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

Book Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Hi all. I finally picked up reading again last week and for a change didn’t start yet another new book. Rather, I finished a book I’d been reading for a few months already: the young adult novel A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel. I’d first heard about this book about half a year ago on another blog and immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. Now that I’ve finished reading it, here’s my review.

Summary

Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Hannah’s perspective and that makes it a very intriguing read. At the beginning, I disliked Hannah, but rooted for her at the same time. Maybe because I can relate to her experience of, as she says it, having been “born mature” and trying to outsmart the world.

I also found that Dr. Lightfoot was a likeable character. As she tries to get it through to Hannah that she may in fact be mentally ill and Hannah tries to outsmart her, I can totally feel their dynamic and I find I’m alternatingly on either one’s side.

The book has some interesting twists that I won’t give away and, though I could see some of them coming, they were still surprising enough that the story didn’t feel predictable to me.

Sheinmel says at the end that this book isn’t meant to educate about mental illness. This may be one reason we don’t get any clarity about Hannah’s exact diagnosis. I, like most readers probably, can make a guess. Because of the lack of specifics though, I don’t really know whether Hannah’s is any good representation of the experience of severe mental illness. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about this book and the reason I ended up giving it a four-star rating. Other than that, I loved this book!

Book Details

Title: A Danger to Herself and Others
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Reading Wrap-Up (October 20, 2021)

Hi everyone on this rainy Wednesday. Today, I’m joining WWW Wednesday, a weekly book meme in which the three W’s are what we are currently reading, recently finished and are thinking of reading next. Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up After the Cure by Deirdre Gould again after several months of letting it sit there. I am slowly moving through it, but I’m determined to finish it. If for no other reason, I want to prove that I can finish a book that isn’t perfect or near-perfect. After all, when going through my Goodreads shelf, I realized I pretty much only give books I finish four or five stars.

What I Recently Finished Reading

The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. See my review. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but honestly it should’ve gotten 4.5 stars.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have several books on my currently-reading shelf that I haven’t touched in a few weeks at least. That being said, I’m also very much interested in Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano, which a fellow blogger (sorry, can’t remember who) recommended recently.

Then there’s Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, which I discovered several months ago already but only recently decided to get my hands on. This is a young adult novel about a Black, queer, trans person’s journey of self-discovery. I really would’ve loved this as a teen, since one of the first lines of the book blurb says how Felix belongs to just a little too many minority groups. That would have been me! Well, I’m White and cisgender, but I belong to other minorities. But I digress.

Finally, I was drawn to check out The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda when I saw it on Sam’s original WWW post. All three of these books, I downloaded off Bookshare. I hope I’ll find myself finding more time and energy to read soon.

What have you been reading?

Book Review: The Bad Room by Jade Kelly

Last month, I somehow felt inspired to check out abuse survivor memoirs on Apple Books. I came across The Bad Room by Jade Kelly and it immediately appealed to me, so I decided to buy it. At first, I raced through it. Then, I fell into a reading slump. I finally finished the book yesterday.

Summary

After years of physical and mental abuse, Jade thought her kindly foster mother would be the answer to her prayers. She was wrong … this is her staggering true story.

‘This must be what prison is like,’ I thought as another hour crawled by. In fact, prison would be better … at least you knew your sentence. You could
tick off the days until you got out. In the Bad Room we had no idea how long we’d serve.

After years of constant abuse, Jade thought her foster mother Linda Black would be the answer to her prayers. Loving and nurturing, she offered ten-year-old Jade a life free of fear.

But once the regular social-worker checks stopped, Linda turned and over the next six years Jade and three other girls were kept prisoner in a bedroom
they called the ‘bad room’.

Shut away for 16 hours at a time, they were starved, violently beaten, forbidden from speaking or using the toilet and routinely humiliated. Jade was left feeling broken and suicidal.

This is the powerful true story of how one woman banished the ghosts of her past by taking dramatic action to protect the life of every vulnerable child
in care.

My Review

I was pulled in to this book right from the start. The prologue was captivating! It immediately painted a picture of what life was like in the Bad Room. Then, as Jade describes her life before being taken into foster care, the story gets slightly less fast-paced, but it’s still very intriguing.

Jade is very candid about her own faults. Like, when she’s first in care with Linda Black, she genuinely believes she is different from the other girls in care and she won’t end up being treated like them. She is also open about the moments she tells on or even lies about the others in order to (hopefully) be liked by Linda more. This shows that Jade isn’t a saint; she’s just trying to survive.

It is truly heartbreaking to see how social services fail Jade and the other girls time and time again despite the massive amounts of documentation on their case. I can relate to this in a way. For this reason, I feel that this story is very important reading material for social workers and foster carers in the UK and elsewhere. Thankfully, Jade survived to tell her story. Others may not be so lucky.

Book Details

Title: The Bad Room: Held Captive and Abused by My Evil Carer. A True Story of Survival
Author: Jade Kelly
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: June 25, 2020

Reading Wrap-Up (September 20, 2021) #IMWAYR

It’s been forever since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason is the fact that I hardly did any reading over the summer. Over the past week or two though, I picked up some books again. Let me share what I’ve been reading. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR for short.

What I’m Currently Reading

First up is Thrive, the third book in the Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. It already came out in May, but because its prequel, Hatch, had such a disappointing ending, I was reluctant to start reading this one. I’m still only 6% in.

Secondly, I may have mentioned starting A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel a few months back at the recommendation of another blogger. I am reading it at a slow pace, but I think I will finish it eventually. For those not aware, this is a young adult novel about a girl locked up in a mental hospital.

Lastly, the book that really got me back into the reading groove, is an abuse survivor memoir called The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. I started reading this on Thursday and am already at 28%. This seems like a fascinating read!

What I Recently Finished Reading

Uhm, nothing. Like I said, I hardly read anything at all over the summer. I still have six books on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads and that doesn’t include Thrive as of yet. I’m a true multi-book girl or so it seems.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

Uhm, one of those books on my currently-reading shelf I didn’t read this past week, I guess. The good part about my not having read much at all over the summer, is the fact that I hardly read book blogs or Goodreads discussions either, so I didn’t add a ton of books to my TBR pile. In fact, I’ve also for the most part stopped checking out the daily BookBub E-mail with book bargains. Over the past month, I’ve added just one free book recommended by them to my Apple Books. I did download a few books off Bookshare, but most of them are self-help books.

I did download the app Bookly, in which you can track your reading time and progress. However, I’m as of yet unwilling to pay for the subscription plan and the free plan offers hardly anything, so I deleted the app again. Instead, I’m tracking what I’m reading in my private diary.

What have you been reading lately?