Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: linkups

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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Back to Blogging: Significant songs

This post is part of Alyssa’s back to blogging nonchallenge challenge. I think I got that right.

I love music. Always have, as long as I can remember. I even write about it a lot (like my playlists with Erin, a regular feature I did back when I wrote about money, and I have some other random playlists floating around, too). So when the prompt came up to list 3 song that define your life and why, I had to get on that. 

I’ll say, it was hard to narrow it down. I went with 4 (because I do what I want) and while one isn’t a surprise since I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, I’ll repeat it anyway. I also went with songs that define my life now, rather than overall because I’m a much different person than I was when I was 18 and even 30 and to use songs from back then would be fun but not necessarily accurate. However. Some of these songs have been constant in my life for the last 10 or so years so maybe what I just said isn’t entirely true. I don’t know. Music, especially good music, is timeless. 

music

Song #1: Maybe by Sick Puppies
This song changed my life. I wish that were hyperbole but it’s not. It came to me during an extremely difficult time, personally and professionally, an while 2 years went by before I took the message to heart, it stayed with me the whole time. It’s like the song was giving me permission to walk away from all the horribleness and let me know that yes, it’ll be hard but things have to be hard and change before they get better. 

 

Song #2: The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

For whatever reason, when I’m in the middle of any sort of crisis or weird situation or some sort of tough, awkward time, this song appears on the radio almost every day. I take it as a sign, like the universe is sending me a message that it’ll all be okay in the end and whatever I’m going through is temporary. 

Song #3: America’s Sweetheart by Elle King

I love everything about the song. Specifically, the message. It’s amazing. Essentially it’s about embracing who you are, loving yourself, and everyone who doesn’t like you or wants you to change can fuck off.

Song #4: I’m Not Alright by Shinedown (also, Amaryllis by Shinedown. Is it cheating to have 2 songs by the same band grouped together if they’re from the same album?) 

What I love about I’m Not Alright is that it gives permission to be not okay. To not be perfect, to be flawed, to be weird and quirky and that if you have a mental illness, it’s okay because it’s not the sum of who you are but the sum of all those parts make you who you are. That’s exactly how I feel about my depression. And Amaryllis is a song I listen to on my bad days; it helps give me clarity and perspective and keeps me going.

 

 

Song #5: Count on Me by Default

I am not a big crier but this song gets me every. Single. Time. Not even kidding, I can not listen to this song without getting choked up. I’ll tell you why, too. I heard it when I was pregnant with the child and it says exactly everything I wanted and want her to know . Everyone knows that life sucks sometimes and that there’s one person in their life who is there for them all the time, unconditionally, no questions asked, no matter what, and I want her to know that that’s me. 

 

I’m sure I could have added to the list but we’ll just stop here. How about you guys? What songs provide the soundtrack to your life?

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My completely rational irrational fears

I originally posted this almost two years ago. But since I’m in San Diego this week, and many of you are new around these parts and might have missed it the first time around, I’m resharing. You can also read part 2 when you’re done!

One thing I’m more than happy to admit about myself is that I have many, many fears. Some of them are completely rational. Most of them are not. In fact, not only are they completely irrational but most of them are completely avoidable. Yet they continue to plague me, sometimes on a daily basis. 

I couldn’t even tell you WHY I fear these things. My time would be better spent living in fear of things that are real, like the black widow spiders that live in my neighborhood. Or the threat of a gas build-up in my house because the knobs on the stove like to turn on ever so slightly on their own (you know, not enough to start the burner but just enough to let the gas seep out). Or my neighbors being involved in a drug related shooting because I’m 99% sure they’re running drugs out of their garage. 

Nope. Instead, I find myself living in fear of:

  1. Horses. They’re gigantic and unpredictable and they pretend like they’re all sweet and awesome but really, I’m pretty sure they’re plotting against me and they’re secretly violent. When you’re that big and a fly can scare you, you need to stay the fuck away from me. Also, when I meet someone who also doesn’t like horses, we’re instantly BFFs. Because THEY GET IT.horses
  2. Setting my hair on fire. My favorite, and pretty much only, part of my appearance I like is my hair and I do almost nothing with fire. So of course I’m paranoid that I’m going to get involved in a Michael Jackson-like incident.
  3. Barbecues. Not the social events but rather the physical grill that you use to cook the food. I will not go near ours, not even to turn it on, because I fear singeing my eyebrows off and I won’t let my family use any of the ones in public areas because I’m convinced people pee on them. It’s useless to convince me otherwise. 
  4. Drive by shootings. I live in the sticks, across the street from a farm, and my neighborhood sits on a golf course. In other words, prime locations for a drive by. See also: being abducted.
  5. My cat being eaten by a wild animal. This one is not completely ridiculous. I have an indoor/outdoor cat and living in the country means there are all kinds of animals living outside, too. But she sleeps inside almost every night and she’s crazy fast and agile and she didn’t die during the 2 weeks she was missing. But the fear is real.
  6. Losing my teeth. I do not come from a long line of people with good teeth so genetics are not on my side. Despite how meticulous and ridiculous I am about oral hygiene, I can’t help but think that one day, all my teeth will fall out. 
  7. A car falling into my windshield. Specifically when I’m driving behind one of those trucks that hauls all kinds of different cars and all the cars look like they’re one bump away from coming loose. Can’t they secure them just a little  bit better? Like with chains instead of tape?
      

    My personal horror movie

  8. Tunnels. If you ever want to see my knuckles turn stark white or see me stop breathing, drive through a tunnel with me. I have an immense fear of the walls caving in and/or getting stuck in one. True story: when I drove from college to Key West with some friends for spring break (remember this one, Steph?), I had to drive through the Fort McHenry Tunnel (outside Baltimore). I wouldn’t let anyone speak for the entire duration we were in the tunnel. It makes me that crazy.Instant fear. Just add traffic and high speeds.
  9. Birds. Also bats. Not only do I fear them nesting in my hair and shitting on me, I’m confident they carry all kinds of diseases and I want no part of that. Another true story: one summer, when I was a sleepaway camp counselor, a bat got into our cabin. I hid under my blanket and let my campers fend for themselves. Because fuck them and that bat.

This is actually my nightmare:

:

2016 update: The bathtub crashing through the floor and landing in the kitchen, mowing off my toes, falling into my washing machine (it’s a top loader, very deep, and I am short. This is a terrible equation), and every single unidentifiable bug or spider that leaves near my house.

Now that you all know how I’m sufficiently crazy, what irrational fears do you have?

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