#BookReview Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

If you want your mind completely blown away then grab this book!

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family has been sitting on my shelf for probably too long. I’ve looked at it, thought about reading it, and then just decided otherwise. I wanted more fiction in my life! Or so I thought. This non-fiction book is as enticing and intriguing as a lot of the fiction books I’ve been picking up (if not more). Honestly, this book will open your eyes to a world you probably never thought much of. What happens to families where multiple family members have schizophrenia? And what if that family was way back in the 1940s-1960s?

This story makes my heart ache. It’s not an easy story to hear but it’s an important one to tell. Not only is it important, it tells you a lot of history about mental health and mental illnesses. With mental health becoming further into the forefront and actually being taken seriously (well, some of the time… unfortunately), this is an important story to learn about and tell. Lindsay and Margaret and the rest of the gang deserve so much better. Hopefully their story will help change the course of history and help many families and their loved ones in the future.

We have a picture perfect family from the 1940s, right? Two loving parents and their twelve children (which sounds like a lot now, and was a bit of a lot back then… but it’s a big family). They all seem perfect and happy and it’s exactly what you want, right? The duo finally get two beautiful girls and all seems right in the world. Until their sons start unravelling… Six of their sons get diagnosed with mental health issues (schizophrenia, maybe bipolar or other issues as well – diagnosing mental illnesses wasn’t a perfect science back then). The family struggles with these issues. What are you supposed to do when your son dresses up like a monk and spouts out religious nonsense to the world and then tries beating everyone up? It’s not like there’s a rule book or a play book to help you with that sort of thing. Especially in a time when mental health was a topic we didn’t like to talk about.

Things weren’t easy (and that’s putting it lightly). The story goes into some brutal and harsh details about the Galvin family’s life and social circle. It will hurt your heart but it will also let you inside a very scary world. Especially one for young girls and children! Can you imagine how it would feel to feel like you’re losing your siblings? To have history covered up? The painful memories. My heart aches and I have so much empathy.

The one good take away? This family helped with a lot of research. Their blood samples and medical history has given the science world something to start and go off of when dealing with schizophrenia. It’s awful cases like these that can sometimes change the views of the world. Luckily, their story is helping shape the medical community.

This is a must read book. I honestly couldn’t believe how eye opening, how incredible and how strange this book was. It reads like a really well written fiction, and sometimes you get so lost in the story you forget it’s real. Pick this book up! It’s high on my recommendation list! Especially for lovers of non-fiction.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check this book out by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo
Kobo

Looking for more non-fiction to pack onto your TBR? Well, I have just what you need on my blog:
#BookReview Crime Scene by Kate Lines
#BookReview To Wendy’s With Love by Diane Keyes
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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#BookReview Dear Me, Letters to Myself for All of my Emotions by Donna Tetreault

Dear Me, Letters to Myself for All of my Emotions by Donna Tetreault is an excellent book to teach children about their emotions.

To begin with, the inside cover along with the little sticky notes with words on it was a wonderful image/graphic. That drew me in and pulled my interest forward. Then we get into the story itself – it has colourful illustrations, simple and easy to follow sentences, as well as some colourful font to grab your attention. I really liked that the emotions all had their own font and colour – that made the book feel more fun and engaging.

The illustrations are absolute gorgeous. Honestly, that’s what stands out to me. The fun, cartoon-y style with bright colours makes this book really interesting to look at. Add in the fantastic story, message and theme and you’ve got yourself one fantastic book.

Emotions are big and scary when you don’t know what you’re feeling or why. This book tells the reader that emotions are okay and tries to give some explanation as to why they are. Understanding is a key part of this book and I really appreciate that. This book also gives some coping mechanisms such as writing out your feelings. There are many examples for how this can be done but in a narrative context.

I can respect this book and I really think it’s a beneficial tool as well as just a great picture book. I can see educational institutions, social workers and parents alike finding this book useful.

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

Here are some other children’s books you will love if you enjoyed books like Dear Me:
#BookReview Togo Learns How to Play by Pat McCulloch
#BookReview I Miss You Most by Cassie Hoyt
#BookReview Valentine’s Day with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid

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#BookReview A Good Man by Rosanna Leo

A Good Man by Rosanna Leo is one hot romance, my goodness!

