Monday, July 31, 2017

My 2nd Kimberly Belle - The Last Breath

You all know what I thought of Kimberly Belle's The Marriage Lie (if you haven't seen my review, all you have to do is go back to May 4).  I thought it was totally terrific.  Well, Kimberly's The Last Breath (written before The Marriage Lie) is also very good.  I would give the edge to TML.  But it's just a matter of degrees.  It's blurb time:

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living.  It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero.  Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care - and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news.  Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years.  But in the end, the truth - and all the lies the came before - may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated....

I guess you would call The Last Breath Contemporary Fiction or Women's Fiction.  But Kimberly knows how to combine genres into her books.  In this one, we've got a female protagonist, and the story certainly centers on her.  But we've also got the mystery aspect of a 16-year-ago murder that may need to be re-examined.  And a lot of family dynamics.  And maybe even some romance.  And let's not forget humor. We even learn a little about international aid!  Kimberly does a very good job of sewing all the threads together.

Probably the biggest compliment I can pay Kimberly is that I had to force myself NOT to skip ahead to the end.  I wanted to know what happened in the worst way.  This is in direct contrast to Magpie Murders, where I actually didn't care what happened in the end.  Sorry, Anthony.  You may have tons of fans, both of your books and your TV show.  But, unfortunately for you, you're no Kimberly Belle!

I also thought that Kimberly created some great characters.  Fannie Miles and Jimmy Gardner immediately come to mind.  Even though I'm a native Northern Californian (I have never lived anywhere else), there is something very distinctive about the people from the South.  They are just inherently interesting literarily.

Plus Kimberly can write:  "Now I see there is nothing beautiful about death.  Death is not precious or priceless.  For the person close to the dying soul - a parent, a lover, a child - death is not a gift but a thief." That kind of sums it up, don't you think?

I have to relate one personal story.  At one point, Fannie gives Jake a high five.  That made me think of my granddaughter, Josie, who is 5.  She somehow found herself in a Catholic church.  When everybody went up to the front of the church, she went too.  As he reached his hand down, Josie high-fived him.  It evidently broke up the congregants.  I can definitely see it in my head!

Well, I am obviously a fan of Kimberly's books.  Now all I need to read is The Ones We Trust.  I better get on it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz

This month I read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz for my 4th Tuesday Evening Book Club at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.  As I know I have mentioned before, the co-owner of the chain, Margie Scott Tucker, runs the club.  With her insights into book world, and her skill in running a book club, it's something I look forward to attending.  The other thing I enjoy about this club is that Margie picks a wide array of books.  And befitting variety, I have liked some of them more and some less.  This one was in the middle.  I gave it a 2.75/4.  I liked it okay but can't really recommend it.  Here's the synopsis:

Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer.  His editor, Susan Ryeland, has worked with him for years, and she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pund, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages.  Alan's traditional formula pays homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.  It's proved hugely successful.  So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.
When Susan receives Alan's latest manuscript, in which Atticus Pund investigates a murder at Pye Hall, an English manor house, she has no reason to think it will be any different from the others.  There will be dead bodies, a cast of intriguing suspects, and plenty of red herrings and clues.  But the more Susan reads, the more she realizes that there's another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript - one of ambition, jealousy, and greed - and that soon it will lead to murder.

I really didn't know Horowitz before MM.  But I was in the minority at the meeting.  Not only has he written 3 other novels, but he also wrote the very popular PBS TV series, Foyle's War.  In fact, everybody was waxing very enthusiastically about TV and somewhat less about the book.  But, despite all of that, there were definitely a few positives:

1.    It's a very creative premise.
2.    I liked the wide variety of characters in the novel within the novel.
3.    The book is very well-written.
4.    There was a character in the book that very much reminded me of Lady Virginia from Archer's The Clifton Chronicles.
5.    The Amazon rating is 4/5, and the Goodreads rating is 4.03/5.  There are obviously a bunch of people who liked this book more than I did.

