Book Review: Year of Yes

I feel kinda weird showing up here, which is a shame because umm.. it's my blog? But it's been like a month since I've spoken to you guys. Hi! Hope all is well. Now into this book, because my goodness, did I love it!

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Published: November 10, 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Genre: Nonfiction, Adult, Self Help

Pages: 336

Links: GoodreadsAmazon,Barnes & Noble

Other Work: Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Grey's Anatomy, The Catch




What do you do when saying 'no' is holding you back? You start saying 'yes'. Shonda Rhimes fits an entire year of adventure, experiences and self-improvement within the 336 pages of this book. And all by simply saying 'yes' to the scary, unexpected things that life throws at you one after another.   


                              5 Cups of Coffee - Stay Up All Night!

                              5 Cups of Coffee - Stay Up All Night!


Nonfiction isn't my thing. I don't read much of it and when I do, it doesn't blow me away. So when I saw that Shonda Rhimes was releasing a book, I was conflicted. I enjoy all of her television shows. Some more than others. I like her writing style, her characters, her powerful monologues. But as stated, nonfiction? Non-my-thing. 

Turns out, I loved it. 

It spoke to me. It seemed like it entered my life at exactly the right time and so I read it with a fine-tooth comb, looking to glean any grain of knowledge I could from it. I'm aware that for some it might not hit home in the same way. Some people are 'yes' people already. Some of you reading this might accept all kinds of invitations to places and travel all over. I, well, I use to be. But recently, like for the past couple of years, I haven't been. So when Shonda's sister tells her, "you never say yes to anything," and that statement alone nagged at her until she did something about it? I immediately related. It was like they were talking to me - Shonda and her sister. "Kari, you never do anything." "Kari, let's promise to do things this year."

To say I simply enjoyed this book is an understatement. Shonda wrote this book like she does her shows, with a whole lot of sass and a serving of realness. She says the things you'd think she'd hide away. She tells us stories of her unusual childhood sentencing empty cans to death in the corner of a pantry and fear-induced memories of that time she threw a chicken bone across the room. She gives speeches that involve graduation and poop, gravity and glass ceilings. She talks about the fear of speaking your mind and having your characters say it for you, and the hard work of whipping one's self in shape. I read it all bit by bit, a chapter here and there, sometimes in the morning to start my day. And I always closed it with a new lesson. Sometimes there were tears because damn it if Shonda wasn't carving those words from my soul. About 2/3 of the way through, she writes a chapter that reduced me to tears with a few lines: 

The years and years of saying no were, for me, a quiet way of letting go. A silent means of giving up. An easy withdrawal from the world, from light, from life. Saying no was a way to disappear. Saying no was my own slow form of suicide. Which is crazy because I do not want to die.

I read that and through tears whispered to no one, "I don't want to die either." It seems a little over the top, fine, but I'm stating nothing but facts. Year of Yes kinda changed me.

It's not that I think about it all the time, or that I've created my own year of yes to follow. It's not anything as conscious as that. But a few weeks ago, on the way to the gym, I told my boyfriend that I felt more like me than I had in a long time. "What do you mean?," he asked. "It's hard to explain, but I feel like I'm living. And kinda like I can do anything and also like I'm doing enough." When he asked where it was all coming from, I didn't have an answer. But I knew that I'd made a decision to really live because anything less than that was equivalent to dying. I'm not saying Year of Yes is responsible for this change in my attitude, in me. But I'm also not saying it isn't either.



Did you read Year of Yes with us this month? Leave your review and/or comment below!


For the month of April we will be reading, The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry, a novel that I have been dying to read ever since it started popping up in book boxes with that pretty ass cover!

And for May, we're lucky to be reading Exposure to a Billionaire by Ann Menke. We won't be discussing this one until June 7th, but just to give you plenty of time to join in! 

Goodreads says: Exposure to a Billionaire is a fictional account based on author Ann Menke's twenty-five-year-plus career as a corporate flight attendant. She takes readers on an adventure spanning the globe and gives them an inside look into the world of flying the rich and famous. Get ready for the heroine, Anna St. James, to take off on a fast-paced journey into the exclusive club of private airplanes, yachts, exotic travel, and greed, while trying to stay true to herself. 

