Reading Wrap-Up (November 2, 2020) #IMWAYR

Today is a hard day. Rather than bore you with endless details of the reasons though, I thought I’d distract myself by doing a reading wrap-up. It’s been forever since I last did one, because in September I hardly read anything at all and in October, I didn’t feel like writing about it much. Let me share what I’ve been reading lately. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

I’m struggling. Today, like I mentioned yesterday, is the anniversary of my suicidal crisis. Of course, it’s been thirteen years already, but I still struggle with it. I’m trying to turn things around and be grateful I’m alive and in a place where I am allowed to feel safe. That’s hard though.

What I’m Currently Reading

Like I’ve said a couple of times over the past few weeks, I signed up to receive eBook deals through Bookbub. The first book I downloaded for free thanks to it is Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It’s the first in the Lexy Baker cozy mystery series. So far, I’m loving it! I’ve never read cozy mysteries before, but this one is really good. I can see myself reading more in the series, although they can be read as standalones too.

I also finally picked up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. Today, for predictable reasons, I’m not interested in this one though.

Lastly, I’m reading a Dutch book called Dagboek van een verloskundige by Marlies Koers. It chronicles the life of an obstetrician.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing in the past week. The last book I finished was Let Me Go by Casey Watson two weeks ago. See my review.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I seriously have no idea. I haven’t added many books to my shelves or my TBR pile recently. I do have a couple of books I was reading some time ago that I may want to pick up again.

What have you recently read?

Ten Scary Yet Fascinating Story Elements

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) book meme is a Halloween freebie. Here in the Netherlands, Halloween is becoming more popular than it used to be, but it’s still celebrated not nearly as much as in the United States.

I don’t really care for ghost stories or the like. I just can’t be fazed by them. That being said, there are a number of story topics I find scary. Yet most of these I also find fascinating.

1. Murderers. It’s interesting in this respect that I don’t often read thrillers or crime fiction, as I do love crime podcasts. I find it fascinating to understand what makes murderers tick, but I also find it pretty scary.

2. Epidemics. Okay, I haven’t read any book about an epidemic so far, except for an educational historical children’s book about the bubonic plague. That being said, I find it fascinating and scary at the same time when I come across books with this topic. I recently heard about a book by Dutch thriller author Tomas Ross about a fictional pandemic. The book was originally published in 1987 and was set in 1996. The book was recently republished because Ross’s pandemic bore interesting similarities to COVID-19.

3. Strange neurological diseases. I used to be fascinated by Oliver Sacks’s books, but still found them a little scary. The same goes for Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Briens (see my review). That one really got me worried even though I have no reason to think I might develop Huntington’s Disease. Also, I remember once watching a documentary on a disease called fatal familial insomnia. It’d almost be funny to say I had trouble sleeping afterwards.

4. Medical stuff that doesn’t go well. I am fascinated by intriguing medical stories, but they also scare me, particularly when something goes wrong.

5. Poison. I find it generally fascinating to learn about how poisons work, but still I find it incredibly scary when someone in a story is poisoned even when they survive.

6. Dictatorships. This is one reason I have a love-hate relationship with dystopian novels. I loved Brave New World but still haven’t gotten down to reading 1984 and don’t think I ever will.

7. Insects. And snakes. And other dangerous animals. When I had a Netflix subscription, I loved watching 72 Dangerous Animals and the like. I am also still looking forward to reading Hatch, the sequel to Kenneth Oppel’s Bloom. Still, the topic does scare me.

8. Locked institutions such as prisons, insane asylums, etc. Particularly if strange/creepy things happen there. Like, I still want to read The Institute by Stephen King, but I’m not sure it might be too scary.

9. Cults. These are really scary and yet fascinating in a similar way that dictatorships are.

10. Nuclear weapons. Okay, I haven’t read any books on this topic, but I find the topic very frightening (of course) but also fascinating. I remember listening to Dutch historian Maarten van Rossem’s audio lecture on the atomic bomb some years ago and finding it so intriguing to know exactly what time the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

What “scary” topics do you find fascinating in books or other media?

Book Review: Let Me Go by Casey Watson

Last week, I found out Amazon.nl now accepts iDEAL, the Dutch payment method via your bank account. Unfortunately, as of yet, it doesn’t accept this method for digital purchases such as Kindle books. I didn’t realize this until I had already bought a book with my husband’s credit card. Honestly, I think it’s stupid that they won’t accept iDEAL for digital purchases, but oh well. Anyway, looking back maybe I should’ve purchased a book that isn’t on Apple Books, but I ended up purchasing Let Me Go, Casey Watson’s latest foster care memoir. This book came out last August, but I wasn’t really interested in reading it up till now. Read on to see what I thought.

Summary

Let Me Go is the powerful new memoir from foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Casey Watson.

Harley, 13, has been sectioned under the mental health act after attempting suicide. She was spotted climbing the railings on a footbridge that crossed a busy motorway and pulled to safety by a member of the public. After six weeks in hospital, social services are looking for a short-term placement so she can be kept safe while family therapy takes place. Harley has a family – a widowed mother and an older sister, Milly, who left home with her long-term boyfriend just over a year ago. There is no prospect of Harley going home just yet though, as her mum, who has learning difficulties and addictions issues, feels she cannot cope. So she arrives with Casey and Mike under a twenty-eight day care order.

