster will be available for purchase on March 28, 2023.

FSM Scouting Report: MOX

Book/Movie Title: Mox

Total Pages/Duration: 271 pages (Hardcover)

Author/Director: Jon Moxley

Pace of Play: Inconsistent sums up the pace of this autobiography. Based on the quick hitting prologue, the reader may get the feeling they’re about to buckle in for a wild ride. However, the book ends up feeling more “stop-and-go” by the final few pages. A page turner, this is not. There is never a sense of urgency to find out what’s coming next.

Strengths: The strength of this book comes from Moxley’s raw storytelling. He adds in some jokes and adjectives, but he usually gets to his point rather quickly (it’s just that one point quickly leads to an unrelated point which leads to yet another unrelated story and so on. The good news is that all the tangents are relatively brief). For example, the chapter about the late Brodie Lee starts off simply with, “Brodie died today.” Another chapter about a bully named Scott Baio goes into violent detail about Mox’s first significant fight. 

Weaknesses: The structure of this book is that there is no real structure. At least that’s clear from the beginning which helps the reader prepare. Maybe it was done on purpose to get a sense of what it’s like in Moxley’s head but it’s definitely a weakness in this case. Reading the stream of consciousness of someone who has ADHD can be a double-edged sword. The chapter about Mox receiving his training and paying his dues was surprisingly slow and boring. The tedious detail in that chapter came from out of nowhere. Lastly, professional wrestling books are generally known for some cool glossy photos, usually in the middle of the book. Mox has none. We just get a bunch of random pictures randomly placed, with some randomly in black and white (pretty random right?).

Unique Attributes: This book is unique in that it reads like a collection of short stories about Jon Moxley. One chapter doesn’t always lead into the next (there is a chapter about how to make a sandwich which includes diagrams) but it was a nice experience to read a crazy anecdote here and there over a few weeks. While most stories aren’t about the WWE, the best ones certainly involve Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and the creation of the Shield.

Scout’s Recommendations: Mox is definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of WWE, AEW, New Japan or any other of the many organizations that exist now. Chances are Jon Moxley has wrestled in most of them and has a story to share. If you’re not a wrestling fan, avoid this one at all costs as it’s just going to be one big confusing mess.

FSM Retro Reviews: The Craps Underground

FSM takes a looks back at Thomas “Irshsetter” Morgan’s classic scorched earth review of the controversial 2004 book The Craps Underground – The Inside Story of How Dice Controllers Are Winning Millions from the Casinos.

“Scoblete’s new book depicts the real world of dice influencing about as accurately as Hogan’s Heroes depicted life in a World War II German POW camp.”

That was my initial impression of Scoblete’s new book which I posted on the message board a few weeks back. Now I’ve had a chance to re-read the book a couple of times and fully digest it. Fortunately, I acquired one of the pre-release copies of the book, gratis. I would have had a SERIOUS case of buyers remorse had I actually paid $24.95 for this 315 page hard cover dog.

My complete review follows.

I read a lot. I spend an hour and a half each work day on a train, so I go through books quickly. In my library, I have probably 40 to 50 books on craps specifically or gambling in general. In all the gambling books I’ve read, I can unequivocally say that no matter how poorly written or conceived the book was, I’ve always found some redeeming quality in the book. The Craps Underground is the exception. If a good gambling book is like a delicious filet mignon, this book is more akin to the stuff they feed people on the TV show, Fear Factor.

Let’s start with the ENTIRE title of the book. The Craps Underground – The Inside Story of How Dice Controllers Are Winning Millions from the Casinos. Pure, unadulterated hype. For arguments sake, we’ll assume that “Millions” means something more than one or two million, ten million would be a reasonable starting point, and it’s at least implied that it also means millions in net profit. Last spring, Frank Scoblete estimated that there are fewer than 200 skilled “dice controllers” operating in the US. By doing a little division, that would mean on average, those 200 dice “controllers” are taking down $50,000 in profits, each. Except for a few rather well bankrolled shooters, there is no evidence that the average dice controller is showing that kind of profit. Yes, many dice influencers are consistently profitable but the title alone, and I’ll repeat myself here, is unadulterated hype.

So, now let’s get into the book a bit. Chapter one opens with Scoblete having a marathon winning session with the dicecoach, Beau Parker. Here’s how Scoblete describes the session with the dicecoach,

“…seven glorious hours shooting dice with a fellow dice controller and newfound friend known as the ‘Bodacious One,’ Beau Parker.”

This session, and these warm expressions of friendship for the dicecoach occurred just a few months prior to the formation of GTC. I’ll get back to that later.

