Book Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Hi all, how are you doing? It’s still really hot out here. So hot that I can’t go outside at all and I lie in bed a lot during the day. At night, when it’s slightly cooler, I sit at my desk reading.

I started reading Heroine by Mindy McGinnis already quite some months ago. On Thursday, I finally finished it, but I didn’t feel like writing a review yet. Now I am basically forcing myself to write a review, as otherwise I’ll never get to it.

Summary

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

My Review

The prologue was very gripping and I was immediately sucked into the story. However, as the chapters progressed, I felt increasingly bored at first. That’s why I didn’t make it beyond 35% when first starting on this book. Other books just seemed far more interesting. When I finally forced myself to go beyond this point last week, the book did capture my attention again.

The story is told entirely from Mickey’s perspective. That’s why, despite knowing that she makes a ton of horribly irresponsible choices, I couldn’t keep from rooting for her. I always seemed to support her and hoped that nothing bad was going to happen to her. I even at some point hoped no-one would find out about Mickey’s addiction, because that’d mean the end to her softball career.

To be honest, I felt the other characters were a little flat. However, that only got me to see things more from Mickey’s point of view.

The writing style was a little cringe-worthy at times. I cannot quite put my finger to why. I think one reason is that there are a lot of long, complex sentences in the story that I found a little hard to follow.

Overall though, this book was definitely worth my read. I gave it a four-star rating on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 12, 2019

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Gratitude List (August 7, 2020) #TToT

Happy Friday everyone! I still have a lot I want to write about, but it’s soaring hot here and my brain is melting. For this reason, I’m going with a relatively simple post and do a gratitude list. As always, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. Barbecues. My husband bought a mini barbecue last week and we had sausages on it on Saturday. To get some healthy food in us too, my husband served us both a full plate of cherry tomatoes. That was funny.

2. Ice cream. Lots of ice cream! Like I think I said last week, the freezer was still full of ice cream from my birthday and the previous time it was hot. Well, my staff bought even more and so we had ice cream for dessert or as an afternoon treat several days this past week.

3. New shoes. I ordered new walking boots on Monday and they arrived on Wednesday. They are a size bigger than the ones I had before, as those didn’t fit well anymore with my feet swelling. These are pretty cool.

4. Getting motivated to walk again. I signed up for Steptember, a sponsored walking/movement event in support of the cerebral palsy community. At first I wasn’t sure whether to sign up, as I can’t make it to 10K steps every single day of the event. However, my husband encouraged me. I can’t wait to start walking a lot again. Not now though, as it’s incredibly hot, like I said. By the way, I’m not sure there’s an English-language site where you can donate.

5. Liquorice. I bought a bag yesterday and had some tonight. Yes, I still had it unopened by then. Okay, full disclosure, I did also buy a bar of white chocolate and did eat that one, but oh well. Oh, how I loved the black liquorice!

6. Reading time. I actually finished a book this week that I’d started a long time ago. I loved sitting up late at night reading, as it was too hot to sleep.

7. My staff. I was feeling very much on edge for the first few days of the week. On Wednesday, I even had to take a lorazepam again to calm me down. However, all through it, my staff were so very supportive.

8. All the lovely comments I get on here. You all are so special. I’m also so happy to be motivated for writing a lot again this time around.

That’s it for now I guess. What are you grateful for?

If I Could Have Any Pet

Today’s topic for Fandango’s Dog Days of August (#FDDA) is “pet”. One of the suggested topics is to talk about which animal you’d have if you could have any pet. I am going to use this topic as a starter for today’s blog entry.

As regular readers of my blog might know, my husband and I have a cat. We first got a cat, Harry, when we were first planning on living together in 2013. We’ve had Harry since kittenhood. However, he was pretty hyperactive, so we got Barry, thinking the two might make great playmates. Well, they didn’t, so we ultimately rehomed Harry. Now we still have Barry.

