Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: books

Friday six-pack, 2017, v4: Here we go

Well, we’re one week in and I can’t. I CAN’T because WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON? WHAT IS HAPPENING?! As those are mostly rhetorical because I know you’re all probably as befuddled as I am, I’m going to focus (well, mostly) on all the non-political things that happened because I am treading a very thin line between staying informed and having my head explode. I can’t afford to have my head explode.

Reading. Finished The Quickening and Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Started Idaho. Picked up A Head Full of Ghosts and Bottomland. Tabled The Lilac Girls because library due dates rule my life. Also reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins along with The Child since we had in the house and she’s reading it in school for their one school/one book thing. 

Watching. A four part documentary series on Netflix about the disappearance of this British woman. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s fascinating. 

Following. All the rogue Twitter accounts, like AltNatParkSer (for the National Park Service), RogueNASA (NASA, obviously), AltUSDA (the USDA. Also obvious) and others because science fucking matters, censorship is bullshit, and this is out of hand. A president was elected, not a dictator and the motherfucker’s blatant disrespect for the Constitution, the citizens, general common sense and decency, and the world is insane. I cannot comprehend this level of hatred and narcissism and insanity and disregard for what’s staring you in the face and I’m even more concerned for those who build him up and assure him that this is how a democratically elected leader behaves. If you can explain it to me, please do. Also, and let me say this and then I’ll stop, I feel like this country is becoming the pot, we’re the frogs, and the administration is in charge of slowly turning up the water. Well, I’ll you what. This frog isn’t getting in the fucking water and I’m going to do my damnedest to protect those who are too vulnerable to know better from getting in the pot. They can turn up the temperature but I refuse to boil. #resist

Losing. Specifically, weight. It’s not something I talk about much here because…well, mostly my own issues but as of today, I’m down 15 pounds and a full pants size. While I feel I still have a long way to go, I’m pleased with my progress, even if it is slower than I’d prefer. 

Buying. Almost nothing. 26 days into the spending freeze and I’ve spent less than $50 unplanned. Each purchase I made in defiance of the freeze was purposeful and mindful which, to me, means it’s working. Full recap next Thursday, along with the next 30 day challenge. 

Laughing. 

Have a great weekend! We’ll be celebrating my dad’s 65th birthday and my nephew’s 9th topped off with a Sunday cheer practice (which means she practices and I read and/or nap while she’s there. In other words, a perfect Sunday for me). See you on Tuesday when I’ll be linking up with Lauren and Bre for their new monthly linkup, Add it to My List. 

Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren

 

 

 

 

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Show Us Your Books, January 2017: The good, the bad, the one that made me feel dumb

Hey, hey, hey, what do we have here? It’s barely a week into the new year and we already have a Show Us Your Books. Because what’s a better way to start the year than with an ever bigger TBR list? 

For those who are new or newish, I run my month from linkup to linkup rather than the calendar month so when you see my list, please know that even though I read relatively quick, I have not read 7 (well, 8) books since the first of the year. I leave that to people like my co-host, Steph. Oh, and the order I list my books is the order I read them and the reviews are directly copied (and sometimes expanded) from my Litsy reviews. You can find me on Litsy if you want; my username is my name (creativity level: 10). I’ve also discovered, thanks to Book Riot, another book app. I’ll share all about that on Friday #suspense

As always, please remember to visit Steph and the other bloggers on the list. If you’re a nonblogger, please leave me a comment with what you’ve read the last month or even a book that you’re excited to read this year. 

We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman. You know how sometimes you read a book and you love it but there’s no specific reason? That’s how this was for me. I found it funny, smart, touching, amusing, and the fact that it was littered with relevant pop culture references and current events made it that much better. The characters felt real, the plot felt real, and it was more like listening to someone talk about his fucked up life rather than reading a fiction book.

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta. I adored Saving Francesca so I was crazy excited to read this one. It did not disappoint. A fast paced, well written, intricate thriller that used time jumping as a way to move the plot forward rather than a gimmick. I loved watching the story unfold and I love that she didn’t shy away from the racism and assumptions made amidst crimes like this (a bus bombing). My only gripe is SO MANY CHARACTERS and I couldn’t always keep them straight.

