I read because I must. It's like breathing to me. And I love talking about books. But I'm also an Arsenal fan, a wine drinker, a music lover and weirdly obsessed with pop culture. I mostly blog about books, but sometimes about things I'm thinking or doing. When I'm not on the blog, I'm managing software implementations.

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Recent Posts

  • I Don’t Have A Happy Place
  • Keeping Track, Keeping Fun
  • Big Little Lies
  • This Morning, I Held an Urn
  • The Girl On The Train

I Don’t Have A Happy Place

Posted on 13 Apr 2015 In: Reading

screenshot206 I Don’t Have a Happy Place. Well, I do. I have a happy place. But author Kim Korson doesn’t, as she shares with us in her poignant and funny and touching memoir, I Don’t Have A Happy Place.  I mean, where else can there be humor in the drowning of your best friend’s babysitter’s sister? Ok, maybe not really, but it’s at least a  little funny the way Korson tells it.

And that’s what draws you into I Don’t Have A Happy Place. Completely relatable to some, and completely exasperating to others (me), I Don’t Have A Happy Place is the kind of read that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in the place of someone who is never quite at home in her own skin, or in any situation.

And to me, that’s the gem of the book. Even if we don’t have Korson’s issues, most all of us feel, at some time, off kilter and out of sorts with the world around us. Korson just tells us that it’s OK.  She’s been lucky enough to find a partner who gets her, no matter how much she may frustrate him. And she gets him, which is the equal beauty.

She’s also brutally honest in her interpretation of life. If there’s a downside to be found, she’ll discover it. But thankfully, the book doesn’t dwell in Debbie Downer. Well, it sort of does, but in a humorous, self-deprecating way. In fact, part of the joy in reading the book is discovering happiness and gratitude in places where Korson least expected it.  Is Disney really the happiest place on earth?

What Korson does well is show us that people who fundamentally don’t have  a happy place want largely what we all (generally) do- to find their own place in this world. And there is one.

It’s through reading about the experiences of others not like me that I strive to be more empathetic. A better person.  Someone more understanding. But it’s also a guide in how to come to peace with ourselves, however imperfect we may be.

Recommended for those who like memoirs, and revel in imperfection.  It’s out TODAY and available anywhere you buy books.

Keeping Track, Keeping Fun

Posted on 12 Mar 2015 In: Reading

Books in progressI do love reading and writing reviews. And although I’ve been doing this since 2010 (wow!) I still get a little thrill of flattery when an author or publisher asks me to review their work.

There’s all kinds of things to consider with a review request.  First and foremost, for me, is stating clearly  in my review policy that a request for a review does not guarantee a positive review.  But things like review policies are only the tip of the iceberg.

What’s become challenging for me is keeping track of review requests and managing them in a timely manner, while still reading and reviewing books just for fun.  Although I’ve created a separate email folder and label for review requests, I’ve found it hard for me to always stay on track and complete reviews in a timely manner.

I’ve been thinking about this for several days, and I’ve decided to make better use of the fabulous calendar I have from erincondren.com.  Yes, I’m old school and still like a paper calendar although most things are also tracked electronically.

I’ve decided I need to treat requested review reading a little bit like homework. Select a date for review publication, mark it in the calendar, then plan around that due date to read the book and write the review.  Only one thing about that worries me.  Reading is FUN!  I adore getting lost in a book, staying up late because I have to know what happens next, reading as fast as I can.  And I don’t want that thrill to go away.  I want to be able to revel in a book that just catches my eye.  That means I can’t have this process be too regimented, or reading and blogging becomes a second, unpaid job.  So, I think I am going to change my review commitments, and agree to only two reviews a month.  That should give me the balance I’m looking for, and give the authors and publishers who ask me to consider their books for review the attention that they deserve.

I’m curious to know what authors, publishers, and other bloggers might think of this approach. What works for you?



Big Little Lies

Posted on 2 Mar 2015 In: Reading

Big Little Lies The Husband’s Secret was one of those books that took the women’s fiction world by storm- lots of buzz about it. I read it and I liked it. I wanted to read more by Liane Moriarty. Big Little Lieswas the next one I chose, and I listened to the audiobook. This is one where I looked for more opportunities to listen, because I wanted to know what happened next.

Big Little Lies is set in a seaside community in Australia. The local primary school is the central setting around Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. Each of these women has children starting kindergarten. Madeline is fierce and loyal and is struggling with her ex-husband and his new wife, as well as with her teenage daughter who suddenly seems to prefer her father to her mother.

Celeste is that “perfect mom” – stop-and-stare beautiful with longed-for twin sons and a handsome, successful husband.  But sometimes, the price for perfection is high, and Celeste has to decide how much she’s willing to pay.

Jane is a young single mom, new to the community. She fiercely loves her son but also fears what he may be.

Big Little Lies explores relationships between friends and families, but also the lies we tell ourselves about our own lives.

Liane Moriarty is a good storyteller.  She creates relate-able, authentic characters. She tells a compelling story in a way that engages and entertains readers. More than once in listening to Big Little Lies, I found myself indignant on behalf of the characters; wondering what I might do in their situation; scoffing at the high-school-like behavior of some adults.

Big Little Lies reveals those parts of ourselves we often try to keep secret. The pieces we may share with our therapists, but may not tell even our best friends.  I like this one, and highly recommend to anyone who enjoys good fiction, and especially women’s fiction.

This Morning, I Held an Urn

Posted on 28 Feb 2015 In: Thinking

Today I held an urn in my lap. It was cold and unyielding, but it contains what little pieces of you remain on this earth.  It is not the same as a hug from you- a hug I’ve missed for many months now, but it is the closest I can get.

And I felt, strangely enough, a bit of peace as I held your urn.

I am wearing one of your rings.  The one you bought in Hawaii when I took you for your birthday in 2007.

Tonight we will melt dark chocolate on saltine crackers.

It’s your birthday. You aren’t here to share it with us, but we will still celebrate you.

The Girl On The Train

Posted on 16 Feb 2015 In: Reading

The Girl on the TrainThis is the book the everyone is talking about right now. The one that has a “twist like Gone Girl” and has 910 (at the time of writing) five-star reviews on Amazon; an average 3.96 rating on Goodreads with over 27,000 ratings.  And it was good.  But I guessed the twist. So that makes it slightly less awesome for me.

That being said, if you liked Gone Girl or you like books like Gone Girl where you know things just aren’t quite what they appear; if you like fast-paced reads that do make you wonder if what you’re guessing is right, then The Girl On The Train is definitely one you should check out.

From Amazon:

“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.”

This was a quick, enjoyable read.  I don’t know that I agree with emotionally immersive in the way the Amazon synopsis means it, but I will say the most intriguing part of the book to me was Rachel’s struggle with her own demons.  And I did keep turning pages, wanting to know what happened next. This was a terribly fast read for me, encompassed largely in one day, so I was not at all bored by the story.

But I guessed the twist (and so has everyone else I have talked to who has read the book), so I can’t quite give it five stars. But I can tell you this:  for something engrossing, engaging, and highly entertaining, The Girl On The Train is one you will want to add to your reading list.