Posts By: Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

{Review} Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

May 18, 2015 Review 3 ★★★

{Review} Orange is the New Black by Piper KermanOrange Is the New Black: A Memoir by Piper Kerman
Published by Spiegel & Grau on March 8, 2011
Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
Pages: 314
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

I picked up a copy of Orange is the New Black at my library’s spring book sale last month because 1) I like non-fiction, and it seems to be one of the very few things that can still draw me in while I’m in this god-awful book slump and 2) I wanted to see how it faired to the TV show.

When I first heard about the TV show I was slightly curious. My mother said she wanted us to try it out as one of our new shows, but upon further investigation, I discovered it was not really the kind of show I was comfortable watching with my family, haha! Over the next year or so though, I kept hearing how great of a show it was, from the great acting to the complex lives of the female characters, and I was loving what I was seeing on my Tumblr dashboard, so I figured I’d give it a shot in the frigid months of January and February. Tumblr was right (really, has it failed me before on TV shows? Nope), of course, and I’m now anxiously awaiting Season 3!

But back to Kerman’s memoir. I think is the case of the TV adaption being way better than its source material (could it really shine without the amazing presence of Laverne Cox though?), although Orange is the New Black isn’t a bad read, not at all. It held my attention and was informative and funny. I didn’t really learn a whole lot more than I already knew about the prison system though, and I think illustrating statistics among the system via each character’s lived experiences on the TV show works better than having Kerman rattle off information about race, class, sexuality within the prison industrial complex. One thing that I did like compared to the TV series was that Larry was much less annoying, haha!

Overall, a solid read but it doesn’t hold a flame to the TV show!

3 Stars

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{Review} Take Them by Storm by Marie Landry

January 12, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★

{Review} Take Them by Storm by Marie LandryTake Them by Storm by Marie Landry
Series: Angel Island #3
Published by Self-Published on 01/06/2015
Genres: New Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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This book is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm.

Sadie Fitzgerald has always been different, and not just because she makes her own clothes and would rather stay home watching Doctor Who than party with kids her age. When it’s time to leave Angel Island for college, Sadie is eager to put her old life behind her. Small-minded people and rumors have plagued her for years, but with the love of her adoptive family, the O’Dells, Sadie has learned to embrace who she is. Now she’s not afraid to admit the rumors about her are true: she’s gay.

For the first time in her life, Sadie feels free to be herself. She dives into college life and begins volunteering at the local LGBT center, where she discovers her small-town upbringing left holes in her education about life outside Angel Island.

The world is a bigger and more accepting place than Sadie ever imagined. She’s finally found where she belongs, but with the reappearance of someone from her past, an unexpected new friendship, and a chance at love, Sadie soon realizes she still has a lot to learn about life, friendship, and love.

Cover Talk

Purple is my favourite colour, so I may be a bit biased here, but I love the cover. It’s eye catching, and quirky, just like Sadie. It actually matches very closely the descriptions of the clothing she wears and makes in the book, so it’s not another girl in a pretty dress cover that has NOTHING to do with the book. Nothing against those covers, because hey, they can be absolutely BEAUTIFUL, but after a while they become overdone when they have no connection to the plot. Alas, I digress.

My Expectations

I love Marie Landry’s books, and have been looking forward to Sadie’s story since she first told me about it so I was pretty sure I would like this book. However, 2014 had me in a god awful slump, and I didn’t want to read anything with dead mothers in it at the moment. That said, I decided to persevere and read Take Them by Storm since I had been looking forward to it for a while now.

My Thoughts

Marie Landry has done it, yet again! Take Them by Storm had me captivated from the first chapter, and I found myself reading for long stretches throughout the day and night, pushing aside other things to make time for Sadie, Ella, and River, as I returned to those loveable group of friends one last time.

While Take Them by Storm picks up a few weeks after After the Storm ends, it can be read as a standalone novel. Sadie is the protagonist, or I should say star of the book, as she really does shine. Whereas in After the Storm, Sadie was bubbly but self-conscious, and dealing with a lot of heavy things, in this book, she has the chance to truly get outside of her comfort zone and expand her horizons, as she starts at Loyola College while living with her best friend, River. Away from her unloving and bigoted parents and cruel high school peers, Sadie has the opportunity to volunteer at a local LGBTQ Rainbow Centre as part of her placement, allowing her to further grow confidence in herself, her identity, and to develop a sense of community for the first time in her life. (And if you’ve read any of Marie’s other books, particularly The Game Changer, you also get to see some familiar faces in Bellevue which was SO fun as a fan and reader!)

I really appreciated the complexity that Marie Landry gave to Sadie’s story, and character. She wasn’t defined by her sexual orientation, but identifying as a lesbian was still important to her. Not every relationship worked out picture perfect with a happily ever after story, nor was Sadie’s story one of doom or gloom. There was a little of both, and Sadie spent a lot of being happy, making mistakes, and just generally trying to figure out who she was and what she wanted – in other words, she was a typical college student! I also LOVED that the LGBTQA+ spectrum was represented, or discussed, including bisexual, pansexual, intersex, asexual, trans*, queer, and two-spirited identities. There was also a bisexual character (she actually read more pansexual to me, but nonetheless), and thankfully there was no bi-erasure, as can often happen. Sadie also gets served the same treatment as Landry’s other female protagonists, with a few steamy bedroom scenes of her own. No fade to black just because it is a LGBTQ romance, yay!

