Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

year-of-yesYear of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I bought Year of Yes without having any idea who the author was. I think I had it mixed up with some other book, because I was quite surprised to discover when listening to it that Rhimes is really really famous and the creator behind many hit TV shows.

Oh. Well, clearly I am not the person to turn to when you play trivia games about Pop Culture.

I’m actually glad I had no idea who she was. Sound crazy? If I had known her name, I’m sure I’d have passed on the book thinking it was just another celebrity memoir. Celebrity memoirs = not my thing.

And it turns out I really liked this celebrity memoir that isn’t exactly a celebrity memoir like was imagining. Rhimes is funny and warm and a bit inspiring (what should I say yes to that I’ve been avoiding out of fear?)

If you are a fan of her shows, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t love this – there’s little bits about them and the characters, and most of it was lost on me. I’m sure there was more I didn’t even catch because of not knowing them. I still liked the book.

The audio was great as well – she did a nice job of narrating it and I think listening to it increased my overall enjoyment of the book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The megatalented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder chronicles how saying yes for one year changed her life – and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the ubertalented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side benefit of saying no for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: Just for one year, try to say yes to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed – and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life – and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Little by Little
Four years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 25} A Homemade Life

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (and a linkup)

Cuckoo's CallingThe Cuckoo’s CallingThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J. K. Rowling by Robert Galbraith

While I found this mystery just a tiny bit slow to start, once I got pulled into the story, I was hooked. Galbraith (a.k.a. J. K. Rowling) is excellent at creating compelling characters, and I fell hard for Cormoran Strike and especially Robin.

The plot was fairly weak, but I didn’t mind that much as I enjoyed the characters so much. The ending was the worst part – somewhat contrived and confusing and yet I ended the book and immediately put #2 on hold from the library. I forgive a book a lot when I care about the personalities in it.

I know of at least one person who was unable to finish this book because she couldn’t get past it not being more like Harry Potter. If you think that would be an issue for you, I’d say pretend you don’t know that it’s Rowling writing under an pseudonym, and read this on its own merits only. It’s a solid start to a mystery series, and I’m eagerly anticipating reading more.

No, it’s not perfect, but it was a very satisfying read. There is a fair amount of language in it, so if that’s a concern to you consider yourself warned. Recommended for mystery fans.


Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey on August 1st.


If you’ve written a post about The Cuckoo’s Calling, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

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32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

32 Yolks32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers

My general dislike of celebrity memoirs runs into my love for food memoirs: which wins?

In the case of Eric Ripert’s new book, the food memoir trumps the celebrity angle: I enjoyed this quite a bit. It probably helps that he had a solid coauthor, Veronica Chambers, crafting the account.

I’m really only familiar with Ripert from his appearances as a guest judge on Top Chef, and the book stops long before his first TV appearance, so virtually everything in it was new information to me. (And by virtually everything I mean I knew that he was French.)

The writing is smooth and his story compelling – I finished the book in two days because I kept wanting to know just a little bit more. It feels like you’re listening in as he’s telling stories from his childhood, and even when they’re difficult stories, you can’t help but want more.

His love of food shines through the pages. This book isn’t a food memoir as that term is so often used (as in, a memoir interspersed with recipes; there are no recipes in this book), but it’s a food memoir in that it traces the impact food has had on his life. It made me wish I could try some of the things he described, and it made me so grateful that I’ve never experienced anything of the sort of on-the-job training that elite chefs go through.

My only complaints with the book are that it still felt a little distant – maybe it was because of the coauthor writing his story, but it didn’t feel as personal as a truly great memoir does. In addition, it was very disappointing that the book ended just as he came to America – I am so curious what happened after that! Hopefully that’s just because it’s the setup for a second memoir to come in the future.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In an industry where celebrity chefs are known as much for their salty talk and quick tempers as their food, Eric Ripert stands out. The winner of four James Beard Awards, co-owner and chef of a world-renowned restaurant, and recipient of countless Michelin stars, Ripert embodies elegance and culinary perfection. But before the accolades, before he even knew how to make a proper hollandaise sauce, Eric Ripert was a lonely young boy in the south of France whose life was falling apart.

