Latest Reviews


Book Review: Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

year-of-yesTitle: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person
Author: Shonda Rhimes
ISBN: 9781476777092
Pages: 336
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher


In this untraditional memoir, Shonda Rhimes discusses her amazing success, shattering the glass ceiling for women of color on TV, and how she realized that, despite “having at all,” she still wasn’t happy. That led Rhimes to her “year of yes,” where she was determined to say yes to the things that scared her most and to figure out how to live her best life.


When it comes to celebrity memoirs, it’s not juicy tell-alls that attract me. Instead, it’s the melding of memoir and advice, of seeing how these people who are supposed to have it all try to live the best lives they can. That’s why Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes intrigued me so much. Diversity is a thing I talk about every day, until I’m blue in the face it feels like, and here’s a woman who is actively making a difference in that regard on our television screens every Thursday night. I wanted to hear about what she had to say, about what scares her, and about what she wanted out of her own life.

And this woman. Oh, this woman. I felt as if Rhimes was speaking directly to me while I was reading Year of Yes. Let’s start with the premise of the book: In December 2014, Rhimes had everything, but she still wasn’t happy. She’s an introvert at heart, and had found a way to hide behind her work. She decided that, for one year, she would say yes to the things that scared her most—namely being the center of attention and agreeing to have the spotlight on her—and she found it changed her in so many ways. Having gone through my own “year of yes,” where I forced myself to say yes to things I’d normally decline because I like being at home by myself, this resonated with me so much.

Rhimes also talks a lot about being a woman who has it all in Year of Yes and is honest about her self-doubt and how she gets thing done. Bottom line—she has a lot of help. Help from family, yes, but also paid help. She’s not shy about it and doesn’t pretend like she’s able to do everything effortlessly. It’s hard work that’s gotten her to where she is, and it’s great to see Rhimes talk honestly about these issues and about motherhood.

Rhimes also frankly discusses diversity in Year of Yes. She doesn’t bother to discuss why it’s necessary in television—that much should be abundantly clear. What she does talk about is frustrations and difficulties when it comes to representing all black women, of the fear of failure and how if Scandal had failed, it would be difficult to get another show with a black female lead on TV for years to come. It’s frank, it’s refreshing, it’s honest.

And honest is the best word to describe this book. Rhimes doesn’t beat around the bush, she doesn’t mince words; she has things to say, and she discusses them so well in this memoir. This is by no means a tell-all or a gossipy look into Rhimes’ life. What it is is a provocative self-reflective book that will make you think as much about yourself as it does Rhimes’ own life. It’s amazing how relatable Rhimes is, but any introvert book lover who’s interested in self-improvement should absolutely pick this up.

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Book Review: The Bollywood Bride – Sonali Dev

bollywood-brideTitle: The Bollywood Bride
Author: Sonali Dev
ISBN: 9781617730153
Pages: 352
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Romance, Cultural (South Asian)
Source: Publisher


Ria Parker’s nickname in Bollywood is the Ice Princess—she’s cultivated her reputation as an untouchable, emotionless actress very carefully, as she doesn’t want to let anyone see what’s underneath the surface. The truth is, she’s never forgotten the boy she left behind, Vikram, despite her efforts to move forward. But when Ria’s forced to return home for a family wedding, will all her secrets be revealed as she has to face Vikram again?


I loved Sonali Dev’s debut romance novel A Bollywood Affair, and it’s been with eager anticipation that I’ve been awaiting The Bollywood Bride. Romance isn’t a genre I read often, but I’ve been expanding my reading horizons more and more, and I’m a sucker for a good South Asian story. Dev did not disappoint with her second novel, making me appreciate her keen writing style and excellent characterization.

Ria is a great character in The Bollywood Bride. She seems like she has everything: wealth, fame, respect. But it doesn’t take long for the cracks to begin showing. She’s an actress everyone loves to hate, and her emotional health is questionable. She’s made a lot of sacrifices to get where she is, and not all of them were willing sacrifices on her part. Dev crafts a very deep character with Ria, and it’s interesting to watch her peel back the layers and become exposed and raw.

The reader knows that Ria left Vikram behind at the beginning of The Bollywood Bride, but the circumstances surrounding that, and indeed Vikram himself, are a mystery at the beginning of the novel. Dev keeps her book moving at a quick pace, and the reader is hooked, hoping to uncover what happened and that Ria finds the happy ending she so desperately needs. This is a novel that’s easily read in one sitting; in fact, I challenge you to not do so, to slow down and savor it. It’s a difficult thing because the novel pulls you in so completely.

I am really enjoying the small surge in inclusive genre fiction; too often the only choice for any sort of South Asian reading is literary fiction, which is usually on sad, heavy subjects. I’m a big fan of Sonali Dev’s and love her romance novels; I already can’t wait to read her next book.

Other books by Sonali Dev:

A Bollywood Affair

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Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger – Rae Carson

walk-on-earth-a-strangerTitle: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
ISBN: 9780062242914
Pages: 448
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Teen/YA
Source: Review Copy


Leah is a 15-year-old living in Georgia in the 1800s, and though the gold rush is coming to an end, Leah’s unique ability means that she has an advantage over others looking for gold: She can sense when gold is near. Her family makes every effort to keep her ability under wraps, but when tragedy strikes, and Leah is faced with being used as a pawn in her uncle’s schemes, she chooses instead to disguise herself as a boy and make her way to California, to build a new life for herself.


