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William J. McGee, author of Half the Child, thanked me for my “insightful and wonderful” review. He also shared my review with friends and they think it’s quite perceptive.

McGee and I have connected via social media and LinkedIn.  We have messaged several times and he mentioned I’m an asset to authors. Thanks, Bill, so much!

Book Review: Half the Child by William J. McGee

Portrayals of single fathers seem to fall into only a few tired and clichéd tropes-the fun-loving, weekend dad, the deadbeat dad behind on his child support payments, the “my ex is a bitch so all women are bitches” bitter single dad and the completely absent dad who disappears from his children’s lives.

Fortunately, Mike Mullen from William J. McGee’s novel Half the Child is none of those things when it comes to being a single dad.

On the surface Mike seems like a regular guy. He’s a loving and devoted father to his little boy Ben. He works as an air traffic controller at LaGuardia while working on his master’s degree in psychology. He comes from a loving, yet at times, testing Irish Catholic family.

But Mike is also going through a contentious divorce that will turn his world upside down, especially when it comes to both his personal and professional life.

Divided into four distinct chapters called books, Half the Child follows four consecutive summers in the lives of Mike and Ben.

In the beginning, Mike is separated from Ben’s mother and they are on the verge of getting a divorce. It isn’t long before the divorce turns sour and Mike’s ex abducts Ben and leaves the country.

This sets off Mike into a nightmarish tailspin as he fights for his parental rights, which affects his personal life, including a budding romance. It affects him physically, emotionally, and mentally. Professionally, Mike is a mess. Mike begins to suffer a deep depression and often contemplates suicide. How will he cope with every obstacle that comes his way? What will happen to his relationship with Ben? Is it beyond repair? How will survive Mike survive this nightmare? All I know is I read this book with bated breath, turning page after page, hoping there would be some light at the end of the tunnel entrapping Mike.

Written by someone of lesser talent, Half the Child would come across as way too over the top to be believed. But McGee is a thoughtful and gifted writer whose “voice” rings true. Every character is rich in detail, no matter how major or minor. And the various scenarios in Half the Child are shown, not merely told.

At turns, Half the Child is heartbreaking and hopeful. It is filled with suspense, humor, anger, and intimacy, truly a grand achievement in story-telling. McGee is a writer to watch for, and I can’t wait to read more of his work.

Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

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I’ve been a feminist since a tender age and not ashamed to admit it. And in the age of Trump bragging about grabbing pussy to the importance of the #MeToo movement, not to mention the Kavanaugh hearings, feminism is more important than ever.

Though some anti-feminist naysayers are still stereotyping feminists as man-hating, pussy hat wearing, slutwalking dykes (or whatever), I know feminists (and feminism itself) are women and men with varying ideas, opinions, and lives who continue to shape and inspire me.

One of these feminists is writer Rebecca Solnit and her book of essays, Men Explain Things to Me. If the title seems familiar it is because Solnit wrote an essay of the same name in 2008 and it hit a nerve with every woman who has to put up with some man who wrongly assume her lady brain didn’t understand certain things, in other words, “mansplaining.”

Starting with her book with the title essay, Solnit’s collection of keenly-observed and passionately-written essays focuses on issues like rape and other sexual violence, global injustice, the meaning of marriage equality and so much more. Most essays are brief, but pack a wallop of thoughts that at are turns funny and tragic. And Solnit is smart enough to back up her essays with references and facts.

While reading Men Explain Things to Me I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Solnit’s evocative and intelligent musings, thinking to myself, “Yes, I’ve felt this way, too. I’m not the only one.” Or I found myself shaking my head, as if to say, “Damn, things are still messed up. What can we possibly do?”

Fortunately, in the final chapter, Solnit provides guidance on how we can join forces to make things better for women in our communities and throughout the globe.

Men Explain Things to Me is a slim volume but packs a meaty punch to feminism and is food for thought for feminists of all kinds.

 

Book Marks

1. Playwright, poet, and novelist Ntzoke Shange dead at 70.

2. Viv Albertine is back with another memoir To Throw Away Unopened.

3. It’s Halloween! The perfect time to read these witchy books.

4. Red-pilling, misogyny and how they affect classic books.

5. How anti-tax zealots affected libraries and how residents responded.

6. Here are some tips on organizing your home library.

7. Not everybody loves To Kill a Mockingbird.

8. Horror books that tickle the funny bone.

9. Why are fiction sales dropping?

10. How to combine the real and unreal when writing horror fiction.

 

 

 

Off the Books: My Handmade Bijoux

As many of you know crafting is a passion of mine and I design jewelry. I get a lot of compliments and positive feedback on my handcrafted wares and now people are encouraging me to start a little business selling my jewelry. I organized my jewelry, attached some blank tags and a branding consultant is going to advise me on pricing my work and other marketing issues.IMG_20181015_171920

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Book Review: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

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I’ve been a fan of author Curtis Sittenfeld ever since I read her debut novel Prep several years ago.  Since then Sittenfeld has written several critically acclaimed books. Now she’s back with her latest release, a collection of short storie, called You Think It,  I’ll say It.