Although a LOT of things worked for me, one thing that didn’t really was one of the romantic relationships Sadie has towards the end of the book. Without spoiling anything, I had just never gotten the same kind of chemistry with the character as I did with some of the other female characters. It also seemed to happen very quickly, and then there was about a month’s jump forward in time, which made things seem even more rushed and made it a bit difficult for me to be all swoony and excited over them. That said, this was one thing in a sea of many things that I did really like!

In the end, Take Them by Storm was a whirlwind ride through Sadie’s first few months of college, and the highs and lows that came with it. I’d recommend this to anyone who is looking for a great contemporary read, whether you have read Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm and are looking to continue the story, or are looking for a great read about a young woman coming into her own with a wonderful group of friends. Also, being the last book, I am sad to leave this series behind! I’ve had some good laughs and cries over all three books. But I can’t wait to see what Landry has up her sleeve as she moves on to new characters, places and stories.  I’m sure they will be just as swoon, cry and laughter worthy as her others!

4 Stars

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{Cover Reveal} Take Them By Storm by Marie Landry

November 11, 2014 Cover Reveal 0

I’m very excited to take part yet again in a cover reveal for one of my favourite Canadian and self-published authors, Marie Landry! Take Them by Storm is the third and final book in the Angel Island series (but it can be read as a standalone), and so now I’ll have helped reveal all of this series covers. Read on to view the wonderful cover, and see my 5 reasons why you should read this book or the entire series.

READY?

… 3 …

… 2 …

… 1! ..

cover for Take Them by Storm (Angel Island #3) by Marie Landry - features a girl in black lace stockings, purple converse shoes and dress sitting on old suitcases against a purple backdrop.

Take Them By Storm by Marie Landry
Series: Angel Island #3
Published by Self-Published on January 6, 2015
Genres: New Adult
Format: eBook
Add to Goodreads
Amazon

This book is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm. The books do not need to be read together or in order, but please note that this synopsis contains mild spoilers for After the Storm.

Sadie Fitzgerald has always been different, and not just because she makes her own clothes and would rather stay home watching Doctor Who than party with kids her age. When it’s time to leave Angel Island for college, Sadie is eager to put her old life behind her. Small-minded people and rumors have plagued her for years, but with the love of her adoptive family, the O’Dells, Sadie has learned to embrace who she is. Now she’s not afraid to admit the rumors about her are true: she’s gay.

For the first time in her life, Sadie feels free to be herself. She dives into college life and begins volunteering at the local LGBT center, where she discovers her small-town upbringing left holes in her education about life outside Angel Island.

The world is a bigger and more accepting place than Sadie ever imagined. She’s finally found where she belongs, but with the reappearance of someone from her past, an unexpected new friendship, and a chance at love, Sadie soon realizes she still has a lot to learn about life, friendship, and love.

5 Reasons You Should Read Take Them by Storm & the Angel Island series

  1. Sadie is my all-time favourite character from the series and this is HER book. This girl is FIERCE and dances to the beat of her own drum, but she isn’t some manic pixie dream girl. She’s got a cool sense of style, stands up for her friends, and also identifies as a lesbian. I’m looking forward to seeing a relationship unfold for Sadie as Landry does romance so well (see point #5).
  2. Like books that will make you cry? I’ve cried reading every book in this series! Both happy and sad tears have been shed.
  3. Numerous swoon worthy book boyfriends. That are all respectful and caring. No asshats here! Or love triangles (not that I’m entirely against love triangles, but let’s admit, it can be a tad overdone).
  4. Each book features great depictions of family dynamics, and friendships – both the good and the bad. All different kinds of love are covered, and romantic love isn’t praised as the only kind of love or the most important.
  5. I used to say I’m not a fan of romance books and that I don’t read them, but Marie Landry’s books, and in particular, this series, have made me reevaluate my feelings against the genre. I’m a convert! So even if you don’t think you like contemporary romance, I still urge you to give these books a try!
Not convinced?

Check out my reviews of the previous two books (which can also be read as standalones) below by clicking on the covers.

 waiting for the storm   after the storm

 

About Marie Landry

Marie-Landry-Author-Pic

Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece. She's a hopeless romantic, an unapologetic eavesdropper (occupational hazard), an equally unapologetic squeeing fangirl, and a lover of swoonworthy book and TV characters.

Cover Reveal Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

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{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} “Are You Ready to Be Strong?” Buffy & Strength

October 31, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

buffy strength
So here’s the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power…now? In every generation, one slayer is born…because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power…should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer…will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power…will have the power…can stand up, will stand up. …every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong? (From Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 Episode 22 – Chosen)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all-time favorite show. It ran from the time I was 11 to the time I was 17, so all of my most formative years were shaped by Buffy. Now, at 28, a re-watch (either a single episode or as a binge) can elicit a level of giddiness or soul crushing despair (uh, hi, The Body) like nothing else.

