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?

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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Book Review: Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

While scrolling over the new and noteworthy books on Apple Books about a month ago, I came across a Dutch book called Diagnose by Lisa Sanders. Sanders is a Dutch name too, so I initially assumed the book was originally Dutch. I don’t generally read many Dutch books and I certainly don’t buy them. Imagine my delight when I found out that the original title is Diagnosis and the book is originally written in English. Imagine my further delight when I found that Diagnosis is available on Bookshare, so I got it practically for free.

Summary

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis–and treatment–is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel–and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

Review

I love medical storytelling. Still, I have quite a few books written by doctors about their patients that I just can’t finish. Diagnosis definitely wasn’t one of them! I didn’t finish it as quickly as I do some books, but that’s probably because this is a collection of stories. For this reason, at the end of a story, I can shove the book aside without wondeirng how the story will end.

The book is organized into eight parts, each describing a main symptom. As said in the introduction, there are only so many ways in which the body can show that it is unwell and yet there are over 90,000 known diseases. Isn’t that fascinating?

With some stories, I guessed correctly what was going on before it was mentioned. The man collapsing after eating barracuda was one of them (no, I won’t spoil it!). I found this pretty cool. With others, I had no idea until the end. This was fascinating too.

I loved the author’s writing style. Sanders uses clear but not too simple language. She also usually starts her stories in the heat of the moment, gripping my interest immediately. Overall, this was a great book. I gave it a five-star rating on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries
Author: Lisa Sanders
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2019

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