In You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld chronicles the lives of men and women in our modern day, both the mundane and the complex.

In the opening story, a man and a woman (married to other people) play a game called You Think It, I’ll Say It. It is their way of coping with their less than ideal relationship issues and marriages that have known better days. Little do they realize their little game just might lead to dire consequences.

In Gender Studies, Henry elopes with his student Bridget. Left behind is Henry’s longtime former girlfriend Nell. At first, Henry thinks he has done the right thing leaving Nell, for he has enough with her smugness. But has he found the ideal woman in a less “affected” woman like Bridget? Or is he just with her because of her youth, and what he believes is her less than formed identity?

In Bad Latch, a new mother struggles with breastfeeding and the judgmental attitude of mothers. Is she less than a mother because breastfeeding isn’t this magical bonding moment and she might have to turn to (oh horror), formula? In Bad Latch, a “Breast is Best” activist character is a hilarious highlight.

In Off The Record, entertainment reporter, Bridget copes with new motherhood while on a business trip to interview an up and coming actress. The actress reveals a juicy tidbit asking Bridget not to put it in the article. But finding this actress a bit of an obnoxious twit, Bridget wonders if she should put in this detail in the article out of spite. Should she she? Hmm, maybe she should.

And clearly The Prairie Wife is based on The Pioneer Wife (and other lifestyle bloggers) and a total hoot in all its snarky bitchiness.

Pretty much all of You Think It, I’ll Say It is a tremendous collection, written in Sittenfeld’s sharp voice that makes her such a singular voice her generation. I highly recommend it.

I Read It So You Don’t Have To: How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

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Whenever I write a book review I remind myself an actual human being wrote this book-remember to be empathetic in your review, be fair, be firm.

But when it comes to Cat Marnell’s memoir How To Murder Your Life…well, screw being nice. As the kids say, “I can’t even.”

Now I’m a pretty caring and compassionate person, especially when it comes to someone in a cruel grip of addiction and mental health issues. I’ve read countless books about people dealing with these issues and I know people in real life who have dealt with these issues. And have offered an open-mind and a shoulder to cry on to them.

Knowing a smidge about Marnell due to my interest and experience in both fashion and media I picked up How to Murder Your Life thinking it would be a book about a young woman’s harrowing journey through addiction while trying to make a living in two very challenging industries while also dealing with personal issues like family, education, friends, love and various mundane tasks like paying the bills and making sure the fridge is full.

I thought How To Murder Your Life would convey how Marnell finally realized she had a problem and had a someone or several someones intervene and tell her she needs to get help. I thought it would be a tale of Marnell agreeing to get help, go to rehab and at turns deal with breakthroughs and breakdowns finally arriving on some type of sobriety and doing everything in her power to stay that way. I expected wisdom, clarity, vulnerability and redemption. I was at the very least, hoping for a well-written book.

I got none of these things.

Marnell grew up posh and privileged in the DC area. Her family is both loving and at times infuriating. Marnell, as a child, seems to be silly, fun, creative and like any kid, a bit of a handful. Well, aren’t we all? From a very young age Marnell is interested in the fashion/beauty industry and develops a passion for magazines, going to the point of creating her own ‘zine.

When she reaches her teens she decides to attend boarding school and soon after goes into a tailspin, some of it where she is truly a victim (she loses her virginity to what seems to be date rape), but most of it where she is a willing and enthusiastic participant. Lazy, obnoxious, and fully entitled, Marnell barely graduates high school, can’t quite get into a proper college and gets addicted to various substances thinking it makes her dangerous, edgy and glamorous like she’s the Edie Sedgwick of the modern age.

But despite her lack of education, talent and mastery of anything other than taking an alphabet of any drug she comes across, Marnell gets an enviable gig working for Lucky magazine. Much of her easy entry is due to being privileged, white, thin and spoiled and well-connected. Granted, this isn’t exactly rare in the world of media and fashion.

Thus, Marnell continues to be a complete trainwreck, professionally, personally and romantically. From her early days with Lucky to later on where Marnell is working for the website xoJane under the “legendary” Jane Pratt.

Drugged out her gourd, Marnell’s life is a collection of missed deadlines and missed periods. But instead of being horrified by her life, she seems almost proud. And sadly, she is coddled by nearly everyone in her realm and as How to Murder Your Life reaches its conclusion, Marnell is still a fucking junkie!

Well, isn’t that a trip? Is How to Murder Your Life well-written? No. Marnell’s writing is distraught, callow, unenlightened and so purple Prince would probably say, “Okay, that’s enough.” And the name dropping of celebs, high priced cosmetics and designer duds just made me roll my eyes. Your not only one to apply MAC to your lips, Marnell. It doesn’t make your special (As I type this I’m wearing Chanel no. 5. Yes, you may touch the hem of my ancient Limited sweater).

Fortunately, there are countless on books about drug addiction that are worthy of your time. How to Murder Your Life is clearly not one of them.