Better yet? You're getting a free ARC to read along with us. Correction, if you are a part of the Literary Ladies book club, then you are getting a free ARC to read along with us. The author is giving away free copies of the book to all book members :) Just fill out this form!



Book Review: You Had Me At Hello

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

Published: December 06, 2012 by Avon

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult

Pages: 436

Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Other Books: Here's Looking at You, It's Not Me, It's You


quick synopsis

Rachel and Ben were best friends in college, but it's been 13 years and an entire lifetime it seems since then, and what was once a close friendship is non-existent now. When Rachel's longterm relationship falls apart, Ben pops back into her life and their friendship returns. 

so judging you

My Rating: 3.0 - 3.5

My Rating: 3.0 - 3.5

all of my thoughts

Okay, so I've come to one key realization: these kinds of books - people living everyday life with a story that mimics everyday life with a mysterious backstory and explosive baggage - are just not for me, at least not right now. I need more to sink my teeth into. If I'm gonna invest hours of time into it, I need it to teach me a lesson, invoke that happy nostalgia, give me a bad case of the feels. You know, move me. I want to be moved by the things I invest in. And while this novel, which I believe was McFarlane's debut, shines in some ways, it didn't stir me or hold my attention. So with that said, take my review with a grain of salt (or maybe a teaspoon full). 

As I stated, the biggest pitfall for You Had Me At Hello was a highly personal one. I simply didn't connect with it. The characters were interesting and three-dimensional, which I appreciated. Rachel, recently un-fiancéd (yes, I made that up) and a little lost, strikes a good balance between strength and vulnerability that makes her point of view worth reading.  Ben, he's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, made of sugar and spice and everything nice, the movie star you were crushing on as a preteen. Rachel's girlfriends, Caroline and Mindy, are supportive and encouraging without falling into the "simply supportive and around" background roles that many adult novels tend to condemn side characters to. Ivor, the only guy in friend group dominated by women, adds the kick without being the stereotypical "gay best friend", which is refreshing. The plot, although a bit drawn-out and then somehow rushed towards the end, was executed well enough and had enough going on to keep it from being boring. Yet, I still couldn't dig into this story. It just didn't make an impression. Summarily, this story just wasn't for me, and that's okay. It may still totally be for you.

I may not have connected with it, but one thing's for sure - I plan to keep an eye out for McFarlane's other works because the writing. You guys, the writing is grade-A, man. The way McFarlane strings words together... I have no words to describe it. She's a brilliant writer. She navigates between the present and past elements of the story with ease and she expertly weaves humor into her passages in ways that make you do a double take. "Wait, did she just...? Yup! Hahaha." (I suppose I had words after all!) The British slang did take some time to get use to. For the first 20 or so pages, I furrowed my brow as the terms pulled me out of the story every now and then. But eventually, it melts into the text without making a fuss. I'm also not blinded to the fact that this so American of me :) 


Did you join us this month? (Link your review here or comment below!) 


The Literary Ladies' book for March is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes! I actually started this in February (I'm like 50 pages in) and I'm absolutely loving it so far. It's shaping up to be exactly what we've come to expect from Shonda - witty, dynamic writing, sharp metaphors and standing in the sun - in her book about finally saying "yes" to the things that scare you most. You simply must join us in reading this!

HeronGrayStairs Favorites

This weekend promises good times in the form of my boyfriend's birthday and Valentine's Day and so I find myself in a pretty lovey-dovey mood. But instead of writing a post about love in general or the love I have in my personal relationships, I figured I'd write about someone else's love. Three someone's in specific, three someone's that I love very dearly, also three someone's who don't technically exist. 

I'm pretty sure I established in post long ago that I so ship the HeronGrayStairs relationship from Cassandra Clare's book series, The Infernal Devices. Will Herondale, Tessa Gray and Jem Carstairs are just the perfect trifecta. It's a love triangle but I live for it. My heart swells with just the thought of them. As I frequently find myself hysterically laughing, or crying, through the HeronGrayStairs hashtag, I thought I'd list a few of my favorite moments.  Clare writes some pretty amazing moments among these three characters, some of which are touching and others absolutely hilarious.    