But here's the deal.  I just didn't care.  In fact, before the last chapter, which solves the murder, I wasn't even thinking about whodunit.  So, in summary (pretty cliche, don't you think?):
- didn't care who committed the murder
- didn't connect with any of the characters
- didn't like it nearly as much as many others

I usually feel pretty strongly about the books I recommend or don't recommend.  That's not the case here.  I'm really on the fence with this one.  My advice to you?  Make your own decision and ignore my feedback.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another New Bookstore (for me) - Levin Books in Healdsburg (about 60 miles north of San Francisco)

Are you planning on visiting Healdsburg?  Or maybe you already live in that area.  Either way, I've got a gem of a bookstore for you.  It's called Levin & Company, and it's located at 306 Center Street, in downtown Healdsburg.  I've got some pictures for you.  Stay tuned for a Q&A with Aaron, who is a co-owner of the store.  In the meantime, their website is

Aaron is on the far right, in the T-shirt

P.S.  Joni and I bought an old Simon & Garfunkel CD for our drive home tomorrow.  They've got a large selection of CDs as well as books.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Review Of Michelle Richmond's Latest: The Marriage Pact. My 1st, But Definitely Not My Last!

The Marriage Pact is Michelle Richmond's 6th novel (plus 2 books of short stories).  For whatever reason, I haven't read any of her previous books.  But thanks to Andrew and Nicole (who also sent me the ARC) from Keplers, I will be going to Michelle's launch on August 1.  I have to admit that a great part of what is drawing me to the event is seeing Ellen Sussman, who is in conversation with Michelle.  I haven't seen Ellen in a long time, and I am a definite fan of both her and her books.  But whatever combo of events ultimately led me to read The Marriage Pact, I couldn't be happier.

Let's start with a very short blurb:  NEWLYWEDS ALICE AND JAKE ARE A PICTURE-PERFECT COUPLE.  When they join The Pact, an exclusive and mysterious group designed to keep marriages happy and intact, the Pact's rules seem easy to follow.  And then one of them breaks a rule...

I have so much to say about TMP that I could fill 3 posts.  So the best thing for me to do is make a list.  Bear with me.  I will try to make it short enough that your eyes don't glaze over.  But it will definitely be long enough for you to grab this sucker as soon as it goes live (this coming Tuesday, the 25th).

1.    I learned a lot of statistics and data about marriages.  Here is an example:  "...married people live longer than single people."  (That is VERY good news for me.)
2.    I also read a number of aphorisms about marriage that made sense to me.  A couple of examples:  "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  And, "Don't smother each other, nothing grows in the shade."
3.    There are a whole bunch of crazy rules to follow when you sign the Pact.  But I have to say that, at least in part, they made sense to me.  In other words, I found the premise of the book to be somewhat believable.
4.    The 1st chapter grabs you immediately.  And you get context for it a little over half-way through the book.
5.    Even though the book is pretty intense and very suspenseful , with many a nerve-wracking moment, there is still some  humor.  Take a look at what Groucho Marx had to say about marriage:  "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?"
6.    Scientology anyone?
7.    I really like how Michelle describes mundane, everyday activities and paints a very visual picture.  "I put my duffel in the trunk, get into the driver's seat, and lean over to unlock the passenger-side door." And, again:  "Alice slipped a camisole over her head...pulling on her navy blue tights, shimmying them under her skirt." 
8.    I had my usual array of emotions.  But they were a little different this time.  On one occasion, I actually smiled in anticipation of what I thought was coming next.  Another time I had a frown.  I even uttered an "Oh, boy."  But I still had some tears and some chills.
9.    There is a section about 3/4 of the way through that I felt overdid the punishments for rules violations...until I read the end.  Then it all made sense.
10.  Michelle shows that she has her finger on the pulse of humanity. Ergo:  "The good and the bad are unavoidable, and at some point they strike us all.  The news is the news.  But the delivery of the news, the gestures, the words, the empathy and understanding-that's the gray area where the messenger has the power to make things a little easier or a lot more difficult."  Words to live by, yes?
11.  And I just love the writing:
"His suit strains at the chest and shoulders, as if he started lifting weights after he went to the tailor."
Another time, when Jake finds himself tied down to a table, he says, "I feel like a frog strapped down in a high school biology class, waiting to be dissected."

