Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books–Anniversary edition

I cannot believe it’s been a year since Steph and I started this little linkup! It’s giving me all the feels how supportive you all have been and how many of you have been involved and stay involved and it really is a testament to the power of books. And as a thank you, Steph and I have a little giveaway of bookish presents so after you read through my reviews, make sure you enter (or, skip to the end, enter the giveaway and then go back and read my reviews. Either way works for me).

I have many mushy things to say but Thursday’s post is an emotional gut punch so I’ll refrain from most of my comments and simply say I appreciate everyone who joins us, regularly or irregularly, and thank you for your books and your comments and your love of reading.

On to what I read last month.

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Dietland by Sarai Walker. A story about an obese woman whose sole purpose in life was to stay hidden and lose weight until she starts being stalked by a stranger who gets her involved in an underground group trying to change beauty standards in strange, often bizarre, quasi-militant ways (which, truth be told, got annoying after awhile). The point the author was trying to make–that we can love ourselves regardless of size–is a good one but the story was kind of all over the place, I hated the main character’s name, and it left little room for the mindset that if you want to change how you look that’s okay, too, as long as it’s on your own terms. Body positive books are important but this one, for me, was not the one to lead the charge.

Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulon. This was a fun little book. I read it in a couple of hours, on my flight from Philly to Charlotte. Ally Hughes is a college professor, has a short fling with one of her students that maybe was more than a fling, they don’t speak for 10 years until he shows up at her house with her daughter and throws her already messy life into even more disarray. It has the makings of a Lifetime movie, and it’d probably be a great one, and there’s a little mystery plot thrown in and you really want Ally to get over herself and be with this guy who clearly never got over her. This book will not rock your world or change your life but I do recommend it because it’s pure entertainment.

$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Katherine Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. So, this was an interesting follow up to Ally Hughes. A study of families living at the lowest income you can imagine, with no cash flow at all, and how they survive. And what they do is survival in its basic form. From selling plasma to selling their food stamps to using whatever free services (think library, parks) they can find to doubling and tripling up in homes that should essentially be condemned, the families highlighted in the book show just how dire the poverty in our own country can be. They use the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 as the foundation of their thesis, and the solutions that they propose are practical yet most likely not going to happen in the near future. Which is pretty freaking sad. 

Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille. I did not finish this one. Not even linking to it because it doesn’t deserve the link. This book was absolutely terrible and the only reason I even made it 100 pages in is because I like John Corey as a character. The plot was ridiculous, the writing was lazy, the characters were horrible, and everything else was atrocious. I recommend the John Corey series but do yourself a favor and avoid this one. Negative 400 stars.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari with Eric Klinenberg. My sociology nerd heart skipped many beats reading this book. It was equal parts hilarious and smart and well researched and also, it made me so, so happy I don’t have to date. I’m grateful I met my husband in the dark ages. I cannot even begin to imagine what dating is like in the texting and Tinder age (you can visit my friend Ali for lots of insight about that) and this book was very eye opening to me. Aziz is hysterical, the book was definitely written in his voice, and whether you’re in the midst of dating or are on old married hag like me, I definitely recommend picking this one up.

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt. I had been looking forward to this book since I learned that Patrick deWitt wrote another book because The Sisters Brothers is one of my all-time favorites and I did a little happy dance when I got the notification from the library that it was ready for pick-up. And maybe I built the book up in my head too much but I was disappointed. It did not blow me away like I’d hoped it would. He’s a phenomenal writer but this story, for me, was too bizarre. Not only that, it felt like there were gaping holes in some of the plot. Like, it was half-plots or half told stories for some of the characters. And there was a disturbing, pretty fucking gross sex scene that had the husband say to me “you look horrified by what you’re reading”. I definitely was. And I made it through the whole 50 Shades trilogy. So that says a lot.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Far and away my favorite book of the month. Probably in my top 10 of the year. THIS is the body positive book people should be reading and talking about. And one of my favorite part of the book was Willowdean herself. Sure, she’s kind of bitchy and judgmental and confident and insecure and moody but she’s a 16 year old girl. Those are the characteristics that made her feel real and relatable (honestly, I’m 38 and I’m still bitchy and judgmental and insecure and occasionally confident). She is exactly what you’d expect a teenage girl to be, especially one who’s overweight with a very unexpected admirer (two, actually) and a former pageant queen mother and who’s still mourning the sudden (but not unsurprising) loss of her aunt and role model. She makes some questionable choices that both help and backfire on her but in the end, you realize what a badass this teenage girl really is. I wish she existed when I was in high school. I would have maybe felt a little less lonely. Oh, and I feel obliged to add that Dolly Parton plays a big role in the story so that was like the sequins on the cherry lollipop (once you read the book, you’ll get that reference). 

