Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review - Year of Yes

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

From Goodreads: In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too.

She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.

And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.

This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

My Review: So first let me just get this out of the way: I am not a frequent resident of Shondaland and I'm not a frequent watcher of TGIThursday. I've seen Greys and did watch the first season or two but otherwise I don't really watch it. I also never watched Private Practice and I've never seen Scandal or How To Get Away with Murder. I may flip past Greys if I know something is going to happen (Oh, McDreamy....) but that's about it. So basically my Shonda watching stopped with Denny's heart (it's not a spoiler if it was like 8 years ago, right?).

So, why did I not only want to read this but want to so much I asked for it for Christmas? Because I think Shonda is impressive and I loved the concept.  I've spent the last few years trying to amp up my game, which is why last year's word was Conquer and this year's word is Do. I'm trying to take on life, carpe the heck out of the diem, not let life pass me by. So basically this book spoke to me, just by the description.

And it did not let me down. 

I saw so much of myself in Shonda it was kind of weird. I had no idea she was a nerdy kid who preferred reading to going out and doing. That was me as a kid. I had no idea she was so introverted as an adult and that she used her characters to express herself. That's me too. I love what she did on her year of yes. I hope that's what I'm doing now.

While I may not be saying yes to award shows, commencement addresses, or photo shoots the things I'm saying yes to (or should be saying yes to) are just as important to me and my life as those things are to Shonda. 

If someone like Shonda, who has so much attention on her and so much to lose by shaking up her life, can do this - say yes to the things in life that come her way - then so can I. This books reminds me of this.

I completely recommend this book, even if your word for the year isn't Do and your goal isn't to shake up your life. I think everyone can find something in this book that speaks to them, that makes them get up and go do something, or even that just makes them nod their head or laugh out loud (which I did a few times). This book definitely goes on the shelf with the other books that inspire me and that I reach for as inspiration again and again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcome to 2016

A few years ago my friend Jennie introduced me to the idea of picking a word for the upcoming year - something to focus on and think about  as you travel through the next 12 months. I adore this concept and have done it the past few years.

In 2015 my word was Conquer and I feel like I did a pretty good job with that. I conquered some financial goals, I conquered some things I wanted to do around our house, I conquered a few small health related goals, and I really conquered some things with work. So having that word to focus on really worked for me.

It actually didn't take me too long to come up with my word for 2016 - Do. I'm very much a creature of habit, an introvert, and someone who doesn't like to step out of my routine. Ok and I can be a bit lazy at times too. So my goal for 2016 is to always keep the idea of Do in mind.

Do good.
Do well.
Do something fun.
Do something new.
Do something that scares you.
Do go on an adventure.
Do something with the ones who are important.
Do something that is important to you.
Do or do not, there is no try.
Do epic shit.
Do what needs to be done.
Do what you want to Do.
Just Do something!


So welcome to 2016, my year of the Do.


Does anyone else pick a word to describe their upcoming year? If so, what did you pick?


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I Still Need To Watch

1. Divergent

2. Insurgent

3. Wild

4. A Walk in the Woods

5. Papertowns

6. Frankenstein (hello, Daniel Radcliffe)

7. Horns (again, Daniel)

8. If I Stay

9. The Spectacular Now

10. The Help

Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Review: Dumplin'

From Goodreads: Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

My thoughts: So I had somehow not been aware of this book until about a month before it came out when my Twitter feed exploded with people posting about it. I resisted the hype for maybe a week before finally going to Goodreads to see what this was all about. I then immediately put in a library hold for this book. I had to read it.

As someone who was very similar to Willowdean in high school I felt a good connection to her. I honestly wish this book had been around when I was a young adult. I think 15 year old me really should have been able to read this. Willowdean is such a kick ass character. She's lively, she's feisty, she's smart, she's brave, she's insecure, she's figuring it all out still. She's amazing. 

I loved this book and it made me go look up more than one Dolly Parton song on Youtube, which I call a good thing. 

Image source

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I Really Want To Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic blog series hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This seemed like a fun topic to jump back in on the TTT bandwagon.

1. Diana Gabaldon. Aka, Herself. I'm a huge fan of the Outlander series and love her writing. I think I'd probably be rendered mute if I met her though.

2. Sarah Dessen. There are so many things I love about Dessen. She writes amazing books with amazing characters and plots, she is fantastic at creating places that you can just perfectly visualize, she drops in things from her previous books, like a band or a character at a coffee shop, so perfectly it doesn't feel forced, and she is so incredibly friendly, modest, and supportive of other people on social media. And she seems like the kind of person where you just know she's being genuine and not putting on an act.

3. John Green. My introduction to Green was when my friend Andea forced me to read TFIOS. I still owe her for that. Green creates some amazing characters, seriously Hazel Grace is fantastic. Plus I love how much he loves my favorite city.

4. Jen Lancaster. I don't just want to meet Lancaster, I want her to take me under her wing and be one of her besties. I love her sense of humor, her sarcastic wit (we have that in common), and the way she tells a story. Plus I love that she's an animal rescuer as well, that's definitely the key to my heart.

5. Emery Lord. Lord is another author that I have some friends to thank for introducing me to. She's also another one that is so incredible friendly, down to Earth, and supportive on social media. Plus when the Start of Me and You came out she sent people who preordered some swag and mine came with the nicest note based on the email I'd sent her. Anyone who takes the time to really read your email and personalize their response in the midst of a book coming out is extra amazing.

6. JK Rowling. Does this one really need an explanation? Her mind created Harry Potter, enough said.

7. Stephanie Perkins. Yet another author who seems so down to Earth, so supportive of others, and just genuinely nice. Plus she created Anna, Lola, and Isla and I'd really love to thank her for this is person.

8, 9, 10. I'm cheating a little here. Melissa Landers, Jessica Love, and Kelsey Macke are friends of mine, who at this point I only know through the wonderful thing that is the internet. Even though I've never had the chance to sit across a table from them I genuinely consider them my friends. However, I also consider them amazing authors and I'd love the chance to sit down with them and discuss the characters and places they've created.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Book Review: The Royal We

From Goodreads"I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next." 

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

Spanning nearly a decade, The Royal We is a richly imagined, emotionally compelling novel that examines, with warmth and wit, what truly happens after your prince has come.

My Thoughts: So first things first, I'm a royalty/royal-history nerd. Always have been, way before Kate sashayed down that infamous runway. I've read numerous books and tons of articles about various royals and periods of royal history, I even took a British history class in college because my royal love leads easily into a love for England and all things British. I woke up crazy early to watch Diana's funeral and praised the world for DVR as I recorded Will and Kate's wedding. All this to say that it's not surprising that I read this book, though I wasn't entirely sure how it would go when I started it.

I needn't have worried; this book is fantastic. It is obviously inspired by Will and Kate but there are enough differences and areas where this story branches off that it easily kept me entertained. Actually, that's an understatement. I adored this book. I could not put it down, and when I did manage to set it down (darn work) I was thinking about Bex and Nick and all the other characters. The authors paint such vivid settings and have such detailed, interesting characters that everything just comes to life. I finished this a week ago and honestly these characters are still in my head. That's a great sign. I seriously recommend this. 

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