I absolutely loved Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy; it was unique and incredibly written, with vivid world building, gripping storytelling, and an unconventionally wonderful main character. I knew I’d follow wherever Carson led, even if it was into a time period I’m not very interested in reading about. I trusted Carson’s ability as a storyteller, and I’m so glad I did: I was impressed and intrigued by Walk on Earth a Stranger at every turn.

Leah is a strong main character in Walk on Earth a Stranger; she is used to relying on herself and is fiercely independent, yet she also shows a vulnerability that is rare in main characters in YA novels. It’s so difficult to write a strong, confident character who still exhibits self-doubt and vulnerability, yet Carson excels at doing so. She’s a character you’ll root for, one who is insanely capable and deserves the chance to determine her own fate.

Carson does an excellent job discussing the dangers inherent in a cross-country trip in Walk on Earth a Stranger. Leah faces many challenges on her journey, not the least of which is keeping her identity under wraps. Despite the fact this is our world, and not a fantasy one like in Carson’s previous trilogy, there is still a lot of world building to be done, a huge and elaborate stage to be set. The details are vivid and the reader really gets a sense of what it must have been like to experience this sort of journey during the early 1800s.

If you haven’t read Rae Carson’s novels yet, Walk on Earth a Stranger is the first in a trilogy (though it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger—it stands as its own story) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re a person who waits until all installments are out before reading a series, though (and I can’t blame you there), then you should absolutely pick up her previous, completed trilogy. Either way, Carson is a novelist you should keep an eye out for; I certainly will pick up and devour anything she writes.

Other books by Rae Carson:

The Bitter Kingdom
The Crown of Embers

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Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

life-changing-magicTitle: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
ISBN: 9781607747307
Pages: 224
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Source: Personal Copy


A tidy house is a happy house. True? Marie Kondo believes so. Kondo is an expert on tidying, a woman with a months-long waiting list. People hire her in order to bring order to their lives, and in this book, she shares her wisdom to advise people on how to tidy and declutter, and how that can have repercussions throughout your life.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a somewhat controversial book. Why? Because Kondo’s approach to tidying is different than anything else you’ve probably ever read. She posits that the reason we all have so much stuff, the reasons our closets are crammed full and our drawers are overflowing, is that we’ve never actually been taught to tidy properly. Kondo has her own system of tidying based on one crucial value: joy. How do you feel when you hold a thing? If the feeling you have isn’t unvarnished joy, then it’s got to go.

Kondo isn’t talking about cleaning supplies (though she doesn’t think we need Costco-sized packs of toilet paper lying around). She’s talking about our clothes, shoes, books, purses, scarves, jewelry—those things that we keep around because they looked good in the store, even if we don’t like them as much at home, or that thing that we’re leaving in our closet for that one time we might need it. There were definitely times I was shaking my head at Kondo’s philosophy. She maintains you have to commit wholeheartedly to what she says to find true joy. I’m not sure I can go that far (my precious books!), but as a person who has been trying to get rid of things and be in a constant state of culling the past few years, I certainly wanted to take what she had to say to heart.

Even if you don’t agree with everything Kondo says, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a book that will make you think about your relationship to the things around you. Because, like it or not, you do have a relationship with the objects you own. It makes sense that the relationship should be a positive one; you should feel joy at seeing the things you own. One of the major takeaways I had from this book was that if a piece of clothing doesn’t bring you joy, you should get rid of it. No matter how much you spent, no matter if it’s new or old. If you spent a lot of money bringing an expensive dress home, and it turns out you’re never going to wear it because it doesn’t fit right (and you can’t return it), it’s time to get rid of it. The dress did its job by making you happy when you bought it; there’s no reason to keep it around now. While I don’t want this method of thinking to encourage my own consumerism, I do like it for letting go of things I feel like I “should” keep, for whatever reason.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a quick read, and if you’re a person who enjoys thinking about the best life you can lead (something I have found more and more intriguing as I get older), it’s worth it. You might not like or agree with everything Kondo has to say, but it’s worth taking the time to listen and think about whether you can apply principles from what she says to your own life. Because, like it or not, I know I have too much stuff and the clutter is driving me slightly mad!

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Book Review: The Drafter – Kim Harrison


Title: The Drafter Author: Kim Harrison ISBN: 9781501108693 Pages: 432 Release Date: September 1, 2015 Publisher: Gallery Books Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Publisher Summary: Peri Reed is a drafter, which means she has the rare ability to travel back in time in order to change events. The only catch is that, when she drafts, she can’t […]

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Book Review: Nightfall – Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski


Title: Nightfall Author: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski ISBN: 9780399175800 Pages: 368 Release Date: September 22, 2015 Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Genre: Teen/YA, Fantasy Source: Publisher Summary: On the island, Marin has never experienced night. But now the dark is coming, as it does every twenty-eight years, and it will remain dark […]

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Book Review: Murder, DC – Neely Tucker


Title: Murder, DC Author: Neely Tucker ISBN: 9780670016594 Pages: 304 Release Date: June 30, 2015 Publisher: Viking Genre: Crime Fiction Source: Publisher Summary Billy Ellison, the son of one of the most prominent black families in Washington, DC, has been found dead, and the location of the body? It’s a park with a bloody history, to […]

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Book Review: Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County – Kristen Green


Title: Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County: A Family, A Virginia Town, A Civil Rights Struggle Author: Kristen Green ISBN: 9780062268679 Pages: 336 Release Date: June 9, 2015 Publisher: Harper Genre: Nonfiction, History Source: Publisher Summary: Kristen Green was born and raised in Farmville, Virginia, and for a long time, she didn’t give a lot of thought […]

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