Book Review: A Little Life


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


A Little Life was the first book I chose from my 2016 Reading Challenge, a book recommended by a librarian or bookseller, and what a way to start! I am normally able to get through a novel of this length in a couple of days, depending on what else is going on in my life; I began this on January 11, and didn’t finish until March 22. It isn’t a difficult novel to read in the sense that the prose is complicated or confusing; it was hard for me to get through simply because of the challenging plot. The main character, Jude, is a heartrendingly broken man, and the story of his brokenness was, at times, too much for me.

A Little Life is the story of four college classmates, who move to New York to make their way: JB, an occasionally cruel painter who is trying desperately to make it in the art world; Malcolm, the genius architect; Willem, kind, handsome aspiring actor; and Jude, a brilliant litigator with a tortured past and a disabled body he refuses to acknowledge. As the years go by, each of these men achieves huge success in their fields: Willem becomes a world-famous movie star, JB’s paintings of his friends are shown in galleries all over, and Malcolm is designing buildings on every continent, while Jude is the head of his law firm. Their relationships through the years have deepened and grown, and the men themselves go through addictions, sickness, love and death. Through it all, we see Jude become continue to crack along the lines formed by a horribly traumatic childhood. He is haunted by his past, sure that if he tells the people he loves about what happened to him, they will not only judge him, but turn away or worse. His scars define him, and just when he is healing for real, the universe kicks Jude in the teeth once again.  After years of friendship, Jude and Willem have fallen in love, and are happy together. Jude’s myriad health problems are finally on the mend, after some major surgery, and their life is good. For the first time in his life, Jude is happy. And then BOOM!  Jude’s life is blown to smithereens once again.

“This, he thinks, is his punishment for depending on others: one by one, they will leave him, and he will be alone again, and this time it will be worse because he will remember it had once been better. He has the sense, once again, that his life is moving backward, that it is becoming smaller and smaller, the cement box shrinking around him until he is left with a space so cramped that he must fold himself into a crouch, because if he lies down, the ceiling will lower itself upon him and he will be smothered.” (p 804)

While this novel truly broke my heart, it’s easy to see why it was recommended by so many, and nominated for so many awards. I’d recommend it gladly, as long as you aren’t looking for something to cheer you up.

Eat. Sleep. READ. That’s all.

Eat. Sleep. READ. That’s all.

It’s a new year (well, duh!), and I’m posting, finally. No apologies or excuses for my absence this time, just a fresh start. And a challenge.

I love a good book challenge, and this year, I’m taking Anne’s from The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  The 2016 Reading Challenge is relatively simple, without a huge number of books, which I need right now. And the variety is great!



Here are my choices, so far. Nearly all of these are books already on my e-reader or bookshelf, which was a conscious choice on my part. I have an overflowing e-reader, and it would be ridiculous to add more when I can satisfy the requirements! There are three choices that are new-to-my reader books; these are starred! (And my list is in the opposite order than the one above.)


A book I’ve already read at least once:

Cold Comfort Farm  by Stella Gibbons

A book that intimidates me:

Othello by William Shakespeare

A book I own, but have never read:

Van Gogh’s Room at Arles by Stanley Elkin

A book I previously abandoned: 

A book that was banned at some point:

(I’m choosing the same book for these two categories)

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

A book published before I was born:

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

A book chosen for me:

I honestly cannot decide on which of the books my wonderful friends Karen & Rob selected for me, so I’m adding both of them to the list!

A Madness of Angels by Kate Swift (Rob’s choice)

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (Karen’s choice)

A book I should’ve read in school:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A book recommended by a bookseller:  

*  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara    I took this recommendation from the employees at Powell’s, where this novel was on several folks top-five books of 2015.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A book that can be read in a day: 

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

A book published this year:

This category is last, because I don’t have anything for it yet. Once 2016 gets going a bit more, I’ll fill this one in!




As I read these (and everything else!) I’ll post thoughts, reviews, etc. I’ll begin reading these as soon as I finish what I’m currently involved in! Join me, won’t you? Let’s make 2016 a year full of books!