Darktown by Thomas Mullen. It’s a crime novel, a mystery but also so much more than that. It’s set in post-WWII Atlanta, with racism and police brutality and corruption as much of characters as the characters themselves. It’s a commentary on how things have changed but how they haven’t changed at all. There’s crimes within the crimes. It’s a complex, ridiculously well written, intriguing book that keeps you hooked the entire time. I can’t remember how I found this book but I’m glad I did. It’s not an easy read by any standards but well worth it. 

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. It’s like a mix of The Other Wes Moore and The Glass Castle and a research paper and a family history project. A sociology nerd, I love learning and reading about subcultures and this is a particularly fascinating one given the current climate of the US. Vance highlights a culture full of stereotypes and makes them understandable and explains a lot of “whys” but based mainly on his experience rather than stats and research (which he does use at times but not often). The book provides a ton of food for thought. It’s important to remember that this is a memoir, not a study because it’s an important distinction.

Salvage the Bones by Jessamyn Ward. I fluctuate between recommending this book and not. I mean, the writing is phenomenal. Every scene, you feel like you’re there, breathing the air and sweating and fighting along with Esch. Her description of Katrina is heart stopping and you feel like you’re part of the family. And the relationship between Skeeter and China is incredible. But the dogfighting and puppy stuff was too much for me and it was incredibly repetitious at times. Read with caution.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. Somewhere in this busy, annoying, repetitive, rushed story narrated by an insufferable, snobby, bitchy, selfish asshole is a good book. It peeks out at you every once in a while and then retreats. I think those glimpses are what kept me going and not fully hating the book, despite wanting to put it down and walk away several times. There was so much potential in this story that never materialized. I can take an unlikable narrator so that didn’t put me off. The terrible story and plot did.

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this book. On the one hand, the characters and story and plot are amazing. On the other hand, the writing was too much, like the author had to prove that he’s smarter than everyone or just how smart he is. I swear, I didn’t understand a fourth of the words and I have a decent vocabulary. I don’t like fiction that makes me feel stupid, and this book did. The overwriting compromised my enjoyment, even if he did it to make some sort of point I don’t get. 

Bonus book: I’m not counting this in my book total for the year because it’s essentially a throw away book (I got it for free during my free trial of Kindle Unlimited) but I recently learned about the Danish concept of hygge and this book, The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg, is a pretty good primer/overview of the idea. It’s not anything special or different but it puts an umbrella on self-care, avoiding SAD, and minimalism which is pretty cool. 

TL; DR: Read Darktown, We’re All Damaged, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil. Hillbilly Elegy if you like that kind of stuff. The rest, proceed with caution.

Now it’s your turn. Link up and show us your books!

 

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Judging Covers with The Family: The return

This entry is part of 11 in the series Judging Covers

Guess what’s back?! It’s Judging Covers! 

It took an unexpected hiatus but now we’re back in full swing, with the child and the husband on board and now you’ll be able to look forward to it the first Wednesday or Thursday of every month (still haven’t figured out my blogging schedule. Baby steps). Exciting shit, right?

That said, let’s have a look at what’s currently on the nightstand: 

But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

The Child says: The book cover is on wrong. 

The Husband says: Did he do this on purpose?

Goodreads says:But What If We’re Wrong? visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who’ll perceive it as the distant past. Chuck Klosterman asks questions that are profound in their simplicity: How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How certain are we about our understanding of time? What will be the defining memory of rock music, five hundred years from today? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? How seriously should we view the content of television? Are all sports destined for extinction? Is it possible that the greatest artist of our era is currently unknown (or—weirder still—widely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? And perhaps most disturbing, is it possible that we’ve reached the end of knowledge?…

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte 

The Child says: It looks like a really dark neighborhood and no one really comes to that neighborhood but one day there’s like…I don’t know. There’s a huge party that goes on in one of the house and you can see lights and chalk but what it really is is an explosion happening (Husband: an explosion of fun!)

The Husband says: Looks like everybody decided on July 4 to set all the fireworks off at one time because dammit, it’s my house and I do what I want.

Goodreads says: Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century: call it a loving satire. A gleefully rude comedy of manners. Middlemarch for Millennials. The novel’s four whip-smart narrators—idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda—are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, the four estranged friends stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again. 

