Reading Wrap-Up (February 22, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi again readers. It’s time for another reading wrap-up. As usual, I’m joining #IMWAYR. Because I have been hoarding books again, I’m also linking up with Stacking the Shelves.

Life Update

I have been doing okay’ish over the past week. On Thursday, I was in a bit of a crisis due to significant overload. I’ve also been anxious about my lack of productivity. I mean, I haven’t been moving as much as I should. Last week, I could blame the snow. Now I can’t. Thankfully though, today I caught up again. However, in other areas I’ve also been less active and I’m still undecided as to whether I have my expectations up too high.

Similarly, this past week wasn’t as great a reading week as I’d expected, but that may’ve been because I had my expectations up pretty high. I hope to finish another book by the end of the month, as I would need to in order to keep on track with my Goodreads reading goal.

What I’m Currently Reading

I read some more in The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. Unfortunately, I’m not moving as quickly as I’d like.

In addition, I purchased A Life Lost by Cathy Glass, which is her latest fostering memoir. So far, like most of her books, I love it, but I’m not moving in it as quickly as I’d like either.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Uhm, nothing. I really need to finish more if I want to reach my Goodreads goal, which I’ve set at 20 books, so very low for a book lover. Then again, as much as I love books, I’m also a slow reader.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I honestly don’t know. I got so many books I think I’ll love that it’s hard to pick one. I’m also truly a mood reader, so I can’t really predict what will grab my attention next.

Stacking the Shelves

I love love love BookBub, which for those not familiar with it, is a site where you can find book deals. Thanks to BookBub, I have literally been hoarding books over the past week. Okay, I also have Apple Books to thank, as I got some while browsing similar books on there. I got several science fiction series starters, including After the Cure by Deirdre Gould and Apocalypse by Kyle West. I also got a romance called Second Chance Spring by Delancey Stewart.

I had been debating whether to get a book on crystal healing too. I know, I know, there’s absolutely no reason to believe in crystal healing and it’s rather occult too. However, I can’t stop myself being interested in it, so today I did get a book on the topic. I obviously got it off Bookshare, as I have absolutely no interest in paying for such a book. For those who don’t know, Bookshare is a service for print disabled (blind or dyslexic) people, allowing members to download almost unlimited books for $50 a year. I totally love it!

What have you been reading lately?

My Most Recent Purchases

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to write about some of your most recent purchases. I don’t purchase lots of things usually, but over the past month or so, I bought a few lovely things. Let me share.

1. Essential oils. Okay, I can’t stop talking about those or so it seems. I purchased four new essential oils a few weeks ago: lemongrass, white fir, ginger and lavandin. I now have 28 oils in my box and it has room for 30. That being said, I’ll likely remove my field mint essential oil from the box, as its scent is very similar to peppermint. This leaves room for three more new oils. I’ll probably purchase grapefruit, cardamom and vetiver essential oils soon. The cardamom one is usually very expensive, but I found an online store that sells a 10ml bottle for €12.95. That probably seems expensive to most people who aren’t into essential oils, but it’s really affordable. Of course, it’s probably not the highest quality EO, but as long as I only use it in my diffuser, I don’t care.

2. Bath and body product making supplies. About four weeks ago, I ordered a lot of new bath and body product making supplies. I ordered sweet almond oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, Dead Sea salt and some soaping colorants. Last week, I made my first product using the new supplies: bath salt. I also used actual essential oil in it. I normally don’t, because undiluted essential oil isn’t usually skin safe, but lavender EO is safe to use in bath products.

3. A talking scale. Two weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Medisana talking scale on Bol.com. I’ve been wanting a talking scale for many years. I did for a time consider buying a non-talking scale that connects to my phone, but then I’d have to look into the app’s accessibility first.

The scale I got isn’t officially calibrated and that’s noticeable, but I don’t care. I don’t really need to know my exact weight (it’d probably frustrate me to know). Rather, I want to know whether overall I’m losing or gaining weight over time.

4. Books. Most of these aren’t purchases, in that I didn’t pay for most of the books I got. One is though. Yay, I got A Life Lost by Cathy Glass as soon as it came out yesterday.

5. A YouTube Premium subscription. I finally had had it with all the advertising inbetween and sometimes in the middle of videos. I’m currently making use of my free trial month, but will likely continue with the subscription.

What have you recently purchased?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Book Review: Hatch by Kenneth Oppel

Yay, I finally finished Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had read Bloom, the first book in the trilogy, last summer and reviewed it here in August. Hatch came out on December 1 I think (although Goodreads says it came out on September 15). I got it off Bookshare the next day. Today I’m finally able to review it.

Summary

Fans left desperate for more at the end of Bloom will dive into this second book of the Overthrow trilogy–where the danger mounts and alien creatures begin to hatch. First the rain brought seeds. Seeds that grew into alien plants that burrowed and strangled and fed. Seth, Anaya, and Petra are strangely immune to the plants’ toxins and found a way to combat them. But just as they have their first success, the rain begins again. This rain brings eggs. That hatch into insects. Not small insects. Bird-sized mosquitos that carry disease. Borer worms that can eat through the foundation of a house. Boat-sized water striders that carry away their prey. But our heroes aren’t able to help this time–they’ve been locked away in a government lab with other kids who are also immune. What is their secret? Could they be… part alien themselves? Whose side are they on? Kenneth Oppel expertly escalates the threats and ratchets up the tension in this can’t-read-it-fast-enough adventure with an alien twist. Readers will be gasping for the next book as soon as they turn the last page…

My Review

I truly loved the first half or so of the book. It shows how Anaya, Petra and Seth try to survive whilst being locked up in a government lab and cruelly experimented on by the military. I didn’t care that they were part alien themselves. In fact, just like while reading Bloom, I mostly just cared about the main characters’ wellbeing and was hardly touched by the rest of the world being harmed by the alien insects. I think that’s a true positive about this series, that it paints the characters so well that I truly empathize with them.

Then, around 65% into the book, it got a bit boring. I was convinced I’d neared the end of the story only to find out from my app that I was only at two-thirds or so. By around 80%, the story got more fast-paced again and I truly raced through those last pages.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I do need to say it was not what I’d expected. Though I do really want to know more, the ending of this book was a bit of a disappointment.

I ended up rating this book four out of five stars because of its not so fast-paced bits in the middle and its ending.

Book Details

Title: Hatch (The Overthrow, #2)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: December 1, 2020

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

Hi everyone! I finally managed to do some significant amount of reading, so today I’m sharing another reading wrap-up. I really wish I spent more time in the day reading consistently, but for whatever reason, it seems to go in ebbs and flows. It’s so interesting that, like with most everything else, I love collecting books more than actually reading them. For this reason, my various book apps are overflowing. Thankfully, I have enough space on my iPhone, so it’s really no problem.

As usual, I’m linking up this post to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. I’m also linking up with the Sunday Salon.

Life Update

I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning. It’s not surprising, as I slept a lot yesterday afternoon. I could’ve tried to go back to sleep, of course, but instead chose to listen to Hour of Power, Bobby Schuller’s television church service. This week, Schuller wasn’t preaching, but I loved the pastor who was.

In addition, I spent some time reading. I then made coffee at six o’clock. I hope the sound of my Senseo machine didn’t wake anyone else. It’s now 9:15AM and I already had breakfast and another cup of coffee. How nice.

If you’d like to know more about the rest of my week, please check out my #WeekendCoffeeShare post, which I wrote on Saturday.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. It was recommended to me through Storygraph. Not that I use that thing anymore, as it’s not very accessible. I’m just going with Goodreads. However, Storygraph’s recommendations are good. Anyway, I had gotten this one off Bookshare already over a month ago, but wasn’t really into reading during most of January.

That is, I did read a lot, but mostly Christian nonfiction, such as devotionals and Bible studies. I am loving Made In His Image by Zondervan.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Yay, I finally finished Hatch, the second book in The Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. I’ll post a review soon. Let me just say already that the ending was not what I’d expected.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I got several free eBooks through Bookbub this past week. One of them is Fire Starter by P. Anastasia. I was drawn to it after I’d finished Hatch, because it’s the first installment in the Fluorescence tetralogy, another young adult SciFi series, and seems to share some themes with Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy.

I also downloaded Sunshine Cottage by Barbara Cool Lee. This sounds like a cozy mystery I may really like, so I may be reading that next too.

Lastly, I really have my eyes on The Land Darkened by Tony Urban and Drew Strickland, a post-apocalyptic thriller. Yes, I really think I’m into scarier and less realistic books now than I was before. However, it’s not available on Bookshare or Apple Books as far as I can tell.

What have you been reading lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 13, 2021)

Hi and welcome to another #WeekendCoffeeShare post. I just had my soft drink of Dubbelfrisss and some Pringles for today. However, I can make you a cup of Senseo coffee if you’d like. I can also make you tea. A staff brought me some green tea without additional flavoring earlier this week, which I’m so grateful for. I love this kind of tea! Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it’s still pretty white outside here. The below picture was taken on Thursday, but not much of the snow has gone yet. That should change tomorrow, as temps are supposed to rise above zero.

A picture of me in the snow

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m happy to report feeling much better than I was earlier in the week. Like I said yesterday, I had some worrying health symptoms on Monday and Tuesday that were probably attributable to constipation (and possibly some stress too). Like I mentioned, the doctor prescribed me magnesium tablets. I’m feeling much better now. Not yet completely normal, but almost so.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I got a wonderful stuffed bear from my husband as an early Valentine’s Day present today. I gave him an airdry clay heart I’d made.

My husband paid me a quick visit at the care facility on his way back from buying a trailer for his car. The trailer is truly huge for one that’s behind a regular VW car!

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my support coordinator told me that I thankfully no longer need to tell the staff several days in advance when my husband is going to pick me up. The reason they so far required this, is my one-on-one support. However, my coordinator and the manager agreed that it’s possible for them to schedule the staffing regardless. This is a huge relief, as especially with COVID and all, it’s hard to plan ahead.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today, my one-on-one support staff took me to a farm with my care agency where we could see the horses, goats and rabbits. Unfortunately, they were eating, so they didn’t show me much attention. I didn’t take my phone with me, so no pictures. That will have to come next time.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I’ve done a lot of reading and book hoarding lately. I will have to do another reading wrap-up soon. Let me say for now that I’m totally inspired to read more SciFi. I totally love the escapism!

That being said, I’d also like to moan (probably for the third or fourth time) about the fact that Amazon doesn’t accept payment methods other than credit cards for their digital products. This is really annoying, as I don’t own a credit card. I really wish I could benefit from their Kindle deals, but apparently Amazon doesn’t want me buying anything there. Okay, I could still buy physical products, but what’s the point? We have Bol.com for that, and I want Kindle books! *Whines.* Okay, I can still get the free ones, but well.

What’s going on in your life?

Gratitude List (January 29, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone on this rainy Friday. I didn’t write anything yesterday or on Wednesday, because on Wednesday I was feeling uninspired and yesterday I was in bed all day feeling like crap. Today, I want to write again and I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list.

1. I am grateful for a beautiful sunset on Monday. I’m also grateful for still having the residual sight to actually enjoy it. By the time I got my camera to take a picture, the sun had already set a little more than it had when I first saw it. Therefore, the actual thing was even more beautiful than the picture.

Sunset

2. I am grateful my husband is feeling better. This week-end, I get to go to our house.

3. I am grateful for still no COVID among my family or close relatives. My mother-in-law had to get tested last week, but thankfully, she was negative.

4. I am grateful I’m feeling slightly better today than I was yesterday. I have been horribly constipated for about a week now and yesterday evening, was nauseated from it. That has thankfully gone.

I am hoping to get a new medication for the constipation later today. I currently take Macrogol, which gives me horrible gas and cramping. The staff called my GP this morning and she’s going to send in some different kind of medication. I forgot to ask what she’s prescribed exactly, but I’ll find out.

5. I am grateful for rest. I was able to sleep pretty well last night despite having been in bed all afternoon yesterday and having gone back to sleep at 8PM. Thankfully, I feel rested now.

6. I am grateful for my sensory cat soft toy. It can be heated in the microwave and then gives off heat and a lavender scent. I had it in bed with me last night.

7. I am grateful for my new AFO or foot brace or whatever it’s called. The original one came on Monday, but it was painful to wear in a way that the physical therapist thought wouldn’t go away with practice. Thankfully, I now have another one. It’s still painful to walk on uneven ground wearing it, but that’s supposed to go away when I get used to the thing.

8. I am grateful for delicious Turkish pizza. A staff brought me some today and I ate it with salad and mayonaise. It was awesome!

9. I am grateful for some DIY inspiration. Today, the staff (same one who brought the pizza) helped me create some air-dry clay figures which I will later hang onto something for decorating my room.

10. I am grateful for books and Netflix shows. I was able to read again on Wednesday and really enjoyed it. I also got a Netflix subscription again last week. Though I’m not sure for how long I’ll keep it, I did enjoy watching some shows.

What are you grateful for?

#IWSG: Turn-Offs in Other People’s Writing

IWSG

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s (#IWSG) meeting day.

I did pretty well in the writing department over the month of December and early January. I in fact am feeling very motivated to write. That being said, I do feel disappointed about not having realized my bigger writing dream of 2020, which was to submit another piece for publication in an anthology. It’s probably due to fear of rejection. I mean, blogging is a relatively safe way of expressing one’s writing abilities, in that it doesn’t really come with rejection. I mean, if I start a blog and it’s a total failure, I just won’t attract any readers, but no-one is going to directly tell me.

For 2021, I once again aim to submit at least one piece for publication. I just can’t bear to say for another year that I’m a published author because of that one piece I had published in 2015. I can’t control editors’ selection criteria, but I’ll have to at least try one more time.

Now on to this month’s optional question. The question is what, as a writer, turns you away from other people’s books, makes you not finish a book or frustrates you about other people’s writing.

The first thing that came to mind, is not a style issue or a writing flaw, but factual errors in the story. For example, in Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, one of the characters’ mother and sisters have sickle cell disease and the characters keep talking about how this character didn’t inherit “the gene” and how another disease is recessive, as if sickle cell disease is inherited via a dominant gene. Well, I am no geneticist, but I am pretty sure it’s recessive.

It isn’t that such an error stops me from finishing a book altogether if it’s an otherwise good story. I think I even gave the aforementioned book four stars on Goodreads and I definitely did finish it. It was the thing that kept me from giving it a five-star rating though.

In a similar way, I am usually slightly annoyed when authors invent things into their otherwise-realistic stories. For example, I didn’t like the fact that John Green invented a cancer drug for the purpose of the story in The Fault in Our Stars. I did feel better because he admitted it at least.

The one thing that does stop me from finishing a story, is an unrealistic portrayal of certain settings in a story that’s supposed to be realistic. For example, I stopped reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork as soon as I read that the character got daily therapy sessions. That’s not happening in any psych hospital. That is, it might’ve happened in the times of psychoanalysis in the 1950s, but currently there’s no money for that.

I think I really need to get more flexible in my approach to fiction. It is, after all, fiction.

Reading Wrap-Up (January 4, 2021) #IMWAYR

#IMWAYR

Hi readers and fellow book lovers! I have been reading relatively much lately, so I can do another reading wrap-up today. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

Life Update

I’m doing pretty well right now. Got a lovely package from Emilia of My Inner MishMash in the mail today. It’s for her readership award. The package contained some great food and non-food items. I must admit though that I ate all of the caramel fudge and am now a bit nauseated (or is it nauseous?).

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had let it lie there for a bit while reading other things, but I started it back up and it’s really intriguing.

I also finally picked up Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I previously finished two of her other books and had started in Still Alice some six years ago already, but never finished it. Obviously, I started back over.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Yay, I finally finished Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It was a great read and the ending and who the killer was sure surprised me. Now even with the most predictable plots I’m no good at predicting what will be next, but oh well.

What I think I’ll Be Reading Next

Oh, I still have so many books I am looking forward to reading! I joined Storygraph yesterday and have been loving playing around with their recommendation feature. It recommended The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. Then I looked over my Bookshare book collection and associated from there. I now badly want to read If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch.

Lastly, I was discussing memoirs on another book blogger’s bookish resolutions post. This got me to finally want to buy Brave by Adelle Bellis. I have the preview downloaded onto my Apple Books and love it. However, with Bookshare having such a wide selection of books, I find I’m a little spoiled and get disappointed if I have to actually buy a book.

What have you recently read?

My Bookish Resolutions for 2021

Hi my fellow book lovers! Today, I’m joining in with #SixForSunday. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in this meme, though I’ve known about it for maybe a year. This week’s topic is your bookish resolutions for 2021. Now like I said, I don’t really do resolutions in life in general. However, I think I can safely resolve some things regarding my bookish life. Here goes.

1. Read more. According to Goodreads, I only read like thirteen books in 2020. I may not have set the finish date for some books accurately, so they may’ve been more books. I just set my reading goal on Storygraph to be 20 books in 2021. I think that should be easily attainable.

2. Read a greater variety of books. When I saw some reading challenges come by, it surprised me what types of books people were challenging themselves to reading. I mostly read memoirs, young adult and middle grade fiction. Though I do generally try to get some diversity in my reading, I really need to step outside of my comfort zone.

For instance, though I read some books by BIPOC authors or featuring BIPOC characters, my white privilege still shines through heavily in my book choices. I want to change that. I also want to read more books featuring disability, LGBTQ+ issues, etc.

I also want to step outside of my comfort zone where it comes to genre reading. For example, in 2020 I read my very first SciFi book. I’d like to continue to broaden my horizons.

3. Interact more with fellow book lovers online. I mean mostly in the book blogosphere. I’d really like to write more bookish posts and also engage with other bookish bloggers, though I don’t intend on becoming primarily a book blogger.

4. Do more on Goodreads. Okay, I know some of the book pros are switching to Storygraph now and I got that one too, but it doesn’t seem to have the group discussions etc. that GR has. I just signed up to Storygraph today and so far, I much prefer GR anyway for keeping track of my reading, as Storygraph predictably isn’t as accessible with my screen reader. Storygraph may be able to offer me better recommendations though. Anyway, I’d really like to be active in the book groups I’m in on GR. I’d also like to share some reviews on there rather than just on my blog.

5. Join at least one readathon. I have been wanting to do this ever since I first heard of them in 2019, but apart from a failed attempt at joining Bout of Books last year, haven’t actually gotten down to it.

6. Continue to enjoy reading. Okay, this one is a no-brainer, but I couldn’t come up with anything else.

What are your bookish goals for 2021?

Ten Books I Read in 2020

Today, I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT). The theme today is top ten favorite reads of 2020. According to my Goodreads stats, I read only thirteen books in 2020. Goodreads might’ve missed some, but I didn’t read many more. That’s okay though. Let me just hope for a better reading year next year. Here are ten books I read this year.

1. Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. I started this book in late 2019 I think and finished it over New Year’s, so just in 2020. It is a Christian early middle grade novel I had been wanting to read for years.

2. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Another middle grade novel I enjoyed. See my review.

3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I had been wanting to read this one for years too, but had waited until it got onto Bookshare (which it never did). I finally bought it in April I think and don’t regret it at all.

4. Wink by Rob Harrell. This is another middle grade novel. I came across it shortly after having read Wonder. Honestly, I loved Wink even more than I did Wonder. See my review.

5. Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold. I see I read a ton of middle grade. I really intend to read more age-appropriate fiction in 2021. Anyway, this was the last book I finished this year, so I wanted to include it.

6. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. This was definitely my favorite YA novel I read in 2020. See my review.

7. Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. I include this one because it was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I loved it though. I wrote a review of it after finishing it. I’m currently reading its sequel Hatch.

8. Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley. This was such an emotive read, it definitely tops my list of favorite memoirs I read in 2020. Here’s my review.

9. No Way Out by Kate Elysia. I never reviewed this one, but I loved it. It is a memoir by a survivor of sex trafficking.

10. Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. This was an intriguing read. See my review.

What was your favorite read of 2020?