I always grew up with cats. The thing with them though is, they invariably seem to sense my inadequacy. Whether this is due to my blindness, I don’t know.

Regardless, cats aren’t quite as confortable with me as I’d like them to be. I still hope I will someday have a cat that will have a true liking for me, but that’s not in cats’ nature, I’m afraid. They’re more introverted than some other animals. Or maybe that’s just been the cats I’ve had so far.

All that to say that, if I could have any pet I wanted, I would like a dog. However, I’d for sure like it to be a psychiatric service dog as well as a trained guide dog. That seems a bit much, maybe, but I know some blind people whose guide dogs also help them with their mental health issues.

I may also want to have a pet rabbit or guinea pig. Rabbits generally need a lot of space, though my sister-in-law keeps three (if I’m correct) in her house. She does have a garden, so I hope they’re able to roam about there at times too.

In general though, I don’t think I’m that much of a pet person. I fed Barry dutifully when I still lived with my husband, and though I did take delight in it, I wouldn’t say he’s like my child or something. I’d love to develop more of a connection to Barry and to whichever future pets I might have. I do care deeply about them, but I just don’t feel the natural attunement to my pets that others do. I can’t say it’s an autistic thing, as a common autism stereotype (thanks, Temple Grandin) is that we have a strong connection to animals. I guess I for one don’t.

Currently (August 2020)

It’s been forever since I last took part in Currently. That’s partly because the day coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting day and partly because I cannot always think of much to say to the prompts. Today though, I’m feeling like writing and the prompts appealed to me.

Choosing

To take an Ativan to avert yet another crisis. Well, not quite avert, as it was already happening. I’m safe and relatively calm now that the Ativan has had about an hour to kick in.

Consuming

Banana chips and grated coconut. I bought a bag of both at a wellness store yesterday. Consumed all the banana chips in one sitting and put some of the coconut in my smoothie. Today, I actually ate some of the coconut as is.

Enjoying

Reading, of course. I spend a lot of the time with my face in a book, figuratively speaking, as I use my Braille display to read books on.

Add to my reading experience some calming music, for example a Robbins Island Music Group album, and some essential oil. I bought two essential oil blends at the wellness store yesterday and particularly love the one called Joy. The other one was called something like Sleep Well, so I may be able to use that tonight.

Ordering

Not anything right now, but the shoes I ordered last Monday, did arrive today. They’re brown with pink walking boots and I love them. I tried to explain to my husband what I’d ordered and he kept coming up with walking boots that cost like €200. Makes me feel I got quite a bargain, as mine cost €80. Of course, that’s still a lot of money.

Remembering

That no-one promised me a rose garden. I need to remind myself of this, because I seem to be dealing with a lot of fear of joy lately, as well as having a big case of “the grass is always greener on the other side” with respect to living situations. Maybe I just need to accept that the care facility I live in now isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as it’s going to get. This issue may be one reason I spiraled into crisis today.

How have you been?

#IWSG: The Form Will Find Me?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posting day.

Well, let me say I’m pretty insecure indeed. I did pretty well on the blogging front this past month, but I always dream bigger than I actually live. I mean, I remember saying about four years ago that, within the next five years, I’d like to write my memoir and yet there’s not a single word down on the page. That plus I haven’t a clue where to start. Stories or pieces of non-fiction would flow so easily when I was younger. I have one work in progress that could’ve turned into a young adult novel if I’d just had the willpower to finish it. Not saying it’d be published – it certainly wouldn’t, as it’s rather unoriginal -, but well.

I keep remembering that Stephen King quote in DIY MFA about how you need to write 2000 words a day. I know, the author said this isn’t true, but I do need to write.

Thankfully, I do write. I got a premium subscription to Day One, a journaling app for iOS. Though I haven’t written in my journals everyday, I do find that the words come more easily already after a week of having it. As a result, I did write on my blog everyday for the past week. I really could use some guidance on how to transform my blogging practice into something more powerful.

