7/30 Book Review: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

[Welcome to day 7 of my 30/30 blog event. Catch up on the details.]

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign
Amie Parnes & Jonathan Allen
Non-fiction (contemporary politics)

Summary via publisher

It was never supposed to be this close. And of course she was supposed to win. How Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump is the tragic story of a sure thing gone off the rails. For every Comey revelation or hindsight acknowledgment about the electorate, no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other than the core problem of Hillary’s campaign–the candidate herself.

Through deep access to insiders from the top to the bottom of the campaign, political writers Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes have reconstructed the key decisions and unseized opportunities, the well-intentioned misfires and the hidden thorns that turned a winnable contest into a devastating loss. Drawing on the authors’ deep knowledge of Hillary from their previous book, the acclaimed biography HRC, Shattered will offer an object lesson in how Hillary herself made victory an uphill battle, how her difficulty articulating a vision irreparably hobbled her impact with voters, and how the campaign failed to internalize the lessons of populist fury from the hard-fought primary against Bernie Sanders.

Moving blow-by-blow from the campaign’s difficult birth through the bewildering terror of election night, Shattered tells an unforgettable story with urgent lessons both political and personal, filled with revelations that will change the way readers understand just what happened to America on November 8, 2016.

Do I care about politics?

Not much. They’re contentious and I don’t like talking about them and I don’t usually like dwelling on them. So why would I read this book? Because I think Hillary Clinton is a fascinating person. Because I work in marketing and campaigning is just really extreme marketing. Because it sounded interesting.

I’ve shared articles before that analyze Clinton and how her personality hinders her in the political arena. As a woman whose personality isn’t especially helpful, I sympathize with that. Unfortunately, Shattered doesn’t explore that element of Hillary much as I would like.

What went wrong?

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5/30: NetGalley Reviews

I meant to post this yesterday, but I jumped straight from BookCon into work Monday morning and I was overwhelmed! I’ve posted several shorter reviews for NetGalley books, so here’s a little grouping.

How to Make a French Family
This is a wonderful story of adjusting to change, trying new things, and developing family. The recipes sound delicious and don’t take up too much of the book. If you’re not a food person, you can enjoy the story without missing much at all. The author balances the book perfectly, showing just enough of her family and her feelings to draw you in, but not exposing too much private information or dwelling too long on the hard things. She manages to convey depth of negative feelings with wallowing, which is a pretty remarkable feat for a memoir.

It’s All Absolutely Fine
It’s All Absolutely Fine feels like a great commiseration session with someone who is going through hard things like the hard things in your life. Ruby is honest about her struggles without being Continue reading

1/30 Book Review: And I Darken


(Did you miss the 30/30 announcement?)

And I Darken

Kiersten White

YA Historical Fiction(ish)

Apparently this is a gender-bent Vlad the Impaler retelling. I just grabbed the ebook from my library on a whim and had no idea until after I finished. Although I did wonder about the Dracul family name!

Not having a clue what was going on did not hinder my enjoyment of this tale one bit.

Plot Stuff

Lada is a fierce girl burdened with a sensitive younger brother (Radu) and a father who doesn’t notice her. Follow Lada and Radu through the complex politics of the Ottoman Empire and (equally complex) growing up.

(As I’ve noted before, I don’t like much detail in synopses.)

What I Loved

Complex Characterization

Lada and Radu, in particular, are written with exquisite care. Lada is a fierce and wonderful girl/woman, but White doesn’t neglect softer feelings as well. Lada does care about people in her own way. I’m particularly fond of her response to Radu–she flip flops between despising him and being fiercely protective, just the way most older siblings do. Authors seldom balance their “strong female characters” in a way that I can tolerate, much less admire, so I really, really appreciated Lada. Continue reading

Unpopular book opinion: Excerpts/Previews

Have you noticed the trend recently of authors and publishers releasing excerpts/previews/sneak peaks? They’ll market them as huge news! or a giveaway! or even a pre-order bonus. When I go to book conferences, many authors give them away at their signing tables.

But here’s the thing.