I've chosen  some of my favorite funny interactions between these characters, because although there are so many sweet ones -- like Jem's assessment of his parabatai "When Will truly wants something, when he feels something - he can break your heart" or Will's proclamation to Jem "Our souls are knit. We are one person, James" -- the funny ones make me feel the most nostalgic for this story.  Trust me, even if you haven't read the series, this will still be entertaining and only very minimally spoilery. In fact, you can go ahead and treat this as my review of the trilogy (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess), since I haven't done one. It's my favorite trilogy ever. 5 million stars!

It's so beautiful :'(

It's so beautiful :'(

"Are you implying that shreds of my reputation remain intact?" Will demanded with mock horror. "Clearly I have been doing something wrong. Or not something wrong, as the case may be."
He banged on the side of the carriage. "Thomas! We must away at once to the nearest brothel. I seek scandal and low companionship."

“They’re not hideous,” said Tessa.
Will blinked at her. “What?”
“Gideon and Gabriel,” said Tessa. “They’re really quite good-looking, not hideous at all.”
“I spoke,” said Will, in sepulchral tones, “of the pitch-black inner depths of their souls.”
Tessa snorted. “And what color do you suppose the inner depths of your soul are, Will Herondale?”
“Mauve,” said Will.”

Jem shook his head. "You bit de Quincey" he said. "You fool. He's a vampire. You know what it means to bite a vampire.
"I had no choice," said Will. " He was choking me."
"I know" Jem said. " But really, Will. Again?”

“What is this?” he went on now, spearing an unfortunate object on a fork and raising it to eye level. “This… this… thing?”
“A parsnip?” Jem suggested.
“A parsnip planted in Satan’s own garden.” said Will. He glanced about. “I don’t suppose there’s a dog I could feed it to.”
“There don’t seem to be any pets about,” Jem observed.
“Probably all poisoned by parsnips,” said Will.”

“Jem gave her a wistful look. “Must you go? I was rather hoping that you’d stay and be a ministering angel, but if you must go, you must.”
“I’ll stay,” Will said a bit crossly, and threw himself down in the armchair Tessa had just vacated. “I can minister angelically.”
“None too convincingly. And you’re not as pretty to look at as Tessa is,” Jem said, closing his eyes as he leaned back against the pillow.
“How rude. Many who have gazed upon me have compared it to gazing at the radiance of the sun.”
Jem still had his eyes closed. “If they mean that it gives you a headache, they aren’t wrong.”

“I promise to charm the dickens out of him," said Will, sitting up and readjusting his crushed hat. "I shall charm him with such force that when I am done, he will be left lying limply on the ground, trying to remember his own name."
"The man's eighty-nine", muttered Jem. "He may well have the problem anyway.”

Also... this ^. Because I saw it while searching for a picture for this post and about died. Also, can you tell that Jem and Will are my favorites :)

Have you read The Infernal Devices trilogy? Does this make you want to read it?  Or am I just weirdly obsessed with fictional characters? (I think that too, don't worry.)

Kari, The Spy.

Recently, I was sorting through one of my many memory boxes and found a story that I'd written in 8th grade titled "Food Fights in the Cafeteria: a novellita". At first, I felt really nostalgic and proud. Writers, we make a big deal about how we've 'always wanted to write stories' and such, and for most of us, it's probably true. But I felt like I was holding that dream in my hands. I really had wanted to be a writer all those years ago and I wrote all the time and here was the proof. These warm feelings were immediately followed by terror - what if it's a terrible story? what the hell is a novellita anyway? - but we'll focus on the warm fuzzy memories today. 

I started reminiscing about my childhood, what books had always meant to me, and I tried to remember the moment that reading and writing became so essential to my identity. Then I stumbled upon this super cute book-inspired Halloween costume tutorial, and immediately sunk into a memory that made me so happy I wanted to share it. 

I was that kid that wore things out. I wore my favorite poofy skirt until there were holes in the tulle underneath. The jackets and covers of my books were tattered and falling off because I'd continuously flip through the pages. I even pushed my well-watched Peter Pan video tape in the player backwards because no one was around to help me replay it, and then pulled the film out of the sputtering player inch by inch. And when I was 8 years old, I'd watched Harriet the Spy so many times both of my parents and I could quote it line for line. Harriet the Spy had everything I wanted. She was older (in 6th grade), had two awesomely weird best friends and spent her day snooping on people and recording it all. Nevermind that she had absentee parents and a bully who read her notebooks aloud to everyone, she was the coolest. And I wanted to be just like her. 