Now on to the optional prompt question. It’s a quote that says that, although you may write in a certain genre, you don’t have to have that predetermined. Rather, the form or genre will find you once you write. I indeed must say I agree with this to some extent. Though I often set out to write in a specific form, my words don’t usually come out in that form eventually. Even if I do choose a genre in advance, my words often flow more easily when I let them rather than plan what I’m writing in advance.

Children’s Books With Colors in Their Titles

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about books with colors in their title. Wow, this challenge is hard! I could off the top of my head think of four books, then thought of another, but then I was stuck. So to give me some inspiration, I decided to search Bookshare. When I typed the first color, “green”, into the search box, already several hundreds of titles popped up even when I kept the search to children’s literature. In this list, you’ll find some kidlit books (from picture books to YA) with colors in their titles that I think may be worth a read.

1. The Green Children of Woolpit by J. Anderson Coats. This is a fantasy children’s book based on a classic British legend. I don’t usually read fantasy, but this one sounds particularly interesting.

2. Blue Daisy by Helen Frost. This is a children’s book about two children who find a dog in their neighborhood and grow to love it, but will the dog love them back?

3. Blue Skies by Anne Bustard. This sounds like such a fascinating middle grade novel. I don’t normally read books not set in the current time, but this one sounds great.

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This was one of the books I already had in mind. I really want to read this YA novel. Too bad I am already reading several books now.

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. This one is also already on my TBR. In fact, I started listening to it as an audiobook on Scribd some months ago, but then stopped because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice.

6. Yellow Flag by Robert Lipsyte. I am absolutely clueless about racing, but this book sounds interesting.

7. The Doll With the Yellow Star by Yona Zeldis Mcdonough and Kimberly Bulcken Root. Another story centered around World War II, but it definitely sounds intriguing to me.

8. Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by Charles George Esperanza. This sounds like such a funny yet educational book for young children. It’s all about mixing colors and what this can achieve. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see the illustrations.

9. Silver Spurs by Miralee Ferrell. As a former horseback rider, I still love stories about horse girls. This one sounds truly endearing.

10. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. This sounds like such an endearing read for young children. When Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth, she writes to the tooth fairy to get it back. I sense that she’ll learn a valuable lesson.

Now I realize that most of these, I may not actually read. Still, I hope some of my readers will find these interesting for their children or students.

What books with colors in their titles do you like?

Reading Wrap-Up (August 3, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been forever since I last did a reading wrap-up. I always felt I didn’t have enough to share, since I don’t finish many books fast enough for my liking. Today though, I’m loving a good book and am wanting to share with you what I’m reading. I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

I love reading many books at the same time. This does mean I hardly get to finish anything. For example, I’m still reading Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. Now that I’m over 30% done with it, it does start to feel like a book I’ll like.

I also yesterday decided to pick up Heroine by Mindy McGinnis again after having let it lay there for months.

Lastly, I seem to have totally gotten into foster care memoirs again, so I finally decided to start reading Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I was somehow convinced it’d be her last ever foster care memoir, but then I learned that some new ones are coming out, so I didn’t feel as bad about reading this one. Now I must admit I haven’t read many of her older memoirs either, so even if this one were her last, I’d still have a lot to read.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Last week, I picked up a picture book called ABC of Feelings for my inner children. It was sad that we couldn’t see the pictures, as I’m blind, but the words were also good.

Then yesterday I finished Who Will Love Me Now?, a Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, after only having started on it earlier that week. See my review.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

The thing with me is that I always have an eye on too many books that I won’t be able to read even if I devoted the entire day to reading. I have a ton of middle grade and YA novels on my TBR still, but I also want to read some adult novels. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading next.

Reading Goals

Since it’s the beginning of the month, why not set some reading goals? I’ve always wanted to participate in a readathon, but I always see them when they’re already happening. I think I may want to participate in one this month though. Feel free to drop your recommendations in the comments.