Definitely add: Dumplin’, Modern Romance, Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes 

Now let us know what you read! Then keep scrolling for the giveaway entry form.

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These could be yours!

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the post which means it’s giveaway time! To say thank you for a year of bookish awesomeness, Steph and I are giving away a $50 gift card to Amazon and some swag from Bookworm Boutique (see above). Complete the entries below for your chance to win one of those prizes (how commercially did that sound?). Winners will be pulled on October 19:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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73 Comments

  1. Christina

    Ally Hughes and Dumplin’ are waiting for me! I also really loved Modern Romance and cannot wrap my head around dating these days. I have Dietland on my nightstand, but I may just return it. Someone else recently said it wasn’t very good.

    Thanks for hosting this linkup! I’ve always been a reader, but I’m more into books than every before because of it and look forward to it every month!
    Christina recently posted…What I Read In SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      YAY!! Hope you like them both!!

      I’d say go ahead and read Dietland but just know what you’re getting into. Then again, you might think differently of it than I did.

      Reply
  2. Kimmi

    Happy anniversary! I love this book link up it is my favorite! I will be adding Dumplin to my list, and Modern Romance has been on my list for a while now! Just waiting for her to come in at the library.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thank you! Waiting for books to arrive is both awesome and horrible.

      Reply
  3. Kerry

    I have heard good things about Dumplin and Modern romance so those are on my TBR list. Adding the Ally Hughes book sounds fun. Best Laid Plans was my favorite this month, I am biased though since I read the whole series.
    Kerry recently posted…What Just Happened?My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think you’ll enjoy Ally Hughes since you’re such a fan of romance books.

      Reply
  4. Nancy @ NY Foodie Family

    I really enjoyed The Martian, Better Than Before, Everything Everything and The Same Sky….all 4 stars for me this month. I just read Modern Romance, which will be on my October Reads and have been wanting to read Dumplin’. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for hosting this link-up! I’ve only linked up the past couple of months, but it’s definitely one of my favorite posts of the month!
    Nancy @ NY Foodie Family recently posted…September 2015 ReadsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The Martian is definitely in my top 10 of the year! Everything Everything is already on my list.

      Looking forward to your review next month of Modern Romance! Hope you get around to Dumplin!

      Reply
  5. HEATHER My Little HEA

    I never would have guessed that this has been going on for a YEAR, that is fabulous news!! Definitely added Modern Romance, Ally Hughes Has Sex and Dumplin’ was in my Owlcrate box last month so that’s on my TBR this month!! Checking out the $2 a day, sounds interesting. Thanks for continuing to host a wonderful link up!
    HEATHER My Little HEA recently posted…All About the Books – OctoberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The year thing took us by surprise, too!

      I hope you like all the books you listed! They’re all really different and that’s always nice. Can’t wait to hear what you think of Dumplin’!

      Reply
  6. Jenn @ Optimization Actually

    Modern Romance is on my TBR! I’m definitely intrigued by the comedian/sociology combination. I might have to bump it up to higher in the queue after seeing your review. 🙂
    Jenn @ Optimization Actually recently posted…Show Us Your Books! – August & SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I recommend that! And even if you don’t bump it up in your queue, put it on hold. It took like 3 or 4 months for the library to get it to me. I think the state only has like 2 copies.

      Reply
  7. Heather @ Heather's Hurrah

    Thanks for co-hosting the link-up!! I love this!! Modern Romance sounds like a good (and funny) read, so I’m going to have to check it out!
    Heather @ Heather’s Hurrah recently posted…Show us your books! (September-mid October reads)My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was definitely a great book. Funny always makes things even better to read.

      Reply
  8. April

    Modern Romance sounds AWESOME!

    Also, happy 1 year on the linkup! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It really was. And thank you!

      Reply
  9. April

    My fave book last month, HANDS DOWN, was The Thirteenth Tale.
    April recently posted…Show Us Your Books: What I ReadMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I feel like someone else said that, too!

      Reply
  10. Kelli

    I added Dumplin’ as soon as you said we should all read it, even before your review.

    Also you got me at sociology with Modern Romance so it’s been added too.
    Kelli recently posted…It’s All About The Books – Vol. 8My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I hope you like them! Willowdean is a pretty awesome badass so you’ll like her. Especially since you enjoy books with strong female characters.

      Reply
  11. lisacng @ expandng.com

    I’m very interested in reading the $2/day book. I haven’t read a well-written non-fiction in a while. These types of books always bring me back to reality. I should be thankful for what I got.

    Hmmmm…I wasn’t going to put “Dumplin'” on my list because I read “Sugar” which also has an overweight teenager as the main character. But looks like Dumplin’ did it right. Sugar fell short for me.

    And that’s why I love this linkup. It makes me think twice or take a second consideration to books I might have dismissed otherwise. Happy Anniversary!

    The best book I read last month was “Still Alice”. So touching.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Tweetviews – book reviews in 140 charactersMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I feel like I’ve heard of Sugar but haven’t read it. But Dumplin’ was a phenomenal book.

      If you like books on poverty and the working poor (which sounds weird but you know what I mean), you’ll enjoy $2 a Day.

      Reply
  12. Rachel @ Countdowns & Cupcakes

    I read Dietland last month too and was left feeling kind of the same way! Glad it was not just me. I feel like it had really good intentions, but did not like the way the point was made. Plus I really dislike books (or anything really) that makes women out to be bad guys for wanting to change their body or looks because THEY want to.
    Rachel @ Countdowns & Cupcakes recently posted…September Reads in ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Right? Like it was trying to do something good and wound up completely missing the mark. And shaming women for wanting to change of their own free will is not okay by me.

      Reply
  13. Julie @ Artwork by JM

    Congratulations on one year! This is definitely my favorite link up! I’ve actually never heard of any of these books so I will have to check out a few of them!
    Julie @ Artwork by JM recently posted…What I read in SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I hope you like whichever ones you pick to read!

      Reply
  14. Brittany Pines

    Modern Romance is on my TBR, I REALLY have to read that. Your take on dating sounds exactly like mine- so grateful I found my hubby early and got married young, this dating thing sounds awful lol.

    And yes- Dumplin’ was AMAZING! It was my favorite of the month too, so happy to hear more positive reviews about it!
    Brittany Pines recently posted…Some Random ThoughtsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Dumplin’ was AMAZING!! I swear, YA books were not like that when I was in high school.

      I could not imagine having to date now. I’d be the worst at it.

      Reply
  15. Carrie

    Thanks for hosting the linkup! Lots of good reccommendations! My list grows again!
    Carrie recently posted…Books Lately – Oct 2015My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      That’s the best part–my TBR is never empty!

      Reply
  16. Lauren

    I added Dumplin (yay because the library has it!) and $2.00 a day, which reminds me of Nickel and Dimed, which I loved. I wanted so badly to love Modern Romance, but I think since I too met my husband in the dark ages, I didn’t fully appreciate it.
    Lauren recently posted…september booksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Nickel and Dimed and $2 a Day are in the same niche but completely different types of books. Barbara Ehrenreich did hers in the first person with some case studies whereas $2 a Day is solely case studies. Also, they explore two different levels of poverty (working poor vs. extreme poor) and one was studied and written right after the Welfare Reform Act whereas the other was over a decade after. It’s short so you might want to check it out even if you didn’t like Nickel and Dimed.

      Reply
  17. Nadine

    I had added Modern Romance to my list after last months link up and you sealed the deal on me needing to read it! I am trying to decide to read it or listen to it on audible. Thoughts? Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes sounds like a fun read. I think I will add that to my list! My favorite read this month was The Light of Day.
    Nadine recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Ally Hughes was a fun book. I think you’ll like it. As far as Modern Romance, if you like Aziz’s delivery, you’ll probably enjoy the audiobook (provided he narrated it).

