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review 2018-05-13 15:08
The Sun Does Shine
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row - Anthony Ray Hinton
Whatever I write in my review of this novel will not give this novel the justice it deserves. When I first started to read this novel, I wasn’t quite sure this novel was cut out for me. I didn’t want a novel that shouted injustice and cruelty at me, I wanted a novel that slowly walked me down the path towards proving their point and as I read further, I realized that this novel was doing just that and I couldn’t get Ray off my mind. I wanted to form my own opinion, I wanted to be a free thinker. As Ray walked me through his life behind bars and the ordeal that changed his life, it showed how extensive this sentence really is on an individual’s life.
Ray spent thirty years in solitary confinement for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Living on Alabama’s death row for thirty years, Ray fought behind bars for his freedom with the help of some amazing individuals. When finally released from prison, Ray was found innocent of his crimes. Ray tried to rationale with authorities thirty years ago that he didn’t commit these crimes but racial barriers and financial issues tied these crimes to Ray.
I read Ray’s story beginning with his childhood, to when he went to work, to when they charged him with the crimes, to when he went to trial, and then as they marched him off to prison. He had a been a religious man until the time he went to prison and then, he pushed God away. He later reconnected with God when a fellow inmate was going through a rough time. This is not a religious novel but this shows what type of person Ray was and how he felt about what he was going through. I liked how Ray did not wallow and blame the system for the situation he was in but rather he decided to try to make the best of it. In prison, Ray started doing research and encouraged others to fight for their rights (in a respectable manner). He started a book club in the prison to give the inmates something else to think about as life on death row was not a pleasant situation. Other inmates and the guards began to look up to Ray, to think that the morality inside this ward could improve, was amazing.
The vicious cycle Ray had to endure as his appeals were denied was discouraging and depressing. I was losing hope and I was wondering how Ray could keep his spirits up when all around him, individuals were walking “the green mile” and others were just waiting for the date when their walk would take place.
There were tears and goosebumps shed as I read this novel and I would love to read this novel again in the future. His story brought hope and peace to those who knew him and hopefully in the future, his story will bring change. I highly recommend this novel if this story is a genre that you enjoy reading.
I received a copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. I thank you greatly for sharing this title with me, it truly was a wonderful novel.



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review 2018-04-21 23:07
Gorgeous, fierce YA historic fiction
Sky in the Deep - Adrienne Young

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected pre-publication galley via NetGalley


This was an awesome read. To be honest, I decided to review it because it was getting so much prelaunch hype, but I kinda thought I wouldn't be the target audience. I really just couldn't care less about Vikings, and so much of the marketing around it emphasizes that element.


If you're in the same camp, not to worry. Sky in the Deep is incredibly well-done and tells an exciting, high-stakes story with a fierce multi-dimensional main character who goes through an incredible character arc and journey. I don't think it's positioned as fantasy, but to me, it felt as much like fantasy as historical fiction.


Eelyn is a warrior, and the book opens with her totally eviscerating guys in battle. Which . . . I wasn't that into. I think I was afraid she was going to be really flat, like some implausible, too-perfect super-warrior, but she becomes more of a sympathetic character pretty quickly because her dead brother shows up to the battle. So maybe she's crazy or in shock, but then he shows up again--and when she chases him, she gets captured by the enemy.


Eelyn lives by a sort of warriors' code and puts honour above all, so being taken captive and forced into slavery by the group they're perpetually feuding with is nearly grounds for suicide. However, this isn't really the story of Eelyn the Viking superhero shutting down the old-world slave trade. It's way more nuanced than that.


I really appreciated the slow development that shows how someone with a rigid view of the world could come to understand others and challenge her own beliefs and those of her family/community. The slow-burn romance wasn't bad either~~


I'm looking forward to seeing what else Adrienne Young has in store for us. This was a beautiful, powerful debut about a girl who's not only a wicked-strong warrior, but has the strength to learn, grow, and love others despite the cost.

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review 2018-04-09 03:19
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

I did not like Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail very much.  I just couldn’t get past Cheryl Strayed’s unpreparedness for long-distance hiking and found her a distasteful person who I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.  I also found the narrative disorganized and the insights she gained from her journey pedestrian. If Wild hadn’t been the selection for my office book club, I probably would not have finished the book.  As it was, partway through I stopped reading and started skimming.


Several of my co-workers also didn’t like Wild very much either, including one person who said that she expected much more from the author of Tiny Beautiful Things (which I have not read).  A number of others hadn’t finished, but had seen the movie, so we spent as much time comparing the book to the movie and discussing other wilderness journey movies as discussing the book itself.


In other news, the office book club appears to be turning into a book-to-movie club, which isn’t actually such a bad thing. Our first selection was Room, our second was Wild, and our next choice is The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a re-read for me (I listened to the audiobook a few years ago). I’m looking forward to re-reading it and  I’m interested to hear what the others think. And we’ll see how the scheduling goes, but we’re also starting to kick around the idea of a movie night where we watch the movies and talk some more.

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review 2018-04-02 13:55
What Janie Found
What Janie Found - Caroline B. Cooney

This book isn't as engrossing as the others were for me. I kept spacing out and thinking of other things to do. It seemed to ramble on and go nowhere. In the end it did end up going nowhere but I suppose the trip itself was a trip they needed to take. The journey itself was the destination and a solution was found to their dilemma.


Additional thoughts....

So, I didn't read these books in school like so many people did.  I might be too old by a smidge.  I vaguely remember my mother in law watching the TV show while we were visiting when my husband and I were either recently married or maybe about to be.  I looked it up and watched it online and was surprised when I recognized the last half.  When I read the first few books I read the old version but this one was the new version.  I actually listened to an audio book and not the one linked here.  I was just lazy.  Anyway, it was weird to me that Janie had a cell phone.  Is it so bad to leave books alone and let kids experience the past the way it really was.  Sure, they may be shocked that people had to find a payphone to make a call or look through paper logs and records or books in libraries to find information about people, places or things.  It is still educational though.  Leave the books alone.  I don't think it is necessary to try to make them fit the present.



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review 2018-03-28 06:12
Invasive species from outer space!
Earth Has Been Found - D.F. Jones

A United States Air Force jet fighter on a test flight vanishes from the California skies . . . and reappears four months later near Guam. Two years later, a Russian cargo plane experiences a similar disappearance, with its crew completely unaware that ten months have passed for them. As the American and Soviet governments investigate the parallel cases, a jumbo jet returning tourists to New York from Paris also disappears over the Atlantic Ocean, only to reappear over the continental United States weeks later. Though initially the people involved seem little affected by their disappearance, over time they begin to experience unusual cravings, then suddenly develop cysts and lapse into comas which signal the arrival of a new type of alien invader . . .


Best known for his “Colossus” trilogy, Dennis Feltham Jones was a former British naval officer who authored over a half-dozen science fiction novels during a fifteen-year period. This, his penultimate work, exhibits all of his strengths and weaknesses as a writer within the genre. The concept at the heart of his novel, the emergence of invasive species, is eerily prescient to readers living in a world increasingly concerned with the consequences of exotic flora and fauna appearing in different habitats. Yet most of the characters remain stuck in two dimensions throughout the novel, often displaying a curious lassitude that negates much of the tension Jones tries to build. Most disappointing of all, though, is Jones’s clumsy injection of religion into the book. What might have provided a refreshing take on the alien-invasion novel instead seems little more than a Cold-War era commentary on the emptiness of Soviet ideology.  This cheapens rather than enriches his work, which is enjoyable enough but lacks the power that Jones seems to have wanted his work to have.

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