Half Broke by Ginger Gaffney

January 5th, 2020 by Barb

A review

On Sale 2/4/2020

Horses, New Mexico, introversion, damaged people, lesbians: what’s not to love, right? I gobbled up this compelling memoir in one Sunday afternoon and was left wanting more and a little homesick for my one-time home in New Mexico.

Ginger Gaffney is a horse trainer who happened onto an opportunity to work with residents at an alternative half-way house/rehab ranch. There she find broken people, unbroken horses, and connections that change everyone, both 2 and 4-legged.

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My Year in Books: 2019

January 3rd, 2020 by Barb

According to my tracking on Goodreads, I read 165 books in 2019. I’ll be the first to admit that there is some literary fluff in there, but they can’t all be War and Peace, right? But, one of them actually was and another was The Brothers Karamozov.

A Serial Year

Having finally started Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley books late in 2018, I devoured the rest this year and have now joined the ranks of her fans waiting impatiently for the next installment. (Please, someone take her website in hand and bring at least into the current century.) George’s writing is masterful and her vocabulary keeps me on my toes. She creates characters that I find absolutely irresistible.

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An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones

November 29th, 2019 by Barb

A Review

Book cover: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I remember the day I spotted Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage on the new releases table at Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont. I was captivated by the cover. Yes, I often judge books by their covers. Sue me. I put it on my TBR list that day, but it took me more than a year and a half to get around to reading it. Silly me.

I almost turned away from the book very early, because I could see what was coming. At least, I thought I could. I hate foreshadowing and predictability and I thought I had been suckered into a bad case of both by a beautiful cover. I was wrong. I held on for a few more pages and the next then I knew, hours had passed.

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Bowie’s Bookshelf: The hundred books that changed David Bowie’s life by John O’Connell

November 10th, 2019 by Barb

A Review

On Sale 11/12/2019

Veteran music journalist John O’Connell has taken the list of 100 books David Bowie says changed his life and offered book lovers and Bowie fans closer look at both subjects.

I read voraciously, so I was a bit surprised to find very few books on Bowie’s list that I have read and quite a number I’d never heard of. For this reason, I appreciated the short synopsis of each book included in the essays. I also liked that O’Connell ends on each essay with pairing suggestions: A Bowie song to listen to while reading the listed book and another book or two to read, if you find you like this one.

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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

November 4th, 2019 by Barb

A Review

cover of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
On Sale 2/4/2020

This is the first time I’ve encountered Jenn Shapland‘s writing and I can certainly see why she has been granted numerous prestigious residencies and won several significant awards. She does write beautifully.

Shapland’s first book, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, however, is probably not the best showcase of her talent. In most cases, I enjoy books that cross genre lines, but this mashup of queer history, literary criticism, and memoir is just not smooth.

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The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

October 24th, 2019 by Barb

A Review

The Red Lotus book cover
(Publication Date March 2020)

Chris Bohjalian has delivered another page-turner. If you’re a fan, you know better than to expect a formula in his plots, but he is consistent about his strong suit: characters.

In The Red Lotus, he artfully pulls us into the psyche of Alexis, the main character; the PI she hires to help her; Alexis’s overbearing mother, and even her veterinarian best friend.

The glimpses of raw human reality of their lives make it easy to — impossible not to — identify with these people. We have shared experiences, so we understand them. We know why Alexis is driven to solve the riddle of why her boyfriend lied to about their trip to Vietnam and how he ended up dead. We understand why the PI goes against his friend’s recommendation and takes up Alexis’s cause.

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How Barb Got Her Groove Back

July 5th, 2017 by Barb

I got my groove back today. After spending the long holiday weekend holed up in my house avoiding humans and trying to comfort my cats when fireworks exploded nearby, I found a groove today and got lost in my work.

Do you know that feeling? Getting completely absorbed in what you’re doing? I love it but have, for some reason, been denying myself the pleasure for far too long.

Deadlines work wonders, though. Nothing like knowing that a client who is also a friend is expecting something to push me into gear. Read the rest of this entry »

No More Chances to Give

January 20th, 2017 by Barb

I have a great deal of respect for the office of president, but absolutely none for the man about to take that office.

This man —  this inelegant, childish, nasty, ignorant bully — this man is going to hold the highest office of our nation. This isn’t crying about my side not winning. This is abject terror about what’s about to happen (what’s already happening) to our country, our people, our friends, our neighbors, our family when a narcissistic, willfully uninformed individual is given the power we are about to bestow on him. Read the rest of this entry »

My Three Words for 2017

January 1st, 2017 by Barb

In 2006, Chris Brogan started his tradition of selecting three guide words for his year. Since then, he has shared the words with us, as well as his process for using the words well throughout the year. I’ve watched from the sidelines for several years, but I’m stepping up this year.

Here are my three words for 2017:

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Whiskey and Me

October 3rd, 2016 by Barb

scotch whisky whiskeyI wasn’t looking for something new, but it must have been evident to my friend that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the status quo. In fact, the lack of consistency in the company I was keeping was probably what triggered Jeff to set me up on a blind date.

As I dug into the plate of  French fries in front of me (a choice I was entirely consistent about)), Jeff slid a glass my way. Tired of waiting for me to select a drink, he had made a decision for me. “It’s scotch. Try it.” he said. I protested that I had tried scotch before and only liked it when mixed with other things and… “You’ve been doing it wrong. Drink.”

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