I came into this book expecting a nice romance with a contractor and some drama. Then I got reading it and it was WAY better than I expected. Like, WAY BETTER. Can we bold an italicize and every other formatting thing we can do for those two words? 

So, I better get to explaining why so it all makes sense:

First of all, this book is based in Canada. It gives me Property Brothers vibes with a group of brothers making a television show out of renovating houses. 

Side note: If you have watched Property Brothers, you 100% have a crush on one of them. This book makes so much sense. This book was the Johnathan story and OMG did it make me feel like I could just throw Johnathan in there as a fan fiction and OMG this book was meant for me.

Back to the review and away from Briar’s fingerling: So we meet Michael who’s one of the brothers on this show. He’s the contractor, is super hot, and has a dark past (which we learn about later). His crew are all helping Emily renovate a house to make it suitable for her organic soup business. If that doesn’t sound like half of the people that go on these property shows then I don’t know what is. But, she’s engaged to Trent. Trent is the biggest jerk on the face of the planet: he’s manipulative, mean, and to throw in more alliterations, all around awful. I don’t think anyone likes Trent except himself. 

Michael and Emily hit it off and we can tell they are totally made for each other. They are supportive of each other and have heart eyes. Buuuut, their exes are both hanging around and making this story packed full of drama. As we go along, the book gets hot and heavy for Michael and Emily (honestly, if you want some really sexy scenes, grab this book). The romance doesn’t really start until about halfway through the book, which I can also respect. I like romances where they aren’t suddenly in love and ta da, finished! This book took it’s time to establish a relationship and make it feel real. 

It’s a fantastic romance, in short. I really loved Michael and Emily’s dynamic. Buuuut, there’s more. There’s always more, isn’t there?

This book does a great job of having mental health awareness apart of it. PTSD is featured and it’s taken seriously. It’s not a joke in anyway. I can respect this book for making a romance with realistic aspects of life in it, not make it a joke but also not make the book feel depressing for addressing it. Rosanna Leo did an incredible job.

Overall, this book is what I wanted in a romance. It was a great escape during these crazy times. The book feels real yet also is a magical wonderland to escape from the insanity of reality.

Best quote of the book: “Seize the day. Seize the man!” I am totally gonna use that one now!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Rosanna Leo, in exchange of an honest review.

Pick up this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

Check out Rosanna Leo by clicking on the links below:
http://www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com/
Goodreads
Twitter: @LeoRosanna

If you love romance, here are some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade
#BookReview Christmas Treats by Melissa Williams, Piper Rayne and more…
#BookReview My Hallowe’en Heartbreak by Melanie Ting

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#BookReview – Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

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Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

This memoir is a beautiful retelling of the author’s life – specifically how it was to live with a mother with schizophrenia.

Mental Illness is a big part of today’s society – mainly because people have finally accepted that mental health is a big issue, bigger than people ever realized. Reading a book that is a biography about mental illness and how it was in the past was truly a beautiful experience for me. This book was beautifully written and unlike some biographies seemed brutally honest. It didn’t sugarcoat this man’s life – it was an honest retelling, and I truly respect that.

The descriptions of Clemens’s family as well as his Mother’s illness and hallucinations was incredible. It spread some light on a mental illness that I have no relation to – I never understood it (apart from a man with schizophrenia coming into my Grade 11 Health class to explain what it was), and this book really helped me better grasp what it actually is (not what soap operas tend to tell us).

There is many layers to novel – of course there are sad times, but there is also joy and humor at different parts. This man is not asking for sympathy or trying to make you cry, he’s opening your horizons to a new experience and life experiences many might not have seen or understood before. It’s also written so anyone can pick this book up. You don’t need to have a doctorate, you don’t need to only read YA – it’s made for anyone and everyone (adult/YA age groups of course, not for children but it’s definitely a PG story).

I also appreciated the pictures that went along with this story. It helped you connect deeper with Clemens and his story – there’s pictures of people with faces and emotions. It’s truly beautiful.

Overall, this is a motivational and inspirational book for me. It shows someone else’s life and gives you a sense of empathy – you can understand how having a mother with schizophrenia would be hard, but that was still Clemens’s Mother. She was a real woman in this real world.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.