ARC REVIEW: The Sun Does Shine – by Anthony Ray Hinton @StMartinsPress

Title: The Sun Does Shine
Author: Anthony Ray Hinton
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, True Crime
First published: March 27th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: March 11th 2018
Pages: 272

“And with that laughter, I realized that the State of Alabama could steal my future and my freedom, but they couldn’t steal my soul or my humanity.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I was intrigued by the premise of The Sun Does Shine as soon as I first read the blurb. I have a weak spot for memoirs, and Anthony Ray Hinton‘s story is without doubt one that will be able to catch your attention straight away. I knew right from the start this wasn’t going to be an easy read, but it is almost impossible to wrap your head around all that the author has had to go through during all that time. Powerful, infuriating, heartbreaking and with a dose of hope and forgiveness… The Sun Does Shine is one of the best true crime memoirs I have read to this date, and his story will stay with me for a long time. Why did this memoir have such an impact on me? Let’s see if I can explain my reasons… In a nutshell, this memoir is about the life of a man who had to spend thirty years on death row despite being innocent and having a solid alibi. His crime? Being born poor and black in the South (Alabama), a place where he ended up being judged by the color of his skin and the money in his pocket instead of the simple fact he was guilty or not. This fact alone will be enough to enrage you, one infuriating detail of his case after the other causing sparks and making you want to scream and pull at your hairs. How is it possible that in 1985 things like this still happened? Incriminating an innocent man with a solid alibi, discriminating him and denying him his rights? It made me want to travel back in time and just tell those persons involved in his case what I really thought of them. The Sun Does Shine talks about the author growing up as well as the difficulties he has had to face during his entire life, even long before he was wrongly convicted of a crime. Racial segregation and discrimination is an important element in this memoir, and even though Anthony Ray Hinton never points a direct finger at the guilty and even stresses he forgives them, it shows us readers just how wrong the system was and still is in Southern Alabama. It’s a topic that has always touched me, and it is very well described in this memoir.

But this memoir isn’t just about injustice and racial discrimination. Like the author stresses, it is also about hope and forgiveness, which shines through in his writing and underlying message. His experience during all those years on death row is fascinating to read, as well as describing his personal relationships with fellow inmates and how the experience truly changes men. While I believe in punishment for those who have committed crimes, I don’t think death row is a solution. Like Anthony Ray Hinton said, who are we to judge who is innocent and who deserves to die? And then I’m not even thinking about possibly innocent men and women killed because of a mistake during their trials. Anthony Ray Hinton‘s case shows us just how wrong things can go, sending an innocent man to spend thirty years of his life on death row. I’m truly impressed and inspired by his view of life and ability for forgiveness. I can recommend this memoir to everyone; it is a true eye-opener.

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In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with robbery and two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Hinton was working the night the last robbery took place and had a solid alibi, so he knew it was a case of mistaken identity and believed the truth would soon set him free. But the fact that he was innocent didn’t mean anything to those in charge of the trial, and with no money and simply being a poor black man in the South, he was sentenced to death soon after. He spent the first three years on Death Row at Holan State Prison without speaking a word to anyone except those who believe in his innocence. His initial anger and despair of being sent to his death as an innocent man changed when he realized he had to accept his fate, and he was determined to not only survive and prove his innocence, but also find a way to live on Death Row.

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Powerful, inspiring, infuriating, heartbreaking, but also full of hope and forgiveness. The Sun Does Shine shows us how racial discrimination and prejudice helped send an innocent man to death row and keep him there for thirty years despite solid proof of his innocence. The pure injustice of it all makes you want to scream, but both his case and experience is very well documented in this memoir and makes for a painful, but inspiring, intriguing and very powerful read. I’m truly impressed by his views on life and his ability to be able to forgive the unforgivable. Highly recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #167 – March 14th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, but it’s not the reading experience I was hoping for. I’m not saying the writing is bad, but the topic itself is making me very very angry and I think I would never have read it if I would have known exactly what this book was about. People might be offended by this, but I’m totally on Anna’s side here. She should NOT be treated as a walking human donor bank and just being pressured giving up everything and going through all those treatments just because her parents say so… It should be her choice and her choice alone. Honestly, the whole reason they had her in the first place makes me sick. I’ll finish it just to see how the second half of the book will go, but it’s not going to be a good rating for me.

I kind of want to pick up The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten instead and read something different… Although I might need something light and fluffy to calm me down first before I do.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane (3/5 stars) REVIEW
I had really high hopes for The Art Of Fear, especially after such an explosive and dark beginning. But sadly I was never able to warm up to the characters, and the multiple POVs and flashbacks slowed down the pace considerably and didn’t help keeping the tension. Like I said before, The Art Of Fear is by no means a bad read, but I don’t think it lived up to expectations either. There is a lot of potential though, and I did like the writing style. Graffiti Palace had all the potential to blow me away, but instead I was left struggling and feeling confused about it all.

2. Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo (DNF at 49%, 0/5 stars) REVIEW
I’ve tried several times over the last two weeks to start reading Graffiti Palace, but unfortunately I have been struggling with it right from the very first page. The main thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which simply wasn’t for me. It felt confusing, chaotic, haltering… And it simply made it hard to make sense of it all. Some might call it literary fiction, colorful and exuberant prose, but the sad hard facts are that I personally found it a constant struggle to reach the end of each page.

3. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/03
As soon as I started reading Wink Poppy Midnight, I was blown away by the writing style. So so beautiful, mysterious and intriguing! The writing style is by far what stood out most for me in this book and it’s the only reason I’m giving this story the benefit of the doubt. Why the low rating, would you ask? I’m keeping things simple and give one main reason: Poppy. I understand we are not supposed to like her in the first place, but I absolutely utterly despised her character. This extremely negative feeling for Poppy ruined the reading experience for me and made it really hard to just forget about her and enjoy the other chapters.

4. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/03
Powerful, inspiring, infuriating, heartbreaking, but also full of hope and forgiveness. The Sun Does Shine shows us how racial discrimination and prejudice helped send an innocent man to death row and keep him there for thirty years despite solid proof of his innocence. The pure injustice of it all makes you want to scream, but both his case and experience is very well documented in this memoir and makes for a painful, but inspiring, intriguing and very powerful read. I’m truly impressed by his views on life and his ability to be able to forgive the unforgivable. Highly recommended!

5. The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/03 
The Child Next Door is psychological thriller at its best. Just the right amount of tension, a rich plot and a healthy dose of twists and false leads, but also well rounded characters and a pace that is just right. To top things off, the writing style will make you want to keep on reading and you will have a hard time letting go. I didn’t see the ending coming at all, as it kind of came out of nowhere, but it was shocking as well. And like I said before, that final reveal left me both speechless and wanting for more. Recommended!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to read The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat, especially since I should have read it months ago… Sorry! I also want to read The Good Twin by Marti Green since it sounds so good. I might go for something different and read Wing Jones by Katherine Webber first though… And I have a new TBR jar pick: Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider. I haven’t been reading much summery books this Summer, so I might just pick this one up before the season officially ends down here!


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WWW Wednesdays #166 – March 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve recently started reading Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo, another ARC that is scheduled to be published soon. It’s still really early days, so we’ll see how things go with that one… And I’m also starting The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane, both because I’m in the mood for a thriller and I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf before our trip. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy both!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.

2. The Last Star by Rick Yancey (2/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I was warned about this one by various bloggers, even though who unlike me did enjoy the first two books. Unfortunately, they turned out to be right. From the religious introduction, to the chaotic POV changes, the icky romance scenes and Cassie being her annoying self… I definitely didn’t have a great time reading this one. But I guess at least I was able to cross off another series right?

3. My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My Sweet Friend is the perfect example of a novella done right. With a well developed plot with interesting and fleshed out characters and a writing that simply flows it’s hard not to like this story. The manipulation element is incorporated in a way that feels completely natural and instead of it being forced on you, it shows up gradually. The switching back and forward between Rosie and Alexa helped set the right atmosphere as well as show the different sides of the effects of a manipulative relationship. The story will also have some surprises in store for you! Definitely recommended.

4. No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/03
If you are looking for a well written, fast-paced and intense detective thriller series with a consistent quality and complex and well developed plots, Detective Lottie Parker will be a perfect fit for you. No Safe Place has another intense and complex investigation with many layers and twists to keep you guessing and entertained. I had my guesses, but didn’t find out the full truth until the very end and I was wrong in many occasions. I just love it when a story is able to mislead me! No Safe Place was another excellent detective thriller and I will already be looking forward to the next book.

5. Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 15/03 
I read and enjoyed the first book of the series last month, and now it was time for me to read the sequel for the blog tour. It took me a bit longer than expected to get into the sequel, but I guess that was because the first half was used to create a base the rest of the story will be able to stand on. I wasn’t a fan of the high dose of drama, but the final part returned to the default action-packed and superspeed pace I had been getting used to in book one. And there is no doubt that the ending left me wanting for more.

6. With Malice by Eileen Cook (4/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I picked this one on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I really enjoyed reading this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. Interesting ending as well!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Like I said before, I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf as much as I can before I start my trip, so the ARCs The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten are next. A memoir and a historical fiction read; I’ll be looking forward to them! I also want to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon, although I’m waiting until I’m in the mood for a tearjerker before I do. 😉 My latest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. I was going to pick it up earlier this week, but then I saw With Malice and I randomly picked up that one instead haha.


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