Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy


I really loved these two books!

Without revealing too much, Shanghai Girls is about two sisters who are forced into arranged marriages as repayment for their father’s debt. They escape China at the beginning of the Japanese invasion, survive months on Ellis Island in an immigration facility, and later start their new lives in the United States. There’s so much more depth to the stories (but no spoilers).

Dreams of Joy is the sequel to Shanghai Girls. Joy, the daughter whom was given everything the family did not have, finds herself blindsided by the idealism of communism and leaves America for the People’s Republic of China. Her mother follows her with hopes of bringing her back to America, but Joy must learn things the hard way before she sees reality.

The family dynamics, the actual history, and intricacies of the plots are what I loved about these novels. I like when I can’t always predict what will happen next. There were also times when the reality of the situation is so honest that the loss and despair leaped out and grabbed a hold of me. I love that I felt what the mother was experiencing in the second novel – there were times when I was so angry at Joy, but also scared for her safety and amazed at her bravery!

I also learned a lot of history from these books. The lives of the characters are closely and accurately interwoven into both Chinese and American history (I googled some of it). I had no idea just how much discrimination the Chinese immigrants faced in America. I had no idea how many people died during the era of “the great leap forward” in China. I’m really grateful to Lisa See for incorporating these facts.

I’ve read these books twice already and would read them again!



Books I’ve read this year

Does listening to audio books count as reading?

In the sense that listening to audio books takes me away to different worlds, introduces me to new people (characters), and makes me so invested in these new lives that I revel in their triumphs or feel sad at their despair … Then yes it does count!

In the sense that I am not physically turning a page as I read, then no.

The first is more important to me so I’ll stick with yes; listening to audio books does count as reading. Besides, how else am I supposed to survive my 120 mile commute to and from work?

Since we agree that it is reading, this is a list of all the books I’ve read this year (first-time only – if I really like a book I will read it several times):

100 Cupboards
100 Cupboards Series, Book 1
N. D. Wilson

Dandelion Fire
100 Cupboards Series, Book 2
N. D. Wilson

Shanghai Girls
A Novel
Lisa See

Dreams of Joy
A Novel
Lisa See

Extreme Productivity
Robert C. Pozen

Far Far Away
Tom McNeal

The Elite
The Selection Series, Book 2
Kiera Cass

The One
The Selection Series, Book 3
Kiera Cass

The Heir
The Selection Series, Book 4
Kiera Cass

The Crown
The Selection Series, Book 5
Kiera Cass

The Favorite
A Novella
Kiera Cass

Happily Ever After
Companion to the Selection Series
Kiera Cass

The Giver
The Giver Quartet, Book 1
Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue
The Giver Quartet, Book 2
Lois Lowry

The Giver Quartet, Book 3
Lois Lowry

The Giver Quartet, Book 4
Lois Lowry

Preparing for Childbirth
Guided Imagery Exercises to Ease Labor & Delivery
Martin Rossman

Starters Series, Book 1
Lissa Price

Starters Series, Book 2
Lissa Price

100 Days of Happiness
A Novel
Fausto Brizzi

Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
Leah Remini

The World of Ice & Fire
The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
George R. R. Martin

Year of Yes
Shonda Rhimes

Matched Series, Book 1
Ally Condie

Matched Series, Book 2
Ally Condie

Matched Series, Book 3
Ally Condie

The Golden Compass
His Dark Materials Series, Book 1
Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife
His Dark Materials Series, Book 2
Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass
His Dark Materials Series, Book 3
Philip Pullman

Lyra’s Oxford
His Dark Materials Series, Book 4
Philip Pullman

The Body Book
Cameron Diaz

Fifty Shades Series, Book 4
E. L. James

The Land of Stories
The Land of Stories Series, Book 1
Chris Colfer

The Enchantress Returns
The Land of Stories Series, Book 2
Chris Colfer

A Grimm Warning
The Land of Stories Series, Book 3
Chris Colfer

The Goose Girl
Bayern Series, Book 1
Shannon Hale

The Maze Runner
Maze Runner Series, Book 1
James Dashner

The Scorch Trials
Maze Runner Series, Book 2
James Dashner

The Death Cure
Maze Runner Series, Book 3
James Dashner

The Kill Order
Maze Runner Series, Book 4
James Dashner

Invisible Acts of Power
Caroline Myss

Girl in Translation
Jean Kwok

Debt Free For Life
David Bach

The Bliss List
J.P. Hansen

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Ingri d’Aulaire

The Amulet of Samarkand
The Bartimaeus Series, Book 1
Jonathan Stroud

The Golem’s Eye
The Bartimaeus Series, Book 2
Jonathan Stroud

Ptolemy’s Gate
The Bartimaeus Series, Book 3
Jonathan Stroud

Me Before You
Jojo Moyes

After You
Jojo Moyes


Book Count: 51

9 things you should NEVER say to a bookworm

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

This is Lit

Book lovers are generally peaceful people. We know when to pick our fights. I mean, who is going to put their book down to get into an argument? But there are some things that annoy us and it would bode well for you if you never say them to us. Ever.

The following are a list of things that I’ve actually had people say to me. If you do not want to irk a bookworm, stay away from these phrases.

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Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes 

I have a really long commute (60 miles each way to and from work). That means I listen to at least 10 audio books a month!


Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes link


Recently I read / listened to “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes and I absolutely loved it. The conversational tone was very relaxing, but most of all, the honesty makes me feel like Shonda is my new bff!

Year of yes started when Sonda’s sister said the 6 magic words “you never say yes to anything”. Well, Shonda took the comment as a personal challenge and decided to accept all new opportunities coming her way. She said yes to Jimmy Kimmel Live, yes to speaking engagements, yes to interviews and red carpet events, yes to not getting married – I know there’s a negative in there but by saying no to marriage she said yes to the happily ever after of her choosing.

I can’t pick my favorite part of the book because there were so many empowering life lessons that I learned vocatiously through Shonda.

I love how candid she was about her weight and weight loss. She felt fat and she says it without shame, self pity, or self degradation. She tells us the problem is not being fat, but with her unhappiness with it. In so doing she became willing to do whatever it took to get to her healthy weight and she did it without surgery or going on a fad diet.

Shonda is a “first only different”. She’s a pioneer in her career and she’s making waves in her industry. People ask her what it’s like to be a black woman doing…xyz, and she’s honest yet again. There’s no real answer to that question because she’s never been anything else. In reality she’s doing what she loves and making the world a less lonely place in the process.

Shonda tells me not to be afraid of motherhood. She says that the stereotype of mothers who don’t take care of themselves or who give up living for their family sake is a huge misconception. It’s not the only reality for mothers. It’s okay to have help as a mother. She’s proud of her work and wouldn’t want her children to know the Shonda that doesn’t create.

At the end of the book Shonda’s sister says a few more magic words, “I’m your sister I gave you permission [to say yes]”. By reading this book Shonda has passed the baton to me. I can say yes! People always say you can be anything, but only as long as it fits within the acceptable categories in society. Well, Shonda says I choose my own categories and my own happiness!

Another take away is that I need to get into Grey’s Anatomy. I’m a devoted Scandal watcher and an avid How to Get Away with Murder viewer. I really want to get to know the Christina Yang that was Shonda’s ride or die for so many years.