Book Review: And Now We Shall Do Manly Things

And Now We Shall Do Manly Things: Discovering My Manhood Through the Great (and Not-So-Great) American Hunt by Craig J. Heimbuch follows Heimbuch on his journey to immerse himself in the culture of hunting that his family cherishes but he never enjoyed.

For those of you who know me in real life or remember my brief mention of hating hunting on my personal blog, it may surprise you greatly to know that I was not forced to read this book and in fact chose to on my own free will. I know, I shocked myself, too. The description and the cover intrigued me (every time Josie saw it, she shouted “A bear in a hat!!”), and I decided that this could be an opportunity to try to see another side of something that I had strong feelings about but had never tried myself.

Spoiler alert: I still dislike the idea of hunting and will never do it myself, but that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good.

In fact, the book was great. If you had told me before reading this book that I would enjoy reading a book about hunting and gun use, I would have slapped you right in the face for insulting my honor. Imagine my surprise when I actually did.

What interested me most about this book was the reason for his experiment, his immersion in the world of hunting. Heimbuch explains “I don’t feel like a man. I feel like a watered-down version of a man. […] I do feel too willing to give in, too willing to cower, to hide from problems, and to shy away in the face of opportunity. I realize that, if I am ever to become the man, the husband, the father, the writer I want to become, I need to learn how to face life standing up.”

I love this sentiment, and while I was still not sure I believed he needed to learn to hunt to accomplish these things, I was interested in this goal he had set, and how he wanted to learn more about something that the men in his family were passionate about.

What sold me on this journey, I think were two main things. 1) He went about this process very deliberately. He studied carefully, really looked deeply into both hunting and gun cultures (and didn’t like everything he saw), and took his responsibilities as a gun owner and hunter seriously, and 2) he says early on in the book that he wants to “be a hunter, not a killer.”

In the end, it seems that this isn’t about needing to be a hunter to be a real man. It is about needing to find a passion for something in life to feel like a fulfilled person. I can get on board with that, for sure.

All in all, reading about a year-long journey to become a hunter turned out to be a very interesting thing that I never thought I would do. I’m glad I stepped outside my box and tried it, because not only do I now think I understand much more about how and why people choose to participate in this activity, but I found a writer whose voice I appreciate greatly. I will be looking for Craig Heimbuch in the future, and hope this is not the last I see of him.

[Okay, now that the review is officially over, I have to say that my junior high Principal’s last name was Heimbuch, and he looked a lot like Principal Belding from Saved by the Bell (or at least he does in my memory), and so the entire time I read this book, I imagined Principal Belding creeping around fields, trying to shoot pheasant. Try it. It’s distracting.] 

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

from the desk of: Veronica

I have another summer reading recommendation for you! Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris is perfect for laying out in the backyard or toting to the beach, or even reading in bed with the windows open while the summer rain beats down on the roof … okay, I agree, I’m getting a little carried away, but I truly love this book.

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I finally picked up this book, a year after it was published, despite the fact that David Sedaris is my favorite contemporary author. My mother was over that day, and while the girls were napping she stepped out of the room to take a phone call, so I dove on the book and began reading. From the first page, I was laughing so hard I was choking. When she came back into the room, she demanded I read some of the book aloud to her if it was that funny. I ended up devouring half the book during naptime, then picked it up as soon as they went to bed for the night and finished it off. I immediately regretted it being over, and pulled all his previous book off my bookshelf so I could start over again.

I truly wish I could properly describe Sedaris’s writing style, but I know I will fall short. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, like most of his books, is about 90% memoirs and 10% completely outrageous essays in which he delivers a monologue as a character that is utterly unlike himself. I do love the little essays from what I would consider to be crazy people, but my favorite is the other 90% of the book — Sedaris tells stories from his childhood, from last week, from ten years ago, and somehow they are just normal stories that could happen to anyone (visiting the dentist, waiting at the airport), and yet, the things that happen to him would probably never happen to you (driving around North Carolina with your dad — who’s holding a baseball bat and a drink — looking for the man who tried to attack your sister, getting obsessed with picking up roadside trash and letting it take over your life). He tells these stories with a dry wit and hyperbolic tendencies that are simply the recipe for humor, in my opinion. He is not called a pre-eminent humor writer for nothing. The man is hilarious, insightful, endearing, and so much more.

Like everything David Sedaris has written, you will laugh out loud the whole time you are reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, and then you will wish it hadn’t ended and start writing him letters, begging for him to publish a book a week … just me? Yeah, maybe that last part is just something I do.

If you haven’t read it yet, toss this in your beach bag this summer, then come back here and thank me.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

It’s getting to be that time (fingers crossed) that you might want to start making a list of books to read in a lounge chair in your backyard or even by the pool (MIchigan has a while to go before we get there, unfortunately, but hey, it might actually be nice where you live). If you haven’t read this book yet, this is one to add to your must-read list.

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I fell in love with John Green when I read Looking for Alaska, and my love for him only grew stronger when I read a copy of The Fault in Our Stars. 

There is a tremendous list of reasons that I adore John Green’s work, but I must say, one of the reasons I recommend his work to everyone is that he has that uncanny gift of making everyone who reads his book feel like he or she was the exact target audience for the book, whether they are a teenager or a senior citizen. His books feel like they were written just for you. As one of the most celebrated Young Adult authors of recent years, he obviously knows how to capture a young audience, but his razor-sharp wit, his cunning wordplay, and the vast knowledge he gives his young characters will have you hooked in the first few pages; I guarantee it. 

Now here’s where I have to get all technical and admit it is, in fact, a book about teenage cancer patients. I know, I know. It’s hard to commit to picking up a book like that, because you know you are putting your heart at risk of being completely demolished, but I promise you — it is worth it. The beauty of this novel, the amazing characters, everything — it is worth having to think about your own mortality or that of your children. It is not one of those books that piles it on, trying to make you feel miserable, it just happens to be about cancer.

In case you hadn’t figured it out, I love this book and recommend it wholeheartedly. Please read the story of Hazel and Augustus and consider the forces of love, pain, loss, and acceptance in your life. You won’t regret it.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Book Review: Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster

Now that Halloween is long gone and I’m done with my scary-reading binge, I thought I might recommend some lighter reading that will only keep you up at night because you want to keep reading, not because you’re checking your locks.

Wait, let me just get this out of my system:

Here I go again, on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time
Here I go agaiiiiinnnnn

Okay, thanks. And yes, there are many Whitesnake and 80s rock references throughout the book, so rock on.

If I could sum up this book in one sentence, it would be to say that this book is Mean Girls meets Back to the Future meets Wizard of Oz meets Thirteen Going on Thirty. You totally know what I mean, right?

Maybe the summary from the publisher will make more sense:

Twenty years after ruling the halls of her suburban Chicago high school, Lissy Ryder doesn’t understand why her glory days ended. Back then, she was worshipped…beloved…feared. Present day, not so much. She’s been pink-slipped from her high-paying job, dumped by her husband and kicked out of her condo. Now, at thirty-seven, she’s struggling to start a business out of her parents’ garage and sleeping under the hair-band posters in her old bedroom. 

Lissy finally realizes karma is the only bitch bigger than she was. Her present is miserable because of her past. But it’s not like she can go back in time and change who she was…or can she?

Can I just say that I should have been reading Jen Lancaster a long time ago? Her writing is biting and hilarious, and … what’s even better than hilarious? Whatever is funnier than hilarious, that’s what she is. I can understand why she chose to write the voice of a mean girl, because it made for some interesting dialogue and inner monologues. On top of that, Lancaster is a master of character development. There was not a single character in the book that I didn’t feel like I had met in person and had known for years. I have to hand it to her, even though I was having a REALLY hard time in the first third of the book suspending disbelief (Okay, she’s … going back in TIME? Good lord.), once I was halfway through the book, there was no way I was putting it down until I was done.

Bottom line: Hilarious, well-written, great characters. If I can read from the point of view of someone I dislike and still want to devour the book …. that’s some dang fine writing. Excuse me while I go out and read all the rest of Lancaster’s work.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Book Review: Into the Darkest Corner

From the desk of: Veronica

Once this lovely fall weather hits and Halloween approaches, I really like to read a creepy book or two, so I thought I’d share a book review with you in case you’re the same way and need a recommendation.


Into the Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes (2012)

When I first started reading Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, what jumped out at me was the way the book is narrated: there is a dated entry from 2003, then a dated entry from 2007 … and back and forth and back and forth for the rest of the book. I was like NO. I just can’t do this. Set-ups like this generally give me intense rage and make me give up on books. Shockingly, by the third page, I didn’t mind anymore, which is a true testament to the story.

The back-and-forth follows the same character, Cathy. In 2003, Cathy is leading up to a traumatic event, and in 2007, she is living post-trauma. Since you already have a general idea of what happened to Cathy in 2003, reading the story of her increasingly abusive stalker boyfriend is very tense — you know something terrible is about to happen, but you don’t know when and you don’t know how crazy things will get before it happens. In the “post-attack” timeline, you see a shattered woman trying to rebuild her life, but something tells you that you are not just reading a story of overcoming PTSD and OCD — something else is going to happen to Cathy. But what? It’s a nail-biter, to say the least.


It’s more than just a suspenseful novel, however. It touches on tough subjects, like abusive relationships, stalkers, and mental illness. It’s uncomfortable to read at times, and you will find yourself screaming at Cathy in your head, but you will also put yourself in her shoes and wonder how you would find a way to escape and what you would have the strength to do. At one point the character tackles this idea head-on, saying she always thought women who didn’t leave abusive relationships were lying to themselves when they said it wasn’t as easy as it seemed to just leave.  


This book is certainly well-written (I often found myself stopping to think how she actually wrote the two separate but complimentary storylines and got everything to match up so well!), it is different, and it is definitely a page-turner.

So how about you? Any creepy fall reads to recommend?

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


Book Reviews – “Touch and Go” and “Faithful Place”

From the desk of: Veronica

I’m not sure what it is about this cloudy, dreary, turn-on-the-heat-in-July weather, but it makes me want to read crime/mystery/thriller novels. You too? Excellent, because I have two book reviews for you.

Read on, and get ready to add both to your library, e-reader, or shopping lists!

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First up is one of my new favorite authors: Tana French. French sets her novel Faithful Place in some less-than-desirable areas of modern Dublin, and yet, somehow, reading the book made me want to pack up and move there immediately. When I finished the book and contemplated this, I realized that it was one of the many reasons that I thought this book was simply fantastic.

The summary on the back of the book simply does not do the book justice. The book follows Frank Mackey, who thinks he has escaped the terror and heartbreak that was his childhood home, only to be pulled back in, decades later. A clue about the disappearance of his high school sweetheart brings the detective back to the chaos he thought he had escaped for good. The intersecting circles of lost love, family abuse, and an excellent mystery make this a book not to be missed.

The world French creates is so incredibly real, and while gritty and heartbreaking at times, it is so real you miss the characters (even the mean ones) when you finish the book. From the prologue, I could see Faithful Place, the characters, and the neighborhoods of Dublin. However, (thankfully) she does not accomplish this by spending page after page after page describing these people and places. In fact, I even went back and checked, after finishing the book and feeling this sense of certainty about how every nook and cranny of this world looked, and found that she is definitely not one of those authors who forces you to read laborious and overwhelming details in order to paint the world. I am still unsure how she managed it, but her skill with words puts these images in your head with a minimum of adjectives. Bravo to that!

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the language. As it is set in modern-day Dublin, French uses the dialect to great effect, and I could not help but smile every time I read a “Jaysus!” or “eejit” or “fecking.” Aside from the excellent language and phrases I found myself using long after (“What’s this then, Josephine? You trying to set my heart sideways, are you then?”), the characters were bold, saucy, and the dialogue was sharp as a tack. There is nothing boring about this book, to be sure.

There aren’t too many authors who inspire me to immediately find everything else they have ever written, but Tana French is one of those authors. I recommend this book to anyone, without hesitation.

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Next up is Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. This book is fantastic, fast-paced, and thrilling. It manages to read as both plot-driven and character-driven, and holds readers in suspense for nearly 400 pages without a break. 

It’s near impossible to tell you what this book is about without also including spoilers, and these days, almost anything about the plot is a spoiler to me, so all I will tell you is this is a story of a family on the brink of destruction, of cops chasing criminals and trying to save the family, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat.


Alternating back and forth between the family in distress and the large group of police, sheriff, and FBI agents trying to save them, this is nearly impossible to put down. I was biting my nails for the family, trying to solve the mystery, and shouting at the cops to hurry up and quit missing clues all in turns. It made my head spin (in a good way).


But seriously, this book was so fantastic that I took it with me into the baby’s room at night while I rocked her, and strained to see by the very dim light of the hallway coming in through the crack in her door. For real. Thankfully, Lisa Gardner has published quite a few books, because I am putting them at the top of my library list.

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I hope you are inspired to get reading. If you have any mystery books you think I should be reading, feel free to leave some titles in the comments!

Veronica profile_w_cropYou can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.