September 2018 books

38. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle Macnamara – True crime on the Golden State Killer, published right before he was actually caught. Reads like fiction, until she died mid-writing and associates had to finish it. Unbelievable at times, and paranoia inducing haha.
39. Shrill by Lindy West – about feminism and fat, great book for women to read about being women.
40. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – I loved this book when I was a kid so I wanted to reread it and see why. I learned to play Town, which I did all the time. But the story itself is kind of sad. I still enjoyed it but I didn’t at all remember the sadness.
41. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews – enjoyable read, a road trip story surrounding a slightly screwed up family. A mother with severe mental illness goes into the hospital, and her sister takes her kids to find their dad. Sounds sad, but is actually funny and amusing with good characters, and not a depressing ending lol

In Progress: Harry Potter 5, Forever Barbie, Girl with the Red Balloon

August 2018 books

32. I know I am but what are you by Samantha Bee – very funny “memoir” of her early life in Toronto. More of a collection of personal essays than a day one to present true memoir.
33. True Confections by Katharine Weber – a story of a dysfunctional family and their candy business in Connecticut. Told as a long winded court deposition/affidavit, it’s an amusing tale.
34. In The Woods by Tana French – police detective novel around the death of a young girl. It’s the first in a series, and it was good enough to read more.
35. Harry Potter 3
36. Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen – super great overview of all the horrible and hilarious ways humanity has tried to treat disease. Funny and interesting.
37. All The light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Historical fiction set in WW2, two very different stories and perspectives that entwine for a short period of time. Very good.

In Progress: Harry Potter 4, Shrill, I’ll Be Gone In The Night

July 2018 books

27. Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – a very amusing travel log of a journey from the one end of Great Britain to the other.
28. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – I wasn’t sure about this one when I started. The way it’s told, like a screen play almost, with each paragraph attributed to a different speaker (or source material), bothered me. But I pressed on and I learned to ignore the format and just enjoy the story.
29. The Wonderous Brief Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Dias – this was on my to read list for a long time, for whatever reason. I found it in a bar that also sold books for $5 so I picked it up last year. It tells the story of a Dominican family through the 1900s, and there was a lot of untranslated Spanish in it. I’m not sure I missed a ton by not knowing the Spanish, and some you can kinda assume the meaning, but it might bother some people. I guess I liked it, but I don’t know that I find it as amazing as others did.
30. Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker – non fiction of Douglas’s career in the FBI, starting their Behavior Science (profiling) unit. I love true crime and serial killers, so I enjoyed it greatly.
31. Calypso by David Sedaris – I want to love Sedaris, but after reading almost all of his work, I don’t. It’s occasionally amusing but I want it to be hilarious. I think he needs to be heard, and not just read.

In progress: Harry Potter 3, I Know I am But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

Las Vegas and NIN #55

We picked our random vacation week then Trent announced shows in Las Vegas at the same time, so decision made. We stayed at The Plaza because I wanted to be able to go to a nice pool, since it was going to be sweltering, and they have a new rooftop pool area. Adam decided to go to the show too after I bought my tickets, so he joined us after a few days.

As soon as we got there, off to Drag Brunch at Treasure Island. There were 6 queens, all past RuPaul’s Drag Race alumns, it was awesome. And there were bottomless mimosas, so we drank 3 bottles of champagne with the (not great) breakfast buffet. That didn’t end well for me, but the show was awesome, and though I lost the rest of the day, it was worth it lol.

Monday we made plans to meet up with Adr1 and Tom and the kids. We were going to try to do some trivia but there wasn’t really any going on so we met up to check out the Container Park, then went up near their house to a pizza place for dinner who was having music bingo. Tom didn’t feel well so he left us there, and we ate and played for a bit. It was fun, even though it wasn’t trivia really because you could use your phone to look up the songs if you didn’t know them.

