Reading Wrap-Up (August 22, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past week, so I thought I’d share a reading wrap-up once again. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR). Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

After I finished my last book on Saturday, I was thinking of starting a memoir. After looking through Bookshare’s biography and memoir category for a bit and reading the summaries of several books, I finally settled on All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly. This is a memoir about the author’s life growing up surrounded by imaginary friends. I’m pretty sure that, further yet, the author could be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, but so far this term hasn’t been mentioned.

Other than that, I picked up My Heart and Other Black holes by Jasmine Warga again. I’m not sure why I even want to finish it, other than to prove to myself that I can finish a book that doesn’t deserve at least a four-star rating. It’s so predictable. Maybe I’m hoping for some intriguing plot twist, but so far at 62%, no such luck.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. One is Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie, which I reviewed on Tuesday. The other is a winter special in the Unicorn Magic series by Daisy Meadows called Snowstar and the Big Freeze. This chapter book was the perfect antidote to the hot weather. Or something like that. I honestly don’t know why I picked it in the middle of August, but I did and it was good.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I once again have no idea. I’m a true mood reader, so whenever I finish a book, I grab whatever strikes my fancy next. That’s how I got to pick the Jonathan Joly memoir too. I mean, I literally hadn’t heard of it minutes before I started reading it. So yeah, I might read another chapter book on magical creatures, since I have several downloaded off Bookshare. However, I may also be in the mood for another thriller. Who knows? I currently don’t.

What have you been reading recently?

Book Review: Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie

Hi everyone. Like I said a few weeks ago, I started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie. I discovered it on BookBub, then downloaded it off Bookshare. I finished the book just before midnight yesterday, so here are my thoughts.

Book Blurb

A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left
to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin
grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid
of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are
each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s
length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone
else who wanted her dead.

My Review

The story is told in short chapters and from alternating viewpoints. Jennifer’s story is told in first-person perspective, while her three daughters’ viewpoints are displayed in third-person perspective. I loved both of these aspects. The short chapters allowed me to lay aside the book for a bit when I wanted to do something other than read. The alternating viewpoints allowed me to gain a nice glimpse into each character’s mind, while the fact that Jennifer’s perspective was the only first-person perspective made it clear that she’s supposed to be the center of attention.

I originally thought the book was on the predictable side for a thriller, believing I’d figured out who caused Jennifer’s poisoning by 22% and the exact nature of the ending by 57%. I was wrong. So wrong. In fact, I didn’t figure out the exact nature of the situation until the very end of the book and it’s not because of some stupid plot twist that makes no sense other than it being required to show the reader that this was a thriller after all. In fact, the story is really well-constructed. I once again had trouble letting go of it once I’d finished it. I gave it a five-star rating again even though I noticed its average rating on Goodreads is only 3.65 stars. I’m not even sure I’d give it a 4.5-star rating if I could this time around.

See more details about this book on its Goodreads page.

Book Review: The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something new to read and decided to look on Bookshare whether authors I’d previously enjoyed, had had books released that I hadn’t yet read. It turned out Erin Stewart had. The Words We Keep was already released a few months ago, but I hadn’t yet known about it. Its blurb immediately appealed to me, as I am myself a mental health consumer and I love poetry. Here’s my review.

Summary

It’s been three months since The Night on the Bathroom Floor–when Lily found her older sister Alice hurting herself. Ever since then, Lily has been desperately trying to keep things together, for herself and for her family. But now Alice is coming home from her treatment program and it is becoming harder for Lily to ignore all of the feelings she’s been trying to outrun.

Enter Micah, a new student at school with a past of his own. He was in treatment with Alice and seems determined to get Lily to process not only Alice’s experience, but her own. Because Lily has secrets, too. Compulsions she can’t seem to let go of and thoughts she can’t drown out.

When Lily and Micah embark on an art project for school involving finding poetry in unexpected places, she realizes that it’s the words she’s been swallowing that desperately want to break through.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Lily’s point of view in first person perspective. I like that, as it shows Lily’s innermost thoughts and experiences through her own eyes. Interspersed are Lily’s made-up words (which took me a while to figure out weren’t actually real English words) and her poems. These aren’t particularly excellent, but they definitely give me a glimpse into her world too. Besides, my poetry as a teen (or even now) is probably worse.

Even though this book deals with heavy subject material, I really wanted it to be a feel-good read too. In this sense, some of the twists I didn’t see coming, disappointed me a little, but they were also important to the overall story.

I really liked Erin Stewart’s writing style of alternating between storytelling and such vignettes as poetry or Lily’s made-up words.

Overall, I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but I would’ve given it 4.5 stars if Goodreads did half stars. The reason is the disappointment I felt at some of the plot twists. This book really gave me a bit of a book hangover.