Somehow I convinced my father to outfit me in Harriet's gear. See Harriet wasn't just a "spy"; she was a collector of stories. She snuck around, listening in on people's lives because she was going to be a great writer someday and needed interesting stories to tell. I decided I needed all of that too. So my dad got me an extra utility belt he had from work, complete with a mini flashlight, magnifying glass, and a pair of binoculars. I swear I was probably fifty pounds heavier. We even got a raincoat and tons of various notebooks that I'd slip beneath my jacket into the belt. Bless my parents. They walked around with their little toolbox for lord knows how long while I pretended to record the secret of life in those pages.

That wasn't enough of course. I also had to act like Harriet too. (I've never been one to half-ass things.) I created my own little "spy route", which mostly included different floors of my apartment building and the next door playground. I also refused to eat anything other than tomato-mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch for months, which would be why I can't stomach it these days. Have I mentioned I was a strange, strange child? Umm, Kari, you're a weird adult too. Touché. Umm, aren't you still a child? Double touché. 

So that's one of my earliest memories of my love of writing. Gorging myself on gross sandwiches and running around in an oversized yellow coat like some sort of life-size Paddington fix-it bear. And yet, I can't bring myself to be embarrassed about it. Sure, it's weird. But the nostalgia and pride make it hard to save room for anything else. 

What's your favorite childhood memory? Maybe one your family still laughs about to this day? Tell me in a comment or better yet, write an entire post about it!  

Most Anticipated Books of 2016

We're already over a month into the new year, but I figured it'd still be fun to talk about all the books I'm excited to get my hands on in 2016. 

2015 was a really great year for books, specifically young adult novels. I read so many great stories and there are so many others I didn't get to, but have heard great things about. With all that excellence in literature, you'd think there'd be nothing to look forward to for 2016. Nope! Stories are eternal and there are still so many to look forward to! 


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (January 5th) - Look at that cover! LOOK AT IT. I got a eARC last week and although I want to read it so bad, I'm definitely a physical book kinda gal. There is no way I could explain this novel better than the synopsis so I won't even try, but promises of time-travel intrigue and self-discovery lead me to incredibly high-expectations. 


Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (January 5th) - I happen to be obsessed with Susan Dennard's blog and twitter, but I haven't actually read any of her novels, despite owning quite a few. In Truthwitch, Dennard weaves a story about a continent where the magic of the Truthwitch, a witch who can tell the truth from a lie, is valuable enough that Safi has to hide her abilities. It seems like a perfect high fantasy that delves into witch-y things and I've heard some pretty amazing things about it.   

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (February 2nd) - The downside to getting the wonderful thing that is Winter a month ago? The Lunar Chronicles is now complete, there is no more stories to read. Well, kind of. Stars Above is a bind up of all the 4 TLC novellas (none of which I've read) as well as a 5 new stories and bonus story that includes a marriage. I. Can't. Wait. 

BlackHearts by Nicole Castroman (February 9th) - I'm really into pirates. I blame my early obsession with Peter Pan (which ironically could also explain my obsession with youth). I'm also really into retellings. BlackHearts is a Blackbeard retelling, but instead of focusing on what I consider his more menacing years, this novel seems to explain his earlier years as a boy who just wants to escape his life for the ocean of possibilities and a life at sea. Gimme, gimme!

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (March 8th) - So long as Cassandra Clare continues to write novels in the Shadowhunter world, I will continue to devour them. The main characters are Emma Carstairs (JEM <3) and Julian Blackthorn, two characters we met and totally fell in love with in City of Heavenly Fire, and they are trying to find out who killed Emma's parents. Plus, the Shadowhunters show on Freeform makes me eager to jump into this world all over again. 