      Reply
  18. carrie

    thanks for hosting Jana! this is one of my favorite link-ups. i’ve been seeing Dumplin’ here and there and it’s caught my eye, but i haven’t picked it up yet. great to hear you recommend it!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s such a wonderful book.

      Reply
  19. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    DAMN YOU DEMILLE. So rude to ruin a Corey book.

    I’m adding Ally Hughes, Dumpkin, and The Sisters Brothers because I’ve never read that.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Show Us Your Books Anniversary Edition – What I Read in SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Mr. DeMille and I need to have words about that one.

      I hope you like the other 3. They’re all so different from each other, too, which is nice.

      Reply
  20. kristen

    ew, her name is plum? not reading that. i love a good body image book, but i think i’ll heed your warning and stay away.
    definitely adding dumplin to my list though!
    kristen recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Yes. Her nickname was Plum but she hated it and was too weak of a person to stand up and tell people not to call her that. That irritated the shit out of me.

      Reply
  21. Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage

    LOL “negative 400 stars” 🙂 Will certainly avoid that one. Thanks so much for hosting the linkup, I look forward to this one each month, it keeps my hold list full!! Dietland sounds so bizarre.
    Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage recently posted…Show Us Your Books: SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Dietland wasn’t terrible but it was just too militant and had a chip on its shoulder which bothered me. Plus it was weird at times. Too weird.

      Reply
  22. kristen

    oops, i commented before entering. the best book i read this month…. this might be a bit loser-ish haha but i read these dorky romance fairytale novels and i loved the first 2 in the series so much.
    kristen recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
  23. Marissa

    Thanks for hosting! I just found y’alls link up, so glad to join.

    Marissa

    Reply
  24. Svetlana

    Defintley interested in $2 A Day and Modern Romance! As a fellow Sociology nerd I am super excited about reading both of these! – Svetlana @Life With a Side of Wine

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      If you’re a sociology nerd, you’ll like both of them. Very well researched.

      Reply
  25. Amber

    Happy Anniversary!

    I’ll add some of these books to my list. I recently finished The Good Girl by Mary Kubica and it was pretty good. I’m currently reading The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore.
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s Okay TuesdayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The Good Girl is on my TBR. Did you like it?

      Reply
  26. alyssa

    Happy anniversary, and thanks for this fantastic linkup! I’m so glad to read good things about Modern Romance. I cannot wait to read it! I’m on a long list for it from my library but hopefully it’ll be my turn soon.
    alyssa recently posted…September’s StacksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It took my library like 3 months to get it to me. Worth the wait, though. Can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

      Reply
  27. Amanda

    LOVE Aziz! Adding that!
    Happy anniversary!
    Amanda recently posted…Weddings and Birthdays and Date Nights… OH MY!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

      Reply
  28. Kait

    I’m so intrigued by the book on poverty! I added it to my Amazon wishlist, so I don’t forget to check it out. This is my first time linking up here and I love it! Thanks for putting it all together 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks for joining us!

      It was very interesting reading, and right up my alley. If I’m going to read nonfiction, it’s typically in that niche (and memoirs. And crime stuff). If you like it, let me know and I’ll recommend a few more.

      Reply
  29. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    Modern Romance sounds like it would be a fun book to read.
    Alison @ Puppies & Pretties recently posted…Hair ThingsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was really interesting, especially if you keep Aziz’s voice in your head while you read it.

      Reply
  30. Kristen

    Happy one year anniversary! I’m so glad you both continue to host this link-up each month. It’s such a great way to connect with fellow book nerds and discover some awesome bloggers, and I look forward to it every month!

    I can’t believe you read a book in a couple of hours. I know we all read at different speeds, but this blows my mind. I don’t think I could ever read an entire book in such a short amount of time!

    I added Dumplin’ to my list after seeing your high Goodreads rating and Instagram post. I figured it must be worth checking out!

    I’m also adding Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes (because sometimes I like a fun chick lit type of book) and The Sisters Brothers. I may also check out Undermajordomo Minor even though you clearly didn’t give it a rave review. I’m intrigued by the funky title and the synopsis on Goodreads.