Ripert’s parents divorced when he was six, separating him from the father he idolized and replacing him with a cold, bullying stepfather who insisted that Ripert be sent away to boarding school. A few years later, Ripert’s father died on a hiking trip. Through these tough times, the one thing that gave Ripert comfort was food. Told that boys had no place in the kitchen, Ripert would instead watch from the doorway as his mother rolled couscous by hand or his grandmother pressed out the buttery dough for the treat he loved above all others, tarte aux pommes. When an eccentric local chef took him under his wing, an eleven-year-old Ripert realized that food was more than just an escape: It was his calling. That passion would carry him through the drudgery of culinary school and into the high-pressure world of Paris’s most elite restaurants, where Ripert discovered that learning to cook was the easy part—surviving the line was the battle.

Taking us from Eric Ripert’s childhood in the south of France and the mountains of Andorra into the demanding kitchens of such legendary Parisian chefs as Joël Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet, until, at the age of twenty-four, Ripert made his way to the United States, 32 Yolks is the tender and richly told story of how one of our greatest living chefs found himself—and his home—in the kitchen.

Book Details

Title: 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line
Author: Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Teaching from RestTeaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie

I wasn’t sure how I’d like this book – I kept hearing good things about it, but I’ve read Mackenzie’s blog before and have never cared for it that much (it’s beautiful, but I always end up wanting more from her posts). However, I am so glad that I gave the book a chance anyway – it was *so* encouraging and inspiring.

I don’t actually buy that many books for myself, instead relying on the library for the majority of my reading. This is a book that I borrowed but now want to own my own copy, so I can reread it regularly. It’s that encouraging.

It’s not a homeschooling treatise, or guide to curriculum. I actually disagree with her educational philosophy in some ways (I am not a Charlotte Mason devotee, and am nowhere near as laid-back about things as Mackenzie seems to be), but her focus on rest was very helpful.

The book is heavily faith-based, and includes numerous quotes from Catholic saints. If that’s an issue for you you likely would not appreciate the book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Those who have made the decision to homeschool their children have done so out of great love for their children and a desire to provide them an excellent education in the context of a warm, enriching home. Yet so many parents (mainly mothers) who have taken up this challenge find the enterprise often full of stress, worry, and anxiety. In this practical, faith-based, and inspirational book, Sarah Mackenzie addresses these questions directly, appealing to her own study of restful learning (scholé) and her struggle to bring restful learning to her children.

Book Details

Title: Teaching from Rest
Author: Sarah Mackenzie
Category: Nonfiction / Education
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

A Town Like AliceA Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

The sum of this book is greater than its parts: it shouldn’t be a 4-star read for me, considering several weaknesses that would normally drop it to a 3-star rating at best. But my overall feelings for the book remain higher, so 4 stars it is.

The framework is clunky at times – the attorney narrating the story, with more details and insight than seems likely. The second half of the book should have been tedious, with the specifics of starting businesses and developing the town. It could have been a sappy, unbelievable romance. Instead it’s a sweet story of survival, resilience, hard work, devotion, and love.

A heads-up that the language reflects when it was written, and there are some racist and sexist terms used (and attitudes shown). It’s jarring at times, but assuming you can overlook that, I’d recommend the book anyway.

If you do read it, be sure and read the end pages – Shute based Jean’s trek around Malaysia on actual events, although he changed the country. I’m glad he gave those amazing women some attention by using their story as part of his novel.