Book Details

Title: The Words We Keep
Author: Erin Stewart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Reading Wrap-Up (August 1, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I finally seem to be getting back into a reading groove again. Let me share what I’ve been up to in the book department. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?.

What I’m Currently Reading

I just started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie last night. I think I discovered it on BookBub, but I downloaded it off Bookshare rather than buying it on Apple Books or Amazon. The blurb really interested me and, so far, the short chapters and alternating viewpoints, really add to its appeal.

In addition, I finally picked up The Choices We Make by Karma Brown again. I find it surprising I still remember the plot to a degree, given how long I’ve taken to read it thus far.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Only one book and it was one I haven’t mentioned in a reading wrap-up before. Can you see how long it’s been since I’ve done one of these? Yesterday, I finished The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart. I loved the book, but won’t say much more, since I’m planning on writing a review soon. It did get me thinking I really want to find a better book tracking app than GoodReads though. I tried StoryGraph, but that app doesn’t have the default iOS app layout I’m used to and is really hard to work.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have a ton of books I may or may not want to get to. One function I wish GoodReads had, is a Did-Not-Finish shelf. I know you can create one, but it would be so much easier if it were there by default. That way, I could shelf away books I may want to list as having read but that I just don’t find the time for to finish at this point. As it is, these are on my Currently-Reading shelf, which is rapidly clogging up. After the Cure by Deirdre Gould has probably been on it for two years.

Then there is my ever-growing list of books I may want to read someday. I have a ton of romance novels, mysteries and other “easy” adult reading that I downloaded for free off Apple Books or Amazon.

Then there’s kidlit. When my husband paid for the renewal of my Bookshare subscription last June, he noticed I’d been downloading books on unicorns a lot. These are children’s books, of course. Indeed, during the month of June, I read a few books about unicorns, namely the first book in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine and the first book in the Unicorn Diaries Branches Books series. I think when Six Weeks to Live gets too heavy for me, I’ll make a detour to the next installment in one of these series.

What have you been reading?

Book Review: I Just Want to Be Loved by Casey Watson

Hi everyone. Like I said when writing my reading wrap-up last week, Casey Watson had a new foster care memoir out. Actually, it came out in mid-April already but I didn’t find out until a few weeks ago. Even though I was worried that Apple Books might mess with the book, I decided to buy it anyway and guess what? It was fine! Here’s my review.

Summary

After taking a few weeks off work, Casey is presented with a new foster child: 14-year-old Elise, whose Mum left her at just five years old.

At first, she’s no trouble at all, that is until she falsely accuses another carer, Jan, of acting inappropriately towards her. It turns out this isn’t the first lie Elise has told – her previous carer was constantly following up allegations Elise had made of people bullying her, trying to have sex with her, or hurting her physically. With some reservations, Casey agrees to take Elise on long-term, but when she makes some dark claims about her mum, Casey doesn’t know whether to believe her. In any case, she is determined to find out the truth…

My Review

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love foster care memoirs. I especially love reading about older children and teens, as their personalities are usually more formed, for the obvious reason, than those of young children. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Elise at first: she seems really shallow. This does get me wondering whether this book is going to be boring. But the exact opposite is true.

Most foster care memoirs aren’t too fast-paced and I can usually see the twists coming. This one, though, was far from predictable. Since the chapters also didn’t have titles, I couldn’t guess what was coming from there.

The story was written in such a manner that I kept going along with the characters’ emotions. As such, at first, I felt like Elise, much like the teen in one of Casey’s other books was quite difficult, to the point where, if she’d been an adult, she’d be diagnosed with some cluster B personality disorder. Of course, this makes the dramatic change in Elise’s behavior after her disclosures hard to believe, but then again she’s a teen, not a grown-up.

Overall, I found this story really evocative and gave it a solid five stars. I liked it at least as much as the one I linked above, which I also gave five stars.

Book Details

Title: I Just Want to Be Loved
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: April 14, 2022

Reading Wrap-Up (May 23, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I have been trying to get back into reading again. Let me share what I’ve read recently. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up Thrive by Kenneth Oppel again a few weeks ago and no, I still haven’t finished it. It sounds like this book is more character-driven than the prequels and I’m not sure I love or hate that.

I’ve also been reading Unleashed by Emily Kimelman, an intriguing mystery. In nonfiction, I am reading 999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service by Dan Farnworth.