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

The Child says: It’s about a cowboy in the middle of nowhere and his adventures through there (Husband: And then he meets another cowboy on the mountain. Me: SCOTT!! Husband: What? That’d be a great plot for a movie)

The Husband says: Seems like the advertising for a brothel. (Child: what’s a brothel? Husband: What a wonderful conversation to have. Me: It’s not important what a brothel is)

Goodreads says: In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Jana says: I KNOW!!! I’m reading historical fiction! And a WWII historical fiction at that! #peerpressureFTW

The Child says: It looks like a group of old women who are stranded on a beach except for this one tower and their adventures on that stranded beach.

The Husband says: I think this is similar to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (me: How do you know what that is?) but with some differences in that this is about post-war England and these women all wear lilac clothes as a symbol of their friendship.

Goodreads says: New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
 
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
 
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

How do you think they did? 

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P.S. If we’re friends on Goodreads, you’ll notice that I have a reading goal for this year. It’s not an actual goal that I’m striving for; rather it’s a lazy, easy way for me to keep track of all the books I read. I have no goals but I am curious. 

Show Us Your Books: 2016 in review

I finished 81 books this year, not including the ones I read for work purposes. Some I started and didn’t finish. Some I meant to read and didn’t get around to. Some I finished and hated. Some I finished and months later, can’t stop thinking about.

The latter ones I’ve designated as my favorites of the year. Not because of an arbitrary Goodreads rating or anything else. I picked what I did because of their lasting impact and my likelihood of recommending them to others. And since they’ve already been reviewed and I hate repeating myself, I figured I’d just do a quick picture with the list of titles and authors underneath (I apologize for the lack of links but this post is coming to you live from my phone). There’s a combination of fiction and nonfiction so there’s something for everyone!

Notably absent: Sue Klebold’s book and The Underground Railroad. The latter for no reason other than it’s on all the lists and the former because while I can’t stop thinking about it, I don’t know that I can honestly recommend it.


The books:

  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid 
  • Real Artists Have a Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa
  • Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
  • Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
  • Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond
  • Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
  • The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
  • The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Shelter by Jung Yun
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay 
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Now it’s your turn! Let us know about your 2016 favorites! And don’t forget to visit Steph and some other participants to start making your 2017 TBR even bigger!

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Friday Six-Pack: The last of 2016

This is the last recap of 2016 because next week, with the child and the husband both on vacation, I will be spending (even more) time away from my laptop to hang with them. Of course I’ll be around on Tuesday for our second Show Us Your Books this month, recapping our favorites from the year but other than that, I’ll be (even more) absent. I’m looking forward to coming back here in January with renew purpose and presence. Well, that’s the plan anyway. We’ll see what actually happens. 

Reading. Darktown by Thomas Muller. Picked up Hillbilly Elegy and Today Will Be Different. Was strong armed persuaded by my favorite librarian into doing a reading challenge she created. Also created a reading challenge which I’ll share with you guys when it’s all ready to go (it’s for the site I write for rather than this one). 

Listening. No new podcasts to share with you guys this week and as far as music, I’ve been sticking to my standards and my Spotify most played in 2016 with a splash of nontraditional Christmas music thrown in. It’s been an uneventful week.

Watching. Home Alone x45 million. It’s the child’s favorite and she doesn’t have HBO or a DVD player in her room so we all have to suffer. Also Singles. I fucking love that movie.

Giving. Since Giving Tuesday, we’ve also donated to a scholarship established by the husband’s fraternity alumni, BuildOn, and, thanks to Instagram, I learned about a new local charity that gives Christmas gifts to kids in foster care who are too old for Toys for Tots. We picked a 17 year old girl in an out of state placement because those kids have a special place in my heart, and we went all out for her. She deserves it, and I’m grateful we were able to afford it this year. 

Celebrating. Most of y’all know how disappointed and angry and frustrated I am at our government. It’s revolting what’s happening. However, this week, my school district just passed a referendum that will build 3 new schools and do capital improvements on 2 of them. Where I live is exploding, population-wise, and we desperately need the new schools to accommodate all the kids. Overcrowding presents a host of problems, and these kids deserve quality education that overcrowding will prevent. It thrills me to no end that others agree with me and that this passed by a wide margin. It gives me hope that, despite what’s going on at a national level, on a local level, people are practical and invested and make good choices. 

Laughing.

That’s it. I hope you guys have an awesome holiday, whatever you do or don’t celebrate, and that you have a fun (or uneventful and boring) New Year’s, and I’ll see you in January!

 

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