Reading Wrap-Up (November 2, 2020) #IMWAYR

Today is a hard day. Rather than bore you with endless details of the reasons though, I thought I’d distract myself by doing a reading wrap-up. It’s been forever since I last did one, because in September I hardly read anything at all and in October, I didn’t feel like writing about it much. Let me share what I’ve been reading lately. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

I’m struggling. Today, like I mentioned yesterday, is the anniversary of my suicidal crisis. Of course, it’s been thirteen years already, but I still struggle with it. I’m trying to turn things around and be grateful I’m alive and in a place where I am allowed to feel safe. That’s hard though.

What I’m Currently Reading

Like I’ve said a couple of times over the past few weeks, I signed up to receive eBook deals through Bookbub. The first book I downloaded for free thanks to it is Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It’s the first in the Lexy Baker cozy mystery series. So far, I’m loving it! I’ve never read cozy mysteries before, but this one is really good. I can see myself reading more in the series, although they can be read as standalones too.

I also finally picked up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. Today, for predictable reasons, I’m not interested in this one though.

Lastly, I’m reading a Dutch book called Dagboek van een verloskundige by Marlies Koers. It chronicles the life of an obstetrician.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing in the past week. The last book I finished was Let Me Go by Casey Watson two weeks ago. See my review.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I seriously have no idea. I haven’t added many books to my shelves or my TBR pile recently. I do have a couple of books I was reading some time ago that I may want to pick up again.

What have you recently read?

Ten Scary Yet Fascinating Story Elements

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) book meme is a Halloween freebie. Here in the Netherlands, Halloween is becoming more popular than it used to be, but it’s still celebrated not nearly as much as in the United States.

I don’t really care for ghost stories or the like. I just can’t be fazed by them. That being said, there are a number of story topics I find scary. Yet most of these I also find fascinating.

1. Murderers. It’s interesting in this respect that I don’t often read thrillers or crime fiction, as I do love crime podcasts. I find it fascinating to understand what makes murderers tick, but I also find it pretty scary.

2. Epidemics. Okay, I haven’t read any book about an epidemic so far, except for an educational historical children’s book about the bubonic plague. That being said, I find it fascinating and scary at the same time when I come across books with this topic. I recently heard about a book by Dutch thriller author Tomas Ross about a fictional pandemic. The book was originally published in 1987 and was set in 1996. The book was recently republished because Ross’s pandemic bore interesting similarities to COVID-19.

3. Strange neurological diseases. I used to be fascinated by Oliver Sacks’s books, but still found them a little scary. The same goes for Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Briens (see my review). That one really got me worried even though I have no reason to think I might develop Huntington’s Disease. Also, I remember once watching a documentary on a disease called fatal familial insomnia. It’d almost be funny to say I had trouble sleeping afterwards.

4. Medical stuff that doesn’t go well. I am fascinated by intriguing medical stories, but they also scare me, particularly when something goes wrong.

5. Poison. I find it generally fascinating to learn about how poisons work, but still I find it incredibly scary when someone in a story is poisoned even when they survive.

6. Dictatorships. This is one reason I have a love-hate relationship with dystopian novels. I loved Brave New World but still haven’t gotten down to reading 1984 and don’t think I ever will.

7. Insects. And snakes. And other dangerous animals. When I had a Netflix subscription, I loved watching 72 Dangerous Animals and the like. I am also still looking forward to reading Hatch, the sequel to Kenneth Oppel’s Bloom. Still, the topic does scare me.

8. Locked institutions such as prisons, insane asylums, etc. Particularly if strange/creepy things happen there. Like, I still want to read The Institute by Stephen King, but I’m not sure it might be too scary.

9. Cults. These are really scary and yet fascinating in a similar way that dictatorships are.

10. Nuclear weapons. Okay, I haven’t read any books on this topic, but I find the topic very frightening (of course) but also fascinating. I remember listening to Dutch historian Maarten van Rossem’s audio lecture on the atomic bomb some years ago and finding it so intriguing to know exactly what time the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

What “scary” topics do you find fascinating in books or other media?

