Review: My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem

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“If you travel long enough, every story becomes a novel.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Feminism, Memoir, Biography

Reading Challenge: 8 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.

My Thoughts —

Last term, I took a Women’s History course in uni which focused on the women’s social movements in North America from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. The content of the course got me really into feminism. I mean, I was already a feminist prior to, but it sort of ignited in me a desire to learn more about the efforts of women in these movements. So I have set myself on a mission to read more books - fiction and non-fiction - by female authors, about female stories.

My Life on the Road is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a while, but didn’t really know much about. I just knew that a) it was apparently a great book, and b) Gloria Steinem was a feminist. Now that I’ve actually read the book, I’ve looked into Gloria Steinem more and am completely blown away with all the activism she has done for the majority of her life. She has spoken up on a ton of issues pertaining to women and equality, and has advocated for women’s control over their own bodies. Truly, she’s inspirational.

I was completely in awe of Gloria’s stories. This is a woman who has literally lived on the road. She has seen so much, experienced things that most people never will. And most of what she has seen was in most American’s backyard - they just haven’t bothered to look for it. I think one of the main messages I took from this book was that there is a whole world out there. There’s so much to see and do and, most importantly, there’s people living lives we could never fathom. We need to seek these things out. Spending our whole lives in a tiny, isolated corner of the world isn’t living at all.

Have you read Gloria Steinem’s book? What were your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: The Sun Does Shine - Anthony Ray Hinton

“Everything, I realized, is a choice. And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography, True Crime

Reading Challenge: 2 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black when he was convicted of two murders he hadn't committed. For the next three decades he was trapped in solitary confinement in a tiny cell on death row, having to watch as - one by one - his fellow prisoners were taken past him to the execution room. Eventually his case was taken up by the award-winning lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, who managed to have him exonerated, though it took 15 years for this to happen. Since his release, other high-profile supporters have included Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Amal Clooney.

How did Hinton cope with the mental and emotional torture of his situation, and emerge full of compassion and forgiveness? The Sun Does Shine throws light not only on his remarkable personality but also on social deprivation and miscarriages of justice. Ultimately, though, it's a triumphant story of the resilience of the human spirit.

My Thoughts —

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. I immediately added it to my TBR and then at my first chance, I went out to hunt for it in the shop. (I actually ended up getting it on sale, thanks Books-A-Million!).

I was shocked that it could be possible that someone could not only be wrongfully convicted, but put on death row for decades. Even more so, his positivity astonished me. If it were me, I would be miserable as I’m sure many others would be. But Anthony Ray Hinton managed to get through it with his head high and full of optimism. He spread light to the other prisoners and honestly made me completely reconsider my perception of the prison system.

I was completely inspired by Anthony Ray Hinton’s story. It made me really reconsider my own position in life and be grateful for my privileges. Ray was imprisoned simply because he was poor and black - we can’t let the world fail people like Ray anymore.

Felicia x

Review: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - Alison Arngrim

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Title: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Author: Alison Arngrim

Publisher: It Books

Release Date: June 15th 2010

Pages: 302

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“By making me a bitch, you have freed me from the trite, bourgeois prison of ‘likeability’. Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people.”

Y’all probably know by now how I’ve got a bit of an undying love for Little House on the Prairie. Yes, I know it’s extremely outdated and at times super offensive. But my love for it stems from the fact that it was a huge staple of my childhood. I watched it with my mum, but mostly my grandmother who took care of me as a kid when my parents worked. We bonded over this show about this little pioneer gal and her family, particularly the perpetually shirtless Pa. I read the series of books approximately a hundred times, bending On The Banks of Plum Creek into despair, and even wrote my own stories about Laura Ingalls when I was 9. So I guess it’s not much of a surprise that I practically bolted to my car and took off to the bookstore the minute I heard Alison Arngrim had released a memoir.

If you don’t know, Alison Arngrim is the actress who brought Nellie Oleson to the small screen. Nellie Oleson is the epitome of mean girl - in fact, sometimes she can be downright evil. I spent my childhood tucked in front of that tv, watching Alison Arngrim flawlessly have temper tantrum after temper tantrum, making Nellie a character you love to hate.

As it turns out, a fair chunk of Alison Arngrim’s story is actually quite grim. Despite living in Hollywood as a child and brushing elbows with all sorts of great stars, including Liberace, she did not have a good childhood. Behind those bouncy blonde curls, Alison was really struggling. Her childhood was plagued with sexual abuse from her older brother. The stories she told about the abuse were extremely difficult to read. It’s so sad to imagine that behind the scenes of such a happy-go-lucky show like Little House, someone was dealing with such horrible things. Her story of overcoming the abuse and going onto work for the National Association to Protect Children was so powerful and I respect her immensely for her courage.

I know what you’re probably all thinking - can a child star from the 1970s really write a good book? The answer is, yes. Very much so. Alison’s writing was so clever and witty, it actually had me laughing out loud a few times. I read the majority of this book on a plane beside my mum, and I had to keep leaning over to read her funny excerpts. My personal favourite part was when she described with brutal honesty each of the main characters in the novel.

Of course, a large chunk of this book was about her time spent on Little House. It’s not called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch for nothing! Her stories about Little House are, fortunately, far more light-hearted than the other stories in her book. She speaks about her memories of the show and the people involved very honestly. While she had a good relationship with most of the cast - particularly with Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Steve Tracy (Percival Dalton) - she didn’t with others. The stories about Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) were blatant and so amusing. That whole portion of the book would really appeal to Little House fans looking for a little behind-the-scenes gossip.

This was a short, but great memoir. I really enjoyed reading it and would totally recommend it to anyone who’s watched and loved Little House as it really gives a nostalgic feel for those good ol’ pioneer days (or at least, the sort of pioneer days that Michael Landon envisioned lol).

Did you watch Little House on the Prairie? Did you love it, too?

Goodreads Challenge: 19 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me - Mindy Kaling

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Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Release Date: November 1st 2011

Pages: 222

My Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”

Hi friends! Welcome back. I read Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me ages ago, but never ended up writing a review on it for whatever reason. So I thought I’d finally get to it and write up a little review.

Disclaimer: I read this back in April, so I don’t remember everything. This is going to be a quite short and sweet review!

I think Mindy Kaling is fabulous. She is so funny and so talented. I absolutely loved her on The Office and thought her role on The Mindy Project was hilarious (for the short time I watched it eek!!). So I was really excited when I found out that she had written a memoir. With her work on The Office to go by, I was ready to hunker down and dive into this one.

I literally read this book in two sittings. It was a really quick read and the fact that it was funny made it even easier to read. The only thing I found was that certain parts of the book seemed like Mindy was trying a bit too hard to be funny or relatable… Sometimes it just got a little too much and I just wasn’t really into that. Like, certain parts were genuinely so funny, don’t get me wrong. It just sometimes felt like Mindy was saying “Look! I’m just your everyday average girl!” and I found it a little harder to believe it as authentic.

I did think the stuff about her experiences working on The Office were really interesting. As you may know, I’ve been into The Office for about a year and a half now, and I’m also the sort of person who loves juicy, behind the scenes tell-alls. This didn’t reach full gossip potential, however it did give a good look at what it would’ve been like working on and filming The Office which was really great!

Really, that’s all there is to say about this one. I thought it was okay - not my favourite sort of book, but definitely a fun read. I’d say it was something similar to Anna Kendrick’s book, Scrappy Little Nobody, which I reviewed earlier this year. So if that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll really enjoy this, I think!

Are you a Mindy Kaling fan?

Goodreads Challenge: 15 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Boy Erased - Garrard Conley

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“I came to therapy thinking that my sexuality didn’t matter, but it turned out that every part of my personality was intimately connected. Cutting one piece damaged the rest.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir, LGBT

Reading Challenge: 13 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. 

By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, Boy Erased is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.

My Thoughts —

I came across this book online in a post that listed off a bunch of must-read nonfiction books. As I’ve probably mentioned in my earlier book reviews, this year I wanted to delve more into genres that I don’t typically reach for, and nonfiction is definitely one of them. After reading a few nonfics already, I was eager to read another so I decided to pick this one up. And it was definitely a good choice.

I thought this book was really interesting because Garrard’s story is one that could’ve easily gone untold. He’s from a small southern town, where he was raised by a fundamentalist family helmed by a father who was, at the time, working towards becoming a pastor. His father views homosexuality as a sin, therefore leading Garrard to hide his sexuality from his father and the rest of his friends. At the start, Garrard went into Love In Action somewhat willingly - not because he was dying to do it, but because he was horrified with how his family saw him once they discovered his sexuality. The fact that he found the strength to go against the therapy was what made this book so remarkable because frankly, the experiences he went through were so demeaning and horrifying. I could’ve even handle it sometimes from a reader’s point of view. I can’t begin to imagine what he went through himself, living it.

The stories Garrard tells about his early adulthood - not just about his time in conversion therapy, but in university, too - are harrowing and heartbreaking. So many times I had to stop reading for a second because it was just so difficult to get through. It’s so hard to imagine a nineteen-year-old going through all of what he went through. He had zero support system whatsoever, especially once everyone around him began to find out about his sexuality. They acted as if his sexuality had anything to do with what sort of a person he is, which is despicable honestly.

I think that arguably the most important aspect of this book was that it shed light on the fact that there are still conversion therapies open and commonly used, even in the United States. Love In Action, where Garrard attended conversion therapy, only just shut down in 2012. From a quick Google search, I found that only a handful of States have a ban on conversion therapy for minors. The rest still permit it, which is something I didn’t even consider until I read this book. I hope that this book continues to make that a more widely known fact, so that there can be more done to get rid of these horrible therapies.

Have you read Boy Erased?

Felicia x

Review: Scrappy Little Nobody - Anna Kendrick

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Title: Scrappy Little Nobody

Author: Anna Kendrick

Publisher: Touchstone

Release Date: November 15th 2016

Pages: 275

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“I lost a Tony award to Broadway legend Audra McDonald when I was twelve, so I’ve been a bitter bitch since before my first period.”

Hello everyone! Recently I read Anna Kendrick’s book, Scrappy Little Nobody and had to come on here to review it because wow, what a ride.

This book was wonderful. Anna Kendrick’s memoir was perhaps one of the best I’ve read yet. She honestly seems like one of the most genuine celebrities ever — or at least, she can act like it — and wow, is she funny.

I just really enjoyed this. I went to my good friend Google to see if she had actually written this herself or had it ghost written (you never know!) but from what I can tell, it’s all her. And I’m not surprised. If you follow Anna Kendrick’s Twitter account, you’re probably already fully aware that she’s a hilarious person. That humour translates nicely to her memoir writing as well.

Her anecdotes were really amusing and sure, she does play that ‘quirky, too-cool-for-this girl’ role a bit more often than I'm usually a fan of, but a lot of what she talked about seemed genuine, at least to me anyway. The essays were fairly short and sweet, which is just how I like ‘em! I find that in a lot of cases, people can drag their personal stories on for ages and ages, by no fault of their own. But fortunately, Anna Kendrick didn’t fall into that trap.

No matter how she’s perceived (some reviewers on Goodreads said she seems ‘pretentious’), I think it’s quite ballsy of her to put such personal stories on paper and publish it for the whole world to see. I respect her immensely for it. Being completely authentic and honest is certainly no easy feat, especially as a celebrity I’d imagine. Anna Kendrick was a good sport about some of the things that would be pretty embarrassing to write about!

All in all, this was a witty, fun read. It didn’t take long to finish and I did have a few giggles along the way.

Are you a fan of Anna Kendrick?

Goodreads Challenge: 11 out of 50

Felicia x