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Bio

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

  • Someone Explain It To Me, Please
  • Stuck in the Passing Lane
  • A Week at the Lake
  • Autumn Crush
  • Where They Found Her

Someone Explain It To Me, Please

Posted on 28 Jul 2015 In: Thinking

 

This post is about Cecil the Lion and my thoughts around this occurrence. The circumstances around Cecil’s death have made me sad and  sick to my stomach.  Stop reading now if you don’t want to know more. I’m recounting the details as I have read them, and they are disgusting to say the least.

 

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Cecil the Lion.  By all accounts a gentle giant doing his Lion thing in Zimbabwe.  A tourist attraction bringing in far more than the $55,00 it is speculated that an American paid for the chance to hunt Cecil.  Although hunt isn’t exactly what I would call it.

Baited.  Lured from his preserve.

Shot with a Crossbow.  At night.

Tracked for 40 hours as he weakened.

Beheaded.

Skinned.

His corpse left to rot.

All for “sport”.  Illegal.  His six male cubs will likely now also face death as an adult male seeks dominance of the Pride.

This “big game hunter” is allegedly a dentist form Minnesota who has paid for this “privilege” before.  I don’t understand it.  Please, someone explain it to me.

I have many family members who hunt, and who process their game.  Although I don’t hunt, I can understand this.  I cannot fathom situations like Cecil. And countless other animals poached for sport.  It makes me sick and sad, and if someone can explain the appeal to me, I’d at least listen.  But,  to me,  it seems a pretty cowardly way to prove your prowess.

Stuck in the Passing Lane

Posted on 27 Jul 2015 In: Reading

Passing Lane Jed Ringel’s memoir, Stuck in the Passing Lane provides a brutally honest look at dating for a middle-aged man coming out of a twenty-three year marriage.

Dating has changed a lot in those twenty-three years. Online dating alone is a whole different animal. Jed is trying to not repeat the mistakes of his marriage. His teenaged daughters freely express their thoughts about Jed and his dating. And in his efforts to find the “right” woman, Jed dates every type of woman- an intellectual elitist from Moscow; a barely literate Chinese massage parlor queen, among others.

The challenge for Jed, as he’s looking for his soulmate, is Jed. He’s his own worst enemy,at least at the beginning.  His drinking is out of control; he’s truly in a downward spiral.  I’ll admit, I didn’t much care for this Jed.  Thankfully, he catches himself and begins AA, and the “real” Jed begins to emerge.

What starts out as merely a dating memoir begins to delve into what makes us the people  we are, the choices we make in relationships. What we look for into relationships, and what we bring to relationships.  Against the backdrop of dating, Jed is able to explore his upbringing and begins to understand what has shaped him into the person he is.

I was a bit skeptical when I began reading Stuck in the Passing Lane.  I had a different expectation of it when I started reading it.  What I got was something deeper than I originally expected, and I ended up rooting for Jed to find happiness.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A Week at the Lake

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 In: Reading

Fifth in my vacation reads series is Wendy Wax’s new release, A Week at the Lake. A week at the beach was the perfect setting to read this women’s fiction piece, although I certainly didn’t need a whole week to read the book.

From the publisher’s summary:

Twenty years ago, Emma Michaels, Mackenzie Hayes, and Serena Stockton bonded over their New York City dreams. Then, each summer, they solidified their friendship by spending one week at the lake together, solving their problems over bottles of wine and gallons of ice cream. They kept the tradition for years, until jealousy, lies, and life’s disappointments made them drift apart.

It’s been five years since Emma has seen her friends, an absence designed to keep them from discovering a long-ago betrayal. Now she’s in desperate need of their support. The time has come to reveal her secrets—and hopefully rekindle their connection.

But when a terrible accident keeps Emma from saying her piece, Serena and Mackenzie begin to learn about the past on their own. Now, to heal their friendship and their broken lives, the three women will have to return to the lake that once united them, and discover which relationships are worth holding on to . . .

I reviewed Wax’s The Accidental Bestseller the year I started this blog, but I hadn’t taken the time to read another of her books until now.  And after reading A Week at the Lake, I bought another of Wax’s books on my recent trip to the bookstore, because I was reminded that I really like her writing style.

There are people you stop everything for- people you are just there for, no matter what else might be going on in your life. And that is what happens at the beginning of A Week at the Lake. Despite not being a part of each other’s lives for a while, Serena and Mackenzie step in to support Emma when she needs it most.  The old resentments  seem inconsequential at this point. And isn’t that often the case when tragedy strikes? We forget – or place on the back burner- the old hurts and focus instead on the things that are really important.

The issue here is that Emma’s betrayal is a big one. And while I saw it coming, that didn’t lessen the impact it had on the relationships between Serena, Mackenzie, and Emma. Each woman must do some deep soul searching to see if she can find forgiveness in her heart and rebuild a friendship.

There was one part of the book that I felt could have used some additional fleshing out regarding Emma, but I don’t want to say anything more about that now because I don’t want to spoil anything.  I can’t decide if I think it is really important that it doesn’t have a more prominent focus or if it truly should be secondary and really not matter to the rest of the story.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this one, and was glad to be reminded of Wax’s storytelling ability.  It should be noted that I read an uncorrected proof of the book, in exchange for an honest review, and it is possible that there are changes to the published version.

Autumn Crush

Posted on 20 Jul 2015 In: Reading

Another of my vacation reads this summer was Autumn Crush, by Andrew Eustace Anselmi.

From the book summary:

Guy Bennett was one of America’s post-World War II success stories. Born of Italian immigrants during the Depression, he became a captain of industry, with a skyscraper in New York City and a son in the United States Senate. The applause mutes and friends grow scarce, however, when Guy stands before the court in 1989 accused of the double murder of his business partner, Vito Petrozzini, and Petrozzini’s wife. District Attorney Thomas Straid, still licking his wounds from his senatorial defeat to Guy’s son, believes he has all the evidence that he needs to throw away the key on Guy. The defense spans the globe and reaches back generations in search of an acquittal, unearthing a family secret that reveals the cold and devastating truth. In the end, a diminished yet renewed Bennett family gathers for their annual rite of making wine, which they call The Autumn Crush. The book is not only a murder mystery and family saga, but also a probe of the incipient cultural tensions and narcissism of the late twentieth century that are now part of the new American fabric.

This book told me more of the Italian immigrant story than I had ever really read before, giving me an appreciation for how difficult it would be to give up everything you know in search of a better life.

Guy Bennett truly is a success story. He adores his family and wants the best for them. He’s worked hard for his wealth but still feels a bit the outsider.  While he wants happiness and success for his children, he also strives to hold onto some of the old Italian traditions.  I enjoyed reading about Guy’s father’s journey to America and how he built a life for himself despite not knowing the language and having to work terribly hard for anything he wanted.

And while they aren’t perfect, I like Guy and Marie’s children. They’re trying to find the right balance of modern Americans against the Old Ways. That inevitably leads to conflicts within the family.  Add in the murder trial, and it’s a good mix of conflicts on multiple levels.

It took me a bit to get into the novel, and sometimes following the broken English was tedious. But upon reflection, that is important. It gives you a perspective on how difficult it is for someone who isn’t a native speaker. The opera background knowledge was something new as well.  So while this one started with a slow burn, I did enjoy the story and the resolution of the mystery.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Where They Found Her

Posted on 16 Jul 2015 In: Reading

Last year, I read Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia.  I don’t think I ever reviewed it.  I’m not sure why. I loved the book and raved about it to friends, but I never sat down to write a post.  So when a friend who had also enjoyed Reconstructing Amelia said I needed to also read McCreight’s newly released second novel,  Where They Found Her  I promptly downloaded it.

This is the latest in a string of quick reads for me. From the Amazon book summary:

An idyllic suburban town.

A devastating discovery.

Shocking revelations that will change three lives forever.

At the end of a long winter in well-to-do Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of a newborn is found in the woods fringing the campus of the town’s prestigious university. No one knows the identity of the baby, what ended her very short life, or how she came to be found among the fallen leaves. But for the residents of Ridgedale, there is no shortage of opinions.

When freelance journalist and recent Ridgedale transplant Molly Sanderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the disturbing news for the Ridgedale Reader—the town’s local paper—she has good reason to hesitate. A severe depression followed the loss of her own baby, and this assignment could unearth memories she has tried hard to bury. But the disturbing history Molly uncovers is not her own. Her investigation reveals a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind Ridgedale’s white picket fences.

Told from the perspectives of three Ridgedale women, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth behind the tragedy, revealing that these women have far more in common than they could ever have imagined: that the very worst crimes are committed against those we love. And that—sooner or later—the past catches up to all of us.

From the outset, I was curious about this story. I knew from Reconstructing Amelia that McCreight would weave an intricate story, providing subtle clues about the characters and their actions. I like sifting through the hints and determining if I can figure out what is really going on. Although a very different writer than Gillian Flynn, McCreight’s novels are in the same vein, so I think anyone who enjoys the complex characters and layers of Flynn’s novels will like McCreight’s storytelling. The characters are not one dimensional, and we see that the face they present may be very different than how they feel internally. We also see that outside actions that seem off-putting can actually be the result of concerned motivation, or just trying to hold it together.  We also learn that people are hiding some very dark secrets.  As the summary says, the past eventually catches up with us.

I liked the twist McCreight provides and I liked that there’s a lot of grey in this story. Life is messy, and this book doesn’t mark all characters as white hats or black hats.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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