Finally, I recently learned that Bookshare, the service I use for downloading accessible eBooks, now also does audiobooks. I didn’t try them, but this did get me inspired to check out Apple’s audiobook collection. There’s this collection of free classics on the Apple books app. I initially wanted to get Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but the reviews said that its narrator was almost worse than the first version of Siri, as monotonous as he spoke. So I decided to go for something much more light-hearted, in a way, and pick Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I can now see why other people with dissociative identity disorder find it offensive or triggering.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I am known for starting a ton of books and rarely finishing them, unless I really, really love them. Or unless they’re really short. This was the case with the early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend by Rebecca Elliott. I love love love unicorns and had heard about the Branches Books before, so I really wanted to try if I (and my inner child parts) liked them. Despite it being a really quick read (for me, of course), the plot was quite intriguing and I’m sure any newly-independent readers who love unicorns will love this one. I must say that, due to the illustrations, some of the text got muddled in the Bookshare book.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I started another chapter book series, besides the one I mentioned above, on unicorns a while back. It’s the Unicorn University series and the chapters are longer. I saw that the author, Daisy Sunshine, recently added another book to the series. I’ll definitely have to read more of those books.

I also saw that Casey Watson has a new foster care memoir out. However, Apple Books is acting up, in that sometimes at the end of a paragraph or page words are missing in VoiceOver (Apple’s built-in screen reader). For this reason, I’m hesitant to buy books off Apple Books.

What have you been reading lately?

Reading Wrap-Up (January 17, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve done a fair amount of reading once again over the past week. For this reason, I thought I’d do another recap of what I’ve read. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. Being that the story is told in reverse chronological order, I found out pretty quickly that it was not going to end well (sorry if that’s a spoiler). However, also knowing that the story probably isn’t told in reverse order for no reason, I wanted to know what happened in the 86% after (or should I say “before”?) what I now think of as one of the main characters getting killed. Besides, I knew from the blurb that this book was about a hostage situation. In that kind of a situation, usually, people die. So I try to let my curiosity win the battle from my thought that every one of Picoult’s books has to end with the main character dying, because that’s what happened in My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care.

Other than that, I decided to pick up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga pretty randomly again. I’d started reading that book early last year and pretty much left it unfinished, but I really want to know what happens at the end even though I think the writing style and character development are both meh.

What I Recently Finished Reading

First, of course, I finished Behind Closed Doors by Maggie Hartley. I reviewed it on Wednesday. I also finished Twilight, Say Cheese!, the first book in the Unicorn University chapter book series by Daisy Sunshine. I really liked that one, but haven’t been in the mood for children’s books since then.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

It probably depends on whether I’ll remain in the mood for adult lit or young adult novels or will want to read children’s books again. I mean, I still want to finish The Choices We Make by Karma Brown, another book I started back in early 2021. I also added a few free romance novels to my Apple Books via BookBub. Then again, I’ve never read pure romance and am pretty scared of the smutty, steamy stuff. It quite frankly creeps me out even thinking about it. Then again, I’m 35-years-old, so maybe it’s about time I start to grow up.

What have you recently been reading?

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by Maggie Hartley

Late last month, carol anne of Therapy Bits shared about some audiobooks she’d pre-ordered with the credits she’d gotten for Christmas I believe. One of the books she had ordered was Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors. I initially misunderstood and thought the book was already out, so I tried to get it on Apple Books, but then found out it wouldn’t be out till January 6. I never pre-order books honestly, so this Thursday, it was time for me to buy it and I started reading it right away. Here’s my review.

Summary

Foster carer Maggie Hartley is finally enjoying a well-earned holiday from fostering, savoring time with her brand new baby granddaughter. One night, though, the peace and quiet is interrupted by an urgent call from Social Services. A man has been stabbed, and Social Services need to find an emergency placement for his little girl.

Maggie is used to children arriving on her doorstep at all times of the day and night, but nothing can prepare her for the sight of eleven-year-old Nancy. The little girl arrives in her pajamas, covered in blood, and mute with shock. With her mother missing and her father in intensive care, the police are desperate for answers.

Who stabbed Nancy’s father? Where is her mother? And what is Nancy hiding about her seemingly perfect family? The longer Maggie spends with her little girl, the clearer it becomes that all is not as it seems. Can Maggie discover the terrible truth of what’s been happening behind closed doors?

My Review

This story was very interesting. I loved learning about Nancy’s life and her apparently perfect family. As with most foster care memoirs I’ve read, the plot was on the predictable side, though it did have afew twists I didn’t see coming. I tend not to mind predictable stories though, but if you’re a fan of fast-paced books with lots of twists, this isn’t the right book (or genre) for you.

The characters, on the other hand, were very well-rounded. I liked how Maggie showed each person’s positive as well as negative sides. I loved how Nancy’s perspective of her family and what a normal, loving marriage is like developed over time.

I did get slightly annoyed at Maggie’s writing style occasionally, which was my reason for initially giving the book a four-star rating on Goodreads. Then I felt pressured by the community and changed it to a five-star rating. I want half stars!

