Book Review: PAPER IN THE WIND by OLIVIA-MASON CHARLES

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“I came to the realization that a diagnosis of autism is not the end of the dreams that parents envision for their child. Have the courage to dream another dream and by the grace of God, your child will find the strength to embrace the gift of life and rise above their circumstances.”

Book Title: Paper in the Wind: Peeling back the lifespan of autism in the wake of tragedy
Book Author: Olivia Mason-Charles

Introduction: I was approached by Olivia Mason-Charles to review her book and I had to accept. Growing up there was a boy with Autism in my class throughout elementary school. I ended up bumping into him many times in the future. As a child, I never understood why he was so different and why he was always called “The kid with Autism” by everyone (students, teachers, principals, parents, etc). Now that I’m older and I understand more, I’m frustrated by this. He was not “The Boy with Autism”. He had a name and a story and a life. This story mirrored much of my thoughts – Autism may be a disorder, but it’s not a title. It’s a situation and shouldn’t be the only reflection someone sees in the mirror.

Book Review:

This book was inspiring, heart warming, and motivational. It describes the troubles a parent might have when they are raising children with autism. Yes, it gets hard and people need to realizeĀ  that. Parents try their very best and work incredibly hard to raise their children, so reading this little slice of life was awe inspiring. I appreciated reading about the hard work that goes into raising a child with autism and all the struggles that may come along with it.

The book was beautifully written and expressed many emotions. If people could read this book and try to understand the potential struggles, maybe there wouldn’t be as much bullying and hatred in this world. If I would have had this book growing up (but more aimed towards a child’s point of view) maybe I would have been able to get a little grasp on why the boy in my class behaved the way he did.

This book also was informative. Someone with Autism can have a “normal” life (is there even a “normal” life? That’s a debate for another day). They can still go to school, go to prom, get married, have children and have life experiences. They shouldn’t be labelled and put into a group that says they can’t!

This book made my heart swell. I felt like the Grinch at the end of his story, with my heart growing ten times bigger. I really appreciated having the opportunity to read this book. Without it, I wouldn’t feel as if I had grown or realized how much I had changed since I was younger. I do believe everyone should read at least one book like this in their life – a book that explains so beautifully what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. It gives you a small insight into someone’s life that you probably wouldn’t have even though about. It shows the struggles, but not in a negative light. It shows the positive outcomes that can happen, but explains some of the negatives as well.

That being said, this book gets five out of five stars.

Could it have had more action, adventure, horror or romance? Of course. But this book wasn’t designed to be a Jason Bourne, Temperance Brennan, It, or Nora Robert’s novel. This little book was to give a flash into someone else’s life. It’s goal it to inform, and not to make you feel scared, or romantic, or thrilled. This book did it’s job and I am so honored that I was given this chance to read it.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Book Review – From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers (Ready Research Book 3) by Mindy M. Shelton

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Book Review
Book Title: From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers
Book Author: Mindy M. Shelton

Introduction: I love true crime stories – I binge watch Murder With Friends on the Pop Trigger YouTube Channel, I love Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series, I love Bones and Murdoch Mysteries and I just find it incredibly interesting (and incredibly horrifying). Psychologically, I find it so strange but intriguing, but at the same time I’m horribly repulsed… So, when Mindy offered me the entire series revolving around murders, how could I say no to a few honest reviews? (Or five…).

Review:

If you have read the other books in this series, I must inform you that this book is a little bit different – there’s a lot more reading to do! This novel has a lot more information compiled into it than the previous novels. There is still the typical format of one murderer per chapter with the sections describing their names, date of birth and death, dates of murders, confirmed and suspected suspects, potential alises, states/areas of murders, sentences and other information. But, there is also a lot more background into the murders (because there were so many and some were highly publicized).

Compared to the first two novels, this one is a step up. It’s not wildly different, but the extra explanations make the book so much more interesting. Mindy couldn’t have added much more in the previous novels due to the absence of information, but this little addition still made this book so much better.

The textbook is non-fiction and is not told like a narrative – it’s told like a report. There are facts, citations and explanations regarding everything that happened. There is some speculation, but it is cited from the correct sources.

I truly enjoyed this book, even if it is about gruesome, horrible crimes. It gives the reader the correct information in the shortest amount of time and can be easily used as a reference (whether for true crime addicts or students).

Overall, I give this book five out of five! It’s helpful, interesting and well written.

Book Review: Mind = Blown: Amazing Facts About This Weird, Hilarious, Insane World by Matthew Santoro

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Book Review
Book Title: Mind = Blown: Amazing Facts About This Weird, Hilarious, Insane World
Book Author: Matthew Santoro

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Review:

Matthew Santoro is a YouTube creator who I’ve watched many videos of. When I received this book I was interested in reading what he had to say – and if you are a fan of his YouTube work, this book is essentially the written version of his online work. If you aren’t interested in a large pile of facts with a splash of sarcasm and humor, this book is not for you.

I enjoyed reading this book, although it didn’t stand out compared to other fact books. The only difference between the many other fact books I’ve come about in my years is the sense of humor. This might make it stand out to the younger audience, but it didn’t make me yearn to read more fact books.

Although, Matthew Santoro does a great job of making this book interesting. While the book itself might not stand out, it wasn’t a book I felt the need to put down. The sense of humor and descriptions Matthew gives makes the book tolerable. It’s not like an encyclopedia – it’s just like his YouTube videos. It’ll keep you interested throughout.

I do recommend this book to readers who want to learn more random facts without an encyclopedia of knowledge thrown at them.

Three out of five stars.

Book Review: EXPECTING A BOLTON BABY by SARAH M. ANDERSON

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Book Review
Book Title: Expecting a Bolton Baby
Book Author: Sarah M. Anderson

Introduction: I was craving some ooey, gooey Harlequin styled romance so I decidedĀ  this book should fit the bill! I also got it from a random garage sale (I know, I know…buy the books from the garage sale don’t benefit the author,so the least I could do was review and get the word out about it).

Review:

Normally, I love ooey, gooey, super romance-y type books but for whatever reason I wasn’t into this book. Now, hear me out, this book was SUPER AWESOME and it definitely fits the bill of being an amazing Harlequin romance, but personally it just wasn’t hitting the notes. Perhaps I thought I wanted to read a romance and I actually needed a different genre, but it just wasn’t doing it for me.

All that being said, this book was really good in the romance genre – my distaste for it wasn’t because of the book itself, I think I just needed a genre change.

So, remove my negative thoughts from the equation and here’s my thoughts:

This is a nice book to read when you don’t want some heavy, crime/psychological/horror type novel. It’s a smooth read, it moves quickly and it’s packed tight with romance. It’s over flowing with a beautiful narrative and sappy lines, which can make every romance fan drool with excitement.

Expecting a Bolton Baby is apart of a series, but I didn’t have any issue picking up on what happened in the first. It won’t leave you confused or lost, but the first book would help connect a few more dots. It can be treated like a standalone for any romance readers who simply need a sappy book to pick up.

Character growth and development was great in this novel as well. I’m not usually expecting much development during a Harlequin romance, but it was there for the picking!! Great job Sarah!!

This book might not seem to be the most realistic novel in the entire world, but it does fit the Happily Ever After sort of build I like to see in novels. I really enjoyed that aspect where it wasn’t depressing and sad for the entire novel – it left me feeling warm and fuzzy. This little slice of life book is great to pick up those winter blues!!

Overall, this was a good book! I might not have been feeling the romance genre, but it was a sweet read! I would definitely suggest anyone who’s a fan of romance or needs a break from reality to pick up this beautiful book!

Three out of five stars!

Quick Book Review: Song of the Earth by Susan Nunn

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Song of the Earth was a fabulous book that introduces the lives of immigrants trying to cross the border.

This story is absolutely beautiful and stunning. It starts off rather slow, and boring (to be honest), but once I was half way into the story I was hooked and obsessed. Even when the book ended I wanted more! I was desperate for Susan Nunn to continue this story because I fell in love with the characters.

Susan Nunn does an excellent job with character development. These characters start off as strangers to the reader and by the end of the story I cared for them and wanted to hear more about their lives. These fictional beings have many layers and become very real. I was amazed by the skill of Susan Nunn and her character development. At the beginning of the story I wasn’t into these characters and I felt nothing to them, but once this story developed the main character Jessie was the main reason I continued reading. I wanted to continue reading about Jessie and I cared for her well being throughout the story.

The plot itself was very beautiful. It wasn’t action packed, mysterious or thrilling, but it did have character. The story itself helped me with my own grieving. I felt that someone could pick this up and learn something new about themselves, whether it be around grieving, caring for others or simply caring for the earth.

I really enjoyed this book, and I can’t stop singing it’s praises. It wasn’t the best book on the planet by far, but it definitely displays very strong messages and themes.

Four out of five stars. Incredible book with incredible themes and messages.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Review: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

In honor of the Netflix release of A Series of Unfortunate Events, here is a throwback review of The Bad Beginning!!

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Book Review:
Title: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Author: Lemony Snicket
Date Read: October 4th – October 12th, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 12th, 2016

Introduction: I went to a local bookstore and saw that quite a few books in this series was on sale. Since I read these books a long time ago when I was younger, I figured rereading them now as an adult would be fun. I also figured since a new Netflix series is going to be coming around soon that I should go over this book series so I can watch the show!!!

Spoilers Ahead?: Yes.

Quick Summary: Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire face a horrible tragedy – their parents have passed away in a tragic fire and they must go live with the horrible, no good Count Olaf (who is not only a Count but an actor as well). When Count Olaf finds out that Violet has money from their parents in an account, he tries to marry her to acquire this money.

Evaluations: This book is an incredible children’s read that adults can also find humorous. For children, this book is full of action and adventure, and the situations seem “realistic”. They might have a horrible four times removed third cousin that could take them in!! Reading this book was quite nostalgic, but I find that it still stands. While it’s quite foolish and silly, it makes for a great adventure. Overall, I really enjoyed re-reading this book. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Jim Carrey as Count Olaf since the movie that was made was actually quite funny (and great in my opinion), but this book will make a great television series!

Plot: As an adult, the children seem boring. They have faced horrible circumstances and it seems like the children are to young to deal with it. For a child, this seems like a great adventure story. These kids have been put through terrible times, but they still fight back in child-like ways. If the reader goes into this book expecting it to be like Harry Potter (where it translates well for both adults and children) then the reader will not be impressed. This book was aimed at children, not adults, so most of the plot seems unrealistic and unimpressive. The kids are whiny, they’re constantly wallowing in distress, and they complain how they want their parents back – but aren’t mots kids like that? I work with kids, and when they have a bad day they act that way. Overall, the plot is not written to be a fantastic, adult novel. This is a children’s novel, so adults beware.

Characters: Violet, Klaus and Sunny are interesting characters within the story. I do not relate to them as much as I did when I was a kid (I used to think I was just like Violet, and now looking at these characters I can’t relate at all to any of them). Violet seems to be older and “wiser” in mature situations, Klaus seems to be more intelligent but whinier, and Sunny bites and can’t speak well. To a kid, this is essentially an Avengers roster of your average every day kids. To adults, it’s three archetype children. As an adult, I also noticed that after their parents die the children are almost perfectly fine. How I understood this concept, is that a child cannot grasp that death is forever, but an adult can. An adult understands these intense feelings, but a child cannot grasp it until it happens. So while many of the situations that occur may seem out of place for an adult, you still need to realize it’s aimed towards children. This is simply an adventurous novel for kids to read.

Count Olaf is strange, but I love him. He’s a wacky character and keeps the novel interesting. He brings a lot of the twists and turns about that keeps the reader interested. Yes, he’s inappropriate when you look at it from an adult point of view (why would he want to marry a pre-teen?..) but in a child’s point of view he’s a great, wacky villain. I like to compare him as the child’s Joker (from Batman). Wacky and strange, but they keep it interesting (of course the Joker is more intense and R-rated, but hopefully you get the point).

Themes/Creativity: This book is definitely creative! It brings a crazy and wacky plot together with some relatable child characters and then finishes it off with some silly villains. The only theme I might find in this book is family sticking together, but I’m sure there’s more hanging around for those theme heavy readers.

Uniqueness: Is this book unique? Absolutely! A book with thirteen novels in the series that kept changing it up is definitely unique. It fits in it’s own little category alongside novels like Harry Potter, Eragon and The Wizard of Oz for must reads! I would definitely recommend parents try to get their kids into reading with this series!

Strengths: This novel is definitely aimed at children! It does a great job mixing in child problems, silly villains and adventures for your child reader.

Weaknesses: This book might be considered unrealistic for adults. It definitely doesn’t transcend into the older age groups for a good, relatable read.

Score: Three out of Five.

I find that the relatable-ness factor brings this book down in score, and that the children are sometimes incredibly annoying for an adult audience.

Book Review: Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear

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Book Review
Book Title: Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation
Book Author: Kyo Maclear

Introduction: I was craving some inspirational nonfiction, so I decided to pick this book up. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads for an honest review.

Review:

“Every love story is a potential grief story” – Kyo Maclear reference – Julian Barnes’s Levels of Life.

This book is an inspirational gem that truly surprised me. I never expected a book about watching birds to be one of my favourite reads of the year. There are numerous quotes that are truly amazing from this novel, and now I want to pick up many more Kyo Maclear novels.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs a pick me up. Difficult topics are discussed within this novel, but it gives you a very different view on life. It’s not just a book about birds – it’s a book about humans too. While there are facts within this book about birds, it’s not just an encyclopedia. Kyo Maclear explains movements throughout life and how changes can be dealt with through analogies, metaphors and similes. Overall, it’s a truly impressive book.

The more I read this book, the more I appreciated it. While I might not have been able to relate to every topic discussed in it, I truly felt lifted after reading it. With so many inspirational quotes, it was hard to not put a sticky note on almost every page where I found words that just fit with me.

“Die knowing something. Die knowing your knowing will be incomplete.” – Kyo Maclear.

The final two pages of this book gave a list of many, wonderful lessons. Lessons regarding living in general, taking chances, surprises, opening up, relaxation, people, and having a guru in general. Out of this entire book, I felt that these two pages summed the book up better than the synopsis. If you’re not going to read the entire book, just reading those two specific pages makes the entire novel worth it.

Final Thoughts: I was truly impressed by this book. I was not expecting to get so attached and feel so desperate to continue reading it. Who knew birds could be so interesting?

Five out of five stars.