And I certainly can't pass up an opportunity to tell you a few things that I personally related to:

1.  Isobel, one of Jake's teenage clients, orders a burrito without beans. I, too, am a beanless burrito person.
2.  There is an incident that takes place at Sproul Plaza, on the Cal campus.  I went to Cal and certainly know Sproul Plaza.  In fact, I was in the Plaza when Dan Siegel incited (a legal determination) the students to storm People's Park on May 15, 1969.  P.S.  I was a wuss and didn't go to PP.
3.  Jake is describing something that he does regularly and says, "That's what I do."  Believe it or not, when I fall back on habit, Joni will ask me, "Is that what you do?"  I can't argue with her on that.

As you can see, I liked The Marriage Pact a lot.  I hope you will give it a try.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Daniel Silva - In Person!

My favorite live author event of all time was seeing Ken Follett quite a few years ago.  I mean, this guy is a literary god.  In the next group just below him is Daniel Silva.  I've seen him once before, also a number of years ago.  But when I had a chance to see him at the JCC in Palo Alto this week, I couldn't pass it up.  Silva has written 20 books, and I've read all but the latest.  His very 1st one, The Unlikely Spy, is still my favorite. And that one sits on my rec table on Sunday mornings.  He wrote 2 more after TUS and then started writing about Gabriel Allon.  And his latest in that series is number 17.  I will be getting to it in the very near future.

Let me give you a few highlights from the event:

1.  Gabriel Allon will be coming to TV in the next couple of years.  MGM actually bought a TV network just to be able to air this series.  Pretty cool, don't you think?
2.  Silva calls his books "dark beach reads."
3.  He writes the story and plot first, then the location.
4.  Gabriel Allon is a creation of Silva's imagination and is not based on any real people.
5.  He mentioned 2 TV shows that he watches that Joni and I also watch - Billions and The Affair.
6.  Silva was in conversation with Anne Elise Kornblut, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
7.  Finally, his wife is Jamie Gangel, who is a CNN Special Correspondent. She insisted that Trump would lose the election.  And Silva was equally insistent that he would win.  We see who was right.

Silva and Kornblut

Signing books

Do you think Silva has a lot of fans much?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Variety of Stuff, Including Another Milestone for Page Views

Here is a bunch of stuff:

1.  I've already told you that Kerry Lonsdale is our RBC author for September with her book Everything We Keep.  And I've already told you that her 2nd book in the series, Everything We Left Behind, came out July 4.  And I've also told you that the 3rd book in the series, Everything We Give, will be hitting the bookshelves summer of 2018.  What I have NOT told you is that we will be getting a standalone from Kerry in the summer of 2019.  Keep 'em comin', Kerry.

2.  The Readers Perch ( is a YA blog written, not surprisingly, by a YA.  If you're looking at books for (pre)teenagers, visit her blog.  But what I wanted to mention here is that in her last post, she talks about 2 websites that you can go on and subscribe for YA book boxes.  They are FairyLoot and OwlCrate.  Take a gander.  They are very cool.

3.  Why am I giving you all of these facts about chocolate?  I have a good reason.  On National Chocolate Day, Meg Waite Clayton, local author extraordinaire, listed these facts on her blog.  That's enough of a literary connection for me.  (Plus, it's really interesting info.)  

1. Cocoa beans are seeds of the Theobroma Cacao tree. As you might imagine, it means “food of the gods.”

2. In WWII, chocolate rations were packaged to be poison-gas proof. Because that's when you REALLY need chocolate. (Alas, a fact I discovered after The Race for Paris was published, so not used.) It was also fortified with flour, to keep it from melting too much, which you probably know if you read my latest. :-)
3. The French celebrate April Fool’s Day with Poisson d’Avril--chocolate-shaped fish. (Or maybe I'm pulling your leg.)
4. The smell of chocolate in a bookstore makes folks 22% more likely to buy books, and 40% more likely to buy romance or cook books.
5. There was a Nazi plot to assassinate Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate. No, really...
6. Hershey's Kisses are named for the sound the machine makes dropping the chocolate onto the conveyor belt.
7. Thank the ancient Maya -- they started the whole eating-chocolate thing.

4.  This week I hit 150,000 total page views on my blog.  Thank you for your continued support.  I really appreciate it.

5.  Recycle Books celebrated it's 50th anniversary 2 Sundays ago.  Sal Pizarro ran a story in his column on July 8.  If you can't click on the link, then go online to the Mercury News and find the article.  It's very cool.

Fifty years of books, memories and cats at Recycle Bookstore

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2 More Author Events - Back-to-Back! Way Cool!

Tonight Joni and I got to go to Ellen Kirschman's launch of her 3rd Dot Meyerhof novel, at Books, Inc. Palo Alto.  We try never to miss one of Ellen's launches.  She's just so darn engaging.  If she can keep me awake for a solid hour, in the evening, then, believe me, she is exceptionally engaging!

She told us a bunch of interesting things, too:
1.  Dot is named after her mother, and Meyerhof after her grandmother.
2.  She wrote 3 non-fictions before she started the DM series.  She said that fiction is way harder to write than non-.
3.  Police officers are 2x more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in the line of duty.
4.  The cover of her latest book, The Fifth Reflection, shows a camera. This is an homage to her husband, Steve, who is a professional photographer.
5.  There are 75,000 (yes, thousand) people world-wide who are on a child pornography site at any one time.  Is that completely whacko?
6.  The title of the book refers to the 5th of 5 daily Buddhist practices.
7.  My favorite moment of the night was when Ellen said that when she wrote her dissertation, it was a cross between Sigmund Freud and Mickey Spillane.

Great night!

Ellen is in conversation with Ann Gelder, author of Bigfoot and the Baby

And, then, last night, at Recycle Bookstore, Rich Amooi came to the RBC. Rich was our 1st romantic comedy author.  He was a big hit with our members.

The person on the left, closest to the camera, is Silvi Martin, Rich's wife, and a published author in her own right.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Many of you have heard of TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by now because it's a show on Netflix.  I happen not to be a Netflix subscriber.  So I found out about it the old-fashioned way - as a book recommendation from a friend.  And for those of you who have not heard about it; or who live in the same cave as me; here is the back-of-the-book synopsis:

Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made.  Hannah is dead.  Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes - and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening.  He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town...
...and what he discovers changes his life forever. 

I have already told you ad nauseum that I am just a few...decades...beyond the YA (young adult) target audience.  And, yet, I have read some wonderful YA books:  The Princess of Las Pulgas (C. Lee McKenzie, Salt to the Sea (Ruta Sepetys), An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir), The Voyages of the Legend series (Alina Sayre), Wyndano's Cloak (A. R. Silverberry), and a bunch more.  Well, this might not be one of my very favorite YA's, but it's certainly a very good book (3.25/4).

This book reminds me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society in its uniqueness.  That one, if you recall, consisted entirely of letters. This one is mostly tapes.  Clay does have some live interaction with people while he's going through the tapes.  But this is basically about the 13 tapes, hence TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY.  It's fun, once in a while, to read stuff that is different from everybody else's stuff.

There were definitely some moments that caught me completely off guard.  There's one incident, about 2/3 of the way through, where I audibly shouted "OMG!" and "WOW!"  There's another spot just a couple of pages before the OMG/WOW place where I teared up and totally didn't expect to do that.  I was also hit in the solar plexus about a 1/3 of the way through when Clay comes across somebody else on the tapes.  I did NOT see that coming.

And, equally important as the surprises, the unique concept, and the emotional pull, the book is also well-written.  You gotta have that.  Take a look:

"Around the opposite sex, especially back then, my tongue twisted into knots even a Boy Scout would walk away from." 
"We took our place in the stream of students heading to the party - like joining a bunch of salmon heading upstream to mate."

Kudos to Jay for writing a very clever book and writing it well.  Is it a little rough?  Of course.  Teen suicide is no joke, especially for this father of 3 adults (and grandfather of 4 pre-teens).  Can high school kids be mean, cruel, and insensitive?  We know that they can.  But despite all of that, this is very readable.  And maybe it will help kids who read it behave a little more compassionately toward their peers.  You never know when you might be the one who makes all the difference.

P.S.  My recommender told me that, initially, the author was just going to go with the tapes.  He was convinced by his editor to add Clay's present-day musings and actions.  I think it was a VERY good decision.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Fifth Reflection, #3 in Ellen Kirschman's Dot Meyerhof Series

You know, oftentimes authors will write novels that reflect their careers. We certainly know MANY lawyers who write books about...wait for it...lawyers and the law.  And a lot of these books make you feel like you are in the courtroom at the prosecutor's/defense lawyer's table with them.  But there is something about Ellen Kirschman's background that makes police psychologist Dot Meyerhof seem even more real than your average fictional character.  Ellen, of course, was a police psychologist for 30 years.  She is, in fact, still very active in that community.  But when I read her novels, I definitely feel like I am learning something. And that I'm actually inside the head of a real police psychologist. It's a pretty cool feeling.

I'll let you go to Amazon or Goodreads to get the plot for #3 in the series.  I want to focus on a few of the facts I learned.  And I'm only going to mention 3 of them because I don't want to take away from your reading of the book.  Here they are:

1.  Regarding online child pornography (sorry that this is such a bummer) - "Every month, 60,000 new images are added to these websites."  That brought out an audible "Wow" from me.
2.  (bummer #2) "Most child abductions are parental abductions. Children have more to fear from warring parents than strangers hiding in the bushes."  Did you know that?
3.  I won't quote the passage because it's too long.  But it is fascinating to learn about the role of make-up in a coroner's exam.

I could go on and on.  Really.  This felt like a tutorial, but in a very good way.  I really loved learning about the behind-the-scenes stuff.  I'm know I also got info in #1 & #2.  But it's greatly magnified in #3.

Okay, I have to move along.  But it's hard to do.  I very badly want to give you more insights into the inner workings of police departments. But I want to make sure you read the book!  So here are a couple of other observations I made from reading The Fifth Reflection:

1.  There is quite a bit of subtle humor.  And everybody knows how subtle I am.  (Yeah, right).  But the book is funny.
2.  The writing is very good.  Take a look at this description of an interview by the police:  "There's no apparent logic to Manny's interviewing technique.  His questions come fast and furious, spinning and swirling  from past to present, from California to Norway.  I feel like I'm watching Jackson Pollack create a painting."  Pretty visual, right?
3.  Child pornography and child kidnapping are not fun to read about. But Ellen makes it palatable.  Between the police procedures and the police officers' personal lives, the reader gets a good feel for how hard the job is.  And, not surprisingly, the toll it takes on the families.

This is a good story and a good series.  If you haven't read any of the Dot Meyerhof books, what are you waiting for?  I can't think of a better way to learn about the police and police procedure, directly from an expert.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Mid-Year Report

I know that the title of this post is not very exciting.  But it's at least accurate.  I'm going to give you a little bit of info about the 1st 6 months of 2017.  There's no snark, no (attempted) humor, no bullet points.  Just info.

