Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: linkups

Show Us Your Books, March 2017

Not only is today Show Us Your Books day, it also happens to be the birthday eve for Steph, my amazing friend and SUYB co-host. For those who don’t know, Steph and I have known each other since 1995 when we were freshmen at the University of Delaware, and with the exception of about an 8 year or so period where we lost touch, have been friends ever since. Many, MANY of my college memories involve her and now, as an adult, I could not be more fortunate to have such a fierce, smart, funny, and outspoken friend. Steph, I hope you have the happiest of birthdays and holy shit, how are we 40?

Now, onto the books!

As always, my reviews are copied and/or embellished from my Litsy reviews. You can follow me there if you want but as a warning: it’s boring. Even more boring than my IG account. 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. I cannot succinctly review this book. It’s too much, too big, too emotional. The writing is absolutely stellar and the characters’ pain was palpable. Even the annoying characters. The story was incredible and she used multiple POV and time jumping to further plot instead of as a gimmick. The abuse is hard to read and the pedophilia but also love but also still pedophilia is uncomfortable but both are necessary and not gratuitous. This is a strong, gritty book that’ll rip you but make it worth it. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. If Looking for Alaska and The Messenger had a book baby, this would be it. A sad, haunting, engaging, sometimes rage inducing fast paced YA book that is a) impossible to put down; b) thought-provoking AF; c) one of those books you reference when people say YA books are just for teenagers; and d) insanely creative. You will feel all the emotions when you read it. Also, it was made into a Netflix series and it starts on 3/31.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. I generally do not like horror or paranormal books in any form so reading this was completely outside my comfort zone. It wasn’t a terrible book; it just wasn’t for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the blog posts peppered throughout the book and the ending smacks you in the face–HARD–but the rest was just meh. It passed the time just fine but nothing spectacular. Plus, it became glaringly obvious what was going on and after that, it all seemed dragged out. Except the end. THAT was a surprise. 

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. DNF. I picked it up and put it down and picked it up and put it down and repeat about 6 more times. I wanted to like this book but I couldn’t force it. The writing style wasn’t for me, I didn’t like the characters and I genuinely gave no fucks about what happened to them and there are too many others to choose from so I cut it off. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. You all know what a TJR fanatic I am so I was thrilled, stoked, dance out of my seat happy to get this from NetGalley. Hands down, this is her best book. It’s a love story, exactly what you’d expect from her, complete with stellar writing and storytelling. But not at all what you should expect. The story is more complex, the women stronger, and she tackles LGBTQ issues, particularly for those of an older generation. Most of all, I loved the statements she made about forgiveness, family, choices, and protecting who and what we love. 

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano. Holding Smoke was one of my 2016 favorites so when I learned she has more books, I had to read them (sequel reviewed next). This one was a tightly written, smart, engaging thriller that completely threw me at the end. I loved and hated all the characters and I enjoy when a book does that. There were small mysteries within the larger mystery that could have been messy and annoying but weren’t. It’s a YA book, and some parts definitely felt like it, but overall, a great read. 

Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano. If you read The Hunger Games trilogy, you probably adored the first book and when you read the second, scratching your head thinking “I’ve read this before”. That’s how this one felt. Like a rehashing of Nearly Gone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good but this one had the same characters and same plot and same types clues and the ending wasn’t as shocking because you saw the twist coming. It was nice to have answers from the smaller mysteries in the previous book but I found myself caring less and wanting new. 

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion. So, I loved The Rosie Project and DNF’d The Rosie Effect. This one fell in between. It’s chick lit, written by a man with a male protagonist, which is different. But I couldn’t help feel that had it been a female main character doing some of the stuff the male one did, there’d be huge backlash and that bothers me. The musical references and using people’s connections to music made it more interesting but I don’t recommend running out and getting this one. It counts for the Aussie author challenge and I got it from NetGalley. 

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. A collection of short stories. I don’t want to review this book because it’s everything you don’t expect and nothing you do and I want you to judge it for yourself. Her writing is simply spectacular and usually, when I read a collection of short stories, I can pick a few that stand out or a few I skimmed over. Not the case here. Read every single one and cannot choose a favorite. However, I will caution: if reading about sex makes you uncomfortable, pass on this one. 

TL;DR: Add The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Difficult Women, and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Add the others, too. Just not Imagine Me Gone

Now it’s your turn! Link up and show me your books! Nonbloggers, let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading!

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Add it to my list: Book stuff

Like I told you guys last month, I’m not a big recommender. I enjoy getting recommendations but really struggle with giving them. So this linkup, hosted by Lauren and Bre, really pushes me to think hard about what I think is worthy to recommend knowing that what I like isn’t always for everyone.

But you know what is for everyone? BOOKS. 