Let’s dive a little further into this drivel. In the early chapters, we get to hear Scoblete wax poetically about “the Captain,” again. Yawn…. hasn’t he beaten that horse to death yet? Then he introduces various future members of the GTC organization. Apparently, these guys never lose! Or if they do happen to have a poor session, it is quickly followed by a miraculous comeback. AMAZING! There are a couple of chapters on “The Lee Brothers.” These two chapters are almost engaging. Except for one thing. OF COURSE “The Lee Brothers” coincidentally have read all of Scoblete’s books, and religiously play like the captain. Subtle as a freight train, that Scoblete.

There’s a chapter on the Las Vegas Craps Festival which I participated in. Scoblete briefly mentions me here, and he certainly had the opportunity to take some shots at me if he wanted to. Surprisingly he didn’t though, for whatever reason. However, he did misrepresent what I discussed that day. Here’s what he had to say about me.

“Irishsetter has strong opinions.”

Well, he got THAT part right but later went on to say,

“In fact, Irishsetter made a strong pitch that people shouldn’t be paying or charging to learn dice control, that all the information should be free.”

In all actuality, I said nothing of the sort. The gist of my discussion was twofold. One, that aspiring dice influencers should learn as much as possible for free, or as cheaply as they can, and two, that there is no one single correct philosophy on how to set, grip and throw the dice. My opinion today is no different. If you’re interested, I have an article on dicesetter.com which goes further into my discussion that day called, The “Missing” Tape – The Article. My guess is that given the opportunity, Scoblete didn’t want to take any obvious shots at me, but instead chose to misrepresent my discussion in an attempt to embarrass me since I do occasionally participate in seminars. What IS missing in the book, is what Scoblete talked about that day. One of the major points of his discussion was that dice influencers would soon begin to experience the kind of heat that card counters get if they didn’t go “underground.” It seems Scoblete had a change of heart. Either that, or his definition of going “underground” is hyping dice influencing in books, holding seminars in casinos, and advertising dice control on the radio and in newspapers and magazines.

Blah, blah, blah. Several chapters not even worth mentioning.

OK, what’s next. Scoblete raids Jerry Patterson’s PARR organization of most of the coaching staff and Golden Touch Craps is born. Despite the fact that I’m intimately knowledgeable about many of the personalities involved here, these chapters are about as interesting as watching hibernating bears. I have to give Scoblete credit though. He mentions his GTC staff and as many hangers on in the GTC periphery as often as possible. Why? Because the average Joe will think it’s really “neat” that Frank Scoblete put them in his book. Pathetic? Yes. But, those folks in the periphery will go out on amazon.com, buy multiple copies of the book, and write a glowing review so their friends will buy it and see their names in print. Oh Boy!

Now we get to the “A and E Special.” It’s my opinion that the truth lies somewhere between what was broadcast by A and E, what has been written on the various web sites, and what is written in this book about the special. What Scoblete wants you to believe is that A and E decided not to broadcast the footage of all the winning sessions that actually occurred. This despite the fact that the A and E special was basically a feel-good piece. The funny thing about the A and E special is that the dicecoach, who was the main focus, invited Frank Scoblete to join him. (Scoblete then invited several other folks. What a guy!) Remember how they’d become “friends” during their marathon craps shoot several months earlier? It seems that ‘ole Scoblete is beginning to have a change of heart again. You see, Scoblete in the A and E chapter elaborates these wonderful stories about the GTC folks involved, but basically trashes everyone else who is not involved with GTC like the dicecoach, Soft Touch, and Hardways.

Blah, blah, blah. A couple more chapters not even worth mentioning.

Ah…finally we’re heading to the conclusion of the book. Scoblete closes the book with his Las Vegas Diary. This portion of the book was published on his site several months back, so I was familiar with this part already. I’ll give you the long and short of his 15 day diary here. Frank wins. Frank says wonderful things about the various GTC folks he plays with. Frank says nasty things about various other people he comes across. They lament that Treasure Island isn’t as friendly as it used to be. Boo-hoo-hoo. Frank and his playing partners lose, but miraculously have a comeback! Heard this before? What is really interesting about the diary is how Scoblete trashes dicecoach, again. Remember, in the opening of the book, Frank and Beau are “newfound friends.” Now, just a year later, here are just a few things that Scoblete now has to say about dicecoach. When asked if Frank knew the dicecoach, he replied,

“No, no” and “I barely know him.”

