Piper Kerman did a bad thing...once...a long time ago. We all make mistakes. Most people do something crazy and silly in their youth or young adulthoo...morePiper Kerman did a bad thing...once...a long time ago. We all make mistakes. Most people do something crazy and silly in their youth or young adulthood. Hopefully, it doesn't involve drugs, because, drugs are bad and anything to do with them can be a federal offense. This was the lesson Kerman learned, the hard way. Orange Is the New Black is Kerman's account of her year at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp where she served a 15 month sentence on a ten year old drug charge. At the time of her arrest and subsequent incarceration, Kerman had left her brief life as a money mule for a small drug ring and returned to her roots in the northeast as a middle to upper class tree hugging yuppy. She was not prepared to be a prisoner. What she found behind the razor wire and concrete prison walls was a conglomeration of women who were serving time for non-violent crimes. These women came from many walks of life with gruff exteriors and often soft hearts and souls. Kerman learned how to live among these women and how to survive in good and bad conditions with no preparation for life outside the secured fence. The experience was eye-opening and quite possibly life changing, for herself and her prison mates.
I really enjoyed this book and am now hooked on the Netflex series based on Kerman's experience. I was happy to see the follow up at the end of the book with page after page of organizations and websites dedicated to prison reform. Many of these women are serving relatively short sentences, i.e. less than 5-10 years. Many have no where to go once they leave the system, have truly grown up within the system and do not know how to survive once they leave. The U.S. prison system does not seem to adequately prepare women to reform, relearn, and reintegrate back into today's society. (less)
Cinnamon and Gunpowder is the story of a 19th century cook, one Mr. Owen Wedgewood, who is captured by a pirate in search for the elusive Brass Fox. I...moreCinnamon and Gunpowder is the story of a 19th century cook, one Mr. Owen Wedgewood, who is captured by a pirate in search for the elusive Brass Fox. It turns out that the pirate, is a woman known as Mad Hannah Mabbot. As part of his sentence aboard the red-haired pirate's ship, Wedgewood must cook exclusively for her every Sunday night. With meager supplies and ingredients, Owen whips up a delectable spread in between swashbuckling adventures and crazy escape attempts. Brown brings a bit of adventure and mystery wrapped in a sea-worthy romance.
This is a quick, cute read but with plenty of action to appeal to a broad range of readers. (less)
Life can be hard, very hard. We can choose to be bitter or we can choose to forgive. For the grandparents of Mark Sakamoto, forgiveness allowed them t...moreLife can be hard, very hard. We can choose to be bitter or we can choose to forgive. For the grandparents of Mark Sakamoto, forgiveness allowed them to move forward and build a family that knows love instead of bitterness. Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents centers around Ralph who was Sakamoto's maternal grandfather and Mitsue, his paternal grandmother. Both lived through WWII, Ralph in the Canadian military and Mitsue, a Japanese-Canadian. Ralph was sent to Hong Kong at the height of the war, surviving in horrible conditions in battle and in a Japanese POW camp. Mitsue and her family were forced out of their home in Vancouver and sent east to live in internment on a Canadian sugarbeet farm. Like Ralph, Mitsue and her family endured horrendous conditions. Both survived and went on to build a family overcoming pain and heartache, combining the two seemingly opposing nationalities into one. What Sakamoto takes from his grandparent's stories is that you can be bitter about the circumstances or you can forgive and find happiness.
A Canadian friend suggested this book to me. I have read and researched a lot of stories of WWII POWs and internment camps here in the US. I was not surprised that Canadians faced the same treatment but it was not a region I had read about previously. It is a reminder that war affects people globally, often in similar ways. It is important to remember the past, it is also important to forgive.(less)
In Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz, Thomas Harding tells the story of his g...moreIn Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz, Thomas Harding tells the story of his great-uncle Hanns Alexander, the man who investigated and captured Rudolf Höss, the SS Kommandant who was instrumental in building the crematoriums in Auschwitz. Harding alternates chapters that concentrate on each of these two very different men following the timeline from 1901 to 2006, from their childhoods to their deaths.
Thomas Harding never had the chance to talk with Hanns during his life time about this part of his life that forever changed him. Hanns began life in Germany as a Jew, narrowly escaping to England during WWII, joining the British Army. His time in the army led to his assignment tracking Nazi criminals post-war. It was during this assignment that Hanns found the man that was behind over 3 million deaths of Jews and political prisoners. After Hanns death in 2006, Harding researches both men and chronicles their separate lives that became intertwined at the close of the war.
