JulzReads

Reader, Writer, Reviewer


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Game Room Reveal

While we were house shopping, one of the must-haves for ShortMan was a room big enough for a pool table.  Well, the new house had a huge extra family room that was perfect, so we turned it into our game room.  He decided his color scheme would be Cubbie blue below the chair rail and away-uniform-gray above, then we would decorate with Chicago sports themed accessories.  We finished painting on Friday night and finished staging on Saturday, and here are the results:

pool table

The ultimate game room must include a dart board and a shelf full of board games.  We also have two game consoles hooked up to the TV so we can play our favorite video games.

There are a few additions yet to be made.  My mom got us a cute Cubs ticket graphic that will go above the papasan.  We ordered a Blackhawks Indian head neon light that will go above the table to the right of the window.  And we are now on the hunt for a large graphic to put on the big blank wall.  Other than a few details, another room is DONE!


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Fight Club 2 – Chuck Palahniuk

fight club 2Rating: ** (2/5)

Published: Dark Horse, June 2016

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Graphic Novel

Source: Amazon Vine

I think the entire purpose of this graphic novel was for Chuck to finally get readers to pronounce his name correctly by spelling it phonetically. He inserts himself into the Tyler Durden story line as a sort of God, since as creator, he can write it however he darn well pleases. At first it seemed a bit clever since he acknowledges the ridiculousness of it: “This borders on being too meta.” By the ending, however, his role was a big cluster, with fans descending on his “Write Club,” demanding he change the unfulfilling conclusion.


As for the characters, they seemed almost unrecognizable from their 10-years-previously selves. The unnamed narrator is now Sebastian, and Marla, in a yuppie suit in her suburban home, owning up to her faults and failures is not the Marla I remember. Chloe and Robert Paulson return (eye roll), and don’t get me started on Tyler. First he insinuates that he manifested during Sebastian’s childhood, then states he influenced his forefathers, and he even hints at being the devil, placing himself as the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Overall, if the story had maintained the momentum of the first half, it might have been decent, but it totally fell apart during the latter half.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

Also by Chuck Palahniuk:

 

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I’ll Be Seeing You by Loretta Nyhan and Suzanne Hayes

I'll Be Seeing YouRating: **** (4/5)

Published:  Mira, 2013

Format: Trade Paperback

Genre: Epistolary Historical Fiction

Source: Author

This novel includes two of my favorite things: the whole book is epistolary and it takes place during WWII. Two women connect through letters as their men go off to war and they find comfort in their shared experiences. Gloria, a young mother from Massachusetts, struggles with fidelity when her husband enlists. In Iowa City, Rita has said goodbye to both her husband as son when they ship out. As these two women get to know each other through their correspondence, they face triumphs and tragedies, supporting one another through the final years of the war. Rita is a long-distance mentor to Gloria, offering her much needed advice while struggling with her own grief and her German heritage. Their shared love of gardening, their recipe and gift exchanges, and their burgeoning friendship are so heartwarming. This delightful novel is inspiring, creative, and engaging and will appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.

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Guest Room Reveal – All Things Alice

In my previous life at the condo, I had a guest room dedicated to Alice in Wonderland.  But it wasn’t as ideal as I had wanted it.  We still had the twin beds ShortMan slept in as a kid and quilts I had registered for back before our wedding.  It just wasn’t very grown up or sophisticated.

New house = blank canvas.  Well, blank as in two-toned teal with a pink stripe down the middle.

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I bought the CUTEST quilt from Zulily, and took it into Home Depot with me to match paint (I knew I wanted green as an accent wall and blue for the rest).  Plus I have two bookcases that were always in my bedroom growing up and they’ve been painted every color of the rainbow over the past 35+ years.  Instead of getting a headboard, I knew I’d flank the new (grownup) double bed with those bookshelves painted the same color as the wall.  OK, I’ll shut up already and show you…

The contents of the bookcases are below, and contain a majority of my Alice collection (accumulated over many years).  The top shelves contain various editions of Alice books and books about Lewis Carroll.  I also have my favorite series (Harry Potter and Narnia), plus others that I’ve read or have yet to read.

The additional furniture I already had on had was pretty basic oak finished stuff, so I just worked with it.  I staged the dresser with a few more Alice pieces and mini tea sets.

The large bookcases contain my kid lit and YA, plus many of my personal favorites growing up. Not to mention my pretty decent teapot collection.  Fitting, no?

Needless to say, I am enamored with the results.  I’m sure my guests will enjoy staying here, too…


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Mischling by Affinity Konar

mischlingRating: **** (4/5)

Published: Lee Boudreaux Books, September 2016

Format: ARC (Signed)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher (BEA)

What can I really say about a subject as dark and hopeless as twins subjected to Joseph Mengele’s medical experimentations at Auschwitz? Pearl and Stasha arrive as new pets to the doctor and are thus part of his twisted research. This begs the question: was it better or worse to be a prized oddity in Mengele’s “zoo?” Was it worth having better accommodations and a greater prospect of survival at the great cost of his diabolical experimentations? I know it doesn’t do to begin a review with so many questions, but that is exactly what’s put forth in this novel: issues with ambiguous answers.