Books are for everyone. Because books are awesome. And in what’s probably my worst kept secret, I love books. Which means that, today, I’m going to recommend some bookish things in no particular order and in absolutely no categorical groupings (which, incidentally, is how my at-home library is organized. I won’t bother with a picture because I don’t want my organized friends to freak out):

  • Book Riot. Follow them on all the social media, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts. They’re my go-to source for all bookish news and it’s my dream job to work for them. 
  • Flipster. Free library app for magazines. You can’t get all the magazines but you can get a lot and there’s a ton of variety.
  • Litsy. A hybrid of Instagram and Goodreads, and it’s exclusively devoted to bookish things so if you find yourself scrolling through IG just for book pictures or reviews, get on Litsy stat. I use it to keep track of my book reviews for Show Us Your Books and not much else but it’s a great community of book nerds if that’s your jam.
  • NetGalley. THE source for ARCs. They’re free, they’re eBooks, and the only thing you need to do is review the book somewhere. You won’t always get all the books you request but you will get most of them (HELP!: I’m currently stalking Amy Stewart’s, Julie Murphy’s, and Celeste Ng’s new books so if you see them there, please let me know).
  • BookOut. If you like tracking your reading stats, this is perfect for you. You set a timer and it’ll track how long you read and you can fill in the amount of pages and which books you’ve read and all that stuff. It’s a paid app but there’s a trial version. Confession: I loved this one but deleted it because I kept forgetting to start my reading sessions and it’s hard to go back and fill in what you’ve done. 
  • Instagram accounts. Reading Quirks, Book of the Month, Books on the Subway, Harvard Book Store, and Liberty Hardy (from Book Riot. She also posts lots of cat picturs). I also recommend following the accounts of some of your favorite authors and publishing houses. I do, it’s fun to look at, and I learn about a ton of books that way. 
  • Finding your local indie bookstore. And using it. Look, I love Amazon as much as the next person and I definitely use it to it’s (almost) full capacity

I’m not going to recommend any specific books or authors because it’s personal and confusing and I struggle big time with picking my favorites or ones that I think you must read but if you’re interested, here’s a few summary posts I’ve written:

Okay, so those last two aren’t necessarily recommendations but maybe you’ll like them anyway.

I’m 100% confident this is not at all a comprehensive list of bookish things I recommend so maybe I’ll dig a few more things out and do a part 2 in the coming months. But it’s what I’ve got for now. 

So, tell me. What are some of your favorite bookish things that I absolutely must see/use/read? 

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Linking up for Add It To My List

 

Add It to My List

Okay, so this linkup is supposed to all of our favorites and things we recommend to our friends in real life. I’m struggling HARD with these rules because I’m not a recommender. I like what I like and assume other people do, too, and unless someone asks, I don’t offer opinions on what they should watch or use or listen to or whatever. I’m all for receiving recommendations, and I have no trouble asking for them, but giving them? Not so much. 

But because I love Lauren (and I’m assuming I’d love Bre, too, if we knew each other but we don’t yet) I dug deep and came up with a list of my favorites (no books are on the list. I KNOW. But everyone is so different that it’s hard for me to give blanket recommendations for books) in a variety of categories and in no particular order (there are no affiliate links. These are just products I love). 

I also want to make a note about cruelty free stuff. I try hard–REALLY HARD–to purchase cruelty free products. Some of the brands at one point did not test on animals and I think now they might but not in the U.S. and I’m so damn confused. I’m all for finding substitutes if they’re available and affordable and if you know of any, please share them. 

Makeup and stuff

  1. Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. Pricey but worth every damn penny. See also: Too Faced palettes.
  2. Biolage Colorlast shampoo and conditioner. I love my hair and I love the way these products treat my hair so it’s an expense I don’t mind.
  3. OGX Coconut Miracle Oil body lotion.  Smells amazing and you can get it Walgreen’s. Mid-range price.
  4. NYX Butter Gloss. Pretty much the only lip gloss that’s not sticky, that lasts forever, and is crazy affordable. See also: NYX eye liner.
  5. Wet and Wild Under the Sheets makeup remover wipes. My daughter uses these to take off her competition makeup and they are beasts. They remove most of the glitter without a problem, they don’t dissolve or shred, and you can find them anywhere. 
  6. e.l.f. brushes. Cheap, sturdy, excellent.

Food and drink

  1. Starbucks iced unsweetened green tea. I do not like their coffee but I will drink this like nobody’s business.
  2. This recipe for grain free chocolate chip cookies. You can take my flour but you can’t take my cookies.
  3. This recipe for grain free chicken and cashews. So delicious I never order this dish from a restaurant anymore.
  4. Reese’s peanut butter cups. They are my most favoritest ever and if someone ever surprsied me these with these and an iced Starbucks green tea, I would love them forever. 
  5. Ranch chicken tacos. A nice twist on tacos and they take about 9 minutes to make. You mix the taco seasoning and ranch dressing with the cooked chicken and slop into a shell and top with cheddar cheese. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can bake it in the oven for about 5 minutes so the shell doesn’t fall apart. 
  6. A crockpot. Nothing makes me feel like I have my life together more than when I put dinner in the crockpot. 

