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Author Archive: Jana

Show Us Your Books, third anniversary edition

Holy shit, you guys. I cannot believe this is the THIRD ANNIVERSARY of Show Us Your Books. I think I can speak for Steph when I say that we are thrilled you guys love our little linkup and we are astonished that it’s lasted for three years. If that doesn’t speak to the power of books and how book lovers come together, I don’t know what does. 

As a thank you, we have a little giveaway for you (you can find it at the end of the linkup). But before we get to that, let’s check out what I read last month. It’s a bit less than I’d hoped but you know, it’s hard to read when you can’t stop crying.  Also, we were supposed to reveal the new button this month but I suck at life and responsibility lately so next month for sure.

As always, my reviews are copied/embellished from my Litsy reviews (I’d encourage you to follow me over there but honestly, it’s very boring):

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart. To know me is to know how much I love the Constance Kopp books and how much I love Amy Stewart for bringing her into my life. This book is a little busier than the other ones but it ties itself up so well at the end. The social politics of the time are infuriating but necessary to read because without that context, you don’t realize how Constance is so groundbreaking and such a pioneer and integral to feminism. An unsung and under-noticed hero. This is the only historical fiction I read for a reason. (P.S. This review is Amy Stewart approved. She liked it on Litsy!) 

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein This book is sad, eye opening, frustrating, maddening, inspirational, and every emotion you can think of. She immersed herself in this town and legit cares for it and the people and it shows in her writing and careful portrayal. It’s a very political story but she does a phenomenal job of removing her biases. This is a fascinating look at what happened to this town during and after the Recession and for me, is on par with Matthew Desmond’s Evicted

Bird Box by Josh Malerman I have no idea what the flying fuck I read. Some sort of bizarre apocalyptic commentary on mass hysteria and what our imagination can do to us or a terrifying horror novel? That is a question I can’t answer and won’t even attempt to but I do know I was not a fan. I didn’t hate it and would recommend if you like weird novels with strange endings and a tinge of horror but if you like linear books that actually make sense, pass on this one. 

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates Sometimes you read a book and despite the fact that it has all your plot pet peeves rolled into one, you love the book anyway. It’s about the dangers of secrets and friendship and what can happen when you don’t know the whole story and it’s set in the aftermath of a tragic event (and also the Recession which made for an interesting side story). It’s horribly sad, a little thrillery, and wonderfully written. ARC from NetGalley. 

The Locals by Jonathan Dee This was more of a character study and analysis of a town in the wake of 9/11 and through the Recession and the Occupy Wall Street movement and all that rather than a novel with a tightly woven plot. Similar to Did You Ever Have a Family?, it was sad and beautifully written and SLOW and there was a distinct story progression that including the importance of otherwise peripheral characters but you kept reading because you wanted to learn about the people. The end was not the payoff I’d hoped for but the journey there was great. 

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land This short book about arson on the Eastern Shore of VA is engrossing, interesting, and meticulously researched. It explores the region, the crimes, criminals, the firefighters, investigators…everyone and everything in a careful and sympathetic manner. Her bias does show but her sympathy shows more. It balances history with the way things are done currently and the only part I found lacking was an exploration into motive and the relationship between the arsonists. (P.S. My in-laws live near the Eastern Shore and my mother in law confirmed that this was BIG NEWS when it happened a few years ago so that’s pretty cool)

TL;DR. With the exception of Bird Box, I loved every book I read this month. If you’re not a nonfiction fan, Janesville won’t be for you but American Fire might be. The three Recession books in one month were unplanned. As was two books by women named Amy. 

Currently reading: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng with The Both Die At the End and Caroline in the queue. 

Now it’s your turn! Link up, visit some other bloggers, and show us your books (and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom and enter the Amazon giveaway)!

 

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Weekly six-pack, 2017, v26

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and comments on Dobie. I miss him so hard and am slowly easing back into normal life or whatever normal looks like now. We do plan to get another dog but it’s off the table until I return from Dallas which is actually better for all of us, Barkley included. And as far as rejoining the blogging world. I’m getting there.

In the meantime, here’s what my life looked like this week when I wasn’t crying.

Reading.American Fire by Monica Hesse. I planned to start Caroline but this one called me instead. Haven’t bothered to look at NetGalley or get anything from the library. Three year anniversary for Show Us Your Books is Tuesday and that means giveaway and prizes!

Watching. American Vandal. It’s a Netflix parody of true crime docs but it’s incredibly hilarious and well done and definitely stands on its own merit. I also started The Disappearance of Maura Murray. Fascinating shit, that case.

Listening. I’m trying to get into some new serial (not Serial) type podcasts and I found Small Town Horror which is okay but not my favorite. I have a couple of others that I’m looking forward to but if you know of any in the vein of Homecoming or Alice Isn’t Dead, send them my way, please.

Eating. Um, well, really nothing beyond basic sustenance. I don’t eat when I’m grieving (although I binge when I’m stressed) so I’ve been on a steady diet of coffee, cheese, and tortilla chips. If you have any recipes that might help bring back my appetite, please also send them my way. If they can be adapted into gluten free, all the better.