Book Review: Let Me Go by Casey Watson

Last week, I found out Amazon.nl now accepts iDEAL, the Dutch payment method via your bank account. Unfortunately, as of yet, it doesn’t accept this method for digital purchases such as Kindle books. I didn’t realize this until I had already bought a book with my husband’s credit card. Honestly, I think it’s stupid that they won’t accept iDEAL for digital purchases, but oh well. Anyway, looking back maybe I should’ve purchased a book that isn’t on Apple Books, but I ended up purchasing Let Me Go, Casey Watson’s latest foster care memoir. This book came out last August, but I wasn’t really interested in reading it up till now. Read on to see what I thought.

Summary

Let Me Go is the powerful new memoir from foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Casey Watson.

Harley, 13, has been sectioned under the mental health act after attempting suicide. She was spotted climbing the railings on a footbridge that crossed a busy motorway and pulled to safety by a member of the public. After six weeks in hospital, social services are looking for a short-term placement so she can be kept safe while family therapy takes place. Harley has a family – a widowed mother and an older sister, Milly, who left home with her long-term boyfriend just over a year ago. There is no prospect of Harley going home just yet though, as her mum, who has learning difficulties and addictions issues, feels she cannot cope. So she arrives with Casey and Mike under a twenty-eight day care order.

As Harley tries to hurl herself out of the moving car on the way home, it quickly becomes clear she is in urgent need of help. Three weeks into the placement, after Harley has made various attempts to abscond, it seems like zero progress is being made. Then all of sudden there is an unexpected breakthrough, and light at the end of a long dark tunnel, but only once Harley is finally able to share the truth about the abuse she suffered at the hands of a very dangerous man.

My Review

This book is a sad look into the errors of the care system. Harley is deemed “care-seeking” (the politically correct term for attention-seeking) by the mental health professionals and is, for this reason, refused mental health care even though she’s clearly at risk. I mean, I honestly don’t feel that anyone in their right mind would make multiple even half-hearted attempts at suicide. In fact, I’m so happy the mental health system here in the Netherlands at least allowed care based on “adjustment disorder” (serious distress due to environmental circumstances) back in my day. It doesn’t anymore, unfortunately.

I was, at first, convinced Harley was at least at risk of developing emotionally unstable (borderline) personality disorder. This can’t be diagnosed in children her age, but it sure seemed she would meet the criteria at some point. BPD is, though, usually a trauma-based condition. So is Harley’s condition, as it turns out.

I had lots of sympathy for Harley, even as Casey and Mike almost lost it with her. This is in part due to the similarities between her experience and mine, but also due to Casey’s caring writing style.

Still, the book dragged a little at first. That’s probably to illustrate how little progress was made at first. Once Harley’s real situation is clear, things after all move more quickly.

At the end, Casey explains some of the issues with the 28-day care order. This was really interesting to read.

Overall, I really loved this book. I should’ve read it as soon as it came out.

Book Details

Title: Let Me Go: Abused and Afraid, She Has Nothing to Live for
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: August 6, 2020

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Things I Do Just for Fun #Blogtober20

Yesterday I didn’t write a post for #Blogtober20. Though I wrote a blog post, I didn’t post it to the linky or Facebook group. Today I’m hopping back onto the bandwagon and writing on today’s prompt, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. I’m going to share the things I do just for the fun of them.

1. Read chicklit. I am normally mostly into memoirs or young adult fiction about serious topics. When I just want to have fun, however, I read a romcom or other lighthearted women’s fiction. Most recently, I’ve been reading The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth.

2. Find jokes. I am subscribed to a funny E-mail list where the owner sends out daily jokes and comics. I cannot enjoy the comics, of course, but I love the jokes.

I also love to listen to my husband crack jokes. He and I both are a fan of wordplay.

I also love the kind of lists that describe what it’s like to live in a certain state or city. There at one point was one about Nijmegen, the city I went to university in. I related a lot to the things mentioned.

3. Dance. Well, walk in place to the beat of music. I love some playlists on Spotify of fast-paced dance and pop music. I cannot dance at all, but I love to move my body in the rhythm (or out of the rhythm, for that matter, as my sense of rhythm is poor) of the music.

