Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: reading

Show Us Your Books!: March edition

You know those months when you read a ton of books and it’s hard to pick which is the best one because with the exception of maybe one or two they’re all so damn good and then you don’t really want to keep reading since you’re confident the hot streak has to end but you don’t want it to? That’s me after reading 8 books last month, loving 6 of them, and not thoroughly despising the other two. It was a good month, reading wise (in case you’re new to the linkup, my reading month is not a calendar month; it’s from the day after the linkup until the weekend before, when I write the post). 

So what did I read? Let’s find out.

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Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy, and Stupid by Denis Leary This book was exactly what you’d expect from a book by Denis Leary. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, particularly his stand-up and when I read the book, much of it sounded like the rants in his routine. Hilarious, offensive, rude, and also true. However, peppered in between the rants are stories about his childhood, his family, his career and to me, what’s abundantly clear is how much he loves his wife and children, the respect he has for his parents, and how proud he is of all he’s accomplished (which he manages to do without humblebragging). If you like him, read the book. If he bothers you, don’t. 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin Have you ever read a book that just destroyed you, emotionally? That how I felt about this one. It’s a YA book but it truly didn’t matter. I mean, some of it annoyed me, particularly how whiny Violet could be and her parents were atrocious characters but Finch’s part of the story? Holy shit. I cannot commend Jennifer Niven enough for dealing with mental illness and when Finch starts to go down the hole, you feel yourself going with him. The book has you forgetting you’re reading a YA book. And the end, well, that had me ugly crying more than The Fault in Our Stars. 

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise had so much potential. So much. And the last third made for compelling reading but you had to muddle through the tedious, boring, first two-thirds to get to it. What got on my nerves more than anything wasn’t so much the story line but the fact that the author, who’s clearly an adult, was trying way too hard to make the teenagers in the book sound like teenagers and wow, did they have poor grammar. It became painful to read after a few pages.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng Jumping back and forth in time from the 1950s to the 1970s, it deals with a mixed race family dealing with the death of their favorite child. I don’t even know how to sum it up properly or express what I think about it except this book gave me all the feelings and I completely understand why this book made it onto every “best of” list for 2014. While I couldn’t relate to some of the experiences of the family, as a parent, and the parent of a girl, I could relate to the mother in the story more than I thought I would and their grief was palpable, which also struck a chord for me.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler I don’t know how I feel about this one. It’s a great, creative concept about the intense and short burning high school romance but Min was way too dramatic and over the top for me. She was also obsessed with classic movies and when I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. And not real classic movies, made up movies with made up actors and titles and it got to the point with the constant talking about it I’d get angry. Also, the book is printed on photo paper (like Yes Please) and if a book is going to be that heavy, it needs to be better. 

You by Caroline Kepnes This book does down in my reading history as the single most fucked up book I have ever read. Every single character was contemptible, particularly Beck, the shallow, selfish, spoiled object of Joe’s affection (Joe is the narrator) and let me tell you, Joe is psychopath stalker with even more issues beyond that. But when you put them together, it makes for a story you cannot stop reading, even if it makes you paranoid and disturbed and compulsively checking your doors. I can totally see this being made into a movie and I’m crazy excited for the next book in the series.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green Oh, John Green. Why did you have to write a book involving math? Despite that, this book the epitome of John Green YA. A boy gets dumped, he goes on a road trip, and meets/falls in love with a girl…blah, blah, blah. The math bugged me, it had an abundance of footnotes that made Jen Lancaster’s footnotes seem not so annoying, and the overuse of the word “fug” (instead of “fuck”) plucked every single one of my nerves. Had this book been longer, and had Colin been less likable, I probably would have put it down. And I love John Green so that says a lot.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins I recently learned the term “cozy mystery” to describe a book (it’s when someone who’s not law enforcement gets involved in the investigation of a murder or something along those lines) and when I think of that term, I think of a campy, simple book. This one might fall into that category but it is anything but light and campy. Murder, infidelity, domestic violence, alcoholism, infertility, jealous, and obsession feature prominently in the plot. Like the characters in You, it’s hard to like anyone in this book, although you will find yourself pitying Rachel at times, but when you put them all together, it makes a story you need to read.

If you’re going to add any to your list, make it The Girl on the Train, You, Everything I Never Told You, and All the Bright Places. I’m okay telling you to skip the rest, even if I enjoyed them. 

On tap for March: The Martian, The Economy of You, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, and The Son. That’s just what I have checked out. Not sure what else the library will send my way.

