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?

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.

Sunday Ramble: Books

E.M. Kingston started a prompt called Sunday Ramble a few weeks ago and today’s topic is “books”. The idea of the Sunday Ramble is that she poses five questions on the topic and you’re allowed to ramble as you please. By this she seems to mean that you don’t need to answer the questions in order, but can turn them into an essay too. I am just going to answer her questions though. Here they are.

1. Do you prefer digital, paperback, or hard bound books?
This is a no-brainer: digital! The reason is simple: I am blind and cannot read print. Back in the days before eBooks became accessible with screen readers, when I’d still have to digitalize my own books, I preferred hard bound books because they were easier to place on the scanner. Then again, I never liked the process of scanning my own books.

2. Do you have a library full of books or just your favorite tales?
Library of books! I have a Bookshare membership, which is like a library service for the print disabled which lets you download an almost unlimited number of books for $50 per year. You can also keep them as long as you’re a member of the service as far as I’m aware. I currently have roughly 260 books downloaded off there. That is, I have 263 books in Voice Dream Reader, the app I use to access Bookshare books, but that includes some PDFs I downloaded elsewhere and DAISY books from the Dutch library for the blind too.

In addition to using Bookshare, I occasionally buy Kindle books or eBooks off Apple Books. I also like to use BookBub to get free books on Kindle or Apple Books. So if the question had been about number of books bought rather than number of books I have on my shelves, the answer would be quite different, since most books I get either free through BookBub or via my Bookshare membership.

3. Harry Potter, Narnia, or Twilight? (You can choose all three or pick and choose.)
Uhm, am I going to get laughed at if I say I haven’t read any of these at all? If I have to choose though, I’m going with Narnia because it’s Christian-based.

4. Do you like when books are turned into movies? Why or why not?
I don’t really ever watch movies, so I consider that a no.

5. What is a book that you have read over and over again?
I hardly ever reread books now. As a teen though, in the days of scanning books, I had fewer books to choose from. That is, of course I was a member of the Dutch library for the blind then too, but I didn’t like listening to audiobooks. Anyway, I could read Caja Cazemier’s Dutch young adult novels over and over again. My favorite was probably Iris, about a girl who runs away from her mother and is placed in a youth home.

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?

Book Review: A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley

Hi everyone! I am pretty behind on my reading for the year, but am hoping to catch up over the coming months. I so far finished five books out of my goal of reading twenty in 2021. The most recent book I finished is A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley. This book came out on April 15 and I immediately ordered it on Apple Books. I already finished it last Friday, but couldn’t find the time to review it until now.

Summary

Foster carer Maggie Hartley is used to all manner of children arriving on her doorstep, but nothing can prepare her for sisters Billy and Bo when they
arrive at her home. It is clear from the moment she sets eyes on them four-year-old Bo and seven-year-old Billy have clearly been subjected to unimaginable
neglect, and it takes all of Maggie’s skills as a foster carer to try to connect with the volatile little girls, who seem far younger than their years.

Over time, the little girls slowly emerge from their shells, and Maggie begins the difficult task of trying to gain their trust. But as time goes on, it
becomes clear that there is something much darker going on, something that will call into question everything Maggie has ever learned in all her years
as a foster carer…

My Review

Even despite the fact that the main issues in this book aren’t mentioned in the synopsis, I found this book to be on the predictable side. I could pretty quickly imagine what Billie and Bo had been and were still going through. As such, if you’re used to books with lots of twists and turns, this book isn’t for you. However, if you want to learn what fostering in the UK is really like, or if you’re interested in inspirational memoirs, this is a great book. I for one don’t really care for unexpected plot twists, so I didn’t mind the fact that this story is quite predictable. In fact, I loved to read about all the details that my imagination couldn’t fill in already.

I had only read one Maggie Hartley memoir before and that one was soon one of my favorite inspirational memoirs. That one, Who Will Love Me Now?, which I reviewed last August, deals with an older child. I usually like to read about older children more than about younger children, so that one was slightly more for me than this. However, I could definitely sympathize with Billie and Bo too, thanks to Hartley’s compassionate writing style. For this reason, I gave this book five stars on Goodreads too.

Book Details

Title: A Sister’s Shame
Author: Maggie Hartley
Publisher: Seven Dials
Publication Date: April 15, 2021