“Shattered” Book Response and October Selection

For September, our Virtual Book Club decided to individually read whatever we felt like, which was very freeing. I have a lot going on this fall including celebrating Doug’s and my 30th birthdays; both celebrations happened in September, and I am trying my best to produce consistent, high-quality content at The Voyageer, and I only have so many hours in a day.

Let me admit that I actually didn’t read anything in full this month. I started a couple of books, browsed The Little Book of Hygge, and downloaded my next-to-read Outlander novel from my library’s e-book collection to my beloved kindle paperwhite. Now that September is behind me (more or less) I can get back into the Virtual Book Club and our Creepy October read (revealed at the end).

This post contains Amazon affiliate links above and below. 


Even though I didn’t finish a book in September, I still want to post about one I read this summer. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign came out in April and I had the chance to read it in July. I thought this was timely since HRC’s own book, What Happened, just came out and has been topping best seller lists and causing all kinds of controversy. First let me say that I think the cover art for Shattered is far superior than What Happened...

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The photo and the type are both striking.

I feel like my head has been spinning so much in the past two years, almost as if it’s going to be disconnected from my neck and body. The 24-hour news cycle is so exhausting and impossible to keep up with. Every day, a new story breaks, before we’ve all had time to digest the day before and put all the pieces together. This past month we’ve had to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes, civil rights, democratic rights, and nuclear war. It’s too much to keep track of, and reading this book reminded me that it has been this way for a while. Facebook and Twitter offer a never ending stream of things to be concerned about and downright outraged by, and the current clowns in charge keep us on our toes with a new gaffe or scandal to steal our attention on the daily.

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Reading this book felt like putting the puzzle pieces together, about one year too late. It covers the whole campaign from the launch, to the primaries, up through the election. So much light was shed on important events that had stacked up on top of each other and it all seems so clear now. The private server, each primary state result in order, Bernie’s influence, the DNC hack, Announcing the VP and Comey’s ill-timed investigation announcement, and the list goes on.

The authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, are journalists who were set to write a book about Hillary’s historic campaign as the first woman nominee from a major party, and presumably to draw the path towards victory. However as their detailed analysis and inside information shows, the campaign body was complicated, confused, and chaotic. And we know how things turned out. The book pulls back the curtain to show us the way the political machine moved last year.

Aside from the obvious villains (but her emails!), Bernie Sanders was taken to task for drawing out an already long primary season. As a Bernie supporter, it was good for me to get a dose of some hindsight. Sanders did what I expected he’d do, which was pull Clinton to the left before he was through with his campaign, but it was interesting to me just how much of a thorn he was in her side.

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Bernie was so inspiring but definitely had his down sides.

The biggest takeaway for me was a phenomenon that I have been noticing more and more in my everyday life, in addition to it being a major theme in this book:

Numbers over People

Spoiler alert: Hillary lost a bunch of swing states. Clinton’s young manager kept trying to run the campaign on a shoestring budget (why?) and as such was addicted to using numbers and polling data to target strategic voters in strategic states and precincts. This explains why, here in San Diego, I barely saw any Hillary yard signs or bumperstickers. Not that people weren’t “With Her,” but that the campaign knew California was in the bag so they didn’t staff or push the candidate’s presence in the state.

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The irony of her relentless pursuit of the superdelegates, then losing the electoral college, is almost too much.

The problem was the reliance on numbers and data instead of warm human connections. Clinton was behaving like a campaign robot, appealing to scientifically chosen demographic subsets at specific times. People have said time and time again that she is a lovely and warm person if you get a chance to meet her. But the show runners kept her from us, the people whose task it was to put our eggs in her basket.

It started with Pandora’s robots providing a famously awful mix of music. Now Facebook does this. Amazon really does this (oh you bought a watch? here’s 75 other watches to look at). I am sick of algorithms—telling us what we want to see or “curating” our lives for us. Some guy with a spreadsheet dictated who got campaign efforts and who didn’t, and just to save money. And now we have our current divisive, competitive, incompetent president. We need our human agency back.

The candidate who all assumed would win honestly kind of collapsed from within the campaign outward. Reading Shattered was like watching last year go by in fast-forward. Kind of like getting the answers to the test you knew you just bombed. It felt a little “too soon” when the book released in April, but reading it in July provided a little bit of closure to a still-open wound.


Virtual Book Club

For October, our club chose Dark Matter by Blake Crouch which I am looking forward to. I’m not really into scary stuff (although for some reason I really want to go see IT this month) but I’m glad that our little group challenges each other to step outside our comfort zones and choose books we otherwise wouldn’t pick for ourselves. As always please read along and check back the last Wednesday of the month for my response!

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“Someday, Someday Maybe” Book Review and December Selection!

Virtual Book ClubGreat news! We made a facebook group for the Virtual Book Club. We are going to be doing some discussion over there regarding the monthly book and other books that we happen to be reading, too. It’s currently a closed group, but if you are interested in joining, let me know and I will be happy to add you.


Hey guys! I can’t believe November went by so fast. I feel like I just finished writing my response to The Graveyard Book but here we are. We picked something light to read, since as the holiday season gears up, time somehow becomes more scarce. Someday, Someday Maybe definitely was light. I finished out in about five or six hours, which was nice.

The book is written in the first person. Through the eyes of our heroine, Franny, we get a glimpse of what it may have been like to be a struggling actress in New York city in 1995. The author, Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) has a lot of personal experience to draw on, I’m sure.

Someday, Someday Maybe

A really cute thing in the book were these little pages from Franny’s day planner. Some weeks were meticulous and full; others were dust and tumbleweeds. It reminded me of my own planner. Another cute thing was the use of the answering machine. I totally remember the days before I had a cell phone and the only way to get important information was to hunt someone down or leave them a message. Sometimes I think it would be really freeing to only check my phone messages (and email) once or twice a day instead of constantly.

Franny has a lot of self-doubt, something that doesn’t come in handy for an actress, I’m sure. We all have self-doubt, but we don’t all work in industries where the goal is to stand out or face total failure. As a result of these insecure feelings, she makes a bunch of questionable life choices. She picks the sleazy agent over the friendly agent, she picks the superficial and pretentious dude over the nice guy, etc. She tries to derive her strength from others instead of from herself. Her strongest moment of personal growth comes when she turns down a job that (after lots and lots—too much—hemming and hawing) she decides compromises her values. I guess that was the point of the book! Pull your strength from within instead of trying to attach yourself to others that seem successful.

There were a few points in the book that I found pretty meta, particularly the conversation between Dan and Franny about love triangles as a tired trope. I think it was the author’s way of winking at us readers, “yeah, love triangles are a bit tired but still cute and compelling, so I’m using one anyway.” Franny was a little annoying, but I saw some of myself in her immature, rambling inner monologues. We can’t all be perfect. ;)

Actually, Lauren Graham came out with another book this week, Talking As Fast as I Can, which is about herself. It would be interesting to read it and compare her stories of breaking out as an actress to the fictionalized version in Someday, Someday Maybe.


Our final book of 2016 will be A Man Called Ove. It’s supposed to be a “feel-good” story and my coworker compared it to the movie Up, which I haven’t seen but everyone seems to like. Lately I have been getting into all things Scandinavian so I’m looking forward to reading this (a movie adaptation is coming out, too).

As always, hop over to Libby’s blog to read her take on our monthly book (spoiler alert: she didn’t like it)! And again, let me know if you want to join our facebook group!

“The Graveyard Book” Review and November Selection!

Hey pals! Coming at you one week late with the October virtual book club review.

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What a fitting book to read on Halloween. I really had fun reading Neil Gaiman’s spooky The Graveyard Book, the kind of fun I had when I read Ready Player One earlier this year. I suppose that tells you what kinds of books I can really get sucked into—young adult adventures with a dash of alternative reality. I mean, I do read all kinds of books: I purposefully force myself to read a wide variety of genres, but this is the kind I quickly devour.

Not sure why I put off cracking The Graveyard Book since I knew from the inside flap description that I was going to like it. The story follows a young boy from toddlerhood to adulthood (older-teen-hood?) as he grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts. His family is murdered when he is a baby (no spoiler there; that is the opening scene) and he toddles to a graveyard where two old ghosts by the last name Owens decide to raise him. They name him Nobody, and he goes by Bod for short. While growing, Bod learns life lessons not unlike a normal boy would learn, but just in a different way.

The Graveyard Book

Bod’s other guardian is a man named Silas. Silas is a mysterious person whose true nature is revealed bit by bit until the climax of the book. Something I liked about this book was that instead of spending a lot of time providing background information, details, and nitty gritty on things like, “What makes ghosts and ghouls different? What is the layout of the graveyard? What kind of trees are there?” (Think Harry Potter, and the encyclopedic fictional knowledge the reader comes away with) the reader is just dropped down into the story and things (concepts, creatures) just are. And it doesn’t detract from the story, in fact it makes things move along much more quickly, hoping the reader doesn’t get distracted by not knowing specifics on something.

Yes, the book takes place in a graveyard, and the majority of supporting characters are ghosts, but I wouldn’t call it a scary book. There are a few creepy (maybe even scary) parts, but each chapter is pretty short. I don’t know how 10 year old Staci would have reacted, but Younger Me read some books with some scary parts and I turned out just fine. Knowing that it was loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book adds a fun element to the reading experience as well. I haven’t read The Jungle Book but I saw the Disney animated movie (I know, not nearly the same thing), but I was able to draw at least one connection to the movie—Bod’s caper with the ghouls definitely reminds me of when Mowgli gets kidnapped by King Louie and the apes.

I read Stardust, by the same author (aaaages ago, before the movie came out) and zoomed through it. I guess it’s a safe bet that I’d like other Neil Gaiman books, so I will definitely have to see what else my local library has.

somedaycoverThis month, another shift of gears. Our book club seems to be jumping around from genre to genre each month, and that is one of my favorite things about it, I think.

Thanks to a circumstance of “right place, right time” (the book is on sale currently on Amazon for 1.99) we chose Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. You might know Lauren Graham better as Lorelai on Gilmore Girls! I was looking for something lighter since Unknown Americans was really heavy and The Graveyard Book was kind of creepy, and November has the potential to be a busy month, and the book literally fell into my lap inbox  via a BookBub daily email. Oh, and don’t forget… the new Gilmore Girls episodes come to Netflix on Black Friday!