I don’t read excerpts. In fact, I prefer as little preview of a book as possible. That wasn’t always the case. As a kid, I didn’t know a lot about book news, but I obsessively followed the trailers and hype for movies. And eventually I learned that I enjoyed a movie less when I’d seen all the good parts first. The jokes are less funny when you’ve watched clips of them ad infinitum. But in my early years around the book community, I did the same thing. I’d read the synopses and the previews and follow all the pre-release hype. And no joke, I have sitting on my shelf right now 2 books that I pre-ordered last year and still have not read.

I’ve realized that excitement about a release often has more to do with the event than it does the story in the book. When I get caught up in hype, it’s normally about being part of the community–fangirling with other fans, getting likes and retweets from authors, participating in the collective hullabaloo.

Enjoying stories, on the other hand, happens most often when I pick up a book out of curiosity. “Hey, I think I’m in the mood for this.” “Oh, I remember people posting about this. Let’s see what it’s about.” Some of the books I’ve enjoyed most are the ones I didn’t know much about ahead of time.

So I don’t read excerpts or synopses anymore. And I kinda wish publishers would stop making such a big deal out of them. Even if, from a marketing standpoint, I understand why previews are an easy move.

Side note: nonfiction is a different story. I read The Undoing Project 100% because of excerpts released as articles.

What about you? Do you love excerpts and previews?

A Scientific Guide to Paperfury’s Favorite Books

I might have too much time on my hands. Today, giving in to a silly idea I’ve had for awhile now, I trawled through 7 months of Cait/Paperfury‘s Instagram feed to track how many times she featured a Stiefvater or Schwab book. If you follow Cait, you’ve probably wondered about that yourself. It seems like every other post is one of the queens of lyrical darkness.

Now I have the answers for you.

According to a very scientific analysis, Continue reading

Reading Recap: April 2017

2017 Reading Goals | January Recap | March Recap

I am having a great reading year! Feels good to dedicate so much time to my favorite hobby. 🙂

2017 Goals

As a reminder, here are my goals:

  • Total: 150
  • Pages: 60,000
  • 40 non-fiction
  • 10 classics
  • 10 translations
  • 22 books from my TBR list (my current list is at 52, and that’s a pretty limited list)
  • 50 book reviews

Totals Through April

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Reading Recap: March 2017

Well, I missed February’s recap, so we need to catch up a lot. It’s been a good reading year!

As a reminder, here are my goals:

  • Total: 150
  • Pages: 60,000
  • 40 non-fiction
  • 10 classics
  • 10 translations
  • 22 books from my TBR list (my current list is at 52, and that’s a pretty limited list)
  • 50 book reviews

(see this post for more details)

Here are the totals from the end of March: Continue reading

ARC Review: The Takedown

thetakedownThe Takedown by Corrie Wang

Note: advanced copy received from publisher through NetGalley. (I don’t think that influences my review, but it’s fair to know.)


Kyla Cheng is a straight A senior at a fancy school in NYC. She’s one of four popular girls, her applications to the Ivy League schools are nearly ready, the hottest boy at school is her very close “just friend,” and her biggest problem is that her mom doesn’t seem to like her much now. Until a much bigger problem: a viral video of her having sex with a teacher. The video is fake, but Kyla has trouble convincing people of that. The only solution is to find the original file and delete. But Kyla’s hater is completely anonymous.

Initial Thoughts

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Can’t Believe I Met at SEYA Fest

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

SEYAThe Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival has become one of my favorite festivals in just two years. The event is super well-run and the authors have been amazing. Even with 2-3 days of events, they have been (almost) unfailingly friendly, funny, and and really inspiring. I’ve enjoyed meeting all of them, but here are a few stand-outs!

Maggie StiefvaterIMG_0101

There are not words for how cool Maggie Stiefvater is. She has rockstar style, writes swoon-worthy words, creates haunting music, raises a farm, and fixes/drives/decorates growlly cars. I was in complete shock about getting to meet her at the inaugural SEYA Fest. (I almost cried. But I didn’t. I did fangirl a lot.) She was hilarious and insightful and amazing.

Lauren Oliver

I read Before I Fall in high school, long before it became a huge movie, so meeting Lauren Oliver was a very cool feeling. She intro’d Replica at a panel and I just Continue reading