4. Write and read funny blog posts. I particularly love memes and tags. I still need to participate in a couple of tags that I saw on other blogs and liked.

What do you do just for fun?

#Blogtober20

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 11, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I’m in definite need of some coffee. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s not time for my evening coffee yet, but maybe I can enjoy a virtual cuppa.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the weather is gloomy. It’s been raining almost the entire day and it’s cold enough that I could use my winter coat.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m struggling quite a bit. Yesterday I landed in crisis. I didn’t sleep all night and was still feeling very tense by this morning. A walk didn’t even help, because I felt cold and was very tired and overloaded.

I am also struggling with what to tell my husband. The crisis was quite bad and I really want to be open to my husband. However, I fear he’s going to be angry with me for it, because in other places, this could’ve led to me being kicked out. In fact, I’m still worried that the staff are going to decide to kick me out after all.

It makes me feel sad that I, being of above-average IQ, am expected to make my own decisions regarding this stuff and make sure my family is informed.

I mean, of course it has its pros that I’m intelligent. If I had an intellectual disability, I wouldn’t be able to blog, for instance. I also wouldn’t have my husband. However, this discrepancy between my IQ and my ability to cope emotionally, is weighing me down quite a bit.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, as unlikely as it may seem now, the rest of the week was pretty good. I made some soap and experimented with baking soda modeling clay. I removed some of the figures from their molds today, but I think they hadn’t fully hardened, as they were still pretty brittle.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been loving browsing Amazon’s Kindle collection for books to get. I don’t want to buy them yet, but I did download a few free books.

I also finally got Listify on Apple Books. This is a book of journaling prompts (yes, again!) but most are list-based.

What have you been up to lately?

Lovin’ Lately (October 9, 2020) #Blogtober20

Okay, I’m once again pretty late writing a post. I’m seriously uninspired today. The #Blogtober20 prompt for today, “Imagine”, didn’t evoke anything in me. Since the prompts are optional, I could of course do a gratitude list or lovin’ lately post. That at first didn’t feel good with the challenge, as I wanted to write originally for the challenge, but so what? Sharing my likes and loves might bring you joy! Today, let me share the things that I’ve loved lately and that bring me joy.

1. The weighted blanket. I already mentioned it a few times this past week but yesterday, it was decided that I can keep it. My care facility is paying for it. I am very happy about this.

2. Yet more essential oils. On Tuesday, some new oils arrived, including cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange. I now have over 20 different oils and can make a lot of lovely blends. Right now, I’m diffusing a Christmassy blend of cinnamon, patchouli, clove, orange and ylang ylang. I am completely in love with the most recent additions to my oil collection!

3. Soap making. I love to make melt and pour soap. On Monday, a staff asked me to make one for a relative of hers. I got down to making it on Tuesday right away. She had requested rose fragrance, so I decided to also try out my red mica colorant. Because you only need a tiny amount of it, I decided to make two soaps: one for the relative and one for the staff herself. The butterfly is for the relative and the square one for the staff. In case it isn’t readable, the square one has “100% hand made” written on it.

4. Free and cheap books. I cannot remember who it was, but a fellow #Blogtober20 participant shared some tips on getting free or cheap books legally a few days ago. One of them was BookBub. It’s a U.S.-based (and maybe UK-based too) site that collects book deals from the main book retailers, such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, etc. It sends out a daily E-mail with that day’s deals. Through BookBub, I found quite a few interesting books.

Of course, since I’m in the Netherlands, I got an error once trying to download a free book from Amazon.com. However, I looked it up on Amazon.nl and it was free there too. The first one I got is a cozy mystery called Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It’s the first in a series, but if I’m correct, the books can be read as standalones too.

5. Products from The Body Shop. I must say I haven’t bought any yet, but I’ve been oohing and aahing at their advent calendar and their pumpkin vanilla product line too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the pumpkin vanilla hand cream if it isn’t sold out already.

What things brought you joy lately?