Adam arrived Tuesday morning, we hung at the pool a bit and Adr joined me with the kids. So we had a good time in the water, and chatting, and Adr said the nicest thing ever – that I’m still her favorite person to do nothing with LOL awwww. <3 She needs to move back to Buffalo! Tuesday night we ended up checking out the High Roller giant ferris wheel on the strip, which was pretty neat. Wednesday was the show. Honestly, I wasn't all that excited about it because I really don't care for the EPs, but I told Adam that I would try not to be an asshole about it lol. He had VIP and went down early, plus I had no interest in queueing. I've gotten too old for this shit. Plus the lack of excitement, I didn't feel the need to be up front. BUT, it's still Trent and I still love him. The line was insanely long when we finally did get there, but we didn't end up with a bad spot. Pretty central in all ways, and other than the guy who didn't put his arms down, filming the entire show on his phone, I could see decently. I hate that I have to admit this. Maybe I've aged out of NIN shows? Don't get me wrong, it was still good, but I don't get any of the catharsis, or really any of the energy I used to get from the shows. Is it because I'm not up front? Have I just seen too many that they've lost their effect? I am pretty tired of seeing March of the Pigs after all. It makes me sad though. The setlist was pretty good, Year Zero heavy up front, not too many new songs, and some deep cuts that were very welcome. But as J said, the middle got a little boring with The Lovers and Find My Way back to back (he was probably bored with Even Deeper too, but NO!!! I will always take Even Deeper as a slow song!) And BONUS!!! NO HURT!!! And no Closer, which I do always enjoy, but it's ok. 1. Pinion / The Eater of Dreams 2. Metal 3. Me, I'm Not 4. The Beginning Of The End 5. Survivalism 6. March of the Pigs 7. The Lovers 8. Find My Way 9. Burn 10. God Break Down the Door 11. Letting You 12. Gave Up 13. Even Deeper 14. I Do Not Want This 15. I'm Afraid Of Americans 16. Less Than 17. Came Back Haunted 18. Only 19. Wish 20. Head Like A Hole was good. But I just don't get the emotional benefit that I used to, so...I am very unlikely to travel to see him anymore (unless he puts out something I love, or does some kind of very unusual out of left field tour, like an all acoustic tour or something), and if he continues to do stupid things like "you can only buy tickets in person" crap, this may have been my last show. 55 is a good number to stop on. Now this brings me to his new EP, Bad Witch. I haaaate it. And if I'm honest, I basically hate the other 2 EPs as well, though there are a few tracks I like here and there. But everything I liked about NIN is gone. Trent's brilliance was in his ability to craft a song that could be loud, angry, noisy and heavy but still have a musicality to it, with a catchy hook and a melody. It's all gone. If he wants to experiment fine, go for it, but it is not what you expect and want from NIN. Even though I didn't love Hesitation Marks, it had solid actual songs, and not just movie scores for a non existent movie that he decided to put lyrics to. Because that's what it feels like. And I hate it. And I'm not going to listen to it.

June 2018 books

22. Armada by Ernest Cline – a decent outing from the author of Ready Player One which I loved. It took me a bit to get into it, I had to get past the descriptions of gaming setups and game playing, to really get into the plot. You kinda know what’s going to happen, it’s almost the opposite of Ender’s Game, but it’s still really entertaining and enjoyable.
23. October by China Mieville – a history of the Russian revolution. Yes it took a while to get through this and I’m not sure I will retain any of it. There are far too many people and too many groups, who all seem to really believe in the same things, all fighting or not fighting for control. And we know Lenin wins in the end haha.
24. Little Bee by Chris Cleave – wonderful and sad story of a refugee fleeing to the UK, and the story behind why she had to flee, and why she sought out a particular couple in London. Sad but you didn’t want to cry, and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but you still didn’t want to cry, and it was written beautifully.
25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
26. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – a very short book (novella? short story?) about a Star Wars geek spending days in line for the new movie and the people she meets. Very relatable to me, since I’ve spent a lot of time in lines with other fans of *fill in the blank*

2 more books started and will not be finished: The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Rich People Problems

In progress: Harry Potter 4, The Road to Little Dribbling, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

May 2018 books

19. Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan – charming book about a secret society and the big mystery they’re dedicated to. It’s funny, it’s cute, it’s interesting. Great story.
20. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – reviewing for trivia
21. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – again, reviewing.
21.5 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – again, for trivia. Got through half of it before trivia day. Which, we won, btw.
21.5 This One Is Mine by Maria Semple – I had read 2 of her books last year and loved them so I picked up this one, which was her first. Wow it was completely different in tone, subject and style. And it was not good. The characters were all pretty heinous, and I paused reading it to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When I went back to it, it was almost time to return it to the library and I decided I didn’t care enough to take it out again. So I got half way through.

In progress: October and Harry Potter 3 and Armada

April 2018 Books

15. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett – another book about a young girl struggling with the death of a family member (this time her mom), a sister with mental issues, and the secrets she learns as she grieves. Cute story, not super sad, and well written. Enjoyable.
16. Flat broke with two goats by Jennifer McGaha – a internet book club pick, with goats in the title, I was in! After getting through the beginning of the memoir where you get to hear the background story of how a rich family screws up their finances, and you get over the anger you feel when you hear about rich people screwing up their finances the rest of the book is amusing and interesting.
17. Mosquitoland by David Arnold – yet another book about a young girl finding herself while running away from her dad and stop mom, to go back to her mom. A quirky main character who meets some other quirky characters along the way, I really enjoyed it.
18. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – a young girl has an accident while spending the summer with her family on their private island, and has to put events together to remember what happened. Interesting enough to keep me reading, and even though I had a fleeting thought about something in the story, I didn’t quite predict the twist.

In progress: October

March 2018 books

11. The Lost Girls by Robert Kolker – True crime book about a possible Long Island serial killer targeting prostitutes/escorts in the mid 2000s, who is still not caught. He goes into the stories about each of the girls found buried on a beach in burlap, and the girl whose disappearance led to the discovery of the bodies.

12. I am, I am, I am – Maggie O’Farrell – A memoir told in stories of brushes with death. Another book from a list of books to read, and I don’t remember why it intrigued me. The initial story hooked me, but not remembering what the book was going to be about, I thought it was going in a very different direction. Regardless, it was an enjoyable read, although it seems like Maggie has had a stressful life with all these brushes with death.

13. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – A YA novel about a teen girl with amnesia who kisses a boy and suddenly can remember that one event. At first it seemed like it might be kind of lame and just a romance, but it’s not. It’s sad, it’s sometimes annoying because it’s repetitive (because she can’t make new memories, and it’s told from her perspective she has to “remind” herself of what’s happening), and it’s got a bit of a twist that I wasn’t expecting. I enjoyed it. It’s a fairly quick read, and worth a shot.

14. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk – Oh God where to start with this? Chuck quickly became my favorite author after seeing Fight Club and the mindfuck it provided. I bought the book (which is very close to the movie), then Invisible Monsters, which utterly blew my mind. I wrote him a letter, because these were the days when his address was still available through one of his fan pages. And he wrote back! What? Amazing. I bought Survivor and read it in a day, also fantastic. I was caught up on his books at that point, and eagerly anticipated more of his work, and I bought and read every one the day they came out. I told myself I liked them, but if I’m honest, every one after that got worse and worse. Or was more and more of the same – the theme of salvation through self destruction. Then I got to Haunted, which was terrible. It was the first one I truly admitted that I did not enjoy. But still, I bought each book on release day and read them ASAP. Underwhelming book after underwhelming book I finally stopped buying them, and started on ebooks from the library. The first one I didn’t buy was Tell All. And I was so glad I didn’t pay money for that one. It’s an intriguing story, if you’ve never seen that EXACT SAME PLOT on THE SIMPSONS! Seriously. If the recycled plot didn’t bother you, the writing style would. It was just not good. Doomed and Damned were both fairly decent, and I though they redeemed him a bit. But they didn’t make me continue, or return to being a rabid fan, and I really stopped following any future releases.

A friend recently mentioned him, which led us to looking up what he was doing and I saw he had a book called Beautiful You from a few years ago. To the library I went. I did not know the premise of the book, though I did see someone say the twist blew their mind. I was going in blind, but the first scene – a woman in a court room, where there are no other women because they’ve all dropped out of society – was interesting! I like post apocalyptic stories, women issues are huge right now, maybe this will be a fantastic look at society. Wrong. It turns out it’s a story about a man creating a line of sex toys to enslave women around the world. A story about female pleasure, written by a gay man, who seems to hate women. As a straight woman, I would never deign to write anything about men’s pleasure, especially not gay men’s pleasure, because I know nothing about it. And neither does Chuck. Assuming he researches what he’s going to write about, who did he speak to about orgasming someone to death? He clearly read an anatomy text book, but beyond that, the 200 pages of pleasuring women to near death is just absurd. Because yes, this thin line of plot could be condensed into 50 pages among 200 of unnecessary garbage. And it’s not even sexy smut garbage. It’s just stupid. And maybe it’s nit picky, but you know what’s also stupid? The main character climbing a Himalayan mountain, to find the sex guru, unassisted – and then have the mountain turn out to be Everest. Because yeah, that’s totally possible and extremely likely. And even more proof Chuck knows nothing about women – the main character puts on lingerie, and while her boyfriend who she is going to anally sodomize for no real reason is climbing the stairs, she has time to curl her eyelashes, WAX HER LEGS, and dab perfume behind her ears. SO REALISTIC! And while it’s amusing to think of men burning sex toys in Yankee Stadium, and sure, maybe some of them would explode, but some of them turning into rockets shooting through the NY sky and making it look like a war zone…stupid. Then the twist, because every book he writes has a twist ending, is not even interesting. I’m sure some pretentious lit major could make some argument about how it’s some amazing post modern look at blah blah blah bullshit, but in sum, this book is trash, and should not be read by anyone. I officially declare Chuck to no longer be my favorite author, and I doubt I’ll read anything else he releases.

In Progress: October

February 2018 books

6. The Girl With All The Gifts – This was recommended to me by someone, and I had the author wrong, so it took me a while to find it for some reason. I had no idea what it was about, but turns out, it’s a post apocalyptic zombie novel, focusing on some last remaining “normals” and a 2nd generation zombie child. Definitely my kind of book, enjoyed it quite a bit.

7. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green – I think I’ve read all his work, and while this wasn’t my fav, it was readable and it went quick. A teen with extreme ocd/anxiety/germaphobia tries to navigate life and friends. It was fine.

8. Touch by Courtney Maum – I need to start making notes of why I add books to my wish list, or where they came from, because I never remember why I was drawn to them. This one focuses on an over reliance on technology, and the ways it dehumanizes us. The main argument is whether a company should go down the road of making even more integrated tech products, or follow the main characters suggestion that personal interaction will start trending again. It’s a little preachy sometimes, and the end felt like a cop out, but overall it does make you think about how much we use tech to avoid others.

9. How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran – Oh my, this was great. Coming of age story of a poor British girl in the 90s who is trying what all teens do, to invent themselves. She invents herself as a cynical music journalist and gets a job with a London music magazine at 17 years old. She joins the scene and the debauchery, and starts to realize who she should really be. The writing was beautiful, it was funny and entertaining. Recommend.

10. A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – A memoir about a British couple who moves to Denmark for a year when the husband gets a job with Lego. Helen, a freelance writer, investigates why Denmark is constantly voted the Happiest country in the world. Funny, entertaining and enlightening to what a country can do to take care of their society.

January 2018 Books

1. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – This book was great. It surrounds a teen girl in the 1980s whose uncle/godfather dies from AIDS, and the things she learns about him, his life, and her family as a whole. It was a good story that made you want to keep reading to find out what was going on with her sister, and her mom, etc etc etc. It wasn’t an exciting adventure page turner, but it was a page turner. I just think it’s fantastic.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Last year I read Walk In The Woods about the Appalachian Trail, this year, the Pacific Crest Trail. Obviously it’s a memoir, and it covered the hike as well as her life, which led her to escaping to the PCT. It’s an uplifting story, worth a read.

3. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg – This is one of my favourite books ever, and this was my 3rd read. I seem to read it every 10 years or so, last time was in college. I had forgotten so much, and it’s still funny even if I wasn’t LOLing like the very first time. It’s so much fun, I don’t understand how it hasn’t been made into a movie. I almost want to learn to how to write a screenplay and do it myself.

4. Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts by Dan Evans – a book borrowed from a coworker when I requested a funny book. You wouldn’t think a book about clinical depression would be funny, but it actually was. He writes in such a way that you didn’t feel bad for his experience, even though he was in a pretty bad place. It was a good look at the disease, without it making you feel terrible too.

5. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson – I enjoyed his book about the 100 year old man so I thought I’d try this one. It was similar in it’s comedy of errors esque feel, and it’s…dryness? Bluntness? It’s hard to explain the style, but it’s distinct. It was amusing, and alright, but I found I just wanted it to end for most of the book.

In progress: A Year of Living Danishly and The Girl With All The Gifts