Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman

Title: Orange is the new black
Author: Piper Kerman
Length: 298 pages
Genre: Autobiography; Memoir
Format: ePUB
Why I read it: Love the netflix series, so when I found out it was a book, I had to read it.

What it’s About: (taken from because I has the dumb and cannot brain.) 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.

The Review: I though that this book would be just as entertaining as the show. You know, because usually the book is better than the movie/tv adaptation. Unfortunately I was let down. Where the show is entertaining, the book is not. I felt no connection to book Piper and din’t care about her. Whereas Show Piper, while not my favorite character is at least interesting. Maybe watching the show first was my mistake. But I had no idea it was based on real life events/people (I guess I don’t pay close enough attention during the opening credits). There isn’t really any difference between book Piper and show Piper. But they do seem different. The book, as it should, was more about Piper’s time and experiences in prison, with little nods or off-the-shoulder mentions of other inmates. Some who are recognizable from the show, and other who are not. But the show, while still about Piper, is not only about Piper. You get to know the other inmates, but not so with the book, and I guess that is where it lost me. Having watched the show first I was allowed to connect with all the characters, but with the book, I got only Piper. I don’t know. The comparisons of show vs.book are many, but I don’t think it’s completely fair. The book was well written, and had it’s moments where I was laughing out loud. I’d even have to stop and read passages to my husband (let me tell you, he loves when I do that (not)), and it was a gripping, quick read. But I think that was because I was looking for someone who felt familiar. I do think that the book is doing a great service, and Piper as well with her tours and talks, by showing the truth about women’s prisons vs. men’s prisons, and how shitty the inmates can and will be treated. And I know that that was really the point of Piper telling her story.

Did I like it? Somewhat
Did I love it? Not really
Would I reread it? Probably not
Would I purchase it? I’m not 100% sure
Would I recommend it? Yes.
Final rating: 3/5

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Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Length: 359 pages
Genre: YA
Format: Hard cover
Why I read it: A number of reasons.

What it’s About: 17 year old Kit is one of London’s most famous serial killers. She was trained by her mother from the time she was nine years old to be a killer and one day take over for her mother. She has a secret post box hidden in a restroom where she gets letters requesting her services. Kit is clever and arrogant, and very good at what she does. But when she murders a classmate, it seems like her luck is running out. To keep the suspicion off of her, she “helps” the police by giving the inspector clues and insight.

The review: This book was not without it’s flaws. Firstly, I can believe a serial killer bing young. Statistically most serial killers start between (I think) 16-30. So that’s not so far fetched. Especially when you take into account that Kit has been trained since a young age and her mother was a serial killer herself, and that Kit’s mom would let her help in the early years of her training.

Secondly, the police. Again not so far fetched that the police would get clues and what not from suspects/witnesses. I mean, it happens all the time. That’s how their job works. They interrogate/interview, the suspect/interviewee says something, bam, there is a clue for the cop right there and the cop then uses that clue to find more clues and catch the person they are looking for. That’s fine. But are we really to believe that all these anonymous people all over London know about Kit’s killing service and hire her to kill people, but the cops know nothing about it? Come on. That shit ain’t right.

Thirdly, why did the cops not suspect Kit? Or her mother for that matter? Kit’s mom retired because she almost got caught (at least that’s what I remember, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), so why not look at her or her daughter as possible suspects? It was one of Kit’s classmates that fueled the investigation after all, and cops generally look at the people closest to the victim first. And why did Alex not get fired for 1: Letting Kit in on a crime scene, and 2: Giving Kit information on a case that was so high profile.

Although, this book for all the flaws pointed out above was so freaking good. True, the writing and situations were lacking in places, but it was a highly entertaining read. I loved Kit. She was arrogant, she was over confident, she was a know-it-all, but she was a good leading character. I loved the idea of a jilted husband/wife writing a letter to have “The Perfect Killer” murder their spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend for cheating or lying or what have you, not knowing that they’ve hired a 17 year old girl. It’s a perfect stand alone book, but I wouldn’t mind if it was a series or a trilogy. And with the Author being so young herself, I can’t wait to see how her writing improves.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Almost.
Would I reread it? If I ever get through my current reading list, yes.
Would I purchase it? I’m not sure.
Would I recommend it? Already have, to many people.

The Essence by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Essence
Author: Kimberly Derting
Length: 352 pages
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Format: Hard cover
Rating: 2/5
Why I read it: Checked out of the library at the same time as the first one.