#Blogtober20

Lovin’ Lately (September 25, 2020)

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for the Friday Favorites linky. I don’t join in every week, but today, I have a lot of amazing things I’ve loved lately.

1. My new essential oil diffuser. I had promised myself a new one when my benefits came in on Wednesday. After all, the old one was a bit leaky at times and its buttons had been stuck for a while. Wednesday in the middle of the night, I decided to order it despite my benefits not having shown up in my bank account yet. I got it from Bol.com, a large Dutch online store similar to Amazon. When checking out, Bol.com offered me free same evening delivery because I have a type of subscription (only €9,99/year) with them that allows free delivery. It seems rather decadent to want same day delivery on non-essentials, but so what? It arrived the following evening at around 8:30 and I love it!

2. Lots of essential oils. I ordered those at the end of last week at an online soaping supplies store. However, they take 3-6 working days to process and ship your order, so my oils didn’t arrive till Tuesday. I went through my old essential oils on Wednesday, seeing which had expired. I still have quite a lovely selection though. Currently, a blend of patchouli, bergamot and lavender is diffusing in my diffuser.

I also ordered some other soaping supplies, but haven’t used those yet.

3. Chocolate. On Wednesday, I had been in the care facility for one year. To celebrate, I asked my staff to get some mini candy bars for me and the other clients to enjoy. I particularly loved the crispy one.

4. Books. I haven’t been reading that much lately, but I did download a few new books off Bookshare. Among these are, not surprisingly, several books on essential oils. However, I also saw that the latest Katherine Center novel, What You Wish For was added to Bookshare. I haven’t gotten down to reading any of her books, but I think I’d enjoy them.

5. A weighted blanket. I discussed sensory integration with the physical therapist a while ago and suggested I try a weighted blanket for relaxation. The company that my care facility works with, sends them on a try-out basis for two weeks for just shipping costs. If it helps, the physical therapist is even going to ask my facility to purchase it for me. So far, it’s pretty great.

6. A small table. When we had the COVID scare and were in room-based isolation early in the week, I needed a table to eat on other than my desk. The staff got a small table from an empty room. We’re no longer in isolation, but I’m allowed to use it for as long as no-one else needs it. I love it! I have my diffuser on it. Used to have it on my countertop, but that didn’t work. I may ask my husband to help me look for a similar table at Ikea.

What are some things you’ve been lovin’ lately?

Reading Wrap-Up (August 31, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been a few weeks since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason isn’t that I’ve not been reading, but that I moved through most books slowly and didn’t want to bore you all with updates about the same books week after week. Today, I thought I’d share what’s been going on in my (reading) life. As always, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

Like I said yesterday, I’ve been using reading for escapism a lot lately. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but I’m struggling a bit. I often feel overwhelmed when in the communal rooms at my home, so I retreat into my room and read.

What I’m Currently Reading

Nothing at the moment. I deleted a few books off my “Currently Reading” bookshelf on Goodreads because I’d had them there for nine months to several years and didn’t believe I was going to finish them anytime within the foreseeable future.

I’m still only 6% done with The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but I haven’t committed to reading it yet. By that I mean, I haven’t put it on my Goodreads shelf or decided I’m going to spend significant time devoted to this particular book.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. The first was Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I finished that one on Thursday and wrote a review of it on Friday.

The second one is No Way Out by Kate Elysia. This is an abuse survivor memoir. I found this one by looking for other inspirational memoirs to read besides the foster care memoirs by the likes of Cathy Glass, Casey Watson, etc. I am thinking of doing a mini review of this one someday when I’ve read some other books I discovered too.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I really don’t know for sure! I still need to read the new Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley foster care memoirs that came out on August 6 and I think Angela Hart has a new memoir out too. I’ve not read anything by Angela Hart, as she isn’t discussed on the inspirational memoirs groups as much.

In addition, I discovered the preview feature on Apple Books just last week too. I never thought to actually download a preview of a book before buying the book. Don’t know why not. This week, I downloaded previews for two domestic violence survivor memoirs, before I ended up buying No Way Out (without downloading a preview first).

Lastly, in case I’m not into serious reading, Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca recommended the young adult romcom Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I immediately checked if it was available on Bookshare and it was!