Now it’s your turn! Link up with me and Steph and let us know what you read. Nonblogger, leave a comment with your favorite (or least favorite) reads from last month:

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Show Us Your Books: February edition

Today my not so secret inner book nerd is rejoicing because it’s time for my and Steph’s monthly book chat!!! 

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I started off the month plowing through some books. I think I read 5 in 10 days or something ridiculous like that. Then I slowed down to a regular pace and read a more normal 1 book every 5 days or so. 

What I read ran the gamut, too. It was insanely eclectic, even for me. But rather than me rambling on about how much I read, let’s recap the books instead:

The Journalist and The Murderer by Janet Malcolm. Recommended for those of us who are huge Serial fans, it explored the relationship between a journalist and his subject, using the example of subject who sued the journalist who wrote about him for libel or something like that. I don’t know because I hated the book and I didn’t finish it. I barely remember what I did read. I do remember despising the author of the book, and the tone she set, right off the bat and that probably swayed my ability to finish it. It makes me sad because, being a huge criminal justice nerd, I should love a book like this. But I really just wanted to throw it out a window.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. A sweet book about a classic movie, written by someone who is both proud and humbled to have been a part of it (and he conveys that perfectly in the book without seeming too arrogant. He totally could have crossed that line, too). I love this movie, and have loved this movie, for so long and getting the behind the scenes sneak peek made me love it even more. If you read it for nothing else, read it for the Andre the Giant stories, how Cary Elwes and Mandy Patankin learned to fence, and the sidebar additions from the rest of the cast. 

The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott. When I heard about this book, I knew it was right up my fucked up alley. Half memoir, half investigative (sort of) journalism about a murder, I was mesmerized more by the author’s horrible childhood and life in the S&M world than I was by the murder he investigated and reported. The author’s life intrigues me so much I will probably binge read more of his work, even if it’s not autobiographical. I just want to support his career. 

Paper Towns by John Green. I read this book in maybe a day and a half, if that much. It was probably more like a few hours but the story stayed with me for days afterwards that it feels like it took longer. Since it’s John Green, you know it’s YA, and the story was similar to Looking for Alaska in that it was a teenage boy obsessed with a teenage girl who goes missing. Except that the ending of this book is haunting, the whole story makes you think, and leaves you both happy and sad. I hope the movie adaptation does it justice. If the adaptation for The Fault in Our Stars is any indication, it will.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. So this chick was 17 when the book was published. Which means she was even younger when she wrote it. Given that fact, the shallowness of the story, the mostly superficial characters, and a weird storyline about parental alcoholism that’s only somewhat relevant get a bit of slack. It’s a cute, easy YA read that, had I been in high school when I read it, I probably would have loved it. My adult self was not upset that she read it. However, my adult self is completely displeased with the movie trailers and how they seem to have completely butchered the story. This is why books to movie adaptions have a bad rep.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. Holy shit, you guys. What a book. If you take out the author injecting himself into part of the story (since he was Rob’s roommate at Yale), and maybe a little bit of the exploitative factor, it was a hell of a book. Jeff Hobbs is a fantastic writer, who was helped by the fact that Rob has a terrible, amazing, and, as the title suggests, tragic story. I don’t even know how to properly summarize the book. It should be it’s own post because I have so many thoughts on it. Even if you don’t like nonfiction, please read this one. 

Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block. Another blogger mentioned this one in a Show Us Your Books linkup and I apologize to that person because I can’t remember who it was. And I also apologize because good grief, did I dislike this book. I hated every character, including and especially the main one, it was terribly written, and what made me really dislike it is that the story had so much potential and I felt like she rushed through parts of it just to get to the end which she clearly thought was the big payoff, considering she named the damn book after the ending (trust me, that gives away nothing). It was not a big payoff. It was just ridiculous.

I’m currently finishing Denis Leary’s Why We Suck, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, and I have All the Bright Places, You, Ugly Girls, Why We Broke Up, and The Economy of You on tap for next month. We’ll also see what else the library chooses to deliver. 

So, tell me, what did you read? Link up below. Nonbloggers, let me know in the comments.

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This Week In: Doctors, cooking, and other stuff

No clever intro, diving right in except to ask if I made this topic a Friday linkup, would anyone participate? Please don’t feel pressure to say yes but I thought I’d ask. Let me know in the comments. 