What it’s About: Charlie has been crowned Queen of Ludania, and she is trying to right the wrongs of former Queen Sabara. Unfortunately, Sarbara’s essence is living inside Charlie, trying to undermine her and raising Charlie’s self doubt. Meanwhile Charlie is going on a journey to other kingdoms to reconnect ties that Sarbara has severed. And while she does that, there is a trator in her company and an assassination attempt on her life.

The Good: I love the idea that Sarbara wasn’t so easy to defeat. Not only is she essentially still there, but the damage she caused throughout other kingdoms is a factor in her tyranny as well. I do love the fact that there is no love triangle, and the secret crush on the best friend angle comes from two secondary characters.

The Bad: The predictability. I hated it. Of course there was a traitor, why else would someone know Charlie’s every move on a secret mission? And can we just address the fact that her head of defense is an 18 year old? I’m all for young people making an impression and doing well at their jobs, but when you take someone who is so young, and has no experience leading an army and give them the authority to lead said army, there will be trouble. Especially when said eighteen year old is in the mist of forming a romance with her best friend. Thirdly, the journey to the summit was boring. And why would they choose to stop in a place that everyone, including the queen, has deemed dangerous? I know you’ve got to rest, but I think that if there was already an assassination attempt on the sole ruler of your country, you would refrain from stopping to make camp somewhere that you think is dangerous.

Final Thoughts: Unrealistic book is unrealistic. I kind of can’t wait for the underage ruler/king/queen trope to just go away.

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Length: 323 pages
Genre: YA; Dystopia
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2/5
Why I read it: Caught my eye at the Library

What it’s About: Ludania is a country divided by language. No two classes speak the same language except for the common Englaise, and if a member of the higher class speaks to you in their language, you can not look them in the eye. You are not even allowed to understand what they are saying to you. What happens if you do otherwise? You are executed. This is especially hard for Charlaina because she does understand all the other languages around her.

The Good: I really want to say something nice about this book. Especially since I couldn’t find anything nice about the last two books I reviewed. But the truth is, while I finished this book fairly quickly, the only really good thing about it was the packaging. When I saw it at the library, I was pulled in by the cover. Then I read the inside flap, and the story sounded intriguing. Unfortunately Derting’s book quickly escalated into a WTF senario. I think the one redeeming quality of the book was the characters. They were fairly complex. and you wanted to get to know them.

The Bad: As with most Dystopians, there wasn’t a lot of information of HOW the wold came to be what it was in the book. I’d love to read about that. Not info overload, but maybe a little something. Like what happened that the queen is a blood thursty bully? Why has it taken this long to try to fight against her? Why are the classes defined so specifically by language? I for one did not understand why the queen was feared so much. Honestly. I got that she had a decree saying that if you did something she didn’t like, she’d have you hanged, but except for a few times that the gallows were mentioned (in passing), or there was actually a hanging happening, which I’m not even sure there was, or maybe it was also mentioned in passing, I never really got the sense of danger that I think Derting intended. I think (and correct me if I’m wrong) she was going for the “always keep an eye out” vibe that fell just shy of the mark.

Final Thoughts: In all honesty, I remembered liking the book a lot more than I apparently did. It wasn’t until I sat and thought about it to review it that I actually realized that it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I like the premise of the book. It’s simple. Language is as a barrier. That’s not so far of a stretch. It does happen in everyday life. But I think it just wasn’t executed correctly. It was clear that Derting’s queen was going to be a tyrant from the start, but Derting didn’t understand the character herself, which is disappointing and sad.

The One by Kiera Cass

Title: The One
Author: Kiera Cass
Length: 323 Pages
Genre: YA
Format: ePUB
Rating: 2/5
Why I read it: I read the first two. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.

What it’s About: The continuing saga of America’s tug of war with the hearts and minds of two men, and Maxon’s continuing stupidity. Meanwhile, death and rebels.

The Good: Nope. Sorry. Nothing good found.

