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Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young men are about to change that.

Sam Pickett never expected to settle in this dried-up shell of a town on the western edge of the world. He's come here to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, but what he finds is what he least expects. There's a spirit that endures in Willow Creek, Montana. It seems that every inhabitant of this forgotten outpost has a story, a reason for taking a detour to this place--or a reason for staying.

As the coach of the hapless high school basketball team (zero wins, ninety-three losses), Sam can't help but be moved by the bravery he witnesses in the everyday lives of people--including his own young players--bearing their sorrows and broken dreams. How do they carry on, believing in a future that seems to be based on the flimsiest of promises? Drawing on the strength of the boys on the team, sharing the hope they display despite insurmountable odds, Sam finally begins to see a future worth living.

Author Stanley Gordon West has filled the town of Willow Creek with characters so vividly cast that they become real as relatives, and their stories--so full of humor and passion, loss and determination--illuminate a path into the human heart. 

Published: Workman eBooks on Jan 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781616200350
List price: $14.95
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This is a great book for the sports-minded individual, especially for the male population. The title is based on an old Indian legend about braves returning to the village and finding the whole village dead from a plague. The braves, not wanting to live, tied a clothe over their ponies eyes to blind them and then rode them over a cliff. The story is set in the winter in Montana in a very small high school. The basketball team has lost over 90 games, and yet they continue to play. Two new players join the team, a 7' Norwegian exchange student and a determined basketball player from Minnesota. The majority of the story follows the basketball season and the frustrations of the team from Willow Creek. The quirky town people show the despair, regret, and longings found in any small town. Each person's story unfolds as the basketball season commences.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had my husband listen to this book, I wasn't aware it would be in audio form and don't listen to audio books. So, he really enjoyed the storyline of this book , although sometimes he said the writing gets a little "flowery", it was still well written. The story was about a small town team that ends up doing well against all odds. He said he would other books by this author just hoped he would pick someone else to read it for audio.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm a sucker for a good sports underdog story like Hoosiers and Rudy. Blind Your Ponies is that and so much more. Set in Willow Creek, Montana, a town whose basketball team hasn't won a game in the last five years. The story centers around the coach Sam Pickett but there is huge cast of unique supporting characters that reside in the small town. As Sam tries for one last season to build a winning basketball team, he is also struggling with a past that haunts him. As the story progresses, Sam becomes aware that most everyone in the town has personal challenges too and he looks to them for inspiration.I became totally absorbed in the story - the characters were all really well-developed and relatable. However, I listened to this book on audio and at times it was hard to keep track of some of the minor characters. Having a paper copy and being able to page back through what I had already read would have been helpful. The other criticism I have is that some of the dialogue was a little over the top and at times a tad cheesy.Even though this is at heart an underdog sports story, the author kept it from being too predictable - I was still on the edge of my seat at times.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've officially given up on Blind Your Ponies. I've been reading a page here and there, and even though the actual story is interesting, I just detest the flowery way that the author writes. I want to smack him upside the face everytime I read one of his stupid ephemisms...gimme a break.....they're called "breasts" not "succulent orchards". Sheesh.....And lest you think I'm an urban snob, I grew up on a farm in western Montana, lived there for 30 years, my town was so small that there was only 23 kids in my graduating high school class, so I do get it, I just think it was so badly written, that I couldn't make it all the way through!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In the small Montana town of Willow Creek is a young english teacher and basketball coach, Sam Pickett. He moved to Willow Creek in the hopes of escaping the memories of his lost wife only to wonder what led him and his fellow neighbors to stay in such a place.A very great and fulfilling story that brings the reader a sense of hope for all aspects of life. I found myself depressed as much as i found myself cheering for the underdogs Broncs, the basketball team. I thought this was a great story but it is filled with Basketball so anyone who is not a fan of sports might not enjoy the story as much.