This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (June 7th) - Holy gorgeous cover! I've been wanting to get into Schwab's writing but haven't known where to beginning. All of her novels sound so freaking good. I read the synopsis of this novel, the first in a new series, and I legit felt my eyes pop out of their sockets. Monsters are running lose and sucking out people's souls using music, some monsters are helping to save humans, but it all descends into chaos quickly. Honestly, I'm doing a terrible job at describing it, so click here for a better summary.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 8th) - Surprise surprise, another retelling. Not that it'd matter anyways, I'm sure I'll read anything by Marissa Meyer. But it is an Alice and Wonderland retelling and if it's anything like what I've come to expect from Meyer, than it should be whimsical and nostalgic but also interesting in its own regard. 


Throne of Glass #5 by Sarah J. Maas (September) - Queen of Shadows may not have been the picture of perfection that it was for everyone else, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited to continue on with this series. I won't say much else for risk of spoiling things, but it seems like the story's finally coming to a head and I can't wait to see what happens next.

I drafted this post months ago, and since then about a dozen books have popped onto my radar (including The Love That Split The World - seriously, check it out!). I simply will never run out of books.

What books are on your radar this year? Give me recommendations. I may never run out of books, but better safe than sorry :)

What's New?: currently

Four. That's the amount of times I've shown up here on the blog since 2016 began. And to think one of my resolutions was to blog more. Enter the fall back recap post to get back into the swing of things (is that like a currently post? or a recently post?). Also, my girl Kristen is hosting a link-up called "What's New With You?" and I could not not participate. That's just, like, the rules of feminism. (Reference, anyone?)  

What's New With You

++ Reading 

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. Both books that I planned to read in January but got too busy doing other things to get to. So you see, I was being blog-discriminatory.

++ Writing 

While there's always the novel, which admittedly didn't get written for the better half of January, there's also the Huffington Post article that was recently published. !!!!!! Exclamation marks are pretty much the best expression of my feelings at the moment. I mean, it's an older piece and it's technically my second publication on Huffington, but still, you guys, it lives :)

My Second Huffington Post Article Ever!

++ Creating

A planner of my very own. The reason the writing and the reading and the blogging was in such short supply this month -- I made my own planner. *insert nervous, excited emoji here* Late last year, I looked around for a new planner to start of 2016 in at least some sort of organized fashion. But nothing seemed, I don't know, right? So I began toying with the idea of crafting my own, and well, it was all downhill (or uphill, depending on how you look at it) from there. I hope to write an entire post about it soon, not that my track record instills much confidence.

++ Loving

The Magicians on the Syfy Network. I had never even heard of the book/show before my boyfriend said "hey, you should watch this." Well, I did, and damn it, I'm obsessed. For those who may not know, it's based on the novel series The Magicians by Levi Grossman, and it's touted as the "adult Harry Potter." I'm not sure about all that, but it's got magic and the coolest special effects and is basically "what if Hogwarts were a real thing and Potterheads got the chance to go to the school they've been reading about and loving forever?" And the only acceptable answer is, "of course, sign me up! my arm? here, have it!" 

++ Celebrating 

Nothing. But it's one of those things I'm trying to do more of this year. Celebrating the typically acknowledged things and celebrating the small. mundane things too. There is the boyfriend's birthday coming up on February 12th though, so there's that. 

++ Wishing

For a little more winter. I know, call me crazy, but it's weird as hell just skipping over winter like this. I'm not asking for inches of snow or Game of Thrones level winter, but I like crisp weather and bundling up, and I'm just not ready to sweat on the way to the corner store again, okay?

++ Listening To

HALSEY!! What the fuck even, how am I just now getting hip to her music, who knew about this brilliance and didn't tell me? On a whim sometime in December, I thought some new music would help me through a block of writing that just wasn't coming, and I put on her album because everyone was talking about it. I wrote 2,000 words that session.  I have not stopped listening since. She's bloody brilliant in every way. I find a new song to love every listen through. Right now, it's...

++Thinking About

The Kardashian mafia taking over everything. These Kimojis are both a terrible and wonderful idea and I might be like 5 seconds away from buying them from the App Store. I want to be in, I want to be down. Everyone is talking about them and I don't know what they are and I hate feeling left out. But like really, Kimojis, Kari who are you even?

What have you been up to recently, currently, whatever? Basically, what's new? :)