Dec 13, 2016

"Books serve to show a man...

...that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."

-Abraham Lincoln (supposedly)

I've never really been into numbering my posts and some months I have trouble thinking of titles so I google "quotes about books" and this one made me laugh so I thought I'd share.  :P

As for the books, after burning myself out pretty hard with self help last month (and keeping up with the news lately) I really needed some fluff.  And then after the werewolves, steampunk, and fantasy, I finally managed to get back into more diverse genres.

♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (audio)

I didn't even know who Shonda Rhimes was, so I had no expectations going in.  Awesome story and you can tell she's a writer because her words just flow.  So poetic and pretty, in addition to being an incredibly inspiring read.  In addition to loving her journey as she learns to say "yes" and let new opportunities in, I thought she had a ton of great insights into feminism, race, and the balance between weight loss and self love.  (Side note: she reads the audiobook and her voice sounds nice and gives the story a very personal feel so I recommend listening if you like audio at all.)

The Best Damn Marketing Checklist, Period! by Stoney deGeyter (kindle)

5 star for pure usefulness, not for being a fun read or anything.  If you're not a web designer, you can just skip over this, but if you are, TONS of good information for improving your website and ranking higher in searches.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (paper)

Such a good story!  This is written by a North Korean defector and it's fascinating to see how the regime maintains power, how they indoctrinate people from an early age, and how much effort it takes for citizens to change their mindsets even after deciding to leave the country.  I also know very little about Asian societies, so it was very educational.  Example: I figured once you got out of the country, you'd be good, but since very few other neighboring countries want illegal immigrants, it's just about as dangerous after leaving as it is to stay.  I was absolutely blown away by how resourceful and courageous the author was.  Highly recommend to everyone, both for a good story and to learn more about the other side of the world (assuming most of the people reading this are in the US).

♥♥♥♥ - Liked

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen (paper)

I was slow to get into this but once I got my mind into romance mode it was a lot of fun.  Steampunk, mystery, vampires and shapeshifters, all good stuff.  Minor pet peeve: all the mechanical issues could be solved by fixing the "cogs."  Not terribly convincing that the characters know what they're talking about.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (kindle)

I didn't realize this had come out until I was browsing Amazon in search of something light-hearted (tee hee).  Sooo good.  I don't know that I loved it quite on the Lunar Chronicles level, but it was a great story with a very unique twist on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  A little dark and incredibly creative.

Soulless and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (kindle)

I laughed my ass off for the first five pages of the first book.  I was prepared to declare this the best book series of all time, but unfortunately the rest couldn't quite keep up with that promising beginning.  Still very, very good.  The humor was right up my alley and, like Clockwork Beast, I loved the steampunk world.  These felt like they had a little more substance to them as well (hence reading the entire series), and the only, teeny, tiny little thing that bothered me was a description of someone's pregnancy, because, like the "cogs" from the other book, it was fairly inaccurate.  I don't know why this bothers me in a world with vampires, werewolves, and automatons, but I really just want my authors to know their shit and you are not feeling any babies "sloshing around" a couple months in.  Additional note: the first book has a couple of raunchy scenes, but the rest are pretty tame - I'm not sure why there's such a disparity but I thought it was fine with or without them.

Scandalous Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (paper)

Very interesting read!  Basically mini biographies, each lady got 5-10 pages about her exploits and I really liked that it wasn't a one-sided depiction.  The author is very frank about their flaws, as well as their virtues and all are fascinating.  Although I was definitely more intrigued by the women I didn't happen to learn about in school (sorry Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn).  New favorite: Eleanor of Aquitaine (mother to King Richard and Prince John - often caricatured in Robin Hood stories), who not only freed Richard from captivity when already in her 60s but remained politically active and influential all the way up until her death.  Basically, she was a badass in her youth and didn't let age prevent her from continuing on that way.

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (paper)

I said in my Goodreads review that this was bittersweet and it really was.  Far more realistic than your average pioneer adventure story, and, at times, a lot harder to read because you just want good things for these people and life was harsh back then.  It makes me feel like a huge woose for some of the things I whine about.  I did feel some disconnect from the author near the beginning but as she matures and improves her writing, that feeling went away and I was wholly engrossed in her life, even the minutia.

♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed

Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler (audio)

I had no strong desire to read this - I just needed something to entertain my brain during certain work tasks and this fit the bill.  Not particularly exciting and no real takeaways, just an occasionally amusing read.

♥♥ - Mildly Disliked


 - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire

Rising Strong by Brene Brown (audio)

NOT a "want to burn in a fire" book.  That would be way too harsh.  But yeah, I was 40 minutes in on the audiobook and I still had no interest in what she was talking about so I gave up.  I felt like she spent a ton of time telling us what she was going to talk about without actually starting it.  I know she's all about anecdotal evidence, but I had yet to hear any anecdotes, so I gave up.  If anyone feels strongly that this was a mistake, let me know and I'll give it another go!

The Superior Wife Syndrome by Carin Rubenstein (paper)

Sooo... I feel like the concept for this was good.  I don't think the author is alone in noticing that there's a large chunk of women who have made strides towards equality in the workforce, but continue to shoulder most of the burden of child-rearing and housework despite being wage-earners.  But the way she phrased and explained things was weird (like using the phrase "superior" to mean basically a sucky, unbalanced marriage with "nonsuperior" wives being the ones who are happier and have better marriages) and her explanations dragged on and on and on.  Way more detail and far more examples than necessary for the most basic concepts.  I got about halfway through before I started skimming, trying to find parts that were relevant to me (since I am nowhere near a "superior" wife - Ryan and I split things pretty damn evenly thus far in our relationship and equality is important to both of us) but even when I did, I just didn't agree with the way she wrote about them, so I gave up.  I honestly feel like you'd be better off reading Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, which has actual tips for better communication and fixing pretty much exactly the problem she's describing, without all the extensive analysis of how the problem came to be in the first place.

Reading The Nightingale and waiting impatiently for January so I can start Erin book challenge 6.0!  Oh, and I have The Feminine Mystique from the library, so that might end up being an airplane book next week because it's almost 600 pages.

Challenge Updates

Jenn Self Book Challenge

I'm going to count Year of Yes as a "mindset" book, in addition to Best Damn Marketing for "career," and Scandalous Women for a genre I don't normally read and give myself 45 points out of 175 (since I apparently mathed this out weird when I made my challenge).

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?

Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

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