#BookReview My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

22367526

 

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh is a haunting yet beautiful tale about a tragic childhood.

This book has blown me away with how thought provoking it is! M.O. Walsh’s beautiful writing style tells the tale of fifteen year old Lindy (in our narrator’s point of view) and the horrors that occur in their neighborhood. Add in the setting of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late 80s and you’ve got yourself the perfect coming of age story addressing some really tough issues that we are still seeing today.

This is another book that I wish would have been around in my high school years. I think this would have been perfect reading material that addresses the growth and change of a child to an adult, and the big issues in society that are still happening. M.O. Walsh made the story light hearted and fun (at times) in a setting that could have been extremely brutal.

As the book moves forward, the effects on the town and Lindy slowly unravel and the mystery of it all falls into place. The ghosts of everyone’s past comes to a nice close at the end of the book, so don’t worry about cliffhangers! The last few pages of the book are the perfect summary, better than anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s a real shame I don’t see this book (or eventually more) by M.O. Walsh on bookshelves at my local bookstore. This book is top tier writing!

My Sunshine Away had effects on me similar to 1984, To Kill a MockingBird and Shakespeare’s best works. The book tells a story and a narrative, but has grande themes that can be picked apart. On top of that, the book feels nostalgic of what most adults had in their childhood (I can relate to talking on the phone when your parents answer it and hold it for you). The surprise of a safe neighborhood not really being all that safe. Also seeing some of the non-fictitious aspects of our world (like the Challenger and Jeffrey Dahmer) really made this book feel real.

The characters also felt like people I would have known in my childhood – nerdy kids, the “weirdos”, that one girl everyone loves – they all were relatable. Seeing them change and how they ended up in adulthood was also a nice touch that helped close the story.

When I read this book, I thought it was a very soft adult novel – but apparently it’s a Young Adult novel! It’s a really nice read that Young Adults could handle. It has some tough themes, but nothing graphic. I’m actually even happier that this book should be on a Young Adult shelf, so those readers can get the impact of this story in their environment.

Overall, this book is an emotional, yet melancholic ride that will pull at your heartstrings and play with your emotions. It’s so well developed, it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel! It feels like an expert in his craft wrote it! I highly recommend this book, and it’s a definite must read! I’m sad I didn’t pick this book up years ago! What a truly fantastic novel!

PS – What a stunning cover! This cover calls out to me, even though it’s so simple yet so elegant! What a gem!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – My Sunshine Away

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – My Sunshine Away

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – My Sunshine Away

 

Find out more about M.O. Walsh on his website: http://www.mowalsh.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @M_O_Walsh & @ReviewAlholic

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview Crime Seen by Kate Lines

And comment below! What is your favourite novel?

 

Photo from Goodreads.

Advertisements

#BookReview Dreams and Other Lastings by RJ Sobel

32177628

Dreams and Other Lastings was a beautiful set of poems that left me breathless and feeling warm (despite it being the “winter” Season).

I truly loved these poems – I always love a good set of poetry, but I could really relate to these stories. This isn’t a long book, and isn’t filled to the brim with poems, but the content within them makes this small set of poems worth every single word.

Reflection, aging, and memory are just three of the many topics discussed within these poems. I found myself reflecting on my own life and finding ways to see how these poems mirror situations I’ve had. For example, wanting to write someone and letter and reflecting on life, the good and the bad. It was so beautifully written, it almost pains me to think this was the last of the four books (of course, I could find the first three in the series to fill that void to fix that problem).

I 100% recommend Dreams and Other Lastings to anyone who wants a quick read, something to relate to, or just some good, old-fashioned poetry to warm their nights.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another book you might enjoy! Quick Book Review: Song of the Earth by Susan Nunn

#BookReview So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch

36482886

So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch is a sweet, simple, romance read.

There WILL be spoilers in this review, so beware!

Romance seems to be a hit and miss genre – there are FANTASTIC novels, and there are HORRIBLE novels. So Near the Horizon, on the spectrum, is just below fantastic. This story starts out as if it’s fiction – you don’t realize it’s based on Jessica’s life (I mean…her name and the character’s name are the same, but I honestly didn’t even notice. See how much I pay attention?).

Almost immediately our main characters meet, and the sass is real. I love the sassiness between Jessica and Danny,The abuse that was mentioned in the first few pages also left me kind of awestruck. You just meet someone and you say how your father hit you in the face with a bottle? Okay then… At least Danny’s honest?…

Our two leads, Jessica and Danny, are both pretty messed up. One minute they seem to be all over each other, and then next Danny’s treating Jessica like she’s garbage. You welcome her into your bed and sleep next to her all snuggled up, but then threaten to kick her out of your vehicle when you take her home? The bi-polar attitude of Danny made me not like him as a character and almost despise him. Jessica deserves better than some guy who flips his attitude whenever he feels like it. No matter his personal issues, he doesn’t need to act so nasty all the time. It’s almost like he’s nice only when it benefits him. And sending a radio after to apologize? And then confessing his love to her? On top of that, he’s almost always lying…. Yeah, this guy doesn’t sit well with me, in the beginning.

Even Christina rubs me the wrong way at the start – she’s got her own problems, but she’s a psychopath. She threatens to kill Jessica numerous times and no one even cares. The fact that she is threatening Jessica with death if she hurts Danny is absolutely, freaking, ridiculous. Christina has her issues, and she’s a broken character, but this running theme of having a bad life and being a total jerk to people makes me quite annoyed. Life can’t be all “sunshine and roses” (just like Christina says) but I feel like you can do better than hurting people since you’re hurting…Or maybe that’s just me.

I also find that there’s some repeated harassment that could have been avoided if reported. Out of everything in this novel, that drove me insane. Not that reporting always helps in real life situations…

I’m positive that my initial bad feelings towards this book are due to the whole Fifty Shades of Grey/Twilight controversy. There’s lots of books where the guys are just not great guys, but somehow win the girl in the end. Danny could be an EPIC character, but his flaws just seem so dark. It’s almost abusive in my eyes (and this is coming from someone who’s been through abusive relationships). Don’t get me wrong – Jessica is absolutely FANTASTIC and writes this novel well, I just don’t like the relationship. That’s nothing against her, because she makes it likable (to a degree). But then, you get to the end of the book and realize Danny’s not JUST a character. He was real, he’s a person, that was his real life attitude and actions (maybe not 100% because it’s a retelling of Jessica’s life with him, but you get the drift). People aren’t perfect, not like book characters. I went through this book hitting my head against the wall going “JESSICA, LEAVE THIS GUY! HE’S A JERK! HE’S NO GOOD FOR YOU” and then you find out his troubles, and you find out he’s REAL. This was a real guy who was dealing with real issues, and I felt for him. I was not myself when my Father died, nor when I dealt with horrible relationships in my life. I’m empathetic, because we’re not all perfect Nora Robert’s characters (I wish, sometimes that would make my job so much easier).

So, let’s get to the positives. I wrote up an entire list of negatives when I thought this book was fiction (do your research, don’t be like me who just jumps into a book). But, I threw them all out. When I realize this was real, why would I include negatives that don’t fit this narrative?

1. Sass – there is so much sass and humour, that I couldn’t put it down. There were the parts I was frustrated with, but I wanted to see the quirky conversations that were happening throughout this book.
2. It’s not cookie cutter – so many novels (fiction and non fiction) seem to fit the typical trope. Falling in love, happy life, everything is great, something goes wrong but it’s fixed, blah blah blah. This book shows what real life CAN Be like – it’s not totally “realistic” (these “characters” meet and get pretty flirty and close super fast, which isn’t always “realistic” for some people – but that’s life for you), it shows some of the darker sides of life, and I love it.
3. Character development – These characters develop over time, some a little slower than others. Seeing how life changes and what it did for these people…Oh man, my heart aches. I want to meet Jessica and give her a GIANT hug. To live through that changes a person…
4. HIV. That little fact flipped my opinion of this book quite a bit – I wasn’t expecting that to suddenly pop open. While it explains Danny’s behaviour, it doesn’t make some of his wild, horrible attitudes right. Yes, he has a HORRIBLE childhood, but does that give you the right to be a horrible person? What a conundrum.
5. The AIDS/HIV awareness – I like when books bring something into the spotlight, and this book did that with AIDS/HIV. The fact that it’s so heavily focused and doesn’t make it to be some sob story, but a real life story is honestly a wonderful change.

I had so hoped this story was fiction. It destroyed me – after losing my Dad to cancer I have become this emotional wreck that cries at everything sad or sentimental. AND JESSICA DESTROYED ME. Having a love so passionate, so deep (no matter what type of love) and losing someone…I’m hurting from this story. It’s so horrible but so beautiful…Thank you for this book Jessica. Honestly, thank you for letting me see a little piece of your life.

Overall, as a story it seems super rushed. If it were fiction, I’d be annoyed at the fast paced antics that goes on in a relationship. But is any relationship “normal”? Romance novels has ruined timelines for us, hasn’t it?

Five out of five stars. Yes, the relationship between Jessica and Danny was quite brutal, and the death threats infuriated me, but stories like THIS (real, honest and that bring something to the light like AIDS/HIV) NEED to be shared. Not want, NEED. We need more stories like this around, because this world’s big and scary, but stories like this show the true humanity. Oh boy, I’m just a mess writing this.

Thank you Jessica Koch, the amazing author, who sent me this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it! It’s always mind blowing when people actually seek me out, and it really humbles me. Thank you!!!

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out Jessica Koch on Goodreads! Jessica Koch on Goodreads

Did you know this book was originally written in German and was translated into English?

Check out Jessica Koch’s website! Jessica Koch’s Website

To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year Lunch by Diane Keyes- BOOK REVIEW

34021272

To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year lunch is a love letter to all who have a family – blood bond or not.

Diane Keyes has done one miraculous job I had never expected to see in my life – she wrote a novel collecting Wendy’s, family, love, and warm, happy feelings all in one. This book truly hits all the right notes for me – it’s sweet, inspiring, heart melting and everything I needed in my life today. It’s a book that celebrates family – whether it be by blood or through experiences. And I can’t recommend this book enough!

This small but mighty book is a non-fiction recount of how a family came together for lunch once at week at Wendy’s. Diane highlights some of the rough and tough times that will make your heart clench up, but she also delivers some beautiful, motivating stories as well. Your heart won’t be able to take the extravagant roller coaster Diane makes in this book!

One lesson I learned from this book: Family is powerful.
Blood does not always define the family, and Diane shows this. She not only shows her strong bond with her genetically related family, but the friendships and bonds you can make with others. These simple lunches (that seem like such a silly but genius idea) really highlight how one small change (like meeting up with friends once a week) can really affect you!

I truly appreciate Diane’s hard work. You can tell this story is coming from the heart! Not only does it give a historical background, but it gives you an emotional one too. I am totally inspired by this novel, and I recommend everyone who wants a little splash of happiness and empathy in their life to pick this up.

Five out of five stars.

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

25176196

Photo via Goodreads.

“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.