Reading Wrap-Up (June 23, 2021)

Okay, I guess last Sunday’s post didn’t get me out of my writing rut. I did finally find the focus to read again though. I had started reading a book again a few weeks ago after a lot of slow reading in various books. Or rather, no reading at all even though I have a lot of books I’m in the middle of.

To celebrate the fact that I finally seem to be able to read semi-consistently again (my reading streak in Apple Books is twelve days), I’ll post a reading wrap-up. I’m joining in with WWW Wednesday.

What I’m Currently Reading

Still in the middle of The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. And My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. And After the Cure by Deirdre Gould. I think I may give up on that one, since it’s a pretty plot-dense story and there’s also a little too much profanity in it for my liking. All that being said, I’m not actually currently reading any of these books, since I spent the majority of the week trying to finish off the book I got into a few weeks ago.

What I Recently Finished Reading

For some still unknown to me reason, a few weeks ago, I was drawn to the books I’d downloaded for free thanks to BookBub. I still think I picked the one I chose pretty much at random but it was a good choice. The only reason I didn’t end up giving Once Gone (Riley Paige, #1) by Blake Pierce five stars on Goodreads, is that it’s my first traditional mystery read and I think others might be even better. I ended up giving it four stars.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

Probably another mystery. I have several of Blake Pierce’s other series starters downloaded for free. I might also check out one of the other books in the Riley Paige series.

In addition, I really need to start on Thrive (The Overthrow, #3) by Kenneth Oppel. The ending of Hatch was a little disappointing, which is why I’m not eager to start this one soon. However, I really want to finish the trilogy anyway. If for no other reason, then because it was my first read that wasn’t a standalone in a long time.

What have you been reading recently?

My Top Ten Favorite Inspirational Memoirs

Hi everyone! Today I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT), a weekly book-related meme. Since I don’t read nearly as much as I would want to or as book bloggers do, I don’t participate in this meme that often. I love it though! Today its topic is a freebie, so I get to pick one. And you know, I’ve always wanted to share about my top favorite inspirational memoirs. Here goes, not in any particular order.

1. The Hospital by Barbara O’Hare. This is a truly gripping memoir by a woman who survived secret experimentation and sexual abuse in a children’s psychiatric hospital. I read it back in 2018 and still love love love it.

2. Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley. This is my favorite foster care memoir by this author. I reviewed it last year.

3. Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass. This is another foster care memoir. It is my absolute favorite Cathy Glass memoir, but I love many others. See my review.

4. Today I’m Alice by Alice Jamieson. This is a memoir of a woman with dissociative identity disorder. Since I have this condition too, I wanted to share at least one memoir by someone wiht DID and this is the most recently-published one I’ve read. It was still published back in 2010, but I think it’s still available.

5. Let Me Go by Casey Watson. Yet another foster care memoir. Can you tell I love this genre? I was almost going to make this list all about those. Let Me Go came out last year and I reviewed it back in October.

6. No Way Out by Kate Elysia. This is a truly gripping story. It deals with sex trafficking of young women in the UK. I was going to review this one last year too, but didn’t get down to it.

7. Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass. Yes, another Glass book. This one deals with a genderfluid teen who is being exploited online. I really liked it. See my review.

8. A Road Back from Schizophrenia by Arnhild Lauveng. I had to google its English title, as I read it in Dutch. I am not sure it’s still even available, but it was definitely a great read.

9. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. This is another older book which I read in its Dutch translation before I had access to Bookshare or eBooks. This is a memoir by an autistic person.

10. A Real Person by Gunilla Gerland. Okay, I’m getting annoying with my older books that I didn’t even read in English. Sorry. This was one of the first memoirs by an autistic person I read after being diagnosed myself.

Do you like memoirs? Any recommendations?

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

Reading Wrap-Up (April 12, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. It’s a cold, windy and rainy Monday here. Perfect for reading. Not that I’ve done a huge amount of it, but I’d still like to join in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. Let me share some of my bookish thoughts.

Life Update

I’m feeling okay today. Not bad, not great. I am loving looking through my tons of writing prompts, but none seem to inspire me right now. That is, I did open the app Drafts on my iPhone again yesterday and discovered a number of freewrites and poems I’d written. That did inspire me a little.

