Tag Archives: Travel

Review: Blue Sun, Yellow Sky

Blue Sun, Yellow Sky

Blue Sun, Yellow Sky
By Jamie Jo Hoang
(Jamie Hoang, Paperback, 9781634433716, April 25, 2015, 316pp.)

The Short of It:

How much does what you see, impact who you are?

The Rest of It:

This is a question I’ve asked myself over the past few months. The eye issues, the eye injury and then my fear of going blind have all played a role in my anxiety over sight. My father lost his vision at the same age I am now and it’s been a fear of mine for a very long time.

So what do I do? I accept a book for review about a young artist who is going blind. Sometimes, books find you at exactly the right point in time.

Aubrey Johnson, a talented artist, is told by her doctor that she has retinitis pigmentosa and will be blind in a mere six to eight weeks. Stunned by the diagnosis, she decides to join her old friend Jeff on a last-minute trip around the world.

Aubrey’s situation is made more complex by the fact that she’s a painter and to a painter, being able to see and being able to render colors properly on the canvas is an absolute necessity. This is why the trip is so important to her. At each destination, she attempts to recreate the scenery before her and at times, she’s terrified of the end result because as each day passes she has slightly less vision than the day before.

What’s great about this book is that it’s hopeful and not at all sad or depressing. Aubrey’s panic over losing her sight is tangible but at the same time, she tries hard to reinvent herself as an artist. It helps that she has supportive people around her and there is an increased level of appreciation for visiting a locale, knowing that you will never see that place the same way again.

I loved the trip around the word (China, India, Israel, Jordan, Brazil, Peru). Aubrey and Jeff stop to visit with old friends and slowly, Aubrey comes to the realization that all is not lost.

If I had one criticism to offer, I’d say that the ending came up a little too fast for me. I wanted to spend a little more time with Aubrey but other than that, I enjoyed the book very much. It gave me a lot to think about and reminded me to appreciate what I have. Ultimately, it’s a feel good story and we can all use a story like it once in a while.

You can buy the book for your Kindle now but the paperback comes out later this week. To learn more about Jamie Jo Hoang, visit her website! This is her first novel!

Source: Sent to me by the author.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Longest Way Home

The Longest Way Honme

The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
By Andrew McCarthy (Yes! THAT Andrew McCarthy!)
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781451667486, September 18, 2012, 288pp.)

The Short of It:

One man’s attempt to figure it all out. Except, this guy was an 80’s heartthrob which makes it all the more interesting.

The Rest of It:

Everyone remembers Andrew McCarthy, right? THE 80’s heartthrob we all got to know from such movies as Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire and one of the silliest, yet most entertaining movies ever…Mannequin.

I’ve always like his work. He has an easy way about him and a likable face. What I didn’t know, is that in addition to acting and directing, he’s also added travel writer to his list of accomplishments. As an editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler, You’d think I would have noticed his writing since I’ve read the magazine for years, but maybe I just didn’t realize it was the same guy. Needless to say, when this book came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it.

McCarthy’s inability to commit to his long time partner, known as “D” in the book is what sends him into a tailspin. The wedding date has been set, but the details as far as when & where cause him anxiety that can only be controlled by hitting the road. So, that is what he does. He climbs Kilimanjaro, spends some time in Costa Rica, Patagonia and Spain and all the while, D is waiting at home, touching base with him when she can.

As much as I adore McCarthy, I was frustrated with his tendency to flee every time decisions needed to be made. It’s a classic case of cold feet but the book promises a “quest” and to me, that means that at some point, you put the hiking boots away and come back as a complete person. I’m not sure that happened here. He does a lot of soul-searching, but I don’t feel that he understood himself any better at the end of this adventure, than he did at the beginning.

As for the adventure, McCarthy is kind of a loner so there aren’t too many meaningful interactions with the people he encounters. It’s mostly him, and what he was thinking at the time. The armchair traveler in me wanted  more description, more humor and some meaningful moments so when those were few and far between, I’d gaze at the cover and then watch Pretty in Pink.

As a Brat Pack fan, my favorite parts of the book had to do with his movie career and how he came to play such iconic roles. These parts are interspersed throughout the book and then of course he touches on alcoholism and how it nearly got the best of him. Even here though, he only skims the surface.

Overall, I’d have to say that if his intent was to dig deep, he wasn’t successful. He only took things so far, and then just sort of gave in to them. BUT, for some reason, I still enjoyed the book. It was refreshing for a man to discuss his weakness and I appreciated the honesty in his writing.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.