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 scoping deals for a professional services company, hanging out with friends, or seeing some live theater.

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Everyone Loves You Back

Posted on 27 Dec 2016 In: Reading

screenshot96 Did you ever listen to Click and Clack, of NPR’s Car Talk? Then Everyone Loves You Back has an immediate hook for you. Author Louie Cronin was a producer for Car Talk. And this is her debut novel.

From the Amazon summary:
Sex. Wine. Jazz. Existential dread.

Meet Bob, a sarcastic radio technician who has enough on his plate trying to navigate his forties without his Cambridge neighborhood becoming overrun by urban treehuggers and uppity intellectuals in tracksuits. Between a love triangle, a rapidly shrinking job market, and the looming threat of finally growing up, Bob is forced to dig deep―man―and figure out not just what he wants, but who he is. Change hits hard when you live in the past.

Louie Cronin’s breakthrough novel is a coming-of-middle-age story that pays homage to the everyday.

I loved  Car Talk, and learning about Cronin’s connection to the show, and that she was writing about radio, is what made me want to read the book.

And so, with a glass of wine beside me and a soundtrack of Yo Yo Ma, Mozart,  Bach, and Dead Can Dance, I sat down the night after Christmas and read the whole thing.  Overall, I really enjoyed it.  The prose is smart, and while I didn’t laugh out loud, I did find myself smiling- sometimes wryly- more than once.

I liked that the characters were full on adults.  Living in a city that is subject to the same types of development as in this story I could certainly identify with that part of the plot.In fact, Cambridge is as much a character as any of the people. I liked seeing some of the behind the scenes of the radio world.

The characters were entertaining, and drawn out enough that you understand their connection to the story.  I actually thought a few of them would be a fun group at a dinner party.  Some of the neighbors would certainly give you good stories to share with friends. There were four “B” names in the story- all men- so you did have to pay a bit of attention to keep all of them straight.

Without giving much context here, no spoiling, I thought that Bob’s complacence rang true. Most of us have had  time in our life where it is easier to stay the course than it is to make a major change; where starting something new can be almost too daunting.  And I completely understood Bob’s indignation when a secret with one character is revealed. No more on that so you won’t get spoiled. I also understood why his neighbors so got to Bob, although I think there are times where he let that work against him.

Riff was a delightful character- he’s at the point where really, he has few f’s left to give, and doesn’t mind letting that be known.

This is a highly recommend for me, and I look forward to more from Louie Cronin.


Promise Not To Tell

Posted on 20 Dec 2016 In: Reading

In keeping with my recent trend of pure escapism reading, I picked up Jennifer McMahon’s Promise Not to Tell at the airport the other day.

Synopsis (from the publisher)
Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother, who’s afflicted with Alzheimer’s. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate’s childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as “Potato Girl”—was brutally slain. Del’s killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

Overall, the story was entertaining.   There were definite twists, trying to figure out the “Whodunnit” and more importantly, the Why?

The poignant part of the book is how we as children too often single out that one child to ostracize and pick on. And hopefully as we grow up, we see how truly terrible that behavior is, and never act that way again.   As the story is told in Kate’s flashbacks to her childhood and her friendship with Del, contrasted against her desire to also be one of the popular girls, I think more than one reader will recognize Kate’s conflict. And what we learn as part of the story is that true courage comes in many forms.

That’s the part of the book that spoke more deeply than I anticipated.  Now, without spoiling, I didn’t really go for how parts of the mystery were revealed.  While entertaining, I mostly believe they are implausible. Not a plot contrivance, exactly, but for someone on the more skeptical side, it just doesn’t ring true.

That being said, I had fun reading the book, and learning the who and the why.  I felt terribly sorry for Del, who had her own unique courage, and who must have worn a  heavy mask.  While I didn’t love the reveal of the bad guy, I’d still say this one is a decent, quick, escapist read.


The Rundown

Posted on 28 Nov 2016 In: Reading

So, life has been in the way a lot over the last few months. Nothing bad, just a lot of travel for work and a little for vacation. Then catching up on all the things at home when I have been here.  I’ve read a lot, but the blogging has fallen by the wayside a bit. I miss it.  I am planning to get back on track, with full reviews. But in the meantime, I’m going to give you a quick rundown on books I have recently finished and a few thoughts on them all.

I should warn you, lots of fluff, escapism reading lately.  Nothing deeply profound, and that is OK.  I don’t apologize for that.  Read what catches your interest!

So, here we go:

The Dublin Murder Squad series, books 1-5, by Tana French.

I forget how I chose the first one, but I was entertained enough figuring it out that I wanted to read the next one. What makes these unique? It isn’t one set of characters the whole way through. A major/minor character in Book 1 was the focus of Book 2. Someone from Book 2 was the main character in Book 3, and so on. That keeps things fresh and interesting. All the books are set in and around Dublin, so there’s a good bit of Irish slang. But if you aren’t familiar, you can still figure it out. Mystery lovers, check these out.


In a Dark, Dark Wood by  Ruth Ware

screenshot75Another mystery, set in the UK. What I liked about this one? The story was told from current time and in flashbacks, so it takes a bit to get to the crux of the story. I also didn’t figure out exactly who did it until close to the very end, and then it was how?. I liked it enough that I was immediately on a quest for another read from Ruth Ware and frustrated I couldn’t find it in local bookstores. I finally downloaded from Amazon.


Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, by Sara Hepola

screenshot76If you’ve ever wondered if you have a drinking problem, this book will make you seriously think about it and evaluate a life of complete sobriety. If you don’t have a drinking problem, it may still make you think about it. This memoir is one that is honest and at times brutal. But it is authentic and true. You can’t help but admire Hepola for overcoming her demons. It wasn’t easy. It surely wasn’t pretty, but she decided to get sober, and lived to tell the tale.


The Couple Next Door,  by Shari Lapena screenshot74

One wall separates you from your baby. She’s sleeping, and you and your husband are going home every half our to check on her. You have the monitor with you. So everything is fine, right? I mean, you just checked on her thirty minutes ago. Then you go home for the night, and the crib is empty. Someone has taken your daughter. This is how The Couple Next Doorbegins. An entertaining mystery of what happened to baby Cora, everyone is under suspicion. And just when you think the story is over, it isn’t. There’s a twist. I enjoyed this one.


The Perfect Girl by  Gilly MacMillan screenshot77

Seventeen year old Zoe Maisey has paid her debt for a tragic, terrible accident that left three classmates dead. She and her mother have started over in what is called a Second Chance Life. The story starts at a concert performed by Zoe and her step brother, Lucas, both musical prodigies. After a disastrous encounter that brings Zoe’s past back to haunt her, the perfect Second Chance Family is thrown into tumult. Six hours later, Zoe’s mother is dead. This story weaves together Zoe’s past and present as we learn more about what happened, how people deal with tragedy, and, ultimately, incredible moral choices.


The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

A family torn apart by the death of one twin daughter relocates to a remote Scottish island in the hopes of rebuilding themselves anew. But strange things start happening when surviving twin, Kirstie, insists she’s really Lydia, the twin who died. Sarah and Gus’ marriage is in shambles, and their guilt and Kirstie’s increasingly disturbing behavior threaten to tear them further apart. As distrust in each other, and themselves, grows, they fight to simply survive. There was a twist to this one I didn’t see coming, and I told friends I need them to read this book so that we can talk about it. I also stayed up way too late reading it, so this is another one that mystery and psychological thriller fans will enjoy.


The Girls by Emma Cline

This one reads like the Manson Family member who got away. I had a bit of obsession with the Manson family when I was younger- I couldn’t understand his hold over The Family, so I was really excited to read this one. And I was pretty disappointed. It wasn’t bad. Just meh. I was expecting something more from it than I got. It’s still entertaining. I wanted to love it, but I just didn’t.

So that’s it- a sampling a few of my recent reads. Back to regular postings in the next week or so. And all images courtesy of Amazon.

Dear Ashby

Posted on 7 Sep 2016 In: Thinking

Dear Ashby,

This isn’t a Peggy letter. I know that.  Still, I’ve been composing parts of it since Bret called to tell me that Peggy had left us.  Because while no two experiences are the same, you’re now a member of a club that no one really wants to belong to, one with a very shitty but non-negotiable membership requirement, and I know a few things about this sisterhood. Your walk will not be the same as mine, but I can tell you some things I know to be true regardless of the path you take to reach them.  Like I said, this isn’t a Peggy letter. But I thought you might need a letter right about now, so here it is.

I promise you this: It will get better. The day will come when it sneaks up on you that you feel a little better than you did the day/week/month before.  And sometime after that, hopefully sooner rather than later, you’ll be able to think or talk about Peggy without your voice cracking and you worrying that you’re going to ugly cry at a completely inappropriate time, like someone saying,  “Have a nice day” as you’re checking out at Target. It will get better.

And sometime later still, you will go a few days without thinking about her.  And that’s OK.  Then you’ll speak of her in a matter of fact way and be at peace, and you’ll think “I’ve made it through this. I’m going to be OK.” And that is true.

Sometime after that, maybe nearly two years later,  you’ll be feeling like everything is as normal as it is now. Maybe you’ll be doing something really mundane, like folding socks, and it will hit you like it happened yesterday. Slice you in the heart, kick you in the gut, and you’ll be harshly, horrifically reminded again that she’s gone.  You’ll shed a few tears, and then you’ll go on. It will never be as bad again as it is right now.

You are at that point right now where well meaning people are telling you, maybe in clumsy ways, that they love you. It comes in the form of what you should/should not be doing.  It comes in the form of platitudes of “at least she isn’t suffering any more,” and “at least you had…” and you smile and say “Thank you” out loud, while screaming “Fuck you!” in your head, because you know this is just one of those times when people don’t know what to say.  If they haven’t already, most of the calls and texts and emails will stop. And people will wonder why you haven’t snapped back into your former self,  and you’ll want to strangle them and ask “how can you not understand that nothing will be the same again?!” You are not crazy. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have people to drag you out when you don’t want to go, for coffee/a walk/a drink/a pedicure because sometimes, people not so close to the situation know you need to get out of your head a little bit.  You’ll wake up at hours when you should be sleeping, and you’ll google inane things,  and you’ll watch the Real Housewives of  (Insert City Here), and you won’t be able to concentrate on anything, not even Us Weekly. Your brain will run a thousand miles an hour and you’ll wonder how you’re at all competent at work and with Bret and with your children and your siblings and your dad and your clients, but You’ll do it. 

You’ll realize that most of the time, when people ask “How can I help?” they mean it. And you’ll appreciate the texts and FB posts about Britney and the ones where people say “just checking in on you.” You’ll forgive most of the people who don’t handle this like you need them to. You’ll be angry, maybe irrationally so, at random people. But some will deserve it. You may tell them. You may write a letter to them that you never send. You may rage against them in your mind. You may decide to let it go because it’s just not that important in the big scheme of things. Whatever you choose is fine.

You may laugh a little harder, hug a little longer, love a little more passionately, live a little more fully, because you realize how precious and short and tenuous it all is. This will make your life richer.

You may start to say “No,” without explanation, to things that just don’t matter to you, or require your energy. This will make your life better.

You are starting a year of firsts. The first birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Mother’s Day, when Peggy isn’t here. You may want to throw something at your television because every other commercial is about how special Mom is, or you may want to stay away from Facebook on Mother’s Day.  Don’t throw something at your TV. Watch something on Hulu or Netflix instead. Maybe stay off FB on Mother’s Day.  These days suck and the world doesn’t know it, and you are happy for your friends celebrating, and upset that you aren’t, and upset at how unfair it all is, and you should just pour a glass of wine and be with it all for a bit.

My point, Ashby, with this letter, is that you are in a really weird and discombobulated place right now. But you’re lucky because so many people love you, and loved your mama, and love your daddy, and love your siblings.  We have your back while you navigate this path you didn’t ask to be on, that has no clear direction.  And no matter how bleak it seems right now, how alone you feel, whatever you feel, this is not the rest of your life.  I promise you this: None of what you feel is wrong, and you will be OK.


Broken Pieces

Posted on 6 Sep 2016 In: Reading

broken piecesKathleen Long is back with another winner. You know I gushed over Chasing Rainbows and Changing Lanes so I was more than excited to read Broken Pieces.

From the Publisher’s Summary:
Destiny Jones is doing just fine on her own, thanks. From her thriving one-woman carpentry business to the loving support of her small-town community, Destiny has constructed a life as sturdy and polished as her best cabinets. Twenty years ago, Destiny’s world collapsed when her mother died and her father, Albert, abandoned his daughter to pursue acting in New York. His devastating exit taught Destiny a lesson in self-reliance that has kept her safe—and alone—ever since.

Now Albert Jones is back, begging for a second chance. Destiny suspects he’s simply staging another performance, starring himself as the prodigal father. Should she act on her misgivings? Or listen to her inner child, who still yearns for a family? When Albert divulges a shocking secret, Destiny’s life will again be turned upside down.

Kathleen Long’s warm, wise novel reveals the armor that has protected us in the past is often the very thing we must shed to fully live and love.

The things  I love about Long’s novels- the heart, the slightly quirky (or not necessarily mainstream) heroines, the emotion, the authenticity, are all present in Broken Pieces.

I was a little surprised at how quickly Destiny accepted Albert’s secret, but it is in no way detrimental to the story. Some people can just roll with things a bit easier than others.

But y’all, I bawled through the end of the book.  No melodrama, but, as I said earlier, pure heart.  Reality. Facing the things we don’t want to face. Authenticity.

This was a quick read for me, and if you have read any of Long’s other books you’ll like this on. If you haven’t read Long before, but you like Liane Moriarty or Emily Giffin, you should take a look at Kathleen Long.  By the way, I checked this morning and Broken Pieces is available at no additional charge for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, and available in Paperback and  a part of Audible.

Happy Reading!