What I’m Currently Reading

Well, honestly, too many books to count. I’ve mostly been reading bits here and there and then putting down a book again.

I picked up the second book in the Church Dogs of Charleston series by Melissa Storm a few weeks ago, as it was free. It’s a cute read.

Then I’m still reading The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. I finally read a bit in this novel again a few days back, but well, I don’t think I’m in the mood for complicated adult novels at this point.

Finally, I was somehow interested in reading abuse survivor memoirs again, so downloaded the preview of You are Mine by Isabelle Eriksson. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to buy the actual book.

I’ve also been paging through a ton of books on journaling, but I don’t think that counts as actual reading.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I got Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart off Bookshare in an impulse a few weeks ago and raced through it. I wrote a review last Tuesday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

Both Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley have a foster care memoir out this Thursday, so probably one of those. I also have been asking around in a Christian book group on Facebook about realistic contemporary fiction. I got a lot of replies and am still sorting through them, so I may want to buy a book by one of the recommended authors.

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart

About a week ago, I was browsing the children’s book category on Bookshare and I came across the realistic middle grade novel Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart. Gephart was a new to me author even though she’s had eight middle grade novels published so far.

I was already reading four different books at the same time, but needed something, uhm, lighter? Not that the subject matter of this book is light, but I did expect it to be more easy to read than the adult novels I was reading. I raced through the first 80% of this book, then let it sit there because the #AtoZChallenge got in the way. I eventually decided to finish the book last night. Let me share my thoughts.

Summary

When Abby Braverman’s best friend, Cat, moves to Israel, she’s sure it’s the worst thing that could happen. But then her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with cancer, and life upends again. Now it’s up to Abby to find a way to navigate seventh grade without her best friend, help keep her brother’s spirits up during difficult treatments, and figure out her surprising new feelings for the boy next door.

My Review

First, let me share that this book is really good with respect to its representation of diverse characters. Abby and her family are Jewish, which in a way shouldn’t be surprising, but it was to me. Abby has two Moms and nowhere is there a mention of a biological father. Abby just corrects people who assume she must have a Mom and a Dad.

Second, Abby is a truly great character. At first, she seems a bit dorky, but her sense of humor is apparent pretty quickly. I really loved the word jokes in this book. One of them, about Mom Rachel’s cooking YouTube, I didn’t even get until I’d finished the book.

Despite the tough subject matter of Paul’s cancer, this is a really lighthearted read. I don’t mean that the hard parts are sugarcoated – they aren’t. I mean, Paul truly experiences grief and sadness and this is made very clear. However, through Abby’s strength, I keep feeling that everything will be okay in the end.

The side characters are also very well-developed. I totally rooted for Conrad, the boy next door Abby has feelings for. However, there are also more negative characters out there. That makes this story believable and yet positive at the same time.

Overall, I loved this story. I gave it a solid five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Abby, Tried and True
Author: Donna Gephart
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Reading Wrap-Up (March 15, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I didn’t do a reading wrap-up last week, because I had very little bookish news. Today, I still don’t have a lot of exciting stuff to share, but I still wanted to write about what I’ve been reading. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

Life Update

I’m slowly recovering from my cold. Today, I feel a little better than I was over the weekend. Despite this, I’m still a little sniffy and very tired. I rested a lot this morning, but this afternoon and evening, I’m trying to be active. I did have to take a paracetamol about half an hour ago because I was having a headache.

What I’m Currently Reading

I won’t bore you with the endless list of books I added to my Apple Books library over the past two weeks. I’m pretty sure I added 20 to 30 new books that I got free thanks to BookBub.

One of these books though is Mail Order Soulmate by Jean Oram. It’s a contemporary romance about a former agent marrying a woman over the Internet. In the first chapter, the woman shows up at his doorstep with her baby. It all sounds a bit far-fetched to me, but I’m in the mood for cheesy stuff.

I’m also still reading After the Cure by Deirdre Gould, which I got free off Apple Books a few weeks ago. It’s a pretty plot-dense story with new information popping up practically on every page. That’s probably why I’m slow moving through it.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing as of yet. When I started having the first symptoms of a cold Thursday night, I imagined that a weekend quarantining in my room would give me plenty of time to read. It didn’t, since the cold was too bad. Besides, I got the negative COVID test result already at around 1Pm Saturday. I did read some everyday of the weekend, but not nearly enough to finish anything. That’s frustrating, since I set my reading goal at 20 books for 2021 and have only finished three so far.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I honestly have no idea. I might want to read a middle grade or young adult novel for a change. After all, I used to read these a lot and now I hardly do anymore. Besides, maybe a shorter read will get me on track with my reading goal. Is that cheating? So what if it is?

