Draw me a picture of something you LOVE.

It’s too cold to venture outdoors this morning so I had to get creative about how to fill our day today. I decided to do a quick little arts & crafts project with BB after breakfast. It’s been awhile since we’ve spent some time just coloring and drawing together and with today being the last day of January, I had the perfect project for her to work on.

I bought a 2013 calendar at a craft store that had a blank square on each month for kids to draw their own calendar picture. I knew my kids would love the idea but I also found out in January that I am lazy and I never did ask the kids to draw a picture for January. To break the cycle I had BB draw a picture for the month of February and I’m guessing that now that the trend has been established that the kids will be asking me to color future months so I won’t have to be the one to remember.

My direction for this was simply asking her if she’d please draw me a picture for our calendar. I suggested she draw a picture of something she loves, talking to her a little bit about Valentines Day. Then while she worked I brought out a little top secret Valentines Day project I’m working on for Dan. We were both armed with some makers and time for creativity. She was thrilled to watch me work on a project for daddy and I made sure to ask her about her work. She says it’s all about how she’s going to marry me and MM is going to marry daddy and then she and MM are both going to marry our next door neighbor’s kids. Of course.

It may not look like much of anything in particular but she put a LOT of work into this and a lot of time and thought. Each color was quite specifically chosen and there are lots of stories to go along with each little scribble. And I got to spend some quality time coloring / drawing with my little girl and nothing tops that. :O)

random acts of snow day kindness

We got a few inches of snow this morning and into the afternoon so around 4pm I figured I’d better get started shoveling so that Dan could get into the garage when he got home.

MM was playing at his friend’s house – taking advantage of the snow on the ground while it was there – which left me alone with BB so I decided to bundle her up and make the best out of it, asking her to come help me shovel. She was, of course, delighted.

The hard part, I knew, was going to be keeping her as far away from the street as I could and as I approached the end of the driveway and she of course followed me like a shadow, I was about to worry that this wasn’t going to work after all when suddenly my next door neighbor appeared with his snow blower. It seems he’d finished cleaning out his driveway and had seen BB and I shoveling and he quickly came over and offered to clear our driveway also while he was out. I gratefully accepted his help and had BB help me with our little walkway up to the house while he made quick work of our driveway.

I am so grateful and feel so blessed. This would have taken me possibly hours (because I’m a wimp and out of shape). I hurt my shoulder a bit just shoveling the driveway and can’t help but think how much worse I might have hurt myself it left to my own devices out there and how long it would have taken.

I love that we live in the kind of neighborhood where you help your neighbors and are friendly. Where my son can walk to his best friend’s house without me being a complete nervous wreck (it’s only two houses away but still). I love *having* a driveway that needs to be shoveled because it means that we are homeowners. I love having a sweet daughter who still thinks that shoveling with her mom is an amazing adventure.

It’s easy to look at the remnants of this afternoon and just see muddy footprints, soaking wet winter hats and jackets and a sore back – I want to make sure I take this moment to be grateful for the kindness of strangers and remember what a wonderful world we live in and how blessed my family is. ❤

‘Shippers Delight: Two Major Kisses on TV This Week!

Let me preface this by saying that, at heart, I’m still kind of a 14 year old fan girl. I get very caught up in the relationships on the tv shows I watch – I cried like a baby through the whole MerDer saga and have been a Joey / Pacey fan from the start. You get the idea, I’m a giant nerd.

Anyway, it’s seems like the TV gods are on my side this week (or perhaps it’s just that time in the tv seasons for ‘shipper progress – either way, I’m so not complaining). Two of the potential “ships” I’ve been hoping for have made serious progress this week with a The Kiss moment that had me internally squealing like a fan girl.

The first being New Girl’s Nick & Jess with a steamy kiss at the tail end of the episode that it seems had a lot of fans cheering and hitting the rewind buttons on their DVRs and then a memorable line from Nick, “I meant something like that,” as he walked away. Jess’s look afterwards really says it all and I’m possibly a little too excited to see where their relationship  goes from there. Ignoring that whole lame She Has a Boyfriend thing because, honestly, who cares?

And then there’s Emily Owens, a show that had to rush their love plot tremendously I’m guessing when they found out the show would be cancelled at the end of it’s first season. Last night Micah finally worked up the nerve to kiss Emily and next week we’ll find out who she chooses… Micah (yess!!!!) or her longtime crush Will who is conveniently and suddenly single (boo!). I think it’s so incredibly obvious that it should be Micah, but I guess I’ll have to wait to see how the TV gods feel about me next week.