Book Details

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: Maggie Hartley
Publisher: Seven Dials
Publication Date: January 6, 2022

bookworms monthly linky

Reading Wrap-Up (January 10, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. The year has been off to a good start in the reading department. Like I said when sharing my hopes for 2022, I fully intend on getting back into the reading groove. So far, it all seems to be going magical. Let me share what I’ve been reading recently. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

First, somehow, I can’t remember exactly how but I believe it was through Goodreads, I stumbled upon A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. The endings of the two Picoult books I’ve read before, My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care, were horribly disappointing, but I still loved her writing style enough that I want more. A Spark of Light is also a shorter read compared to her other books still on my TBR shelf, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Then, on Thursday, Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors, came out as an eBook. I immediately bought it on Apple Books and am 81% done with it now. That’s pretty far considering I haven’t been totally engrossed in it.

Finally, yesterday, in response to #JusJoJan, I saw a post talking about a book on unicorns. It immediately inspired me to want to read a children’s book on unicorns too. I chose a book suited for slightly older children than this blogger’s granddaughter’s read, although I may read My Secret Unicorn at some point too. I decided to read the first installment in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine. This book is called Twilight, Say Cheese!. I am not yet done with the book, but am hoping to finish it later tonight.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing. The most recent book I finished was Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor just before Christmas. I finished that book in one sitting, but only because it was such a short read. I enjoyed it and was intrigued by it, but I didn’t think it was as amazing as other people had said it was. I blame that on the fact that I’m not that much of a literary critic.

I still have a number of books I’m currently reading that I started way back in the first half of 2021, like After the Cure by Deirdre Gould. However, I’m quite likely not finishing those.

What I think I’ll Read Next

I am planning on reading some more chapter books on magical creatures. I currently have the first book in the Mermicorn Island series by Jason June, forgot its title, downloaded off Bookshare and am probably going to read that as soon as I finish the Daisy Sunshine chapter book. Either that or the next installment in her series.

I feel a little weird for reading mostly chapter books right now, but I’m trying to counter that with the argument that I’m not a literary critic after all. For this reason, reading doesn’t have to be a chore. Rather, I read for pleasure and that’s what matters.

Song Lyric Sunday: Kitchen

Hi everyone. It’s been forever since I took part in Song Lyric Sunday, but today, I wanted to. Today’s prompt is house/room/shower/kitchen/attic. This wasn’t as easy as it initially seemed. I mean, I know a ton of songs about “home”, but “home” isn’t necessarily the same as “house”.

Then, I was tempted to share that famous Venga Boys song. You know, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, I want you in my room? I was a little too old for this music at thirteen when the Venga Boys were popular, but still I liked them more than my younger sister did and this song was definitely a guilty pleasure.

I finally decided to check out one of my favorite country singers, Bobby Bare, on Spotify and see if he had any songs that fit the prompt. Then, I quite easily stumbled upon Singin’ in the Kitchen. I’d honestly never heard this song before and I don’t really like it now that I have, but I like Bobby Bare and am guessing this isn’t a song many others would come up with, so…

Song Title: Singin’ in the Kitchen
Singer: Bobby Bare
Songwriter: Shel Silverstein

Shall we do it? (Shall we do it?)
Okay this is, uh (no, I think we shouldn’t)
Is everybody ready now? (Yeah!) Okay!
Here we go singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Mommy and daddy singin’ in the kitchen, baby laughin’, singin’ in the kitchen
All the kids singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Supper’s done and the table’s clear, baby wants a bottle and I want a beer
Lord I sure am glad I’m here where there’s lots of love to share
And I clap hands and everybody sings, dishes cling and the banjo rings
There’s gravy on these guitar strings but I don’t really care
‘Cause here we are singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
I’ll play the comb and you’ll play the spoons
I’ll sing the words and you’ll sing the tunes
We’ll wake up the old man in the moon ’cause we sing so loud (yeah)
I’ll hug ya all and you’ll hug mother, snuggle up close to one another
Just like bread on a piece of butter, Lord it makes me feel so proud
‘Cause here we are singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Now the fireplace embers are glowin’ red, everybody’s tired and it’s time for bed
Baby’s noddin’ his little sleepy head so let’s sing quiet now, shh!
What do we love? (Singin’ in the kitchen) can’t get enough (singin’ in the kitchen)
Whole lotta love (singin’ in the kitchen) bangin’ on the pots and pans
Mommy and daddy (singin’ in the kitchen) a little bitty baby (singin’ in the kitchen)
All the kids (singin’ in the kitchen) bangin’ on the pats and pans, shh!
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Yeah, mommy and daddy singin’ in the kitchen, baby laughin’, (singin’ in the kitchen)
All the kids singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans