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

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. I'm reading Rising Strong right now (kindle version). It's okay. I feel like she repeats herself A LOT. There's fantastic pieces of wisdom intermingled (I'm highlighting them all), but it's just too wordy and repetitive maybe?

    I've heard about These is my Words, so I'm putting that on my list.

  2. I'm interested to read Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, Heartless, and Scandalous Women. They all sound interesting. I literally have read nothing since.... October? My life is all over the place haha

  3. that is a fabulous quote :)
    i loved the year of yes so much. i wish i'd done the audio. it was so good.
    Heartless is on my list, but i'm worried because of how much i love the lunar chronicles. might wait a bit.
    i agree about the parasol books - i LOVED the first one. i enjoyed the whole series, but the first one really was just amazing.
    The Nightingale! I hope you like it!

  4. Eek I hope you love The Nightingale. I never could have read that book while I was pregnant... I would have been crying for weeks. Lol. You likely have better control of your emotions than I did. I'm looking forward to reading Heartless sometime! And can't wait for Erin's challenge!

  5. Heartless is one of the books at the top of my list. Loved the Lunar Chronicles, so I've got high hopes for this one. But like you I'm afraid to hype it up too much. Then again, when I first heard of the Lunar Chronicles I thought it sounded dumb and I ended up loving them! So fingers crossed!

  6. Yay, Scandalous Women! Loved that one. The Superior Wife book was...interesting. It had good points but it was not well written at all. The Girl with Seven Names sounds so good, but also like it would make me cry.

  7. The Girl With Seven Names was added to my list.

  8. I'm on the waiting list for Heartless and can't wait to get my mitts on it. Alice in Wonderland is not my favorite fairy tale but I trust Meyers to create something wonderful. I loved, loved, LOVED Year of Yes. So good. I did not realize Shonda voiced the audiobook. I did like Rising Strong, but I read it back in January so my memory of why I loved it so much isn't great. But it did speak to my situation at the time, which is probably why I felt such a kinship to it too. Souless is waiting on my kindle for my trip back home to Minnesota. It looks like such a fun series.

    1. Soulless is really fun and it would be great for traveling because it's easy to put down and pick right back up again. Although I tend to use flights to force myself through books I'm struggling with since I'm trapped there for a certain number of hours.

  9. The Girl With Seven Names sounds really good. I've been meaning to read a book about North Korea, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    1. Definitely read it! It's both a compelling story and very educational about how the regime works and what the culture is like over there and in the neighboring countries.

  10. Ohh no, I haven't read that Brene book, but I've loved her other ones that I've read! I don't know how I managed to make it through this year without reading Year of Yes since I love personal development books so much. I might give the audiobook a try after your review though! I noticed there was a Steampunk category on the 2017 popsugar reading challenge and I didn't realize it was such a big genre. If I decide to do that challenge, I'll definitely consult you for ideas!

  11. I can't wait to get my hands on Heartless! Scandalous Women sounds great! Soulless is on my TBR list, too!
    I can't wait for Erin's challenge either!!

  12. I just got Heartless and am SO excited to read it! Glad you liked it. :)

  13. I read Year of Yes about a year ago and I really enjoyed it. I knew Shonda Rhimes, but I don't watch her shows to be honest. I did really like the book though; it's good for anyone, whether you are already a fan of the author or not.

    I have Heartless and I hope to read it soon!


  14. I added These Is My Words because I'm not sure I've ever read a "pioneer adventure" story.
    When I get to making my bonus round selections, I'm going to ask you for recommendations for "genre I rarely/never read". I don't read "werewolves, fantasy, and steampunk", but, hey, for a challenge, I'll give it a go.

  15. Soulless has been on my TBR for ages, I'm not sure why I haven't picked it up yet. It's a definitely read for next year though, since (if I remember rightly) they aren't too long either. They must have beeb good if you burnt through the whole series in a month!

    1. They're pretty short and easy to read - easy to power through!

  16. Really loving this review! I have Soulless on my shelf, and now I can't wait to read it/the rest! So fun! I have not read ANY steampunk... but I can't wait. I have the Beauty and the Beast one on my list too! I bought Heartless for my bloggy secret santa and it took ALL of my restraint not to read it.. or buy a copy for myself. Hopefully I get it for xmas! hehe Scandalous Women is also on my list! :) Bummer about the flops, but it happens. Looking into the Girl with seven names one! Sounds fascinating! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  17. I read These is My Words recently and felt much the same about you - really was able to feel for the characters, especially near the end. I just bought Year of Yes for a friend so I'm going to read it when she's done!! I've heard that it is quite inspiring. I want to read some more steampunk books in 2017!

    1. PS Sorry for commenting on this post twice! HAHA. I guess I just had too many thoughts?! At least I didn't repeat myself from my first comment a few days ago. LOL.

  18. Holy shit. You read I book I want to read. I DON'T THINK THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE. On the plus side, at least we don't interfere with each other's library holds.

  19. So many good books! I'm adding Year of Yes and The Girl with Seven Names to my list. Seven Names sounds fascinating - I know very little about North Korea. I'm going to give Cinder a reread since I didn't like it the first time. It has so many fans, maybe it was just me.

  20. I LOVED The Year of Yes, I had no idea who she was either until I started reading, LOL, but yeah, great book!

    -- Dara ||

    1. I feel like there are a bunch of self help books that get popular simply because the author is well known (Elizabeth Gilbert with Big Magic and so on). I never know who they are, but I've gotten some great reads in so it doesn't really matter to me how or why they became so popular. :P


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