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True Colors: A Jana and Erin playlist

Jana’s note: When Erin and I were deciding what theme to use for this month’s playlist, she metiomed that since both of us are struggling with our depression right now, maybe we should do something with that. Then I suggested that since depression makes you feel grey, why not do the opposite and use songs with color. I said it because it’s important to know that even if things seem bleak and dark, there’s still color and beauty to be found. And thanks again to Erin for putting the actual post together since I can’t seem to bring myself to do anything.

Last Thursday of the month means it’s time for another playlist with Jana  and Erin – a playlist with a twist.  Often, we try not to choose themes that you’ve seen time and time again.  This month, we thought we’d get colorful and share songs with a  “color” in the title.  Of course, we don’t just share any songs…we only share songs that we actually like.  So, you ain’t gonna find Coldplay’s “Yellow” on our list.  And, we know several of these songs are covers.  We just happen to prefer some of the cover versions.

The metallics:
Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys

Silver and Cold by AFI





Stay Gold by Butch Walker

The repeat offenders:

Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones

Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones



Little Red Corvette by Prince

Purple Rain by Prince (if you have not watched this SuperBowl performance lately, do yourself a favor and watch it):



Black by Pearl Jam


Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam

Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden

Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

The pinks:

Pink Houses by John Mellencamp

Pink Cadillac by Bruce Springsteen

The reds, whites, and blues:



The Red by Chevelle

Red Barchetta by Rush

White Wedding by Billy Idol



Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) by The Offspring


Blue Monday by Orgy



Blue Morning, Blue Day by Foreigner

Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit (originally by The Who)

The blacks:



Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance



Back in Black by AC/DC



Black Balloon by The Goo Goo Dolls



Supermassive Black Hole by Muse



The song that doesn’t fit in a category, but we like it, so it stays:

Amber by 311





We’ve included songs with a color in the title in previous playlists (I Saw Red by Warrant and Fade to Black by Metallica, to name a couple).  And, we know this is a long list.  If you are still with us, tell us…

What songs did we miss?

Show Us Your Books, July edition: The one with lots of intensity

Well this Show Us Your Books sneaked up on us pretty damn quick, didn’t it? Or maybe it’s just me because I’m still on my blogging break (mostly). I wanted to come back sooner but I’m struggling with some things and want to sort that all out before I start writing consistently again. We’ll hash all that out in a post later on because today is all about the books.

This past month was full of intensely intense books. I’ve never been one to read with the seasons (i.e., light and fluffy in the summer, heavy in the winter) and this month definitely proves it. I read some seriously batshit crazy books with some seriously batshit crazy characters. I also read a book about a plane crash while actually on a plane so that shows you just how good my decision making skills are. 

Note: for the most part, these reviews are the ones I’ve written on Litsy (you can follow me there if you want, @saysjana, but only if you have an iPhone. It’s not available for Androids yet). I’ve learned that I’m terrible at most of the social media but this one is a bit different and it helps me track my reading and reviews for this here linkup. It also helps me keep my reviews a bit shorter because, as we all know, I’m longwinded. #sorrynotsorry 

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True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner. I fucking loved this book. Read it in one sitting. I think it helped that I wasn’t familiar with the case so all the information was new to me. I adored his writing style and how he interwove his life with his obsession in solving Maura’s disappearance. To me, this is how you do a memoir.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’ve said before that TJR is an author I’ll never quit mostly because her books are predictably good and reliable. She’s just the right mix of solid writing, chick lit, and likable characters set in what feels like realistic situations. Her books consistently entertain me and this one was no different. I got this from NetGalley AND it was a book I read for Erin and Dani’s challenge. 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. You know how I said I read a book about a plane crash while physically on a plane? s: It’s this one. The plane crash is not at all a spoiler, I promise. I loved the writing and the storytelling and the way he told the story of the passengers on the plane but the plot had so much going on and too many characters that it got annoying and lost me at times. However, it’s still worth the read. Just not on a plane. That’ll freak you out. Also a NetGalley book and a book for Erin and Dani’s challenge. 

Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of Hunger in America and How To Fix It by Sasha Abramsky. The best thing I can say about this book is that it was decent. I like a good social policy book but this was not it. I found him pretentious and obnoxious and out of touch and, roughly 7 years after the book’s publication, it seems woefully out of date. This seems like a topic he seized on because at the height of the recession it was trendy but it lacked passion and a genuine concern for the problem he’s discussing. 

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. Steph and I will be discussing this on an upcoming episode of The Armchair Librarians so you’ll get a more in-depth review then. But for now we’ll say that this is one of those books that when it’s good, it’s kick ass awesome and intense and fucked up and you can’t put it down but when it’s not, it’s boring and tedious and whiny. The ending is MESSED UP so proceed with caution. 

Shelter by Jung Yun. This is a well-written examination of the repercussions of a violent event that hits (no pun intended) a Korean-American family (this last part is important because the book examines a lot of cultural family dynamics). It deals with all the things: debt, marriage struggles, domestic violence…so many issues are addressed here. This is not an easy, light read. It is hard. But it is so, so good. I also got this one from NetGalley (I know! Three in one month!)

Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma. A gorgeously, if sometime overly, written story of grief and friendship and hope and sadness and loss and love filled with characters I cared nothing about. Except Jacob and Irene. I cared about them. They made the book worth reading. This one reminded me a little bit of A Little Life if that helps describe it. 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. I don’t know how to fairly review this wonderfully insanely fucked up book. It’s bizarre and twisted and packs so much into it’s 200ish pages but honestly, I have no idea what the hell I just read. I finished it and reread the last 15 pages 4 more times and then the beginning twice more and I think I got it but wow. The decent into madness is harrowing to read and it’s gruesome and if someone has read it, please get in touch with me because I really need to discuss this book.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I was so excited to read this book and then…I read it. At best, it’s annoying. At worst, it’s obnoxious. Snobby and elitist about food and wine, which I care zero about, and I feel like it’s the epitome of everything people love, hate, idealize, and romanticize about New York and New Yorkers. Like it’s one big New Yorky stereotype. And the characters are all assholes. I also could not stand the perpetual vagueness and unanswered questions about Simone and Jake’s relationship. It felt purposeful and it bugged the shit out of me. But she writes well.  

TL;DR: Add I’m Thinking of Ending Things, True Crime Addict, and One True Loves. Maybe Before the Fall. Steph and I are discussing Girls on Fire in an upcoming podcast episode. 

That’s it for me. Now it’s your turn. Link up with what you’ve read. Make sure you visit some other readers and most definitely me and Steph, your lovely hosts. Nonbloggers, leave a comment with what you’ve been reading lately. 

Next linkup is August 8.

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Summer reading list and $225 Amazon giveaway

So I’m still technically on my hiatus but then things like this happen and you make a brief appearance. Like that friend you wonder about for so long and then they mysteriously appear at a barbecue and then go away again until they’re back permanently. That’s kind of me right now. I’m also incredibly excited for this giveaway and this summer reading list (can you guess which is mine just by looking at the collage?). I’ve already read a number of the books on them and I second the recommendations, particularly for YOU considering, you know, it was one of my favorites of last year and Joe is my literary crush. #noshame

What’s that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it’s officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it’s time to dig into that summer reading list!

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all the hot summer reads are? No sweat! We’ve got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list.

Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. I know, it’s insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles.

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it!

  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn’t hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his “Scientology arranged and groomed” girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn’t put it down!
  2. The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn’t without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book–loss, romance, mystery–all peppered with humor and the format–each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry’s favorite books–was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.
  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it’s no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms) A great novel with a fresh, funny voice guiding it, this book tackles the classic struggle of moms trying to have it all and stuck with us to the point of recommending it to others long after we turned the last page.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another‘s review on Amazon: “This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author’s writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won’t find talk of anyone’s blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure–and I do mean pleasure–of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry.”
  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another’s hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare’s Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life – everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book’s spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins, New York Times best seller and 2015 National Book Award nominee). Sarah Cottrell of The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you do not want to miss!” Reader Claris explains why everyone should read Not Without My Father in her Amazon review: “Andra really made me stop and think how important each moment in life is. If we live in each moment – really LIVE – we won’t be as likely to miss making that moment an important memory. I expected to read a story about a memorable walk, but it turned into a thought-provoking quest to truly focus on the wonderful family and friends that I have and not miss making memories with them.”
  • Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you’ve ever known a kid that doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi’s story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan’s media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  • A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  • Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  • What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me – I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl’s bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people – some connected, some seemingly out of place – whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard on a foggy August night.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  • You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  • The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I’m taken by Amazon’s description of the book,Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration.” You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can’t wait to dig in!
  • The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon’s description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: “Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two.”
  • Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

    Now that you’ve got the whole list, I know you’re dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don’t forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard!

    Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list–or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET.

    Here’s to a summer of fab books, friends! And as always, happy reading!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    ****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin’s Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard–because we love Amazon and we love you 😉 ****

    Second graphic credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:18594985, copyright:peshkova

    Horizontal line of books in last graphic: depositphotos, image ID:6984753, copyright:aboikis

    Catchy songs about f*cked up things: A playlist by Jana and Erin

    Last Thursday of the month means it’s time for another playlist with Jana  and Erin. Although June is our birthday month and we could have done birthday themed songs, we opted for something a little darker because let’s face it, that makes way more sense. 

    You know the saying “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and how it means something sinister disguised as something sweet and cute? Well, that’s essentially the theme of this month’s playlist […] Continue Reading…

    Show Us Your Books, June edition: The one where I take a break from a break

    Hey there! It’s Show Us Your Books day which means I’m taking a break from my break to talk books with all of you. 

    It’s been 5 weeks since our last Show Us Your Books so I have a higher amount of books on the list than usual. That also means I’m going to (try to) abbreviate my reviews. We all know I’m long winded and paring down the words is a challenge, especially when […] Continue Reading…