And if anyone has suggestions for books published this year, let me know!




Something’s Fishy


Is it possible to miss someone who never really existed? To long for something you never actually had? Well, of course it is, I tell myself–that’s what dreams are. Right? Sure. But in this case, I’m not talking about a dream I had. I’m talking about something altogether different.

Before I go any farther, let me just say that sharing this with the entire world was a difficult choice to make. I need to get this out of my head, though, so here we go! A few posts ago I mentioned that I’d ventured back into the world of online dating, and that I’d met someone.

His profile on OkCupid said his name was Justin, a computer engineer in his mid-40’s, living in New York City. He had a cute profile picture; not movie star cute, but attractive. (I’m not movie star attractive, and I don’t judge a book by its cover!) He liked books, jazz, Asian food, and travel. He messaged me, and we chatted on the site for about a week and then through emails, and texts. After a couple of weeks, he asked if he could call, and I said yes. Talking to him was very nice; he was funny and smart, and I liked him. He did have a strange accent that made understanding him difficult sometimes; it almost sounded as if he had a hearing problem as a child. He told me his accent was from growing up in Germany, where his mother still lives. It didn’t sound at all German to me, but I accepted his explanation, because by this time, I was starting to like this guy. Of course, I should have paid more attention to the things that didn’t add up. The strange accent. The fact that if I called him I always got voice mail. And the strangest thing, the one that really should have made me know I was being played–he had no online presence. I did a Google search for the name he gave me — Justin Peacock– about a week after we started talking, and while I did get some hits, they clearly were not him. There is a writer of that name living in NYC, and he popped up. His books, mystery/thrillers, are pretty good. But that’s neither here nor there. I thought this lack of any kind of online presence was odd, given that he claimed to be a freelance computer engineer; in this day and age, how do employer find him if he isn’t online? No Facebook profile, either. Something was smelling fishy.




A month or so went by, and “Justin” called me nearly every night. I enjoyed our talks, and was truly feeling something for this man. I’d set aside my suspicions, except for a little niggling in the back of my mind. And then he told me he loved me. Frankly, I was astonished. We’d never met, and he loves me? Seriously? He seemed sure of himself, so I went with it, and let him declare his love. I wasn’t in love–yet–but I was developing very strong feelings. Then he began telling me he had a job coming up that was taking him out of the country. He said he was going to Malaysia for a month to negotiate the contract, then he’d return home before going back for a year. He said he wanted me to come with him for that year. Well, from there it all went down hill. The week before he was supposed to leave on this trip his calls were fewer and fewer. The day he left, he didn’t call, and I was angry and hurt; how do you leave the country for a month and not even call the girl you say you love to say goodbye? What the hell was going on? I emailed him, and heard that he’d been running so late he’d nearly missed his flight, and how sorry he was. Yadda yadda yadda. From then on, the excuses flowed like a river. When I told him that my sister suspected he was playing me, he told me he’d planned on coming to Portland on his way back home after his month was up, to surprise me and prove them wrong. Then he said he was having trouble with his bank and couldn’t put minutes on his phone, so couldn’t call me. I really didn’t know what to think at this point, but I was torn. A big part of me wanted him to be real, and to have him show up on my doorstep. But the sensible part of my brain said “Jonna, something is not right here. Find out why!” So I did what I could, and put his picture into Google image search, and hoped against hope that I was actually talking to a man named Justin Peacock. Nope. I got catfished.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term catfish, let me enlighten you. 3454615


someone who pretends to be someone they are not online to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. From the 2010 movie Catfish

CATFISHED : Being deceived over social media as the deceiver professed their romantic feelings to his/her victim, but isn’t who they say they are.

Having a fake profile, images and avatar in order to lure people to have romantic feelings. They are then catfished when the victim realises the person they have fallen for via social media is not who they appear to be.

The picture led me to a Google Plus profile of a man in California named Alexander Appleby (his name sounds fake, too, I know). Every picture “Justin” had sent me was from one of Alexander’s profiles, either on Google Plus or Facebook. Just to be sure these were not the same people, I called the business phone number listed on the profile, and spoke to Mr Appleby. I’m not sure if I was hoping to hear “Justin’s” voice or not, but the voice I spoke too was definitely not the man I’d been talking to. And he was rather upset to find out someone had been using his photos in such a manner.

I sent an angry email to Justin, telling him I knew the truth, and wanted to know who he really was, and why he’d done this. Needless to say, I’ve heard absolutely nothing since.

What really bothers me is that I miss him. I miss that imaginary person, and that makes me both sad and angry. I swear, if I ever meet the person behind “Justin Peacock”, I will bring the wrath of the gods down upon them.

Book Review: Consumed by Aaron Mahnke


Like many other readers, I came to Aaron Mahnke’s fiction after listening to his podcast, “Lore,” which I love. I must say, I am glad I followed that trail.  Aaron Mahnke’s novel does not provide the fear and terror that a reader of Stephen King might expect; it’s a different kind of scare. Cozy, like sitting in your favorite armchair with a cup of tea and a great book, comfy and relaxed, and BAM! something smashes into the window, scaring the bejesus out of you! Reading this, you’ll end up with tea all over your lap, and your book tossed to the floor in fright. Be careful.

While ‘Consumed’ was not quite what I expected (honestly, from the title, I’d suspected a vampire novel), it was a worthwhile read, and had me on the edge of my seat. I honestly cannot remember the last time I reacted this way to a horror story. I will definitely be reading more of his fiction. But maybe not while drinking a hot cup of tea…

Random Stuff from My Mind


It’s been an entire month since my last post. Shame on me….bad blogger! I really hadn’t realized it had been so long–every day I intended to write something. There is a REASON I am the Queen of Procrastination, ya know, not just the Princess! Jeez, you’d think someone who can talk as much as I can, about absolutely nothing, would be much better at keeping this blog up to date, wouldn’t you?

Of course, I always think I need to say something meaningful, or at least entertaining, and then I get a bad case of blogger’s block! I don’t know why I think a blog needs to be deep–I read enough of them to know that isn’t true! Some of them make Pauly Shore movies look meaningful! The approach I need to take is this: just write about whatever, and see what happens. Kind of the same thing I do when I talk…ramble

First an update on the last month of my life, in case anyone out there cares:

My bank account, which was hugely overdrawn due to the theft of my debit card, has been mostly fixed. It turned out that my laptop had a huge trojan virus, and a bunch of my info was being taken; I’m actually lucky that they only took such a minor amount of money! I am still trying to convince the bank to refund all of the overdraft fees, but somehow, I doubt that will happen.sigh

Healthwise, things are better. It’s been 31 days since my last seizure (YIPPEE!!), and that is fabulous! The thyroid meds seem to have finally kicked in, because I am FINALLY losing weight. (I hesitate to say that, for fear of jinxing it!) And inches, too. Back in April, I took measurements, and re-took them the other day: all of them were down at least 2 inches! It’s kinda freaking me out, because I’m not really doing anything differently. Still eating mostly green smoothies (except, of course, on those days when I have to have a big bowl of ice cream!), and coffee, and popcorn. Still sitting around on my ass, reading, surfing the net, and watching Netflix! A part of me wonders what is wrong, to cause this; yes, I am paranoid.

I gave up on growing my nails out, because I couldn’t stop from biting them. Frankly, I’d rather wear fakes than have my real ones gnawed down so far they bleed, which is where they end up! My hair still looks terrific, of course.

As for the online dating, well, I met someone. And for now, that is all I am saying about that!



I’ve spent a lot of time watching Netflix this last month. First I binged on True Blood, and now I’m finishing up Dexter. I didn’t make it through the last 2 seasons of Dexter when it was on the air, so these are new for me. Frankly, after Season 6, I think I would have quit. Maybe even Season 5. It’s not really living up to it’s potential; although I do enjoy getting to see Michael Clarke Duncan naked so often! And I am glad that Masuka got his own little storyline (and that we don’t have to see him naked!).

Still reading Fanfiction, and I just started reading a book called “Fic: How Fanfiction is Taking Over the World”  Anne Jamison, which is turning out to be very interesting. Can’t wait to review it for ya’ll!

A now, my little rant for the day:

I surprised myself today when I discovered an article stating that Barry Manilow got married back in April 2015, to his longtime producer and boyfriend! How did I miss this? Being the Fanilow that I am, how did this tidbit (not the fact that he’s gay– as if that’s a big shock-but the marriage) escape my notice? Honestly. I am a bit disappointed in Barry after reading several articles about this very private wedding (where Suzanne Somers was reportedly his ‘best man’ –and that bothers me, too!), simply because he still has not actually come out. No paperwork has been filed, and he has not made any statements. Apparently, Barry is too worried about his career, worried that his fans won’t understand if he admits he’s gay. To which I say “Oh, PUH-LEEZ! Give me a friggin’ break!” I’ve been a fan since I was in elementary school, and I realized in middle school that he was probably gay (I’m not sure I even really knew what that meant at the time.), but it certainly doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that someone who sings about love so passionately doesn’t have the courage to put his love first. Especially now, when his career is rock solid. I ask you, Barry, “What would Tony do if this were about Lola?”


These Days


These days of summer, the month of June, has been spectacularly obnoxious for me. Here’s why:

Near the beginning of the month, my debit card was stolen, and a number of charges were made online. The charges themselves were not very big, but my bank has added HUGE overdraft fees, leaving me nearly $900 overdrawn at the end of the month. I don’t even get nine hundred dollars in SSI/SSD each month!! We are working to fix this, but it seems as if the bank just doesn’t care. I hate it, and am not happy. And I’m broke, probably forever, now.

Add to the money problems the health stuff. The last year has been bad, seizure-wise, and we cannot seem to figure out why. OHSU, where I am a patient at the Epilepsy clinic, assigned me to a new doctor last Autumn, and I’ve seen her once. She keeps rescheduling my appointments. So I’m asking my GP, Dr Jeff, for a referral to the Providence Neurology & Epilepsy Clinic. I am done being shuttled around. That appointment, with Dr Jeff, is tomorrow. I get my thyroid level checked, too, after being on the med for over a year. Let’s hope things are looking up!

Some things are looking up, I can admit that. I’ve lost some weight in the last year, but not nearly what I need to lose. I am a short woman, with small bones, and weighing this much can’t be good for me. Now, I watched a TED Talk this week, and based on their info, even at this weight, I’m in the healthier group. See, I do 3 of the 4 things it takes to make you the healthy person: I eat plenty of fruits & veggies, I don’t smoke, and drink moderately. I don’t get enough exercise, but I’m working on it. Makes me feel better about myself, even if my clothes are a bigger size!

Seriously, 75% of what I eat these days is some sort of green smoothie. My NutriBullet gets more use than any other appliance I own, except my laptop! I am feeling better, and I know I am healthier. There are days when something happens to change that; last week I had a fairly bad seizure, and managed to injure myself in some strange places. How I got what looks like a rug burn/bruise underneath my boob, I have no idea, but it hurts like a bitch! Wearing a bra has been out of the question for the last week. (Oh, and the heat here, that’s only made things worse. I miss winter.) I’m finally not sore everywhere else, and feeling like a human being again. It’s amazing. Somedays I think my body hates me. Somedays I hate it.

These days, I only want to stop feeling as if I crawled out from under a rock. I looked like I should live under one for a while, but now I’m looking better, thank Merlin. I swear, I looked in the mirror last Saturday, and thought I’d been dead for a couple of days! Ick. Only my hair looked decent; I colored it the week before, and it’s very nifty. I’ll post some pics in the next couple of days–check Instagram!

These days, I am also having some interesting things going on; I’m back on the online dating scene, because I am apparently crazy (I will write about this later), and have no idea what I’m doing. I am trying to grow my nails out again, and not biting them is torture! Trying to answer Oprah’s “20 Questions Every Woman Should Answer.” I have no good answers. I never do.