It’s been available on Kindle for $2.99 for months now, so I’m guessing that’s the regular price. I bought it for myself and think it’s definitely worth grabbing for that great deal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Nevil Shute’s most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. Jean’s travels leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

Book Details

Title: A Town Like Alice
Author: Nevil Shute
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Recent Readaloud: Owls in the Family

Owls in the FamilyOwls in the Family by Farley Mowat

One of G’s school books, and I’ve heard about this title before, but had never read it. I’m so glad it was included in the curriculum, because it was such a enjoyable read, and worked really well as a readaloud!

Listeners who are sensitive may be troubled by some scenes, and it is a bit dated (it was published originally in 1961), but my 4 & 6 year olds had no trouble with it.

My verdict:

Charming story about a boy who has two owls as pets. I was sad to reach the end of it, and have looked for additional titles by Mowat.

The kids’ verdict:
They both really enjoyed it. I think both kids were intrigued (and a bit jealous) of the freedom the boys in the story had.

Publisher’s Description:
Farley Mowat’s funniest book tells the adventures of Wol and Weeps, two owls from Saskatchewan who shape up a whole neighbourhood, turn a house topsy-turvy, and outsmart Mutt, the dog hero of The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be. Wol brings dead skunks to the family dinner table and terrorizes the minister, the postman, and the French teacher. Weeps is a comical bird, afraid of everything except Mutt, and he never does learn how to fly. Here is the heartwarming story of how a boy named Billy finds Wol and Weeps and unwittingly adds two new members to the family.

Book Details

Title: Owls in the Family
Author: Farley Mowat
Category: Children’s Nonfiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Lady and the Panda

Station Eleven (and a linkup!)

Station ElevenI am a post-apocalyptic wimp. I had to force myself to get through Emily St. John Mandel’s Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and it’s not because the book is poorly written. Her writing is beautiful, and the story compelling. Too compelling for me, as I get anxious when reading about civilization collapsing and find myself wanting to go stockpile food and learn about survival techniques.

I did better with the book once the storyline moved past the immediate the-world-is-imploding moments and it was either clearly before the collapse or after. Something about the time right as it’s happening gets to me. 😉

Fortunately for everyone in the Facebook group who wanted to discuss the book, they didn’t have to wait on me to finish it (I was so late with this one), as there was a guest facilitator. And the discussions were wonderful – lots of interesting perspectives on the book, and post-apocalyptic literature in general.

It’s hard to give a rating to this sort of book. It’s a 5-star read in many ways – the writing, the characters, how thought-provoking it is. And yet because it’s so hard for me to read this genre it feels wrong in some ways for me to give it a 5 star rating. Those are reserved for the books I LOVE, so even though I can acknowledge that it’s a fabulous book, I think I have to only give it 4 stars.

So, go! Read this book, unless you’re a goofball like me who then feels the need to start hoarding all the survival items I can think of. And even then, you might still read it because it is a great book, and I just have issues.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on Empire of the Summer MoonEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne on May 9th – I’m starting it a week later because it’s a slower read (and I need time to finish). There will be a linkup for posts relating to the book on May 31st.


If you’ve written a post about Station Eleven, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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The Black Count by Tom Reiss (with linkup)

The Black Count The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte CristoThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss by Tom Reiss

This month’s book club pick, and I’m really happy that I selected it – it coordinated so well with The Count of Monte Cristo, and added a lot to my appreciation of Dumas’ classic novel.

While I really enjoyed Reiss’ book, it’s not one that I’d recommend to just anyone. Despite being promoted that way, it’s not a true biography, as the available source material for Dumas’ live simply wasn’t there to support that. Instead Reiss has written a history, focusing on one individual and how his experiences were impacted by the world around him.

Dumas lived in a time and place where there were a *lot* of significant historical events to impact his life, so there is a *lot* of history in the book – looking at slavery in what is now Haiti and other French possessions as well as America and the British Empire, the sugar industry, the French Revolution and Republic, Napoleon, his ill-fated Egyptian excursion…

I’m a huge history fan, so I loved (almost) all of it. I got slightly bogged down in some of the military details, such as Dumas’ victory in the Alps and a significant battle in northern Italy. It made such an impression on me I can’t even remember the city, but those issues say more about my lack of interest in military history than Reiss’ writing skill.

