Review: Women Behaving Badly by John Stark Bellamy II

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Title: Women Behaving Badly: True Tales of Cleveland’s Most Ferocious Female Killers

Author: John Stark Bellamy II

Publisher: Gray & Company

Genre: True Crime

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was born and bred in Cleveland and my mother was always a big fan of Cleveland history, both the mainstream and the weird. I think I received whatever gene makes you have similar reading tastes to your parent. Or I was just dragged to enough culturally relevant sights in Cleveland to have caught an interest as well.  Bellamy is one of the most prolific local writers of Cleveland history.  I discovered his books in college.  Focusing on true crime and disasters, his books and their great titles like The Maniac In The Bushes were great bus entertainment my freshman and sophomore years, when I didn’t have a car and would go home ever so often. I discovered they were also handy for either attracting other Cleveland history buffs or making me look like the weirdo on the bus, so other weirdos didn’t want to talk to me.

Women Behaving Badly is Bellamy’s latest anthology of Cleveland crime.  As the title suggests it focuses on women who committed murder. About halfway through, this book gave me a serious case of deja vu. At first I thought I had just heard some of these stories growing up but I soon discovered that many of the stories in this anthology had been culled from other Bellamy anthologies.  I found this disappointing.  Has Bellamy told all the stories of murder and mayhem that Cleveland has to offer? Maybe, maybe not.  I still enjoyed Bellamy’s storytelling. These stories still made me want to explore the city I live in to find the areas mentioned.  I discovered I used to live very close to the house where Eva Kaber had her husband killed. I don’t know why this stuff interests me except I think the good, bad and the weird make up the complete story of an city.  Overall, I think it might be time I move on to another storyteller, see if they have any fresh stories to tell. about the city I call home.

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Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

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Title: The Circle

Author: Dave Eggers

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Genre: General Fiction

Rating: 4 out 5 stars

 

At the beginning of The Circle, Mae Holland has just started working for the titular company, an internet conglomerate that seems like a cross between Google and Facebook.  We follow her progression as a newbie in CE, or “Customer Experience”, as she climbs her way up the corporate ladder.  As Mae becomes more intrenched with The Circle she seems to lose who she is as a person and becomes addicted to the very technology the company she works for produces.  The Circle is shadier than it looks from the outside, but will Mae learn that before she falls victim to it’s siren song of connecting the world through the sharing of information?

This book is one focused more on themes than on plot and that is what makes it interesting.  Mae’s climb to her very public role in the Circle doesn’t seem all that interesting at first glance.  But the more I read, the more I started to see similariies between The Circle and the world built in George Orwell’s 1984. At one point I described this book as 1984 if Orwell had a better understanding of how future technology would actually work. Eggers has the advantage of living with this technology.  

Eggers uses The Circle to discuss the ramifications of social media and other current technologies taken to an extreme.  Issues of privacy and social media addiction are examined all while still making the working world of The Circle look rather appealing. Who, at first glance, wouldn’t want to work at a company that really cares about its employees overall well-being? But what if that same company started advertising all of its employees private information to the world? These are just a couple of issues that The Circle touches upon.  The suspense in this novel feeds off how the reader feels about social media and technology and how much privacy we should give up to be able to interact with one another. There were times when I thought Eggers might just be a little too paranoid about the dangers of technology but then I’d think about how I am not currently forced to put all of my information up on Facebook and Twitter. What if I was? Would I feel different about social media if it became mandatory, either as part of my citizenry or part of my job? The questions that The Circle made me ask myself made me enjoy this novel. It’s a book where not much happens but what does happen gets the reader’s mind churning.