Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face

Author: Rachel Hollis

One-sentence summary: Rachel walks us through several “lies” that we tell ourselves that keep us back from living a full life.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 6

Our favorite thing about it: The stories embedded in this book are easily the best part of the book.

Our least favorite thing about it: The advice overall wasn’t for us. There was some truth there, but we pushed back on a lot of it.

Main Topics of Discussion: work, kids/parenting, family roles, success, goals, habits, personalities

Our favorite quote: “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”

Notes: Well. Our thoughts about this book in a nutshell: We could have gleaned some wisdom from it if we had read it when we were younger and still didn’t know some of this stuff (like, 10-15 years ago) and would have probably loved it. Or, this book could have been more of a memoir instead of a self-help book and we probably would have liked it much more because we loved the stories in it. But despite picking out a nugget of truth here and there, reading this book just made us tired. We are not driven to success (at least not this kind) like the author is. We really felt like her Enneagram 3 tendencies showed up BIG TIME in this book. We could not identify with a lot of her advice as we are simply not motivated the same way she is. Or even motivated toward the same types of goals at all. More of our thoughts:

1. She made it sound like everyone has a BIG dream. We do not find that to be true. Sure, we have goals and things we work toward, but they are not all big, huge things we want to accomplish in our lives. Accomplishment is not our main goal.

2. We felt that the book came of as self-congratulatory a lot and it rubbed us the wrong way. We like Rachel, but this was noticeable to all of us when reading.

3. We did not love the chapter on weight, exercising, or eating. Not at all.

4. We are not necessarily waking up every morning “trying to be a better version” of ourselves like Rachel is. This is one of the things that made us tired. And we’re just not going to do it. At least not in the sense that she means.

5. She makes it sound like every method she uses to accomplish things in her life (along with the assumption that everyone is as obsessed with accomplishment as she is) is the right way. The only way. Obviously, we do not find that to be true. Occasionally she would throw in a “you do you” thought, but mostly her suggestions came off as the “right” way to do things. Again, we all felt this. Ironically, chapter 19 is entitled, “There’s Only One Right Way to Be.”

6. We did agree with her idea of “slow down your yes.”

7. She says the idea of doing nothing makes her skin crawl. Insert our eye rolls here.

8. The chapter on sex had some sound advice, but advice we could have used when we were younger. Also, it seemed out of place in this book somehow. We weren’t offended by it. It just seemed random.

9. She talks about her fears and anxieties as a mom, which we all share. We did identify with some of this.

10. This quote, “Lord, why would you put this desire on my heart if it wasn’t ever going to come true?” Problematic in so many ways. Just no.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We celebrated Stephanie’s birthday month with cards and books. She got to use the birthday wine glass. Amberly also gave us face wash wipes because of the title of this book!

What We Ate: Rachel Hollis’s recipe for sausage pasts, a delicious chopped salad, and caramel chocolate oat bars. And some delicious sparkling wine!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Author: Min Jin Lee

One-sentence summary: An epic story of one family from Korea to Japan that hinges on the decision of a young girl and the ramifications through the generations of that choice.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8 (unanimous rating)

Our favorite thing about it: The story was so rich in culture and history and realistic family relationships. Fantastic story.

Our least favorite thing about it: Some of the last chapters / character stories felt rushed. (Honestly, we are reaching on this one, but we did discuss that point.)

Main Topics of Discussion: Korea, Japan, family ties, honor, shame, women/gender, suffering, race, immigration, death

Our favorite quote: “Seeds, blood. How could you fight such hopeless ideas? Noa had been a sensitive child who believed that if he followed all the rules and was the best, then somehow the hostile world would change its mind.”

Notes: We really enjoyed this story and the book – even though it was pretty long. It addressed so many issues that are true in every culture while giving us such a great dose of Korean and Japanese history and culture. We loved learning about that. Other thoughts:

  1. We were so interested in the Asian ideas of honor and shame and how that affected characters decisions and actions. This is one area where Eastern culture differs a little bit from Western (among others!) and it was interesting and heartbreaking to see it play out in the lives of the characters.
  2. The theme of women’s’ suffering was littered throughout the story. Many different versions of women suffering were told through the stories of the women characters. It was such a vivid picture of what it means to be a woman in that culture, in all cultures, in the past, and in the present.
  3. Hansu, who reasonably could be labeled the “villain” of the story was such a complicated character. You did not like him, but exploring his motivations, his actions, and how he lived his life was immensely interesting. He may have been the most interesting character in the book because he was so well fleshed out and explored.
  4. We were all surprised by (SPOILER) – Noa’s death. It actually took us all by surprise.
  5. We were so interested to hear about the immigration issues in the East that almost exactly mirror the immigration issues that we hear about and wrestle with today. It is a human concern, not just one for our country.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Rachel gave some Japanese candy to us all to enjoy.

What We Ate: Korean beef with fried rice, stir fried broccoli and chocolate cookies with ice cream for dessert.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Church of the Small Things

Author: Melanie Shankle

One-sentence summary: Melanie talks about having a small, ordinary life and how that can turn out to be the biggest, fullest life.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: It was so funny and rang so true for us.

Our least favorite thing about it: That it wasn’t longer?

Main Topics of Discussion: childhood, religion, aging, parenting

Our favorite quote: “I’ll take all of the gluten the rest of the world has given up.”

Notes: This was such a fun book to read and discuss on our cruise. It was SO funny and perfectly applicable to our lives right now. We loved the message of daily acts of faithfulness instead of striving for something “great.” Small deeds do not equal a small life. Or if they do, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Memorable Meeting Moments: This book was a group pick because we read it for our cruise! We had our meeting in Rachel and Christina’s stateroom on the last night of the cruise in our pajamas.

What We Ate: We didn’t eat specifically at the meeting this time, but we sure did eat a lot of amazing things on the cruise!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Braving the Wilderness

Author: Brene Brown

One-sentence summary: Brene unpacks the concept of belonging and shows us what it really means and how that affects all parts of our lives.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 9

Our favorite thing about it: We pretty much loved everything about this book. It was truth-telling, punchy, and an eye-opener.

Our least favorite thing about it: That we couldn’t have read it 10 years ago. (There were no things we didn’t like)

Main Topics of Discussion: Suffering, community, authenticity, vulnerability, disagreement, lonliness, hate, fear, anger (so, pretty much everything...)

Our favorite quote: “Belonging to ourselves means being called to stand alone – to brave the wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability, and criticism.”

Notes: We all personally rated this book 8 and above. We universally loved it. The best thing, besides the overall message, was that we felt it was a perfect length to deliver the strong message Brown was trying to get across. Any longer and it would risk being repetitive and lose some of it’s power. Other thoughts:

  • We loved that it was methodical and logical in the presentation of what belonging truly was. It was very easy to follow the “argument” or thought process.
  • We loved the message of being yourself, don’t conform. For anyone or anything. This was a strong message.
  • We loved reading about the bullshit phenomenon and the false dichotomy that comes up SO much in our lives. (You’re either for me or against me = fallacy)
  • We loved her characterizing anger as ok – when it is a catalyst. Walk through the anger, pain, and fear, but don’t stay there forever.
  • She touched on the idea of dehumanization and the “other” – all of it was SO good.

There is so, so much more I could write that we discussed. We highlighted so much in this book because the whole thing was perfectly concise and powerful. Almost every sentence was quote-worthy.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We had to go back to a Monday night (our old meeting night) for this month due to schedules. And Lindsay took us to a Korean restaurant for dinner!

What We Ate: Korean Food! We had tempura shrimp and steamed dumplings to share for an appetizer, and then we ordered lots of things – fried rice, beef bulgogi, pork bulgogi, Jap-che, rice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Chemist

Author: Stephanie Meyer

One-sentence summary: A former chemist who was knew too much decides to leave her life of hiding to clear her name and protect an unlikely companion.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: It was a fun story.

Our least favorite thing about it: A little cheesy and predictable.

Main Topics of Discussion: Characterization, love stories, chemistry, torture, plot development, planning, personalities

Our favorite quote: "Preparation felt like a magic spell sometimes. Like you could force events into the shape you wanted just by planning them thoroughly."

Notes: Overall we enjoyed this entertaining story. Yes, it was a little cheesy and predictable to say nothing of the rushed love story and questionable plausibility of the plot. However, when we told ourselves not to overthink it, it was a good story with an interesting, quick moving plot that kept us interested. Here are a few more of our thoughts:

  1. Some of the characters were a little too one-note for our liking. Daniel was too good. Kevin was too cocky, etc.
  2. We were surprised to find that the torture scenes were not too terrible to read. Either that says something about our desensitization to violence in books or they were written in such a way as to be uncomfortable…but not too much.
  3. It was interesting to us that excessive planning helped the main character feel safe.
  4. Including dogs in such a large role in the story was an interesting choice and one that we liked.
  5. We felt like this kind of book would make a fun movie. The plot read like a movie plot to us and we could see it translating well.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Amberly told us some exciting/devastating news about moving to China!

What We Ate: Spicy cheese and crackers for an appetizer, Caesar salad, chicken parmesan and broccolini, chocolate bar cake and ice cream for dessert.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beyond Belief

Author: Jenna Miscavige Hill

One-sentence summary: Jenna, the niece of Scientology leader, David Miscavige, details her childhood as part of the Sea Org and how she escaped with her husband.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: SO interesting to learn more about Scientology from the inside. What really goes on, what they believe and practice and why.

Our least favorite thing about it: Too many details.

Main Topics of Discussion: Cults, Religion, Family, Child Labor, Power/Money

Our favorite quote: “The problem is that Scientology is a system that makes it nearly impossible for you to think for yourself.”

Notes: A good summary of our thoughts about this book: really, really interesting/eye-opening, but should have been streamlined better. We felt that the editor left in far too many details and stories that were the same as ones already detailed and could have been left out without harming the information presented or the story as a whole. As interesting as this tory was (and it really was), we still got bogged down in the repetition and minutiae. Some other thoughts:
  1. We all noticed (and laughed about) all the acronyms in Scientology. They seem to literally have one for everything. It’s humorous and annoying at the same time.
  2. There is no other way to describe Scientology other than as a cult.
  3. We talked about the parallels of Scientology with Christianity and some of the pitfalls religion can easily fall into.
  4. We all agreed that any religion/organization that actively and openly tries to separate you from your family (especially spouse and children) even while you are both/all still part of the religion/organization, is definitely no good.
  5. Public Scientologists and especially celebrity Scientologists only get the glossy cover view of Scientology. They do not really see or hear about all of the terrible exploitation, cruelty, and sometimes imprisonment that happens in the Sea Org.
  6. We found it really amazing that Jenna’s parents didn’t try to convince her to leave after they did. They wisely let her come to that conclusion on her own since she was already a teenager.
  7. It was so much harder for Jenna and her husband to both get out than it would have been for just one of them to leave. Bravo to them for both managing to do it, stay together, and reconnect with their families.
  8. As appalled as we were by the inner workings of the Sea Org and Scientology, we are relieved that the veil is being lifted by brave authors like Jenna and other influencers like Leah Remini. This stuff needs to be known.
  9. We wonder how people do not see that all the money they pay to Scientology to get clear or cross the bridge goes directly to David Miscavige. They are paying to be part of a cult.
  10. It’s amazing and horrifying how far the henchmen and women of the Sea Org would go to prevent someone leaving. That is another red flag to us.
  11. The things that cause Jenna to leave are the same things we kept thinking over and over as we read. But we tried to put ourselves in her shoes…she was raised from birth with this mindset, and that must have been so hard to overcome. And so hard to leave everything she’s ever known.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Eating dinner out at a fun new restaurant with fun cocktails!

What We Ate: Christina treated us to dinner at The Heritage Table for our Friendsgiving meal this year. We all shared Butternut Squash Fritters and the Cheddar Fries for appetizers. We each ordered different things: Grilled Salmon, Chicken Pot Pie, Fish Tacos, Mac n’ Cheese, and Chicken Noodle Soup. We finished our meal off at Christina’s house with Rachel’s Pecan Cheesecake Pie and ice cream.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Polygamist's Daughter

Author: Anna LeBaron

One-sentence summary: Anna details her childhood inside a polygamist cult and also her escape from that life and the aftermath.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: The story is just mesmerizing and also offers a lot of hope.

Our least favorite thing about it: Probably just having to learn about everything Anna went through. It’s rough.

Main Topics of Discussion: Polygamy (of course!), Religion, Power, Misogyny, Counseling, Child Labor

Our favorite quote: “I was starving. But that physical hunger paled in comparison to my hunger for someone – anyone – to care for me and want me.”

Notes: We’ve read books about polygamy before (actually, one by Anna’s aunt), but this was the first one we have read from the perspective of a child and not a wife. Anna was able to escape before she was married off as a wife of a polygamist. So, while all stories like this are fascinating, hers was a new perspective for us and we really enjoyed it.

One of the unique things about her story is that she details how her life unfolded after she was able to get out of the polygamist cult. There were so many things about this part of the story that would not have been complete had she stopped when she got out. Continuing relationships with family, fall-out after Ervil’s death and remaining orders to his followers, her family and children. They all played a part in her whole story.

Equally as important is her details about her childhood. We all talked about how we could completely believe that she remembered all of these details because they were traumatic. Some parts were hard to read and it’s hard to believe they really happened and still probably happen in some form or another to children.

Probably the most wonderful thing about Anna’s story is her overcoming all of this tragedy in her life. She talks about getting counseling and addressing the PTSD that she suffers still today from all of these events.

Finally, it was such a treat to speak with Anna herself – in person! She lives just 30 minutes from us and came to our meeting. She was really personable and answered all of our questions with candor. Honestly, she addresses so much in her book and in the Q&A at the end, that there were few questions we had, but she still filled in with insight, hope, and details. She is such a strong, faithful example and just a delight to have as our guest. And we are always thrilled when we get to speak with authors!

Memorable Meeting Moments: The most memorable thing about this meeting was that we got to meet Anna in person! She came to our meeting and talked to us about life and her book for hours. It was so unique and fun and insightful. The other major memorable thing was that we celebrated Lindsay’s 40th birthday!

What We Ate: We took Lindsay to Frisco’s Rail Yard food truck park for her birthday dinner. We all got different things, but several had empanadas, and the sweet and spicy shrimp. We had dessert chocolate chip cookies back at Rachel’s house (along with some cheese and crackers, wine, and veggies – in honor of Lindsay!).