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I started out enjoying this novel quite a bit but, boy, did it fizzle at about the halfway point. I think it just suffers from the very common "needs an editor badly" malady. It is just so incredibly repetitive in its themes and characters. We find out everyone's motivations pretty early on and we are bonked on the head with that for 400+ more pages. Also, as everyone points out, everyone is just SO perfect, forgiving and wonderful, the teenage kids especially (I simply don't know these kinds of kids - maybe I have to go to Montana). The one evil drunk Dad is pretty cliche. The quirkiness of the characters are all unrealistically endearing (instead of annoying) and the plot all falls together packaged with a beautiful bow. However, I will say, it was a bit refreshing to at least live in a world where people are THIS nice to each other, even though it doesn't really mirror reality. Still, a nice illusion all the same. The high school basketball games too droned on and on and on. A few exciting ones would have held a lot more punch/interest. I actually did not care if they won by the end because I knew, based on how perfect everything was, they would.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Blind Your Ponies is a book about coming out of the ashes of loss, anger, fear and depression. The name is taken from an old Indian legend. A group of Indian men went out to hunt but when they arrived back at their camp they found it ravaged by small pox. The men couldn't stand the loss of their women and children so they put blinders on their ponies and rode them off of an 80 ft cliff.Willow Creek, Montana is a very small town just outside of Bozeman, Montana. It seems to collect residents who have suffered loss of some kind in their lives and are trying to get away or hide from the pain. Sam Pickett, the main character of the story, is running from the horrific death of his girlfriend Amy. At 36 years old he has moved to the tiny town of Willow Creek to be an English teacher and eventually the basketball coach. Willow Creek school is one building housing grades K-12 and their basketball team hasn't won a game in 5 years, that is a total of 93 losses. This year two new students have come to Willow Creek. Peter is staying with his Grandmother while his parents get divorced and Olaf is an exchange student from Norway. The school is able to put together 5 boys to make their team. As the boys learn to work together as a team, supporting each other on and off the court, the whole town begins to change. The residents also learn to support each other and start to let go of the pain of their pasts. Through pain and sorrow, laughter and joy the residents are reborn.My husband and I listened to this audio book together, all 15 Cd's totaling 19+ hours of audio. This may seem long, but it never lagged and we found the authors humor to be very amusing. The characters could have been people from our everyday lives and were written to appeal in that way. We found ourselves caring about this cast of characters and talking about them as if they were real. We both wholeheartedly loved this story and the characters. One critique is that we thought the end of the book just dropped off without completely wrapping up the story lines. Now if the author plans on writing a sequel that works, otherwise it was the wrong way to end the book. We do still highly recommend this book and the audio gives it extra life.Stanley Gordon West was born in 1932 and lived in Bozeman, Montana for several years. This book is based in and around Bozeman so the authors knowledge of this area works well with the story. And yes, there is a tiny town of Willow Creek, MT just outside of Bozeman.Traber Burns is the voice of Blind Your Ponies. He is a graduate of Tulane University and has worked for 30+ years in theater and occasional television and film. His voice is smooth, easy to listen to and most importantly easy to understand. He varies his voice pitch and accent for different characters, but not so much as to make the audio annoying or corny. I would happily listen to Mr. Burns read a story to me again.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Audio version (CD) received from HighBridge Publishers and LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Thank you so much. Have heard mixed reviews on this one, however am looking forward to a good "ear-read" of the book. :)read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Stanley Gordon West’s Blind Your Ponies is a mildly entertaining story of an underdog high school basketball team in rural Montana. The team has gone five years without a win, and the morale of the entire town is affected by it. The story is simplistic and fairly repetitive. Although I ended up rooting for the team in spite of myself, I found that I kept wishing that the author had done things differently throughout the book. I wanted him to take us a little deeper into the hearts of the characters instead of just repeating their feelings over and over. (Showing instead of Telling!) We know that Coach Sam Pickett is mourning the death of his wife Amy, who was murdered five years earlier. We know he misses her, he misses her, he misses her, but we are shown almost nothing of Amy’s personality or their life together. Likewise, foreign exchange student Olaf Gustafson says repeatedly he can’t tell his father he plays basketball because he is not good at it, yet we are shown none of Olaf’s actual memories, instances in which his father was disappointed in him. I also wondered what in the world had happened to Maggie Painter to make her believe that everyone would believe the words of Carl, a violent, alcoholic boy rather than her own account of events. Glimpses into the backgrounds/memories of these characters would have made the novel richer and the constant repetition of facts unnecessary.Although the prose in Blind Your Ponies is often fine, there are times that the metaphors seem downright silly. “…he tried to concentrate on what she was saying and keep his eyes on her natural, unpainted face when they wanted to tippytoe the outline of her sumptuous orchard or trace the nape of her supple neck.” West also changes the way he refers to several characters (for example, sometimes Coach Pickett, sometimes Sam), in the same paragraph. It’s like he isn’t sure how he wants the reader to be thinking of the character. It’s always fun to read about the little guy coming out ahead against all odds, but I think West could have done a better job with this book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm now a huge fan of audio books and Blind Your Ponies is a good example of why. The story is set in Willow Creek Montana and is really a story of overcoming challenges. However a huge background of the story is that it is about a basketball coach and there is a lot of basketball in the story....and I hate basketball. If this had been a book I know I would have put it down. But because it was an audio book with a great narrator, it brought the basketball scenes more to life for me (something my own imaginations voice wouldn't have been able to do) and I was able to enjoy this heartwarming tale. As an audio book I rated it four stars. If I had been required to read it I may have been upset with all the basketball distracting me and unfairly rated it much lower.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Willow Creek Montana is a small town that can just barely put together a high school basketball team of five boys. Even though the team hasn't won for years and has 93 straight losses, it's the basketball team that makes the townspeople come together during the dark winter nights.But this year could be different. There's an uncoordinated 6'11 Norwegian exchange student who has never played basketball and another boy escaping the wreckage of his parents' marriage who comes to town to live with his one armed hippy grandmother. They join the team--the kid who wants to ride bulls in rodeos to escape his drunken father and those who have played their whole high school career without a single win. The characters and the town itself have detailed back stories including the coach and English teacher Sam Pickett; his assistant coach, Diane; the three legged tomcat that becomes the team mascot, and the bicycle built for two left on the steps of the local cafe thirty years ago.Packed into a decrepit bus dubbed Rozinante after Don Quixote's nag, the team sets off to tilt at windmills once more. This was the 2011 book chosen for the One Book Montana statewide read sponsored by Humanities Montana and the choice for my book club in September.Author Stanley G West self-published this book. His story of the success of this book is much like the story he tells here. He sold this book store to store from the back of his car and when he had sold 40,000 copies, he overcame the impossible and Algoinquin finally picked it up. West has since published other books and had one made into a made-for-TV movie.This is a great feel good book about dealing with adversity and overcoming impossible odds. The characters are very well done--they are people I have known living in small town Montana. West really captures the small town atmosphere and spirit.ButI think an editor could have taken this from being a regional sensation to a really good book. At 600 pages, it's very wordy. There are play by play descriptions of a dozen or so basketball games which all but the most dedicated basketball fans will find themselves skimming.3.8 starsread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Giving a book a 5-star rating is an unusual thing for me to do, but "Blind Your Ponies" deserves those stars, not because it was perfect but because when I was listening to it, I felt like I lived in Willow Creek, Montana, and the characters were my neighbors and my friends (and an enemy or two), and I cared about them and I laughed and then the tears fell and then I'd have my hand over my mouth in shock, and I had to remind myself, it's just a book, it's just a book. To me, That's Entertainment!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love stories set in small towns about ordinary people. The author really captured the small town life. I went to a very small grade school and had 12 in my 8th grade class, so I can relate to a small rural school like the one in the book.I agree with other reviewers that it was reminiscent of "Hoosiers", which I loved. I always want the underdog to win!But, the reader was very annoying at times, and had it not been that I was drawn in by the quirky characters, I would have turned off the player.read more
