Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: books

Friday favorites, volume 20

I’m still in recovery/catch up mode from New Orleans, which is making this week ridiculously hard. It doesn’t help that I’ve had unplanned doctor’s appointments 3 times since I’ve been home (long story, and one that I’d rather not get into because it kind of sucks why I have to go. Nothing too serious but it’s still crappy. Sorry I’m being cryptic. I’ll talk about it when I have my test results. Promise). At least I’ve unpacked and done laundry, plus a few blog/mentoring related things so I’m only about 3 days behind instead of 5. Which is nice.

Before we move on to my weekly favorites, I promised Steph that I’d divulge the secret steps to killing a vampire. Here goes:

  1. Identify said vampire. You can do this if a cat jumps over the coffin 3 times or if a stray dog shows up at the front door. (Clearly this is based in science and practicality and not anything weird).
  2. Drive a stake through “dead” person’s heart.
  3. Cut his head off just in case a pointy object through his heart doesn’t make him sufficiently dead.
  4. Place the head at his feet.
  5. Turn coffin upside down. 
  6. Bury it.


I know this seems like a ton of thorough, violent, and unnecessary work but Frank the tour guide swears this is the only way to make sure a vampire is dead and he’s totally trustworthy so I think we should follow his directions. 

Now that you’re all in the know, we’re all safe, especially since we probably need to have vampire slaying field officers all over the country in the event of a vampire crisis. 

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m relieved that we have this shit under control now. 

Favorite songs

This week, I’ve had two songs stuck in my head: “This Is Gonna Hurt” by Sixx AM (Nikki Sixx’s band, and, if you’re in the market for a memoir, read his book The Heroin Diaries. AMAZING) and “So What’cha Want” by The Beastie Boys. And now you can have them stuck in your head. Side note: the terrible grammar in both song titles makes me twitchy and it pained me to not write the words properly. 
This Is Gonna Hurt by Sixx: A.M. on Grooveshark
So What’cha Want by Beastie Boys on Grooveshark

Favorite frugal find

I guess you can combine this with book thing because I’ve been wanting to read Greil Marcus’s The History of Rock ‘n Roll in Ten Songs and it’s on sale on Amazon for less than $10. My library doesn’t have it in the catalog so I’ll be buying it this weekend. Way better than paying $28.


Favorite TV thing

Chris Pratt is hosting SNL this weekend. That is all. 

Favorite internet reads

I haven’t spent too much time reading the internet this week but I did see that the guy who wrote Go the Fuck to Sleep has another book coming out, You Have to Fucking EatI just hope Samuel L. Jackson narrates this one, too. There was also a pretty interesting post on Mental Floss, Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional. And although LOST basically ruined TV for me, my longtime favorite magazine, Rolling Stone, published a great article discussing the impact of the show on the 10th anniversary of its premiere. If you were psychotically obsessed with the show like I was, it’s definitely worth the read.

Favorite quote

decisions quote

Favorite funnies

This isn’t so much funny as it is true. If you can’t make me laugh, we don’t need to be friends.

I wish I had thought of this.

cat reading









Lobster mafia. It’s real.










Seven has a point.









Enjoy your weekend! Hopefully you’ll be able to do something fun or productive or just binge watch some great TV. If you follow football, I hope your team wins, especially if they’re playing the Eagles. As for me, I’m just biding my time until baseball postseason. 


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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites

Summer reading list recap and other stuff

And so the curtain closes on yet another summer. This one was infinitely better than last, given the fact that we didn’t move and almost have a foray into homelessness. Which was great for family morale.

Summer saw the blossoming of our garden but the demise of my pioneer project (we’ll talk about that another day), the rebirth of this blog, and the end of my sanity. It also saw me work through my summer reading list which I established way back in June but, like every plan I put into action, it got derailed and took on a life of its own. 

You can read the full summer reading list if you want but the Cliff’s Notes version is this: I picked 6 fiction and 7 nonfiction books to read, for a total of 13 books. I wound up reading 14; 2 nonfiction (Confessions of a Prairie Bitch and The Last Lecture) and 12 fiction books. Here’s my brief reviews of the ones I could fit into a PicMonkey collage.