Apparently he doesn’t even have the cojones to refer to Beau by his name or his moniker at this point. Throughout the diary he refers to him now as “Crapsguy” and basically lays blame on Beau for whatever heat they experience in the casino. Frank writes,

“Some GTC members had a theory that the Crapsguy, the freelance dice-control instructor, had been too public, aggressive and up-front at the tables about what he was doing…”

This coming from the Scoblete is a hoot! He goes on to say,

“even when GTC did our course at Sam’s Town in Tunica we were laid back at the tables and never talked about dice control or handed our business cards across the table to drum up new business as the Crapsguy is wont to do.”

Again, from Scoblete’s pen, this is a riot. I mean, he’s holding a seminar in a casino for Pete’s sake and he complaining about the dicecoach handing out his business card? Besides, just a few pages earlier in the book, Scoblete had elaborated the following story which occurred at the Green Valley Ranch crap tables.

“..a dealer at Sunset Station, who likes to play at Green Valley Ranch, complimented me on my style. I gave him one of our Craps Club Black Chips with our phone number, and whispered to him if he was interested in learning how to roll like that give us a call.”

So, Frank will deride you for behavior that he himself exhibits. Hmmm. What’s that saying? Oh yeah. Pot – Kettle – Black.

I wonder how Beau the dicecoach would have been portrayed in the The Craps Underground had he accepted GTC’s invitation to join their organization. You think perhaps THAT had something to do with Frank’s change of heart, from “friend” to “the Crapsguy?”

Basically, the book in a nutshell is this. 70% of the book is an infomercial for GTC. 20% of the book is various trip reports. Don’t worry. The few sessions which aren’t profitable for Scoblete? Just read on, a miraculous comeback is in store. The final 10% of the book is the subtle trashing of anyone who is not involved with GTC or a member of the GTC flock.

If you read the jacket cover of the book, and anything else Scoblete writes for that matter, it says,

“Frank Scoblete is the number-one best-selling gaming author in America..”

If that’s true, and people really do think Scoblete has something to say, well, then, my mother was right when she said,

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

About the Author: Thomas Morgan aka Irishsetter is the webmaster of http://www.dicesetter.com and is widely recognized in the gambling community as an expert in dice influencing.

FSM Scouting Report: Wish It Lasted Forever

Book/Movie Title: Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

Total Pages/Duration: 226 (hardcover version)

Author/Director: Dan Shaughnessy

Pace of Play: Just like the 80’s Celtics, this book is fast paced in spurts with most of the action bunched in the middle. Motivated readers (i.e., Boston folks) will finish this in one sitting while most will take 2-3 days.

Strengths: The driving force of this book is the collection of Red Auerbach stories that are peppered in from start to finish. It makes the reader feel like Red is always there and that he could appear at any moment (not too different than his actual behavior).

Weaknesses: The author spends a little too much time talking about himself, his road to working the Celtics Beat, and the good old days of sports journalism (we think the first 40 pages of a 226-page book is too much time). While the book title indicates all stories would flow through Larry Legend, he does not pop up too often. It’s kind of like of all those Netflix movies with Bruce Willis on the movie poster. When you actually watch them, he shows up for about 12 minutes (and they are terrible). It would have been more appropriate to include Red Auerbach in the title of this book. There certainly seem to be more stories about him than Larry Bird.

Photograph by Stan Grossfeld, Boston Globe

Unique Attributes: What this book lacks in new Larry Bird stories it makes up for in tales involving other team members. Bill Walton stories and his relationship to the Grateful Dead were particularly interesting as was learning which 1980’s in-flight movie was playing during various road trips. And perhaps the guiltiest pleasures came when reading about Bill Fitch’s slow demise as head coach. Random factoids are also presented and will keep you engaged. Did you know tanking was an issue way back in 1983? It was and it led to the creation of the lottery which delivered Michael “Air” Jordan to the Chicago Bulls and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon to the Houston Rockets.   

Scout’s Recommendations: In a recent episode of Family Guy, the lovable Homer Simpson rip-off Peter Griffin had to come to terms with the 80’s being dead. His jokes and gags no longer got laughs and no one understood his dated references. His family begged him to let the 80’s go which he did with some help from John Hughes. Had Dan Shaughnessy seen this episode prior to writing Wish It Lasted Forever, he may not have written it. While very interesting at times, this book seemed like an unnecessary trip down memory lane. Perhaps its creation was brought on by the confines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe it started as a memoir of sorts, meant to be passed around to old colleagues and basketball insiders. Whatever the reason, reading this book is just another reminder that the 80’s ARE dead. We recommend you skip this one unless you’re a Boston Celtics fan.     

FSM First Look: Jail Blazers

Kerry Eggers, who covered the Trail Blazers, goes back twenty years for the stories from the players, coaches, management, and those in Portland—during an era when the local NBA stars were in the headlines for both their play and their off-court behavior.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the hottest teams in the NBA. For almost a decade, they won 60 percent of their games while making it to the Western Conference Finals twice. However, what happened off-court was just as unforgettable as what they did on the court.

When someone asked Blazers general manager Bob Whitsitt about his team’s chemistry, he replied that he’d “never studied chemistry in college.” And with that, the “Jail Blazers” were born. Built in a similar fashion to a fantasy team, the team had skills, but their issues ended up being their undoing. In fact, many consider it the darkest period in franchise history.

While fans across the country were watching the skills of Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, and Zach Randolph, those in Portland couldn’t have been more disappointed in the players’ off-court actions. This, many have mentioned, included a very racial element—which carried over to the players as well. As forward Rasheed Wallace said, “We’re not really going to worry about what the hell [the fans] think about us. They really don’t matter to us. They can boo us every day, but they’re still going to ask for our autographs if they see us on the street. That’s why they’re fans and we’re NBA players.”

While people think of the Detroit Pistons of the eighties as the elite “Bad Boys,” the “Jail Blazers” were actually bad. Author Kerry Eggers, who covered the Trail Blazers during this controversial era, goes back to share the stories from the players, coaches, management, and those in Portland when the players were in the headlines as much for their play as for their legal issues.

FSM Scouting Report: All-American Murder

Book/Movie Title: All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez

Total Pages/Duration: 375 (paperback version)

Author/Director: James Patterson w/ Alex Abramoivch & Mike Harvkey

Pace of Play: Short chapters and lack of descriptive, flowery language make for a quick read. Some will finish this in one sitting while most will take 2-3 days.

Strengths: The authors stick to the facts and provide many direct quotes from individuals involved in the case. Information is easy to follow as it’s presented in a straight line. There are some flashbacks when necessary but you’ll never get confused. The authors bring the reader up to speed rather quickly in regard to Hernandez’s home life and his days in high school and college.  

Weaknesses: The book relies on direct quotes a little too much at times (sometimes quotes go on for an entire page). It just comes off as lazy. Also, some of the rumors of Hernandez being gay or bisexual are briefly mentioned. I’m assuming there weren’t enough facts to back any of it up, but the authors could have at least tried to disprove some of the rumors by showing what evidence exists. After all, true or not, the rumors were a big part of the story. Again, it comes off a little lazy.

Unique Attributes: The authors maintain a matter-of-fact tone and avoid the use of SAT vocabulary words. Except for the description of Hernandez’s jail cell, don’t expect some of that descriptive writing James Patterson is known for.

All-American Murder contains some interesting side stories involving Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer, and the Pouncey twins. You’ll also read about the lesser-known double-murder that Hernandez allegedly committed.  

Scout’s Recommendations: At this point, the story of Aaron Hernandez has been told across many mediums and probably doesn’t deserve any more of our time. But how often does James Patterson write about sports stuff? That being said, I’m skeptical Patterson did anything more than supervise on this project. All-American-Murder is worthy of a pickup if you’re about to go on a long flight or plan on lounging by the pool on a cruise ship. Other than that, it should be used as a “first stop” for people getting into the Aaron Hernandez saga for the first time.

FSM First Look: Unguarded by Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen has been called one of the greatest NBA players for good reason.

Simply put, without Pippen, there are no championship banners—let alone six—hanging from the United Center rafters. There’s no Last Dance documentary. There’s no “Michael Jordan” as we know him. The 1990s Chicago Bulls teams would not exist as we know them.

So how did the youngest of twelve go from growing up poor in the small town of Hamburg, Arkansas, enduring two family tragedies along the way, to become a revered NBA legend? How did the scrawny teen, overlooked by every major collegiate basketball program, go on to become the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft? And, perhaps most compelling, how did Pippen set aside his ego (and his own limitless professional ceiling) in order for the Bulls to become the most dominant basketball dynasty of the last half century?

In Unguarded, the six-time champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist finally opens up to offer pointed and transparent takes on Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Dennis Rodman, among others. Pippen details how he cringed at being labeled Jordan’s sidekick, and discusses how he could have (and should have) received more respect from the Bulls’ management and the media.

Pippen reveals never-before-told stories about some of the most famous games in league history, including the 1994 playoff game against the New York Knicks when he took himself out with 1.8 seconds to go. He discusses what it was like dealing with Jordan on a day-to-day basis, while serving as the facilitator for the offense and the anchor for the defense.

On the 30th anniversary of the Bulls’ first championship, Pippen is finally giving millions of adoring basketball fans what they crave; a raw, unvarnished look into his life, and role within one of the greatest, most popular teams of all time.