Any other exciting ‘shipper development on your favorite shows right now?

Tuesday10: Momma’s 10 Favorite Books

Tuesday10 officially has a new home at My Life as Mindy! This week’s prompt is open ended. Mindy shared 10 things about herself, a great way to get to know her if you haven’t been following her blog already. This week I thought I’d get all book nerd on you and share my 10 favorite books: my little list of must reads for anyone who’s ever thought “Jen has such awesome taste in books, I wonder what books I should read if I wanted to be just like her!” Anyone?

  1. First off, everybody loves The Hunger Games and I definitely love me some YA dystopian novels but one of my favorites that you absolutely must read if you want to Be Like Jen is the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. This series has all the usual dystopian factors you’d expect but it’s far from predictable. I love the sort of made up language and dialect in this book. When you start adding a -la or -wa to the end of your name and tell your friends that something is nervous-making then you’ll know you’ve got the Uglies bug (which is a good thing, I swear). “Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke” and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”
  2. Everybody has that classic novel that they always throw into the ring when someone says “What’s your favorite book?” and you want to sound really smart. My favorite Smart Person Book is Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read the book when I had just graduated from college and was feeling a little disappointed in myself for some less than polite choices I’d made. Reading Gone With the Wind kind of cured me and made me love myself again. I found myself admiring Scarlett no matter how many selfish or less than polite things she did or said and I figured, if I can find Scarlett’s actions forgivable then clearly I can forgive myself. And that’s probably more than you wanted to know about that! But seriously – this is a fantastic book with action and love and heartbreak and friendship and well, everything. Even a boy named Ashley. “Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s epic love story is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and its people forever changed. At the heart of all this chaos is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett ‘O’ Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.”
  3. While we’re talking about classics that I love, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen must be mentioned. Perhaps the best love story ever written and also terrifically funny once you get used to the older dialect and vocabulary. This is one of those books that I am mildly obsessed with and I know I am not alone. Much like my love of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, it’s kind of like saying you like Morgan Freeman. Obviously. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
  4. I read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman last year and it quickly earned “favorite” status with me. I adore Hoffman’s writing style and character weaving. This book is masterfully written. I love historical fiction and this is that genre at it’s absolute best. “In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.”
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern might be one of the best books I have ever read. It’s one of those books that sucks you in and captivates you from the beginning to the end. Beautifully written with an amazing love story – this is a book you absolutely must read or we’re not speaking anymore. “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. “
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was one of the first books that I read with my current book club and it continues to be one of my absolutely favorites. Written as a series of letters, this book is just masterful from beginning to end. ““ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….”
  7. Lamb by Christopher Moore is one of my favorite “funny” books. The fictional story of Jesus as told by his best friend Biff is an excellent introduction to the world of Christopher Moore and probably his best book written. It’s crass and silly but also extremely well written and clever. “Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.”
  8. I love me a good memoir of any kind and Jen Lancaster has become one of my favorite memoir-style authors. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster is one of my favorites, chronicling her attempts at weight loss which were all too easy for me to relate to. This will be the funniest weight loss book you ever read. “To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?”
  9. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and all the Thursday Next books, is one of my favorite Smart Funny books. It is an English Major’s paradise with some awesome sci-fi twists thrown in. These books always take me awhile to get through as the plots are incredibly complex – but it is always worth the ride. “Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.”
  10. Lastly, having just finished devouring Trail of the Spellmans last night, I am reminded why The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz has become one of my very favorite series books. Light quirky mystery books centering around Isobel Spellman and her family of private investigators – these books are hysterical and cleverly written with the funniest footnotes you will ever read. I love a book with great attention to detail – the kind where you find yourself reading every inch, the cover, the spine, the appendix – just to check for little nuggets of carefully included funny. This is one of those books. “Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors — but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.”

So those are some of my favorites – the books you must read if you wish to join (start?) my Jen Fan Club – I could list more, but then it wouldn’t be a Tuesday10. But this should get you started!

So what are some of your favorite Must Read books?

Things are pretty simple around here and there is only one requirement for Tuesday10… Make a list of 10 things and share it!



