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.

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.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 7, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Friday of January, 2022. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m right between my dinner and my evening coffee, but if you’d like a drink, I’m sure my staff can make you a Senseo or a cup of tea, pour you a glass of juice or offer you a soft drink. Let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start off by saying that the weather is all over the place right now. Sometimes, it’s raining or even snowing, while at other times, the sun is shining. It’s too cold for a walk though, so I’ve stayed indoors all day and most of the week. Last night, despite the heating being on and all windows being closed, I was feeling quite cold. Okay, I can feel cold in the middle of summer sometimes. That’s just me, I guess.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share about my new food plan. Like I shared before, my hope is to get to a healthier, less stress-inducing diet this year. The dietitian got back to my staff on Tuesday with a healthy food plan. It’s a standard basic food plan I’m sure, as for instance it allowed for an artificial sweetener in my coffee even though I’ve been drinking my coffee black for years.

I have been trying to stick to the food plan ever since. On Wednesday, I did have my crunchy muesli for breakfast, because my staff had already prepared it. Oh, I said this was something I wasn’t willing to give up, but I’m trying after all. Yesterday and today, I had two slices of bread with jam on them.

So far, it’s going okay, but I do find that I’m struggling to eat a variety of foods, as out of the healthy food choices, I only like a few things. Today, as an alternative to the bread with jam for lunch, I tried a toasted cheese and bell pepper sandwich. After all, the dietitian said that toasted sandwiches are a healthy choice as long as you don’t load them with more than one slice of cheese, ham or the like. You can, however, add veggies to taste.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, speaking of the food plan, I do look forward to getting chips this evening. I am so happy I am still allowed these on weekends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t been too inspired on the crafty front lately. On Wednesday though, I did create a polymer clay dolphin charm. I used the Fimo soft color blue ice quartz for the body of the dolphin, white for its belly and black for its eyes.

Polymer Clay Dolphin Charm

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I did do a fair bit of reading lately. I started the latest Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, which came out as an eBook yesterday, right then. I’m now at 54% already. It doesn’t look like I’m going to finish any of the other books still on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads though, but that’s okay.

How have you been?

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

Gratitude List (November 12, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’ve really been struggling lately, which is one reason I haven’t written much. To get myself out of my rut, I thought I’d share a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT for short. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for salami pizza. We ordered delivery from the local Italian restaurant on Sunday and I had this.

2. I am grateful for the night staff who helped me calm even the slightest bit on Sunday night when I was experiencing severe mood dysregulation.

3. I am grateful for a new book to immerse myself into. I’m reading a collection of short, autobiographical stories from a Dutch GP.

4. I am grateful for relatively good weather again over the past week. We’ve hardly had any rain and, though the temperature was quite low for my liking, at least it wasn’t freezing.

5. I am grateful my abdominal discomfort seems almost gone. I think I’ve finally reached the right dosage of magnesium. We aren’t to evaluate it with my GP until sometime next week though. Fingers crossed.

6. I am grateful my assigned home staff has returned to work part-time again. Like I mentioned before, she had been on sick leave since late September, but she seems to be recovering. She worked part of my day activities shift on Tuesday and my evening one-on-one today.

7. I am grateful for white chocolate. I bought myself a chocolate bar yesterday. I have it in my locked kitchen cupboard so that I can’t consume it all at once, but that way I do enjoy it more.

8. I am grateful for new essential oils. I ordered cypress, mandarin and lavender. Lavender, I’d had before but had used up. The others, I’d never used before. I did have to throw out a few others that I either didn’t like or that had expired, but that’s okay.

9. I am grateful I finished my polymer clay owl. Some people think it looks more like a turkey, but oh well. I’ll write a separate post on how I made it with more pictures later.

10. I am grateful for my staff. I have been extremely depressed lately and have been convinced that they should and will abandon me. While I heard from the manager yesterday that three staff are indeed leaving my care home, this apparently has nothing to do with me and the staff I have the best relationship with, aren’t leaving (yet).

What are you grateful for?

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?