What have you read recently?

The Count to Ten With Me Book Tag

Hi everyone! It’s been forever since I did a book tag. Today, I’m doing the Count to Ten With Me book tag, which I found here. I love numbers and books, so this should be fun.

1. First book in a series
I’m obviously going with After the Cure by Deirdre Gould, since this is the most recent series starter I’ve read (or am actually still reading). The beginning was a bit disappointing, but right now I’m finding it pretty interesting. Then again, I’ve never read post-apocalyptic novels before, so my expectations may be low.

2. Two or more copies of the same book
This is a pretty rare occurrence for me. I’d have to go with a book I scanned before eBooks or Bookshare became available to me and then downloaded after they did. The one that comes to mind now is Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation by Onno van der Hart, Suzette Boon and Kathy Steele. I have the first edition English one (it’s also available in Dutch) as both a self-scanned copy and on Bookshare.

I also have some books that I have both the Dutch translation and original English for. An example is Today I’m Alice by Alice Jamieson. I read it in Dutch on audiobook after I’d got the English print one from my sister. This is a memoir by a woman with dissociative identity disorder.

3. Three colours on the cover
I’ll have to pass this one by, since I have absolutely no idea what covers look like, being that I’m blind.

4. Four or more perspectives
The first one that comes to mind is Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. I am not a fan of many different perspectives, although I loved this one.

5. A five star read
Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. This is also the first in a series, so could count for that question too.

6. Six (or more) short stories
Oh, this is difficult. I rarely read collections of short stories. I’ll go with Our Autistic Lives edited by Alex Ratcliffe. This is a collection of personal essays.

7. A seven on the cover or spine
Pass again, sorry, for the same reason that I passed #3.

8. Eight letters in the title
Ironside by Holly Black. Haven’t read it yet, but wanted to get into fantasy and thought since Holly Black is a well-known author, I’d start there.

9. Book ends on a page ending in a nine
I of course looked this up on Goodreads. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis has 419 pages. I really hadn’t expected that.

10. Ten books in the series
I have absolutely no idea. I don’t read long series at all. Until recently, I flat out refused to read any book that wasn’t a standalone. Now, though I’ll start on trilogies and tetralogies (haven’t finished any yet so far), much longer is hard.

I’m not tagging anyone, but if you’d like to do this tag, I’d love to read it.

#IWSG: Favorite Genres to Read

IWSG

Welcome to another installment in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meeting. This past month, I’d set my expectations pretty high and, as such, was disappointed. I participated in #Write28Days with the aim of writing each day. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out. I wrote 23 posts over the month of February. I also didn’t really broaden my horizons with respect to writing. That is, most of my posts were securely within my comfort zone. I really hope to be doing better this month.

Now on to the March 3 question: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

Let me begin by saying my writing comfort zone is pretty narrow. I mostly write personal essays, if that’s even what my blog posts can be called. I would really like to write a memoir at some point, but I’ve been telling myself and others that for many years and yet never got down to actually doing it.

When I do write creatively, it’s usually poetry or very short pieces of flash fiction. I used to write some short stories and even have a young adult novel that I started writing as a teen yet never finished and that’s incredibly unimaginative I think.

My reading preferences do partly match my writing preferences, in that my favorite genre to read is memoir. Next to that comes young adult fiction about real problems, like the aforementioned work in progress also is.

I also read books that I couldn’t possibly be writing myself. Oh wait, I can’t really write a book at all, but oh well. I mean, I’ve recently developed an interest in science fiction and the like. I also occasionally read romance novels.

I rarely if ever read traditionally published poetry. That being said, I do love to read poems published on other people’s blogs. Same for personal essays and flash fiction. I mean, I’ve read a few books that were basically anthologies of personal essays, but I prefer to check out blogs for those.

With respect to what motivates my reading choice, I’m a true mood reader. I read a pretty wide variety of books, but they have to suit my mood at that time. I usually choose books based on the blurb. I can’t see the covers, obviously and I rarely read reviews on Amazon or Apple Books. When I do read reviews, it’s on other people’s blogs.