Other than that, I just hope this month will be a pleasant reading one. I beat Apple’s default reading goal by having read my fourth book off Apple Books this year. I read most of my books in other apps, so it isn’t as lame an achievement as it sounds.

What are you reading?

Book Review: Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley

A few days ago, some people on an E-mail list were discussing a new collection of short stories by UK foster carer Maggie Hartley. I couldn’t find the collection on Apple Books, but I did stumble upon one of her full-size books, called Who Will Love Me Now?. Most people on the list had already read it, but I hadn’t, so I bought it and started to read it.

Summary

At just ten years old, Kirsty has already suffered a lifetime of heartache and suffering. Neglected by her teenage mother and taken into care, Kirsty thought she had found her forever family when she is fostered by Pat and Mike, who she comes to see as her real mum and dad.

But when Pat has a heart attack and collapses in front of her, Kirsty’s foster family say it’s all her fault. They blame her temper tantrums for putting Pat under stress and they don’t want Kirsty in their lives anymore.

Kirsty is still reeling from this rejection when she comes to live with foster carer Maggie Hartley. She acts out, smashing up Maggie’s home and even threatens to hurt the baby boy Maggie has fostered since birth. Social Services must take Kirsty’s threat seriously and Maggie is forced to choose between eight-month-old Ryan, who she’s grown to love, or angry Kirsty, who will most likely end up in a children’s home if Maggie can no longer care for her. Maggie is in an impossible position, one that calls in to question her decision to become a foster carer in the first place…

My Review

This book totally spoke to me! I could on some deep level relate to Kirsty. After all, I too displayed many behaviors similar to her at around this age. Age ten was also when my parents first considered (albeit not seriously) institutionalizing me at the school for the blind.

I could and to some extent still can relate to Kirsty’s volatile behavior. I have never had to live with anyone other than my biological parents until I was nineteen, but I did often feel rejected by them and showed this in quite dramatic ways.

I immediately, for this reason, rooted for Kirsty and resented Pat and Mike. It was for this reason that I loved to see how the story unfolded.

I read one earlier story by Maggie Hartley, but that was an eShort. I for this reason already knew I liked Maggie’s writing style. I loved it in this book too.

Overall, this was a great read and I finished it within less than a week.

Book Details

Title: Who Will Love Me Now?: Neglected, Unloved and Rejected. A Little Girl Desperate for a Home to Call Her Own
Author: Maggie Hartley
Publisher: Trapeze
Publication Date: July 20, 2017

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A Trip to Berlin

Fandango has started a new challenge for the month of August and the prompt word for today is Trip. I’m going to write about a train trip my parents, sister and I took to Berlin in 2002.

At the time, you had this bargain called “schönes Wochenende” in Germany, which meant that for just €28, four people could travel all over Germany by train on a Saturday or Sunday. The only catch was that you had to take local railroads.

My parents, sister and I at the time lived in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, which isn’t too far from the German border. So we drove to Bad Bentheim to go on the train. The first train we took, drove us to Osnabrück. Then we took three more trains until we finally arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. The last train we took, I remember, had Frankfurt an der Oder as its final destination. I found that fascinating.

I at the time had train routes as one of my autistic special interests. It was totally awesome learning all about the German local railroads.

The holiday in Berlin itself wasn’t a good experience. I had a lot of meltdowns and was pretty confused. I did like visiting a street called Straße des 17. Juni, because that year on 17 June I had first opened up about my distress that I’d suffered with for years. The street was named after a protest in east Berlin in 1953.

This was, actually, the last trip I took with my parents. The next year, I went to computer camp in Switzerland and the year after that, to blindness skills camp at the country’s training center for blind people. The year after that, I graduated from high school.

I feel pretty sad that I don’t have many memories about the trip to Berlin and the ones I do have, aren’t good. I guess trips rarely were enjoyable for me. That’s probably why I haven’t been on vacation with my husband in six years.