Raging. Watching the events in Las Vegas and the horror show of 45’s trip to Puerto Rico and the new abortion ban that passed the House and the lack of vote to reauthorize CHIP and now 9 million kids are uninsured unfold when you’re in a fog makes it hard to really process all that you’re seeing. Where I want to see red, and believe me I do, I just feel helpless instead. I CANNOT handle what the orange menace is doing to this country and to see people like Pitbull and Bethenny Frankel and Mark Cuban and Ricky Martin and others step in overwhelms me to the point of crying even more. And then there’s the Second Amendment. I’ve never really expressed my opinion on this in any forum but here goes. I have absolutely ZERO problem with the amendment itself. I have no problem with people owning guns for their own safety, protection, or simple amusement. You feel that you need a conceal and carry permit, have the fuck at it. There are thousands and thousands of responsible, normal gun owners in this country and it is their right to do so. HOWEVER. We have a serious fucking problem with mass shootings. We have a serious fucking problem with access to assault rifles and unhinged lunatics who procure them and the accessories needed to turn them into even bigger weapons of mass destruction. We have a serious fucking problems with gun control laws and regulations and an even more serious problem with the gun lobby. People are too afraid to lose a donor than to stand up and protect the rights of concert goers, movie goers, club goers, church goers, women attending exercise classes, people going to work, and KIDS WHO DID NOTHING ELSE BUT GO TO SCHOOL. Freedom of assembly is in the First Amendment and we have a raging problem of the power of the Second usurping the freedom guaranteed in the First.  Gun control and regulation is not taking away the right to own guns. It is limiting access to people who shouldn’t have them in the first place and adapting our laws to match the evolution of the weapons and accessories. Assault rifles in their current form weren’t a thing in the 1780s when the Constitution was written and I’m confident the Founding Fathers would be just fine with some modifications. We should all be. THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT WAS IN 1999 BUT NOW WILL DO, TOO. JUST HAVE THE FUCKING DISCUSSION.

Deciding. To run a bunch of 5Ks next year. I hate running but Dobie loved it and because of his heart, he never could do it as much as he wanted so for the next year, my husband and I are going to honor him by running when we can and in races that support causes we believe in.

I try to end these with something funny so

Have a great weekend! Wish me luck as I’m going shopping. I hate shopping.

Working titles

Now that I’m 40 I think it might be time to write my memoir. After all, I have a few decades of experience to share along with some wisdom and knowledge and truth bombs (that’s the term the kids are using these days, right?).

But what to name it? I have a few working titles:

Where’d I Park My Car?: A Life in 50 Parking Lots

Inspiration: My Life Between Sneezes

Hiding in the Bathroom: 47 Ways to Get Some Damn Peace

I Conquered Laundry Mountain: Great Achievements of the 90s-Now

That’s Where That Went!: Things I’ve Found in My Bra

Sure, I Like Her (and Other Lies I’ve Told)

I’m Not a Joiner: Tips for Avoiding the PTA

Wear Those Pants All Week and Don’t Wash Your Hair: A Style Guide for Moms

Carpool Confessions

Cereal, Grilled Cheese, and Chips: A Weeknight Cookbook

What do you think? What would you name your memoir?

It’s the story of a dog named Dobie

Once upon a time, a woman and a man got married. They bought a house and quickly decided that house needed a dog. So they got a dog and named him Barkley (after the dog from Sesame Street and at the woman’s insistence). After a year or so, the woman and the man realized Barkley needed a brother. And they began the process of finding the perfect companion for Barkley.

It wasn’t easy. Barkley, like his mom, is very particular about who he likes and doesn’t take to everyone quickly and approaches all new people with caution and nerves. But there was one puppy, a small, underweight, runny nosed, wheezing puppy, who stole his heart. They took to each other instantly and the woman and the man knew that was the one. And they took him home and named him Dobie. 

Throughout his first year, Dobie grew and grew. His runny nose and ear infections cleared up. He gained weight. He learned to walk on a leash, he learned not to pee in the house, and he graduated from school. He took his rightful place in the woman and man’s bed and when they brought home a human baby, he slept in front of her crib, too. 

It was the beginning of an amazing 11 1/2 years. Because during that time, Dobie gave more love than he ever asked for in return. When the woman had bouts of depression, he still made her smile every day. When the man was stressed from work, he knew how to calm him down. When the girl needed someone to play with or dress up, Dobie obliged. When Barkley needed a headrest or someone to snuggle with, he provided it. Dobie did it all with patience and enthusiasm and smiles.

Loving his people, making them happy, tolerating their idiosyncrasies and endless nicknames for him, didn’t mean he didn’t have his own preferences. He loved food, especially hamburgers and peanut butter and carrots and ice cubes, but he enjoyed every morsel he consumed from kibble to a Starbucks pup cup and everything in between. If it was something he wasn’t supposed to have, all the better! The woman never cooked a meal without him right at her feet, waiting for something to drop, and he really loved licking the dishes in the dishwasher. Nothing made him happier than playing in the snow or a car ride with the wind blowing right on his face or quick swim in his grandparents’ pool. A rousing game of fetch with his stuffed potato was a favorite nighttime activity and dammit if he didn’t let you know when he was ready to start and was done. And no day started without a good scratch behind his ears. 

But what made him special was all the weird things about him. His foot fetish, his need to eat garbage and the girl’s toys, his choice to nap on the floor in corners or against the front door instead of the couch, his utter hatred of the squeakers inside stuffed toys and the precision he used to extract them, his reprimanding of Barkley when Barkley got a little out of control, the way he slept at the woman’s feet, the way he ran in crazy circles around the house, and the way he shook the bed when he snored. 

And what’s impressed most upon the woman and the man and the girl is the way Dobie loved, unconditionally and unfailingly. The feel of his kisses on their face, the heat of his body on their cold feet, the softness of his fur under their hands, the willingness to do what was asked of him, his persistence, his intelligence, and his ability to make everyone he ever met love him instantly. 

Dobie’s life will be remembered for all the things he gave and the love he had. And love and give he did, even at the end. No words can ever accurately and completely describe what an amazing dog he was and how my life is better and blessed because he was in it. I am infinitely changed and irreparably damaged now that he’s gone. All that’s left to do now is live my life in a way that honors him because God knows that’s what he deserves. 

Barkley made me a dog person.

Dobie made me a dog mom. 

And holy shit, did I love being his mom. 

Rest in peace, my sweet boy. I hope you’re running around in the wind and the sun and eating all the things you want and your heart never bothers you again. We miss you here but we know you’re needed there. Say hello to our baby and give him all the kisses he needs.

Until we meet again. 

 

 

Unpopular opinons

Every fall since 2011 I’ve attended a blogger conference. At this conference, one of the sponsors routinely provides cookies. These cookies are white chocolate covered Oreos coated in purple sprinkles and stamped with the sponsor’s logo. Most attendees refer to them as blogger crack. I refer to them as disgusting. 

I’m 100% comfortable with my opinion and I stand by it and also, it’s just a number of unpopular opinions I have or popular things I don’t like. For instance:

Pumpkin spice anything. The only right way to consume a PSL is dump it right down the drain and when I was in Walmart a few weeks ago, I swear to you I was in pumpkin spice hell (which is different than the regular hell that is Walmart). It’s madness, and it needs to stop immediately because we all know pumpkin spice really isn’t that great. You can tell yourself it is but really? NO. Apple cinnamon, maple pecan, hell the smell of wet leaves is better than pumpkin spice. 

Game of Thrones.  I don’t have any fucks to give about it and I don’t care to find a fuck. See also: Harry Potter related anything, Gilmore GirlsThe Walking Dead, This Is Us, any prime time reality show.

Audiobooks. I don’t like them. They’re not reading for me. They’re listening to someone tell me a story. When I read, I want to actively engage and read. Not passively listen. 

Wedding hashtags.  I get that they’re for finding all social media pictures from a particular wedding but good fucking lord. They’re stupid and take vanity to a level I am incredibly uncomfortable with. How do I make them stop? See also: the word “bumpdate”. Sorry, preggo friends. I hate the word and I’d like to banish it. 

Punctuation abuse. Look, I know it’s trendy to put grammar in a corner and forget that it’s important and to just say what you want and blame autocorrect. But OMG it is important and I will totally and forever judge you if you can’t use a proper apostrophe or understand the difference between “where” and “wear”. Also, if you’re trying to make a political statement about how kneeling during “The Star Spangled Banner” is unpatriotic and it is riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors, I will not take you seriously at all and your opinions are invalidated in my eyes. If you’re going to be that impassioned, at least take the time to spell words correctly. 

Ed Sheeran. I think his music sucks. There. I said it. (Also I’m not a huge Beyonce fan. I think she has an obscene amount of talent but I don’t get the constant and incessant worship)

Scarves in fall. How about scarves never? Putting a scarf around my neck makes me feel like I’m being strangled and I want it removed pronto. I will not purposefully spend money on a scarf as an accessory. Hell, I don’t like to spend money on them as a necessity for the 4 days a winter when NOT wearing one means I’ll freeze. 

Craft beers and IPAs. EWWWWWW for days. I’ll take my stouts and porters and my vodka sodas when I don’t feel like tearing up my stomach. But most microbrews are horrible and I don’t understand the love they get. 

Wine. I don’t like that, either. Except moscato. I’ll drink that. 

To be fair, I’m not completely immune to the allure of popular things. There are several that I do enjoy: 80s and 90s nostalgia, Carpool Karaoke, How To Get Away with Murder, hating on Joe Buck (he really fucking sucks, though), wasting time taking BuzzFeed quizzes, red lipstick, Adele, yoga pants, and all the IG pictures of coffee and sunsets and dogs and cats. 

It’s a good balance for me. 

How about you guys? What are some unpopular opinions you have about popular things?

Thanks to Stephanie for the post idea