What about you? What motivates your reading choice?

Reading Wrap-Up (March 1, 2021) #IMWAYR

Yay, I’ve done a lot of reading over the past week. Enough that I’d love to share it with you in a reading wrap-up. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. I’m also joining in with the Sunday Salon, Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves.

Life Update

I’ve been doing quite well lately. Like I said on Saturday, I have been in a pretty good mood. Today I’m a little less energetic than I was over the weekend, but I’m still feeling quite cheerful. Right now, I have an essential oil blend of clary sage, grapefruit and lime in my diffuser. It’s great.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga today again after having let it sit on my digital shelf for several months. I’m finding it surprisingly easy to get back into the story.

I also picked up After the Cure by Deirdre Gould, which I’d downloaded for free a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure this won’t get a five-star rating from me, but I’m not disappointed enough in it to give up on it. I’m still intrigued by the blurb and the first bits of the story enough that I want to know more.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I raced through A Life Lost by Cathy Glass and finished it on Saturday. It deserved a solid five stars. I reviewed the book yesterday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I don’t have a habit of having a ton of books on my Goodreads to-read shelf, but I do have a lot in my head that I’d like to get to someday. Since I’m not very far in any of the books I’m currently reading, I can’t predict what I’ll read next.

Stacking the Shelves

Okay, I feel embarrassed. I said last week that I’d been hoarding book deals through BookBub. Honestly though, the term “hoarding” got a whole new definition this past week. I got at least twelve free books thanks to BookBub. And just so you know, I’m still only picking up books that I think will appeal to me. Among the books I downloaded are:


  • My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa

  • Skye by Kelsie Rae

  • Once Gone by Blake Pierce

  • Critical Vulnerability by Melissa F. Miller

  • Cowboy with a Badge by Margaret Watson

  • Love in a Snowstorm by Zoe York

  • The Eleventh Hour by Anina Collins

  • Kakadu Sunset by Annie Seaton

  • Stripped Raw by Prescott Lane

  • Easy Love by Kristen Proby

  • The Boy Who Painted the World by Melody J. Bremen

  • Twelve Days by Teresa Hill


Most of these are part of some series. That’s only to be expected, as I’m assuming they’re free only to get you into the series and buy the other books. That being said, most of these can be read as standalones too, like I did with Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. Although I’m definitely planning to buy at least one other book in that series too, as I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: A Life Lost by Cathy Glass

Already some months ago, I found out about Cathy Glass’ new foster care memoir, A Life Lost. It didn’t come out till February 18 though and I never pre-order books. I waited for the release date and then immediately bought the eBook on Apple Books. Even though I was reading several other books, I gave priority to this one. I finished it yesterday. Today, I’m ready for a review.

Summary

Jackson is aggressive, confrontational and often volatile. His mother, Kayla, is crippled with grief after tragically losing her husband and eldest son.
Struggling to cope, she puts Jackson into foster care.

Cathy, his carer, encourages Jackson to talk about what has happened to his family, but he just won’t engage. His actions continue to test and worry everyone.

Then, in a dramatic turn of events, the true reason for Jackson’s behaviour comes to light …

My Review

This is a remarkable story. I had already read several of Cathy Glass’ other foster care memoirs, so already knew I liked her writing style. However, some of the books are a bit too predictable for my liking. This one wasn’t. It wasn’t too suspenseful for my liking either. In fact, Cathy used the exact right balance between tension and predictability. For this reason, I had some idea of the reason for Jackson’s behavior, but it still came as enough of a surprise.

This story is not just about Jackson, but also about Tilly, another child in Cathy’s care. I hadn’t read Cathy’s previous book, A Terrible Secret, which introduces Tilly, but I didn’t feel I was missing information. Cathy takes care to explain enough that each memoir can be read as a standalone and yet keeps her explanations brief enough that it doesn’t get boring if you’ve read many of her other books.

One thing that made me feel a little uncomfortable, but in a good way, was the story’s ending. It is sad, but then again sadness is part of life.

I totally loved this story and gave it five stars on Goodreads. I really hope this isn’t Cathy Glass’ last memoir.

Book Details

Title: A Life Lost: Jackson Is Haunted by a Secret from His Past
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 18, 2021