As all my teen years were shaped by the slayer, my adult life is also driven by her in a way that I would not have expected.

In Chosen, Buffy asks if we are ready to be strong. At this point I’m sobbing because the little girl that’s up to bat is getting her shot at being a slayer when I never will – but I’m ready. I’m ready to be strong. I AM strong, and I’m only getting stronger.

As a female athlete and weightlifter, I am not slight. I curve outward more than in. I am more solid than soft. People, or “society”, feel this is not how a woman should look, or how a woman should be. Our lady of slayage teaches us strength is necessary and that you can still be feminine while being strong.

Buffy, with her hairdos, accessories (oft misguided), and and cute outfits (for the time – a square toed boot is no one’s friend). Buffy, with her quick wit and sharp tongue. Buffy, who saved the world again and again while remaining a person and not just a killing machine. Buffy, who was, yes, MYSTICALLY strong, but never shied away from it.

So when I’m maybe not feeling so great about myself – like when all of my clothes stop fitting again – just like everyone sometimes doesn’t feel that great about themselves, I think about all the amazing things my body can do, and wearing jeans is not on that list.

 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Justine G. is the blogger behind Paperback Heart, where she has been blogging for almost two years and has accumulated a TBR that will take twice that long to read through. Outside of reading and blogging, she is working towards becoming a competitive Crossfit and weightlifting athlete and eats ice cream almost every day. Recently, she got to hold a baby tiger and it changed her life.
blog: paperback heart     twitter: @paperback_heart


 

Sunnydale Project Banner 2014
Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.

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{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} Teen Girls, Fandoms & Buffy

October 30, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

Teen Girls Fandoms and Buffy

I came of age in the era of the WB and its weeknight lineup of teen-friendly television—Dawson’s Creek and its hyper-intellectual high schoolers, Charmed and its supernatural sisters, and my personal favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A show based on a campy bomb of a teen movie, even at thirteen I knew that liking Buffy would seem kind of silly and immature. When my brother caught me watching the second part of the premiere, he looked at me incredulously. “You’re watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” he asked.

“Yeah, well, it’s not so bad,” I said, wishing I’d heard his footsteps in time to change the channel to something less cheesy and girly.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not cheesy and girly, despite how its name sounds. It’s a smart, witty show about life and death and love and sacrifice. But it’s a culturally accepted form of snobbery to dismiss things that teen girls like as ‘cheesy and girly,’ to claim that a TV show cannot be about a blonde hero named Buffy and her magical friends and enemies and still be meaningful. YA readers and writers see this kind of snobbery all the time. Major media outlets consistently tell readers that they should be embarrassed to read about the teen experience, that the only serious or worthwhile stories are those about middle-aged white men and their angst over affairs with younger women. That life can’t be quirky or hopeful or romantic or youthful.

Those naysayers are missing out and, sometimes, they come around. When I was in middle school, few media outlets were calling Joss Whedon a master storyteller and studios weren’t exactly putting major money behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Flash forward about fifteen years, and Whedon is at the helm of the successful Avengers universe. The Avengers is the third highest grossing film of all time (behind Avatar and Titanic, another ‘silly teen girl movie’) and viewers show no signs of being tired of this Marvel universe.

Now when I talk with people about Joss Whedon, I feel like a bit of a hipster: “Oh, yeah, Joss Whedon? I’ve liked him since 1997.” Somehow it’s okay to like Whedon’s work now that it’s about superheroes but it wasn’t okay back in 1997, when his protagonist was a hero named Buffy.

It’s easy to use Twilight as shorthand for schlocky and screaming girls at a One Direction concert as shorthand for embarrassing. It’s easy to look down on anything that teen girls get wildly passionate about, because after all, what do teen girls know about art and life and literature? But teen girls get it right as often as any other group. Even if One Direction won’t last, teen girls were the ones originally screaming at Beatles concerts and going to James Dean movies. Why are we so dismissive of the things they love when they have just as much, if not more, buying power than any other group?

Because when teens are fans of something, they’re true fans. They don’t just enjoy a song or a book or a movie or TV show—they love it, they know every part of it, they cry over it and re-blog gifs about it and write fanfic about it. They commit to it entirely. They’re passionate. And we shouldn’t mistake passion for immaturity or silliness. They can stand outside in line for the midnight showing of Mockingjay and cry/cheer when certain not-to-be-spoiled events happen, and that is just as valid as any middle-aged fan who cheers or cries when his hometown baseball time wins the World Series. Age or gender doesn’t make your passions valid.

I can’t say I’m still a rapid fan of Dawson’s Creek or the Backstreet Boys, but I will defend the greatness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as fiercely as I did when I was a teen. And even if I’m no longer in their realm, I will go to the mats defending teen girls’ right to be fans of whatever they choose.


 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Annie CardiAnnie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in the Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications. In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis on her: BlogFacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.


Sunnydale Project Banner 2014
Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.

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