As Harley tries to hurl herself out of the moving car on the way home, it quickly becomes clear she is in urgent need of help. Three weeks into the placement, after Harley has made various attempts to abscond, it seems like zero progress is being made. Then all of sudden there is an unexpected breakthrough, and light at the end of a long dark tunnel, but only once Harley is finally able to share the truth about the abuse she suffered at the hands of a very dangerous man.

My Review

This book is a sad look into the errors of the care system. Harley is deemed “care-seeking” (the politically correct term for attention-seeking) by the mental health professionals and is, for this reason, refused mental health care even though she’s clearly at risk. I mean, I honestly don’t feel that anyone in their right mind would make multiple even half-hearted attempts at suicide. In fact, I’m so happy the mental health system here in the Netherlands at least allowed care based on “adjustment disorder” (serious distress due to environmental circumstances) back in my day. It doesn’t anymore, unfortunately.

I was, at first, convinced Harley was at least at risk of developing emotionally unstable (borderline) personality disorder. This can’t be diagnosed in children her age, but it sure seemed she would meet the criteria at some point. BPD is, though, usually a trauma-based condition. So is Harley’s condition, as it turns out.

I had lots of sympathy for Harley, even as Casey and Mike almost lost it with her. This is in part due to the similarities between her experience and mine, but also due to Casey’s caring writing style.

Still, the book dragged a little at first. That’s probably to illustrate how little progress was made at first. Once Harley’s real situation is clear, things after all move more quickly.

At the end, Casey explains some of the issues with the 28-day care order. This was really interesting to read.

Overall, I really loved this book. I should’ve read it as soon as it came out.

Book Details

Title: Let Me Go: Abused and Afraid, She Has Nothing to Live for
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: August 6, 2020

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Reading Wrap-Up (August 31, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been a few weeks since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason isn’t that I’ve not been reading, but that I moved through most books slowly and didn’t want to bore you all with updates about the same books week after week. Today, I thought I’d share what’s been going on in my (reading) life. As always, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

Like I said yesterday, I’ve been using reading for escapism a lot lately. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but I’m struggling a bit. I often feel overwhelmed when in the communal rooms at my home, so I retreat into my room and read.

What I’m Currently Reading

Nothing at the moment. I deleted a few books off my “Currently Reading” bookshelf on Goodreads because I’d had them there for nine months to several years and didn’t believe I was going to finish them anytime within the foreseeable future.

I’m still only 6% done with The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but I haven’t committed to reading it yet. By that I mean, I haven’t put it on my Goodreads shelf or decided I’m going to spend significant time devoted to this particular book.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. The first was Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I finished that one on Thursday and wrote a review of it on Friday.

The second one is No Way Out by Kate Elysia. This is an abuse survivor memoir. I found this one by looking for other inspirational memoirs to read besides the foster care memoirs by the likes of Cathy Glass, Casey Watson, etc. I am thinking of doing a mini review of this one someday when I’ve read some other books I discovered too.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I really don’t know for sure! I still need to read the new Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley foster care memoirs that came out on August 6 and I think Angela Hart has a new memoir out too. I’ve not read anything by Angela Hart, as she isn’t discussed on the inspirational memoirs groups as much.

In addition, I discovered the preview feature on Apple Books just last week too. I never thought to actually download a preview of a book before buying the book. Don’t know why not. This week, I downloaded previews for two domestic violence survivor memoirs, before I ended up buying No Way Out (without downloading a preview first).

Lastly, in case I’m not into serious reading, Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca recommended the young adult romcom Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I immediately checked if it was available on Bookshare and it was!

What’s up in your reading life?

Book Review: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass

Hi all, how are you? What have you been reading? After I finished Bloom last week, I couldn’t decide what to read for a while. I wasn’t really into fiction anymore, so I picked up a memoir I’d already started on: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I have since discovered a ton of other foster care and abuse survival memoirs I may still want to read.

Summary

The true story of a 6-year-old boy with a dreadful secret.

Oskar’s school teacher raises the alarm. Oskar’s mother is abroad and he has been left in the care of ‘friends’, but has been arriving in school hungry, unkempt, and with bruises on his arms, legs and body. Experienced foster carer Cathy Glass is asked to look after him, but as the weeks pass her concerns deepen. Oskar is far too quiet for a child of six and is clearly scared of something or someone.

And who are those men parked outside his school watching him?

My Review

I struggled a little to get into this book. Partly, the reason was that I’d gotten the idea that this would be Glass’s last foster care memoir. I also judged from the title and table of contents that this might not be a story ending on a positive note. Thankfully, this won’t be Cathy Glass’s last foster care memoir.

The story had many unexpected turns. This is partly because the summary isn’t too telling. There was far more to Oskar’s story than his quiet demeanor and the men parked outside of his school. I ended up loving this.