Book Review: Trail of the Spellmans (Document #5) by Lisa Lutz

spellmanI have been such a huge fan of Lutz and the Spellman Files series for years now (you can read my reviews of some of her previous books here) and I have to say, five books in and she has yet to disappoint me!

For those uneducated in all things Spellman, Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz is 5th in a series about a wacky, dysfunctional family of private investigators and what it’s like to grow up in a family with no concept of privacy or boundaries. Expect a few mysteries and intrigues, a couple of highly complicated love stories, some seriously funny footnotes and family dinner scenes that will make your own family seem quite normal by comparison! Terrifically funny but also clever and insightful. These books truly have it all.

FOR THE FIRST TIME in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities—with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy’s brother and sister are at war—for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying “banana” even though she hates bananas. That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother.

Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers—even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.

Document #5 was just as terrific as the previous four. This book centers around the various secrets that each family member is keeping from one another and involves a lot of crossed paths and crooked agendas and unlikely pairings. Although there is that little bit towards the end that I’m a little disappointed about (if you’ve read the book, you know exactly what I’m talking about but I won’t spoil it for the rest of you)! I am anxiously crossing my fingers for good (or at least better) things to come where that *being vague so as not to spoil* situation is concerned in the next novel which is due out in July according to the powers that be at Amazon.com.

Major Spellman fans will also want to keep an eye out for How to Negotiate Everything : a picture book by Lutz due out in May 2013 that will make more sense to you after you’ve read Trail of the Spellmans. Parents should purchase with caution!

The First Three Doctors.

The-Three-DoctorsYou may have picked up on the fact that my husband and I are giant Doctor Who Nerds or Whovians. We have seen all the of seasons of the newest reboot of Doctor Who which includes all episodes from 2005-present. We have been anxiously awaiting a new episode on BBC America since Christmas.

So you can imagine we were all kinds of delighted when we noticed that Netflix has now compiled Classic Doctor Who episodes in one handy little link on Netflix Instant. We spent the weekend watching episodes from the first three doctor’s collections of work. The collections or seasons are pretty sparse with just four episodes each for the first two doctors but I actually found this to be a nice manageable way to get a taste for each doctor and sample 20 years or so of Whovian history.

We are about halfway into the fourth collection of episodes, The Three Doctors (1972) which actually has all three of the first three doctors working together to solve an attack at Unit HQ. So while I am certainly not an expert on the first three Doctors, I have seen enough to throw in my two cents on each of them.

The First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) played the doctor from 1963-1966. To be fair I’ve only seen 4 or 5 episodes of Hartnell’s (mostly The Aztecs) portrayal as the Doctor but if I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t a fan. His version of the Doctor felt a bit stiff and boring and occasionally mean. He didn’t seem to have that urge to Save the World that his later incarnations had and I didn’t necessarily buy him as this amazingly brilliant guy who could figure anything out. The show itself just wasn’t as fun. If this had been my first introduction to Doctor Who, I’m not convinced I’d still be watching…

The Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) starred in Doctor Who from 1966 to 1969. He is definitely a much sillier Doctor and appealed to me quickly in the Mind Robbers episodes that I watched as well as his stint in The Three Doctors in the 70’s. He is much more youthful as the Doctor and has that amazingly intelligent thing down. Perhaps this had more to do with the era in which he played the doctor than anything, but either way it made for a much more enjoyable watching experience. My six year old Whovian fanatic son would agree with this assessment. I also really liked his companions in the Mind Robbers a lot, where I never really took a shine to the first doctor’s companions.

The Third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee) played the Doctor from (1970–1974). Netflix has a lot more of Pertwee’s episodes available to watch and luckily for me I like him perhaps best of the first three. He has the same smarty pants quality but charm to spare as well. His companions have been intelligent but not boring and his story lines good though the first couple of episodes were a bit trying on my patience as they mostly featured the other actors (members of UNIT and the bad guys, etc.) and though the plot was interesting, the good Doctor definitely made the shows worth watching. Luckily he got a lot more screen time as the episodes progressed!

That’s just my take of course. What did you think of the original Doctors? Who were your favorites / least favorites?

Thoughts on: The First Three Doctors

fangirlingjen

You may have picked up on the fact that my husband and I are giant Doctor Who Nerds or Whovians. We have seen all the of seasons of the newest reboot of Doctor Who which includes all episodes from 2005-present. We have been anxiously awaiting a new episode on BBC America since Christmas.