If you’re a fan of The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers, I think you’ll enjoy this book, for the details about what aspects of those novels were inspired by the general’s life. If you’re not generally a fan of nonfiction, or of history or biography (or biographical history), I don’t think this is the book that will persuade you otherwise, and I’d recommend you skip it.


If you’ve written a post about The Black Count, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on The Chosen March 1st. There will be a linkup for posts relating to that book on March 30th.


Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New On Your Stack (vol. 1)

The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren

The Boy Who Became Buffalo BillThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren by Andrea Warren

An excellent biography for children and younger teens. It doesn’t have the depth I’d want to recommend it as a full biography for adults, but for the target audience it’s well-written and engaging. Warren does an impressive job of sifting through the embellishments of Cody’s life, and of detailing some of the tragedies of his childhood in a way that still keeps it readable by younger children.

I especially enjoyed it because of having recently read Eiffel’s Tower, which included a little bit about Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show as it appeared at the Paris World’s Fair. After reading in that book about what a showman he was, and how much his shows delighted Paris (and much of the rest of Europe, before and after the World’s Fair), it was enlightening to read about how he became that man.

While I don’t think it’s a must-read as an adult, it was still one that adults can appreciate. I’d be careful before handing it over to younger elementary students but upper elementary and older should be fine with it (although, as always, know your readers and their sensitivity levels. There are some harsh moments in the book.)

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The greatest entertainer of his era, Buffalo Bill was the founder and star of the legendary show that featured cowboys, Indians, trick riding, and sharpshooters.

But long before stardom, Buffalo Bill—born Billy Cody—had to grow up fast. While homesteading in Kansas just before the Civil War, his family was caught up in the conflict with neighboring Missouri over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state.

To support his family after a pro-slaver killed his father, Billy—then eleven—herded cattle, worked on wagon trains, and rode the Pony Express. As the violence in Bleeding Kansas escalated, he joined the infamous Jayhawkers, seeking revenge on Missouri­ans, and then became a soldier, scout, and spy in the Civil War—all by age seventeen.

Award-winning author Andrea Warren brings to life the compelling childhood of an adventurous, determined boy who transformed himself into a true American icon.

Book Details

Title: The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren
Author: Andrea Warren
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction / Biography
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books Read in 2014 – the Compiled List

Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

Out of SortsOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey by Sarah Bessey

Bessey’s first book, Jesus Feminist, was one of my most disappointing reads last year. It wasn’t the book I expected it to be, and that aggravation and disappointment made me unable to fully appreciate the book that it was.

Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts, had no such issues for me. I expected it to be a faith memoir, and that’s precisely what it is. This time I enjoyed the personal angle she brought to the discussion of faith and religion.

If you liked Jesus Feminist, you’re almost certain to enjoy this one. And even if you didn’t care for Jesus Feminist, Out of Sorts is a stronger, more cohesive account, that takes her story, and makes more universal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey—award-winning blogger and author of Jesus Feminist, which was hailed as “lucid, compelling, and beautifully written” (Frank Viola, author of God’s Favorite Place on Earth)—helps us grapple with core Christian issues using a mixture of beautiful storytelling and biblical teaching, a style well described as “narrative theology.”

As she candidly shares her wrestlings with core issues—such as who Jesus is, what place the Church has in our lives, how to disagree yet remain within a community, and how to love the Bible for what it is rather than what we want it to be—she teaches us how to walk courageously through our own tough questions.

In the process of gently helping us sort things out, Bessey teaches us how to be as comfortable with uncertainty as we are with solid answers. And as we learn to hold questions in one hand and answers in the other, we discover new depths of faith that will remain secure even through the storms of life.

Book Details

Title: Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey
Author: Sarah Bessey
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir / Faith
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher