Reading Wrap-Up (June 10, 2020)

Good evening everyone! I’m in quite a good mood for reading lately, so I thought I’d share a reading wrap-up with you all today. I’m joining in with WWW Wednesday.

What I’m Currently Reading

Last week, I downloaded a couple of autism-related books off Bookshare. I started with Our Autistic Lives edited by Alex Radcliffe. This is a collection of personal accounts of life with autism, organized by author age.

Then I stumbled on Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. This is a collection of colums by the author about strange medical cases. I’m 20% done with it now.

Lastly, today I picked up Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott again after a few weeks of not reading it. I’m not sure I’ll finish it, but we’ll see. I don’t think I like this book as much as I’d originally thought.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I spent all of last week-end reading Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett and finished it on Sunday. See my review, which I wrote on Monday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I put a few other autism-related books on my virtual shelves this past week, including Spectrum Women by Barb Cook. I also downloaded a few more books in honor of #BlackLivesMatter, namely On the Come Up and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

However, I’m a true mood reader and I’ve had Clean by Juno Dawson on my radar for a while, so I may buy that one soon and read it first.

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Last week, I was drawn to Anne of In Residence’s Black Lives Matter booklist. I am white and admittedly completely clueless about racism, certainly as it applies to Black people. I however immediately decided to download a few books off this list onto my phone. The first book I got to read, obviously, was one with a medical aspect to it, because that’s what I’m most interested in: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett.

Summary

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

My Review

When I bought this book off Apple Books, I had next to no idea what this book was about other than the main character being Black and HIV-positive. Having an excuse to read a medical novel under the guise of supporting Black lives felt good though (yes, I know that makes me pretty oppressive). I had no idea this book was so good though.

Not only does it talk about HIV in much more depth than I ever was aware of. I mean, I almost immediately felt the shame come back to me from when we were presented with a problem case in college in which a fictional workplace was disrupted by stigma surrounding one worker’s HIV-positive status and I pretty quickly jumped to conclusions by saying the coworkers might want to be tested. My instructor immediately called me out that you don’t get HIV from drinking out of the same cups as someone who’s positive. I mean, I knew this much, but still objected that fear might guide the coworkers to get tested anyway and I’d understand that. How horrible!

It was totally liberating learning about not just HIV, but sex and sexuality in a broad perspective too. Several characters are openly queer. I loved learning about diversity like this.

Then there’s the race aspect. I didn’t learn too much about that from this book, as it assumes you already know a bit about Black culture, but I bet Black people can relate to some of the things being discussed.

The book is more plot-driven than character-driven, but I happen to love that. The characters are still really well-portrayed.

Overall, I totally loved this book and as such gave it five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Full Disclosure
Author: Camryn Garrett
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 29, 2019

MamaMummyMum

A Book I Remember From My Childhood

Yesterday’s prompt in Sandman’s 30-day book challenge is a book you remember from your childhood. I didn’t really like reading as a child, but I liked listening to audiobooks. Most came from the library for the bblind, but a few didn’t.

Particularly, I remember my grandpa had read one of my father’s cousins a book on cassette tape sometime when my father was still young in the 1950s or 1960s. My grandfather passed it on to me as a child. It was called De kinderkaravaan and was written by An Rutgers Van der Loeff, published in 1949.

This book describes the journey of the Sager children on the Oregon trail in 1844. In the story, the oldest boy, John Sager, leads his younger siblings from fort Hall to the Marcus Whitman family in Oregon after the rest of his trail decide to go to California. The story begins at Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming, with the trail still intact and the Sager parents still alive. The Sager mother is pregnant with her seventh child at the time, who is born on the trail. By the time the trail reaches Fort Hall though, both parents have died and the children are supposedly getting to live with different families on the trail. John convinces the other men to let the children stay together except for the baby. He gets the baby from her caregiver when the trail is about to go to California, because he feels his parents would’ve wished them to travel to Oregon. As such, John and his younger brother Francis lead the children on a walking trail to Oregon.

Supposedly, the story is based on real events. Rutgers Van der Loeff claimed to have gotten a newspaper article from an acquaintance alerting her to the family’s adventure. Indeed, the Sager family did exist and John and his siblings did lose their parents. I only found out about a year ago that Rutgers Van der Loeff had many names and ages of the Sager children wrong. The Sager children also never traveled alone and the newspaper article claiming they did, was fabricated. The mix-up of the names and ages more annoyed me than the fact that the children’s adventure wasn’t as heroic as the author makes it look.

