Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game (CBR11 #24)

Image result for wolfpack abby wambach

One of the weird things about me is that I *enjoy* attending graduation ceremonies. I can understand why others don’t like attending them – they can be very long and require us to sit in uncomfortable locations but there’s something about watching people I love accomplish something and be recognized for it that makes my heart happy. Because I’m a human full of contradictions I hated attending my own graduations. All of them were pure torture.

One of the quintessential parts of graduations is the commencement addresses. I’ve read one before but I wasn’t expecting to read another. Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game isn’t itself an address, but it is based on her inspiring viral 2018 commencement speech to Barnard College’s graduates. It was a unique audience for Wambach to address – Barnard is a women’s college. Wambach chose to focus her speech to these fellow women around one important point:  we are not the little red riding hoods of fairy tales, we are wolves who must be present to keep the environment balanced.

Wambach lays out in this short work her eight-point plan, her rules, for empowering women and engaging in team behavior (don’t fall for being the token at the table, don’t fall for the false competition we are put into with each other). Each point is couched in a story from Wambach’s life and experience on and off the soccer field. The rules are simple and forward facing, and the entire tone is positive and inspiring, and easy to start incorporating into daily practice.

  • Create your own path
  • Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.
  • Lead now–from wherever you are.
  • Failure means you’re finally IN the game.
  • Be FOR each other.
  • Believe in yourself. Demand the ball.
  • Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.
  • You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.

Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You (CBR11 #13)

Those of you who have been reading my reviews for the past several years know that I have both depression and anxiety, and while I’m taking meds and seeing a therapist it doesn’t always mean that I’m necessarily feeling well. Often, I feel like shit. Like many, many people I use certain rituals to keep my head on straight and one of them when I’m feeling poorly is to go see what Lin-Manuel Miranda had tweeted for his Gmorning/Gnight tweets of the day. Other times I came across them in the wild, lurking in my feed waiting to pick me up, putting a little pep in my step, a little reassurance from my pocket that I was not alone in this big scary thing called life.

When it was announced last year that Miranda and Sun had teamed up to produce a curated collection of the “best” pairs from the past several years (seriously, he’s been tweeting these since at least 2014) I knew I needed to get my hands on it. Then, as life goes, I let it slip my mind vaguely knowing that there was an escape valve of Miranda’s Gmorning/Gnight tweets waiting for me when I needed them.

Well, I needed them.

NTE’s review was perfectly timed for me. Ah, yes, this is what I need right now.

It might feel simplistic, what can possible be conveyed in 140 (or 280) characters that is going to matter this much to people, to me? So much. Miranda writes these for himself as much as for those of us who read them (and Sun does a commendable job catching their essence in his illustrations) and they are little nuggets waiting to reassure, inspire, uplift, and keep you from feeling alone and defeated.

This one is my favorite, the one that makes me cry spontaneously every time:


99 Percent Mine (CBR11 #10)

99 Percent MineFirst, as someone who suggested The Hating Game to literally anyone requesting a romance recommendation in the past two and a half years I feel the need to send an apology out into the universe for Sally Thorne – I never wanted you to feel so much pressure for your next book. That being said, I’m so glad you were able to work through it and produce this, your sophomore outing. It is very worth the reader’s time and another example of the kind of contemporary romance I’m happy to read and extol its virtues.

99 Percent Mine is a friends to lovers romance. Darcy Barrett has travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him as his best friend at age 8. When Darcy and Jamie inherit their grandmother’s tumble-down cottage they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy has no intention of staying to see the project through, she’s working at the local biker bar to make enough money to finance her next trip overseas and away from her family, troubles, and her desire for Tom who remains off-limits – this time due to an engagement ring on another woman’s ring finger. But when Tom shows up to lead the renovation (and with her passport MIA) Darcy’s sticking around.

It may not be apparent from the plot summary, but this is a romance with some built in high stakes. Darcy has a heart condition that she hasn’t been taking care of and it informs her past with her brother and Tom as well as her present. Thorne writes frankly about navigating life with a chronic illness. The other high stakes item is Tom’s personal history that has led him to feeling the need to be perfect at all times to be accepted, to be good enough. Darcy is also struggling with some career issues, feeling as though she peaked at 20 when she won a photography prize and has since shuttered her wedding photography business after a truly terrible wedding shoot. She is carrying around a lingering sense of failure and having to settle for ‘good enough’ in her late 20s. These are themes that resonated for me.

Thorne delivers on characters with real weight and fleshed out backstory. It is also a similarly limited cast of characters, with the grand majority of the narrative taking place with just two characters, although this book does bring in a more side characters who are important to the plot moving forward as well as filling in character details for our main pair. This one isn’t quite The Hating Game, but it is still really quite good, AND FUNNY, even if the last chapter or two felt a little tonally off (but I am a fan of the epilogues!).

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read where we read what we want, review it how we see fit (within a few guidelines), and raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Completed 2018 Read Harder Challenge

My Read Harder Challenge 2018 is complete with 24 hours to spare. I appreciate that these 24 tasks push me to consider what I am reading, and give me a way to prioritize my choices. Below are all the books which I have read as of December 30, 2018 in attainment of these various goals.

I haven’t decided if I will continue with Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge in 2019. I know that I will be working towards Reading Women’s 2019 Challenge though. We’ll have to see what the new year brings.

Station Eleven (CBR10 #58)


I apologize now, this review will not really be a review. It is more a love letter to the community at Cannonball Read.

Of the ten books we had to choose from for the So Popular bingo square, I had read most, but not all. The ones I haven’t read I don’t care to (looking at you, Divergent) so I was thinking about re-reading Eleanor & Park to go with last year’s re-read of Attachments or maybe The Martian to see if I still had a book crush on Mark Watney. I wrote up my #cbr10bingo list with a couple options and went about scheduling the books that were already on my to read list for the year.

But then I realized that what I really wanted to do was revisit the book that led to our having Cannon Book Club in the first place. MsWas had floated the idea at the end of 2014 about possibly having a book club. When I read Station Eleven the first time I knew that this was a book that needed a book club experience, and I loved it enough to step a little bit further out of my comfort zone (I had just organized my first book exchange for the site, even though we’d had one the previous year) and volunteer to do it. This book grew me as a person in ways I would never have expected when I picked it up at the end of January 2015.

The stories in Station Eleven ask you to think big thoughts: what can you do? What do you do if you know you have a matter of hours left to live? How do you survive? What mark can you leave behind? Do you even get to choose? What are the benefits of remembering? Of forgetting? While I was reading this time I knew what was coming, so I wasn’t as caught out by Mandel’s ability to distract me and send the reader flying in different directions or timelines than anticipated, but her style and mechanics still held together a finely drawn world which is eerie, unsettling, and full of tension waiting to be released. There were moments so exquisitely written, nuance settled deeply into the pages, that it in some ways felt like coming home.

I still love this book, and I love the togetherness it helped inspire. I look forward wholeheartedly to our FIFTH year of book club next year where we’re planning to tackle Good Omens and who knows what else. My most heartfelt thanks to all the people who make Book Club and Cannonball Read possible, I am so very lucky to have all of you in my life.



The Lawrence Brown Affair (CBR10 #19)

Image result for the lawrence browne affair

The Lawrence Browne Affair is the second in a series by Cat Sebastian. Like The Soldier’s Scoundrel, it is a historical m/m romance set in Regency England. This time around we’re following Georgie Turner, brother of Jack from The Soldier’s Scoundrel, as he is on the run from his underworld boss after having double crossed him. Jack sets him up with a job in the country as the titular Lawrence Browne’s secretary.

Georgie however finds himself a little over his head. He’s planning to hide out for a while, take something of value from the Earl, and be on his way. What he discovers is that the Earl isn’t as mad as he might appear on first glance, the neighborhood is full of eccentric characters, and a truly fascinating scientific endeavor underway. Georgie can’t help but accurately play the role of secretary, organizing the Earl’s correspondence and getting ever more involved in the research. Georgie is also ever more interested in the Earl himself.  Lawrence is, for his part, highly interested in Georgie – but also convinced that it is just one more symptom of his oncoming madness.

Things get complicated as life shows up (including Lawrence’s son – like I said: complicated), and a deep connection is built and nurtured between Lawrence and Georgie. I continue to really like how Cat Sebastian builds her stories: they are steamy, upbeat historical romances where the worlds of each character are brought to light and the characters help heal or fill in the weaknesses in their partners.

Things get much more dramatic before a final resolution, but as a return to reading after a slump this book was perfect. I laughed, I cried, I was entertained. What more can we ask for from a trip to Romancelandia?


This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read where we read what we want, review it how we see fit (within a few guidelines), and raise money in the name of a fallen friend for the American Cancer Society.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (CBR10 #9)

I’m not really in a hurry so much as I am overscheduled. I am also the lone non-science person in my family. I love science, but my brain doesn’t always hold onto the salient details of science. Say, for example, the difference between astrophysics and cosmology (Astrophysics is a sub-branch of astronomy to deal with physics of celestial objects and phenomena. Cosmology talks about universe as a whole which includes origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.). But, I really like Neil deGrasse Tyson’s conversational style and my brother just came to visit for a week and he made his third pilgrimage to the Hayden Planetarium so I felt inspired to bump this audio book up the to read list when he left.

billy colleen amnh

My Siblings at the Museum. Notice the shirt. 

I think the best encapsulation of this book I could offer you is that it is basically one super extended planetarium show, or a long form podcast, or a sober Drunk History marathon.

Not enough information? Okay. In fourteen chapters Tyson talks the reader through the basics of his field and its related sciences. You get a taste of how the universe formed, what it is made of, and the near constant search to quantify and understand just what the heck is going on out there beyond our atmosphere. But also within it because we’re all star stuff. Some of this I already knew, because I am related to several space science geeks. Some of it was new to me, the biggest being that sometime in the future the observable universe won’t be observable anymore and it is up to scientists now to figure out how to leave an appropriate record of what they are seeing/have found for the future generations. My museum heart felt their pain.

This is a perfectly pleasant way to spend just shy of four hours, so pick it up if you feel like it, but don’t expect anything earth shattering.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read where we read what we want, review it how we see fit (with a few guidelines), and raise money in the name of a fallen friend for the American Cancer Society.