What’s Up (May 2020)

Today, I discovered What’s Up Wednesday and thought I’d join in. What’s Up Wednesday is a monthly linky in which bloggers recap their past month. Here goes.

What I Ate

I don’t meal plan, as here at the care facility, we get meals delivered. I didn’t have the greatest meals this past week. Last week Wednesday, I had a fish curry that had fish bones in it. I ate part of it nonetheless, but eventually got annoyed and left the rest. My husband told me that this was unacceptable indeed. My staff sent out a complaint.

Then on Friday, I had vegetable rice only. Vegetable rice is just rice with a tiny bit of veg in it. I had no meat or meat substitute in my meal at all.

Thankfully though, over the past few days, the food was okay.

Then yesterday, my day activities staff and I put hamburgers on some type of grill for lunch. It was delicious!

What I’m Reminiscing About

I haven’t had the best month with respect to my mood. For this reason, a lot of memories have come up. I have been discussing some in my sessions with my community psychiatric nurse and also writing about them on here.

What I’m Loving

Being able to see my husband again! Due to the coronavirus lockdown, my care facility had a no-visitors policy for the past two months. Thankfully though, the policy was lifted last week. My husband and I still can’t have physical contact or even be within a five-feet distance, but it’s okay. I’m just so glad to meet my husband in real life again.

What I’ve Been Up To

I’ve been doing a lot of walking over this past month. The weather is really good. We had one rainy day, last Sunday, but overall it’s been really sunny and warm outside.

I’ve also been blogging a lot over the past month. I’m so glad to keep up the productive spirit!

What I’m Dreading

Nothing really. I did have a rough few weeks and was dreading a crisis happening again. Today is a pretty good day though. The tech guys installed the door sensor that will alert the night staff if I elope again today.

What I’m Excited About

Seeing my husband again this Saturday!

I’m also excited about getting Italian takeaway this Sunday. I’m probably going to get a tuna pizza.

What We’re Doing This Weekend

It’s a holiday weekend here in the Netherlands because of Pentecost. For this reason, we’re getting lots of extra treats at the care facility. Other than that and seeing my husband, I don’t have much planned.

What I’m Watching

Nothing to be honest. I’ve been thinking about getting a Netflix subscription again, but haven’t gotten down to it.

What I’m Reading

Nothing at the moment, but I did finish two books this past month: Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Wink by Rob Harrell. I reviewed that last one earlier this month.

What I’m Listening To

I’m mostly listening to the Pop Warm-UP 130 BPM playlist on Spotify. I actually love the upbeat, fast-paced tunes to “dance” to.

I also got myself a ScribD subscription, though I unsubscribed again after a few weeks. I listened to Anne of Green Gables as an audiobook on there. I must say I don’t think I see the benefit of audiobooks.

What I’m Working On

My birthday wishlist! I asked my husband to help me install a new iPhone that I’m goign to buy. I haven’t bought it yet, but am looking forward to doing so in a few weeks.

I’ve been looking at a sensory supplies store again for birthday gifts to ask my in-laws, parents and sister. I think I want a Jinglin’ ball. This is a soft ball that makes a sound when rolled. The adaptive supplies store for the blind also sells ringing balls, but these are too hard for safe playing with my fellow clients.

What I’m Wearing

Orange Dress

I have had this orange dress for a few years already, but hardly ever wore it before going into the care facility, because I can’t fasten the ribbon. I am loving it though. I also asked my staff to do my hair for this picture.

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month

My birthday, obviously! It isn’t till the 27th of June, so we’ll have another What’s Up Wednesday before that, but oh well.

What Else Is Up

I think that about covered it.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Reading

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about our bookish loves. The prompt is “Top Ten Reasons I Love …”. I am going to interpret this broadly and list the reasons I love reading in general. Here goes.

1. Escapism. It is totally amazing to escape my daily worries and troubles for a bit by immersing myself in the world of books.

2. Broadening my horizons. Whether I read a work of non-fiction, memoir or a novel, it almost always has something in it that I can’t personally relate to. As such, reading gives me insight into things I may not know much about.

3. Perspective. I can too easily be caught up in negativity about my own life. When I read a realistic novel or memoir, it often puts my struggles into perspective.

4. Relatability. Pretty much the opposite of the above. Some books I relate to, give me the sense that I’m not alone in the world.

5. Learning new words. English is my second language. Though I rarely use a dictionary when reading, reading English-language books does help me widen my vocabulary.

6. The ability to hyperfocus and perseverate. I love browsing through Amazon or Apple books for things I may want to read. I can totally immerse myself in even this habit, even if I don’t end up reading anything right then. When I do read, I can totally focus on this and forget my surroundings.

7. Writing inspiration. I am a writer. To be more than a mediocre writer, you really need to be a reader too. I love getting inspiration from the books I read.

8. A book for every mood. Whether I’m in need of a laugh or a cry, there’s a book for every mood. There are also tons of books out there for my inner child parts.

9. Something to talk about. Other than myself, that is. Books really give me something to discuss with others that isn’t too personal. I love it when others have similar interests to mine.

10. The book blogosphere. And book Twitter, YouTube, etc. I totally love connecting to other bloggers. Even though I’m not primarily a book blogger, I love reading book-related blog posts and watching book-related videos on YouTube (BookTube’s actually how I discovered my love for YouTube vlogs).

Do you love reading? Why?

Joining the 28th Bout of Books Readathon!

This is going to be a relatively short post. I’m a few days late, but the linky is still open, yay! I’m joining in with the 28th Bout of Books readathon! This is a week-long readathon organized by Kelly and Amanda. You can find out more about the readathon at the Bout of Books blog. You even still have a few hours to sign up!

Now I must say I’ve never participated in any readathons. Thankfully, this one’s challenges are all optional. I mean, I find readathons a little overwhelming, because I’m a slow reader. I just can’t read more than a few books in a week’s time. I love reading though and would really like to branch out into book blogging more. So here I am. I really like some of the challenges and look forward to sharing my knowledge of books with you. I also look forward to learning from you all.

For those visiting me from the readathon, hiya! Let me introduce myself. I’m Astrid, age 33 and I live in the Netherlands. I mostly read middle grade and young adult novels with realistic themes. I also love the adult reads as long as they’re realistic. My favorite authors in adult-focused fiction are Lisa Genova and Jodi Picoult. However, I’m trying to expand my reading. For this week, I have The Lost Husband by Katherine Center to be read. I also want to actually read some sci-fi/fantasy. Like I said, I’m a slow reader, so I might just finish one book, or I might start to read middle grade or young adult again and finish some of that. I really didn’t create a schedule or planning, as I literally decided to jump at the opportunity. So we’ll see where this goes. Enjoy!

Book Review: Wink by Rob Harrell

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for middle grade books and googled something like middle grade books in 2020. One of the first results that popped up was Wink by Rob Harrell. I read the blurb and was immediately determined to read it.

First though, I had to finish Wonder. I finished that last week, so after that and after a short break for processing, I proceeded to this book.

Wink

Summary

A wrenching and hilarious story about embracing life’s weirdness and surviving an unthinkable diagnosis, based on the author’s own experience with a rare eye cancer.

Twelve-year-old Ross Maloy just wants to be normal. Not to have a rare eye cancer, not to lose his hair, not to have to wear a weird hat or have a goopy eye full of ointment. Just normal. But with a sudden and horrifying diagnosis, Ross can’t help standing out. His new life is medical treatments that feel straight out of a video game, vision loss in one eye, disappearing friends who don’t know what to say to “the cancer kid,” cruel bullying, and ultimately, friendships new and old that rise above everything.

Just when Ross starts to feel like he’s losing his footing, he discovers how music, art, and true friends can change everything. Filled with Rob Harrell’s comic panels (Batpig for the win!) and spot art, this novel brings effortless humor and hope to an unforgettable, uplifting story of survival.

My Review

Well, I cannot see the illustrations, so this review is purely about the story. And let me tell you, it’s an amazing story! Harrell has created Ross to be so totally witty, I loved it! I mean, even in the darkest of times, while my heart went out to Ross, I also found the story humorous. Ross truly shows his determination. He may not (as he says) have some big epiphany in which he realizes life is a precious gift, but he does retain his sense of humor in spite of it all. That’s awesome. I mean, this book had me laugh out loud on several occasions.

What’s also important, is the development the characters go through. I liked how Harrell creates his characters to be as open to friendship as they were. I mean, I know this book is a middle grade novel and some kids that age are just so closed-minded. Harrell’s characters for the most part are not.

I loved that this book had just one viewpoint, that of Ross. It shows us what goes on inside a “cancer kid”‘s mind without the added baggage of family members or friends. Of course, they chime in on occasion, but that’s okay. Oh, and not just Ross, but many other characters are totally awesome.

I loved Harrell’s writing style, the dialogue and how quickly this book moved. All absolutely great.

In short, this wasn’t some inspirational story, and yet it was. It’s partly based on Harrell’s own experience, even though I assume Harrell was an adult when he got cancer. I think this book definitely provides some perspective to middle schoolers and yet puts a laugh on their faces.

Book Details

Title: Wink
Author: Rob Harrell
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Read With Me

Stuck at Home Book Tag

I found the Stuck at Home Book Tag over at CrankyAutistic’s blog. I wasn’t really tagged, but I felt it was a fun tag so stole it. It was created by Ellyn. I’m not su re I’m doing these book covers right. I got them from Goodreads but, as regular readers know, I’m blind so not able to judge them.

1. What Are You Currently Reading?
Wink
I just finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Now a bit stuck, but the most recent book I’ve picked up is Wink by Rob Harrell.

2. What’s Your Favorite Can’t Leave The House Activity?
Blogging! I’ve truly been active writing lately. I also love reading, of course, as well as listening to music.

3. A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read Forever?
Fangirl
That for sure has to be Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I recently discovered it was available on Bookshare, but I’ve literally had it on my TBR list for years.

4. An Intimidating Book on Your TBR?
The Institute
That still would be The Institute by Stephen King.

5. Top Three Books on Your TBR
I don’t really know. I’m generally a mood reader, so I read whatever strikes my fancy at a given point. As a result, I usually read multiple books at once. I honestly don’t know what three books I would want to read now that I haven’t started on yet.

6. Recommend a Short Book
Most of the books I read are not too long. Then again, I don’t really know what counts as short.

7. Recommend a Long Book
Well, the longest fiction book I’ve read that I can remember is Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, but I’m not sure that counts as long. Other than that, how about you read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)? Yes, I actually own a copy of it.

8. Something You’d Love to Do While Stuck at Home?
Exercise more. I really need to get on the elliptical more often and also should be doing yoga. Oh, are these things I’d love to do or things I’d need to do? Maybe both.

9. What Book Do You Plan on Reading Next?
Rules for Being a Girl
I just recently downloaded Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno off Bookshare and think I’ll read that next. At least, after I’ve finished reading Wink, Heroine by Mindy McGinnis and the other books still in progress and listening to Matilda by Roald Dahl.

I won’t tag anyone, but if you’d like to do this tag, I’d love you to.

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (May 7, 2020)

I haven’t felt inspired to write all day today. That’s weirdly sad. I mean, before I went on this writing spree at the end of March, I sometimes didn’t write for nearly a week and now I’m feeling disappointed at not having a topic to write about by morning. I did get my writing mojo back in late afternoon. I’m joining in with Bookish (And
Not So Bookish) Thoughts
. I think Christine of Bookishly Boisterous intended this as a meme anyway, so I can join in.

I finally finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio yesterday. I originally wanted to write a proper review, but can’t without it probably containing spoilers. So be warned.

Let me say this book had my feelings all over the place. I was triggered by Via’s feeling like everything was about Auggie. This resonates with how my sister felt about growing up with me. I felt tears of joy when reading Miranda’s part, because she showed such pure love to August. Then at the end, when everything is fine and everyone sticks up for August, I felt a pang of jealousy. I mean, my school was welcoming too, but mostly so they could pat themselves on the back for having accepted a blind student. I ended up giving the book a 4-star rating because of these mixed feelings.

Now I’m reading Wink by Rob Harrell. It’s a bit of a similar themed book, but so far not as evocative.

I also downloaded Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno. I saw it on Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca’s Goodreads, which was linked to her blog. I’m probably going to link my Goodreads here too.

I’m also further digging into The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff. I’m beginning to think I may be just a highly sensitive emotional mess, not an empath. However, it’s still an interesting read.

In other news, yesterday was a truly great day for my blog stats. Not that I care much about them, but then again sometimes I do. I am truly loving being able to interact with all my readers. I can’t believe how for years I rarely replied to comments. I believed at the time that my stats would be screwed if half the comments were mine. Well, whatever. I apparently cared more about my numbers then than about genuine connections, which is weird at best.

How is your (reading) life going?

Top Ten Books Younger Me Would Have Loved

I’m a day late joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT), for which the theme this week is books your younger self would have loved. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child. I loved being read to, but hated reading myself, especially in Braille. I was fourteen when I first discovered reading for pleasure through Caja Cazemier’s books.

I didn’t know enough English to read any of these books at the appropriate age. Actually, I didn’t know enough English to actually understand most books much until I was at least fifteen. Even then, only classics were available in accessible formats here in the Netherlands. For this list, I’m pretending that either younger me knew enough English or the books were available in Dutch. Most of these books weren’t published when I was young anyway.

1. Peter’s Asparagus by Angela Nicole Krause. This is a chapter book about a young boy with Asperger’s (autism). I read it in early 2014 and loved it. Of course, younger me didn’t know I am autistic and Asperger’s wasn’t even added to the DSM as a diagnosis till 1994, when I was eight. Still, well, my inner children find it incredibly validating.

2. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold. This is a book for slightly older children on the same topic. I read it in like 2018 and really feel it would’ve been a delightful read for younger me, even though it isn’t as relatable as the above one.

3. Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin. I didn’t finish this one, but I think my younger self would have loved to read it.

4. Lila and Hadley by Kody Keplinger. Okay, I see a theme emerge here. This one wasn’t published till a few weeks back and I haven’t read it. I want to, but it’s nowhere to be found in Dutch eBook stores. This one would definitely have encouraged younger me.

5. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. As a child and tween, I loved learning about different cultures. There was a whole series of children’s books about different countries and cultures out there back then, but as far as I know, the authors weren’t from those cultures. Khan is Pakistani-American and I loved her book. See my review.

6. Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. I read this one over New Year’s and loved it. It’d for sure be a comforting read to fifth-grader me.

7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I am 75% done with this one and think it’d for sure have given younger me some perspective.

8. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. Okay, I’m branching out into young adult books now. I really loved this one when I read it some five years ago and teen me would have loved it too.

9. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart. This would definitely have comforted teen me that she’s not alone in having problems. See my review.

10. Diagnosis Asparagus by Catherine O’Halloran. Okay, there are no doubt a ton of other books in the fiction category that younger me would have loved, but I just had to include this one. This one provides a teen’s perspective on being diagnosed with Asperger’s.

As a bonus, I’m going to mention Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson. That one was published around 2003, when I was self-diagnosed with Asperger’s. I would have loved it if my parents had allowed me to read it then.

What books would you wish your younger self had had access to?

Reading Wrap-Up (April 22, 2020)

Man, I haven’t done a reading wrap-up in over a month. Of course, I’m still busy with the #AtoZChallenge. However, I’d like to share what I’ve been reading and will be reading next anyway. I’m joining in with WWW Wednesday and also (a little late) with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I bought it on a whim last week and have been loving it so far, though reading August’s sister’s perspective is a bit triggering.

Also still not done with Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. Then again, I’m not really reading that one right now.

I picked up listening to Matilda by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet, again. I still can’t seem to get used to a female voice narrating it.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Not much. I mean, I finally finished Left Neglected by Lisa Genova a few weeks ago. After that, I was in a bit of a reading rut until I picked up Wonder. I did download and read some free bedtime stories by Uncle Amon, but that hardly counts.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I stacked the shelves with a couple middle grade novels that I think are going to be exciting. The one I think I’ll be reading next is Wink by Rob Harrell. That one actually got me to buy Wonder.

In addition, I’ve been looking at some adult romances to read. I would really like to read either Things You Save in a Fire or How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. Still in doubt as to which one to buy first.

What are you up to reading?

My Life in Books Tag

Found this tag on Flowers in the Brain and was drawn to considering myself tagged even before I’d read the full post. The first question just appealed to me. Here goes.

Find a book for each of your initials:
A: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
S: Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
T: Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow
R: Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
I: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
D: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler
Out of these, Throwaway Girl is the only book I haven’t read yet, but I couldn’t think of any others except by going with something that started with “the”.

Count your age along with your bookshelf: which book is it?
This had me a little confused. Do I need to pick the 33rd book on my bookshelf? And since I don’t actually have a bookshelf, which of my three book apps do I use? I’m going with Voice Dream Reader, my Bookshare app, because that one has the most books on it. Hmmm, this is hard. I guess one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Pick a book set in your city/country.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is partly set in Amsterdam. That’s as close as it goes for English-language books set here.

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.
No idea. The only places I really ever want to visit are Ireland and Indiana, USA, because my closest online friends live there. I don’t know any books set there. The closest to Indiana is probably Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan, which is set in Milwaukee. Then again, in college I always wanted to go to Boston, so Left Neglected by Lisa Genova should be mentioned too.

Pick a book that has your favorite color on it?
I have absolutely no idea what my one favorite color even is.

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?
Out of the books I’ve read as an adult, surely Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. As a child, I loved Astrid Lindgren’s stories.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?
That for sure has to be Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It was sooo boring!

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?
The Institute by Stephen King. I’ve never read any horror and, though this one sounds intriguing, it’s also pretty thick for me.

I tag all my readers for this. I’d particularly love to see your answer to the first question.

Fun and Games for When You’re Bored #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter F post in the #AtoZChallenge. I want to have a lighthearted topic for today. After all, I’m bored and don’t want to delve deep into some topic of self-care. Of course, dealing with boredom appropriately can be an act of self-care. I’m sharing a few fun activities to do when you’re bored.

1. Card games. I particularly love the game of “pesten” (“bullying” in English), which is a variation to the card game of mau mau and similar to Uno. It is played with a deck of 55 cards (52 of a regular pack plus three jokers). The goal is to get rid of all of your cards first, but you can bully the person next to you by the cards you play. For example, if you play an eight, the person next must pass his turn. If you play a two or joker, the next person must draw two or five cards from the stack, respectively. There are some other rules too that are pretty complicated particularly if there are more than two players in the game. For example, an ace means to turn around, so it’s often hard to remember whether we’re playing clockwise or counterclockwise. For this reason, I usually play the game with one other person.

I should really be trying to learn some other card games, as “pesten” is the only one I know. I guess playing solitaire is a good boredom killer if you’re by yourself.

2. Board games. I don’t play those often, but as a tween, I did. I particularly liked monopoly. I now have an audio-based version of monopoly on my iPhone. Still figuring it out though.

3. Word games and puzzles. I particularly like to make word strings, where the next word has to start with the last letter of the previous word. These can be themed, such as first names, animals, etc. I also like to do word puzzles on my phone. Most regular word games are not accessible with VoiceOver. However, I have an app called 7 Little Words that is.

4. Reading. We as a system like to read a variety of books depending on who out of our personalities is fronting. For example, the young alters like reading funny stories and jokes. Like we said yesterday, there are many free kids’ stories available in eBook format from both Amazon and Apple Books.

The teens and adults prefer young adult novels and occasionally fiction geared towards adults. We also love memoirs.

What fun activities can you think of to do when you’re bored?