Adding to that vagueness is the overall style of the narrative. It is not entirely straightforward, leaving a lot of the worst atrocities committed to the imagination of the reader. With the perspectives alternating between those of Pearl and Stasha, I got a sense of who the girls were as individuals, but their perceptions weren’t always reliable. It is a profound story, and Konar’s poetic and capable writing was good, if not always riveting. I appreciated that I was given glimpses into the girls’ futures and assured that life goes on in some degree. Had it not ended on a positive note, I may not have regarded the overall book as highly.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

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John Lennon vs the USA by Leon Wildes

john lennonSubtitle: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History

Rating: **** (4/5)

Published: American Bar Association, August 2016

Format: Signed Paperback

Genre: Nonfiction

Source: Publisher (BEA)

One of the most high-profile immigration cases involved John Lennon and it took 5 years to rectify. Its champion is the author himself, and Leon Wildes gives a first-hand expert look at the many trials and tribulations involved in keeping Lennons (including wife Yoko Ono) in the States despite the Nixon administration’s determination to kick them out. Regardless of his artistic and financial contributions to the nation and because of his outspokenness, Lennon had red tape thrown in his path at every legal turn. But Wildes knew the business of immigration law and through various law suits and challenges taking the government to task, finally achieved the American Dream for John. Though it is heavy on the legalese, this book is a “historic document” (Yoko’s words) and has affected immigration law over the past 4 decades.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

 

 

 


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Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

lantanas

I’ve been so busy lately, it’s been a while since I’ve composed a thought that’s not house related or just a straight-up review.  So (thanks Christine)…

I’m proud to say we’ve hardly been watching any TV recently because we’ve been enjoying sitting outside so much in the evenings.  And by outside, I mean on our screened in porch, so we don’t get eaten alive by bugs (ShortMan calls it the ZFZ, or Zika Free Zone).  I cannot emphasize how much I absolutely love the screened in porch; it’s my favorite spot in the whole house.

OK, so I’m going to talk about house stuff just a little bit more.  This weekend’s project is the guest bedroom.  I have to get the whole thing painted plus prime and paint two bookcases before the new mattress and bed frame get delivered next Friday, so once again, I’ll be a lean, mean, painting machine.  That also means that sooner than later, I can decorate the guest bedroom with all the stuff that makes it look like a child’s room.  Stay tuned for a post with all the Alice accessorizing.

We did our patriotic consumer duty on the 4th and took advantage of the big sales.  The Hubs is finally getting his pool table, and I managed to score the aforementioned guest bed set for less than $400.  The deals were just too good to pass up.

Luckily, the room we are putting the pool table in big enough that it can be installed and we can paint around it.  ShortMan finally decided on the color scheme he wants (Cubbie blue on the bottom and Cubs away uniform gray on top), so once the pool table arrives, we’ll see how the swatches we picked will look with the navy table felt.

OK, on to some bookish news!  I got a cool press-release e-mail from my buddy over at MIRA informing me of a new imprint.  Here are the deets (July 1):

MIRA Books announced today the official launch of Park Row Books, an exclusive line of thought-provoking and voice-driven novels by both celebrated and new authors…  Park Row Books will publish unique voices and powerful stories that inspire discussion. Inaugural titles are slated for release in summer 2017.

This means we can look forward to the following books next year:

Park Row Books will also be home to the much-buzzed-about new novels by New York Times bestselling authors Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf. Kubica’s book, a psychological thriller about a young widow’s pursuit of the truth in the wake of the devastating crash that took the life of her husband, takes readers inside the dark, twisted corners of a psyche plagued by grief. Her first novel, The Good Girl, has sold over half a million copies and has been published in two dozen territories worldwide. Gudenkauf’s next book, a high-concept crime thriller about a protagonist with profound hearing loss, features the bestselling author’s most compelling heroine to date.

Other exciting titles forthcoming from Park Row Books include When I Think of You, from award-winning journalist and bestselling author Karma Brown, exploring how a woman’s life falls apart over a random act of courtesy; Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, a breakout literary novel set in the fascinating and unknown world of a polygamist society from award-winning Canadian author Christopher Meades; Undertow, by British journalist Elizabeth Heathcote, the much-buzzed-about debut domestic thriller in the vein of The Widow; and a new novel from Phaedra Patrick, the author of wildly acclaimed The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, that follows a down-on-his-luck jeweler whose life is changed when his estranged teenage niece makes a surprise visit to his quiet village.

Yay!

I had a helluva day at work, so I’m going to wrap this post up and take my martini outside on the fabulous screened in porch.  Have I mentioned how utterly awesome it is?

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