Books - 36
DNF (did not finish) - 3
Pages - 11,625

4.0 -        1 - A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
3.875 -    1 - The Orphan's Tale - Pam Jenoff
3.75 -      6
3.5 -        2
3.25 -      11
3.0 -        10
2.75 -      2
2.5 -        1
2.25 -      2

Literary Fiction -       8
Women's Fiction -     6
Mystery/Suspense -   6
Dark Fiction -            1
Historical Fiction -    7
Romance -                 3
Memoir -                   1
Science Fiction -       1
Fantasy -                   1
Paranormal -             1
Romantic Comedy - 1

That's it, folks.

COBEN NEWS:  I got an ARC in the mail today for Harlan Coben's next book.  It's called Don't Let Go.  And it's coming out September 26.  BUT I GET TO READ IT NOW!  JEALOUS?

Monday, July 3, 2017

More Miscellaneous

1.  Kepler's has 2 author events coming up in early August that they are very excited about.  Check them out.

2.  Kerry Lonsdale, who will be our RBC author in September, has her sequel, Everything We Left Behind, coming out on July 4 (that's tomorrow, folks).  AND book 3 will be next summer.

3.  Recycle Books is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  How cool is that? Go to and click on About Us.  You will get the whole story.  (They opened the same year I graduated from high school. You know what that means, right?  Yep.  I've got my 50th high school reunion this year. How could that be?)

4.  MGM TV has bought the rights to Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series. Silva and his wife Jamie Gangel, a TV news reporter, will executive produce.  No dates have been announced yet.

5.  I saw my 1st trailer for The Glass Castle, one of my top-12 all time. It's starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson.  It comes out August 11.

6.  I also saw my 1st trailer for Stephen King's It.  It's hitting the big screen September 8.

7.  And the 3rd trailer from the literary world is American Assassin.  This is a prequel that Vince Flynn wrote for the Mitch Rapp series.  The movie version stars Michael Keaton and reaches theaters September 15.

8.  Chris Colfer is coming to the Hammer Theater, in downtown San Jose, sponsored by Hicklebees, on July 26 at 7:00.  He is promoting the 6th and final book in his Land of Stories series.

9.  Finally, I had a quirky day at Recycle Books Sunday morning.  I sold 2 copies of Lightning, by Dean Koontz.  I think I've sold 1 copy in the 4 or 5 years I've been doing this.  Slightly strange, don't you think?

COMING UP:  I've still got a bunch of reviews coming up, including Ellen Kirschman's latest in the Dot Meyerhof series - The Fifth Reflection.  And I will be giving you all a mid-year report in the next week or so.  I'm sure you can hardly wait!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

2 Big-Time Author Events This Week

I had the privilege of attending 2 events this week for authors that I have an enormous amount of respect for.  And both of them are local!  In fact, one of them is an RBC author (thank you, Cara).  And the other one (you know who you are, Barry) I keep working on/harassing!

Wednesday night Joni and I went to Books, Inc. in Mt. View to see Cara Black.  Cara is on tour for her 17th book in the Aimee Leduc series, called Murder in St. Germain.  That rivals Silva, Penney, Winspear, et al. That is impressive.

And Thursday night, we went to see Barry Eisler, who was introducing his 13th book,  Zero Sum, #9 in the John Rain series.  This launch, like the other 12, took place at Kepler's.  But there was a special treat for many of us - Keith Raffel, he of A Fine and Dangerous Season fame (and another RBC author!), introduced Barry.  Keith is also local and also very accomplished.  You can't do better than 3 for the price of 2!

Barry told us an interesting story.  His books initially were published by Putnam Sons out of New York (now a part of Penguin Books).  They insisted that Barry's books have the name Rain in them.  So there was Rain Fall, Hard Rain, Rain Storm, etc.  Well, Barry got tired of getting emails from people recommending Rain Check, Rain Coat, among others.  So when he switched from Putnam to Thomas & Mercer (the publishing arm of Amazon), he changed all the names of the Rain Series. We non-published people don't know what goes on behind the scenes unless the author tells us.

In any case, here are some pictures from these 2 events:

Keith Raffel introducing Barry