The Bad: Is it really possible to hate a main character more as you progress through the books? Yes. Yes it is. As if I needed anything more to make me hate her, America proved to be even more of a let down than before. I had been waiting for her character to develop over the course of the three books, but sadly she was just selfish, immature, idiotic, indecisive, and shallow. I gave her a lot of slack too. I mean she was very upfront about only being at the palace to get money, and Maxon did seem to, if not understand, at least go with it and cater to her (for lack of a better phrase) gold-digging, but by book three I was hoping she would have at least grown a little. The love triangle, while overused in the YA genre, usually serves a purpose, but in this story, I think the purpose was to make America look even worse. In fact, there were a lot of things that didn’t make any sense. Like the rebels. One group who is vicious and kills for power, and the other who…break into the palace and steal books…What? Why? I know knowledge is power, and I know history is important, but why did these people have to steal the books? Why not, I don’t know, appeal to the king (or Queen or even Maxon) to set up a lending system? Or something. As for the world building, well there wasn’t any. Really none. In dystopias it’s understood that the world went to hell. But there is little to explain how it went to hell. But In Cass’s books, there is NOTHING to explain just what happened to make the Caste system. And why couldn’t the country afford to have soldiers? Why not take a bunch of the poorest castes and make them soldiers? Is it a lack of money to pay them? Is it because the king didn’t think to do it? Is there nowhere to build a barracks to house them? Cass, please we, as readers, need these things to be explained!!!!

Final Thoughts: I really just can’t fathom why this was a series. I can’t fathom how it was a series that has 5 (!) novella and two more sequels to come out! I’ll be honest, I am going to read the last two books, but only for two reasons 1. to see how it ends, 2. to see if America becomes the queen Maxon evidentially thinks she deserves to be (doubtful).

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Length: 336 Pages
Genre: YA
Format: ePUB
Rating: 2/5
Why I read it: Sequel

What it’s About: The continuing story of America’s time at the palace competing to become queen. Only this time around, Guess who shows up at the palace as a royal guard! Yep, Aspen.

The Good: I can’t. There was nothing. It failed.

The Bad: The whole time I was thinking “Please don’t let America be this stupid.” but no, she was. She and Aspen broke up so she could enter into the competition. I get that her feelings for someone she dated and was in love with for two years will not magically go away. I understand that the only initial reason she entered was to get money for her family. I can even applaud her being so up front about it that she told Maxon. But that’s where my understanding ran out. America, sweetie, a little word of advice, if you want to go as far as you can in the competition, don’t plan secret rendevues with your ex. Especially not when you could get thrown out of, if not killed, for NOT BEING A VIRGIN! maxon, I know you “don’t have much experiance with girls” but that it no damn reason for you to let America take advantage of you. You are going to be king one day. It will be your job to take care of your kingdom. Grow up and grow a pair. And while you are at it, try to learn a bit about what the fuck is happening in said kingdom. And you might want to either up the palace security if you are going to announce that there are regular raids on the palace. Just saying.

Final Thoughts: While I was reading this book, I got banned from the living room. I was not allowed to read it anywhere except my office. Not because my husband wanted to be a tyrant or anything, but because I was yelling at the book so much.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Warning: Here be Spoilers

Title: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
Author: Anton DiSclafani
Length: 390 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: ePUB
Rating: 2/5
Why I read it: Book club selection from 2014

What it’s About: in 1930, sixteen year old Thea Atwell is sent to the Riding Camp/ Boarding School after an accident in the family threatens to disgrace her.

The Good: Throughout the story there are hints that there was more to Thea’s story than what she was telling. I kept reading, not because I wanted to know what the big tragic, disgracing secret was, but because I wanted to see how it would come out. I think Thea’s only real redeeming quality was when it came to her friendships with some of the other girls at the camp. He bunkate, I guess I could call them. She was loyal to a select few of them.

The Bad: Thea was such an inconsistent character. She was selfish, and I did not feel sorry for her at all. Some in my book club argued that she was the way she was simply because she was sheltered, but I didn’t see it quite like that. True, she had only ever been in the company of her twin brother, and her cousin Georgie, but that is no excuse for her actions, especially her actions while at Yonahlossee. I understand that she got punished for sleeping with her cousin. but I don’t understand why her brother didn’t get punished/sent away for beating said cousin so badly that he got brain damage. As for Thea, it seems that sending her away for sleeping with Georgie didn’t work because she ends up sleeping with the headmaster of the school.

Final Thoughts: This book was not what I expected. Not at all. I was disappointed by the book and wanted to either slap, sling, or shake Thea throughout the whole thing. There were parts I didn’t quite understand, like why set it at a riding camp, especially seeing as the fact that there were horses and riding a sort of after thought. And did Thea befriend the headmaster’s daughters simply because she developed a crush on him, Or did she genuinely like them?