Reading Wrap-Up (February 22, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi again readers. It’s time for another reading wrap-up. As usual, I’m joining #IMWAYR. Because I have been hoarding books again, I’m also linking up with Stacking the Shelves.

Life Update

I have been doing okay’ish over the past week. On Thursday, I was in a bit of a crisis due to significant overload. I’ve also been anxious about my lack of productivity. I mean, I haven’t been moving as much as I should. Last week, I could blame the snow. Now I can’t. Thankfully though, today I caught up again. However, in other areas I’ve also been less active and I’m still undecided as to whether I have my expectations up too high.

Similarly, this past week wasn’t as great a reading week as I’d expected, but that may’ve been because I had my expectations up pretty high. I hope to finish another book by the end of the month, as I would need to in order to keep on track with my Goodreads reading goal.

What I’m Currently Reading

I read some more in The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. Unfortunately, I’m not moving as quickly as I’d like.

In addition, I purchased A Life Lost by Cathy Glass, which is her latest fostering memoir. So far, like most of her books, I love it, but I’m not moving in it as quickly as I’d like either.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Uhm, nothing. I really need to finish more if I want to reach my Goodreads goal, which I’ve set at 20 books, so very low for a book lover. Then again, as much as I love books, I’m also a slow reader.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I honestly don’t know. I got so many books I think I’ll love that it’s hard to pick one. I’m also truly a mood reader, so I can’t really predict what will grab my attention next.

Stacking the Shelves

I love love love BookBub, which for those not familiar with it, is a site where you can find book deals. Thanks to BookBub, I have literally been hoarding books over the past week. Okay, I also have Apple Books to thank, as I got some while browsing similar books on there. I got several science fiction series starters, including After the Cure by Deirdre Gould and Apocalypse by Kyle West. I also got a romance called Second Chance Spring by Delancey Stewart.

I had been debating whether to get a book on crystal healing too. I know, I know, there’s absolutely no reason to believe in crystal healing and it’s rather occult too. However, I can’t stop myself being interested in it, so today I did get a book on the topic. I obviously got it off Bookshare, as I have absolutely no interest in paying for such a book. For those who don’t know, Bookshare is a service for print disabled (blind or dyslexic) people, allowing members to download almost unlimited books for $50 a year. I totally love it!

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: Hatch by Kenneth Oppel

Yay, I finally finished Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had read Bloom, the first book in the trilogy, last summer and reviewed it here in August. Hatch came out on December 1 I think (although Goodreads says it came out on September 15). I got it off Bookshare the next day. Today I’m finally able to review it.

Summary

Fans left desperate for more at the end of Bloom will dive into this second book of the Overthrow trilogy–where the danger mounts and alien creatures begin to hatch. First the rain brought seeds. Seeds that grew into alien plants that burrowed and strangled and fed. Seth, Anaya, and Petra are strangely immune to the plants’ toxins and found a way to combat them. But just as they have their first success, the rain begins again. This rain brings eggs. That hatch into insects. Not small insects. Bird-sized mosquitos that carry disease. Borer worms that can eat through the foundation of a house. Boat-sized water striders that carry away their prey. But our heroes aren’t able to help this time–they’ve been locked away in a government lab with other kids who are also immune. What is their secret? Could they be… part alien themselves? Whose side are they on? Kenneth Oppel expertly escalates the threats and ratchets up the tension in this can’t-read-it-fast-enough adventure with an alien twist. Readers will be gasping for the next book as soon as they turn the last page…

My Review

I truly loved the first half or so of the book. It shows how Anaya, Petra and Seth try to survive whilst being locked up in a government lab and cruelly experimented on by the military. I didn’t care that they were part alien themselves. In fact, just like while reading Bloom, I mostly just cared about the main characters’ wellbeing and was hardly touched by the rest of the world being harmed by the alien insects. I think that’s a true positive about this series, that it paints the characters so well that I truly empathize with them.

Then, around 65% into the book, it got a bit boring. I was convinced I’d neared the end of the story only to find out from my app that I was only at two-thirds or so. By around 80%, the story got more fast-paced again and I truly raced through those last pages.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I do need to say it was not what I’d expected. Though I do really want to know more, the ending of this book was a bit of a disappointment.

I ended up rating this book four out of five stars because of its not so fast-paced bits in the middle and its ending.

Book Details

Title: Hatch (The Overthrow, #2)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Reading Wrap-Up (February 15, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone! I finally managed to do some significant amount of reading, so today I’m sharing another reading wrap-up. I really wish I spent more time in the day reading consistently, but for whatever reason, it seems to go in ebbs and flows. It’s so interesting that, like with most everything else, I love collecting books more than actually reading them. For this reason, my various book apps are overflowing. Thankfully, I have enough space on my iPhone, so it’s really no problem.