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This week in being an adult…More doctors! I’m starting to wonder if I’m 37 or 87 and I am so sick of getting blood drawn. I basically have track marks and, seeing as how I have no diagnosis yet, they’re really there for no reason. And I don’t want to even mention the unpleasantness that is coming my way next month. Hopefully after that I’ll know what’s wrong with me and I can get effective treatment.

This week in cooking…I have been killing it with recipes this week. Hoisin meatballs (and I don’t like ground beef so you know it’s good if I’m recommending it), cheesesteak stuffed peppers, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and chicken ranch tacos. I typically don’t do recipe posts because I’m too lazy to take pictures but I think I need to do that with these. Any preferences on which ones I should share?

This week in blogging…I don’t know what’s going on but my comment plugin is eating legit comments from real bloggers and dumping them in my spam comments. So, if you’re commenting and it looks like your comment disappears, it probably didn’t. It’s in spam jail. Don’t fret, though. I check it every day and release the prisoners who deserve it.

This week in reading…Finishing up Denis Leary’s Why We Suck and started Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. I placed The Girl on the Train on reserve at the library and I’m like 235th in line. Fortunately, Steph saved the day and is mailing me her copy. Which segways nicely into…

This week in travel planning…Since Steph is awesome enough to mail me the book, I’m returning it by going into Philly next month so we can have lunch. I haven’t seen her since roughly 1999 so this is extra exciting. 

This week in TV watching…I won’t bother to recap the Super Bowl but let’s discuss The Blacklist. Anyone else watch it? Anyone else hella frustrated by all the commercials? This is exactly why I DVR everything. No commercials. Oh, and thanks for the comedy recommendations last week. I have some new shows to check out now. 

This week in updating my look…You guys know by now that I don’t do selfies but trust when I say I had Duggar hair. I cut about 5 inches off my hair AND had long layers added to it. Plus, it’s a new color and I absolutely love the way my hair looks now. And having it cut and healthy makes me not look like shit, which is an added bonus. 

This week in saving money…Lowering my cell phone bill (thanks for the heads up, The Consumerist), actually remembering to return my library books on time (no fines!), having my very handy brother in law work with my husband to replace the brakes on our car (saving around $400!), and using my CVS coupons (thanks to the app on my phone!) for stuff we need. Being cheap never felt so good.

This week in sheer awesomeness…Everyone catch Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By the Bell reunion? No? Here it is. You can thank me later.

 How was your week? Anything exciting planned for the weekend? 

 

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Show Us Your Books: January edition

It’s my favorite day of the month because it’s the day we all talk about books! Yay for books!

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Let’s get right to it.

For this month’s review, I’ve got 6 books for you. I’m in the middle of both As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride and The Journalist and the Murderer but I didn’t finish either of them in time for today’s post (because naps and football and weekend laziness and I watched Apocalypse Now on Saturday so there went my whole life because holy fuck is that a long movie) so we’ll talk about them next month.

Here’s what we’ll be reviewing today

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Jana Says: Like basically everyone everywhere, I love Amy Poehler. She’s pretty much the best. Same with her book. It was filled with all kinds of personal stories and sound advice and it’s broken it up into sections that sort of made sense together and famous people names but what I loved most about the book was a) she refused to bad mouth her ex-husband and b) the love and passion she clearly has for her family, friends, and career. She comes across just as you’d think she would–confident and humble and hilarious. It’s a great read with one huge downfall. The book weighs about 2390478 pounds. It’s printed on photo paper and it’s freaking heavy. Be careful when picking up this book.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G. Miller. Jana says: I read this at the recommendation of my friend Nick who I respect a lot. However. I did not enjoy this book at all. I mean, it’s well written and ridiculously short and has so much potential but rather than full of practical advice, I found it filled with short anecdotes, motivational quotes, and platitudes. Kind of like what you would get at a one day seminar your day job sends you to. There was no depth to the book, even in the chapters that seemed the most promising. I’m upset because the author seems like a genuinely nice guy who wants to help people but for me, the book fell completely flat.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Jana says: I finished this book in a day. Correction. A few hours. I love the premise behind the book–a married couple fall out of love with each other and seek to figure out their marriage not by divorce or by affair but by separating and cutting off communication with each other entirely. Or do they? Marriage is freaking hard work and I enjoyed how the book tackled that head on. It’s not always popular to dispel the fantasy of fairy tale marriages or ones that end in disaster and while the ending wasn’t my favorite, the rest of the story made up for it.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. Jana says: I don’t even know how to review this book. If we’re friends on Goodreads, you’ll notice I gave it no stars. That’s not because I hated the book. Not since The Story of Edgar Sawtelle have I both loved and hated a book so much at the same time. I mean, it is an incredibly detailed, intricate, interesting story of a social worker in 1980s Wyoming who is simultaneously trying to find his runaway daughter, deal with a mess of teenage client, and save a survivalist and his son. Completely engrossing. But sometimes, it got to be too heavy, too tedious, too long winded to read. And honestly, I don’t get the 1980s setting. It could have easily taken place in any decade. And as a former social worker type, I truly don’t understand how Pete wasn’t fired for some of the shit he did. 

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Jana says: Oh, Jodi Picoult, how I want to quit you. And I almost did a few books ago. But then you churned out The Storyteller and now you gave me Leaving Time and I can’t let you go. What a great story you wove with this one. The ending was the first time one of your books actually caught me by surprise with your formulaic and expected twist and using a teenager, a real, complex teenager, as the narrator means that the next book you write will be on my to-read list. The only part of this book that got a bit tedious for me was the almost preachy tone about the elephants. I get raising awareness but it was too much at times. 

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Jana says: I had high, high hopes for this book after reading Me Before You a few months ago, which was probably unfair to the book and the author. And I did enjoy the first part of the book with Sophie and the painting and France and World War I (as a reader, I liked that she chose to set the beginning of the book during WWI. WWII is getting to be an overused setting and it’s almost too easy) and Liv’s sadness and loneliness in the present day are heartbreaking. The back and forth between present and past made for engaging reading but like After I Do, the ending was too easy, simple, and clean. I would have preferred a messier ending to a story like this. 

Now it’s your turn. What did you read this month? Link up below or, if you’re not a blogger, tell me in the comments: 

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Currently

Given the serious nature of the this week’s posts, as well as some of the ones I have planned for the upcoming weeks, and the fact that I had a pretty prolonged absence, I thought I’d share with you guys what’s currently going on in my life. 

Currently…I’ve been feeling old. Not only have I been getting notifications for my twenty year high school reunion but John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez–players who I watched when I was in my teens and twenties–were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame, Green Day is going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I have shirts older than college freshmen. I also find it mildly alarming that when I hear someone is 50, that is less shocking than finding out someone is 25 even though my age, 37, is in the middle. Pardon me while I weep for a minute. 

Currently…I’ve been binge watching The Shield and Rescue Me. Like I wondered with The Wire, I genuinely don’t know what I was thinking when I didn’t watch these during their live runs. I might be getting less done during the day and at night, but it’s worth it. If you don’t have the time for two, start with Rescue Me. It’s freaking fantastic and Sean Garrity, played by Steven Pasquale (who can also sing his ass off and the next time he is on Broadway, I WILL be going to see him. And for those who watch current TV, which I clearly do not, he’s on this season of The Good Wife) is in my top 5 TV characters of all time. The show is worth watching simply for him and his banter with Mike the probie is reminiscent of Matt and Landry from FNL and that’s some of the best ever. We just finished Season 4 and it was kind of a mess but I’m not giving up on it. Mainly because of Garrity. I’m not ready to let him leave my life yet.tumblr_lyzr367r891qkjzmlo1_400

Currently…I love this hand lotion. I wish Bath and Body Works made all the things in this scent. I would buy all of it. In vats and gallons. Even the body wash. And I don’t use scented body wash.
Black cherry lotion

Currently…I am in the middle of Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. I’ll have a detailed review in next week’s Show Us Your Books linkup (on Tuesday, January 13). All I can say now is this is closing in on joining the ranks with Rick Springfield’s and Nikki Sixx’s memoirs as my favorite celebrity memoirs. I’m also reading The Journalist and The Murderer, which is supposed to be a book that Serial fans would enjoy. And you guys know I love me some Serial. I don’t quite know how I feel about the book yet.

as you wish

Currently…I cannot believe that Dobie is 9 today. My daughter calls him a goat because he eats EVERYTHING (and that once resulted in a very expensive, late night trip to the emergency room) but he is the sweetest, most lovable dog ever. He loves to play fetch and run in the snow and ride in the car and give kisses and has no future as a guard dog but that’s okay. I could not be happier that he’s part of our family.dobie collage

Currently…I’m trying to warm up because holy fuck is it cold and I don’t like the cold. I haven’t felt my toes in about 2 days despite wearing socks and slippers. Even my outdoor cat is refusing to stay outside. This coldness is bullshit.

Currently…I’m happy to be writing again. It feels good.

I think that about covers it. Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!

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