What’s up in your reading life?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 30, 2020)

Hello all. I’m not feeling like writing much right now, but maybe by just starting I’ll get somewhere. I just had a cup of coffee and a soft drink. I think the flavor soft drink I had is gone now, but we might still have coffee. As usual, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. Let’s have some drink – there are probably other soft drinks out in the fridge – and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you how your weather’s been. Ours is okay. Not too hot, not too cold, not too rainy and not too dry. I’ve been out taking regular walks most days. I don’t think I shared this in this type of post before, but come September, I’ll be starting a sponsored physical activity challenge called Steptember. It’s for the cerebral palsy charity. The idea is to get in 10K steps everyday – or as many days as you can get. I find it quite a challenge – both the sponsoring part and the step goal. However, I’m trying.

As regular readers might know, my Fitbit activity tracker broke down some months ago. I’m now using my iPhone’s built-in movement detector to count my steps. That works okay. I did reach the 10K steps on both Thursday and Friday.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I spent most of the week escaping into books. I’m okay, but I do need some escapism right now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about the appt with my community psychiatric nurse on Tuesday. It went pretty well. We did go in some depth considering her role as just a nurse. She also told me my nurse practitioner was going to refer me to the specialist center on developmental disorders (autism and ADHD). If the information on the website is correct – which I’m not sure of, as the date of the last update was August 27, 2019 and I’m not sure that’s a typeo -, the wait is several months for an intake interview and then another six months for treatment. I’m not sure that’s just for the inpatient units though, as I know that the workhome is part of the center too. That one has a wait of several years due to it being a living facility.

In any case, before I knew there’s likely a long waiting list, I had all kinds of worries and thoughts about it. I mean, I’m hoping to eventually get trauma treatment and lowering my antipsychotic is still on the agenda too. However, I’m very scared either of these could destabilize me. Then again, I just don’t feel my life right now is all it can be.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I spent the week-end in Lobith. It was good. My husband made us hamburgers with cauliflower and baked potatoes, all out of the freezer. I really didn’t taste that about the cauliflower and the burgers and potatoes were delicious too.

As usual, we spent some time together on the couch and some time apart in the two bedrooms. I have a desk in the master bedroom and my husband has his desk in the other bedroom. That one is also used as our cat’s place though.

Then this afternoon, my mother-in-law came to pick me up and drive me back to Raalte. There, I arrived just about in time for my dinner to still be shoved in the oven.

How have you all been?

Book Review: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass

Hi all, how are you? What have you been reading? After I finished Bloom last week, I couldn’t decide what to read for a while. I wasn’t really into fiction anymore, so I picked up a memoir I’d already started on: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I have since discovered a ton of other foster care and abuse survival memoirs I may still want to read.

Summary

The true story of a 6-year-old boy with a dreadful secret.

Oskar’s school teacher raises the alarm. Oskar’s mother is abroad and he has been left in the care of ‘friends’, but has been arriving in school hungry, unkempt, and with bruises on his arms, legs and body. Experienced foster carer Cathy Glass is asked to look after him, but as the weeks pass her concerns deepen. Oskar is far too quiet for a child of six and is clearly scared of something or someone.

And who are those men parked outside his school watching him?

My Review

I struggled a little to get into this book. Partly, the reason was that I’d gotten the idea that this would be Glass’s last foster care memoir. I also judged from the title and table of contents that this might not be a story ending on a positive note. Thankfully, this won’t be Cathy Glass’s last foster care memoir.

The story had many unexpected turns. This is partly because the summary isn’t too telling. There was far more to Oskar’s story than his quiet demeanor and the men parked outside of his school. I ended up loving this.

Oskar stays with Cathy for a long while, so I really got to know him in the story. I also joined him on his journey of progress from his neglectful home through other disclosures to a better life.

Overall, I totally fell in love with Oskar and this story eventually. This was Cathy Glass’s fifth book I read, so I already knew I liked her writing style. I gave this another five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Too Scared to Tell: Abused and Alone, Oskar Has No One. A True Story.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 20, 2020

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