Oskar stays with Cathy for a long while, so I really got to know him in the story. I also joined him on his journey of progress from his neglectful home through other disclosures to a better life.

Overall, I totally fell in love with Oskar and this story eventually. This was Cathy Glass’s fifth book I read, so I already knew I liked her writing style. I gave this another five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Too Scared to Tell: Abused and Alone, Oskar Has No One. A True Story.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 20, 2020

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Book Review: Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

I hardly ever read science fiction or fantasy. In fact, the only science fiction novel I can remember having read is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at age twelve. I only read the first book in that series and was maybe a little too young to understand all the humor. After that, I literally only read realistic fiction or non-fiction. That is until a few months ago I decided to broaden my reading horizons and downloaded a couple of SciFi and fantasy novels off Bookshare. The blurb for Bloom particularly appealed to me, but I didn’t get to read it till last week.

Summary

The first book in a can’t-put-it-down, can’t-read-it-fast-enough action-thriller trilogy that’s part Hatchet, part Little Shop of Horrors!

The invasion begins–but not as you’d expect. It begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout–overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. They bloom–and release toxic pollens. They bloom–and form Venus flytrap-like pods that swallow animals and people. They bloom–everywhere, unstoppable.

Or are they? Three kids on a remote island seem immune to the toxic plants. Anaya, Petra, Seth. They each have strange allergies–and yet not to these plants. What’s their secret? Can they somehow be the key to beating back this invasion? They’d better figure it out fast, because it’s starting to rain again… 

My Review

I was pretty easily drawn into the story. To be honest, the plot is already mostly summed up by the blurb, but the details were what made this amazing. I really wanted to find out what made Anaya, Petra and Seth special, both in terms of their everyday allergies and their apparent immunity to the invasive plants.

The story is told alternatingly from each of these three characters. That way, I learned not only about their special characteristics but about them in more depth. These characters are all very well-developed. I also learned about their mutual relations.

The story itself didn’t have many twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming, but I liked it nonetheless. After all, the details were all very well written out.

This book really got me interested in science fiction. The world building isn’t overly strange, but still fascinating. I am fascinated with and scared of toxic plants at the same time, so this was a really great story. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next month.

Book Details

Title: Bloom (The Overthrow #1)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (August 13, 2020)

Hello everyone! How are you doing? It’s still very hot out here. We got some thunder far away in the distance here, but no rain. I hope that will change tonight. Though I’m scared of thunderstorms, I really need it to cool down a bit.

early in the week, I got a lot of reading done. I finished Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott on Tuesday. I haven’t written a review yet and it’s too late now to write one today. Maybe tomorrow. Then nothing quite captured my interest. I tried to get started on The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but it’s incredibly slow-moving right now and I’m not sure that’s the book or the weather or me.

I’m still interested in books. I keep looking at ones to download off Bookshare or even to buy, but I downloaded only two books this past week and didn’t buy any. I finally downloaded Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. It’s the first book in a sciFi series. I usually don’t read sciFi, but this one sounded great. Then again, it’s a little long that I can read it in a few days.

I’m trying to motivate myself for doing anything other than lying in bed or eating, but it’s hard. I hope once we get slightly cooler temperatures, I’ll feel more energized.

Yesterday I was in a bit of a mental crisis. I engaged in some eating disorder behaviors and was rather irritable. Actually, I’ve been irritable all week. Thankfully, I could write down my feelings and now I’m feeling slightly better.

I also spoke to my nurse practitioner this afternoon. Next Tuesday, he will be meeting with someone from the autism team to discuss my treatment. So far, this feels good.

How have you been? What have you been reading?

Reading Wrap-Up (August 10, 2020) #IMWAYR

Hi all on this sultry, hot Monday! I was fully intending on writing a reading wrap-up on my computer, but then I somehow crashed it. Thank God I have my phone. I’m not sure I can do this right on my phone though, as I haven’t used it for blogging in a long while and somehow my keyboard keeps inserting commas and a’s at random places. Anyway, I’m trying. As usual, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR. I’m also joining in with ReaderBuzz’s Sunday Salon.

Life Update

Well, other than it being soaring hot out here, what do I share? Okay, my mother-in-law visited me today. (For readers visiting from the link-ups, I don’t live with my husband, as I live in a care facility.) We went for a short walk, then had ice cream and later a coffee. It was fun.

What I’m Currently Reading

I’m 77% done with Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I really wanted to finish it today and maybe I will. Just not in time for this blog post. Oh, I guess I won’t finish it today after all, as with my having taken an hour to write this blog post, it’s already 10PM.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished only one book this week: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. I already finished it on Thursday and, like I said, fully intended on finishing more, but the heat got in the way. That’s why I didn’t write a review till yesterday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

There are a couple of new foster care memoirs out. One is called Let Me Go by Casey Watson and the other is Groomed to Be a Bride by Maggie Hartley. However, I’ve resolved not to buy more books this month, because I’m trying to save some money. That being said, I did download a middle grade novel called Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold off Bookshare. I might read that one, although I still have many more books that I could be reading.

What have you been reading?

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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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?