Book Review: The Bad Room by Jade Kelly

Last month, I somehow felt inspired to check out abuse survivor memoirs on Apple Books. I came across The Bad Room by Jade Kelly and it immediately appealed to me, so I decided to buy it. At first, I raced through it. Then, I fell into a reading slump. I finally finished the book yesterday.

Summary

After years of physical and mental abuse, Jade thought her kindly foster mother would be the answer to her prayers. She was wrong … this is her staggering true story.

‘This must be what prison is like,’ I thought as another hour crawled by. In fact, prison would be better … at least you knew your sentence. You could
tick off the days until you got out. In the Bad Room we had no idea how long we’d serve.

After years of constant abuse, Jade thought her foster mother Linda Black would be the answer to her prayers. Loving and nurturing, she offered ten-year-old Jade a life free of fear.

But once the regular social-worker checks stopped, Linda turned and over the next six years Jade and three other girls were kept prisoner in a bedroom
they called the ‘bad room’.

Shut away for 16 hours at a time, they were starved, violently beaten, forbidden from speaking or using the toilet and routinely humiliated. Jade was left feeling broken and suicidal.

This is the powerful true story of how one woman banished the ghosts of her past by taking dramatic action to protect the life of every vulnerable child
in care.

My Review

I was pulled in to this book right from the start. The prologue was captivating! It immediately painted a picture of what life was like in the Bad Room. Then, as Jade describes her life before being taken into foster care, the story gets slightly less fast-paced, but it’s still very intriguing.

Jade is very candid about her own faults. Like, when she’s first in care with Linda Black, she genuinely believes she is different from the other girls in care and she won’t end up being treated like them. She is also open about the moments she tells on or even lies about the others in order to (hopefully) be liked by Linda more. This shows that Jade isn’t a saint; she’s just trying to survive.

It is truly heartbreaking to see how social services fail Jade and the other girls time and time again despite the massive amounts of documentation on their case. I can relate to this in a way. For this reason, I feel that this story is very important reading material for social workers and foster carers in the UK and elsewhere. Thankfully, Jade survived to tell her story. Others may not be so lucky.

Book Details

Title: The Bad Room: Held Captive and Abused by My Evil Carer. A True Story of Survival
Author: Jade Kelly
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: June 25, 2020

Reading Wrap-Up (September 20, 2021) #IMWAYR

It’s been forever since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason is the fact that I hardly did any reading over the summer. Over the past week or two though, I picked up some books again. Let me share what I’ve been reading. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR for short.

What I’m Currently Reading

First up is Thrive, the third book in the Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. It already came out in May, but because its prequel, Hatch, had such a disappointing ending, I was reluctant to start reading this one. I’m still only 6% in.

Secondly, I may have mentioned starting A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel a few months back at the recommendation of another blogger. I am reading it at a slow pace, but I think I will finish it eventually. For those not aware, this is a young adult novel about a girl locked up in a mental hospital.

Lastly, the book that really got me back into the reading groove, is an abuse survivor memoir called The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. I started reading this on Thursday and am already at 28%. This seems like a fascinating read!

What I Recently Finished Reading

Uhm, nothing. Like I said, I hardly read anything at all over the summer. I still have six books on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads and that doesn’t include Thrive as of yet. I’m a true multi-book girl or so it seems.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

Uhm, one of those books on my currently-reading shelf I didn’t read this past week, I guess. The good part about my not having read much at all over the summer, is the fact that I hardly read book blogs or Goodreads discussions either, so I didn’t add a ton of books to my TBR pile. In fact, I’ve also for the most part stopped checking out the daily BookBub E-mail with book bargains. Over the past month, I’ve added just one free book recommended by them to my Apple Books. I did download a few books off Bookshare, but most of them are self-help books.

I did download the app Bookly, in which you can track your reading time and progress. However, I’m as of yet unwilling to pay for the subscription plan and the free plan offers hardly anything, so I deleted the app again. Instead, I’m tracking what I’m reading in my private diary.

What have you been reading lately?

Gratitude List (September 17, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone! I’m struggling with grief a bit today. I thought at first that I wanted to write about it, but I’ve made up my mind. Rather, I want to distract myself and, for this reason, am doing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for my husband. We’ll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this weekend and I’m so glad he’s put up with me through all these years.

2. I am grateful to be pain-free right now. I woke up in some pain a few mornings this week, but right now, it’s evening and I’m not in pain.

3. I am grateful I am doing relatively well sticking to a healthier lifestyle. I started two weeks ago and, in my first week, lost 800 grams. I’m going to weigh myself tomorrow morning again.

4. I am grateful for relatively good weather still. It’s still pretty warm, with temps rising to about 20°C each day. We’ve had some rain, but not too bad.

5. I am grateful for quick replies from the developer of Diarium, the app I reviewed on Tuesday. He’ll hopefully be able to figure out why the app isn’t showing up on the App Store for at least some people.

6. I am grateful for Diarium’s built-in “My Day” template. I am also grateful that Diarium is pretty much completely translated into Dutch, including the template, so that I can now easily journal in my native language. That helps me get out of “writing for an audience” mode. I am grateful I am on a four-day streak in Diarium (not that the app keeps track) now.

7. I am grateful for good books to lose myself into.

8. I am grateful for Pringles. My day activities staff, the one who had her 25th anniversary of working for this agency in August, celebrated the occasion officially yesterday. She gave us all chips, in my case Pringles, because I like those the best.

9. I am grateful to have been relatively creative despite feeling a bit meh over the past week.

10. I am grateful to be a child of God. I have been increasingly inspired to not just proclaim Jesus as my savior, but to allow Him to be Lord over my life.

What are you grateful for?

#IWSG: My Go-To Writing Book(s)

IWSG

Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I have been doing really well in the writing department over the past month. In July, I published 30 blog posts, including some creative writing. I didn’t write everyday, at least not intentionally, but on the days I did write, I more than made up for this.

I have truly felt my creative juices flowing over the past month, not just with respect to writing, but crafting too. Whether this is due to my new psychiatric medication or not, I do not know. I can only hope that it will last for a long time still to come.

Now on to this month’s optional question. This month, we’re asked to write about our favorite writing craft books. Those books that, each time we open them, we learn something new or are inspired to write or try a new technique.

Well, I am not a big fan of writing “manuals” so to speak. I tried the book Diy Mfa and didn’t get beyond the first chapter. I prefer to just write and not be told how I should be doing it.

That being said, I do have a ton of go-to writing craft books. They are, however, collections of writing prompts. When I’m uninspired, I love to open one of those and see where the muse leads me. Most of these, of course, deal with journaling, as that’s my primary method of writing. Examples of books I love include The Year of You by Hannah Braeme, the eBook collection Journaling with Lisa Shea and 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane.

One series of books dealing with creative writing I love though is the Adventures in Writing series by Melissa Donovan. One of the books in the series is a collection of writing prompts. Another offers 101 more general writing exercises. The last one, Ready, Set, Write is more of a traditional “manual”. I like that one. I really think this series would be my go-to book series for inspiration that moves me out of my comfort zone.

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?