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I was only able to finish BLIND YOUR PONIES by skim-reading it, by 'blinding' myself to its awful, overwrought purple prose, which seems to be an unfortunate hallmark of its author, Stanley Gordon West (as I discovered in suffering through his first novel, AMOS). And yet its underlying plot-line - an undermanned rag-tag small town high school basketball team which wins out over impossible odds - is actually pretty compelling, and certain elements of the basketball odyssey can almost give you goosebumps. Man of LaMancha, Rocky, Hoosiers, and even Cinderella - the parallels here to all of the above are almost painfully obvious. But corny coincidence and and contrived subplots and backstories often serve to compound the sheer awfulness of the writing.The book has wonderful possibilities and would probably make a wonderful Disney-esque fairy-tale-ending kinda film, providing it had a good screenwriter to rewrite or remove much of the awkward and unlikely dialogue found here. Because even the love scenes between the English teacher/coach-protagonist, Sam Pickett, and his assistant coach/bio teacher, Diana, are often simply laughable in the way they're rendered - more of that dreadfully 'purple' prose and awful metaphors and similes that West seems so unfortunately fond of. And he will do anything for alliteration, even if it ruins whole scenes and passages. I'm not going to offer any quotes or examples here. I did that when I reviewed AMOS. And anyway, all you have to do is open the book to nearly any page and you'll immediately see what I mean.But hey, if you can ignore all that stuff - if you can skim over it and just follow the arc of the main plot: the basketball stuff - then you might still enjoy the book, as my wife did. And once I learned the necessity of skimming, I enjoyed it too. An astute and honest editor, however, would probably have eliminated at least 200 pages of all the fake-flowery crap found in its more than 500 pages.Relentlessly wrenchingly revolting writing (how's that for awful alliteration?), but all the elements for a good story. Or, as the rate-the-record teenage panelists on American Bandstand used to often say, "It's got a good beat, but the woids are hardta understand." Sorry, Stanley. A 'C+' for effort.read more
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This was a feel-good, root-for-the-underdog kind of book. Reminscent of the movie "Hoosiers", it follows a (VERY) small Montana high school attempting to keep its basketball program alive. Alas, it's often predictable and was drawn out much longer than it needed to be. While I wouldn't call the writing stellar, and the reader (in the audio edition) was somewhat annoying at times (most often when trying to simulate Dean's freshman, squeaky voice), the characters were memorable & I found myself sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the story. Olaf, the Norwegian "Oaf", was by far my favorite character. If you enjoy rooting for the underdog, this is a good book for you. However, you also better enjoy high school basketball, because there's a fair amount of it in this book.read more
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West has managed to capture the feeling of growing up in a Class C Montana town perfectly. I grew up in Medicine Lake. We went to state in 1986 -- the first time in many years. I remember the excitement of the games. It is a wonderful book.read more
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This is a feel-good story about a high school basketball team in the small town of Willow Creek, Montana. Made up of an eccentric mix of characters, including a Norwegian exchange student and a couple boys from troubled homes, the team is led by Coach Sam Pickett. As the team racks up victory after victory, the town rallies behind them. A bit over-sentimentalized and over-romanticized, Blind Your Ponies is still an entertaining and heartwarming read.read more
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A book about a tiny Montana town and the scrappy high school basketball team that takes the entire town on the ride of their lives. Being born and raised in Montana I can attest that those little towns all exist and these details added to the interest for me. I think without this background the sheer number of teams and games played may get to be a little much. The pacing of the book is slow and it allows you to envelop yourself in the book but be prepared to listen to/read about a lot of basketball. At first I did not like the narrator but he grew on me by the middle and I felt his voice lent itself well to this story. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories of small towns or underdogs or for people looking for a nice, friendly read.read more
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a little too many basketball game reports. Int he beginnign it was interesting to get to know the characters but then it blew up in one sports reprot after the other and was not beoivable any more. Too goody. All the kids are perfect in the game all balck and white, not grey zones. I hoped for a little bit more inside of the life ina small town. It is a ok summer read. I think if I would have gotten the book instead of the Cd I would have just flipped over the game reports.read more
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This is a great book for the sports-minded individual, especially for the male population. The title is based on an old Indian legend about braves returning to the village and finding the whole village dead from a plague. The braves, not wanting to live, tied a clothe over their ponies eyes to blind them and then rode them over a cliff. The story is set in the winter in Montana in a very small high school. The basketball team has lost over 90 games, and yet they continue to play. Two new players join the team, a 7' Norwegian exchange student and a determined basketball player from Minnesota. The majority of the story follows the basketball season and the frustrations of the team from Willow Creek. The quirky town people show the despair, regret, and longings found in any small town. Each person's story unfolds as the basketball season commences.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had my husband listen to this book, I wasn't aware it would be in audio form and don't listen to audio books. So, he really enjoyed the storyline of this book , although sometimes he said the writing gets a little "flowery", it was still well written. The story was about a small town team that ends up doing well against all odds. He said he would other books by this author just hoped he would pick someone else to read it for audio.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm a sucker for a good sports underdog story like Hoosiers and Rudy. Blind Your Ponies is that and so much more. Set in Willow Creek, Montana, a town whose basketball team hasn't won a game in the last five years. The story centers around the coach Sam Pickett but there is huge cast of unique supporting characters that reside in the small town. As Sam tries for one last season to build a winning basketball team, he is also struggling with a past that haunts him. As the story progresses, Sam becomes aware that most everyone in the town has personal challenges too and he looks to them for inspiration.I became totally absorbed in the story - the characters were all really well-developed and relatable. However, I listened to this book on audio and at times it was hard to keep track of some of the minor characters. Having a paper copy and being able to page back through what I had already read would have been helpful. The other criticism I have is that some of the dialogue was a little over the top and at times a tad cheesy.Even though this is at heart an underdog sports story, the author kept it from being too predictable - I was still on the edge of my seat at times.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've officially given up on Blind Your Ponies. I've been reading a page here and there, and even though the actual story is interesting, I just detest the flowery way that the author writes. I want to smack him upside the face everytime I read one of his stupid ephemisms...gimme a break.....they're called "breasts" not "succulent orchards". Sheesh.....And lest you think I'm an urban snob, I grew up on a farm in western Montana, lived there for 30 years, my town was so small that there was only 23 kids in my graduating high school class, so I do get it, I just think it was so badly written, that I couldn't make it all the way through!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In the small Montana town of Willow Creek is a young english teacher and basketball coach, Sam Pickett. He moved to Willow Creek in the hopes of escaping the memories of his lost wife only to wonder what led him and his fellow neighbors to stay in such a place.A very great and fulfilling story that brings the reader a sense of hope for all aspects of life. I found myself depressed as much as i found myself cheering for the underdogs Broncs, the basketball team. I thought this was a great story but it is filled with Basketball so anyone who is not a fan of sports might not enjoy the story as much.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I started out enjoying this novel quite a bit but, boy, did it fizzle at about the halfway point. I think it just suffers from the very common "needs an editor badly" malady. It is just so incredibly repetitive in its themes and characters. We find out everyone's motivations pretty early on and we are bonked on the head with that for 400+ more pages. Also, as everyone points out, everyone is just SO perfect, forgiving and wonderful, the teenage kids especially (I simply don't know these kinds of kids - maybe I have to go to Montana). The one evil drunk Dad is pretty cliche. The quirkiness of the characters are all unrealistically endearing (instead of annoying) and the plot all falls together packaged with a beautiful bow. However, I will say, it was a bit refreshing to at least live in a world where people are THIS nice to each other, even though it doesn't really mirror reality. Still, a nice illusion all the same. The high school basketball games too droned on and on and on. A few exciting ones would have held a lot more punch/interest. I actually did not care if they won by the end because I knew, based on how perfect everything was, they would.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Blind Your Ponies is a book about coming out of the ashes of loss, anger, fear and depression. The name is taken from an old Indian legend. A group of Indian men went out to hunt but when they arrived back at their camp they found it ravaged by small pox. The men couldn't stand the loss of their women and children so they put blinders on their ponies and rode them off of an 80 ft cliff.Willow Creek, Montana is a very small town just outside of Bozeman, Montana. It seems to collect residents who have suffered loss of some kind in their lives and are trying to get away or hide from the pain. Sam Pickett, the main character of the story, is running from the horrific death of his girlfriend Amy. At 36 years old he has moved to the tiny town of Willow Creek to be an English teacher and eventually the basketball coach. Willow Creek school is one building housing grades K-12 and their basketball team hasn't won a game in 5 years, that is a total of 93 losses. This year two new students have come to Willow Creek. Peter is staying with his Grandmother while his parents get divorced and Olaf is an exchange student from Norway. The school is able to put together 5 boys to make their team. As the boys learn to work together as a team, supporting each other on and off the court, the whole town begins to change. The residents also learn to support each other and start to let go of the pain of their pasts. Through pain and sorrow, laughter and joy the residents are reborn.My husband and I listened to this audio book together, all 15 Cd's totaling 19+ hours of audio. This may seem long, but it never lagged and we found the authors humor to be very amusing. The characters could have been people from our everyday lives and were written to appeal in that way. We found ourselves caring about this cast of characters and talking about them as if they were real. We both wholeheartedly loved this story and the characters. One critique is that we thought the end of the book just dropped off without completely wrapping up the story lines. Now if the author plans on writing a sequel that works, otherwise it was the wrong way to end the book. We do still highly recommend this book and the audio gives it extra life.Stanley Gordon West was born in 1932 and lived in Bozeman, Montana for several years. This book is based in and around Bozeman so the authors knowledge of this area works well with the story. And yes, there is a tiny town of Willow Creek, MT just outside of Bozeman.Traber Burns is the voice of Blind Your Ponies. He is a graduate of Tulane University and has worked for 30+ years in theater and occasional television and film. His voice is smooth, easy to listen to and most importantly easy to understand. He varies his voice pitch and accent for different characters, but not so much as to make the audio annoying or corny. I would happily listen to Mr. Burns read a story to me again.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Audio version (CD) received from HighBridge Publishers and LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Thank you so much. Have heard mixed reviews on this one, however am looking forward to a good "ear-read" of the book. :)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Stanley Gordon West’s Blind Your Ponies is a mildly entertaining story of an underdog high school basketball team in rural Montana. The team has gone five years without a win, and the morale of the entire town is affected by it. The story is simplistic and fairly repetitive. Although I ended up rooting for the team in spite of myself, I found that I kept wishing that the author had done things differently throughout the book. I wanted him to take us a little deeper into the hearts of the characters instead of just repeating their feelings over and over. (Showing instead of Telling!) We know that Coach Sam Pickett is mourning the death of his wife Amy, who was murdered five years earlier. We know he misses her, he misses her, he misses her, but we are shown almost nothing of Amy’s personality or their life together. Likewise, foreign exchange student Olaf Gustafson says repeatedly he can’t tell his father he plays basketball because he is not good at it, yet we are shown none of Olaf’s actual memories, instances in which his father was disappointed in him. I also wondered what in the world had happened to Maggie Painter to make her believe that everyone would believe the words of Carl, a violent, alcoholic boy rather than her own account of events. Glimpses into the backgrounds/memories of these characters would have made the novel richer and the constant repetition of facts unnecessary.Although the prose in Blind Your Ponies is often fine, there are times that the metaphors seem downright silly. “…he tried to concentrate on what she was saying and keep his eyes on her natural, unpainted face when they wanted to tippytoe the outline of her sumptuous orchard or trace the nape of her supple neck.” West also changes the way he refers to several characters (for example, sometimes Coach Pickett, sometimes Sam), in the same paragraph. It’s like he isn’t sure how he wants the reader to be thinking of the character. It’s always fun to read about the little guy coming out ahead against all odds, but I think West could have done a better job with this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm now a huge fan of audio books and Blind Your Ponies is a good example of why. The story is set in Willow Creek Montana and is really a story of overcoming challenges. However a huge background of the story is that it is about a basketball coach and there is a lot of basketball in the story....and I hate basketball. If this had been a book I know I would have put it down. But because it was an audio book with a great narrator, it brought the basketball scenes more to life for me (something my own imaginations voice wouldn't have been able to do) and I was able to enjoy this heartwarming tale. As an audio book I rated it four stars. If I had been required to read it I may have been upset with all the basketball distracting me and unfairly rated it much lower.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Willow Creek Montana is a small town that can just barely put together a high school basketball team of five boys. Even though the team hasn't won for years and has 93 straight losses, it's the basketball team that makes the townspeople come together during the dark winter nights.But this year could be different. There's an uncoordinated 6'11 Norwegian exchange student who has never played basketball and another boy escaping the wreckage of his parents' marriage who comes to town to live with his one armed hippy grandmother. They join the team--the kid who wants to ride bulls in rodeos to escape his drunken father and those who have played their whole high school career without a single win. The characters and the town itself have detailed back stories including the coach and English teacher Sam Pickett; his assistant coach, Diane; the three legged tomcat that becomes the team mascot, and the bicycle built for two left on the steps of the local cafe thirty years ago.Packed into a decrepit bus dubbed Rozinante after Don Quixote's nag, the team sets off to tilt at windmills once more. This was the 2011 book chosen for the One Book Montana statewide read sponsored by Humanities Montana and the choice for my book club in September.Author Stanley G West self-published this book. His story of the success of this book is much like the story he tells here. He sold this book store to store from the back of his car and when he had sold 40,000 copies, he overcame the impossible and Algoinquin finally picked it up. West has since published other books and had one made into a made-for-TV movie.This is a great feel good book about dealing with adversity and overcoming impossible odds. The characters are very well done--they are people I have known living in small town Montana. West really captures the small town atmosphere and spirit.ButI think an editor could have taken this from being a regional sensation to a really good book. At 600 pages, it's very wordy. There are play by play descriptions of a dozen or so basketball games which all but the most dedicated basketball fans will find themselves skimming.3.8 stars
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Giving a book a 5-star rating is an unusual thing for me to do, but "Blind Your Ponies" deserves those stars, not because it was perfect but because when I was listening to it, I felt like I lived in Willow Creek, Montana, and the characters were my neighbors and my friends (and an enemy or two), and I cared about them and I laughed and then the tears fell and then I'd have my hand over my mouth in shock, and I had to remind myself, it's just a book, it's just a book. To me, That's Entertainment!
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Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love stories set in small towns about ordinary people. The author really captured the small town life. I went to a very small grade school and had 12 in my 8th grade class, so I can relate to a small rural school like the one in the book.I agree with other reviewers that it was reminiscent of "Hoosiers", which I loved. I always want the underdog to win!But, the reader was very annoying at times, and had it not been that I was drawn in by the quirky characters, I would have turned off the player.
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I was only able to finish BLIND YOUR PONIES by skim-reading it, by 'blinding' myself to its awful, overwrought purple prose, which seems to be an unfortunate hallmark of its author, Stanley Gordon West (as I discovered in suffering through his first novel, AMOS). And yet its underlying plot-line - an undermanned rag-tag small town high school basketball team which wins out over impossible odds - is actually pretty compelling, and certain elements of the basketball odyssey can almost give you goosebumps. Man of LaMancha, Rocky, Hoosiers, and even Cinderella - the parallels here to all of the above are almost painfully obvious. But corny coincidence and and contrived subplots and backstories often serve to compound the sheer awfulness of the writing.The book has wonderful possibilities and would probably make a wonderful Disney-esque fairy-tale-ending kinda film, providing it had a good screenwriter to rewrite or remove much of the awkward and unlikely dialogue found here. Because even the love scenes between the English teacher/coach-protagonist, Sam Pickett, and his assistant coach/bio teacher, Diana, are often simply laughable in the way they're rendered - more of that dreadfully 'purple' prose and awful metaphors and similes that West seems so unfortunately fond of. And he will do anything for alliteration, even if it ruins whole scenes and passages. I'm not going to offer any quotes or examples here. I did that when I reviewed AMOS. And anyway, all you have to do is open the book to nearly any page and you'll immediately see what I mean.But hey, if you can ignore all that stuff - if you can skim over it and just follow the arc of the main plot: the basketball stuff - then you might still enjoy the book, as my wife did. And once I learned the necessity of skimming, I enjoyed it too. An astute and honest editor, however, would probably have eliminated at least 200 pages of all the fake-flowery crap found in its more than 500 pages.Relentlessly wrenchingly revolting writing (how's that for awful alliteration?), but all the elements for a good story. Or, as the rate-the-record teenage panelists on American Bandstand used to often say, "It's got a good beat, but the woids are hardta understand." Sorry, Stanley. A 'C+' for effort.
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This was a feel-good, root-for-the-underdog kind of book. Reminscent of the movie "Hoosiers", it follows a (VERY) small Montana high school attempting to keep its basketball program alive. Alas, it's often predictable and was drawn out much longer than it needed to be. While I wouldn't call the writing stellar, and the reader (in the audio edition) was somewhat annoying at times (most often when trying to simulate Dean's freshman, squeaky voice), the characters were memorable & I found myself sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the story. Olaf, the Norwegian "Oaf", was by far my favorite character. If you enjoy rooting for the underdog, this is a good book for you. However, you also better enjoy high school basketball, because there's a fair amount of it in this book.
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West has managed to capture the feeling of growing up in a Class C Montana town perfectly. I grew up in Medicine Lake. We went to state in 1986 -- the first time in many years. I remember the excitement of the games. It is a wonderful book.
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This is a feel-good story about a high school basketball team in the small town of Willow Creek, Montana. Made up of an eccentric mix of characters, including a Norwegian exchange student and a couple boys from troubled homes, the team is led by Coach Sam Pickett. As the team racks up victory after victory, the town rallies behind them. A bit over-sentimentalized and over-romanticized, Blind Your Ponies is still an entertaining and heartwarming read.
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A book about a tiny Montana town and the scrappy high school basketball team that takes the entire town on the ride of their lives. Being born and raised in Montana I can attest that those little towns all exist and these details added to the interest for me. I think without this background the sheer number of teams and games played may get to be a little much. The pacing of the book is slow and it allows you to envelop yourself in the book but be prepared to listen to/read about a lot of basketball. At first I did not like the narrator but he grew on me by the middle and I felt his voice lent itself well to this story. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories of small towns or underdogs or for people looking for a nice, friendly read.
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a little too many basketball game reports. Int he beginnign it was interesting to get to know the characters but then it blew up in one sports reprot after the other and was not beoivable any more. Too goody. All the kids are perfect in the game all balck and white, not grey zones. I hoped for a little bit more inside of the life ina small town. It is a ok summer read. I think if I would have gotten the book instead of the Cd I would have just flipped over the game reports.
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