As usual, I’m linking up this post to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. I’m also linking up with the Sunday Salon.

Life Update

I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning. It’s not surprising, as I slept a lot yesterday afternoon. I could’ve tried to go back to sleep, of course, but instead chose to listen to Hour of Power, Bobby Schuller’s television church service. This week, Schuller wasn’t preaching, but I loved the pastor who was.

In addition, I spent some time reading. I then made coffee at six o’clock. I hope the sound of my Senseo machine didn’t wake anyone else. It’s now 9:15AM and I already had breakfast and another cup of coffee. How nice.

If you’d like to know more about the rest of my week, please check out my #WeekendCoffeeShare post, which I wrote on Saturday.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. It was recommended to me through Storygraph. Not that I use that thing anymore, as it’s not very accessible. I’m just going with Goodreads. However, Storygraph’s recommendations are good. Anyway, I had gotten this one off Bookshare already over a month ago, but wasn’t really into reading during most of January.

That is, I did read a lot, but mostly Christian nonfiction, such as devotionals and Bible studies. I am loving Made In His Image by Zondervan.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Yay, I finally finished Hatch, the second book in The Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. I’ll post a review soon. Let me just say already that the ending was not what I’d expected.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I got several free eBooks through Bookbub this past week. One of them is Fire Starter by P. Anastasia. I was drawn to it after I’d finished Hatch, because it’s the first installment in the Fluorescence tetralogy, another young adult SciFi series, and seems to share some themes with Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy.

I also downloaded Sunshine Cottage by Barbara Cool Lee. This sounds like a cozy mystery I may really like, so I may be reading that next too.

Lastly, I really have my eyes on The Land Darkened by Tony Urban and Drew Strickland, a post-apocalyptic thriller. Yes, I really think I’m into scarier and less realistic books now than I was before. However, it’s not available on Bookshare or Apple Books as far as I can tell.

What have you been reading lately?

Reading Wrap-Up (January 4, 2021) #IMWAYR

#IMWAYR

Hi readers and fellow book lovers! I have been reading relatively much lately, so I can do another reading wrap-up today. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

Life Update

I’m doing pretty well right now. Got a lovely package from Emilia of My Inner MishMash in the mail today. It’s for her readership award. The package contained some great food and non-food items. I must admit though that I ate all of the caramel fudge and am now a bit nauseated (or is it nauseous?).

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had let it lie there for a bit while reading other things, but I started it back up and it’s really intriguing.

I also finally picked up Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I previously finished two of her other books and had started in Still Alice some six years ago already, but never finished it. Obviously, I started back over.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Yay, I finally finished Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It was a great read and the ending and who the killer was sure surprised me. Now even with the most predictable plots I’m no good at predicting what will be next, but oh well.

What I think I’ll Be Reading Next

Oh, I still have so many books I am looking forward to reading! I joined Storygraph yesterday and have been loving playing around with their recommendation feature. It recommended The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. Then I looked over my Bookshare book collection and associated from there. I now badly want to read If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch.

Lastly, I was discussing memoirs on another book blogger’s bookish resolutions post. This got me to finally want to buy Brave by Adelle Bellis. I have the preview downloaded onto my Apple Books and love it. However, with Bookshare having such a wide selection of books, I find I’m a little spoiled and get disappointed if I have to actually buy a book.

What have you recently read?

My Bookish Resolutions for 2021

Hi my fellow book lovers! Today, I’m joining in with #SixForSunday. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in this meme, though I’ve known about it for maybe a year. This week’s topic is your bookish resolutions for 2021. Now like I said, I don’t really do resolutions in life in general. However, I think I can safely resolve some things regarding my bookish life. Here goes.

1. Read more. According to Goodreads, I only read like thirteen books in 2020. I may not have set the finish date for some books accurately, so they may’ve been more books. I just set my reading goal on Storygraph to be 20 books in 2021. I think that should be easily attainable.

2. Read a greater variety of books. When I saw some reading challenges come by, it surprised me what types of books people were challenging themselves to reading. I mostly read memoirs, young adult and middle grade fiction. Though I do generally try to get some diversity in my reading, I really need to step outside of my comfort zone.

For instance, though I read some books by BIPOC authors or featuring BIPOC characters, my white privilege still shines through heavily in my book choices. I want to change that. I also want to read more books featuring disability, LGBTQ+ issues, etc.

I also want to step outside of my comfort zone where it comes to genre reading. For example, in 2020 I read my very first SciFi book. I’d like to continue to broaden my horizons.