Maybe a year after my grandfather gifted me the cassette tapes with this book on them, my mother recorded another book by the same author for me. It is called Het licht in je ogen (which translates to The Light in Your Eyes) and is about a boy going blind from cornea damage. I loved that book too.

What book do you remember from your childhood?

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Reading

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about our bookish loves. The prompt is “Top Ten Reasons I Love …”. I am going to interpret this broadly and list the reasons I love reading in general. Here goes.

1. Escapism. It is totally amazing to escape my daily worries and troubles for a bit by immersing myself in the world of books.

2. Broadening my horizons. Whether I read a work of non-fiction, memoir or a novel, it almost always has something in it that I can’t personally relate to. As such, reading gives me insight into things I may not know much about.

3. Perspective. I can too easily be caught up in negativity about my own life. When I read a realistic novel or memoir, it often puts my struggles into perspective.

4. Relatability. Pretty much the opposite of the above. Some books I relate to, give me the sense that I’m not alone in the world.

5. Learning new words. English is my second language. Though I rarely use a dictionary when reading, reading English-language books does help me widen my vocabulary.

6. The ability to hyperfocus and perseverate. I love browsing through Amazon or Apple books for things I may want to read. I can totally immerse myself in even this habit, even if I don’t end up reading anything right then. When I do read, I can totally focus on this and forget my surroundings.

7. Writing inspiration. I am a writer. To be more than a mediocre writer, you really need to be a reader too. I love getting inspiration from the books I read.

8. A book for every mood. Whether I’m in need of a laugh or a cry, there’s a book for every mood. There are also tons of books out there for my inner child parts.

9. Something to talk about. Other than myself, that is. Books really give me something to discuss with others that isn’t too personal. I love it when others have similar interests to mine.

10. The book blogosphere. And book Twitter, YouTube, etc. I totally love connecting to other bloggers. Even though I’m not primarily a book blogger, I love reading book-related blog posts and watching book-related videos on YouTube (BookTube’s actually how I discovered my love for YouTube vlogs).

Do you love reading? Why?

Joining the 28th Bout of Books Readathon!

This is going to be a relatively short post. I’m a few days late, but the linky is still open, yay! I’m joining in with the 28th Bout of Books readathon! This is a week-long readathon organized by Kelly and Amanda. You can find out more about the readathon at the Bout of Books blog. You even still have a few hours to sign up!

Now I must say I’ve never participated in any readathons. Thankfully, this one’s challenges are all optional. I mean, I find readathons a little overwhelming, because I’m a slow reader. I just can’t read more than a few books in a week’s time. I love reading though and would really like to branch out into book blogging more. So here I am. I really like some of the challenges and look forward to sharing my knowledge of books with you. I also look forward to learning from you all.

For those visiting me from the readathon, hiya! Let me introduce myself. I’m Astrid, age 33 and I live in the Netherlands. I mostly read middle grade and young adult novels with realistic themes. I also love the adult reads as long as they’re realistic. My favorite authors in adult-focused fiction are Lisa Genova and Jodi Picoult. However, I’m trying to expand my reading. For this week, I have The Lost Husband by Katherine Center to be read. I also want to actually read some sci-fi/fantasy. Like I said, I’m a slow reader, so I might just finish one book, or I might start to read middle grade or young adult again and finish some of that. I really didn’t create a schedule or planning, as I literally decided to jump at the opportunity. So we’ll see where this goes. Enjoy!

Book Review: Wink by Rob Harrell

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for middle grade books and googled something like middle grade books in 2020. One of the first results that popped up was Wink by Rob Harrell. I read the blurb and was immediately determined to read it.

First though, I had to finish Wonder. I finished that last week, so after that and after a short break for processing, I proceeded to this book.

Wink

Summary

A wrenching and hilarious story about embracing life’s weirdness and surviving an unthinkable diagnosis, based on the author’s own experience with a rare eye cancer.

Twelve-year-old Ross Maloy just wants to be normal. Not to have a rare eye cancer, not to lose his hair, not to have to wear a weird hat or have a goopy eye full of ointment. Just normal. But with a sudden and horrifying diagnosis, Ross can’t help standing out. His new life is medical treatments that feel straight out of a video game, vision loss in one eye, disappearing friends who don’t know what to say to “the cancer kid,” cruel bullying, and ultimately, friendships new and old that rise above everything.

Just when Ross starts to feel like he’s losing his footing, he discovers how music, art, and true friends can change everything. Filled with Rob Harrell’s comic panels (Batpig for the win!) and spot art, this novel brings effortless humor and hope to an unforgettable, uplifting story of survival.

My Review

Well, I cannot see the illustrations, so this review is purely about the story. And let me tell you, it’s an amazing story! Harrell has created Ross to be so totally witty, I loved it! I mean, even in the darkest of times, while my heart went out to Ross, I also found the story humorous. Ross truly shows his determination. He may not (as he says) have some big epiphany in which he realizes life is a precious gift, but he does retain his sense of humor in spite of it all. That’s awesome. I mean, this book had me laugh out loud on several occasions.

What’s also important, is the development the characters go through. I liked how Harrell creates his characters to be as open to friendship as they were. I mean, I know this book is a middle grade novel and some kids that age are just so closed-minded. Harrell’s characters for the most part are not.

I loved that this book had just one viewpoint, that of Ross. It shows us what goes on inside a “cancer kid”‘s mind without the added baggage of family members or friends. Of course, they chime in on occasion, but that’s okay. Oh, and not just Ross, but many other characters are totally awesome.

I loved Harrell’s writing style, the dialogue and how quickly this book moved. All absolutely great.

In short, this wasn’t some inspirational story, and yet it was. It’s partly based on Harrell’s own experience, even though I assume Harrell was an adult when he got cancer. I think this book definitely provides some perspective to middle schoolers and yet puts a laugh on their faces.

Book Details

Title: Wink
Author: Rob Harrell
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Read With Me

Stuck at Home Book Tag

I found the Stuck at Home Book Tag over at CrankyAutistic’s blog. I wasn’t really tagged, but I felt it was a fun tag so stole it. It was created by Ellyn. I’m not su re I’m doing these book covers right. I got them from Goodreads but, as regular readers know, I’m blind so not able to judge them.

1. What Are You Currently Reading?
Wink
I just finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Now a bit stuck, but the most recent book I’ve picked up is Wink by Rob Harrell.

2. What’s Your Favorite Can’t Leave The House Activity?
Blogging! I’ve truly been active writing lately. I also love reading, of course, as well as listening to music.

3. A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read Forever?
Fangirl
That for sure has to be Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I recently discovered it was available on Bookshare, but I’ve literally had it on my TBR list for years.

4. An Intimidating Book on Your TBR?
The Institute
That still would be The Institute by Stephen King.

5. Top Three Books on Your TBR
I don’t really know. I’m generally a mood reader, so I read whatever strikes my fancy at a given point. As a result, I usually read multiple books at once. I honestly don’t know what three books I would want to read now that I haven’t started on yet.

6. Recommend a Short Book
Most of the books I read are not too long. Then again, I don’t really know what counts as short.

7. Recommend a Long Book
Well, the longest fiction book I’ve read that I can remember is Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, but I’m not sure that counts as long. Other than that, how about you read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)? Yes, I actually own a copy of it.

8. Something You’d Love to Do While Stuck at Home?
Exercise more. I really need to get on the elliptical more often and also should be doing yoga. Oh, are these things I’d love to do or things I’d need to do? Maybe both.

9. What Book Do You Plan on Reading Next?
Rules for Being a Girl
I just recently downloaded Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno off Bookshare and think I’ll read that next. At least, after I’ve finished reading Wink, Heroine by Mindy McGinnis and the other books still in progress and listening to Matilda by Roald Dahl.

I won’t tag anyone, but if you’d like to do this tag, I’d love you to.

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (May 7, 2020)

I haven’t felt inspired to write all day today. That’s weirdly sad. I mean, before I went on this writing spree at the end of March, I sometimes didn’t write for nearly a week and now I’m feeling disappointed at not having a topic to write about by morning. I did get my writing mojo back in late afternoon. I’m joining in with Bookish (And
Not So Bookish) Thoughts
. I think Christine of Bookishly Boisterous intended this as a meme anyway, so I can join in.

I finally finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio yesterday. I originally wanted to write a proper review, but can’t without it probably containing spoilers. So be warned.

Let me say this book had my feelings all over the place. I was triggered by Via’s feeling like everything was about Auggie. This resonates with how my sister felt about growing up with me. I felt tears of joy when reading Miranda’s part, because she showed such pure love to August. Then at the end, when everything is fine and everyone sticks up for August, I felt a pang of jealousy. I mean, my school was welcoming too, but mostly so they could pat themselves on the back for having accepted a blind student. I ended up giving the book a 4-star rating because of these mixed feelings.

Now I’m reading Wink by Rob Harrell. It’s a bit of a similar themed book, but so far not as evocative.

I also downloaded Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno. I saw it on Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca’s Goodreads, which was linked to her blog. I’m probably going to link my Goodreads here too.

I’m also further digging into The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff. I’m beginning to think I may be just a highly sensitive emotional mess, not an empath. However, it’s still an interesting read.

In other news, yesterday was a truly great day for my blog stats. Not that I care much about them, but then again sometimes I do. I am truly loving being able to interact with all my readers. I can’t believe how for years I rarely replied to comments. I believed at the time that my stats would be screwed if half the comments were mine. Well, whatever. I apparently cared more about my numbers then than about genuine connections, which is weird at best.

How is your (reading) life going?

Top Ten Books Younger Me Would Have Loved

I’m a day late joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT), for which the theme this week is books your younger self would have loved. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child. I loved being read to, but hated reading myself, especially in Braille. I was fourteen when I first discovered reading for pleasure through Caja Cazemier’s books.

I didn’t know enough English to read any of these books at the appropriate age. Actually, I didn’t know enough English to actually understand most books much until I was at least fifteen. Even then, only classics were available in accessible formats here in the Netherlands. For this list, I’m pretending that either younger me knew enough English or the books were available in Dutch. Most of these books weren’t published when I was young anyway.

1. Peter’s Asparagus by Angela Nicole Krause. This is a chapter book about a young boy with Asperger’s (autism). I read it in early 2014 and loved it. Of course, younger me didn’t know I am autistic and Asperger’s wasn’t even added to the DSM as a diagnosis till 1994, when I was eight. Still, well, my inner children find it incredibly validating.

2. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold. This is a book for slightly older children on the same topic. I read it in like 2018 and really feel it would’ve been a delightful read for younger me, even though it isn’t as relatable as the above one.

3. Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin. I didn’t finish this one, but I think my younger self would have loved to read it.

4. Lila and Hadley by Kody Keplinger. Okay, I see a theme emerge here. This one wasn’t published till a few weeks back and I haven’t read it. I want to, but it’s nowhere to be found in Dutch eBook stores. This one would definitely have encouraged younger me.

5. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. As a child and tween, I loved learning about different cultures. There was a whole series of children’s books about different countries and cultures out there back then, but as far as I know, the authors weren’t from those cultures. Khan is Pakistani-American and I loved her book. See my review.

6. Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. I read this one over New Year’s and loved it. It’d for sure be a comforting read to fifth-grader me.

7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I am 75% done with this one and think it’d for sure have given younger me some perspective.

8. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. Okay, I’m branching out into young adult books now. I really loved this one when I read it some five years ago and teen me would have loved it too.

9. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart. This would definitely have comforted teen me that she’s not alone in having problems. See my review.

10. Diagnosis Asparagus by Catherine O’Halloran. Okay, there are no doubt a ton of other books in the fiction category that younger me would have loved, but I just had to include this one. This one provides a teen’s perspective on being diagnosed with Asperger’s.

As a bonus, I’m going to mention Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson. That one was published around 2003, when I was self-diagnosed with Asperger’s. I would have loved it if my parents had allowed me to read it then.

What books would you wish your younger self had had access to?

Reading Wrap-Up (April 22, 2020)

Man, I haven’t done a reading wrap-up in over a month. Of course, I’m still busy with the #AtoZChallenge. However, I’d like to share what I’ve been reading and will be reading next anyway. I’m joining in with WWW Wednesday and also (a little late) with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I bought it on a whim last week and have been loving it so far, though reading August’s sister’s perspective is a bit triggering.

Also still not done with Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. Then again, I’m not really reading that one right now.

I picked up listening to Matilda by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet, again. I still can’t seem to get used to a female voice narrating it.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Not much. I mean, I finally finished Left Neglected by Lisa Genova a few weeks ago. After that, I was in a bit of a reading rut until I picked up Wonder. I did download and read some free bedtime stories by Uncle Amon, but that hardly counts.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I stacked the shelves with a couple middle grade novels that I think are going to be exciting. The one I think I’ll be reading next is Wink by Rob Harrell. That one actually got me to buy Wonder.

In addition, I’ve been looking at some adult romances to read. I would really like to read either Things You Save in a Fire or How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. Still in doubt as to which one to buy first.

What are you up to reading?