So you can imagine we were all kinds of delighted when we noticed that Netflix has now compiled Classic Doctor Who episodes in one handy little link on Netflix Instant. We spent the weekend watching episodes from the first three doctor’s collections of work. The collections or seasons are pretty sparse with just four episodes each for the first two doctors but I actually found this to be a nice manageable way to get a taste for each doctor and sample 20 years or so of Whovian history.

We are about halfway into the fourth collection of episodes, The Three Doctors (1972) which actually has all three of the first three doctors working together to solve an attack at Unit HQ. So while I am certainly not an expert on the first three Doctors, I have seen enough to throw in my two cents on each of them.

The First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) played the doctor from 1963-1966. To be fair I’ve only seen 4 or 5 episodes of Hartnell’s (mostly The Aztecs) portrayal as the Doctor but if I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t a fan. His version of the Doctor felt a bit stiff and boring and occasionally mean. He didn’t seem to have that urge to Save the World that his later incarnations had and I didn’t necessarily buy him as this amazingly brilliant guy who could figure anything out. The show itself just wasn’t as fun. If this had been my first introduction to Doctor Who, I’m not convinced I’d still be watching…

The Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) starred in Doctor Who from 1966 to 1969. He is definitely a much sillier Doctor and appealed to me quickly in the Mind Robbers episodes that I watched as well as his stint in The Three Doctors in the 70’s. He is much more youthful as the Doctor and has that amazingly intelligent thing down. Perhaps this had more to do with the era in which he played the doctor than anything, but either way it made for a much more enjoyable watching experience. My six year old Whovian fanatic son would agree with this assessment. I also really liked his companions in the Mind Robbers a lot, where I never really took a shine to the first doctor’s companions.

The Third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee) played the Doctor from (1970–1974). Netflix has a lot more of Pertwee’s episodes available to watch and luckily for me I like him perhaps best of the first three. He has the same smarty pants quality but charm to spare as well. His companions have been intelligent but not boring and his story lines good though the first couple of episodes were a bit trying on my patience as they mostly featured the other actors (members of UNIT and the bad guys, etc.) and though the plot was interesting, the good Doctor definitely made the shows worth watching. Luckily he got a lot more screen time as the episodes progressed!

That’s just my take of course. What did you think of the original Doctors? Who were your favorites / least favorites?

You aren’t seeing double: This post is cross blogged at Jen’s personal blog.

Always a Princess.

My daughter has decided that her name is Princess. At just three years old she has already gotten to that Teenager Phase of abandoning the name that was foisted upon her by her simple minded parental unit and is now going by the moniker of her own choosing. Princess.

You think I’m exaggerating but after 18 weeks of gymnastics classes her teachers were still confused why she insisted on being called “Brenda” / Princess and not the name that her parents had enrolled her under.

When we go to the grocery store and the check out clerk is of the Friendly variety and asks the kids their name before giving them a sticker, MM dutifully replies with his name, age, school grade and a please and thank you and BB rolls her eyes and says “PRINCESS” and takes the sticker and walks away. You can only waste so much time on commoners, you know.

I know Princesses get a bad rap in some households with their Maiden in Distress Complexes and Love Sick Schoolgirl Tendencies, but for the most part I am totally cool with the Princess phase. We have found some excellent Princess role models in Sofia the First, Merida from Brave and honestly all the other princesses if you focus on the good traits that all the girls have.

It’s about finding teachable moments within their interests and milking them for all they’re worth. Look how Cinderella does all her chores! Isn’t Snow White polite? Princesses always eat their vegetables, you know. If you use the potty, you can wear a Princess Pull Up! And a tiara!

Make it work, momma!

 

PhotoFuniaArtGallery

Upgrading to Windows 8: PhotoFunia, Facebook Games & More

It pains me a little bit to type this but I’m just going to spit it out and move on, okay? Last weekend I upgraded to Windows 8, taking advantage of a deal they are running that lets you upgrade for just $40 until the end of the month (full retail price is $199 so that is one heck of a bargain). I think this was the first time I’ve ever been grateful that I had Windows 7 on a separate partition over the past year instead of completely wiping the whole drive when I quickly switched to Linux after buying my current computer.

Blah, blah, blah. Geeky blathering aside, so far I have to say the newest OS from Microsoft is not that bad…. Their whole tablet friendly start screen is still taking some getting used to and we’ll see how I feel after more than a couple of days using it, but so far I’m content. They’ve made something that feels fun and personalized but still runs pretty efficiently and mostly makes sense. And it was kind of glorious to be able to download Picasa onto my computer without being all MacGyver and tricking it into thinking I was running on a different OS and then still not quite getting the whole program working properly. Installing Picasa on Windows was so easy, so painless, so glorious… I think I might have just forfeited my Linux Geek card by typing that, but it’s true.

So aside from just trying to get my documents moved and settle into a new OS environment and go about my usual techy day of blogging about my latest book obsessions and playing Fashion Week Live on Facebook (shut up, I’ll do what I want), I’ve also been trying to take some time to explore the Windows 8 start screen thingy (I’m not sure what the actual name is and I’m too lazy to look it up, but its the word that my husband keeps saying and then I give him a blank stare and he says “you know the start screen thingy?” and I nod yes and we move on) and look at some of the apps that I can use.

Although it seems ridiculous to download an app on my personal computer, I have found at least one app that has been a fun time killer, called PhotoFunia. It’s a photo editing tool that lets you run all sorts of fun and random effects and filters over your pictures. This app goes way beyond sepia tone and blemish removal (actually there is no blemish removal – this is not a tool for people that want to touch up their photos, it’s more of just a fun filter app for your pictures that lets you put your face on a magazine or billboard or inside a picture frame in someone’s hands… Or turn a picture of your child into a framed portrait hanging in an art gallery (see photo at the top of this post).

So… there, I’ve said it. I’m using Windows 8 and sort of having a good time. I can’t guarantee that next week I won’t threaten to throw it out my actual window when it starts misbehaving, but for the moment I am mostly content in my computing world. ::knock on wood::

– update – Windows 8 is totally calling it a Start Screen so now I’m not sure what I was talking about. This is what happens when I smile and nod and pretend I was paying attention. I have no idea what my husband was talking about now.

orange is the new black by piper kerman

Book Review: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

orange is the new blackOne of the things that I love most about the book club I belong to is the huge diversity in books that I’ve been exposed to (my second favorite thing is the hilarious and wacky conversations that are largely off topic). Each month one of our members gets to select three books they’d like to read and then the group votes on the one that is most interesting to the majority of us. This means that we get a real peek into the reading habits of our members and get to broaden our horizons quite a bit when it comes to book choices.

Some of my favorite books that I read last year were book club picks that I might never have picked up otherwise. Books like These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang and now this month’s pick Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman are just some of the awesome books I’ve been exposed to thanks to my book club.

Our first pick of 2013 is all about one woman’s 13 month sentence in a women’s prison:

“When Piper Kerman was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she’d been when, shortly after graduating Smith College, she’d committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her.Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

Kerman spent thirteen months in prison, eleven of them at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, where she met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances. In Orange Is the New Black, Kerman tells the story of those long months locked up in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated.”

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. The premise sounded potentially funny, inspiring, educational but also possibly depressing and disappointing and possibly boring since it’s nonfiction. Luckily for this month’s book club meeting, it definitely fell more into the funny, inspiring, educational side.

I thought this book was really interesting and well written. Not only do we get to read about her time in prison, but we also read about the facts of her life that brought her to her arrest as well as the lives of several of her fellow inmates. Being able to get that “fly on a wall” look at life inside a prison for a year was kind of cool. Kerman serves as a great narrator for this book as she seems like someone who gets along with pretty much anyone. She befriends a lot of different people and also makes for a narrator that is easy to relate to. It also probably kept her out of a lot of trouble during her imprisonment.

I also like that she takes the time to talk about all the times in her life that she could have asked for help or done something different – and the choices that she has made that brought her to her situation. It is the kind of book that you can learn a lot from without feeling like you are being preached at or lectured.This was a pretty fascinating book for me despite having no connection to the topic (or perhaps because of) but I think it would also be a useful and informative book for any woman who is facing imprisonment or knows somebody who is – or is planning to have a career as a prison guard, warden, lawyer, etc. Kerman saw a lot in her year in prison and she holds nothing back so there is a lot to learn within the pages of this funny and sassy peek into her experience.

Now was this the best written, most interesting book I’ve ever read? No, of course not – it won’t hold up in comparison to literary treats like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern of course, but I definitely found this book to be well written, interesting and a relatively easy to read – you can’t ask for much more than that!