3. Interact more with fellow book lovers online. I mean mostly in the book blogosphere. I’d really like to write more bookish posts and also engage with other bookish bloggers, though I don’t intend on becoming primarily a book blogger.

4. Do more on Goodreads. Okay, I know some of the book pros are switching to Storygraph now and I got that one too, but it doesn’t seem to have the group discussions etc. that GR has. I just signed up to Storygraph today and so far, I much prefer GR anyway for keeping track of my reading, as Storygraph predictably isn’t as accessible with my screen reader. Storygraph may be able to offer me better recommendations though. Anyway, I’d really like to be active in the book groups I’m in on GR. I’d also like to share some reviews on there rather than just on my blog.

5. Join at least one readathon. I have been wanting to do this ever since I first heard of them in 2019, but apart from a failed attempt at joining Bout of Books last year, haven’t actually gotten down to it.

6. Continue to enjoy reading. Okay, this one is a no-brainer, but I couldn’t come up with anything else.

What are your bookish goals for 2021?

Ten Books I Read in 2020

Today, I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT). The theme today is top ten favorite reads of 2020. According to my Goodreads stats, I read only thirteen books in 2020. Goodreads might’ve missed some, but I didn’t read many more. That’s okay though. Let me just hope for a better reading year next year. Here are ten books I read this year.

1. Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. I started this book in late 2019 I think and finished it over New Year’s, so just in 2020. It is a Christian early middle grade novel I had been wanting to read for years.

2. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Another middle grade novel I enjoyed. See my review.

3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I had been wanting to read this one for years too, but had waited until it got onto Bookshare (which it never did). I finally bought it in April I think and don’t regret it at all.

4. Wink by Rob Harrell. This is another middle grade novel. I came across it shortly after having read Wonder. Honestly, I loved Wink even more than I did Wonder. See my review.

5. Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold. I see I read a ton of middle grade. I really intend to read more age-appropriate fiction in 2021. Anyway, this was the last book I finished this year, so I wanted to include it.

6. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. This was definitely my favorite YA novel I read in 2020. See my review.

7. Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. I include this one because it was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I loved it though. I wrote a review of it after finishing it. I’m currently reading its sequel Hatch.

8. Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley. This was such an emotive read, it definitely tops my list of favorite memoirs I read in 2020. Here’s my review.

9. No Way Out by Kate Elysia. I never reviewed this one, but I loved it. It is a memoir by a survivor of sex trafficking.

10. Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. This was an intriguing read. See my review.

What was your favorite read of 2020?

Reading Wrap-Up (December 28, 2020) #IMWAYR

#IMWAYR

It’s literally been nearly two months since I last did a reading wrap-up. I didn’t read much at all during the month of November or most of December. I finally picked up reading again though about a week ago. Let me share what I’ve been reading. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR). I’m also linking up with Stacking the Shelves, although I’m pretty late for that one.

Life Update

I’m doing okay. In fact, I’m doing pretty well. I just laughed my ass off at a COVID version of the tale of Jesus’ birth. Oh, I’m a Christian now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a sense of humor, right?

Earlier today, I took my first PRN quetiapine, a low-dose antipsychotic I was prescribed for irritability last week. It works pretty well and other than slight tremors for the first couple of hours, I have no side effects.

What I’m Currently Reading

Honestly? Well, okay… I’m still reading Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. In fact, as much as I like it, I haven’t moved forward in it much. I’m now at 52%.

I’m also reading Hatch by Kenneth Oppel, but don’t seem to like it as much as I liked Bloom.

Lastly, I am still reading You Are Beloved by Bobby Schuller, which is a kind of Christian self-help book. I find I’m digesting it slowly, but that’s okay.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finally finished Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold, a middle grade novel about the right to die. I found the first half or so a bit hard to get through, but the end was pretty good. I ended up giving it four stars on Goodreads.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I have been looking at Christian fiction. Not because I really intend to limit my reading to that, although I have avoided truly smutty books for much longer than I’ve been a believer. One book I’d really love to read, but haven’t bought yet, is Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese.

Stacking the Shelves

I haven’t been buying many books lately. I purchased Beyond by Georgia Springate in an impulse because it was only 99 cents.

I also got The Color of Heaven by Julianne MacLean on Kindle, because it was free. It is the first in a series, but I doubt I’ll ever really read it.

Lastly, like I said, I’ve been exploring Christian fiction. I have a lot more books I might want to buy someday, but currently have just Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble and Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill downloaded, because they were available on Bookshare. Within These Lines is a book set in 1941 America. I hardly ever read historical fiction, so I’m curious to know what I’ll think of this one.

What have you been reading lately?

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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