  1. Very disappointing book. Mostly boring, occasionally interesting. YA book that is not appreciated by this actual adult.
  2. I love Joshua Ferris’s books and I loved this one. It’s a dense read at times but worth working through.
  3. The first 200 pages were slow, slow, slow but the pay off of the last third of the book is worth it. Glad I read it before I see the movie. 
  4. Not what I expected but in a good way. Chick lit at its finest and definitely worth reading.
  5. My most favorite book of the summer (it’s Eleanor and Park, in case you can’t read the title). YA book that is highly appreciated by this actual adult and if I had to pick one book to recommend out of all I read this summer, it’s this one. I read it in a day.
  6. Terrible book. It was awkward and bothersome and weird and don’t waste your time unless you have nothing else to read.
  7. Adequate. Great at times, boring at others. Mostly unlikable characters but a few likable ones that you keep reading the book for. 
  8. Loved this one, too. The ending was a bit meh and the plot was mostly predictable but it was well written and a compelling read.
  9. Another YA book (not sure what was going on with me and YA books this summer). Intriguing storyline and I read Dare Me because I liked this one so much (by the same author). Great for a vacation read.
  10. Not pictured: Things We Set on Fire (even my non-reader sister liked it), See You at Harry’s (quick read, good for a long flight. Slightly sad), Real Happy Family (another good long flight read. Reminded me of the kind of book I’d like to write).

Now that you saw what I read over the summer, I should tell you that I’m currently in the middle of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (if you follow me on Instagram, you already knew that. So you should totally follow me and stay up to date on that breaking news) and when that’s done, here’s the pile I’ll be working on in September (and yes, that is a book by Kailyn of Teen Mom 2 fame. #noshame):

Isn't the plastic over our fireplace so classy?

Isn’t the plastic over our fireplace so classy?

In addition to reading, working on my novel (post coming on that shortly), and a quick 5 day jaunt to New Orleans in 2 weeks, I’m also participating in the Choose Your Own Adventure goal challenge and linkup because I loved those books as a kid and I love the concept as an adult. This month, the focus is on fitness which works out (no pun intended) really well. Exercise isn’t something I have a problem with as it’s integral in keeping my depression and anxiety at bay but I need to kick it up to ramp up the weight loss (another post you have to look forward to. Aren’t you stoked from all the previews?). 

Life According to Steph
Over the summer, I borrowed a friend’s Focus T-25 DVDs and I loved them. I don’t have tons of time to exercise and, now that I quit my gym (due to distance) and finished a Couch 2 5K training program, I needed something else to do. I absolutely love the workouts and love them so much I bought the DVDs for myself (for a deep, deep discount on eBay. No full price for this chick). So, for my fitness goals this month, I’ll be working through the Alpha round, but at a higher intensity than I did them over the summer. As in, not following the modifier lady as much as possible.
So, for September, we’ve got my reading list, my fitness goal, and because I like my goals in batches of three, let’s make the third one editing the draft of my book. I think that’ll keep me nice and busy. 
How about you guys? What are your September goals? Do you have suggestions for where I should go or what I should see in New Orleans?

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Book review: Building Blocks of a Better Attitude

You know how there’s that one person in your life, an older sibling or cousin, who always just seemed so cool and you kind of wanted to do what they did but you didn’t think it’d be as cool if you did it? For me, that person is my cousin Dave. He’s 5 years older than me and he probably didn’t know that I looked up to him when we were kids (he knows now because, well, he’s reading this). And now that we’re adults, Dave still does things that are different and cool and I’m pretty sure I’d be ridiculous if I tried them (seriously, picture me trying to give away free hugs at a concert. It doesn’t work, does it?).

I can’t remember exactly how it came about, but earlier this year, Dave emailed me asking if I wanted to listen to some of his hypnosis recordings (oh, have I mentioned he’s a certified hypnotherapist and life coach and NLP provider? Cool, right?). I’ve always been skeptical about hypnosis, mostly as a result of the image it gets in pop culture but my grandmother used hypnosis to quit smoking roughly 30 years ago and besides, what did I have to lose? Nothing but time and I have plenty of that to spare. So I said sure and I listened to the recordings, and you know what? They’re quite good.

I felt a little silly at first but the more I listened, the more I could feel what he said setting in. And it made sense! And I totally do not do weird things when people snap their fingers or say certain words. Dave’s recordings focus more on changing your thoughts and your words and he does that by putting you in a situation where you can be receptive rather than resistant to those ideas. And you can do it at home, too.

I liked what I gleaned from his recordings so when he approached me about reading his book, of course I said yes. Because I am a skeptic by nature and honestly, sometimes this stuff gets a little too new age/hippy for me, I didn’t know what to expect when I read it. But I have noticed a huge difference in Dave over the last few years and if he was saying this is the method he used to change, I was willing to put my skepticism aside, much like I did with the hypnosis.

I’m glad I did. His eBook, Building Blocks of a Better Attitude, is a short, jam packed with information book that will make you truly think about your words, your reactions, your thoughts, and how they are all interconnected. I honestly never gave any thought to the choice of words I use and how they impact my attitude and approach towards….well, pretty much everything. He gives you easy to use techniques for reshaping and reframing ideas, feeling, thoughts, and words. And reading this in conjunction with the recordings puts it on a completely different level. Because when you read, you can hear his voice in the words on the page, and it makes it that much more impactful.

Also included in the book are simple exercises to do to put what he’s teaching into practice (I think a workbook would go perfectly with this book, to reinforce the exercises even more) as well as a host of resources for further self-improvement. I’ve read part of one (the library wanted it back before I had a chance to finish), The Four Agreements, and it is a good, albeit dense, read, so I’m sure the others are just as plentiful. And that’s something to consider; these books are short but chock full of information. You need to read them more than once to let the lessons sink in. Fortunately, just like the title advertises, they are blocks and each one builds on the previous ones so taking them one at a time is possible and doesn’t devalue the lessons.

A final note: I think what, more than anything, resonates with me about Dave’s approach to shaping a better attitude is the focus on personal responsibility. He emphasizes that changing your thoughts and feelings comes from you. No one else. You can change your response to every situation, regardless of what it is, and that will in turn affect you. It is not about the external factors, it is about the internal ones (Note: if you have a mental illness, seek professional help. These resources can help, and maybe they are all you need, but maybe not. There is no shame in traditional therapy or meds and if that is what you need, then obtain that help).

Now that I have been exposed to this method of hypnosis and the systems outlined in Dave’s book, I will definitely continue to explore them. Traditional therapy did not work for me and I still have some major self-esteem issues to improve on. And thankfully there are tons of resources, including those in Dave’s store (if you’re so inclined, check it out and if you want to purchase anything use code jana15 for a 15% discount on anything in the store. This is not an affiliate link and I would not be sharing it if I didn’t think it had value), that can help me.

I’m interested in self improvement and this is a great place to start. Even if it seems a little weird.

How about you guys? Have you ever tried hypnosis or anything like my cousin suggests? Did it work?


My summer reading list

My daughter and I are just finishing up my favorite Little House book, The Long Winter. For those who haven’t read it, or have but don’t remember, part of that story is the Ingalls family basically skips Christmas. They do what they can, but they basically skip it because the trains have stopped running and there’s no hunting and they’re having to start rationing their food. However, a few weeks prior, Pa had gotten the mail and in the mail, Ma and the girls received magazines and newsletters. Stuff to read. And, knowing that having a substantial Christmas was not going to happen that year, Ma decided that she and the girls would save their new-to-them readings for Christmas day. As a present to themselves.

A) that is some major self-control and B) some of my favorite gifts are books. So, good thinking, Ma.


Books are so important to me, and I literally cannot remember a point in my life when I couldn’t read or had 2-5 books on my nightstand and another 234908 in my library queue, and now on my Amazon wishlist, too. My bookshelf is filled with books I’ll get to eventually. When I travel, packing books is as essential as packing toothpaste and underwear (maybe at one point I’ve forgotten toothpaste and/or underwear but never a book so maybe books are more essential). Some of my favorite summer memories are the rainy days at sleepaway camp when I would lay on my bed and read (and talk to my friends and nap and play jacks, too. But mostly read). Because summers are great for reading. I mean, all seasons are great for reading, but there’s just something about summer that makes reading that much better. Maybe because there are so many more places for reading–the beach, the pool, inside, a deck chair…so many more options.

I never really had a rhyme or reason for how I picked books. I would browse bookstores or stick with authors I already knew. But a couple of years ago, I started paying attention to the lists from Huffington Post books, my friends’ Goodreads lists, Amazon recommended books and I discovered books I ordinarily would not have. It’s how I found Gone Girl, The Sisters Brothers, Reconstructing Amelia, and The Fault in Our Stars. All 4 of those are books I highly recommend if you haven’t read them already.


This summer, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I have put together my own summer reading list. I never had this from school and in the past, I would just read whatever would come up from my library queue. But this year, I decided I would create a targeted reading list and that list would be a combination of nonfiction books (memoir and self-help/informational type books) and fiction books. I like having a balance, and I usually read one fiction and nonfiction book simultaneously. Doing so feeds both parts of my brain.

Does that sound weird? Probably. That’s okay.

photo (19)
Here’s my list. I already have several on hand while I’m waiting for the rest:


  • Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed (pictured)
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (pictured)
  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (not pictured)
  • The Vacationers by Emma Straub (not pictured)
  • Golden State by Michelle Richmond (not pictured)
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (pictured)


  • On Writing by Stephen King (pictured)
  • Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott (pictured)
  • The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer (not pictured)
  • The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey (pictured. Also, my daughter’s school teaches these habits so I figured it would be good to read what she’s learning)
  • Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim (not pictured, and from my pioneer reading list)
  • Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link (not pictured, and also on my pioneer reading list)
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (not pictured)

The only wrinkle in my very carefully planned reading list is the library not cooperating. I do have a few backup books in the event that happens. 

My list has 13 books on it. Not too unreasonable, I think. I usually average about 1-2 books per week, depending on the books. We’ll see what happens. At least there won’t be a test at the end.

So that’s good.


Found this on Pinterest, pinned from a Tumblr blog. Click the image for the blog.

Found this on Pinterest, pinned from a Tumblr blog. Click the image for the blog.

Do you have a summer reading list? What books are you planning on reading? 


Friday favorites, volume 6

Friday favorites. This week’s is a quickie because I’m a slacker and didn’t get it done last night and now my daughter is on summer break and I can only hide from her for so long. 

Favorite song

Black Stone Cherry is a relatively new to me band, and I just love them now. They’re songs are fun, rockin’, and honestly, who can’t love a band with a song “White Trash Millionaire?” And let me just say that when I first watched a video, I was NOT expecting the singer to look the way he does.

Favorite frugal find

Remember how I said earlier in the week that my fat ass needs to lose some weight? Well, I found a coupon for 50% off Weight Watchers for 3 months. Now, I’m not a huge advocate of paying for weight loss services since there are so many good, free ones but I lost a ton of weight with them once before so it’s worth a shot again. As a balance, I no longer belong to a gym and workout for free at home. 

Favorite TV thing

This. Only this. 


 Favorite book thing

Last summer, I read Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It is a well written, kind of weird, completely creative story about the environment in an ad agency at the end of the internet boom, and it’s written in the first person plural. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and when I realized that the author had written two more books, I jumped on that wagon train. I just finished The Unnamed and have started To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. I am troubled that he only has these 3 books but if you’re looking for something to read this summer, any of those come highly recommended. 

book cover
Favorite celebrity doing something good instead of being a dickhead

Apparently, Aaron Lewis, the lead singer of Staind, went on a tirade at one of their concerts, STOPPING their set to yell at a bunch of lecherous, disgusting assholes who were, by all accounts, molesting a 16 year old girl who was crowd surfing. When you think about all the crowd surfing he’s seen, to stop a performance to yell at (and threaten) these dudes, it must have been bad. Like really, really bad. But kudos to you, Mr. Lewis, for stopping it.

Favorite funnies

bathtub dog cookies eLazYHq


Have a great weekend, y’all!! 

Linking up, as always, with Amanda:

Friday Favorites