Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention by Mindy Hardwick #BookReview #NonFiction

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kidsinorange

Title: Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention
Author: Mindy Hardwick
Series: n/a
Format: Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Publication Details: February 23rd 2017 by Eagle Bay Press
Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Crime; Writing
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

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The gang leader doesn’t like poetry, but will a detention center workshop show her how to express love for her newborn daughter? A teen boy dies of a drug overdose. Will his final poem speak what he cannot say? 

In the middle of a career change from teacher to writer, Mindy Hardwick volunteered to facilitate a weekly poetry workshop at a juvenile detention center. By helping the teens write poetry about their lives, Mindy discovered strength and courage to grieve the loss of her father, find forgiveness and release the past. 

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used as a grant for writers to work with teens at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. The youth’s poetry anthologies can be downloaded at: http://www.denneypoetry.org 


Review

 

I’m sure this book won’t appeal to everybody, but I enjoyed it. It’s part memoir, part poetry, and part inspiration.

Teacher Mindy Hardwick runs poetry workshops in an American juvenile detention centre. She is met by an interesting group of teenagers with various pasts, crimes, and issues. Most of the group appear uninterested in the workshop, greet it with trepidation, or sometimes even with defiance.

As Mindy tries to get a handle on the group, and encourage them to participate she reflects on her own past and struggles.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but I just knew that it would be an interesting comparison to what I do at work. I work in two prisons as a library assistant and run creative writing groups in both of them. A lot of what Mindy described rang so true. The bizarre nature of the workplace, but how it quickly becomes the norm. Having people in your group that don’t want to be there despite having signed up, and how nothing ever goes to plan!

I enjoyed reading about the dynamic of Mindy’s group, and how it changed over time. It was also nice to see the work that they produced. The part of the book I wasn’t expecting, and also wasn’t overly keen on was Mindy’s segues into her past. Some of it was enjoyable as it gave an insight into what has shaped her as a person, but I felt like it was too much at times.

Overall, I’m pleased I discovered this book, and it certainly gave me lots to think about.

unicorn rating 3

Horror Films That Still Scare Me #1 #HorrorOctober

HorrorOct2015

I’ve been a fan of horror films since I can remember, from a way-too-early age, so I’ve seen more than my fair share.

The only problem with that, is that I’ve become desensitised to them, or maybe horror films just aren’t as scary as they used to be, because I can probably count on one hand the number of horror films that have scared me in the past 10 years. To be fair, it’s probably a bit of both!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share my favourite horror films. The ones that scared me when I first saw them, and still scare me today…

Child’s Play (1988) & Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Director: Tom Holland/John Lafia
Writers: Don Mancini (story & screenplay)
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter

“A single mother gives her son a much sought after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.”

I was only four years old when the first film came out. I obviously didn’t watch it as soon as it was released, but I think it was probably only a few years after that.

Unfortunately, around that time, I had begged and begged for a Cricket doll, which was mega expensive at the time, and my parents had finally given in. I loved that doll for about a week. Until I watched Child’s Play, and then cried until my furious parents hid Cricket in the attic.

cricket

To this day I’m still wary of that attic (although they assure me the doll is long gone), and have remained creeped out by dolls.

So, when I feel like a good scare, Child’s Play (and Child’s Play 2) is a safe bet.

UP NEXT: IT!

Friendship is a Haunted Doll

HorrorOct2014

Doll Bones by Holly Black

doll

Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: February 27th 2014 by Corgi Childrens
Genre(s): Children’s; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed a copy.

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My name is Eleanor Kerchner.

You can call me the Queen.

I died in 1895.

Now it’s time to play.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

I loved everything about this book in theory. Unfortunately in reality, it didn’t quite deliver.

Doll Bones is very much a book with a message, or rather multiple messages.

Zach’s often absent father is back in his life and decides that it’s time for Zach to grow up. He believes he’s too old to play with action figures and dolls, and should be playing basketball instead of hanging around with his two female best friends.

So, in a moment of madness, and without warning, Zach’s father throws away all his toys, ending Poppy, Alice and his ongoing game of make-believe. Whilst Zach is trying to come to terms with this Poppy believes an old china doll they call The Queen is possessed with the spirit of a girl who was murdered, sending them on a real life spooky adventure.

I’ve heard Holly Black talk about this book and the messages within it, so I should have known what to expect. But I was a little disappointed. I didn’t expect these messages to be so blatant and overbearing. I realise that Doll Bones is aimed at a sightly younger audience than the books I usually read, which could explain it, but I really wished the story had a bit more of an edge.

I feel like the cover art and the synopsis suggests that this book is a lot more spooky than it actually was. I mean, I’m terrified of china dolls, so the idea of a doll made out of the ground-up bones of a little girl, and possessed by her should have at least resulted in a slight shudder, but it just didn’t.

It was too nice.

I’m sure if I’d read this when I was nine I would have liked it a lot more, but I still think I would have wanted more of the creep-factor.

That being said, it was a really adorable story about the pressures of growing-up and how it can affect even the closest of friendships. I also thought it was written really beautifully, so all is not lost.

I definitely want to read Holly Black’s YA books. I’m certain they’d more to my taste.

unicorn rating 3

Doll Bones is available in hardback and paperback at Waterstones now.

Favourites Friday #4: To Major Tom – The Bowie Letters

So I went AWOL for a week, sorry about that. I’ve had some evil strand of the common cold, or Man Flu as I like to call it and it really knocked me for six. (Six what??) It also didn’t help that my Mum was visiting and we had loads of stuff planned so I had to man up and get on with it which probably hasn’t helped with the recovery process. But I did manage to have fun despite the feeling of impending death so all was not lost.

I’m just starting to feel a bit more human now. Today was the first day I’ve had chance to pick up a book since last week too…I am officially the worst book blogger ever. Oh well.

That being said, on Sunday, my lovely, crazy Mumsy and I went to the V&A to see the David Bowie exhibition David Bowie is and it was amazing. It also reminded me of one of my favourite books.

Photo & Synopsis from Goodreads. Click to view.
Photo & Synopsis from Goodreads. Click to view.

A meditation on the relationship between pop star and pop fan, this intriguing and thoroughly entertaining epistolary novel tracks a 30-year, one-way correspondence from devoted music fan Gary to rock icon David Bowie. Beginning as an angst ridden teenager, Gary writes letters to Bowie, sharing his thoughts on everything from Ziggy Stardust and Glass Spiders to his boarding school days and adult life as a husband and father.

I like to think that this book would appeal to anyone, not just Bowie fans. I love how we enter into the world of Gary Weightman – a normal boy who is sent away to boarding school – through his letters to Bowie. He tells Bowie and, therefore us all of his secrets, his worries and his feelings on life and growing up. It’s a great coming of age story which reminds you just how passionate and intense only teenagers can be. And on the other hand it gives someone like me who wasn’t born around the time of Ziggy Stardust a first-hand account of the world’s reaction to David Bowie and the whole glam movement.

The book chronicles all the way through to the release of the film Velvet Goldmine in 1999 (one of my favourite films) in which Gary writes an angry letter to Bowie chastising him for objecting to the film and not allowing his songs to be used. I felt exactly the same way.

To Major Tom is a book of nostalgia and a profound reflection on life in general. Gary himself sums it up pretty well in his introduction:


I could not believe how much of my modern mental furniture was installed by my devotion – musical, cultural and otherwise – nor how hard in recent years it’s become to keep that furniture polished and dusted. Times change, people change, dreams explode and worlds collide. And, if you think it’s foolish to spend your life living in the past, imagine what it’s like to live in somebody else’s. Sometimes I wish Ziggy had played the flugelhorn instead.
[2002]