Everything else

  1. Amazon Smile. A simple way to donate money to charity with stuff I buy anyway.
  2. Josh and His Critters on IG. Tina is the woman behind the account and it’s based on her rescue group which she started a few years ago after rescuing a puppy with the cleft palate. She now rescues the worst of the worst, medically, on death row in various CA shelters and posts all the updates on the dogs (and various other creatures) she’s saved. What she does is amazing and I wish I could donate all the time
  3. Baddiewinkle on IG. Please, if you know what’s good for you, follow this woman if you don’t already. She is my absolute #lifegoals
  4. True Crime Garage, All the Books, Crimetown, and Homecoming for the podcasts. 
  5. Sneaky Pete, Bosch, Goliath on Amazon. Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline, House of Cards, OITNB, Stranger Things on Netflix. Better Call Saul, American Crime, Billions, John Oliver, Silicon Valley on all the other TV. Too many documentaries to list. 
  6. These two songs if you’re someone who is inspired and reassured by music:

Needing recommendations

Help on the following, please:

  1. Non-UV gel nail polish. This chipping shit is out of control
  2. Non-true crime or food documentaries. It’s making me not want to ever eat or leave my house again.
  3. Kindle or Kindle paperwhite. My iPad is dying and I’m not sure how much more I can coax it to work. 

So that’s it for this month. I think this is supposed to be a monthly thing but I am so damn boring I don’t see much changing but maybe next month I’ll do a whole one devoted to reading. What do you guys think? Would that be helpful?

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Linking up with Lauren and Bre

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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Show Us Your Books, December edition: The one where I didn’t read a lot

I don’t know what happened this month. It’s been 5 weeks since the last Show Us Your Books and I read exactly 5 books. That’s one a week. WAY below my average. I mean, I know it’s not a competition and sometimes the pace slows and it’s all fine but when I’m trying to tackle a huge pile and the library keeps sending me more, it feels like a race. I suppose I could stop putting books on hold but let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. So. We continue the epic battle of me vs. library. show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

As for what I read last month, I had 2 books I almost quit but in the end, I’m glad I didn’t. And of the 5, only 2 were strong; the others were good but not great. I wouldn’t say don’t read them but I wouldn’t say bump them to the top of your TBR, either. Let’s explore:

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Confession: I confuse her and Jojo Moyes all the time. I don’t know why. Anyway, this books is not my favorite of hers. It was meh. The storytelling annoyed the fuck out of me. She dragged out storylines for the sake of mystery and it fell flat. The characters were mostly irritating and unlikable yet not enough to make me stop reading so there’s that. I thoroughly enjoyed the last few chapters (though not the last one because Clementine sucks the most). The mostly strong finish offset a generally mediocre novel. Not the best but not the worst book I’ve ever read. 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This will be the topic of the newest episode of The Armchair Librarians when season 2 launches in January so I’m not going to give too much away. It’s an absolutely phenomenal book. Sad and engaging and heartbreaking and heartwarming. The writing is stellar. I loved the characters and the stories and everything about it. It’s like a perfectly finished puzzle: once you see how it all comes together, it just clicks and you understand. This is the kind of book that reminds me why I love reading. 

The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel. The struggle was REAL with this one. At first, it was a DNF but instead I just put it down and came back to it a couple of weeks later. I’m glad I did. I mean, this book is S-L-O-W for the first 250 pages but the last 60 make it worth the slog. Sad, powerful, explosive, heartwrenching. I’m not a huge fan of her writing but you get over the pretentiousness after awhile. I loved, eventually, all the characters and the narrative punches you in the gut at the end. Note: although this is labeled as a YA book, it most definitely is not. 

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro. I think Tig is awesome and hilarious and I was thrilled to find out she wrote a book. And it was enjoyable. She’s such a great writer and a badass survivor. However, having watched and read interviews and her Netflix special, I don’t feel like I learned a ton more about her. It was interesting to get a glimpse inside her head during that one year and how she dealt and survived and pushed through. She’s definitely inspiring but the book was average.

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker. This is the other book I’ll almost DNF. I wanted to quit because the narrator is condescending and arrogant and insufferable. But once you realizes he’s actually a sociopathic narcissist, it becomes a whole different book. He reminded me of an unlikable Joe (from YOU and Hidden Bodies) and that helped me get through. The plot was engaging enough and the twist at the end was both predictable and shocking and definitely worth finishing the book for. If you can get over the narrator’s tone, it’s a worthy read. 

TL;DR: The only one that’s a must read is The Mothers. Please, please read it. 

And FYI, there’s another SUYB on December 27, where we’re asking you to join us and talk favorite books of the year. And as a thank you for all the support, Steph and I are hosting our annual holiday giveaway. The winner gets an Amazon gift card and a donation to Dolly’s Imagination Library will be made in the winner’s name. So, linkup, enter, and let’s talk books! (Giveaway is below the linkup)

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