The book was thoroughly engrossing, despite the tough and at times graphic nature of the subject. It is important to know this history, so that it is never repeated. This story helps the reader to understand the mindset of each man and to see how such an atrocity ever happened in the first place. Hanns spent his later years as a humble family man, not wanting to acknowledge the past or the hero that he was.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free through the History Book Club on Goodreads. Thank you, Simon and Schuster. (less)
Oh I love me some Diana Gabaldon! The Space Between is another novella in the very popular Outlander series, giving readers a little tidbit to tied th...moreOh I love me some Diana Gabaldon! The Space Between is another novella in the very popular Outlander series, giving readers a little tidbit to tied them over until her eighth installment, Written in My Own Heart's Blood is released in June. This novella follows Jamie's nephew Michael Murray who is escorting Jamie's stepdaughter, Joan, to France. Joan is joining a convent and her underlying reasoning is to get help to understand the voices in her head. The two run into Comte St. Germain the time traveling acquaintance of Claire. This novella will continue to bring clarity into the background of the Comte and the stones and hints at a future relationship between the young travelers.
As always, I enjoyed this bit of Outlander story. I actually about three books behind this story, but know enough background that it really didn't matter. Looking forward to getting caught up with the rest of the story before In My Own Heart's Blood is released.(less)
The Cherry Cola Book Club reconvenes in Ashton Lee’s follow up The Reading Circle. Now they’ve taken the club into the bedroom. It’s springtime in Che...moreThe Cherry Cola Book Club reconvenes in Ashton Lee’s follow up The Reading Circle. Now they’ve taken the club into the bedroom. It’s springtime in Cherico, Mississippi and it seems like everyone in the book club has marital or relationship problems. Those that are married have issues and those that are not, want to be married. The men are talking football and the girls are….concerned about the bedroom. Then there is the ongoing battle with city council to save the library led by veteran librarian Maura Beth Mayhew. This short read is another cozy conundrum about small town life in the south.
This was a cute and entertaining book and a nice respite from some of the heavy books I generally read. This is not a book of substance and is quite predictable and kitschy. It is worth the read if you're looking for something a bit mindless and a bit cozy. I enjoyed getting to know these characters a bit more, but I would have like a little less of the relationship issues. Most every couple was having a problem. I would have liked some of the struggles to be something completely different. It was still a cute read and I am starting to really enjoy the characters. It looks like Mr. Lee has another couple of volumes in the work to bring us back once again to The Cherry Cola Book Club, so I’ll definitely check back in to the Greater Cherico Library. (less)
I have to admit that the title of Ashton Lee's debut novel The Cherry Cola Book Club intrigued me and sucked me in. The premise of the story is that t...moreI have to admit that the title of Ashton Lee's debut novel The Cherry Cola Book Club intrigued me and sucked me in. The premise of the story is that the local Cherico, Mississippi librarian, Maura Beth Mayhew, is about to lose her job as the city council would rather fund a new industrial park than fund the fledgling library. Given a few months reprieve to turn things around Miz Mayhew decides to fight to the end like Scarlett trying to save Tara. Her fight comes in the form of the Cherry Cola Book Club. After rounding up a sordid cast of characters, Miz Mayhew finds friendship among the masses and strength to carry on.
This was a cute and entertaining book and a nice respite from some of the heavy books I generally read. This is not a book of substance and is quite predictable and kitschy. It is worth the read if you're looking for something a bit mindless and a bit cozy. I look forward to Lee's follow up that is soon to be released, with the hope that we see more structure and less predictability. If not, I am sure it will still be a cute read.(less)
New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, the jazz era is being born and the liquor is flowing. There is also a problem with the brothels on Venus...moreNew Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, the jazz era is being born and the liquor is flowing. There is also a problem with the brothels on Venus Ave, the slum area of New Orleans. Mary Deubler believes that the only way to provide for her family is to turn tricks in the alley and pay her pimp, a man who is constantly drunk. The city leaders, who are not much better than the pimps on the street, decide they must "clean the city up" and move the brothels to the end of the town and legalize them. The events that follow can make little Mary into an up and coming Madam of the city.
Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin's Madam: A Novel of New Orleans is based on true people and events from 1898 to 1907. It was an enjoyable story that I felt was in the vein of The Secret Life of Bees. The story starts out in 1907 with Josie Arlington the well to do Madam of New Orleans, then the story goes back to the beginning in 1898 to unfold the events of the era. The story stopped before taking us all the way back to the start of the story, yet it did completely tell the story. I personally would have liked them to reconnect to the point at the beginning. There was also a secondary story line that didn't really seem to be wrapped up, so I am curious what happened with that character. Despite these two comments, I still really enjoyed the story and this glimpse into New Orleans history.(less)
Charlaine Harris is known for her Sookie Stackhouse series, the books behind HBO's True Blood. Her newest series is set in the town of Midnight, Texas...moreCharlaine Harris is known for her Sookie Stackhouse series, the books behind HBO's True Blood. Her newest series is set in the town of Midnight, Texas with the first installment Midnight Crossroad. The story begins by introducing the reader to the quirky characters of the town that include a witch, a psuedo-psychic, a vampire and a talking cat. Everyone seems to have a secret and everyone has a past. It all leads up to a murder that the townsfolk work to solve before one of their own is fingered for the crime.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I generally do not read "vampire" or "zombie" books, although I will admit to reading Anne Rice and Stephen King. I do like creepy but am generally over "vamp" books. I have not yet read any of the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I have the first one in my TBR pile. I was intrigued because it sounded spooky and it took place in small town Texas. I was iffy with it at the beginning but slowly grew to enjoy the characters. I did learn from another review that several characters come from some of Harris' other series. So now I kinda feel compelled to try some of her other books to find out some background on these characters. It wasn't a riveting book but was worth the read and worthy of checking out the next installment.(less)
Either this book was a genius piece of work or it was an epic fail. I'm going with the latter. TaraShea Nesbit wrote this book in first person plural...moreEither this book was a genius piece of work or it was an epic fail. I'm going with the latter. TaraShea Nesbit wrote this book in first person plural which employs writing techniques like "Our husbands did this or they did that". I thought at first that The Wives of Los Alamos was a book about polygamists. I expect the word "or" was used more in this book than the f-bomb was used in The Wolf of Wall Street (569 times, in case you're wondering). This is suppose to be the story of the wives of the men sent to Los Alamos in the 40s to build the a-bomb. You would expect to learn about the lives of the individual women, their families and the heartaches of living in a secretive world during WWII. What you end up with are snippets of the lives of some women, most of whom are unnamed. The reader is offered the different scenarios that happened..."We called our friends from the phone booth and they met us at the train station or at our house with a loaf of bread, or a chicken casserole and a flask." (from the chapter titled "West") These statements are attached to nameless people, giving the reader a chaotic, confused look into their lives. Imagine a scene in a movie where someone's life is flashed before their eyes, you see all these short scenes of their life that are going through their heads. That's what it felt like reading this book, that you were seeing that type of image without any prior knowledge of the people involved.
If the author was out to make you feel as secretive, uncomfortable, and confused at the residents of Los Alamos, then she did her job. However, I never felt connected to or understood anything solid about these people. Names were occasionally dropped but because you never got to know them as individual people, you never knew how anyone felt, how they truly lived and how they were affected by the secret lives they were forced to endure. My feeling toward this book is described in two words: Disconnected rubbish. (less)
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves". John Green's The Fault in Our Stars follows the relationship of a young girl and a you...more"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves". John Green's The Fault in Our Stars follows the relationship of a young girl and a young boy who are dying of cancer. After meeting in a cancer support group, Hazel and Gus find a connection through their various places in the fight to live every extra day that they can. They contemplate their lives and their places in it, looking for answers. Hazel's greatest fear is not the pain she will experience but the pain she will inflict on others upon her death, namely her parents. She must come to terms with destiny.
I was hesitant about reading this book. I am a two time cancer survivor. I am fortunate to be in remission and have always had an exellent prognosis. What I have/had is not fatal....something else will get me long before this cancer will. However, there is always a but. There is always a chance it can come back in the form of a different cancer. That thought alone stays with you constantly, even when the oncologist says "everything looks fine". Dead cells left over from radiation and chemo still sit there. They shrink, they come back. So I knew, reading this, that there was a possibility of the ugly cry.
Luckily I did not endure said ugly cry. But I did relate to the character of Hazel. I know that awful waiting for results of PET scans and trying not to think about what the results may or may not be. I delve into books and anything else to not think about it. I don't talk about it much so that others don't constantly ask "how are you doing?" I can also relate to the pain of having some wonderful news yourself and wanting to share it with your "cancer buddy" to find out that their news is not so happy. I know the feeling of wanting answers and trying to make sense of a senseless disease and knowing that no one is immune to it.
I did like the book overall despite having to relive some of my own thoughts and fears. I had a few issues with things that no cancer patient would do (um...you would not offer an unknown child your cannula to try on) and felt the story was a bit juvenile for me, although I realize it is a YA book. I do think that the story will make a great movie and I will likely watch it, although probably at home with a box of tissue.(less)
Imagine waking to your house a shakin' and realizing it is covered by a deflated hot air balloon. The Egan sisters find themselves rescuing the man in...moreImagine waking to your house a shakin' and realizing it is covered by a deflated hot air balloon. The Egan sisters find themselves rescuing the man in the basket, who has an incredible story to tell. Set in 1898-1899 during the Omaha World's Fair (technically the Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition), Timothy Schaffert's The Swan Gondola is a story about love and longing in a time of chaos. Ferret Skerritt, a struggling ventriloquist, chronicles his story of falling in love with the eccentric Cecily whom he briefly meets during a stage performance in Omaha. He follows her about town, finally tracking her down at the fair. He begins to woo her but life is not all that it appears in the "new white city" of the fair. This story has a full cast of bizarre and crazy characters. The main character, Ferret, is inspired by the Wizard in Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz.
I really liked the overall story, although the first half of the story seemed to drag on a bit. However, at that cathartic moment, the book becomes a page turner. I think it's worth sticking with it and I loved the ending. (less)