    And LOL to “negative 400 stars.”
    Kristen recently posted…From the Bookshelf: Recently Read – October 2015 EditionMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s not a long book, and it’s quick reading so that helped me read it in that time span. I also read pretty fast.

      YES to Dumplin’ and The Sisters Brothers! I hope you like them!

      Reply
  31. Kristi @ Femme Frugality

    Happy blogiversary! I will be sure to avoid Radiant Angel. I have to ask, when do you find the time to read so many books? I used to read constantly, but now I’m lucky if I can get 15 minutes of reading time on my kindle app a day. Picking up an actual book is a rare luxury for when I can squirrel myself away from my family for a few hours.
    Kristi @ Femme Frugality recently posted…5 Cheap Hobbies That Sharpen The MindMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I don’t watch much TV so I’ll read instead and I always read for at least 30 minutes before I go to sleep. And I’ll read literally anywhere–while I’m waiting for dinner to cook, in the car waiting for my child to get out of school, on the football field while she’s cheering. Anywhere. I also read quickly so that lends itself to getting through books.

      Reply
  32. Teh Megan

    I am so glad you liked Modern Romance. Part of me felt like I was hyping it up because I just loved it so much and I was going to let people down with my review last month. Now I feel validated.
    Part of me wants to read $2 a Day, but my bleeding heart says no. I have this problem where I want to fix the problems of everything and everyone and it’s not reasonable.
    Super pumped to add Dumplin’ to my TBR list.
    “negative 400 stars” and “not worth linking” gave me all the lolz. I felt that way about a book a few months ago, which I think was pretty obvious from my scathing review. Part of me wished the author would see it and read it and explain to me why she wasted my life.
    Teh Megan recently posted…What I read in SeptemberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      $2 a Day was actually quite interesting. It’s short, too, so it won’t tug at your bleeding heart for too many pages. Plus, the first 20 pages or so are a history of welfare and the politics behind the Welfare Reform Act.

      Reply
  33. Karen

    I really enjoyed Azziz Ansari’s book too. I’m very thankful I met my husband before Tinder! Dumplin sounds like something I would like.
    Karen recently posted…Latest Reads // September – OctoberMy Profile

    Reply
  34. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    I really like the sound of Modern Romance. Humour + sociology has got to be a winner! The $2 a day book sounds equal parts interesting and heart breaking. Might have to work up to that one. Happy anniversary and thanks for hosting this linkup – it’s helped me find a whole lot of books that I’ve loved reading which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

    Reply
  35. Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    I already have Dumplin’ in my tbr list. Also, I added The Brothers Sisters (I know that’s not one you read this month, but you say it’s one of your faves!). I’m so happy to be a small part of this link-up every month and you guys are great hosts because you love books as much as I do!
    Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…Playlist 3: Rock This HalloweenMy Profile

    Reply
  36. Cherie

    I read Modern Romance last month and loved it. I’m single, but it made me feel better about my situation that a) someone gets it and b) I’m still young enough to meet someone.

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Dumplin’ so I’m definitely adding that to my list!

    Reply
  37. Crystal Ward

    Adding a few of these to my to-read list! The $2 a Day book is all too familiar – there was a time while I was living in FL that I’d often have $10 for food and gas for the whole week. You definitely get creative!

    Reply
  38. Lindsey C.

    The best book I’ve read this month was Robin Hobb’s “Fool’s Quest”.

    Reply
  39. Gwen

    I added Dumplin’ and Ally Hughes. I know my book club is reading Modern Romance in the coming months so I’ll be reading that one, too. Hooray for one year of linkups!
    Gwen recently posted…Books, Books, BabyMy Profile

    Reply
  40. kathy@more coffee, less talky

    as always, Dumplin is all out at my library 🙁 will wait to read it probably 234238907234 years from now :s

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I need to have a sit down with your library. It’s like the only one worse than mine when it comes to shit like that.

      Reply
  41. Rose @ Ramblin' Rose

    After BEA happened, I saw arcs of Dumplin’ everywhere. I’ve read some good reviews of it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too. I have it on my never ending list.
    Rose @ Ramblin’ Rose recently posted…Stitch Fix #3My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was a most excellent book. Deserves all the praise it gets.

      Reply

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